Business travel doesn’t have to be all collar-and-tie meetings and stuffy boardroom presentations. When travelling to Barbados for work, there are plenty of opportunities for quality downtime in, or around, perfect stretches of palm-trimmed sand. With a history that’s synonymous with “the finer side of life”, the island is renowned for its gastronomy, polo, cricket, spas, golf, and water sports, while tax-free malls, designer stores and one-of-a-kind boutiques provide umpteen shopping options for busy executives. Take a look at our guide to getting the most out of being on business in Barbados.
Where to stay: For rustling palms and sugar-fine sands be sure to grab a beach-facing room at Waves Hotel & Spa: an upscale property with impeccable service situated just 20 minutes by car from the financial heart of Bridgetown. Attracting an international clientele, this well-appointed hotel prides itself on offering the best, be it super speedy wifi and gourmet cuisine or the finest bedding. Keen to stay somewhere more casual? Then opt for the barefoot opulence of The Colony Club for bold colonial-Caribbean style and a friendly, can-do attitude.
Where to eat: There are tons of notable restaurants in the buzzing heart of Bridgetown and plenty of casual dining options strung along the scenic coast. No business trip is complete without some authentic home-cooked soul food so be sure to visit the curb-side fried fish joints island-wide. For the ultimate gastronomic splurge book a table at The Cliff, a first-class eatery in St James with a menu that by rights should feature a Michelin star. For a less formal bite, head for surf-and-turf diner The Blue Room Bar & Grill in Hastings where fresh seafood is served sizzling on platters. In Bridgetown there are plenty of restaurants worth visiting, with Lobster Alive a safe bet for swanky seafood. Looking for a good place for breakfast? Then join the business crowd at the Waterfront Cafe.
Where to go for evening cocktails: For business over beers (or cocktails) settle into a plush chair at the Scarlet in St James, where a distinguished crowd network in laid-back Bajan style as the sun sets over the bay. A potent rum punch helps the business chit-chat flow while the sounds of mellow jazz soothe any hint of executive stress. For a more relaxed Caribbean vibe head to The Boatyard, a “drink in hand, toes in sand’ beer and cocktail joint with enviable views.
Top sights: Take a swim with giant sea turtles, play volleyball in the soft sands at Bottom Bay, or spend a day at the horse races at the Garrison Savannah. Visit the famous Friday Fish Fry at Oistins after dark, enjoy a heady tour of the Mount Gay Rum plantation, or trek deep into the ragged depths of Harrison’s Cave in the centre of the island with its stunning waterfall cascades. Active types with a morning off should hit the crashing surf with a board at the Soup Bowl, or stroll the sweet aromatic trails in the island’s botanic gardens – utterly blissful in the morning sunshine.
Great gifts: Struggling for gift ideas to take home to the family? Then head to one of Bridgetown’s bustling shopping malls for tropical T-shirts, Bajan rag dolls, toy cricket bats, jewellery, perfume and watches. Brightly painted ceramics, vivid landscape paintings and beaded bags are some of the most popular products bought as souvenirs. To snap up a deal simply stroll along Broad Street – Bridgetown’s shopping arterial – where you’ll find a string of department stores, cut-price boutiques and an array of bangles, jewels and trinkets. On the outskirts of the capital, try Pelican Village or the Bayshore Complex – two great places for local handicrafts including straw bags, wall hangings, batik, paintings, rum cakes, chilli sauce, fiery pickles and much more!
Going local: When the workday is done and you’re looking to let loose from business in Barbados, it’s time for some word-class water sports – the windsurfing and kitesurfing along the west coast of Barbados is truly superb. Plenty of outfits run waterskiing, Hobie cat sailing, kayaking, reef fishing and dive sessions. The Barbados Sailing Association has a website with all the latest sailing news, events and regattas. Keen to practice your swing? Then book a session at the Sandy Lane Golf Academy, without doubt one of the best courses on the island with its 45-holes and A-list hackers. Or, check out the cricketing fixtures at the Kensington Oval for an evening of T20 in this prestigious 11,000-seater capacity stadium.
Where to break curfew: When the meetings have come to a close it’s time for some Bajan R&R at one of the island’s umpteen scenic beaches, in a traditional tropical spa, or propping up a Calypso bar with a tray of ice cold beers. Downtime is sacrosanct in the Caribbean and celebrated in Barbados with a song, a dance and a rainbow of cocktails. For an indulgent sea-and-sand massage using fresh blooms, nuts, fruit and herbs try the ultimate pampering session at the Sugar Cane Spa – it soothes fatigue, eases tensions and enriches skin with coconut and mango.
Travelling to the Caribbean on business? Book your flights to Barbados today with Virgin Atlantic.
Have you been on business in Barbados? Where were your favourite places to go and relax after meetings? Let us know in the comments section below.