I have booked several holidays for Mike, who is a total pleasure to look after, so I was thrilled to help him plan a special first holiday with his partner Geraldine…
I wanted my first holiday with Geraldine to be special and knew in these Covid times things may not be straightforward, but, as always, Gillian surpassed expectations, always making herself available to offer excellent advice and taking care of everything to ensure things went perfectly.
Barbados was an easy choice having visited several times myself; the locals are so friendly and welcoming, and I love to dive there too.
After clearing the obligatory pre-travel PCR Test, we enjoyed a very comfortable and highly recommended flight with Virgin Atlantic, whose staff were fabulous.
Gillian had organised fasttrack for when we arrived at the airport in Barbados plus an excellent private transfer to the hotel.
We had chosen to stay at Bougainvillea on the south coast and it was even better than expected. Gillian had thought of everything down to the finest detail. I had requested some surprise flowers in the room for Geraldine on our arrival along with a specific bottle of Champagne which they had gone to great lengths to obtain.
Our room was excellent, with a bedroom, kitchen and dining room with patio doors opening onto a large balcony with table, chairs and sun loungers and our own lovely jacuzzi style pool which flowed over into the main pool below.
The view from the room was spectacular, overlooking the beach and out to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
All beaches in Barbados are public, however Bougainvillea have their own sun loungers on the beach outside the hotel.
The hotel was faultless. It has a great layout, the staff were excellent and the concierge service, which we used most days, was outstanding.
We didn’t get to use the spa but did manage to use the well-equipped games room on our last day whilst waiting for a taxi.
It would have been easy to simply stay in the hotel and relax but Barbados is a fantastic island to explore, and we were keen to travel about and cram in as much as we could possibly experience.
Hiring a mini-Moke car and driving around the island was great fun. It was easy to navigate, and we found some hidden gems, including several remote beaches on the more natural and wild east side. However the sea current is very strong here, so swimming is not recommended.
There are lots of recommendations in the local guides. We enjoyed the wildlife park and rum distilleries, but we tended to seek out the more remote and secluded places, enjoying trying to find somewhere off the beaten track. The most memorable drives were setting off not knowing where we were going and finding an isolated beach.
Wherever we went, the locals always came to meet us and made us very welcome, offering us coconuts and drinks - they are such warm and lovely people.
We went to some fine restaurants. Lobster Alive deserves a special mention - it’s not for everybody but you choose your own live lobster, which tasted divine. The Tapas restaurant located on the boardwalk near our hotel was excellent too - great food, a nice bottle of red and a wonderful view out to sea, and Mamma Mia‘s was a lovely local Italian highly recommended for their delicious home cooking.
Getting around without a car is also easy. You can travel all over the island very cheaply on public transport. The Reggae Reggae bus stops anywhere on the side of the road if you put your arm out and is a brilliant experience.
Travelling on the water is great, too. The boat trip we took included snorkelling over two shipwrecks and a fabulous swim with turtles. We also ventured out for a snorkel from the hotel beach where there was a small coral reef.
When it was sadly time to prepare for our return, the hotel organised the necessary PCR tests and Gillian had arranged our transfer and booked us into the airport’s VIP lounge.
We had a fantastic time and highly recommend Gillian. I can’t thank her enough - she helped make all the right choices. Her wealth of knowledge, expertise and faultless communication are invaluable and have been appreciated once again with our latest trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.