I've never written a trip report before but because I've raised a negative point about Barbados in another thread and also because it may help other visitors, I thought I'd do a little write up of what we did and would recommend to others. It's not in chronological order because we've visited Barbados over 40 times now and have seen a lot of the country on other visits and this was a relaxing holiday with plenty of days at the poolside and some meals at the hotel but highlights things that I'd recommend or advise.
Our Virgin plane from London Gatwick was delayed by a couple of hours due to a technical issue. We actually saw the plane being towed away from the stand which triggered concern from some passengers about the flight being cancelled but as soon as the airline reassured passengers that the flight would definitely be leaving, calm was restored. The flight itself was fine (economy), it actually flew by (helped by a couple of wines!). As we left late, we arrived slightly later than usual at 5ish so we got through customs pretty quickly. Luggage came through quickly and we joined the usual queue to get through customs. Red caps were taking people through in a separate lane but it was causing confusion with other passengers following them.
We've always had a hire car that we've picked up from the airport but after the long journey and because of advice I've read on here, I'd arranged for the car to be delivered to the hotel the next day. This was a great decision as it saved hanging around in the heat filling out paperwork. The taxi was a fixed price of 31 BBD to the Southern Palms, a hotel we've stayed at for the last 15 or so years.
We use Top Cars (Barbados Car Rentals) for the hire car and i've never been able to fault anything they've done. This time, they had a fantastic rate on due the founding father's birthday and they upgraded the car for us free of charge.
Southern Palms is lovely, staff are friendly, especially Rodney the watersports guy who is great with our 9 year old. Rodney and a few of the other staff came to the balcony on our son's 9th birthday with a cake with a big sparkler on top a surprise, it made it really special. We normally upgrade to an Ocean View room at the SP which (surprisingly) overlooks the beach instead of the gardens.
To get the hot topics out of the way, the sea was full of seaweed when we arrived but after a couple of days it cleared and we didn't see it again for the rest of our visit. The sewage issue was not close to our hotel however we drive through the affected areas by Massy and Lanterns Mall and to be honest it was pretty awful. I would say that it's contained to specific areas from what we saw.
Despite visiting Barbados lots of times, I read this forum a lot and still pick up loads of useful info. Normally, we take Barbados currency with us that we've changed in the UK.. This time, I took some sterling and was planning to change it in a bank for the best rate but as I headed to reception to ask for the nearest bank after having looked up the interest rates online, I noticed the hotel's exchange rate which was virtually the same so I used them to change money for us through-out the visit. This saved me the queues in the bank.
Foodwise - we normally eat at a mixture of low-medium end places with the odd high-end as a treat e.g. Champers. As we're back in December for Christmas where we're planning to splash out a bit more, this time our food budget was more limited so our choices of places to eat reflected that. We had room service a few times (due to son falling asleep as we were planning to go out!) and ate at the hotel restaurant once or twice so didn't eat out as much as we normally do. However we went to Mojo's (fantastic burgers LOVE this place), no sewage smells, Cafe Sol - also love the vibe and the food is good and the Cocktail Kitchen (lovely meal). We were planning to eat at Castaways but on the night we went, there was a private party so they didn't open the restaurant until later so we went to Paulo's de Churrasco. BIG mistake. We've not been here for 2-3 years but we used to come before that we had some amazing meals there, fantastic meat was served. On this visit, they only brought 6 out of the 14 meats on offer and most of it was undercooked and really really bland. This was our most expensive meal of our visit and the worst, I felt very deflated afterwards.
For breakfast we sometimes ate on our balcony (I brought cereals), at our hotel restaurant a couple of times and my favourite place, St Laurence Steakhouse. Unfortunately during our first breakfast there, Vanessa who works there, told us that they were closing for breakfast for a month as it was so quiet so that was our only visit. We also went to Bliss Cafe for brunch one day which is also a must visit place. I had the breakfast flatbread and husband and son had waffles and toppings which were massive and extremely good. Everything is made freshly to order so there's a wait but it's well worth it.
Places to go: first time to the Boatyard for son's birthday (we normally go on the Cool Runnings catamaran but it was fully booked that day). The Boatyard was excellent, this is great for older children with it's trampolines in the sea and they do a turtle tour (which we didn't do). We relaxed on the beach as our son played with friends he made. We all enjoyed it so much we returned later in the holiday. Basically you pay an entrance fee, get your sunbeds and umbrella, snorkelling tour in included and the majority of the entrance fee is redeemable at the bar for food and drink ,what more can you want?!!
One day we drove up to Earthworks which we love and visit every time, The staff there are fantastic, especially with children. On our last visit last xmas, they let our son make a mug from the clay. They promised to kiln it and keep it for us to collect on this visit and they were true to their word, it made my son's day. I come back with more pottery every time as I love their vibrant colours.
After that we went to Hometown beach for the first time and had lunch at Surfside (very nice).
The day after my son's birthday we went on the catamaran cruise with Cool Runnings which was excellent as always. A good mix of passengers and they looked after my son brilliantly. CR really suits us as it's laid back, plenty of fun but not too over the top.
Another fabulous holiday in Barbados for us and looking forward to coming for Christmas.