local produce and fresh herbs picked from the organic garden at Colony Cove

local produce and fresh herbs picked from the organic garden at Colony Club

Frankly, until I attended a press luncheon sponsored by Elegant Hotels and co-hosted by Diamond PR, I knew nothing about Barbados. Lucky you. I’m paying forward my newfound enlightenment.

For instance, do you know that this sovereign British Commonwealth in the Lesser Antilles is only 21 miles in length and 14 miles wide, yet has one of the highest literacy rates in the world or has 1500 rum shops within its borders? It’s true.

In 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) acknowledged Barbados’ literacy rate at 99.7%. If you’re a fan of Mount Gay Rum, did you know the company is a sponsor of the Food, Wine & Rum Festival every November?

I didn’t know that the populace refer to themselves as Bajan, or that signature culinary dishes include macaroni pie (cheddar cheesier than typical mac & cheese and usually has unexpected ingredients such as ketchup and mustard), cou-cou and flying fish, coconut sugar cakes (made with those two ingredients) and salt bread, described as akin to an Irish soda bread.

I learned that the best time to travel there (if watching your dollars) is June through September and somehow, as tiny as this easternmost West Indies Island is, it attracts about 565,000 global visitors a year. About 23% hail from the United States and about 37% from the United Kingdom.

Breathe in fresh salty air and exhale everything but peace

Breathe in fresh salty air and exhale everything but peace

I discovered the Grantley Adams International Airport is 20 minutes from Turtle Beach resort, the only one of the five Elegant Hotels luxury collection on the island’s south coast. The other four, Colony Club, The House, Tamarind, and Crystal Cove all reside on the west coast and are about a 40 minute drive from the airport.

Turtle Beach and Crystal Cove are all-inclusive and family friendly, but there the similarities stop. Turtle Beach, named for the turtles nesting on it’s 1,500 foot stretch of white sand, is for the active visitor who may want to take calypso dance lessons or spinning classes or just want to rough it out with beach football and rugby games. Personally, their new-this-summer Pepperpot Culinary Tour of Bajan delicacies led by chef Peter Edey has me sniffing out the possibilities.

I have two meeting planner friends who would be thrilled if they could lie on the beach and not move a muscle except to order drinks when they weren’t attending to their group’s needs. I can’t wait to share with them Elegant Hotel’s Ambassador Service, which was created specifically for people like them or their executive clients.

The grand entrance to The House

The grand entrance to The House

Of course, if they really want to impress their smaller executive level clients, they’ll likely book The House, a 34-room adults-only Caribbean all-suites beach house. No lobby. No concierge or bellman. Just unadulterated pampering, beginning with the complimentary 30-minute Jet-Lag revival massage and a frothy tropical drink. Guests looking to explore the area will find Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, just 20 minutes away.

Colony Club caters to the health and wellness set. The AAA Four-Diamond 96-room resort offers amenities such as in-room yoga mas, an n-site organic garden tour and cooking demonstration. No need to leave the kids home to relax and revel in this vacation. Kids are given mini-robes, plush turtle toy and a welcoming plate of cookies.

Even the palm trees plié in this relaxing Elegant Hotel resort on Barbados

Even the palm trees plié in this relaxing Elegant Hotel resort on Barbados

Named for the Tamarind tree, which produces a tasty pod-like fruit I’ve enjoyed in Caribbean treats, the Tamarind offers honeymoon specials, activities from shopping to watercraft sports especially geared to teens, and a quiet adults-only pool and spa. New this summer: the Coast to Coast Island Tour and Tamtastic Rum Shop Crawl.

www.thehousebarbados.com

www.colonyclubhotel.com

www.tamarindbarbados.com

www.crystalcovebarbados.com

www.turtlebeachresortbarbados.com

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

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