We just returned from spending 2 weeks (March 1-15, 2009) in Barbados at the Silver Point Villa Hotel. This was our first trip to Barbados. We are “experienced” sun travelers as we have been going to the Caribbean, Mexico and South America for the past 30 years, most years at least twice. We appreciate “good/fine” dinning, so when we travel, food and service are our top priorities and to a lesser extent the rooms/suites of the resort as we like to spend our time enjoying the beach and what the resort/island has to offer. We believe .that our vacations begin at home which means we research the location and the resorts before we leave and have a very good idea of what to expect when we arrive. Conclusion/Summary
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 weeks at the Silver Point Villa Hotel and would highly recommend it. The issue that any “would be” vacationers should decide first is do they mind being in a little out of the way location in a suburban part of Barbados. You will need to take taxis to most restaurants or rent a car for your vacation. For us, we used taxis all the time and it was much more relaxing than having to drive on the “left” hand side of the road. We do not like going to dinner and having a few drinks and then having to drive is not what vacations are all about. Including a full day island tour and taking a taxi on average once a day, our total cost for the 2 weeks for the taxis was about $900BDs or about $450US. Any decent sized car rental will be at least that amount or more for one week! The taxis are plentiful and we used one taxi driver and his wife for the majority of our fares.
We booked this vacation with Aero Plan points (frequent flyer for Air Canada) and the flight was direct out of Toronto, so we had to fly the day before from Winnipeg to Toronto. The flight from Toronto was scheduled to leave at 8:40AM but we left at about 9:50AM because of some issues with a flight attendant not wanting to exceed her allotted hours, so they had to locate another flight attendant to replace her. Over the past few years, we try and choose Air Canada as they use “real” airplanes, not the cramped planes of the charter carriers such as Sunquest, Signature, Sunwing, etc. The flight was almost full and arrived about an hour late into Barbados.
We arrived in the Barbados Airport at about 4:15PM and it took about 30 minutes to clear customs, pick up our bags and get to the waiting area for the taxis and buses to the resorts. We had pre-booked our transfers with Sanjay and he was waiting for us. We did use the ATM at the airport to get some BDs to begin our vacation. The ATM is on your right when exiting the airport and is about 200 yards from where all the taxis are located. The transfer took about 20 minutes and cost $30BDs. Very good taxi driver.
We arrived at the resort at about 5PM. The check-in was pretty quick and we were given our keys to our one bedroom ocean view suite, 507.
Resort: This resort is small compared to most of the resorts that we have stayed at in the Caribbean. On our side of the road (all ocean view one bedroom suites are located here), there were 15 one bedroom suites and on the ocean front side there were maybe another 40-50 suites and rooms only. Our suite was on the second floor, so we could see the ocean. If you are given a main floor unit, the view of the ocean is not there. The parking lot blocks most of the view for the 5 main floor units. Our unit had a “queen” sized bed with 2 night stands and a chair. There was a full length dressing mirror on the back of the bedroom door. A hair drier is provided (look in the closet of the bedroom above the safety deposit box) but can not be used in the bathroom (plug is for a razor only), so we had to use it in the bedroom as that was the only other mirror in the suite. There was also a safety deposit box (FREE) in the closet in the bedroom that required the use of a key (not one of the electronic versions) The bathroom was a little small but more than adequate. There was a large walk in shower (no tub), small vanity area and a toilet. As some people have mentioned in prior reviews, there were NO towel racks to hang wet towels on. The living area was one room with a small kitchenette area with a full size fridge, small bar sink and microwave oven. There was no toaster or a “sharp” knife to cut any fruit, etc. Not a big deal for us. The living area had a sofa bed, queen sized, chaise lounge chair and 2 occasional chairs. There was also a large flat screen TV with decent channels and a video/DVD player. The CD/iPod player was located in the bedroom. I think this was because there were no other plugs in the living room area near the TV. There were a set of “French” style doors that opened onto the balcony which contained a round table and 2 chairs. This is where we ate our breakfasts and lunches in the suite. Also, there was a “drying” rack on the balcony as well. There are 2 pools in the resort. One of them is located on each side of the road. Both of the pools were not used that much. There was NEVER a problem with finding a chaise lounger to use. Very civilized compared to other resorts in the Caribbean where people play the “towel game” to save them.
