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Barbados / Coral Reef Club

Tranquil, secluded and very British in manner, this charming country house hotel in its tropical garden setting stands out for its warm welcome and genuine hospitality, even by Bajan standards.

Resolutely old-school in feel, Coral Reef Club is very much one for those who relish a country house vibe. Its success is a tribute to the creativity and vision of Cynthia and the late Budge O’Hara who came to run the hotel in the 50s and never wanted to leave. It’s still managed today, over half a century later, by the following generation of O’Haras.

Quiet rooms with nothing but a barely-there rustle of palm fronds sets the tone for a week or two unencumbered by distractions, leaving days free to enjoy the recuperative atmosphere and limelight stealer: The Spa. Cocooned in glorious gardens with a menu of stress-busting treatments, the health club’s expertise belies its size (there are only four treatment rooms and one couple’s pavilion). The week-long wellness retreats are a big draw with a healthy dose of yoga, Caribbean-style zumba and holistic rituals. Monday evenings are for savouring rum cocktails hosted at the home of the O’Hara family, followed by a colourful West Indian buffet back in the hotel’s restaurant. While Thursdays are all about lively barbecues and limbo dancing.

Travel notes:

  • 88 rooms and suites, some with private plunge pools
  • Al fresco restaurant with local and global cuisine, and live entertainment
  • Spa includes hydro-pool, thermal suite, crystal steam room and experience shower
  • Daily tennis clinic with complimentary tuition run by the resident pro and a  scuba diving school
  • A family-friendly hotel, where the pace is a gentle one; most kid-approved distractions are non-motorised water sports

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