Fodor's Expert Review The Sandpiper
Hwy. 1, Folkestone, Holetown, St. James, Barbados See on Map Fodor's Choice
An intimate vibe and a nearly private beach keep guests coming back to this upscale hideaway, with accommodations spread throughout 7 acres of gardens. Couples find it romantic. Families find it delightful. Service is exquisite. The Sandpiper, a boutique resort, shares some facilities at nearby Coral Reef Club, its much larger sister hotel, including tennis privileges, scuba diving, the spa, supervised children’s programs, and a playground.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Book well in advance, as the hotel is small and popular—75% repeat guests, including some whose names you might recognize! Also, it’s closed in September.
Standard rooms have a lovely garden view. One- and two-bedroom suites each have a separate living room and full kitchen. All rooms have a toaster to ensure warm, freshly made toast with your room-service breakfast. Two modern beach house suites, which are steps from the sand, have a separate living room with a sofa bed, a media center, modern furnishings and a moveable wall that opens onto a large covered sun deck with a wet bar and an amazing view of the ocean. Tree Top suites also face the beach and are luxuriously spacious; wraparound terraces have a wet bar and a sundeck with a plunge pool. (Because of the plunge pool, they’re reserved for adults only.)
YOU SHOULD KNOW Only the Beach House and Tree Top suites have TV; otherwise, guests may rent one by the week.
Standard garden rooms have a tub/shower combination, but suites have separate tubs and showers and a large vanity with double sinks. Bathrooms in the Tree Top suites, in particular, are huge—as big as some Manhattan apartments! Each has a stand-alone soaking tub, oversize marble walk-in shower, long vanity with double sinks, and lots of space. All rooms come with robes and slippers and an assortment of high-end toiletries.
The open-air lobby of The Sandpiper is quite striking. Bold mahogany columns, which frame a pair of lounges furnished with stylish chairs and ottomans, seem to hold up a mezzanine level. At the opposite end, the lobby opens to a rock water feature.
The resort has two pools: a small but inviting kidney-shape pool and a 60-foot lap pool. Sun loungers and umbrella tables line the edges of both pools.
The Sandpiper doesn’t have its own spa on the property, but massages, body treatments, and other personal services are available two minutes away at The Spa at Coral Reef Club. Transfers to and from the spa are complimentary.
The gym has treadmills, a rowing machine, stationary bicycles, cross trainers, weight machines, and free weights.
A tennis court is lit for night play, with complimentary clinics and coaching from the resident pro.
The restaurant—called simply “The Restaurant”—is open to the view on three sides. Breakfast and dinner are served here; lunch is served at Harry’s Beach Bar. Dinner at The Restaurant is a special treat that’s comparable to dining at the finest restaurant. Torch-lit gardens surrounding the restaurant create a romantic ambience. Most nights there’s live, low-key music. On Wednesday nights, a themed buffet focuses primarily on West Indian dishes—but also includes roast beef with Yorkshire pudding! And on Sunday nights, live steel pan music accompanies the beach barbecue.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The hotel requests that guests not bring children under age 5 to the restaurant at dinnertime; instead, room service is available and babysitters may be hired.
For a refreshing drink during the day or a cocktail at sundown, Harold’s Beach Bar is the place to be. You can even concoct your own signature cocktail to put on the Harold’s menu.
The beach here is situated on a little bay or inlet, so the sea is on very calm for swimming. A beachside wooden deck has several loungers and umbrellas. Non-motorized water sports—including snorkeling, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and sailing (Hobie Cat, Laser, or Sunfish)—are complimentary.
Scuba diving is available at Coral Reef Club, and deep-sea fishing charters can be arranged.
It’s an easy walk to Holetown and Limegrove Plaza, an upscale shopping mall with high-end boutiques and inviting cafés. Sunset Crest Shopping Center and Chattel Village (shops) are just a little farther south—and also within walking distance. There’s bus service on the main road, but The Sandpiper guests are unlikely to choose that option. Taxis are always on call. A rental car makes sense if you want to explore the island on your own.
The large, open-air restaurant at sister hotel Coral Reef Club (2-minute drive) is excellent and certainly convenient for Sandpiper guests. Just south of Holetown, The Tides (5-minute drive) has long been considered one of the island’s best restaurants. Once a private mansion, the dining room—just feet from the sea—has huge tree trunks growing right through it. The cuisine is as dazzling as the atmosphere. And on 2nd Street in Holetown itself, The Mews (5-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.
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, and the extensive wine list features both regional Italian and fine French selections. 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.
Just south of Holetown, enjoy a sophisticated evening at Drift Ocean Terrace Lounge (10-minute drive)—get there at sunset for a stunning view, too—or a more lively night on 1st or 2nd Street in Holetown at Red Door Lounge (5-minute drive).
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Sandpiper is a gem—no doubt about it.
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