There were about 10 “day beds” available and they normally were occupied by about 10AM but in the early afternoon, you could always find one to use. They were well taken care of. The sheets were changed daily and were very comfortable. The entire sundeck is made out of wood, so it did heat up in the afternoon to the extent that you had to wear some kind of shoes to walk on it.
On site Restaurant and Bar: The restaurant/bar is on the ocean front side with the more casual area on the main floor and a more formal one on the second floor with a great view. The food and service was excellent for all meals. We ate four dinners here and a few lunches and breakfasts as well. All of the meals were well prepared and presented professionally. Prices were comparable to other Barbados restaurants. Our average meal here was about $180BDs which included a couple of glasses of wine, 2 appetizers and 2 mains (we are not dessert eaters). This is also where the bar is located. All drinks that we had were well mixed and tasty. Drink prices ranged from about $7BDs for a beer, $10BDs for a glass of wine to about $15BDs for more elaborate mixed drinks. Every Wednesday and Saturday, the resort offers FREE rum based drinks from 6-8PM and on Fridays, all Martinis are $5BDs from 6-7PM. We took advantage of these nights at the bar! Every Tuesday is Fish fry night and you get a complete meal for about $35BDs which includes your salads, a choice of fish done in a number of ways, dessert and coffee or tea. We did both Tuesday nights of our stay. Some of the appetizers and mains that we had in our dinner here were the Garlic chicken Picatta, Coconut shrimp, Bajan Flying fish in a Creole sauce and an excellent curried lamb. All were excellently prepared and severed by the staff.
All restaurants in Barbados add an additional 10% service charge to all items consumed. You should be aware that this 10% is added after the 15%VAT which translates into 11 ½ % gratuities already being included in all of your meals, etc. I make this statement because we rarely tipped any more for of our meals during our 2 weeks of vacation because of the already included 11 ½ %! I hate when countries/restaurants, etc do this practice! In the long run, the servers get fewer tips and the patrons get less service.
Restaurants outside Silver Point:
In general we found the food in Barbados to be alright. Nothing to rave about and more expensive than other Caribbean islands that we have stayed at. Also, most restaurants did not have non-smoking sections. Wake up Barbados! Every time we choose a so-called “gourmet” restaurant and were prepared to spend in excess of $300BDs, we were disappointed. The following reviews are based upon our relatively sophisticated palette when it comes to food.
Restaursants: Bellini’s (The Gap) The restaurant is right on the water in the Gap area. There were NO non-smoking areas in the restaurant. There were smokers at the table beside us! We had linguine with shrimp in brandied cream sauce, a seafood medley- jumbo shrimp, scallops and fish and a Pinot Grigio (corked and had to send it back for a fresh opened bottle). Also, we shared calamari and enjoyed dinner. Service was a little inattentive as we had get up and go to the front to pay our bill as the smokers next to us had fired up again. Total was about $180 BD McBride’s Pub(The Gap) We had Curried Chicken Korma and Chicken in a garlic cream sauce – both were very good. No wine but a couple of pints of beer. Total was about $100 BD. This surprised us as the food was excellent and service as well. Harlequin’s(The Gap) Excellent pork spring rolls, The seafood crepe was below average, tasteless, but. the jumbo (huge) coconut shrimp made up for the bad crepes.. It rained that evening, so we had to change tables. Dinner was $180BDs with a couple of glasses of wine. GiGi’s Gourmet This was a 10 minute walk from the hotel. If you want a great reasonably priced meal, take a taxi and enjoy! We had great Caesar Salad, vegetarian pizza, 2 glasses of Italian Tomassis wine and great Puntanesca pasta with chicken and black loves: $140BDs. The meal was so well prepared that we went back a second time and it was as great as the first time and the same price with slightly different mains (Chilean Merlot). Café Luna (Little Arches hotel) A disappointment, due to the meals coming out luke warm. We had a chicken liver appetizer and a pepper stuffed