Wintering in Barbados

Fall 2009 CSANews Issue 72  |  Posted date : Sep 22, 2009.Back to list

As a pilot for Air Canada, Brian Caldwell began flying to Barbados in December 1967. Most trips involved remaining overnight. Thus, many of the crew members brought tennis racquets and swimsuits, as they were usually near the ocean.

In December 1969, the Caldwell family began spending a couple of weeks vacationing in Barbados, after the Christmas exams. Since then, they've never looked back. In 1980, Brian and his wife Pat purchased 10 weeks of time-share and now they enjoy Barbados from January to mid-March. "We've brought the entire family down on occasion," says Brian. "Our grandchildren cannot get enough."

When asked why he chose Barbados over a more common snowbird destination, such as Florida or Arizona, Brian replied, "my wife's grandfather owned a farm south of Gainesville, Florida, and we experienced numerous thunderstorms and uncomfortably cool winter day and night temperatures while visiting him. I found Texas to be similar to Florida in the winter. Arizona is lovely if you like dry heat, but where do you swim other than in the pool?"

According to Brian, the weather in Barbados has an average daytime temperature of 28° to 31°C, falling to 25°C at night. "I haven't experienced a thunderstorm there yet," says Brian. "There is usually a brief 10-minute shower or two during the day or night. The rainfall evaporates in minutes, so we all resume our relaxing modes without interruption."

Security was another reason for choosing Barbados as a snowbird destination. Since his job took him to so many parts of the world, Brian had seen his fair share of dangerous locations. But Barbados was different. "It's one of the safest darn places on the face of the earth," he says.

The Caldwells own their time-share at the Plum Tree Club on Rockley Resort Golf Course. The Plum Tree is tucked inside a nine-hole golf course and offers quiet, quaint, self-contained suites, a swimming pool, car parking facilities and beautifully landscaped gardens. The resort is situated six miles from the airport and four miles from the capital of Bridgetown; it is in close proximity to a large supermarket and offers free shuttle service to and from Accra Beach (commonly referred to as "the best beach in Barbados"). Brian and Pat's unit consists of a full kitchen, full bathroom, living/dining area, bedroom and balcony. Amenities include a full-size fridge, stove, microwave and toaster oven. The washer and dryer facilities are located on site, with tokens available at the main office. As part of their maintenance fee of US$510 per week, the Caldwells receive housekeeping services. For those who wish to rent, maintenance fees are included in the rental price, which is approximately $150 U.S. per day for a one-bedroom suite and $274 per day for a two-bedroom suite (from December 2009 to April 2010). Studio suites are less expensive but, according to Brian, are cramped and contain fewer amenities.

The Rockley Resort Golf Course offers guests preferential rates: nine holes for U.S. $30 U.S. and 18 holes for U.S.$45 U.S. (cart and clubs extra). There is a rate for unlimited golf (carts and clubs included). Weekly and family rates are also available.

In terms of cost, Brian explains that some things can be expensive, such as renting a car. A mid-sized sedan will cost approximately CDN$1,000 for a two-week rental. "Groceries can be expensive if you shop carelessly," says Brian. "Fish is the least expensive meat. Chicken, beef and pork cost about the same as in Canada. Veggies are reasonable, but staples are expensive, due to being imported."

As for alcohol, rum is the cheapest, so Brian suggests taking advantage of pre-boarding duty-free. Wine can be pricey, but beer is reasonable if drinking the local Banks beer. Gas is very expensive; about 50% more than in Canada, which is no doubt the reason (along with the steep rental price) why Brian and Pat only rent a car for two weeks. Most of the time, they walk, take a cab or take a bus to wherever they need to go. "Cab fares are quite cheap," says Brian, "and the city bus costs only 75 cents U.S. per ride. The bus system can take you to virtually any place on the island, with few exemptions."

Brian and Pat have plenty of activities to keep them busy during their 10-week stay in Barbados. They swim, golf, fish and play bridge. "Catamaran cruises are a must every year," says Brian. These cruises normally include lunch or dinner, depending on time of departure. The possibilities for fun and entertainment are endless, including deep-sea fishing, island tours, submarine tours and dinner shows. Each month features various events, such as the Jazz Festival in January, the Holetown Festival in February and plenty of horse racing in March. "And if you like polo," says Brian, "you'll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the competition from many countries, including the Canadian team from Calgary."

The Caldwells love the time spent in Barbados and they cannot imagine wintering in any other destination. With so much to do, such pleasant weather and such a relaxing abode, why would they want to go anywhere else?