At resort, bygone Barbados

Travel Weekly
By Gay Nagle Myers

Arriving at the Crane resort, set on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic on the southeastern coast of Barbados, I knew I’d stepped back in time.

The chalky limestone buildings, coral stone walls, lush foliage, meandering pathways and abundance of wood trim throughout evoke a bygone era in hotel design and architecture.

The resort, which contains 252 rooms scattered about in 10 buildings, opened in 1887 with 18 rooms and holds the distinction of being the oldest continually operating hotel in the Caribbean.

“The hotel had had several owners over the years,” said Paul Doyle, managing director and owner. “I bought it in 1988, and although the Crane now has many more guestrooms and restaurants, the original 18-room structure still stands and is part of our room inventory.”

Another fixture from the past is L’Azure, a restaurant that overlooks Crane Beach, often touted as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Nothing beats breakfast on L’Azure’s outdoor terrace with the view below and birds hovering nearby, hoping to snag a sugar packet or toast crumbs.

Back in the day, a train would carry guests from the capital of Bridgetown to a rail station near the Crane where they would be transported by horse-and-buggy to the resort. Nowadays, it’s a 15-minute drive from the airport, and transfers are included in some of the packages.

All of the Crane’s rooms have been upgraded and renovated since 2000 but retain the original hotel’s sense of place. The rooms are spacious, and many are suites with full kitchens to accommodate long-stay guests. Other units are ground-floor, swim-out suites. All the rooms have large patios and balconies with a private plunge pool.

In all, the Crane boasts 18 room categories, 128 pools, five restaurants, Bar 1887, the Serenity Spa, the Calypso Kids Club, meeting space and wedding venues.

Tying it all together is the Crane Village, a cobblestoned area with open-air markets, the Village Cafe, an art gallery, Town Hall and the General Store, all architecturally designed to mirror the original hotel building.

Another component of the Crane resort are the on-site Crane Private Residences, a gated, residential community of condo-style units, the first phase of which is slated to open by the end of the month. The units, when not owner-occupied, can be placed in the hotel’s rental pool. A second project involves seven stand-alone, contemporary beach houses now being built on beachfront acreage a short drive from the resort.