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Babygoes2 Barbados

It was the last year before my little urchin (could he really be four?!) started school and the search was on somewhere special for a final holiday fling outside of school holiday dates – a special, winter sun family holiday somewhere exotic and thoroughly wonderful. It had to suit both grandparents, mum and busy 4 year old, be relaxing and stress free, and give us an exciting holiday we would all remember. After much discussion we decided on Barbados, as it had a good infrastructure, was one of the driest islands in April (when we wanted to travel) and was one of quickest Caribbean islands to reach with a non stop flight.

We chose to fly Virgin premium economy, and from the moment Roman trolled his Buzz Lightyear suitcase up the 'magic' stairs onto the upper deck, we knew we'd made the right decision. Just around 20 rows of very comfy, wide seats with leg rests, masses of storage space, a wide aisle, and champagne the moment you board. It feels spacious, calm, comfortable and very special – it really was a great way to travel, and for a very reasonable supplement. Highly recommended!

Beautiful beaches - perfect for children

From the moment we stepped into the warm, balmy air and began our drive along the tree-lined west coast road, we were captivated by Barbados. The West coast beaches are just as you'd hope a Caribbean beach to be – soft white sand, backed by a variety of trees that provide natural shade and lapped by a warm, calm, crystal clear, turquoise sea. Despite the fact that there are hotels and private villas along the coast, they are mainly set in lush vegetation, and as you look down the beaches you are scarcely aware that they are there. There is nothing else to disturb the peace – no cafes, kiosks, shops. Beach life is utterly peaceful, very beautiful and totally relaxing.

We drove up the coast and explored many lovely beaches, one of our favourites was Mullins Bay – quiet, shady, with clear blue water and turtles swimming just off shore. Great for children as it's calm, no rocks and shelves gently. The hotel Cobblers Cove is right on this beach and has a very relaxed, atmosphere. I'd always imagined that the 'house party' atmosphere its renowned for wouldn't be suitable for small children, but when we visited there were several toddlers and babies, all of whom were having a wonderful time.

Great food and a lovely boutique hotel
A few minutes drive further north takes you past charming Speightstown, then onto Little Good Harbour – a beautifully decorated boutique hotel with a superb restaurant right on the sea front – the Fishpot (the fried squid with chilli sauce salad is fab!) Little Good Harbour's rooms are amazing – one/two or three bed suites with huge kitchens, spacious living areas and bedrooms with chic, Balinese décor. They are set in gardens with access to a pool, and the restaurant just over the road. It's a small, intimate boutique hotel in a very quiet area, yet only 10 mins or so from the rest of the west coast facilities.
Restaurants in Barbados are plentiful and of a very high quality – delicious food in beautiful surroundings –mostly right next to the floodlit ocean. Most welcome children at any time (best to check to be sure), and are usually more than happy to oblige with something child-friendly even if there isn't a dedicated menu. Freshly made flying fish fingers and grilled chicken with sweet potato chips were very popular!

The pefect place to stay - flexibility of self catering and the facilities of a hotel

We stayed at Settlers Beach which was the perfect choice for us. There are just 22 2 ensuite air/con bedroomed villas set in beautiful, established gardens around a pool and right on the beach. They have a large living/dining area, fully equipped kitchens and a generous garden area. Some are single storey, others 2 storey with terraces. They are extremely spacious(more room than with any 2 bedroomed suite I've seen) and comfortable. The flexibility they offered was great – it was so easy to prepare lunch or snacks for Roman, and yet you still have the comforts of hotel service – reception, daily maid service (the beds were changed every day!).

We chose a two storey villa, and were right opposite the pool, second s from the beach, and could see the sea from the terrace, where we spent many a lazy moment listening to the sea and rustle of the warm wind in the palm trees. The beach at Settlers is a delight and great for children – shady, calm sea, very quiet.
We often went for a walk before breakfast and had the beach to ourselves – we sat and watched the glittering fish jump in the sea, then at the end of the day watched the sun set from the same quiet spot just moments from our new home. Couldn't think of a much better way to be spending precious time with those you love. The fact that everything was so close to hand meant that everyone had enormous flexibility.

