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SalsaGirl Jun 28th, 2009 01:01 PM

Barbados Hotels All Inclusives or some meals included
Can anyone recommend the best hotel to stay in (in Barbados) if you are looking for an All Inclusive or perhaps a hotel that serves a couple of your meals included in the deal?
My husband and I are trying to plan a trip there in end of July. We don't want to end up somewhere that is run-down and uncomfortable. We've done some research on-line and in Fodor's in Focus books but are not set on any specific location on Barbados. The reviews are making us go back and forth and no where closer to a decision.
Looking for a relaxing vacation with a few activities, but we are not looking for an action packed vacation. No children. Just us. We can get a car if necessary. Also, we went to St. Lucia last year and although we loved the island, found our hotel enjoyable with beautiful grounds --but run down and not so comfortable-that was Coconut Bay. We are trying not to make the same mistake. Your thoughts and ideas would be much appreciated!

KVR Jun 28th, 2009 01:57 PM

We've been looking for the same thing for a future trip. Here are the AI hotels:

Almond Beach Club & Spa - 16 years old and up

Almond Beach Village

Almond Casuarina Beach Resort

Crystal Cove Hotel

Turtle Beach Resort

It's been hard for us to make a decision as we want to stay close to St. Lawerence Gap, but the AI hotels are not close to that area. You will get responses to not go AI because Barbados has plenty of resturants to offer, but it's a personal choice and I would do AI anyway.

We would probably go with Almond Beach Club & Spa since it's basically adults only.

Knowing Jun 28th, 2009 02:29 PM

I am one of those people that will tell you not to do an AI on Barbados. The dining there is exquisite! However, if you stay on the executive floor at the Hilton, it includes breakfast. There is also the afternoon tea. To finish it off, they have a self serve bar along with several kinds of appetizers, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip type of things. If you have a day full of nothing but shopping or whatever, and you eat lunch out you may not want more than what I've stated above. When we've stayed there, many people never went out to dinner as they felt there was so much food during that cocktail hour. Essntially, they ended up paying only for a lunch every day.

The hotel is very nice and close to the Gap area, which we really like. You would need a car or to call for a cab if you left the resort.

pawpause Jun 28th, 2009 03:59 PM

i have also been going back and forth because of all the reviews. but everyone has a different view of things. i decided to bite the bullet and go to almond beach village- because i have children. if i was going with just my husband i would choose almond beach club and spa. my husband and i went once before and stayed at mango bay. that was very nice-but not alot to do with kids- otherwise i would stay there again. good luck!

SalsaGirl Jun 28th, 2009 06:00 PM

Hi-- Yes thankyou-- we came up with a similar list. Its great to compare. We are sorting it out, and I guess the ideal situation would be that we are not paying for every single meal out. I don't know what the range is like for dining out in Barbados either...but from what I've been reading dinners for 2 people are approx. 100.00 US Dollars and up. Is that sort of what you are expecting?

KVR Jun 28th, 2009 06:11 PM

I can only compare from our prior trips in other destinations to what to expect in Barbados. In Aruba, we did do AI and went out for a few evening meals. The finer resturants were around $80 to $100. Middle range around $40-$60. Breakfast around $20. We found the same prices in Curacao. In Curacao we did not go AI. We had an apartment instead. We cooked in breakfast and lunch and ate out for dinners, which is not the kind of trip we like to do. ie; having to watch our budget. Beer is about $5 and mixed drinks around $7-$10. For a seven night stay that really adds up, which is why we prefer AI.

If we can find a cheaper hotel that offers an AI plan, then it's worth it to do that and then be able to eat a few meals out so to experience the best of both worlds.

SalsaGirl Jun 29th, 2009 05:22 AM

Interesting...Curacao was my first pick for this years vacation, but I could not find airfare that was anything near reasonable. Barbados is a little better for us, but not by much.

Mango Bay was going to be my first pick and the Fodors in Focus travel book reviews Mango Bay very good, but remarks on the fact that they have a drainage stream on the north side of the property that becomes odoiferous at times. Did you happen to smell that when you were there? This was the main reason why we have not considered it.

If anyone has been to Mango Bay and also Almond Beach Club and Spa and can compare/contrast -- I would love to hear about your experience.

Thank you-- SalsaGirl ;-)

KVR Jun 29th, 2009 07:51 AM

It took us 2 years to find affordable air to Curacao. We ended up getting a travel agent since none of the on-line booking companies had what we wanted. American Airlines has the monopoly to Curacao and their prices are outragous. Many include overnights in Miami, which I wouldn't consider doing. We ended up flying on Continental direct from Houston to Aruba and the took Insel Air over to Curacao. We were able to get there and back in one day. If you interested in going to Curacao try that.

I can tell you that though we enjoyed our vacation and was glad we went, it was not one of our favorite Islands and we wouldn't return. It's too far and too expnesive for what's offered.

I have Barbados on our list when I can afford to do the Island hopping trips to Grenada and the Grenadines as seperate trips to those Islands would be cost prohibitive. We had set on the Sandy Bay Beach Club, but then they changed to non-AI. So that's out. When the time comes we'll actually probably pick the cheapest AI we can find. :) The hotel doesn't mean as much to us as the things to see and do outside of the hotel. After our non-AI trip to Curacao, DH insisted "no more". He wants AI or nothing.

travlgal Jun 29th, 2009 12:08 PM

I would not recommend the Almond Beach Club - the beach area is very small and cluttered - messy. I would hands down stay at the Almond Beach Village - much nicer property if you must go AI. Don't forget that you have exchange privieges with each Almond property and there is a complimentary shuttle that runs. I also put my vote in for the Hilton Executive Floor.

palmtree2384 Jun 29th, 2009 02:38 PM

we stayed at the almond beach club quite a few years ago and I can't say for sure how it is now, but we loved it. It was so nice not to have little kids running around. It was also nice to have the all-inclusive. My husband loved it because you can be lounging out by the pool and go up and get as many drinks as you want, not that we usually drink alot of alcohol or anything but when we are on vacation maybe a little more than usual =) We still had maybe two dinners that weren't at the hotel and I think we still saved a lot of money and it was nice to not worry about having money for everything when you get there. Yes the beach was on the small side but we also went to a few other beaches. We had an awesome time.

