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By Charlotte Lynham
Of all the stunning islands dotted throughout the Caribbean, Barbados is one of the densely populated. With local inhabitants and a growing number of international tourists to contend with, the island struggles with balancing the needs of an expanding tourism trade with that of protecting the island’s indigenous flora and fauna.
One group that’s making a concerted effort towards sustainability and showing that luxury resorts can take care of the environment is Elegant Hotels, one of the leading hotel groups in Caribbean vacation travel. The group manages five distinctly unique hotels located on superb beachfront property, including the Colony Club Hotel, Tamarind Hotel, and the intimate House along with Turtle Beach Resort and Crystal Cove Hotel. All five Elegant Hotels properties boast a well-earned reputation as the finest in the Caribbean and each holds strong policies, practices and even purchasing to make their resorts as sustainable as possible.
I was lucky enough to visit the The House, the smallest and most exclusive of the group’s hotels. Arriving just after the heat of the day we drove up to the beautiful wooden decked front to the gate, to be greeted with the perfect rum aperitif to enjoy whilst watching our first Caribbean sunset. After settling into our beautiful room overlooking the Caribbean Sea, we dressed for one of the most memorable dinners I have ever experienced.
Situated on the beach by torchlight, we dined on the most exquisite locally caught seafood: Grilled Octopus with Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers and Olives and Caribbean Lobster with Garlic Broccoli and Sweet Potato Chips. Executive Chef Marco Festini Cromer was trained in Italy but has bought his food flair to Daphne’s and The House, with an eye for detail. In addition to being a master of delicate flavours, Marco is passionate about local cuisine and supporting local businesses. All food served is fresh from the markets nearby, which means the menu is ever changing based on the seasons and availability. Marco’s talent with food made him an exceptional employee at the resort: Elegant prides itself on supporting the local economy and has a general employment policy to keep their hotels run, managed and maintained by local people.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, reminiscing over our romantic dinner on the beach, it was time to explore the island. I was there to sample the new LX by The House package, which is aimed at adult-only tourists who find lounging on a beach for days on end a bit dull. With activities including a sunset yacht charter with a private on-board chef, private polo lessons and a private Mount Gay Rum tour and tasting, LX by The House is the ultimate in island indulgence.
Over the next few days we experienced a fun-packed schedule with highlights including a yacht charter on the catamaran ‘Seaduced’ from Warren Yachting, a private rum tasting tour at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, and my personal favourite: an exciting (and exhausting!) private polo lesson with Apes Hill Golf & Polo Club – not something you’d usually expect on a trip to this gorgeous island.
We did learn something about another animal, not quite as fast as a polo pony: the turtle. The Barbados coastline is of particular ecological importance for this animal, as the island is host to four species of nesting turtles (green turtles, loggerheads, hawksbill turtles, and leatherbacks) and has the second-largest hawksbill turtle breeding population in the Caribbean. While staying at The House, (or any of the Elegant Resorts) guests have the opportunity to observe turtles during their breeding season. Elegant take particular care to protect the eggs by marking hatching sites and making guests aware of the need to avoid trodding wherever turtle breeding activities are underway.
But that’s not the only eco-effort made by the resort: Elegant ensure their properties are as green as possible by cutting down as much as possible on energy wastage and pollution. In fact, the Turtle Beach Resort has been awarded a Green Globe certification in recognition of their green initiatives, which include comprehensive energy checks that are measured daily with an in-house utilities monitor. In addition, investment has been made in “Energy Eye”, an infrared device that controls the regulation of air conditioning units, which has led to a 60% reduction in energy output.
Our short time on the island passed even faster than expected, and it was almost heartbreaking to have to leave the verdant shores of Barbados for the stony skies of London. In just a few days, I felt I’d learned a lot: about how to distinguish a quality rum, play better polo, and how luxury resorts can be a force for good when it comes to conservation. As Elegant resorts and a growing number of other high end leisure properties are starting to understand, for many modern, affluent tourists, enjoying the benefits of a well-preserved natural environment is the greatest luxury of all.
Main image and 6th from top: Wikicommons
For more information on any of the Elegant Hotels properties or to book, visit eleganthotels.com