Elegantly Bajan Experiences

The term Bajan or Barbadian is referred to the people of the Caribbean island of Barbados. Bajan is also an English based creole language that is spoken on the island. It can be quite confusing to a native English speaker, as the locals have a very fast slang way of running the words together.

During my recent visit to Barbados, I discovered that one can discover the authentic cuisine and culture at all inclusive resorts as well. Elegant Hotels is a Bajan company that employs a majority local staff, from the chefs, waiters and beach ambassadors, to the management. They pride themselves in creating experiences that expose guests to the Barbados style of living – be it engaging in a game of road tennis, tasting rum while “liming”, or taking lessons in steel pan drumming. Here are a few Bajan experiences offered by two of the resorts that are located in the western and southern parts of the island.crystal cove Barbados

Crystal Cove is on the platinum west coast of Barbados where the gentle waves lap at the stunning shoreline with the resort on an elevated position offering fantastic views out to sea. The all-inclusive four star property is in a charming traditional Bajan style and has an elegantly intimate feel that makes it popular with families and parties. Crystal Cove features three freshwater lagoon swimming pools, a swim-up bar, two restaurants, complimentary watersports for all guests, two tennis courts and a free water taxi to other Elegant Hotels Group properties on the west coast.

New Elegantly Bajan initiatives at Crystal Cove include:

  • Oistins Night – A weekly culinary sensation, Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night is where locals and tourists alike head to the south coast to savour some rustic dining on local seafood and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. Crystal Cove recreates the vibes of Oistins with a range of local authentic dishes at Drifters Restaurant for some beachside dining. Dine on a feast of local fish marinated and cooked live on George’s BBQ grill. Delicacies include granny’s fish cakes with Mount Gay Rum cocktail sauce, fried flying fish with Bajan pepper sauce, grilled sweet potato, fried plantain, calypso rice and pumpkin & ginger soup. Musical entertainment is in the form of a local popular DJ mixing sounds of Oistins with everything from calypso to reggae, as local artisans at the resort display local crafts and souvenirs.
  • Bridgetown Heritage Tour – Barbados’ capital is often overlooked by guests and offers a genuinely fascinating array of attractions for visitors to the island. Exclusively for Crystal Cove guests, this day long tour will soak up the most beautiful architecture and historic buildings in the capital as well include visits to the Mount Gay Visitor Centre, Kensington Oval, St. Mary’s Church, Parliament Buildings, Garrison Savannah and the Prime Minister’s Office. There will even be time in the itinerary for some duty-free shopping in Bridgetown followed by lunch and a trip to one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Brown’s Beach, for a spot of snorkelling and relaxation.Bridgetown Barbados
  • Heritage Night – For an evening like no other, Crystal Cove puts on a Caribbean cabaret floor show with dancers wearing carnival costumes and performing a range of dances and feats including fire eating and limbo dancing. This is accompanied by the Tuk Band and the famous Calypso King; authentic dishes from around the Caribbean and The Chattel House Bar which serve a variety of coconut cocktails.
  • Steel Pan Classes – One of the quintessential sounds of Barbados, this is a chance for travelers to get to grips with the steel pans and have a go at producing well known songs as well as calypso classics with some of the best professionals on the island.Bajan1
  • Road Tennis Classes – Road tennis is the little known national sport of Barbados – unique and exclusive to the island, road tennis involves a ‘skinned’ tennis ball, a stretch of road for a court and wooden paddles to bat the ball between two players. Easy to learn and fun to play, Crystal Cove staff show guests how to master this local sport as well as set up some tournaments for a vigorous work out.
  • Rum Shop initiation – It is said there is a rum shop on every corner of Barbados and that liming (Bajan slang for relaxing) at a local village rum shop is an essential part of the Bajan experience. To test this theory, Crystal Cove staff coaches guests on how to ‘lime’ and really learn to relax, chill and clear their minds of any stress, by teaching them rum shop games. Dominos is a national obsession in Barbados and Crystal Cove staff teaches guests how to play slam dominos like a real Bajan as well as drink some rum based forfeits. Guests can also sample local rum shop snacks including corn beef and biscuits as well as cheese cutters made with local salt bread.rum tasting Barbados

Turtle Beach, on the south coast offer a host of Elegantly Bajan experiences for families, couples and parties alike. A premium all-inclusive property in the lively St Lawrence parish of Barbados, Turtle Beach is popular with families and couples who love the relaxed atmosphere, 1,500ft beach and general feeling of space and tranquility the resort offers. With two swimming pools, three restaurants and bars, two tennis courts and the infamous Captain Sam’s watersports centre with free water-sports including dinghy sailing and surfing.

