Once upon a time, whenever you landed on a tropical island in the Caribbean in the middle of a long, cold, northern winter, you emerged from the plane into the bright sunshine, quickly feeling enveloped by the warmth of the breeze. You breathed deeply and immediately began to feel relaxed as you walked down the steps to the tarmac, rather than into an enclosed jet way. These days, with the airport improvements being enjoyed by the islands, this is a less common experience unless you’re traveling inter-island on the Caribbean’s own airlines in tiny planes. But there are some hold-outs.
Despite modern improvements, landing in Barbados a few weeks ago was still like the old days: we walked down those steps and into the terminal building, knowing at once that we were indeed on vacation.It’s been only two years since we were last in Barbados, when we stayed for three days at the Crane on the Atlantic coast en route to a cruise. And since we rarely like to repeat experiences, we decided that this year we’d try a property on the west coast, in an area that tourist brochures refer to as Barbados’ “Platinum Coast” in a property simply known as “The House.” The final detail that moved us in this direction was when Patty read on their web site that they are “adults only.” At this point in our lives, that’s a real selling point! And with only 34 suites, this was a property that might just meet our needs.
We arrived at The House in the early afternoon, and were greeted warmly by a striking, immaculately turned-out woman named Vanita, whose precise function was not yet clear to us – but it soon would be. She invited us in as one might invite a cherished guest into one’s personal domain. She immediately made us feel at home by installing us into deeply cushioned sofas in the lounge which was open to the outdoors both at the front and at the back which led directly to the pool and the beach beyond. We sipped rum punch, and she began to tell us about the property that would be our home for the next five days. The House has no front desk, no bellmen, no line-ups, no request that is impossible. What they do have is staff that is, to a person, there to help you with anything you desire.You see, Vanita was actually one of several personal concierges, and each of the employees was an ambassador. Everyone from the bar-tenders to the wait staff could be counted on to answer questions and to assist us with anything at all – and they did.
As soon as we were ready, Vanita showed us to our suite on the second floor of the three-story building. An oceanfront junior suite (all the ‘rooms’ are all suites), the room was more than adequate with its recent refurbishments that included a wonderful bathroom, fabulous terrace, and breathtaking views of the surf. We knew that at least the suite would make us happy for five days!
But the service was what really impressed us. We’ve often said that as discerning travelers who ourselves are in what can only be described as service industries (see our profile for details), we are focused on finding those places – hotels, airlines, cruises – where service is of the utmost priority. From the included champagne breakfasts, to the dining at their restaurant Daphne’s, to the wonderful beach with a lounge chair and umbrella for everyone, to the fantastic company (most of the guests were British), this Property did not disappoint in any way.
One day as we sat in our comfortable, cushioned lounge chairs, bottles of water that had just been delivered by the beach ambassador at hand, two women approached us (all beaches in Barbados are public). Evidently one of them had stayed in this hotel some years ago when it had a former incarnation. She wanted to know if it had been turned into condos. When we told her no, she asked, “It is reasonably priced?”
This is always a difficult question to answer, so Patty asked, “How would you define reasonable?”
“Under $200 a night?” she replied.
“Oh, well,” we said. “Perhaps not, then.”
But for us it was – because even at these prices (and it is a bit expensive in the high season), the value is truly there. It was a wonderful way to begin our three weeks in the islands. And we are likely to stray from our usual approach to not repeating experiences: we will go back. On to the Seabourn cruise next post.
If you’re interested in The House, their web site is http://www.thehousebarbados.com/ .
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