The Sugar Cane Club is a very special hotel tucked away in a secluded location in the north west of the island. We had an amazing holiday there and highly recommend its fantastic combination of intimate surroundings, modern facilities and a personal, friendly approach by all the staff.
We stayed for 14 nights in July and, despite knowing it was effectively the low season, were surprised to find ourselves being one of only three couples in the hotel. This is an adults only property so we expected it to be quiet - but not this quiet! Global recession and the dreaded credit crunch (which sounds like a breakfast cereal for bankers) have hit the tourist trade hard in Barbados and according to Suzanne, our excellent Virgin rep, occupancy rates across the island were running at the 20% mark. This took a couple of days to get used to, and became nothing short of surreal when the other two couples flew home and left us with the run of the hotel. For around four days, it felt like our own private villa: a personal barman (the unparalleled Roy and his almost psychic ability to know when and what you want to drink); a personal, well-equipped gym that I used everyday, maybe to offset all the booze Roy was bringing me; and our own a la carte, on demand kitchen. And what a kitchen... but more about this later!
Now, this from a certain point of view might not sound that great. And to be honest, at first, we were a bit perturbed. However, we'd brought plenty of books, the free wi-fi meant we could write Facebook status updates like "I've got my own private pool!", and the staff went out of their way (literally - they'll drive you most places in their little Suzuki people carriers) to ensure we were kept busy. We got used to it. And answer me this - at what other hotel would the manager, the redoubtable Roddy, an enthusiastic, energetic twenty-something from Bajan aristocracy, ensure he, his fiancee and his cousin, Vaughan (a Trinidadian IT geek), have dinner with you, not because they felt they had to, but because they wanted to? Roddy, by the way, is a wonder. If he's not setting out chairs for a wedding ceremony or straightening pool furniture or serving behind the bar or generally being an all round decent guy he's holding his weekly Manager's Cocktail Party, an ideal opportunity to meet other guests - and get drunk! No, being on our own for a while suited us just fine. And when others arrived, which many did, they came with tales of woe and despair from some of the less luxurious establishments they'd experienced, and were instantly bowled over by the Sugar Cane.
The food at the Sugar Cane is outstanding. We've been to quite a few all-inclusive hotels and most of them rely on the buffet for breakfast and lunch. But at the Sugar Cane every meal is a la carte. The breakfast menu ranges from a good selection of cereals and pastries through an essential 'fruit energiser' (a fresh fruit smoothy) to English, American and Bajan breakfasts. All of them delicious. At lunch, things get better. There is always a freshly made soup to try as well as a catch of the day (best to ask for it black) and a special (fresh lasagne, beef stew, chicken chow mein). Plus there is an amazing Club Sandwich, a fantastic Philli Cheese Steak and a variety of mountainous salads. At dinner, by which time I promise you will be hungry, the menu changes weekly and includes fish, beef, lamb, duck and a vegetarian option, all freshly cooked and prepared. Only desserts are a let down. As other reviewers have said, service is slow, but you really do get used to this after a couple of days as you wind down into the pace of life on Barbados.
Our room was excellent, well-equipped and comfortable. It was more like a self-catering apartment than a hotel room with bedroom, dressing room, en suite, living room, kitchen and balcony. The bathroom comes fully stocked with soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, and after sun - all are adequate, but I would recommend you take your own shampoo and conditioner. The kitchen has a full size fridge, cooker, microwave and full tea and coffee making facilities. The fridge is a perfect place to keep a stock of Banks beer (available from the bar as part of the A/I) for your post sun bathing cool down on the balcony looking out towards the sea.
Being 15 minutes drive from the hotel's private beach house didn't bother me at all; I hate the beach with all that sand getting in everything. But there is a daily shuttle to the beach and you'll find the beach house, while a bit basic, adequately equipped with sun loungers, umbrellas and a full bar, as well as permanent staff member, The General, a Bajan sea dog anywhere between 30 and 75. On a Friday, you can request a place on the The General's glass bottomed boat trip, a two hour sojourn up the west coast where you will get to see some amazing coral, fish and turtles. Swimming and snorkelling are also available - just ask.
We travelled with Virgin and decided to sign up to a couple of their trips. The first, the Jeep Safari, is a worthwhile tour of some stunning Bajan scenery and coastline, including Bathsheba, with an informative and friendly driver. The second trip we took was to Oistins on a Friday night for the local Fish-Fry, a unique blend of disco, barbeque, dominoes and ballroom dancing. The event itself is excellent if you find yourself a picnic bench to park on and people watch for a couple of hours while downing copious bottles of Banks beer. But, the Virgin tour itself, at 100 BJD each was a bit pointless, especially since we had to leave at 10.45 just when things were warming up. Plus, setting off from the Sugar Cane meant we were the first pick up at 5.30pm and didn't arrive at Oistins until 7.45. The only advantage to this was that we got to see how rotten a lot of the other hotels were as we picked up from dives like The Escape in St Lawrence Gap. A better option would have been paying the $1.50 each on the bus down the coast and grabbing a taxi back - at a time when we wanted to leave. The Virgin price did include a meal and a drink, but these were local prices and as such quite cheap - $25 for grilled fish and rice and $3 for a Banks. You'd be better making your own way there.
There are only a small number of hotels we've been to in the world where we said we would definitely return: The Club Hotel in St Helier, Jersey; The Paradisus Rio De Oro in Cuba; and the Rixos Bodrum in Turkey. And now the Sugar Cane has been added to that list. We will definitely go back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa is graciously located on the North West Coast & Caribbean side of the Island Barbados. This 4 star deluxe Boutique Hotel is set upon a hilltop and has a charming Mediterranean architecture amongst tranquil and tropical ambiance. The Hotel & Spa is known for its warm hospitality, delivery of outstanding staff, service, and facilities in a casual setting. The 45 all-suite Hotel boasts one of the islands leading spa’s, two restaurants and bars, two swimming pools, a guest lounge, gym, art gallery, souvenir shop, squash court, and complimentary shuttle service amongst many more. Sugar Cane Club only accepts teenagers from ages 14 years and up, and no children ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sugar Cane Club Hotel And Spa
- Sugar Cane Club Hotel Saint Peter
- Sugar Cane Hotel
- Sugar Cane Saint Peter
- Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa Barbados/Saint Peter Parish