Bajan initiatives at Turtle Beach include:

  • Turtle Pioneers – Get the inside scoop from locals. Turtle Pioneers – Hermanius, Maradonna, Nigel and Captain Sam are an elite team of Barbados experts and are a powerhouse of knowledge about what to do, where to go and when to do it in Barbados.
  • Pastry School – Guests at Turtle Beach can take part in a weekly pastry class with award winning dessert chef Ezra Beckles. Known for his sinfully tasty treats, Ezra uses unusual ingredients including noni flour and cactus as well as traditional ingredients from Barbados including local tamarind, cherries and coconut. He takes guests through how to create local delicacies and most importantly, how to enjoy them!cooking in Barbados
  • The Pepper Pot Culinary Tour – On this tour, guests visit the Speightstown Fish Market, then onto the scenic Jumas Restaurant to sample a variety of Bajan delicacies, a ride through historic Holetown, and culminate with an authentic Bajan lunch at Scotch Bonnet restaurant, owned and operated by celebrated local chef Peter Edey.
  • Caribbean Goes Global Dance Show – The Caribbean Goes Global Dance Show takes guests through the different genres of Caribbean music throughout the years, covering everything from calypso and soca to reggae and gospel.
  • Lemon Arbor Excursion – Guests enjoy a Bajan Saturday staple ‘pudding and souse’ while taking in the picturesque St. John country views at popular local hangout Lemon Arbor.
  • Q in the Community – Experience a truly authentic Bajan experience at ‘Q in the Community’ the latest event taking Barbados by storm. Known as the ‘moving Oistins’, Q in the Community changes locations across Barbados weekly and features domino playing, line and ballroom dancing and karaoke contests. Informal, open air dining features popular local dishes such as grilled fish and chips, macaroni pie and fish cakes. The event is broadcast live on local radio station Q 100.7, and broadcast on television a few days later. The tour is held every Thursday and resort guests are accompanied by members of staff known as the Turtle Pioneers.

Dock Yourself at Blue Haven Resort and Marina

Tucked away at the northeast side of the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos (TCI) is a boutique resort where you can have your entire family over for a destination wedding or a family getaway. While most tourists stay at one of the large resorts (Sandals, Beaches, etc) in Grace Bay, the solace traveler may prefer the quieter residential neighborhood where Blue Haven Resort and Marina is located. Its easy to rent a car and drive to the property, which is only a few minutes from restaurants and attractions.

First glimpse from the lobby of the white sandy beach and turquoise water is enough to take your breath away. The resort overlooks the mangroves directly in front and to the open Atlantic water on the right. The property, designed in elegant Caribbean fashion, was built as a condominium complex, but after the economic downturn, it was converted into a hotel.

blue haven resort TCI

Every room at Blue Haven is a fully equipped condo with separate bedroom and living areas. A modern looking kitchen and dining area is perfect for those who like to eat in during those extended stay vacations. King size bed and walk in closets, a bathroom large enough to fit a New York City apartment, and a private balcony with cozy lounge chairs – why would you ever leave?

Blue Haven is not an all inclusive resort (although meal packages can be purchased), but there is grocery store and deli where you can pick up breakfast, salads, sandwiches, coffee, juices, as well as fresh ingredients to cook with. For fun, lay by the infinity pool, play bocce ball, or watch a movie under the starry skies. Pamper yourself with a massage or facial at Elevate Spa or burn off those rum punches at the gym.

blue haven resort TCI

There are two additional restaurant on the property. SALT is an open air, casual eastern where you can walk into with sandy feet, and cricket playing on the background television is a subtle reminder of the English influence on the island. Taste the local flavors such as conch fritters, jerk shrimp and tuna tartare with a backdrop of the marina. For a more refined evening atmosphere, have dinner at Fire and Ice, a locally acclaimed restaurant serving Caribbean inspired international cuisine.

