There will be mossies and sandflies etc around so use repellent - people have different ideas as to what works best (you'll find pages of
discussion on here if you search for "repellent"
in the box above) My preference, as I react
quite badly, is one with a high percentage of
DEET - buy before you go or when you arrive
as Off! Etc is widely available. I take
antihistamines (supermarket own brand) in
case I get bitten. Also I use TCP on any bites to prevent infection. Yes, I am like a traveling Pharmacy! Barbados isn't as bad as some places for mossies but a little planning can help reduce the number of bites and their effects.
Have a great holiday.Edited: 08 July 2012, 09:38
Thank you for your help I'm sure I will have some more questions before we go
Hi Lisa, returned last week from Savannah and have have a few issues with Trip Advisor posting a candid review. We had a fantastic time - my three girls and myself - I would advise you check with Virgin they have sorted the issues with the pool filtration out which caused both pools to be closed at various times. None of the niggles stopped us having a great time, any advice you need just ask, take us $ anyway!
Btw I didn't get bitten by anything once, went through the bush horse-trekking, on the boats and beaches and was bite-free so don't worry too much but I guess insects are attracted to some and not to others.Edited: 26 August 2012, 09:05
Thank you for your update I will check about the pools before we leave, how were the beaches and which one was best to snorkell? Hubby will be pleased about the little mites not attacking you :-) guess the food and hotel were good? Not long now we are really looking forward to Barbados thanks again.
Lisa, as before we had a great time, we dived off of a couple of beaches with Cliffsharker but not outside the hotel which was not a problem really. Trip Advisor will not publish this review, but note none of this had any effect at all on our stay, we had a great time - I was just a bit peeved at Virgin hiking the prices 50% more next year when the hotel is ok but certainly not worth the additional money. My review is consistent with all others really, maybe I just have a more direct way of putting things! I trust you'll have a lovely time though, it was a real break for us and we needed it, defo worth hiring a car/jeep with air con, let me know if you think my comments are fair after your holiday - why won't TA publish them? I have cut and paste a summary of excursions too which I have deleted from my submitted review to TA to concentrate on the hotel. Jet-Skiing was fun too!!
I based much of my decision to go with the Savannah Beach for our holiday destination on the Trip Advisor reviews and feel obliged to write of my own experiences with my three daughters. Firstly we have had a fantastic holiday (Aug 6th to 17th 2012), a really relaxing break, enjoyed the Company of others and the friendliness of the staff and no real grumbles as such, it was everything we wanted and more….. would we come back to Barbados? What were our experiences of the hotel? Were the trips value for money?
Firstly I was a little shocked and surprised by the relative deprivation of many of the locals on the trip from the Airport to Savannah Beach on a rickety old coach (with working aircon thankfully). I have lived in Iran and Malaysia as a child, travelled pretty well in the intervening years and feel I have seen a wide range of things but a welcome wake-up call for me anyway. If you were expecting golden beaches, a sophisticated set-up geared towards tourists, polished beach resorts - think again. Barbados is everything but for the most part.
The formalities out of the way after being transferred from the airport - which included passing over debit/credit card particulars in case we went over our all-inclusive package (?!?!?!?!?) - we went to our (Courtyard) room and almost immediately got a phone call advising it was the wrong room, we would move to our room overlooking the pool the next day. We were too tired to be bothered really, it was no big deal. Others might have complained but I wanted to enjoy this holiday, which I have done tremendously, without complaining at all (note to self, apart from a sending a brief email to Atlantis Submarines giving them the chance to respond. For fairness and balance I have included the reply in this summary of our trip.)
Only thing to note after the first night was that Internet Access in the initial room was poor (352, Courtyard View) and the Ethernet port in the room wasn't working (I have to keep a holiday eye on my business I am afraid!). Welcome cookies and Champagne were a nice touch. We had a really enjoyable buffet-style meal in Rachel's that evening and went to bed with the kids (17,12,8) tired but happy. Food was really good that night and with 2 Vegetarians in our family there was no problem.
