Attractive buildings resembling seaside town houses wrap around the resort’s pools or face magnificent Maxwell Beach. Bougainvillea Beach Resort anchors the east end of St. Lawrence Gap, on the south coast of Barbados and not far from the fishing village of Oistins. Families love it here, because there’s a lot for kids to do. Besides the pools, the beach, and a bevy of water sports, there’s a kids’ club for youngsters and an air-conditioned game room for their older siblings. Bougainvillea is a green-certified hotel.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Check to see if construction is underway, as continuing renovations/reconstruction are on the drawing board.
The recently refurbished suites here, ranging from studios and junior suites to one- or two-bedroom suites, are huge when compared with hotel suites elsewhere in this price range. Decorated in appealing Caribbean pastels, each unit has a full kitchen or kitchenette—a supermarket is within walking distance—and a sitting area with a pullout sofa, which works well for families with small kids. Children ages 15 and under stay free when sharing a room with adults. All units have balconies or terraces that overlook either a pool and gardens or the ocean; four garden-level units have private plunge pools just off the terrace.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms are on four levels with no elevator. Request a ground-floor room if stairs are an issue.
Many of the bathrooms have been renovated with new tiling and fixtures; upgrading the remainder is planned. Vanities and mirrors are large; some of the newly renovated bathrooms have double sinks and granite counters. Some units have small tubs (too small to stretch out) and separate rain showers; others have shower stalls with rain shower heads. Soap, shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner are provided via push-button wall dispensers.
The lobby is rather perfunctory, with a front desk, a few chairs, and tour and sightseeing information. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors rather than hang around the lobby!
The resort has three pools: one has a waterfall, another has a swim-up bar, and the third is a deep lap pool.
Karma Spa & Salon offers massages (for individuals and couples), beauty treatments, facials, scrubs, manicures and pedicures, and salon services. Elemis products are used at the spa.
The air-conditioned fitness center has the latest cardio and strength training machines. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day and is restricted to guests who are at least 16 years old. Aerobic and yoga classes are offered, as well.
A hard-surface tennis court is open all day and floodlit in the evening.
The hotel has two oceanside restaurants. Lanterns by the Sea serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, with a BBQ buffet one night and a Caribbean buffet and floor show another night. The dinner menu always includes a vegetarian entrée, in addition to what would be considered “international” cuisine. Toddlers three years old and under eat free from the children’s menu, and kids up to age 15 are eligible for discounts off the main menu. The beachfront Siam Bar & Restaurant offers Thai-inspired cuisine and unique cocktails to match the food. Open each evening except Monday and Wednesday, Siam is a great spot for a romantic dinner. Of course, you can also prepare meals in your in-room kitchen or kitchenette—or request a private chef to come to your kitchen and prepare dinner for you.
Guests may have groceries delivered to their room or prestocked before arrival.
Slip into a chair on the dry side of the pool bar or swim up to a watery stool and enjoy a fruity signature cocktail like the “Bougainvillea Breeze,” Bajan rum punch, or a local Banks beer. The pool bar is open all day and evening, with a 2-for-1 happy hour each afternoon.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The pool bar is the only bar, and it closes at 10:30 p.m.
Bougainvillea sits on Maxwell Beach, a splendid quarter mile of white sand. Most days, the ocean is calm and swimming is perfectly safe. When the sea gets a little rough, warning flags are posted. Guests have complimentary use of snorkeling equipment, kayaks, boogie boards, and paddleboards—all available on the beachfront; the attendants will also arrange windsurfing, kitesurfing, and Hobie Cat sailing activities. Complimentary sun beds, umbrellas, and beach towels are available on the beach.
The kids' club and games room keep children occupied when they're not at the beach.
The local bus service is reliable, and the closest bus stop is a five-minute walk from the hotel. It’s a five-minute stroll to either St. Lawrence Gap or Oistins. A complimentary shuttle to Bridgetown is available Monday through Saturday. Taxi fare to the Gap is about $10; to the airport, about $20.
St. Lawrence Gap is a short walk from the hotel, but it’s better to take a taxi to Gap restaurants after dark. The Gap has a number of restaurants, but try Primo Bar & Bistro (5-minute drive) for delicious seafood and an excellent ocean view or Café Sol (5-minute drive) for Tex-Mex (or Gringo) cuisine and extraordinary margaritas.
Definitely take in the Oistins Fish Fry (5-minute drive), a must-do event on Friday evenings. All along the waterfron, local folks grill fresh fish (and chicken for landlubbers), served with traditional Bajan sides. Seating is at communal picnic tables, servings are huge, prices are low, and music adds to the fun—a good time for the whole family.
St. Lawrence Gap also has a lot of nighttime activity. Try The Old Jamm Inn or Scoopie's Jazz (5-minute drive) for drinks, music, dancing, and a convivial crowd.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Roomy suites, a beautiful beach, lots of activities (for both kids and adults), and excellent value—plus the option of self-catering, eating in or out, or choosing an all-inclusive arrangement—make this south coast resort a good choice for families or couples.