blue haven resort

You cannot visit the third largest barrier reef in the world without indulging in water sports. Located at Blue Haven are Big Blue Unlimited, a water sporting facility that offers stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, kiteboarding, snorkeling, diving, private boat charters, biking and cultural eco-tours across the islands, and Caribbean Cruisin that organizes day trips to other islands, North and South Caicos ferries, fishing charters and Jet Skis right off the hotel’s lagoon.

blue haven resort

The marina at Blue Haven is one of the only two on the island that can accommodate yachts, sailing and deep sea fishing boats arriving at the official port of entry into the Caribbean. Blue Haven Marina is an Island Global Yachting (IGY) destination, offering gas, utilizes, customs/ immigration and all hotel amenities to the guests.blue haven resort

Blue Haven Resort is one of the newest properties on Turks and Caicos, and the ideal place to relax in sand, sun and water anytime of the year. Don’t just dream of it – go!

Book your stay at the Blue Haven Resort now with TripAdvisor

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Southern traditions continue in coastal Georgia

Most people don’t see Georgia as a vibrant tourist destination. Yet Georgia has beautiful scenic mountains, beaches, lakes and small towns; the crowds are not overwhelming and southern hospitality is abundant. The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort at Saint Simons Island is one such place in Georgia where generations of families have been vacationing, keeping it sort of a family secret. Continue reading “Southern traditions continue in coastal Georgia”

Rooms for Good

Your next vacation can help a wounder warrior. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service men and women. The organization provides direct programs and service tailored to meet the needs of families impacted on or after 9/11. Now you can also help contribute to this important cause and enjoy a fun getaway at the same time.

photo courtesy Gaylord Opryland

Gaylord Hotels has started a Rooms for Good program in partnership with WWP where the hotel will donate 10% of proceeds from booking the special packages in May and June 2012.

If you have not been to the Gaylord Opryland, it is a must visit destination. Read my previous post about the resort.

The Rooms for Good packages start at $179 per couple and includes 1 night stay and breakfast for 2. Special military packages start at $139 per couple. You can chose any of the Gaylord locations – Washington DC, Orlando, Nashville or Dallas. Click here to make a reservation.

Destination Gaylord Opryland

Until a few weeks ago, I had not even heard of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. The Gaylord Opryland is much more than a resort and convention center, it is an experience. When I arrived there, I had mixed feelings –  it looked like a tropical rain forest, had the creativity of Las Vegas, and the inclusiveness of a cruise ship.

Stepping into the palatial lobby embodied with giant glass sculptures and dazzling ceilings, gave you the impression of stepping into the Bellagio. As porters hauled luggage to one of the 2,880 guestrooms, you found yourself wandering the nine acres of botanical gardens and cascading waterfalls under the 15 story high glass atrium.

The interior of the resort is home to over 50,000 tropical plants maintained at 72 F year round. There is also a quarter mile long indoor river where you can go for a boat ride and tour the property. The guide will make sure to point out the fruit trees and give you some education about the plants. In the evenings, watch the water fountains dance to a sound and light show at the Delta Atrium. Being home to country music, there are live performance and entertainment daily.

Besides the overall architectural marvel, there are also the restaurants, spa, pools and boutiques to enjoy at the resort. Strolling along the shops at the Magnolia pavilion feels like you have stepped into a piazza in Florence. The two stories building have Italian look and feel while the flooring is of cobblestone. Again, this reminded me a lot of the shops in the Venetian and Bellagio in Vegas. The boutiques carried souvenirs, sundries and unique art and gift items.

A number of dining options are presented to you at the hotel itself. There are 20 restaurants that offer everything from British pub (which includes Indian), Italian, Mexican, sushi and contemporary fast food to an upscale Steakhouse. The food is prepared by some of the best chef’s in the country and the service is exceptional. Most employees at the Gaylord Opryland have long tenures so you can tell they are truly passionate about their work.

The little ones would particularly enjoy the special activities organized just for them. Besides learning about the plants and walking through the waterfalls, they can also sneak into Shrek’s den and hang out with the characters from the movies, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and Shrek. At Christmas time, the property converts itself into a wonderland with 2 million lights and many festivities.

Whether you are looking for a romantic weekend getaway or an adventure for the entire family, the Gaylord Opryland is not just a place to stay, it is a destination like no other.