At the Welcome meeting with Damien the Rep the next day other guests were livid since the restaurant had later on……. run out of food! Apparently something to do with a Bajan festival on the day of our arrival, the Head Chef attended and sincerely apologised to a small but baying crowd (!) but it was a chance to meet others, they were voicing legitimate concerns which we thankfully had not experienced. Later that day we moved into our improved Pool View room with a vaulted ceiling and I could use an Ethernet to wireless converter by taking the phone line out (Highly recommended, £20-25 from Amazon). Many will want to be away from The Internet, but with my own responsibilities to my business and the kids wanting to keep in touch with friends and FaceTime their Mum and send endless pictures of everything it was a welcome comfort. Wireless access, contrary to another review I read previously, is only barely reasonable if you sit out on the balcony in my experience and then it can be hit-and-miss. Worth every penny to have your own wireless network!
We stayed in the pool mainly over the next four or so days befriending people generally and relaxing - for the first few days, having endless drinks and eating in the hotel - either Rachels or Drifters Beach Bar restaurant (I have never seen anyone eat at Chopstix which has a supplement payable to eat there $25) - I was pretty much content but as with most all-inclusive deals the choice becomes limited particularly at lunchtime, menu options were rehashed. Chips, hot dogs and hamburgers at lunch for the kids mainly anywhere in the world is the same but with a little bit of imagination and hot sauce a passable meal could be put-together. Rachels - for which you have to book in the evenings otherwise if unsuccessful you get demoted to….. you guessed it…… Drifters beach bar for your evening meal - offers a set menu with limited choices but note you can also order selections from the main menu . Food was enjoyable enough from Rachels a la carte but in small almost 'Cordon Bleu' style portions which were surprisingly filling. Endless drinks become a bit sickly - why oh why are syrups being used for the cocktails rather than fresh ingredients? In a 'four star hotel'? Next year a flagship hotel with an anticipated third rise in the cost of staying here*?
*Actually, the price rise is an almost laughable 50%.
Copacabana Beach which is a partner beach to Savannah Beach - to which shuttle buses are provided free of charge by the hotel - has a rudimentary bar, a nice stretch of beach itself and if you fancy a bit of sun worship away from the hotel it is well worth the short bus ride. Stone free beach and beautiful water. Immediately outside the Savannah on the beach side you can barely walk in the sea because of the amount of stones under the water at any depth. Again not a real concern. On the second day we half-walked/ then took a taxi from the Hilton with the kids the remainder of the way to go jet-skiing on (two) 1100cc Yamahas with another couple - we had been warned about the guy who approaches guests near Drifters Bar (he has a single 700cc blue jet-ski) but in fairness those guests who said they went with him spoke well of the jet-ski and of him. Towards the end of our holiday when we were watching someones bags for them, I passed Mr 700cc Jet-Ski and he stopped me, claiming he had spoken to me at Savannah which I brushed off, I had never spoken to him previously. There was a bit of intent and edge to his questioning and when he accused me of being a naughty boy (for not using his less powerful dog-eared jet-ski) I said I wasn't concerned because my wife says that too sometimes which relaxed things a little - note that the ever-present wrist band for your all-inclusive package at Savannah identifies you at all times as it did me and makes you a target anyway.
Don't expect anything other than a stretch of nice beach and a rudimentary bar though at Copacabana, sited off of the main beach road and nestled in between shacks and derelict/half-built buildings of one sort or another. Jet-skiing has been a particular favourite this holiday, we paid $40 US for generous 30 minute sessions on the 1100cc Yamahas, highly recommended.
Damien the Rep was an excellent help , seems to sincerely care about the service he is providing and is easy to befriend and share a laugh and a drink with. For the last three days got us a soft-top jeep for $460 BBD so we didn't have to rely on taxis and could tour the island at our leisure which is highly recommended. We arranged to drive straight from our hotel (having booked the early-morning turtle-experience with Cliffsharker on our last half-day) to the Airport and drop the car-off to maximise our time/take the opportunity when it arose to go on one of the specialised trips with less than 12 guests. As it happens we could not find a couple on the Beach and instead there were just four of us for the highlight of our trip by far.
