Last week I wrote about our first trip to Barbados in 2001. After many years away from the beautiful sun and sand, we finally made a return trip to the island in 2018.
As our fortunes had increased in the intervening years, we decided to opt for an all-inclusive at Club Barbados Resort and Spa. Some new to us things as Canadians: a dining room dress code specific to appropriate vs non-appropriate sandals; spotty wifi in common areas or hefty price for paid wifi in room; coffee after dinner not-really-a-thing but provisions for afternoon tea (small sandwiches and tea). Also unusual for Canadians in March, the covered but outdoor dining area where cheeky little birds sweep in and take off with crumbs and the odd sugar packet.
The resort is on the ocean on the west side of the island but the beach is small and rocky so reef or swimming shoes are required. If a sandy beach is desired, it is a few minutes walk north during low tide and you need to watch out for the poison fruit on the way.
Since our visit, some renovations have taken place so I will limit my comments regarding the accommodations. We did find the rooms spacious and clean and the staff were wonderful. I expect those elements haven’t changed.
Before departure from Canada, we booked a half-day tour with Glory Tours which included stops at Hunte’s Garden, Saint Nicholas Abbey (historic house and rum distillery), the rough waters at Bathsheba and picturesque Cherry Tree Hill. Our welcoming and friendly driver and guide, Lisa, provided an interesting and informative narrative throughout.
Located in Castle Grant, St. Joseph, Hunte’s Garden is a peaceful oasis with classical music playing in the background. It took owner, Anthony Hunte, and five assistants two years to create the gardens located in a collapsed sink hole or gully of the former Castle Grant sugar plantation. The gardens, roughly two acres in size, are tended by Anthony and just one assistant.
The tour is self-guided with a map/brochure. We spent about an hour walking through the beautiful gardens which incorporate historical elements. Old cast iron taiche (sugar boiling vats) have been converted into water features. Re-purposed ballast bricks have been used to make walkways and the gardens incorporate an old sugar cane weigh bridge. It is a magical place for those who love history, gardens and photography.
Soaring palms provide a beautiful canopy to the space. Small whimsical statues are dotted throughout and there are many peaceful seating areas. Some of the fauna that make their home in the gardens include green vervet monkeys, grey kingbirds, ramier pigeons, antillean and green-throated hummingbirds, bajan blackbirds, whistling frogs and cane toads. My favourite flowers included bright heliconia and orchids but there are many more varieties to enjoy.
When we visited, Anthony was living on site in a converted century old stable block with his sweet dog, Flora. I missed my own dog so enjoyed a visit with her. I was able to purchase some lovely cards at the home which also serves as a small gift shop and snack area. It is also a lovely space to relax after the tour.
When we visited the island the following year, we were told that Anthony was planning to retire and the gardens were up for sale. I certainly hope any new owners will preserve this beautiful oasis in the hills of St. Joseph, Barbados.
More about our rustic visit to Barbados in summer 2019 in next week’s blog including a garden visit to Flower Forest. As promised, I am also working on some blogs about this week’s visit to a research and teaching rooftop greenhouse. (Spoiler alert: I LOVED it.).