With golf’s biggest names both designing and teeing off on its courses, Barbados boasts some of the most iconic greens in the Caribbean – and accommodations to match.
st. james The property: Set in the posh western part of the island, Sandy Lane doesn’t simply offer clients a luxury experience, rather its rooms, service and amenities have helped to define what luxury means in the Caribbean for years. The resort does British Colonial like no one else, surrounding guests in the opulent yet homey furnishings of a plantation great house—with plenty of modern appeal. In many of its 112 guestrooms and suites, marble bathrooms and expansive, ocean-facing balconies complement state-of-the-art entertainment systems, allowing guests to check e-mail, surf the Internet and browse a library of music and movies from their wide, flat-screen TV. The Villa at Sandy Lane further elevates the experience with a dedicated butler, chef and housekeeping staff to handle the upkeep of the 7,300-sq.-ft., 5-bedroom villa. Meanwhile, villa guests can lounge in its pool and jacuzzi, or step onto Sandy Lane Beach from their own private entrance.
The greens: Like its namesake, the Bajan green monkey, Sandy Lane’s Green Monkey is a wily beast of a course. Designer Tom Fazio turned a former quarry into a challenging and picturesque series of holes that’s found on just about every list of the top courses in the Caribbean. You won’t find elevation changes so drastic anywhere else in the islands. The Country Club course offers a more traditional experience, peppered with lakes and tropical shrubbery, without losing any difficulty. The course has hosted the World Cup of Golf, and recently became the site of a new Guinness World Record when golfer Alexander Sandeman sank a total of 54 birdies in 12 hours. The historic Old Nine course, dating to 1961, lets golfers fit in a quick round.
The amenities: Spectacular golf is Sandy Lane’s biggest claim to fame, but its spa lives up to the high standards set by its courses, too. The ever-evolving Spa at Sandy Lane introduced new treatments in its 47,000-sq.-ft. space in late 2009, adding a couples’ Rhassoul bath to its state-of-the-art facilities, which also includes a panoramic sauna and several types of hydrotherapy. Signature restaurant L’Acajou gives fresh local seafood the high-end treatment; its 6-course wine pairing menu is a true island indulgence. Rounding out the resort’s country club feel, The Tennis Club at Sandy Lane’s championship tennis courts, floodlit for night play, lets guests choose between artificial grass and a cushioned, pavement-like surface for casual play or training with the pros.
The scene: The upscale Sandy Lane fits in perfectly in Barbados’ posh west end. Off-resort dining thrills casual diners and foodies alike.Many area restaurants, such as The Tides, Daphne’s, and The Cliff, rank among the most popular as rated by Zagat. (Barbados, by the way, is the only Caribbean island to have earned a Zagat guide of its own.)
The rates: Rack rates start at $1,000 per room per night.
christ church The property: Barbados’ southernmost parish entertains more tourists than any other, due in large part to the proliferation of resort, condo and villa accommodations along its south shore. Of these, the Hilton Barbados boasts an ideal location for golfers and casual tourists alike: just 20 minutes from the Barbados Golf Club, 20 minutes from the airport, and a short 5-minute hop over to Bridgetown. Its 350 rooms and 33 suites are a casual counterpart to Sandy Lane, with bright accents of tropical colors and balconies or terraces looking to the ocean, pool or garden. Book clients on the Executive Level and they’ll enjoy complimentary breakfast and snacks in the Executive Lounge.
The greens: Renovated in 2000, the course at the 18-hole championship Barbados Golf Club is characterized by lengthy fairways, necessitating plenty of long drives, and strategically placed bunkers that challenge golfers’ aim and placement. Between holes, players find themselves surrounded by pink and white tropical flowers lining the cart paths, or caressed by island breezes from some of the higher elevations. Nearby, the Rockley Golf Club offers up nine deceptively simple-looking holes. Clients who land a risky shot will be walking on air the rest of the day; take a risk and fail, however, and they’ll fail hard—and want to throw their clubs.