A note about driving, straightforward enough - sounding your horn means thanks or hello, or I am here watch out, or I am going round a corner. Sometimes it means all of these things. A horn and the middle finger means that you are bothered by someones driving. As darkness fell not all cars had lights on, and in unlit areas you would have dark-clothed people walking with their backs to the traffic - one time in the middle-of-nowhere there was a guy jogging in the pitch black, he cannot have been able to see where he was going, I just drove on the outside of the lane in the direction I was heading in to keep a metre + or so away from the kerb, expect the unexpected when night falls. Incredible. I drive 60,000 miles + a year over the UK and Europe in the course of my business, I don't say these things lightly, be warned!
With a added investment, management and organisation, better wages for staff and attention paid to the rooms, Savannah Beach could justifiably be a four star hotel but it is punching above its' weight presently - if, as one other reviewer comments, the prices rise a third for 2013 as the website suggests I think there will be more and more disgruntled holidaymakers, sold on something which still needs a lot of work (note that price rise is 50% for 2013!!!!) As before I have had a lovely time with my kids and with other guests and the staff generally but some people were not happy and complained of
*The pools (max depth 3.6 ft) being murky and unclean at times (I guess swathed in sun tan lotion the filtration has its work cut out anyway!) All the pools have a depth of 3.6ft, where with the other pools some other reviewers have referred to?
*Underwater Light fittings in the pools being loose and coming away from the walls
*Several kids younger kids contracted ear infections and had to seek local treatment which they blamed on the pool and the poor filtration - we were in the pool quite a lot and none of the kids contracted any illnesses.
*Bathroom extraction fans not working
*not being able to reserve spaces at Rachels for dinner because all the spaces were taken!
*The mainly blackbirds which fly around the restaurant during meal times (mainly breakfast) get tiring after a few days, moreso when they excrete everywhere. It is a minor annoyance but an annoyance nonetheless.
*TV in the rooms suffering very poor reception, picking up 7 channels with only one or two American channels barely visible through interference sometimes.
*Door Chain broken (in our room anyway)
*Dangerous surfaces/stairs when it rains or any water is split.
*The pools being shut for whole days at a time, presumably to deal with the murky water.
*Quality and range of the food/drink
*Ability of Drifter bar to cope with the numbers accommodated but eh hotel - two blenders for 300-400 guests?
The Management/Virgin need to wake-up and smell the cheese - we had a great holiday but were aware some others didn't, maybe they would have complained about things anyway whatever the weather I do not know, but in fairness some concerns were justifiable in my opinion. The staff do all they can, are pleasant, polite and friendly for the most part. I didn't see much tipping going on but think that a $20 BBD tip is three times the hourly rate for most of these guys and will at best hurt your pocket by £6 or so.
Please don't be concerned if you are due to head out to Barbados for the first time and are staying at the Savannah, no doubt you will have a lovely time but I wanted to give a warts-and-all account of our stay. None of the negative aspects of the holiday really impinged on our time here, but don't expect perfection by any stretch of the imagination. If you have been sold on an unrealistic picture of perfection then you may need to adjust your expectations.
Would we come back? Very few holidays are good enough for anyone to return to the same location with the wealth of alternatives on offer, glad we came but on balance we will not be returning, almost certainly not to Savannah. I'll check on Trip Advisor reviews and expect them to be damning if people are to book at 50% more than we paid. Really hope this candid account of our stay will be helpful to some, at least not to Virgin and the hotel ownership who I feel should take note of these comments, which are intended to be constructive. The gorgeous friendly staff will, I guarantee, get it in the neck from holidaymakers next year if there is not attention paid to the areas which are in desperate need of improvement, and then it could be a shining star. In my opinion, despite having had a wonderful time, significant improvements have to be made to justify circa £1500 per person for 10 nights in 2013.
Well it was value for money overall and to repeat we have had an excellent holiday - whack 50% on again and you can forget it Virgin and get real or you will have massive complaints - and justifiably so - at that pricing level. The dodgy taps, tiles that needed re-grouting, safe which didn't work, tired bathroom, quality and range of food etc. etc. which didn't bother me would have if I had paid almost £6000. And whilst you are at it if you put a fridge in a wooden cabinet with no ventilation it turns into a mini oven and the fridge doesn't work - the two rooms we stayed in had fridges in wooden cabinets with no ventilation (which didn't work), only if you left the cabinet doors open for 5-6 hours did the fridge start to work properly. Simples.
Thanks to the Staff for a wonderful holiday.
Quick review of the excursions/trips we went on.
Atlantis Submarines - $317 US for 2 'adults' and 2 kids - booked directly - for us an ok experience, albeit costly. Decent staff, something you feel you have got to do but on our journey we scooted around a ship that had been sunk deliberately for local divers and saw a few fish and a lot of seabed - if you are on a limited budget I would not recommend this trip, staff were relaxed and fun as always. Spoke with a local and Atlantis charge locals (adults) $80 BBD per person, it is not unusual for tourists to be ripped off - we paid even less than through the Virgin Rep - but I would never recommend anyone to use a Company that conducts themselves like this. Disgusting. Locals $80 BBD, Tourists $200 BBD+. Stick it right up your periscope Atlantis, Virgin need to distance themselves from this rip-off. Then again they are charging $225 BBD per adult for the same trip…….. I am not against discounts for local residents at all - see the reply below from Atlantis - but do not feel that a discount of 60% for the local residents is fair to the tourists who visit the island and spend their hard-earned cash. The thrust of their email maybe correct, but Disney do not offer a 60% discount to local residents!
Thank you Mr. Grace for your feedback regarding the difference between the rate paid by your party and the local resident rate. I am very sorry that this has been upsetting but I appreciate your providing the opportunity for us to respond. I apologise for not responding yesterday but wanted to review with the team here before I contacted you.
Atlantis Submarines has a local resident rate which we promote to encourage the local population to experience our very unique submarine product. Targeting the resident market especially in slower periods is a strategy used by tourism entities all over the world to supplement income, promote goodwill in the community and assist with ensuring the testimonial advertising based on word of mouth from residents. The attractions in Orlando have Florida resident rates and specials that they promote. I just returned from Florence Italy where to get into the Pitti Palace one could get a special rate if you were the holder of an EU passport. Hotels have special Staycation rates for Americans in the United States and certainly through out the Caribbean hotels and attractions have adopted a similar strategy to attract locals to supplement income, and promote their businesses especially in the summer. In several parts of the world restaurants also offer local specials to entice residents.
Residents in tourism destinations need aggressive incentives to do what they consider touristy things and businesses usually benefit from a core of persons who recommend friends and family repeatedly to businesses who offer such incentives. Once they experience it they become some of your biggest ambassadors as they interact with tourists and highly recommend it. Targeting residents is an established marketing strategy and the pricing is based on the local economics and trying to manage capacity and supplement income while being a good corporate citizen. Indeed not to have such a rate can have a negative backlash in the local community as persons see you as not being interested in them or their patronage.
I hope I have explained the rationale but understand why you may have raised the query. I believe that your query has forced us to consider a similar explanation of some sort on the web site that speaks to the issue of differential pricing for residents. Again that you for affording us the opportunity to respond.
Ride Barbados - www.ridebarbados.com - 246-2668934 - middle daughter wanted to go on the horse trails although the other three of us were not altogether comfortable with it but went along anyway. Great morning out, we were charged $320 US (we got there 0835 via hire car and we were on the way out at 1130, took about 40-45 mins from Savannah Beach with excellent directions). Staff including Naomi were excellent and very reassuring, out of the ordinary for us to do this but I would advise sun tan lotion up first, shirt with long sleeves and a bottle of water. Nice breeze cools you down when you are on the early morning ride, animals seem to be well treated and happy, and at the end of the ride their kit is taken off and they are allowed to free run back to the stable, nice touch, and if you have the budget, recommended. Three of us were absolute beginners, the ride was a bit tricky in places, just relax and enjoy it.
Bridgetown itself - I know of some guests who took the bus ride in…….. and then took the next bus ride out! And I can understand why……….. The people are generally friendly and no real safety concerns, but most of the shops would pass for selling Poundstretcher type quality goods or what you might find at a local market stall. All guests seems to head for Cave Shepherd, the major and sole Debenhams style shop, even duty-free savings were not substantial enough and nothing caught my eye to make me buy anything for myself, middle-daughter wanted to blow everything on Mac make-up which is £1 or £2 less expensive per item than in the UK
Cliffsharker (Turtles and Wrecks) - 435-5585 - By far the highlight of the trip and a simply fantastic memorable experience that will live with the girls for years. Charles was good at communicating with us after we were recommended to use his boat by a friendly English lady (married to a friendly Barbadian visiting on family business.) If you had asked me at 0600 on the last day of our holiday whether I would be writing a rave review sometime later I would certainly have disputed it at the time but this is the crux - if you want to see the turtles in relative isolation without hoards of boats and swimmers fighting for the slightest glimpse then you get up early, and what a treat it was! Charles, accompanied by Peter, is a small experienced operator, friendly and chatty, who did everything he said he would and it was a fantastic time. We would have been earlier to location on the West Coast had it not been for another couple who had booked getting lost/non-appearance but for 30 or so glorious minutes Peter baited the area and we swam, alone with just Charles taking pictures underwater for company. All equipment was supplied and even though I am not the strongest swimmer I regret initially using one of the swim vests (later discarded). Flippers on my feet were brilliant, my youngest daughter who had previously refused to put her face in the water and did so with a mask and snorkel on, soon joined in and there we were swimming with fish and turtles and it was magic. It is a cut-throat business though and after half-an-hour, approx 0900, another boat saw the Cliffsharker boat and that we were swimming with the turtles and promptly dropped anchor 10m away. The other pilot sat on the side of his boat and encouraged his entourage to dive in and swim with the turtles, he didn't jump in and take any photos for his customers, neither did he supply any bait at all. And then more and more boats (apparently in the high season you have boats crashing into one another and it just becomes a mass of boats and swimmers thrashing around trying to see the poor turtles) so we moved on to wrecks, fish and free-diving lessons with Charles, but for the 30 minutes or so we swam without others around it was glorious. Book in advance, $340 US for 0700 - 1400 2 adults 2 children (although we finished up at 1300 because we had a plane to catch!)
We did not go to see Bajan Rthyms but from the accounts of other holidaymakers we didn't miss much!
Ian thank you for your review it might help lots people decide against the Savannah !
It sounds so depressing !
Hi Melynda, it is perfectly adequate tbh, but if we paid 50% more I would have picked it apart as I have done. The food was average/adequate - no more no less with some strange combos as others have commented - the pools need sorting and probably have been, if you are drawn in by the sales blurb then you stand to be disappointed sorry to say
Hi Melynda, it is perfectly adequate tbh, but if we paid 50% more I would have picked it apart as I have done. The food was average/adequate - no more no less with some strange combos as others have commented - the pools need sorting and probably have been, if you are drawn in by the sales blurb then you stand to be disappointed sorry to say - how did you get hold of my review, I sent it liselou!!
Hi Ian your review went on the public forum not just to me, thank you for your honest review, I have been to a 3.5star hotel in Kenya that ran out of booze for a couple of nights so my expectations of the Savannaha are not on par with the Ritz ( you get what you pay for!)