There is no doubt that when you look at photos of Barbados with its white coral sands and turquoise waters you think of pure luxury and finding ourself lost in paradise. Unfortunately my first experience of the island in 2015 was nothing like the photo above – The beaches on the South were black, absolutely choked with seaweed and impossible to get into the sea itself as instead of azure waters it was thick sludge. This was apparently due to a freak change of current somewhere out at sea which brought seaweed to these south shores in abundance. We spent a small fortune on taxi’s going to and from the Boatyard Beach (plus entrance fees). It was the first beach to the west which wasn’t effected by the seaweed.
This holiday which I booked 10 months in advance I wasn’t going to take a gamble, I wanted to step out of my hotel onto a white sandy beach but I was also aware that the hotels on the beautiful West Coast came with a premium price tag…and one which I couldn’t afford!
I was therefore delighted to stumble across the ‘Tropical Sunset Apartment Hotel’ in Holetown, set in the beautiful Sandy Lane area but being much older & smaller does not carry the large price tag of many of its counterparts. I will confess that this hotel did not have the ‘wow’ factor of many other hotels I have stayed in before, but it truly did grow on me. The building is made up of just 23 rooms but I think the maximum number occupied during our 3 wk stay were just 6. For this reason however all the guests got to know one another really well and added to a relaxed friendly environment. Yes the hotel is old and needed updating, (it is closing for a few weeks from 6th September 2017 for renovations so it will be interesting to see how it is modernised). There is also a brand new mall being built directly opposite which is due to open Nov 2018.
Without a doubt the best thing about this hotel is it’s location, directly on an idyllic beach and aptly named ‘Tropical Sunset Beach’ because the sunsets each nights were truly spectacular.
So along with free return flights courtesy of British Airways & Avios (see earlier blog) and pretty much the cheapest accommodation on the West Coast, I have done Barbados on the lowest possible budget. We have a small kitchenette within our apartment, so with shops nearby I have saved money on food too, having Breakfast and Lunch most days in the room and then eating out in the evenings.
So for three week my son & I have exchanged our 4 bedroom house with large kitchen for a 1 bedroom hotel and small kitchenette. Cameron has exchanged an entire conservatory pack top to bottom with toys for 4 small brio trains and about half a dozen pieces of wooden track, and guess what?…I have never seen him happier or more engaged with life, I have witnessed him grow in confidence, watched his social skills blossom, his physical development & confidence come on in abundance, plus he has learned to snorkel and swim without his armbands. For these reasons and so much more Barbados is always going to hold a very special place in my heart.
For me, this holiday truly has been a reminder about all that I can live without. I am one of the lucky ones, working as an Independent Celebrant I really feel I have the best job in the world and I have job satisfaction and reward like no other. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else now and nor would I want to. Nevertheless, I work ridiculously long hours, my stress and anxiety levels before I came away were through the roof and I have come to wonder how much ‘extra’ work I am doing simply to pay for things that I don’t actually need or even want.
My happiness every day this holiday has simply been seeing the joy and the wonder on my little boys face as he discovered a new world under the sea, swam with turtles, explored caves, met new friends, experienced wonderful boat trips and shrieked with delighted each night “Mummy look at the BEAUTIFUL sunset”. Whilst some of our excursions have cost money, nothing has been materialistic – it has simply been enjoying Mother Nature and all she has to offer in so many forms.
Not once have we even switched the television on in our room – We’ve spent quality time “hanging out” with people we didn’t even know 3 weeks ago and now consider friends, yet back home I never seem to have the time to catch up with family members and friends who I haven’t seen for months – it’s not intentional, it’s just life getting in the way!
I will take away SO many smiles and memories from this holiday, I will take away new friendships but most importantly I will take away the lesson that simplicity, quality family time, nature and basic living far outweighs every material item that modern society seems to force us to believe we need and want.
I will go home and I will continue to work as hard as ever, but I won’t be looking to spent my hard earned cash on ‘things’ but on buying time for more experiences like this.
LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE …..and TRAVEL
Some of our favourite memories on video: