Monday, June 30, 2014

The Tamarind - Exotic Like the Fruit

Recreation, Travel, Health, & Fitness ---

For four unforgettable nights room 203 at the delightful Tamarind Hotel in Payne's Bay, St. James, Barbados was our home away from home.  With its secluded, Spanish-styled three-story structure, we were spared the cramped feeling of the typical high-rise resort.  Located on the second floor, our room was spacious and charming.  It was modern but without that sterile look or feel of modernity.  It had character.  Ordinarily, we spend little time in our rooms when on vacation, but this particular room cuddled us rather than pushed us away, and who doesn't love to be cuddled?   A short walk along a corridor and down the stairs and Wham!  The bar is right there (FIFA World Cup Matches and all).  The swimming pool is right there.  The breakfast area is there.  The dining area is there.  All out in the open and without the restriction of walls.  And the beach is there with its blue, green waters of the Atlantic.

At the beginning of each day, beach towels and spread were already neatly folded and laid out on beach chairs; we didn't have to go to some booth to get them.  In addition, attendants were constantly walking around and offering cold mini-towels (scented with peppermint or lavender) and popsicles to provide some comfort from the summer heat.  It appears that summer is the low season in Barbados, but that worked for us in that the hotel and environs were not crowded.  And not a lot of kids running around either.  We saw only two of the little scaly-wags.  

The food was great.  In fact, it was so delicious, stylish, and sophisticated that it made going out to dine elsewhere unnecessary.  But one night we did leave the comforts of the Tamarind to dine elsewhere.  My friend, Ralph, who lives on the Island and whom I had not seen in ages took us to Oistins, a very popular part of the island for dining out Friday nights and for enjoying the local fare.  Saturday nights are the best time to go there.  It is less crowded.  I had fried chicken (been having this craving for fried chicken lately - not the fast food type but the home-cooked type), peas and rice, flying fish, macaroni and cheese, and mauby.  All local, at-the-side-of-the road, sit-down-on-a-bench stuff.  The experience in one word?  Out of this world (well, four words)!   Oh!  And "mauby" will have to be explained in its own blog.   It has been over thirty years since I last had that beverage.   

The most memorable part of the Tamarind experience, however, was the hospitality of the staff.  Typically, Caribbean people are tremendously cordial and courteous, but the members of the Tamarind staff embodied those constructs.  Their hospitality was certainly not contrived, and their level of professionalism was admirable.  Our Aruba experience several years ago used to be the benchmark for the ideal vacation, but our experience at the Tamarind is now the new benchmark, and by a significant margin as well.  We can't wait to go back there and for a more extended stay.  

[Photo Art by Angela Pereira]