Fodor's Expert Review Colony Club Hotel
Hwy. 1, Porters, St. James BB24017, Barbados See on Map Fodor's Choice
The signature hotel of the seven Elegant Hotel properties on Barbados is certainly elegant but with an understated style and tone that’s primarily targeted to adults. The resort boasts a beautiful beachfront and a lagoon-style pool that meanders through the 7 acres of tropical gardens—a romantic setting, indeed.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Closed September; kid-friendly activities only in summer and holiday season.
The décor in all guestrooms, regardless of location, is sophisticated, with traditional mahogany furniture and neutral colors on the walls and accoutrements. Each room has a private balcony or patio; 20 rooms have access to the lagoon pool directly from their patio. Ocean view rooms have an extraordinary view of the sea from their comfortably furnished balcony.
There’s an espresso machine in each room and a yoga mat to use in your room, on your patio/balcony, or elsewhere.
Bathrooms are spacious and stunning, with marble tile on the walls, a large soaking tub, separate glass-walled rain shower, granite-top vanity with double vessel sinks, extra-large vanity mirror, and ultra-modern fixtures. Bathrobes are provided, along with high-end toiletries.
The hotel is set back from the road by a long, tree-lined driveway. Reception is in a rather large courtyard, with a koi pond in the center and a surrounding colonnade with a couple of shops, library, and business center. Off this area is a lounge wit plantation-style chairs and tables in small seating arrangements conducive to conversation, along with a more intimate space called the Planters Lounge. You might call the atmosphere here “clubby.” (The property initially was, in fact, a private club.)
A beautifully landscaped lagoon pool—with waterfalls—meanders through the gardens, past guestrooms, and alongside the restaurants. Larger, traditional-style pools are situated near the restaurant and lobby complex and deep within the gardens. Sun loungers and umbrellas are set up all along and around the pools.
An onsite spa offers traditional massages, aromatherapy, relaxing Japanese bath rituals, and salon treatments.
A small gym has treadmills, a stationary bike, various machines, and free weights. Weekly Pilates, yoga, zumba, and aqua aerobics classes are complimentary.
The resort has two tennis courts, and staff members often play beach cricket with guests.
Laguna Restaurant, an airy, high-ceiling dining room next to the lobby lounge and overlooking the pool, is the hotel’s main restaurant and serves buffet breakfast (included), à la carte lunch, and, in a more formal atmosphere, dinner—often accompanied by piano, jazz, or other live music. Umbrella-shaded tables and chairs are set up at the Sunset Deck Restaurant, where sunbathers, beachgoers, and pool lovers can grab a bite to eat all day long—lunch, dinner, or a quick snack.
For a unique experience, join a Bait-to-Plate fishing trip with the chef.
Laguna Bar, in the center of the main restaurant, serves tea and juices—squeezed from fruit and vegetables grown in the hotel’s own organic garden—during the day and cocktails at night. Either walk up or swim up to the Sunset Bar, strategically placed at the edge of the pool deck and adjacent to the beach boardwalk. Enjoy half-priced drinks during happy hour from 4-6 p.m., which coincides with the sunset.
The beach in front of the hotel is long and often narrow, depending on storms, but the sand is white and soft—and studded with palm trees—and the sea is clear and calm. There are plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas to go around. Both motorized and non-motorized water sports—snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, tubing, and paddle boarding—are complimentary, along with instructions.
YOU SHOULD KNOW While there are a lot of sun loungers, guests tend to reserve their preferred spots early in the morning—and the race to reserve is more than a little exasperating for those who aren’t early risers.
It’s a good hike (or a short drive) to Holetown and Limegrove Plaza, an upscale shopping mall with high-end boutiques and inviting cafés. The bus passes by the entrance, which is down a long tree-lined driveway, and goes north to Speightstown or south to Holetown and Bridgetown ($1 each trip). Taxis are always on call. A rental car makes sense if you want to explore the island on your own or try different restaurants during your stay. A complimentary water taxi shuttles guests between the Elegant Hotels properties on the west coast: Crystal Cove, Waves, Tamarind, and Colony Club. The water taxi makes the several round trips per day between 9:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., weather permitting.
On 2nd Street in Holetown, The Mews (3-minute drive)—formerly a private home—is a maze of intimate dining rooms where the chef specializes in farm-to-table cooking, whether classic dishes, bistro fare, or small plates. Just south of Holetown, The Tides (3-minute drive) has long been considered one of the island’s best restaurants. The cuisine is as dazzling as the atmosphere.
Consider lunch or dinner at Daphne's (10-minute drive), the beachfront restaurant at sister hotel, The House. The chef and his brigade whip up first-class “modern Italian” cuisine, and the extensive wine list features both regional Italian and fine French selections. A little farther south at The Cliff Beach Club (15-minute drive), the seaside view is the same as its ultra-expensive, adjacent big sister (The Cliff), but the atmosphere is casual and the menu is affordable.
Enjoy a sophisticated evening at Drift Ocean Terrace Lounge (10-minute drive), just south of Holetown; get there at sunset for a stunning view, too. For a more lively night, try Red Door Lounge (5-minute drive) on 1st Street in Holetown.
WHY WE LIKE IT
It’s sophisticated but not over the top: beautiful gardens, lovely lagoon pool, attractive accommodations, excellent restaurant(s), pleasant service…a perfect place for a relaxing tropical vacation.
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