with goat cheese for appetizers. We ordered the Rack of Lamb – sent the lamb back because it wasn’t hot. Second plate was hot, but potatoes still luke warm. We also had jumbo shrimps and scallops (mixed grill), again luke warm, but tasty. Also we had 2 glasses of wine and had to send back one because it was corked. Total $300 BD and NOT worth the pain! The Chef was NOT there on a Saturday which could explain the unacceptable food preparation. Supposedly, he is only there on Thursdays and Fridays, so if you want to chance a meal here, do it on those days! Picses Because of our less than good experience with most main courses in the restaurants, we ordered appetizers only. Crab cakes, a roasted vegetable salad with goat cheese phylo bundle, jumbo coconut shrimp (again) and calamari. For dessert we split bread pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream. Everything was fantastic. The service, atmosphere all came together and for only $200BDs.including a couple of glasses of wine and port. Right up there with GiGi’s. AquaPisce(The Gap) This is a small restaurant almost across from Josef’s. We had the rack of lamb and coconut chicken, 2 glasses of wine, and a Caesar salad. All very good. $135 BD Friday Night fish fry at Oistin’s We decided to go early, to be there at about 7PM. We couldn’t get into George’s Place, but we went to Pat’s Place. Had the Snapper and the Tuna. The Tuna was $25BDs and the Snapper was $35BDs which included Macaroni pie, rice, salad and pasta salad. A decent meal with lots of people. Josef’s
The dinner started out good, with 2 excellent appetizers: shredded duck in a pancake with a spicy sauce and a chicken in cream sauce in a puff pastry. For mains we ordered Surf and turf and the rack of lamb. The Surf and Turf was average, nothing to rave about. The rack of lamb could not be cut with a steak knife! They brought out another order of the rack of lamb, and it was the same, so tough that you couldn’t cut it! What a way to end a meal and a vacation. We walked out right after they brought the second lamb.
Tours Taken: Island Tour We decided to hire our Taxi driver who picked us up at the airport for our Island Tour. Sanjay picked us up at 9:00AM for a tour of the island. Stopped at the Crane hotel (fantastic resort – huge ) where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. There were great views from high above the beach – great beach. We planned to return to spend the day on the beach and lunch at the Crane. Those plans never materialized. Next stop was St. Josephs Church for a spectacular view of the east coast, then to Bathsheba, Andromeda Gardens and North Point (the northern point of the island). Beautiful views at Bathsheba and North Point. We then went down the west coast through Speightstown and had lunch at Chefette, then traveled through Holetown and then to Bridgetown. We saw the sight where the Four Seasons is being built, which was formerly owned by Butch Stewart where Sandals was supposed to be built, but the Barbadian government wouldn’t give him private beach rights so he decided not to build. We then saw Miami Beach and then back to the resort. This was a great tour with excellent commentary from Sanjay. The total cost was $250BDs for over 5 hours of personalized touring. Calabaza Catamaran trip
We decided to book with Calabaza after reading the great reviews on this boat and were not disappointed.. Hotel pickup was at 9:15AM and the boat launched near Bridgetown at Carlisle Bay. We were served drinks and mini muffins when we boarded and then crackers and dip. We set sail about 10:00 a.m., cruised for an hour or so and then anchored in Oistin’s beach to snorkel with the turtles. Due to the wind conditions we had to go to the south instead of north along the west coast. We saw a couple of turtles with a lot of other “snorkellers” in the water. After snorkeling, we had a fantastic lunch of chicken, marlin, couscous, rice, macaroni pie, tossed salad, garlic bread. After lunch we set sail again and banana bread was served. Then we went to Carlisle Bay and snorkeled at two ship wrecks. Lots of fish, but mostly all the same – sergeant majors. . A short distance away we docked and left the boat at 3:00, The tour was excellent due to the owner, Gina and her small crew, Dan, her son and Captain and Fabian, the first mate and waiter. They made us feel like family and this was a hi-light of our vacation.