MYSTREYLADY Jun 29th, 2009 02:42 PM

we stayed at the Almond beach resort about 6 years ago. We usually stay at Adults only but were told also that the beach was very small and not to nice so we stayed at the village it does allow children so this may not work for you we did not have many children at the resort since we went in October. We had a great time at the resort the staff food and drinks were great. It was one of our favorite trips. We did take a shuttle into town for shopping the island is very nice and safe. The resort offered a trip to swim with the turtles that was alot of fun and amazing to swim so close to the turtles. One other thing is that they did keep the children in the childrens section and away from the adults pool and when we were going on the bannana boat they did tell the kids they could not go with us but we said it was fine so they let the kids on with us it was great we flipped the bannana boat over and had a blast.

SalsaGirl Jun 29th, 2009 04:50 PM

The Hilton sounds good but-- The grounds? are they not as beautiful as other resorts? I saw a comment that the hotel could be anywhere. (I took that as nothing special) This was Fodor's take on it.

Mango Bay? Anyone have comments on Mango Bay? Is it just as nice as Almond Bay.

I am soo appreciative of these responses.

xkenx Jun 30th, 2009 11:36 AM

Salsa Girl,
You're right about the Hilton--nothing special in a commercialized area. To have nice grounds in and around your hotel, stay on the calm water west coast north of Bridgetown.
A.I. hotels on Barbados are few, not on the best beaches, have ordinary food. Paying for A.I. traps you at the resort for lunch, and you don't save money going A.I. Virtually all the hotels offer MAP where you get breakfast and dinner included, if you want to go that way. You can buy lunch there or wherever you are exploring. There are so many good independent restaurants, that most of the non-A.I. hotels have very good food to compete with them and other hotels. The really class act on the island is Coral Reef Club, family-owned, low-rise plantation style. Their rates include all taxes and service fees. If you compare to the A.I. hotels, the prices won't be much different, but Coral Reef blows all of them away.

greenie Jun 30th, 2009 01:23 PM

Let me throw this in...most hotels offer meal plans. If you like a hotel and an area, see if the hotel has a meal plan. Most do.

Peace, Greenie

Knowing Jul 1st, 2009 11:17 AM

The Hilton Barbados is located on a huge beach and they have a wonderful bi-level pool. To me, Hilton is the most amazing hotel on the island. OK, maybe Sandy Lane is more amazing, but most people don't want to put out that type of money. My husband thinks the Hilton has the type of plush he likes and the staff really went out of their way for us. Our housekeeper went to the drugstore on her own time and bought me something for my back. How often do you see something like that?

SalsaGirl Jul 3rd, 2009 09:11 AM

Thanks for all the great tips and information. I think I may add up the cost of doing each way and see what makes most sense. I will share the numbers in case it helps anyone else. Perhaps check back in a day or so.

Odin Jul 4th, 2009 03:41 AM

It is true that the Almond Beach Club does not have a beach to speak of but if you turn left out of the hotel (from the beach) you are in front of Sandy Lane Hotel on Sandy Lane Bay which is a beautiful beach. It is literally a few steps from the Almond Beach club. If you turn right and walk past the Divi Heritage and a villa, you will be on another pristine beach which also has good snorkeling. It is also walking distance to Holetown and is in a convenient location - you can get to good restaurants like Tides/Daphnes and the Cliff easily.

The Almond Casuarina is rather large & busy, the beach is lovely although rough. The Almond Village has large stretch of beach, their best restaurant is the Italian one but after a week they all become rather boring and repetitive.

Cobblers Cove might be an alternative to consider, pricier than the Almond Resorts but it is in a different class. It is not AI but you can have MAP. It is a small and intimate hotel, beach is beautiful & calm but narrow. Gardens are beautiful and the restaurant is very good (member of Relais & Chateaux). If the budget allows there is also the Sandpiper, again MAP plan is available.

greenie Jul 4th, 2009 03:48 AM

Salsagirl, I think that's a great decision! I think you'll find a broader choice with the MAP plans.

Peace, Greenie

SalsaGirl Jul 6th, 2009 06:08 PM

Knowing/Greenie/Xknex/travelgal/mystreylady/palmtree/pawpause/KVR and Odin....

Its not looking so good for non AI. The affordable packages are all AI... The only non AI that is a possiblity is the Royal Fairmont...but the tea they serve sounds pretty much like junk food. Things are look like Almond Beach Club...

Does anyone know if buy a vacation package to a place that includes a mealplan...can you add it on later? Like when you get to the hotel?

greenie Jul 7th, 2009 02:50 AM

Salsagirl, Yes you can add it when you check in. But from my experience, all you will need is breakfast and you can probably get that free with Best of Barbados program.

There are so many choices for lunch and dinner off the resort/hotel. Barbados has a wonderful restaurants. There are even lunch trucks that come in the afternoon that you can buy wonderful meals from. When we stayed at Bouganvillea a couple years ago, there was this guy that came everyday at lunch that had roti and other local foods for less the $10 for lunch.

Peace, Greenie

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