Fodor's Expert Review Coral Reef Club
Hwy. 1, Porters, St. James BB24017, Barbados See on Map Fodor's Choice
This delightful upscale resort, with pristine coral-stone cottages scattered over 12 acres of flower-filled gardens, offers “casual elegance” in a welcoming, informal atmosphere. Pathways meander past groups of cottages, through lush gardens, and along the waterfront. Spend days on the beach or at a pool, taking time out for afternoon tea.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Closed mid-May–mid-July and Sept; seven-night minimum stay during winter and spring holidays; no kids mid-January through February.
All rooms and suites are beautifully furnished in a rich, colonial style: mahogany bed and tables, wicker chairs, floral drapes, louvered windows, etc. Garden rooms and small cottages suit one or two guests; luxury cottage suites have a bedroom and separate living room with a sofa bed—great for families. Five Plantation suites are more like a small apartment: a bedroom, spacious living room, large bathroom and dressing area, covered terrace with wet bar, private sundeck with plunge pool, and an entertainment center.
YOU SHOULD KNOW No kids under 12 in the Plantation suites, which are also the only accommodations with a TV—though you can request a TV for other units at no charge.
Bathrooms are huge and modern, with a tub, walk-in shower, granite-top vanity with double vessel sinks, high-end toiletries, and robes. The Plantation suites, in particular, have amazing bathrooms: freestanding tub, rainfall shower, toilet and bidet, extra-large vanity…even an armchair!
The hotel lobby is actually a long, broad, high-ceiling hallway that leads from the entrance past reception, the TV lounge and game room, and finally to the restaurant. Against either wall, there are potted tropical plants and well-positioned side tables, chairs, and settees. Very stylish, indeed!
There are two swimming pools. The larger one is near the beach, restaurant, and bar, so drinks and snacks are never far away. The second pool is smaller, closer to the cottages, sort of hidden by tropical foliage—and, therefore, quieter.
The Coral Reef Barbados Spa has four treatment rooms, each with its own patio and garden, along with an open-sided relaxation room and a thermal suite, lounge, and mani/pedi salon. There’s also an outdoor pavilion for couples, an outdoor hydro-pool, and shaded cabanas for post-treatment relaxation. Therapists use Natura Bissé products for the various skincare and body treatments.
A separate salon offers hairdressing and other services for both ladies and gentlemen.
A large gym has treadmills, recumbent and upright cycles, a summit climber, a rowing machine, weight machines and free weights—all you'll need to stay in shape!
For outdoor exercise, two tennis courts are lit for night play—with complimentary coaching from the resident pro.
The alfresco Reef Restaurant serves breakfast (included), lunch, and dinner in the covered dining room and on a balcony overlooking the ocean. The menu, which changes daily, is à la carte except for a Monday night West Indian buffet and a Thursday night barbecue and floor show.
YOU SHOULD KNOW After 7:30 pm, kids are not welcome in the dining room. Children’s room service is available between 5:30 and 7 p.m., and babysitting can be arranged.
Guests mingle before dinner at The Reef Bar, located on the ocean side of the restaurant, or in comfortable sofas and club chairs in the adjacent lounge. There’s live entertainment every evening during the winter and most nights off-season.
A long, narrow beach stretches in front of the entire resort. The sand sometimes disappears, depending on the severity of August storms; eventually, of course, it reappears. The water is calm and clear, perfect for swimming. Sufficient beach chairs are available, with umbrellas and mature trees for shade. Non-motorized water sports are included: snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing (Hobie Cat, Laser, and Sunfish).
Hightide Watersports, a dive center, is based on the property and offers dive trips, lessons, and certification (all extra cost). Fishing charters can also be arranged.
The hotel is set back from the main road, down a long, tree-lined drive, so 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. 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.
On 2nd Street in Holetown, The Mews (3-minute drive)—formerly a private home—is a maze of intimate dining rooms; 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.
Lunch or dinner at Daphne's (10-minute drive), the beachfront restaurant of The House, is always a treat. The chef and his brigade whip up first-class “modern Italian” cuisine. A little farther south, The Cliff (15-minute drive) offers one of the finest dining experiences in the Caribbean—at a price. Be sure to reserve well ahead, especially if you want a waterfront table. Next door at The Cliff Beach Club, the seaside view is the same as its big sister; but the “club” atmosphere is casual, a table is easier to come by, and the menu is more 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
Everything here is “top drawer”—yet the atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious.
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