You can live it large in lux­ury Ba­jan bolt­hole

Set on the is­land of Bar­ba­dos in the West Indies, this ho­tel is an A-list favourite

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

Step­ping off the plane in Bar­ba­dos, I’m hit by the warmth. Not just the 30-de­gree heat, though that’s very wel­come when you’ve flown in from rain-bat­tered Bri­tain; it’s the friend­li­ness of the peo­ple that re­ally stands out. Bar­ba­dos — the east­ern­most isle of the Lesser An­tilles in the West Indies — is beau­ti­ful from shore to shore, but many agree its west coast is best. I sam­ple a taste of the A-list life­style when I stay at one of the is­land’s most fa­mous and his­toric ho­tels, the Fair­mont Royal Pavil­ion, which has re­cently un­der­gone a re­fur­bish­ment.

Perched right on the beach, in the parish of St James, it was re­de­vel­oped just be­fore laws were in­tro­duced re­quir­ing ho­tels to be set fur­ther back from the shore­line and all 75 rooms face the sea. The ho­tel also has a se­cluded three-bed villa, where shy celebri­ties some­times stay.

My room has a king-sized bed and wide bal­cony over­look­ing the ocean, along with a cir­cu­lar sofa and a tempt­ing tray for cock­tails. The ser­vice is ex­cep­tional, with friendly, ef­fi­cient staff, plus a team of but­lers to tend to your ev­ery need — from iron­ing your clothes, to bring­ing de­li­cious canapes to your room ev­ery evening.

The ho­tel’s two main restau­rants over­look the white sands and serve in­ter­na­tional cui­sine and tra­di­tional lo­cal dishes. There’s also a beach club and a pool­side bar over­look­ing the sea, where colour­ful cock­tails are on of­fer.

The Fair­mont of­fers com­pli­men­tary ac­tiv­i­ties, such as kayak­ing, pad­dle­board­ing and ten­nis; or in­dulge in one of the many spa treat­ments avail­able, in­clud­ing mas­sage and aro­mather­apy, in the pri­vacy of your room.

If you want an ac­tive day out, take a cata­ma­ran cruise (around £75-£120 for a four-hour trip, in­clud­ing lunch and drinks). Af­ter be­ing picked up from the beach, we sail along the co­conut tree-lined coast, ac­com­pa­nied by fly­ing fish. Us­ing snorkels and masks pro­vided, we swim in the clear turquoise wa­ter with tur­tles. Step out­side the ho­tel and just a few min­utes walk away, you’ ll find golf cour­ses, bars and de­signer stores in Ho­le­town, a trendy area for visi­tors at­tracted by restau­rants like Nishi, which of­fers ter­rific Asian and Caribbean cui­sine.

Or drive 10 min­utes north to Speight­stown, where the lovely beach­side restau­rant The Orange Street Gro­cer has its own pizza oven. Also close by to the ho­tel is Lan­caster Great House, run by John and Rain Chan­dler, who en­ter­tain us with tales of is­land life and the celebri­ties they have hosted over the years. I try pan-seared fly­ing fish with green ba­nana puree and sweet potato mash for a main course, fol­lowed by a sub­lime co­conut and pineap­ple creme brulee. Other at­trac­tions in­clude St Ni­cholas Abbey, St Peter. This 350-year-old Ja­cobean plan­ta­tion house is filled with orig­i­nal an­tique fur­ni­ture. They still har­vest sugar cane and make rum here. Try one of the richly-flavoured 20-year-old rums. There is also Hunte’s Gar­dens, St Joseph, and Har­ri­son’s Cave, Allen View where you can hop on an un­der­ground tramway to see pre­his­toric sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites, or climb deep into the cav­ernous caves, with an ex­pert guide.

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