Radisson Aquatica Resort in Barbados was a bit of a shift in style for me, being slightly different from the ultra-luxury boutique style accommodation I usually go for. However, there was a good reason to step beyond my usual style – the Radisson Acquatica’s enviable views out over the beautiful water and sands of Carlisle Bay and the UNESCO listed Victorian Pier.
The stunning views and the laid-back charm of the hotel definitely won my heart and made it a great place to stay during our Barbados holiday.
We flew to Barbados from the nearby island of Saint Lucia, aboard the local Caribbean carrier Liat Airways. Although the plane was a small propeller model, the service was very professional, and the flight was smooth. Overall, for a modest airline that flies mainly between the Caribbean islands, I was impressed.
We arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown after about half an hour of flying time. As we made our way through the airport, we were greeted by the smiling faces of famous Barbadians including Sir Garry Sobers, Kamau Braithwaite and – perhaps most famously – pop star Rihanna. Being a big fan of Rihanna, I was excited to be on her home turf!
To allow us more freedom to explore the island, we decided to rent a car which we collected from the airport. We then drove our Jeep about half an hour before reaching the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados. We were especially glad to see the friendly smiles of the staff and try the Rum Punch welcome drink on offer.
As we checked in, the receptionist explained to us about the features of the resort and our bags disappeared off with the trusty porters as we were led to our room on the sixth floor.
It was the location of the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados which attracted me to it in the first place, and I was indeed not disappointed. Lying on the shoreline of the stunning mile-long Carlisle Bay, the resort has 124 well-equipped rooms and many feature views out over the gorgeous blue ocean and UNESCO-listed Victorian Pier.
The resort also features facilities including full-service restaurants, an oceanfront bar on the pier, and a fitness centre with views out over the beautiful calm waters. Although I was visiting for pleasure, not business, there are well-equipped meeting facilities if needed.
It wouldn’t be a Caribbean resort without a luxurious pool, and the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados did not disappoint. The large swimming pool has a unique feature of being half for adults and a half for kids – perfect for guests who want a little more peace, as well as families looking to enjoy the pool guilt-free.
One noticeable feature of the resort is the staffs’ genuine passion for making sure that every guest has a memorable stay in Barbados and at the resort. We much appreciated their kind hospitality and professionalism.
I was very impressed with our King Room with Ocean View, which was located on the 6th floor of the hotel. As soon as we walked into the room, I was mesmerised by the 180-degree ocean views that wrapped around the room. I understand this was unique to our room (601) owing to its location on one side of the building.
The room itself featured a simple, contemporary design that blended well with the beautiful view. The King Room was also well-equipped with the features you would expect from an upscale resort, including a large flat-screen television, tea and coffee making facilities and a large in-room safe. There was also a workspace, and a spacious balcony to sit and take in the beautiful view.
We also appreciated finding a small surprise in the room of a fruit and cheese platter accompanied by a bottle of local white wine. This was a lovely surprise that was enjoyed on the balcony while soaking in the stunning ocean views.
Each morning we ate breakfast at the Aquatic Club Restaurant which features all you can eat buffet breakfast. The selection is relatively modest but features authentic Bajan food, Western favourites as well as lovely fresh tropical fruit. There is also room service available if you would prefer to enjoy it in the comfort of your room, soaking up the view of the gorgeous beach.
Of course, I was not content only to look at the stunning beaches – I also wanted to relax on them, feeling the sand beneath my toes and hearing the lap of the waves on the shoreline. Luckily, Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados is a perfect choice for a beach lover, with direct access to beautiful Carlisle Bay and Browne’s Beach.
Both have long strips of soft white sand and calm azure waters that are perfect for swimming. In fact, they are some of the best beaches in Barbados – as others on the island tend to be quite rough and can have dangerous rip tides. By contrast, Carlisle Bay and Browne’s Beach are very calm, and I loved relaxing on the resort’s sun lounges with a refreshing Rum Punch in hand.
Another exciting feature of the beach is that it is close to the Barbados horse racing track, so each morning trainers bring their horses to exercise and swim in the calm waters. It is an intriguing sight that also makes for some beautiful photographs.
