Return of Sam Lord’s Castle Caps Wave of New Development on Barbados’ West Coast
One of the most iconic resort properties in Barbados is set to reopen under a new flag,
while the island’s smallest accommodations are also making a big splash with travelers, tourism officials say.
Sam Lord’s Castle, a mansion built in 1820 by a notorious pirate and wrecker that was later transformed into a luxury hotel for decades before burning down in 2010, will soon be reborn as Sam Lord’s Castle Barbados: A Wyndham Grand Resort.
Previewed at the recent Caribbean Travel Marketplace hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association in Barbados, the beach resort will feature 422 guest rooms — making it the largest hotel on the island — and offer a luxury all-inclusive experience to guests. Amenities at the 28-acre property will include 10 restaurants, a spa, kids club, pool with waterslides, tennis, and a fitness center. The Castle View Restaurant will overlook the ruins of the former home of Sam Lord, preserved for its historic value among the contemporary buildings rising up to six stories high that comprise the new resort.
On the other hand, Barbados tourism officials noted that the number of homestay rooms on the island now outnumber the island’s total stock of hotel rooms. Rather than putting the two in opposition to each other, however, Airbnbs and other homestay providers — many of whom are Bajans or members of the Barbados diaspora — have been invited to join the Barbados Hotel Association.
Tourism has rebounded strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ian Gooding-Edghill, Barbados’ Minister of Tourism and International Transport. The island has recovered about 90 percent of its airlift from 2019, he said, with American Airlines adding a third daily flight between Miami and Bridgetown in mid-August, and resuming daily flights between Charlotte and Barbados on Dec. 21.
JetBlue also plans to fly from New York/JFK to Barbados twice daily through at least October, and is adding a second weekly Boston-Bridgetown flight this fall. United Airlines has announced year-round service between Newark and Washington, D.C., and Barbados, as well.
Likewise, Gooding-Edghill said, cruise arrivals are back to 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
In addition to the “eco luxury” Sam Lord’s Castle, slated to open in late September, Gooding-Edghill said that Barbados will see a new 132-room Hotel Indigo open in late 2024, part of a major wave of new investment on the island’s south coast, which has long taken a back seat to the island’s west (a.k.a. “Platinum”) coast in terms of tourism development and marketing.
That includes the stylish new 02 Beach Club, an upscale all-inclusive resort on Dover Beach that offers stylish room designs, gourmet dining, and a laid-back but elegant vibe with its rooftop dining and pools, included play at the Barbados Golf Club, and a full daily calendar of included activities from fitness classes to “how to” lessons on everything from hula-hooping to making Bajan fishcakes. Speaking of which, the resort is within walking distance of Oistins, site of Barbados’ famous Friday night fish fry.
Barbados Offers a Warm Welcome to Caribbean Travel Marketplace
In May, Barbados hosted hundreds of travel suppliers and buyers at the 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the largest tourism marketing event in the Caribbean and a rare eastern Caribbean appearance for the gathering, which has rotated between Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico in recent years.
Some of the top news and developments announced at the 2023
• Jamaica will add 15,000 to 20,000 new hotel rooms in the next 10 years, including 3,000 in the next year and several on Jamaica’s growing west coast region. That includes the new Sandals Dunn’s River resort, which opened in late May, as well as the 700-room Riu Falmouth and the first phase of a new Princess Hotel in Hanover Parish’s Green Island, slated for opening later in 2023.
• The Frenchman’s Reef resort in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., will reopen in late spring as a Westin branded resort. Formerly the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, the clifftop resort in Charlotte Amalie has undergone a $425 million rebuild after suffering extensive damage in 2017. Also slated to reopen is the former Morningstar Beach Resort, which will be reborn as the Morningstar Bouy Haus Beach Resort.
• A unique new attraction is coming to Dominica: a cable car that will transport visitors to one of the island’s top nature attractions, Boiling Lake. Expected to debut in 2024, the cable car will carry passengers from the Roseau Valley to the flooded, mist-covered fumarole, created by geothermal activity. The ride will be an alternative to the challenging six mile, 4.5 hour hike it now takes to get the the lake.
• The island of St. Vincent will soon go from having zero hotels with brands familiar to U.S. tourists to several. Most notably, the Sandals St. Vincent will debut in January 2024 on the site of the former Buccament Bay Resort. Later that year, the island will add a 98-room Holiday Inn Express.