If you’re dreaming of a vacation in Barbados, take note that traveling in style doesn’t have to break the bank. Barbados is known for its beautiful beaches and friendly people, but it is also a high-end destination that attracts glitterati such as Prince Harry, Simon Cowell, Will Smith, Lewis Hamilton, Claudia Schiffer, and Oprah. What would you expect for an island that was the only place outside of New York, London, and Paris to welcome visitors by Concorde!
While it may feel like everybody arrives by private jet, you’ll be surprised how your dollars will stretch the moment you touch down at Grantley Adams Airport.
Start by arriving in the fall, which affords amazing prices given that it is the island’s shoulder season. From now through the Classical/Pops Festival held December 9–10 (www.classicalpops.com), there are fantastic deals to be had. After that, rates spike as the holiday season begins and celebrities touch down en masse.
The shoulder season is when hotels are keen to package breakfast, room upgrades, special experiences, extra nights, or even Classical/Pops Festival tickets to entice travelers to visit. This means that you can enjoy the high life without running up a high tab.
For starters, JetBlue now flies its premium Airbus A321 planes with the flat-bed Mint seat and suites to Barbados at twice the comfort yet half the price of other airlines’ first-class seats. Talk about arriving in style! Last year, the airline ran a promotion for just $349 each way from New York’s JFK, and we’ve known travelers to upgrade their economy seats for not much more than the cost of their Vilebrequin swimsuit.
The sumptuous Sandy Lane resort offers special Autumn Escape packages during November and December that come with massages or candlelit beach dinners for those staying at least four nights or a whopping $1,200 food and beverage credit for those staying a week. If you pay with a MasterCard, you can enjoy resort credits of as much as $200, too.
If you’re a golf enthusiast, love polo, or play tennis and you prefer spectacular villas with cool breezes and stunning hilltop vistas, then Apes Hill Club is the place to stay. All villa rates come with many included extras.
The brand new Sandals Barbados is offering a unique package for four nights during the Classical/Pops Festival that includes an exclusive private show and welcome party as well as entry to festival events, plus all-inclusive accommodations. This package offers substantial savings, which you can reinvest in their Butler Service if you’re among the most discerning travelers.
Elegant Hotels has five luxury properties in the heart of the Platinum Coast with a multitude of special packages that save upwards of 40 percent.
If you like the charm of European-style hotels but with one of the most gorgeous beaches in Barbados, then consider Southern Palms. It offers one of the best values on-island but leaves you with enough funds to sample the island’s top restaurants.
Websites like LuxuryLink bundle hotel, dining, and flights to save money at top resorts like The Crane or Fairmont Royal Pavilion. It’s kind of nice to live the celebrity lifestyle without paying celeb prices. Fairmont Royal Pavilion is even offering as much as 50 percent off stays or food and beverage credits when you reserve before the end of September.
To protect your wallet, don’t forget to look into your wallet first. Many credit cards come with special travel benefits that can save you money or rack up miles and points. For example, use a card like Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Freedom that can offer double, triple, or even five times the miles or points on specific spending categories, including flights, dining, and shopping at department stores.
For instance, Citi Prestige offers travelers the chance to “buy three nights, get the fourth night free,” which is one of the best travel bargains out there, allowing you to rake in huge savings, especially when staying at fancier digs.
When American Express Platinum cardholders book travel through the company’s own travel department, they can score bonuses like complimentary breakfast, late checkout, dining or spa credits, and welcome amenities. If you have been hoarding credit card points, these can be used to pay for hotel and flights, so you can save cash for fine dining at the likes of The Cliff, Cin Cin by the Sea, or Champers. Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, and American Express Membership Rewards points can all be used to offset the cost of travel when booking through the cards’ own portals.
So while it is true that Barbados has plenty of decadent dining, posh hotels, and high-end shopping, the idea that you have to pay a small fortune to enjoy it is not. With a little proper planning and the right cards in your wallet, you can live a life of luxury for a fraction of the cost!
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist and correspondent for Northstar Travel Media covering the hotel, cruise, and airline industry from every corner of the globe. He has traveled to 166 countries and lived in both Madrid and Paris.
His work has appeared in numerous consumer and industry publications including Travel+Leisure, BBC Worldwide, Islands, and Fortune. Ramsey is also a regular columnist for USA Today and AFAR magazine.
Ramsey is highly recognized as an expert in travel loyalty programs, business travel, and the luxury travel segment. He flies more 350,000 miles per year and estimates he has circumnavigated the globe over 500 times.