April 21, 2019
Set along the island’s ritzy west coast, the original 1930s plantation home was purchased by a shipping heiress in 1948 and transformed into the first residential club in Barbados. By 1960 it had become known as Colony Club, and over the years has undergone numerous renovations and additions, including lagoon-style swimming pools that weave like a ribbon through the property’s seven-acre gardens. Stylish new tasting room The Rum Vault is the latest creation, re-imagined from the hotel’s former business centre and library.
Long a favourite with British guests, the landmark hotel lies just past lively Holetown, around a 20-minute drive north of the capital Bridgetown. Sophisticated dining, spa treatments, teens’ activities and a seasonal kids’ club make it an ideal choice for couples and families alike.
Warm and informal is the order of the day, with an understated focus on health and wellness. Set back from the road down a tidy driveway lined with mahogany trees, Colony Club has retained an air of exclusivity since its earliest post-war days, but the overall vibe is much more laid-back than its polished setting suggests.
The hotel is reasonably large – 96 airy rooms and suites – though established tropical gardens make it easy to find solitude if desired. The gardens and waterfalls are a genuine highlight, adding a jungly sense of lived-in lushness that newer resorts often lack. Planting is high as well as dense, with flame-red acacia trees and tall skinny palms towering over exotic ravenala fans and hibiscus shrubs dripping with coral blooms. It all opens out onto a large deck and bar area by the beach, scattered with laid-back lounging spots for lazy reads and leisurely snoozes while the sun goes down.
Spread over five three-storey buildings, the roomy coral-stone sleeping quarters are furnished in an elegant colonial style complete with marble floors, ceiling fans and louvred plantation shutters.
Most have wide French doors opening onto restful views of the meandering pools or gardens, while some have whitewashed vaulted ceilings and mahogany four-poster beds. All come with coffee machines, designer toiletries and air-conditioning, as well as balconies or terraces with ample space for tables and chairs.
Most in demand are the luxury swim-up poolside rooms on the ground floor which offer direct step-down access into the water and curvy sitting areas built into rock formations.
Also available are a handful of generously proportioned suites sleeping up to four – some with sea views – which are perfect for families with children or anyone just seeking lots of space to swan about.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in open-air restaurant Laguna, Colony Club’s main dining venue and a focal point of the resort. Grand double-height archways and soaring roof rafters make every meal here feel like a special occasion, but while the dress code is a bit more buttoned-up than the beachside bar, the atmosphere is as easygoing as it gets. Expect typical Bajan cuisine – pan roasted mahi mahi, blackened ahi tuna, curried chicken roti, grilled plantain – alongside international dishes from Thailand and Italy, all made with produce from the hotel’s own organic garden. The classy Laguna bar also serves freshly squeezed juices, teas and coffees throughout the day, and lighter bites are available at the sea-facing Sunset Deck restaurant, backed by a centrepiece swim-up bar where you can sip a tropical sundowner and perch on a submerged stool just in time for sunset.
Latest culinary hotspot and opened to tie-in with Colony Club’s 70th birthday celebrations is the clubby new Rum Vault, which houses the largest collection of rum in Barbados. More than 150 varieties have been painstakingly sourced from countries across the world, all of which are expertly paired with the Rum Vault menu by resident rum ambassador Shaun McClean, named Barbados Bartender of the Year in 2018.
Drop by for cookery classes and mixology demonstrations, as well as signature tasting flights and weekly events, including a regular six-course tapas menu with delectable cocktail pairings.
Pool/garden view rooms start at £223/US$290 per night. Buffet breakfast and wi-fi are complimentary, as are fitness classes, motorised watersports, fishing excursions and a water taxi service to other properties in the Elegant Hotels Group.
Colony Club is located on the sheltered west coast of Barbados in the parish of Saint James, about a 40-minute drive from the airport. Transfers are available. The historic town of Holetown lies about 15 minutes walk away.
Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Barbados from London Gatwick and Manchester, with an additional winter service from London Heathrow.