Dad could read in the shade of our garden, mum could swim and rest around the pool whilst we snorkelled, swam and made sandcastles, all of us just seconds from each other.

The garden area was great – perfect for children, who can run and run (in Roman's case with a kite!) and provided a wealth of entertainment – from the tiny coconuts which fall overnight to the odd mongoose rustling in the undergrowth.

Stress free eating and shopping
The hotel is literally 5 mins walk from Holetown, which has a church, a little shopping mall with an excellent supermarket and a variety of very good restaurants. If you have babies then it's perfect for pushing them out in the buggy so that they sleep whilst you eat. At Settlers however there is a very good restaurant right by the beach – Starfish. If focuses on fish but also has meat and vegetarian options and a varied lunch menu. It's pretty too – set right on the waters edge, with candlelit tables at night. There's a good bar too, perfect for sunset drinks on the beach. If you're a guest at the hotel you can open an account at the restaurant and simply settle up at the end, which is very easy. They will also provide room service which is useful if you have children. Tucked in behind the restaurant is a calm, air conditioned TV lounge, which again is great for children to relax or nap in whilst you finish eating. If your villa is close to the restaurant (as ours was) then a monitor would work very well from villa to restaurant.

Out and about

There is plenty to do and see on Barbados.

You can visit the East and South coast to see the surf, see the green monkeys and visit plantation houses and tropical gardens. Lots of water based activity of course - we arranged a trip on a small glass bottomed boat which came and picked us up directly from the beach at Settlers. It took us over the coral reef, and we all (including Roman) snorkelled and swam with the turtles which was very exciting for all concerned, but especially for a 4 year old! When staying at Settlers you have complimentary membership of Sugar Hill – a new leisure centre just 3 mins drive away up in the hills above the coast. The entrance lounge and pool are stunning, and the restaurant La Bella Collina is a great place for lunch or dinner in a beautiful setting. There is tennis, a gym and a playroom for children.

Our hotel recommendations
Later we moved onto the Tamarind Cove Hotel which was lovely too – we had ocean view rooms right on the beach, in a block of just a few rooms, right next to one of the 3 pools. The gardens here are beautiful too, with plenty of space, and double rooms can easily take one extra bed and still leave plenty of room. The food was very good, and we took advantage of the free board offer which was amazing – often dinner was served in the Sasso restaurant which would normally be adults only and for a la carte. It's a lovely, muslin-draped restaurant with blue/white décor set right around the pool just seconds from the beach. There's a good bar for snacks and drinks, some (good ) entertainment and a wide variety of comp watersports – water skiing, hobie cats etc. We really enjoyed our time here too. Other hotels which I would highly recommend are The Sandpiper – beautiful one and 2 bed suites (as well as rooms) right next to Settlers, intimate and friendly yet with an exclusive feel, Sandy Lane – just the best of everything, Almond Beach Village – very large resort but plenty of space, and for an all-inclusive, quite calm with good facilities and childcare for all ages. Rooms are quite plainly furnished, but it's in a good location just north of Speightstown (5 mins walk along the beach).

A very special holiday......

t was certainly the special holiday we wanted it to be. Lovely to spend so much carefree time in a beautiful environment, where it was sooo easy to enjoy yourself. It's a wonderful holiday location for small children – it's all so exciting and they learn so much. Roman learned to snorkel (plenty of fish just feet from the shore, much to his amazement), to jump in the pool and swim underwater, had a hat made of palm leaves, found 'treasure' each day in the garden and on the shore, and has so many wonderful memories – as do we all. We had a thoroughly fab time and are busy plotting and planning our return.
For more information/tips/advice on Barbados just click here
For our recommended properties/hotels, click here
We travelled to Barbados with Owners Syndicate and Caribtours, both offer excellent, specialist service and are highly recommended. Click here for brochures.

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