Stay the night: Tamarind Hotel, Barbados

An elegant refurbishment has transformed this beach hideaway, a perfect place for exploring island and ocean, says Emily Dugan

The west coast of Barbados has a reputation for being a bit brash. Think Michael Winner, gold jewellery and too many D-list celebrities hoping to get papped on jet-skis. But brash is just what the Tamarind isn't.

True, it has three pools, sits on a large stretch of palm-fringed white sand beach, and has its own boat taxi service. Yet it somehow manages to emit an understated cool. This is largely down to the design, which is simple and elegant. A series of courtyards and passageways leads to more than 100 rooms, but it feels much smaller. And a recent redevelopment by the owners, Elegant Hotels, completed in November, has maintained that sense of intimacy while refocusing almost all the rooms on the sea and providing a much-needed spruce-up.

All beaches in Barbados are public, so as well as the beautiful 750ft crescent of white sand on your doorstep, there are seaside walks in either direction. It makes the hotel a great place from which to explore some of the island's west coast. And if you want to go further afield, the hotel sits about halfway up the coast, so nowhere is much further than half an hour away by car. If you don't have your own wheels it's also on the main bus routes to Bridgetown, Speightstown, and Oistins, setting of the island's Fish Friday, where the fish market plies its trade into the night with stalls providing fresh catch and live music to add to the entertainment. A water taxi service also runs three times a day between Tamarind and Elegant's three other west coast hotels: Crystal Cove, The House and Colony Club.

The rooms

On the rare occasion a stray cloud covers the sun, or you want some air-conditioned solace from it, inside you'll find rooms are modern with neutral coloured walls and bed linen, brightened by flashes of red and green from cushions, rugs, and abstract artwork. The rooms, once a little tatty, have been spruced up with brand new furniture made from good-quality natural materials, including solid wood and soft leather. Suites have glass screen doors on to balconies set with loungers, giving you your own space to relax. Flat-screen satellite television and an iPod dock/alarm clock are standard.

The food and drink

From fine dining to bar snack food and a weekly Bajan buffet, most tastes are catered for and almost all eating is outside (or in open-walled rooms, if the weather turns). If you want cocktails, light food and tapas, try the Rilaks Deck by the main pool where a main course is about $15 (£9). For lobster thermidor and serious fine dining, the 246 restaurant (named after the phone code for Barbados) is impressive – as is the bill: a three-course meal without wine will set you back $50 (£31) at the very least. The hotel group also owns the pricey but excellent Daphne's next door – sister of the famous South Kensington restaurant – serving a blend of Bajan and Italian cuisine. You need to make reservations for dinner because it gets booked up quickly.

The extras

Most water sports are included in the price of your room – just book a slot with the team at the beach hut. You can help yourself to sea kayaks, windsurfers and even small sailing boats if you know what you are doing. A motorboat takes guest out for half-hour bouts of speedier sea sporting activities – including waterskiing, wakeboarding and doughnut riding. The beach is close to where day-trip boats moor to take people snorkelling with turtles, making it a good spot from which to swim out if you've got your own kit and want to see the turtles. Otherwise the hotel can arrange for you to join an official excursion. The in-hotel spa offers an extensive list of massages and beauty treatments and there is a secluded adults-only pool in a quiet courtyard next to the spa.

Tamarind has also invested a lot in making sure kids are entertained. The Flying Fish Club will supervise your children from 10am until 5pm, organising activities catered to specific age groups. Two clubs are decked out with Nintendo Wiis, arts and crafts kit, and games for children aged four to 12. They also organise pool trips. A teenage den is filled with computer games, table tennis and air hockey tables.

The access

There is disabled access to ground floor rooms and all restaurants, facilities and pools. Children are welcome.

The bill

A garden view double starts from £158 a night. The writer flew with British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com), who offers seven nights at Tamarind from £1,199 per person, including return flights; flights only from £658. For car hire, Abdul at Drive Barbados offers an excellent service (001 246 230 1998; drivebarbados.com), from $281 (£173) a week for a small hatchback.

The address

Tamarind Hotel, Paynes Bay, St James, Barbados (0800 917 3534; elegant hotels.com).

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick