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A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a great 5 night stay at The Crane Resort in Barbados. Overall, it is an absolutely stunning hotel and probably one of the nicest resorts I’ve been to. Since we were going during the off-season, I was able to score a Jetsetter deal for $150/night + tax (this same room goes for about $400/night in the winter time)! I booked the Junior Garden View Suite, which is the “worst” room type at the hotel. However, I must say the worst room at the Crane is probably the best room at many other hotels – this room was awesome at about 750 square feet! While the Jetsetter deal I found is over, there is currently a Groupon for this resort that expires in 2 days (or until sells out), for stays through October 31, 2012. It is actually a great deal at $471 for a 3-night stay in the Junior Garden View Suite and $655 for a 3-night stay in a One-Bedroom Ocean View Suite. The good thing is that Barbados is outside of the hurricane belt since it is so far South and East.
One thing I love about the hotel is that it is not one big high rise, but about five 5-story buildings. Also, when entering the property, you did not go through a stale lobby, but instead a village-like area. You actually only had to go into the lobby during check-in/check-out and if you had any questions for the front desk. It had that real “resorty” feel to it. The village area of the resort has a general store, ice cream store, retail store, and probably a few others I am missing. It was super convenient to have food items right on property since all hotel rooms have a kitchen! The best part is that the prices were very similar to other convenient stores off property down the street. There are three restaurants and one bar in the village area (the forth restaurant is near the pool complex). All the restaurants had a great atmosphere as you did not feel like you were eating at the hotel. The Asian restaurant, Zen, is actually over the cliffs and you get spectacular views of the beach. Overall, the prices at the four restaurants were not expensive compared to the other restaurants around the island, which was really nice.
Once you go through the village, you can go to one of 6 pools. One of the pools is more quiet in its own secluded area (adults-only), while the other 5 make up a huge pool complex. It is a really pretty complex with waterfalls and trees. One of the pools is a massive jacuzzi as well! There are plenty of lounge chairs – you can have your pick to be directly in the sun, underneath the shade, or secluded on the grassy area overlooking the cliff. There is a restaurant/bar in the pool complex, where we got lunch one day and a few drinks from time to time. Again, the prices were not outrageous as they normally are at resorts.
The one annoying thing was the towel situation. They give you one of those towel cards that you must turn in the first time you get a towel. Anytime you want a dry/clean towel you must trade in your current towel. If you need a new towel card during your stay or do not return your towel when you check out they say they charge $25/towel. Since I was able to hold on two our two towels throughout our stay, I am not sure if they really follow through with charging you, but I find those towel rules annoying at resorts.
Since the resort is on a cliff overlooking the water (it really is beautiful!), you have to take a glass elevator down to the beach. This really was no big deal at all, but does make it more difficult to run between the beach and pool all day. The beach was very nice with chairs and umbrellas already set up and complimentary for hotel guests. You will see many locals hanging out at the beach hut trying to sell you a coconut (with or without alcohol) so be prepared. If you say no, they will leave you alone which is nice. While we did not try one, I have no doubt that it probably was pretty tasty! If you walk down the beach away from the resort, you can walk up these cliffs to get to some other beaches nearby. If you walk up the cliffs then up the street, you will run into a lunch restaurant, called Cutters. It is a very convenient place for lunch if you are hanging out at the beach and they will also deliver as long as you hit a minimum spend.
Do note though that the beach can have some rough waves, so may not be suitable for young children. I personally liked the beaches on the South and the West better due to the calm water, but for those who like to boogie board or body surf, this is a great place. I did see one person surfing, but they really were not surfing waves at all.
As I previously mentioned, I booked the lowest category room, but it was still amazing! They are doing some renovations and luckily, we were put in one of the renovated towers. The room was fully marble with a king size 4-poster bed, a sitting area with a couch and coffee table, another small table for two, a full kitchen with new appliances, a bathroom with a huge jacuzzi tab, shower with a seat, and a separate toilet room. There was also a large balcony off of the room with two lounge chairs. Since we were on the top floor, we had a cathedral ceiling with a fan – this made the room feel even larger and gave it that open feel.
Kitchen with full size fridge, oven, microwaves, plates, utensils, etc.
Full size jacuzzi bath in a huge bathroom
Since we looked over the garden, we did not have the best view, but it also wasn’t a parking lot view. All of the corner rooms actually have plunge pools and the ground level rooms have their own private pool. There are even a few rooms on the top floors with a private roof-deck pool! The plunge pools actually did not seem worth it to me as there is really no sitting area around it, just the small circular pool right off of the room. Since they line the side of the hotel, they are all covered by the pool above it and receive no sun. I met the sales person at the hotel and she told me that they actually do not get used much – while they seem great in theory, they are not as practical since the water is cold and people would rather enjoy the pools in the complex. They looked into heating the pools, but it was too expensive and they decided not to go ahead with it. The ground level rooms though, with their own private large pool, looked awesome! They are pretty decent in size and have lounge chairs, tables, umbrellas, etc. You can book these rooms with either one or two bedrooms and are about 2,000 square feet! I did look up prices during the winter season and they are quite expensive at about $1,000+ a night, however, if you can go in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, they are much more reasonable and look awesome for a family!
The private pools on the ground floor (this picture really doesn’t do it justice)
The plunge pool rooms
If you are looking to go with a family, make sure to look into all of the rooms as I do not think there are any with two double bed and you might have to pay extra to get a room with a pullout sofa or a cot. Additionally, if you are looking to save some money, they are in the midst of building a few more buildings further away from the water, which they are calling “Residence by the Park.” I believe the first building had already been completed. While these rooms do not have an ocean view, they are significantly less expensive and walking to the pool will only take an extra minute or two. A two bedroom with a private pool can be about $300 less per night.
I really did love this hotel. This property is part of RCI timeshare (so you can use your timeshare points if you have!) and the sales people never bothered me (or anyone else I saw) or asked me to take a tour. The resort is extremely convenient to the airport (probably 15 minutes or so) and about 25 minutes to St. Lawrence Gap (bars, restaurants, nightlife, and close to great beaches). While I would absolutely go back to this resort, if I did not care about the hotel and my preference was more on location I’d opt for the South/West area. However, everything really is convenient so if you want a nice resort with restaurants, pools, beach, this place has it all!
One note though, if your goal is to sit on a lounge chair and have a waiter/waitress walk-by and take your drink order, this is probably not the place for you. It is a very family friendly resort and I do not think pool service is their top top priority. This did not bother me at all as the restaurant/bar was only a minute walk, but I know some people want that while on vacation.
If you have any questions about the hotel, different room types, or Barbados in general, feel free to ask!