We decided that this year we would spend our 25th wedding anniversary in Barbados. We were there December 21-29, so we also had the opportunity to experience Christmas in the Caribbean. This was our 5th trip to Barbados in 10 years. We love it there, but see only a few reviews on this website for Barbados resorts.
The Resort: The Divi Southwinds is in the process of receiving a facelift. I got the feeling that the Divi corporation had purchased this resort within the past few years, and is slowly renovating the property. There were some very new sections, and the oldest of the buildings were obviously empty and not being used. These could be viewed as an eyesore by some, but it seemed to make it a little more romantic and not so "antiseptic". Their advertising states that they are on "acres of tropical landscaping". That’s true. We enjoy beach vacations the best, and are not real pool people, so we opted for a "Beach Villa". These are one bedroom suites with a fold out sofa in the living area. There’s a full kitchen, but no little extras like salt and pepper, or dishsoap, or similar items that you would not use up in just a week. These rooms have recently been redone, and the furniture, decor, and bathroom were very nice. The balcony was large with a table and 4 chairs. The view of the beach was slightly obstructed by the "jungle", but the palm trees and other vegetation was a perfect hang out for birds, crabs, frogs and other wildlife – as well as the many cats that strolled through the resort on a regular basis.
The bad news is that the beach and the beach villas are on the other side of the road from the main resort. This is also the good news! The road is really nothing more than a one-way lane. AND….this resort is smack dab in the most happening portion of the southend of the island – St. Lawrence Gap. This area is full of great restaurants, nightlife, street vendors selling both jewelry and food. There is nothing like eating chicken with your fingers hot off the grill of a local man practicing his own style of entrepreneurship! This area does not really get going until after 8:00 or so at night. There was also a great internet cafe within about a 30 second walk from our room. I did notice, however, that the restaurant of the resort was almost always empty. We would walk in there in the evening for a drink at the bar, and were greeted enthusiastically with menus, and it was apparent that these people wanted to serve us dinner! We never ate at the restaurant at all. We made breakfast in our kitchen, ate on our balcony feeding the birds who landed there looking for a crumb, and bought sandwich stuff in the local mini-marts for lunch. Since we’ve been to Barbados a lot, we have our favorite places for dinner.
Beach & pool:
The beach is not a bad size, a tad bit narrow, but not as narrow as the Accra’s beach – about a mile away. The beach chairs were on the old side, and once the resort was full, (apparently a lot of people travel on Christmas Day) there were not enough chairs to go around, and the staff was scrambling to bring chairs over from the pool area. A few people did not appear to know the "program"; they would take chairs previously "saved" with beach towels. There were some fireworks on the beach THAT day! I also saw a few Europeans go topless, but after a couple of days they were reminded by staff that going topless is not legal in Barbados. We opted for the pool after a few days of a crowded beach; there was hardly anyone there! The pool is big, with a smaller one next to it for children. The swim up bar was popular! There is another older pool right on the beach, and it was unclear to us at first, if this was really part of the resort. A third pool appeared to be reserved for "Members"; this resort is also a timeshare. On the timeshare subject – we saw many families greeting each other after a year of being away. It seemed as if there were many loyal Divi fans.
Conclusion: Because the location is in St Lawrence Gap, there are many things to do within walking distance. In May, the Graeme Hill wildlife sanctuary was built within an easy walk of the Divi, and we did this twice. Taxis are so abundant and cheap in Barbados, we never rent a car. The Divi could improve their communication a bit. There was no "map" of the resort, and with a resort like this that is bi-sected by a road, and has private areas for members only, this would be helpful for the novice. Also, we arrived after dark, and no one helped us through the resort and across the road to our beach villa. This was a little disconcerting. We had to follow obscure little signs.
All in all, we would return to this resort. We have been at the Divi on St. Croix, and have plans to stay at the Divi on St. Maarten in the spring, and would recommend the Divi resorts generally. It is probably a mid-level resort, a little pricey for some, but certainly not out of sight.