It was 2005 and we were on our way to Antigua for a week of relaxation at the St. James’s Club. Who knew that even in the early 21st century the airport on this beautiful Caribbean island didn’t have a landing guidance system that would safely land an aircraft in the fog? In fact, who knew that Caribbean islands had fog?
After the third attempt and pull-up, it was clear to us that there was a problem. The first stop after that was the island of Guadeloupe for fuel. Sitting at the front of the aircraft, we got as far as the top of the steps to look out the open door and breathe in the warm, tropical air – and then we were off to Antigua again. But to no avail. The weather was just too bad so we would have to spend the night in Barbados. We could hear the groans all around us. Well, we thought, an adventure.
It was a credit to Air Canada that they were able to find overnight accommodation for everyone on a Saturday night in February within an hour or two. We were among the lucky – or at least we chose to think that!
We were taken to The Crane, a residential (read: condo) resort on the rugged east coast of the island. Since it was so late, the restaurant was closed – but the manager on duty roused the cook who got out of his bed and came to make hamburgers for the dozen or so of us who hadn’t eaten in so long we couldn’t quite remember at that point. In the dark it was difficult to tell what the resort was like – but the next morning, it was clear that this was a place we would want to return to at some later date. We made a promise to ourselves and kept it.
Last winter’s cold temperatures here on the east coast of Canada sent us fleeing once again to a Caribbean cruise, and this time it was one that would leave from Bridgetown, Barbados. So, before we boarded the Silver Cloud, we spent three days exploring The Crane.
Built on a rugged bluff above an extraordinary white sand beach, The Crane is billed as the oldest resort in the Caribbean. Don’t be fooled, though. The old mansion that was expanded into a hotel that opened in 1887 is still part of its charm and houses the spa and a few rooms. But the rest of the place is a series of charming new buildings housing extraordinary suites/apartments – just the kind of place discerning travelers would love.
We booked ourselves into a one-bedroom suite because we had remembered the junior suite we had been housed in that fateful night years before. And the rooms were just as lovely as we remembered with their four-poster mahogany beds, breathtakingly spacious bathrooms, breezy white cotton-covered sofas, dining room, kitchen, laundry and the list goes on.
The property itself has several wonderful pools. The oldest pool overlooks the beach and is just the kind of place where, if you squint just a little, you can picture early 20th century guests sitting about with parasols, fanning themselves daintily. Throughout the property there are several wonderful pieces of sculpture. One is a life-size bronze statue called Grande Jetee and if you know anything about ballet, you’ll recognize the form. As parents of a son who is a ballet dancer, we were quite taken with it the first time we saw it and even more so the second time around.
There is a series of little shops and restaurants around a kind of town square within the complex and it houses, among other boutiques, a convenience shop. We noted that many of the guests seemed to be buying stapes no doubt to use for their own meals in their residences. As a result, the restaurants were practically empty most of the time.
One of the restaurants on the property, Zen, offers a Japanese-Thai menu and was the #1 Zagat-rated restaurant in Barbados in 2009 and 2010. Its setting overlooking the Crane Beach, often counted among the world’s most beautiful, is something not to be missed. But don’t forget the pizzeria onsite as well!
The pool area was practically deserted – many of the ground floor suites have their own plunge pools and it seemed that many guests simply stayed on their own lovely lanais. We had a sense of privacy and luxury everywhere we looked.
We truly enjoyed our three days at The Crane, but did think that a longer visit would be a bit too laid back for us. The resort isn’t within walking distance of anything and we do get a bit bored sitting around a pool all day! That said we could use a few pool days right about now and certainly would go back to the Crane if we ever take another cruise out of Barbados. We kept our promise to return – and The Crane kept its promise – the promise it offered on one brief encounter.
Crane Beach from the resort above (there is an elevator and a staircase leading down — an up!)
Some photos of our suite…