Bougainvillea Beach Resort – Seven Reasons to Stay Here in Barbados
In the previous post I described why and how Alison and I ended up choosing Barbados for a February getaway a few years ago. In this one I’ll explain how and why we chose Bougainvillea Beach Resort for our accommodations and seven reasons why I highly recommend it.
Please note that I paid full freight for my room and did not ask for or receive anything for writing this review. I did ask for a tour of the resort and am including a few of their photographs.
1. Location, Location, Location
Bougainvillea Beach Resort is situated on a beautiful beach within walking distance of two of Barbados’ most interesting areas, St. Lawrence Gap and Oistins. The Gap is one of the tourist hot beds on the entire island with lots of interesting places to eat from basic street food to very upscale. It also has a food market where you can stock up on basics as well as beer, wine and liquor. The nightlife is legendary. It is about a ten minute walk up Maxwell beach to the Dover Beach Hotel where there is a path that takes you right to the main street of the Gap. In the other direction Oistins is a more traditional Barbadian fishing community famous for its Friday night fish fry, which is a must attend event. Oistins is about a twenty-minute walk along the main coastal highway which has sidewalks in most places or you can catch a bus for $2 BDS.
2. The Variety of Rooms and Rates
Most resorts offer three, four or five categories of rooms.; the Bougainvillea Beach Resort offers nine. Combine that with three different rates depending on the season and there are up to twenty-seven different combinations which means that there should be something for almost anyone’s budget. Consider this, the most expensive rooms are two bedroom two level beachfront suites. These rooms are absolutely gorgeous with multiple outside sitting areas. Here is the view from one.
The price for this room in high season is less than $800.00. Compare that to the rate for a basic room at Sandy Lane or the Fairmont which run over $1000.00 a pop, while it is just over $300.00 at the Bougainvillea. Yes, the best rooms in the house are considerably cheaper than lowest level rooms at Sandy Lane. In the shoulder season which includes all of November and most of December, which are pretty crappy times of year where I come from, you can get a luxury 2 bedroom for just over $500.00. For a family with older kids or two couples who like to travel together this is great value. If you are looking for the cheapest room at the cheapest time of year, June, July, September and October you can get one for $210.00.
3. Bougainvillea Beach Resort is Not an All-Inclusive
The one thing you do not need to worry about in Barbados is the quality or variety of the food. Barbados is arguably the culinary capitol of the Caribbean and none of the very best restaurants are more than a 20 minute cab ride away, most being much, much closer. On the other hand the local cuisine served at take out cafes, food trucks and even from the trunks of cars is equally delicious, safe to eat and incredibly cheap. Over the past week I ran into numerous couples who were staying in nearby all-exclusives and everyone reckoned they would have done it differently if they had known about the Barbadian food scene. That doesn’t mean you need to go out every night – Bougainvillea Beach Resort has two good restaurants, but it’s nice to have the choice.
A few years after I wrote this post I had to stay at Sandals in Barbados as part of an SATW post-trip. The food was awful and I felt like I was in an internment camp. Thus my thoughts on not staying in an all-inclusive were borne out.
4. The Bougainvillea Beach Resort Staff
I have to confess that I have no other Barbadian resort to compare the staff at Bougainvillea with, but I’d be skeptical if I would find any that were better, as good maybe, but not better. I say that because during the entire week I did not have a single encounter with staff that was in any way uncomfortable, discourteous or unprofessional. In fact it was the opposite. They made me feel genuinely welcome, that they cared about whether I was having a good time there and that they truly understood the importance of wanting to be in the service industry. I got the impression that each and every staff member felt their job was important, that they were appreciated and that they were all a team. I have especially high praise for the chambermaids who were meticulous in their cleaning. The women at the courtesy desk were very helpful in arranging car rentals, outside excursions and providing good advice and answers to even the dumbest of questions. I overheard one woman of unknown nationality ask if there were any restaurants on Barbados!
UPDATE: Since writing this I have had experience with numerous other Barbados resorts including the Sandals referenced above. Their staff were nowhere near as helpful as those at the Bougainvillea Beach Resort. However, the staff at the Barbados Hilton were also top notch.
5. The Beach
Bougainvillea Beach Resort is on Maxwell Beach which used to be one of the nicest on the island until Sandals moved in and put in a series of breakwaters recently that have destroyed the continuity. The good news is that the portion of the beach in front of the Bougainvillea is still great. It has fine sand that is neither two soft or hard. The beach is pretty well all sand with next to no coral or broken shells so you don’t need beach shoes. The water is warm and the week I was there the waves were perfect for body surfing or boogie boarding. They were large, but not over the top. I noticed that other resorts on Maxwell and Dover Beaches had the no swimming red flag up on days when the surf at Bougainvillea was much less daunting. There were no red flags during my week here and I went in every day for at least a half hour to enjoy these perfect waves. Here’s what the beach looked like before Sandals’ did its thing.
And here’s what it looks like now after the Sandals’ work. I don’t think it makes much difference to the Bougainvillea Beach Resort frontage that ends about where the couple in the right background are standing. I can’t speak for Sandals’ guests about how they feel about it.
UPDATE: Actually I can. Sandals does its best to discourage their guests from leaving the property.
6. The Daily Entertainment
Every day the Bougainvillea Beach Resort had a different variety of entertainment, sometimes in the afternoon and sometimes at night. One afternoon a fellow played the steel drums for what must have been four hours providing a soothing calypso sound for those seated in the pool area and those just sitting out on their balconies. Another night a couple of guys just played some of the great songs from the sixties and seventies including The Beatles, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond and others. People were standing on their balconies singing along with popular favourites like Brown-eyed Girl and Sweet Caroline. Others were dancing. The highlight was John Lennon’s Imagine which seemed to bring a sense of peace and oneness among all the people watching.
7. Julian and Wayne Alleyne
It’s not too often that you would consider the local taxi drivers as an attraction, but in the case of these two fellows it definitely is. They operate a large, spotlessly clean van that can hold upwards of eight people and are usually on duty at the Bougainvillea Beach Resort. The first time I used Julian I accidentally gave him a $100 bill thinking it was a $10.00 and rather than take advantage of my mistake, which many taxi drivers would do, he pointed out my error. They are both knowledgeable, don’t try to convince you to go to places you don’t need to, charge consistent rates and always want to know if you enjoyed the last place they took you to. In my upcoming posts we will travel all over the island with one the other of the Alleyne brothers.
I am sure there are other reasons to recommend the Bougainvillea. It is a full service resort with a spa, well equipped gym, beauty salon, special activity rooms for teens and toddlers and more, but as I didn’t experience them I cannot comment.
The Bougainvillea Beach Resort is not perfect – the wifi absolutely sucked, but they can fix that. One other thing I found a bit annoying was the suggestion that guests barricade themselves in and lock the patio doors at night, thus eliminating the sound of the crashing surf. This is nonsense. Barbados is one of the safest places in the Caribbean and I asked if there were any instances of thieves breaking into the rooms at Bougainvillea and the answer was no. So don’t be made paranoid by this alarmist suggestion. We kept the patio doors open every night.
As noted at the beginning I was not asked to write a review or given any special consideration as a guest of the resort. I spent my own money in the hopes that maybe I can help you save some of yours.
Here’s two photos taken just ten minutes ago on our final morning.
In my next post we’ll visit the annual Horticultural show to see a great variety of Barbados flowers followed by flying fish sandwiches. Hope you’ll join us.