12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
ON TOUR: Barbados
Arguably, the most popular Caribbean island for us Brits to go to is Barbados. It has an excellent choice of direct scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, BMI and BWIA - although sadly not Concorde anymore - while most of the major charter carriers offer the island in packages. Flight time in the 21st century is 8.5 hours. The locals love the Brits, due to its long historical ties to the UK and much of the island still uses UK rules and systems from day to day. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, the major cricket ground is called the Kensington Oval, and there is a statue to Lord Nelson in the centre of the little capital, Bridgetown.
Holidaying there can be a fantastic five-star luxury experience, or there is also much for the budget-conscious traveller. Naturally, everyone has heard of Sandy Lane hotel (where Tiger Woods was married - surprise, surprise it has a championship golf course), the haunt of the rich and famous, but other luxurious hotels dot the Caribbean Sea side of the island, like Almond Beach for example, or any other number of small to large hotels offering a fine range of services and wonderful sandy beaches. A great point about Barbados' beaches is that they are all publicly owned, and looked after very well.
The Caribbean coast, which is much calmer than the Atlantic coast, also has its fair share of cheaper hotels, some included in the tour operators' brochures or branded by Virgin Holidays for a special experience. Most arrange water sport activities, excursions, or have more than enough at the hotel with pools and bars to keep guests amused.
Nightlife on the island is concentrated around the St Lawrence Gap area, south of the capital, Bridgetown. Bars, restaurants and clubs abound, and the welcome from the locals is genuine and safety is assured, as long as you stick to common sense rules. Oistins is a must on weekend, the area has barbecue and outside bars for guests and locals alike to enjoy fine fish and the local Banks beer. There are also a lot of outside clubs to while away the small hours, all of which offer deals on drinks. Cab rides are easy and cheap to get back to your hotel.
Sightseeing is another must on the island and one of the best ways is to take a boat ride along the coast. The hotel will help you out with trips, which often include swimming with turtles, snorkelling and beach activities. Inland there are spectacular views along the coast from Cherry Tree Hill in the north and all along the wilder Atlantic coast. Car hire is cheap enough and just a UK licence is required.
The fringes and reefs found off Barbados blossom with healthy sponges, coral and plant life. There are several types of reefs, each one unique in its own special way. The barrier reefs, located as near as half a mile from shore contain large coral heads which form the habitat for thousands of beautiful fish. Larger organisms are also found on these reefs, feeding on the smaller fish. The Hawksbill turtle is another inhabitant. Fringes and patching reefs are found closer to shore and have smaller coral formations and more abundant plant life than he barrier reefs. These reefs are home to sea horses, frog fish, giant sand eels and many other marine creatures. Wrecks form fascinating habitats for marine life and Barbados has several excellent sites for wreck diving. Carlisle Bay, with 200 reported wrecks, and the Stavronikita, located at Folkestone Marine Park, are two of the most popular sites.
Food and drink is international, although local delicacies of seafood are available and of course the ubiquitous rum is everywhere. But be careful, the measures are huge and a cocktail is most likely to be two parts rum to a one-part juice!
Last week the average temperature was 28”C!