The journey taken from touching down in Barbados, driving through the colourful Bridgetown, up the Platinum Coast, known for its picture-perfect beaches of white sand fronting the azure Caribbean Sea, to reach Cobblers Cove makes you able to appreciate its best feature – the peace and privacy of the hotel. Located in the parish of St Peter at the head of the west coast, as soon as you step through the arch and into the tropical gardens it is pure tranquility. The welcome service is spot on: straight to your suite hidden in the idyllic oasis of enormous palm leaves, electric pink Hibiscus and Bajan hummingbirds, with the offer of a cocktail at the bar or delivered back to you. Cobblers Cove is truly to English taste. The gardens are not over manicured, the decor not uber-modern. It is classic and genteel. The colonial plantation house, built in 1944 and revamped in 1968, has 42 suites each named after villages on the island.
It is an adult’s hotel, comfortable with much of the decoration white with blue and cool green; The Caribbean colour comes from the water and sails of the Hobie Cats and Sunfish that cross the excellent view from the restaurant, pool and terrace. The garden suites have large white wicker bed frames with loungers on the terrace to match, Ren products and airy sitting rooms that lead out onto a private terrace and the lush gardens through big folding doors. The design of each suite really makes you feel as though you’re in a remote luxury cabin, especially with the sound of crashing waves to fall asleep and wake to. The terrace was the setting for many naps and evening games of backgammon. To the right of the hotel is a private beach perfect for a night-time swim with just the moon and quiet dining room clatter and chatter from the terrace of the hotel’s esteemed Camelot restaurant.
The Great House painted bright pink includes a large drawing room where tea is served. It’s a cool escape from the Barbados sun and complete with chess tables, backgammon sets and full bookshelves for some time out in the homely reception area. And the bar is just in sight outside… I had a killer pina colada – when in the tropics – to bring in the first morning of holiday after a jet-lagged early rise and swim. Breakfast with the best of views over the ocean included heavenly Crab Eggs Benedict and the highly recommended Cinnamon French Toast, definitely one for the sweet-toothed breakfasteers. Of course it included multiple plates of exotic fruit. The outdoor pool overlooks the serene Godings Bay, the beach, sea and sails. Turtles stick just off this coast, enjoying too the quieter strip of sea, so no boat trip to swim with these guys is needed. The hotel also offers many complimentary water activities. Bradley, found in his beach hut on the hotel’s mini private beach, has paddle boards, kayaks, sailboats, snorkels and offers water skiing, windsurfing, scuba diving and fishing.
The Camelot restaurant is the perfect place to watch the sun go down. Speightstown, though a little faded, has some mellow bars and waterfront restaurants to watch the sunset and is just a short walk away. Just don’t get distracted by locals trying to sell you aloe vera during the sunset; we missed the elusive green flash, a phenomena ‘you’re lucky to see just once in a lifetime’, the excited manager told us at the Lobster Pot as the solid orange crest of the sun disappeared beyond the horizon.
The more traditional features of Cobblers Cove include afternoon tea at 4pm in the drawing room, weekly cocktail parties and excursions to watch the island’s polo and car racing. Yet the chilled Caribbean attitude of the local staff creates a relaxed environment and the hospitality is excellent. You really feel at home, as the hotel intends.
Surfing was the main aim of this Barbados visit. The rugged east coast of the island boasts Bathsheba’s Soup Bowl, rated by Kelly Slater as one of the world’s top three waves. The south point of Barbados catches a lot of wind and the sky is full of kites and the sea full of boards. Freights Bay is where I took up this time but depending on the season, weather and day it’s best to get a guide or at least ask a surfing local which point to head to. The accommodation near these spots varies from surfer communes to luxury but less charming resorts. What I am getting at is as the surf changes and with Barbados requiring a car – rather, the adventure and fun kicks in exploring by car – it is no matter that Cobblers Cove is nestled atop the iconic west coast, away from the noise and lively soul of the island down, say, in Oistins. Especially when the island stretches north-to-south just over 20 miles.
My advice to you: sleep north; surf south; drive everywhere; bring a compass.