Entering The Coral Reef Club, the first thing that strikes you are the lush green gardens surrounded by beautiful quaint white colonial buildings. The resort is set in 12 acres of tropical paradise with direct access to the Caribbean sea. The hotel has an elegant old school understated luxury - the clientele is well heeled and discerning. The spa is renowned as one of the finest in Barbados, and is truly an idyllic haven.
On arrival we were greeted by Cynthia O'Hara. The resort has been owned by the O'Hara family for over half a century and it maintains a friendly family atmosphere and a refined and personal service. Cynthia's love of nature is reflected in the fact that the rooms have names such as bougainvillea, gerbera and orchid rather than numbers.
As one would expect from a hotel that has earned its place as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, there are little touches which add to the experience; sorbets on the beach, clean towels in the morning and the evening, beautiful fresh flowers in your room on arrival, a selection of books to enjoy and luxurious White Company products in the beautiful bathrooms.
We stayed in a one bedroom luxury junior suite with a private terrace and beautiful view of the gardens and sea. Every part of the room exudes luxury - the style is very New England with clean white doors and shutters, forest inspired soft furnishings - there's a wonderful attention to detail.
The Spa is housed within a more contemporary style building and is set within the tropical gardens. With waterfalls weaving throughout the spa the ambience is very tranquil. Fine sand sheers, soft creamy linens and woven grasscloths sit with coral stone walls and dark chocolate wood - the spa has a super-luxe feel. The open walkways emphasise that the exterior and interior are one and the open style of the spa creates a light, airy atmosphere. Facilities include an 'open sided' relaxation room, an outdoor hydro-pool, a thermal suite with a holistic crystal steam room and an invigorating experience shower. The spa lounge is a great place to chill - take a good book from your room and order a delicious spa smoothie.
The Caribbean Calm. Each treatment room has a private terrace so my treatment started in the open air. The therapist performed a cleansing foot ritual, using a rich lemongrass soap. This was followed by a classic Swedish massage and eye therapy treatment by Natura Bisse, which felt extremely soothing - my tired jet lagged eyes seemed to literally soak up the rich moisture. A great treatment for weary travellers as it reduces swelling, soothes tired muscles and combats eye bags.
Pineapple and Coconut Crème Brulee is designed to exfoliate sensitive dehydrated skin, rehydrate and create a golden glow. Oxygen Awakening is a facial designed to benefit skin that has been exposed to pollution - great after a long flight.
The elegant restaurant overlooks the tranquil Caribbean sea and is led by Executive Chef, Graham Licorish. The buffet style breakfast offers an excellent choice and for dinner an a la carte menu is served. This changes daily and combines classical cuisine with Caribbean ingredients and flavours. Every Monday the hotel serves a West Indian/International buffet and Thursday is barbecue night, offering a great selection of grilled meat and fish.
The complimentary tennis lessons with a visiting tennis pro.
The manager's cocktail party, which is hosted in the owner's personal villa on Monday evenings.
The Lone Star restaurant, a short taxi ride from the hotel, is a great spot to have dinner - Michael Winner deemed this the 'The Ivy of the Caribbean'.
The hotel is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The diverse collection of over 520 properties are found in 80 countries around the world, and match independently minded guests with the same spirited hotels. The Reservations for the hotel can be made online at www.slh.com, via the iPhone app, or calling a Small Luxury Hotels of the World reservations office.
Words: Amanda Camilleri