One of seven Elegant Hotels resorts on Barbados, Turtle Beach is the only one on the south coast. Nevertheless, you’re welcome to head to the west coast and enjoy reciprocal privileges at the sister hotels (with some restrictions). You’ll find plenty to do at Turtle Beach, though, and it’s a particularly popular family resort. First of all, it’s all-inclusive—so all meals, beverages, and activities are included in the rate. Then, the beach is magnificent. And the Flying Fish Kids' Club keeps kids, ’tweens, and teens busy with treasure hunts, supervised swims, games (electronic and otherwise), and other activities from 9 to 9 each day. That allows parents to play tennis, learn to windsurf or sail, relax on the beach, go exploring, or enjoy a romantic dinner for two at Asagio's Restaurant. Families also enjoy time together—cooling off in the three pools, riding the waves on boogie boards, and patronizing the very popular ice cream parlor!
Accommodations are spacious, nicely furnished, and offer either a pool/garden or ocean view. The décor is both contemporary and tropical, with light colors and glass doors that open to a furnished private balcony or patio. Junior suites each have a sitting area with a sofa bed and can accommodate a couple, three adults, or two adults and two children. One-bedroom suites have a separate living area with sofa bed and can accommodate up to four adults or two adults and three children. Junior suites have mini-fridges; one-bedroom suites have a stocked minibar.
Bathrooms are small and, while “upgraded,” are still rather old-fashioned. Each has a toilet, tub/shower combination with a glass half-door, and a counter with a single sink and a large mirror above it.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Having three or four people sharing the bathroom could cause a traffic jam—at least.
A curved staircase brings you to reception and a large, bright, airy lobby—actually a rather grand mezzanine that overlooks the two-story main dining room, down below, and the pool and sea beyond. The lobby furniture is stylish, with plenty of chairs and coffee tables placed in small arrangements. Guests can walk in either direction to 2nd floor rooms; shops on the lobby level sell beachwear, jewelry, and sundries. There’s an elevator to the upper floors and ground level, as well as stairs.
The two pools seem small relative to the number of children in them—even though there’s a separate splash pool for youngsters. The pool decks have plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas. Waterfront Café and the ice cream parlor are close enough to the pools to easily get refreshments throughout the day—and “pool ambassadors” keep the tropical drinks coming.
The onsite spa offers massages and treatments—for an extra charge.
Use of the fitness center is complimentary. Use the machines, the weights, or take a cardio fusion circuit, spinning, Pilates, or yoga class. For a workout that’s a little more fun, try beach cricket…or take a complimentary tennis clinic with a tennis pro. Too much exercise? There’s also table tennis!
Daily rounds of golf at the nearby Barbados Golf Club, including round-trip transportation and clubs, are also complimentary for guests age 17 and up. (Weekends and arrival/departure days are not included.)
Guests can choose to dine in any of five restaurants during their stay. Chelonia serves a breakfast buffet and dinner; Waterfront Café offers casual, all-day dining by the beach and candlelight dinner service; and Asiago’s features Italian cuisine at dinner (no kids under 12). Freeze Ice Cream Parlour is one of the most popular establishments—cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes…as much as you want! And Half Moon Coffee Bar & Deli offers coffee, grab ‘n’ go snacks, and afternoon tea.
Each restaurant has a bar: Chelonia restaurant has a bandstand with entertainment on weekends. Waterfront Café has a full bar that’s handy to the pool and beach. Half Moon Coffee Bar & Deli serves cocktails, too.
Turtle Beach, a 1,500-foot-long strand of powdery white sand in front of the hotel, is great for sunbathing, strolling, and—with low to medium surf—swimming and boogie boarding. Non-motorized water sports—kayaking, snorkeling, Hobie cat sailing, and standup paddle boarding—are complimentary, including instruction.
This beach is a favorite nesting place for turtles; hence, it's name. If you're lucky, you may see hundreds of tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea...nature at its finest!
The local bus service is reliable, and the closest bus stop is a five-minute walk from the hotel. Buses head west to Bridgetwon and east to Oistins; the fare is $1 per trip. It’s a five-minute stroll to either St. Lawrence Gap or Oistins. A rental car is a good idea if you want to explore the island on your own; car rental agencies are located nearby, and the resort has a car park.
The hotel is all-inclusive, with a choice of dining experiences. For a change of pace, though, you’ll find a number of restaurants nearby. 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 waterfront, 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 comes alive at night. Try The Old Jamm Inn or Scoopie's Jazz (5-minute drive) for drinks, music, dancing, and a convivial crowd. To be on the safe side, take a taxi to and from Gap nightspots.
WHY WE LIKE IT
It’s a big resort on a beautiful beach, with plenty of activities for the whole family. And the turtle hatchlings on the beach (if you’re lucky enough to see them) are a bonus.