Barbados’ New, Improved, and Rebranded All-Inclusive Resorts
A new five-star, all-inclusive resort is set to debut in Barbados in October,
and while the O2 Beach Club & Spa will be a shiny new addition to the island, Sandals resorts is also adding some new bling and Marriott has gotten into the all-inclusive game on Barbados, too.
Located in lively St. Lawrence Gap on Barbados’ south coast, the O2 resort will feature a total of 130 rooms and suites in three classes – Club, Luxury, and Concierge. The Luxury Collection rooms are adults-only and include some accommodations with swim-up access to a lazy river style pool, while the Concierge Collection includes one- and two-bedroom suites with full kitchens.
The former Ocean Two Resort & Residences property on Dover Beach has been extensively renovated as part of the O2 transformation, including the addition of 42 oceanview and oceanfront rooms. Resort amenities include a trio of swimming pools, six restaurants, seven bars, a teen lounge, and a 5,600-square-foot spa and fitness center. The spa will have the only Hammam treatment room in Barbados, and dining options will include European-Caribbean fusion cuisine at Oro, a ninth-floor restaurant with an outdoor terrace and panoramic views of the Barbados coast.
The Ocean Hotels Group, which owns several Barbados hotels including the Sea Breeze Beach House and the South Beach Hotel, is offering 12-14 percent commissions to travel advisors for direct O2 bookings under its ‘Loyal Treatment’ program. All-inclusive rates start at $482 per room per night for a Club Room and $963 per room per night for a Concierge Collection one-bedroom suite.
Meanwhile, the Sandals Royal Barbados, also in St. Lawrence Gap, is upping the ante on its luxury guest offerings with the addition of 66 new Signature Tranquility Collection rooms to the resort’s South Seas Village. Rooms are in the Club and Butler categories; they include such wellness-focused amenities as soaking tubs and in-room aromatherapy systems. Eleven new swim-up suites feature zero entry access to the Crystal Lagoon, one of two new freshwater pools in the South Seas Village.
Two new dining options also have been added to Sandals Royal Barbados: The Greenhouse features farm-to-table produce, while Heart & Sol is a New York style deli that also emphasizes fresh and healthy ingredients.
Two other ‘new’ all-inclusive resorts on Barbados are The House and Treasure Beach. Long operated as European plan properties by Elegant Resorts, the two Barbados hotels are among the 25 hotels and resorts acquired by Marriott across the Caribbean to form the All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy collection. The House and Treasure Beach both reopened as all-inclusives this spring.
The Club Becomes the First Barbados Hotel to Require Guests to Be Vaccinated
Barbados has stringent requirements for international visitors who have not been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, but one island resort is outright barring unvaccinated travelers from booking rooms.
Elite Island Resorts, which represents The Club Barbados as well as Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Hammock Cove, St. James’s Club & Villas, Pineapple Beach Club and The Verandah Resort in Antigua as well as the St. James’s Club Morgan Bay in St. Lucia, Palm Island in The Grenadines, and Los Establos Boutique Inn in Panama, also announced that stays will be restricted to vaccinated travelers only as of Sept. 1.
The Club resort is scheduled to reopen to guests this fall after shutting down in September 2020 amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
“Current science tells us that if you’re vaccinated, you are less likely to become seriously ill, or end up taking up a hospital bed in a fragile medical environment such as the Caribbean where local resources cannot afford to be overburdened,” said Elite Island Resorts founder and CEO Robert A. Barrett. “It’s imperative for us to protect the hospitals of these smaller island nations, and while they have had a good track record so far with COVID-19, we must remain vigilant, and all do our part to become part of the solution.”
Effective June 7, 2021, vaccinated travelers from the U.S. can visit Barbados with proof of vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 PCR conducted within three days of arrival. Travelers will receive a free rapid PCR test upon arrival at the airport as well, and will be restricted to their hotel until the second test comes back negative.
Unvaccinated travelers, on the other hand, must remain in their hotel rooms until they get another test on the fifth day of their stay and until a negative result is produced from that test, which could add several more days of in-room quarantining.
Cruise Ships Return to Barbados
The first cruise ship to call at Barbados since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic tied up to the Bridgetown dock in June. The Celebrity Millennium made a port call in Barbados as part of a seven-night itinerary out of St. Maarten.
All adult passengers and crew members were required to be vaccinated before boarding in St. Maarten, and a negative COVID-19 PCR test was required of anyone wishing to disembark in Barbados.
The sailing was the first by a major cruise line that allowed vaccinated Americans to board. Two passengers tested positive for COVID-19 during the cruise and were isolated from others aboard the ship until it returned to St. Maarten.
Other cruise lines also are beginning to restart cruising in the Caribbean, including Seabourn, which began sailing out of Bridgetown to the southern Caribbean with the Odyssey in July. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines also announced plans to resume the Grandeur of the Seas’s 7- and 14-night southern Caribbean sailings out of Bridgetown starting on Dec. 5.
Air travel to Barbados is on the rise, too. Tourism officials announced that the island reached a significant post-COVID milestone in July, topping more than 10,000 air arrivals in a month for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The U.S. accounted for the most air travelers to Barbados, followed by the U.K.