Everyone knows that Barbados has beautiful beaches, tasty rum, and of course, beautiful beaches. But what about the uniquely Bajan experiences you just can’t find in a guidebook? We sent some of our travel experts into the thick of it. This is what they came back with.
This island nation offers more than 140 incredible villa options. Each one has its own special formula of around-the-clock service to make your stay as relaxing as possible, starting from the moment your vacation begins. You can expect a hero’s welcome, says Luxury Retreats team member Edward Puglia. On his recent Barbados trip, his group of eight was pleasantly surprised to arrive to a lineup of staff members outside their villa handing out cold, refreshing towels and rum punch.
But the service can go much, much further than that. Leamington Pavilion’s large pool (pictured right) is surrounded by a beautifully manicured lawn and comfy lawn chairs, making it the perfect place to chill in the sun or watch the sunset. Thanks to staff, Edward and his family didn’t ever have any reason to get out of the water. Edward recalls: “It was nice to be able to hang out with the family, sit around the pool, and literally have a butler come into the pool with a silver platter with your beer.” Now that’s service!
The Civilian Tour Guides
You hear it all the time: Bajan locals are so welcoming! Take the story of LR team member Levi Hoffman, who got lost in the rain on his recent trip to the island.
During this one particular storm, Hoffman pulled his car to the side of the road to ask a man for directions to his destination. The local knew exactly where to go but wanted to do more, so he insisted on jumping into the car with the disoriented tourist. To Levi’s surprise, the man rode shotgun for 10 minutes directing him to his desired location. Upon arrival, Hoffman offered to drive the kind man back to where he had picked him up. The man refused the gesture and jumped out of the car. “He literally just did it to help me out!” Hoffman recalls with a smile.
Taking a bus isn’t normally at the top of one’s list when traveling to a new location. But Barbados offers a unique and informal travel experience you just can’t find anywhere else. The region has two bus systems: private and public. The public buses are government-run and cover most of the island. Secure and reliable, this bus is a good option. But, if you’re looking to get the most out of every moment of your trip – including a simple bus ride – there’s one bus you have to ride: the ZR van. “It’s a must-do for someone really looking to connect with the local culture,” insists LR staffer Edward Puglia.
Barbados actually has two private buses: Minibuses, painted yellow with a blue stripe, and ZR vans, painted white with a maroon stripe. Adrenaline junkies – seek out the white-and-maroon. The vans are notorious for driving wildly fast and blasting Drake, Rihanna, or reggae music while picking up passengers along the island’s roads. “It flies, it speeds like crazy – it was just an experience. Anyone who’s looking for a local flair when going to Barbados, you need to check out the private bus,” Puglia says. Sound like fun?
The Pineapple Man
By now you’re aware that Bajans are known for their friendliness. They aren’t, however, without their eccentricities. LR team member Sarah Marsden reminds us of this with a story of her own.
“We’re just lying on our lounge chairs [at Paynes Bay Beach] and this guy comes up, whips a pineapple out of his bag, and starts rapping to us,” Marsden recounts, laughing at the memory.
The man went on to rap and rhyme for five minutes declaring himself The Pineapple Man. Marsden and her vacation guests might have expected to return home with a few stories to tell, but they hadn’t seen this coming. Finally, the free-spirited artist/salesman offered to cut up the pineapple for his new audience while treating them to a rap and a song.
The Pineapple Man is legendary around the island, with many travelers having their own encounter and story to go with it. For a real taste of the local culture, keep an eye out for this fruit savant.
Where you choose to stay is a crucial part of your trip. Your villa is where you begin and end your day, whether with sightseeing in between, or having never left at all. To simplify your planning, here are 5 staff favorites that will make any Caribbean trip a success.
Barbados is known of course for its beautiful beaches, so look no further than Old Trees #201, where Paynes Bay Beach is just steps away. If you prefer a private swim, how about Tom Tom: The villa so nice we named it twice. With surprisingly stunning views, a day by the pool here can easily stretch into a week by the pool.
Leamington Pavilion is one of our flagship Barbados homes. Stunning English artifacts and one-of-a-kind pieces makes this property feel like a gallery to be explored slowly. This is one of those villas you’ll need a good reason to leave. For a traditional Bajan feel inside and out, check out Still Fathoms. This quaint but spacious property’s yellow exterior has a classic Barbados look. On the inside, you’ll never grow tired of each bedroom’s unique color scheme and vibrant design.
For those that like to wander, leave your Footprints all over Alleynes Bay Beach, on which this sleek villa sits. Located just a short walk or drive from three beaches, two golf courses, and three towns, your stay here will keep you active, to say the least.
Stories like these are everywhere on this charming island. As they say, what happens in Barbados, well, you pretty much have to tell everyone. Tell us about your next uniquely Bajan experience by using #MyLuxuryRetreat on Instagram!
Where to stay in Barbados