Tamarind on Barbados adds activities, menus, elegance

By Paul E. Kandarian
Globe Correspondent / January 16, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

TAMARIND COVE, Barbados — Things to keep in mind when visiting the newly renovated Tamarind, renamed from Tamarind Cove, on the west coast of Barbados:

■Take advantage of free water sports, including water skiing, most unusual for a resort that is not an all-inclusive.

■Give the local fish a taste at 246 Restaurant, so named for the island area code.

■ Visit the new spa where they use things such as Bajan sea salt and Barbadian Moscovado brown sugar for treatments.

■And if it rains, never stand under a machineel tree on the beach. This most poisonous of trees exudes a sap so strong it blisters skin. Native Carib Indians used it to poison their arrows and in 1521, Ponce de Leon died after being wounded by one during a Florida expedition.

But it doesn’t rain much in Barbados.

It did last Oct. 31, however, when Hurricane Tomas blew by 20 miles to the south, causing about $8.5 million in damage on the island. Tamarind had been closed since July for a $6 million renovation that included expanding and renaming its three restaurants and redoing all 104 rooms and suites. It reopened on Nov. 2, one day late after crews cleaned up the minimal mess in the wake of Tomas.

The place is markedly different from what it was, most notably in its restaurants, one of which was moved. The 246 Restaurant now has deck dining on the beach, as close to the water as any resort in Barbados, said Simon Sherwood, chairman of Elegant Hotels.

The previous dining area was set far behind sight-clogging gardens, which were removed. “Just the way the British like it,’’ joked Sherwood, a native Briton. “It’s much better this way.’’

The chain also reworked one of its three pool areas, the Rilaks Deck, with a South Beach-inspired motif of outdoor dining, imbibing, and music.

A fitness area was moved to the first floor, and the space redesigned with rooms with pool and ocean views. The spa was also updated and snuggled into an area near Rilaks that comes with its own private pool. The adults-only area is a great place to get away from whatever crowd you may find on the property’s 750-foot-long crescent beach.

The beach is a beauty. It had been somewhat eroded by Tomas but prevailing winds restored it by shifting sand back from the sea, Sherwood said.

The resort has a “Beach Ambassador’’ program, with friendly staff asking guests if they need food or drink. Near the walkway from the hotel is an endless supply of citrus-flavored ice water. In the morning, the beach is a great place to lounge with French-press coffee brought out by staff.

The renovated rooms are spacious and bathed in light, most offering water views. Mine had a huge 10-by-20-foot balcony with a great view of the ocean 150 feet away. The living area was large, the king beds ordered shorter to allow more room; the only drawback is that 6-footers like me find their feet draping over the end.

The bathrooms were also refurbished, with Crichton and James toiletries gracing all that new marble and tile. The tub-shower is adequate, but the small glass shower door, while stylish, doesn’t do much to keep water from drenching the floor. The walk-in closet has a nice laptop-holding digital safe.

Given Tamarind’s overall elegance, it’s puzzling that rooms have only small coffeemakers to heat water. A Nespresso machine would be a better way to self-start the day.

There’s a pretty expansive range of kid stuff, including a separate teen room with billiards, foosball, air hockey, and giant TV and video games that’s more of a man cave; many fathers bring their children and stick around to play themselves.

The “Taste of Elegance’’ dine-around program allows guests on meal plans to get a resort credit they can apply at any Elegant Hotels property. And a free water-taxi shuttles among three Elegant properties: Tamarind, Crystal Cove, and Colony Club. Another Elegant property, Daphne’s, the Zagat-rated island sister to the Daphne’s in London, is next to Tamarind, and is in the dine-around program. (Its grilled lobster tails are phenomenal.)

All in all, the newly-done Tamarind is a great place to stay on Barbados.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at

If You Go

Paynes Bay
St. James, Barbados
Newly renovated 104-room hotel on the west coast of Barbados offers free water sports, and for an extra $100, a surf package that includes lessons and transportation to a more wave-intensive area. Rates from $264 a night.