The resort is located in the Barbadian capital of Bridgetown, meaning it is very close to many of the top events and attractions in the country. Given the modest size of the island, even those attractions that are further afield are still a leisurely drive away.
Therefore, within easy reach of the resort, there are dozens of activities including scuba diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding and walking tours. While we didn’t get a chance to do everything, we did get to try some fun activities.
Oistins Friday Fish Fry (30-minute drive)
A famous institution for both locals and visitors alike, each Friday and Saturday night hundreds of people flock to Oistins for a relaxed and fun-filled beach gathering. The gathering features delicious local food such as fried and grilled fish, fish cakes, sweet potato and macaroni pie, which my husband and I loved.
The beach is also filled with the sounds and rhythms of Caribbean music, adding to the festive and cheery atmosphere. There’s plenty of seating for everybody, and there are also various stalls to purchase locally made handicrafts and jewellery as a souvenir of this wonderful event.
Harrison’s Cave (30-minute drive)
This cave complex is almost 2.5km long, and was only comprehensively mapped in the 1970s – despite locals knowing about it for centuries. Today, the cave is still very much ‘alive’, with free-flowing water and ever-growing stalagmites.
We took a tour around the cave, and were very impressed by its expansive size and the interesting formations inside. We took the walking tour, however, we also saw the tracks for the tram tour which is a good option for older people or young families.
St Nicholas Abbey (45-minute drive)
Despite its name, St Nicholas Abbey is not a religious institution but instead was a private home for almost 350 years, having been built in the 17th Century. Today, visitors like us are welcome to tour the grounds and the impressive homestead, which features many beautiful antiques and architectural features.
Within the grounds, there is also a sugar mill and rum distillery, which you can tour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Although it was not open when we were there, we did take note of the “St Nicholas Abbey” brand name in the hopes of finding it later on.
One of the unexpected benefits of visiting the plantation was the stunning drive on the way there and back. While Barbados might be synonymous with white sandy beaches and blue ocean views, it also features dramatic inland landscapes including lush forest, sugar plantations and steep hills. We also managed to spot some lovable local wildlife, including monkeys snatching bananas from the trees!
The Carlisle Bay Marine Park is just metres from the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados and boasts some of the clearest waters and most diverse marine life in Barbados, so I certainly wasn’t going to leave without trying out some snorkelling!
We decided to join a tour and after a short boat ride found ourselves in the midst of the marine park. Snorkelling with the gorgeous green sea turtles and exploring eerie World War one and Two shipwrecks was definitely one of the highlights of our time in Barbados.
Cuz’s Beach Shack
The island of Barbados has a fun, relaxed vibe that is reflected in its culinary traditions as well as its attractions. We were lucky to discover a humble fish shack just behind the resort, which certainly encapsulates this island approach to life!
Cuz’s Beach Shack sells an assortment of tasty sandwiches including cheese sandwiches, flying fish sandwiches and a combination of the two. Intrigued, I tried the fish sandwich – and it was absolutely delicious. Definitely one of the best fish sandwiches I’ve tried – so it was no wonder this place was recommended to us by the resort staff.
Not only did we appreciate their recommendation, but we were also grateful when they offered to bring us sandwiches to enjoy on our sun lounges, with a rum punch in hand! It was just another example of the kind and genuine Barbadian hospitality that added so much to our trip.
Bathsheba (40-minute drive)
This beach on the island’s east coast draws its name from the wife of King David, who was said to have incredible beauty owing to bathing in milk to keep her skin soft and radiant. The rock pools of this beach are said to resemble her bath, making it a popular place for locals and overseas visitors.
As the actual ocean near the beach is said to be quite dangerous, so locals bathe in the pools near the water’s edge. The pools were 3 – 4 feet deep and had a bit of a natural whirlpool effect. It is certainly a thrill to lounge in them, but I instead opted to walk around and enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty.
The island of Barbados has a laidback, informal atmosphere that is replicated in the beautiful Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados. Initially, it was the stunning ocean views and site of the UNESCO listed pier that drew me to the resort, however, it was the genuine hospitality and kindness of the staff that would keep me going back.
All in all, the Resort is an upscale modern and comfortable offering, with gorgeous views and hospitable staff who take it to the next level.