A first look at Couples Barbados

It’s always exciting when a new resort opens up, and the brand-new Couples Barbados has been a very highly-anticipated opening.  It represents the Couples brand’s first foray outside the island of Jamaica, and it’s the first couples-only all-inclusive on the island of  Barbados. The property opened in June, and my honeymoon clients Kathryn and Jay arrived just a few weeks later, so I asked them to please be sure to send me some feedback and photos — and they sure did!  Their fantastic (detailed) trip report is below:

Hi Ann,

Our trip was absolutely amazing!!  The flights down were easy and smooth.  Both flights were completely booked so they were crowded but otherwise fine.  The Hampton Inn in Boston was a great suggestion for the night before.  They were very perky at 4 am and the shuttle was on time.  There were three couples, including ourselves, on the plane from Miami that were going to Couples and the shuttle at the airport was ready for us when we got out of customs.  We arrived at Couples and were greeted with champagne and cold towels.  The check-in process was pretty simple.  (Note- the resort only takes MC and Visa, not a problem for us, but worth noting to future guests.)

The bellboy brought us and our luggage to our room, which was very comfortable.  We were in the main building on the property- our balcony looked out on the pool/swim-up bar, and the ocean.  The resort is really pretty.  I guess the original owners built it on Dover Woods and did a really nice job keeping the plant life so it felt like you were walking in a mini-jungle when you were going from building to building.  The added benefit of this is that each building seemed semi-secluded which gave the illusion of privacy.  Anyway, after we settled into our room, we went down to the main lobby and met the activities director who offered tours and an orientation to the property.  That was nice because it gave us the lay of the land and explained how the different restaurants worked and stuff like that.

The resort has 3 restaurants- the main restaurant is a buffet and did all three meals.  There was also an a-la-carte restaurant that you didn’t need reservations for, and then there was one restaurant that you needed to make a reservation for in advance.  We ate at all three and were very pleased with the food.  The buffet always had local fish and chicken, salad, fruit, rolls, etc and then there was also a variety of other food, depending on the time of day.  The second restaurant was very tasty but the third was by far the best food.  Reservations weren’t hard to get, and the food was amazing.  We also signed up for a private dinner on the beach on the last night and it was totally worth it.  In addition to the restaurants, there was also a pool-side grill that was open from about 11-5, and then again from 10 pm to 5am (who was up that late, I don’t know!!) which did grilled fish (amazing!), burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and fries.  It was definitely nice for days when we wanted something quick or when we came back from an excursion after lunch was finished.

The resort itself was up and running nicely by the time we got there.  You could tell that they were still working on improvements- but they did them when it would be least obtrusive to the guests.  i.e.- early morning painting, etc, The pools were great- we went in two of the three, and of course the ocean was perfect!  There were activities each day to do at the resort- yoga in the morning, pool volleyball in the afternoon, one day had a pool tournament, there was jewelry making on a few days, board game day, etc.  They gave us a schedule when we checked in so we could plan out what we wanted to do.  The pools weren’t over crowded, but I forgot how many Europeans smoke!!  Smoking was allowed outside so there was a fair amount of smoking around the pools but we did a pretty good job avoiding those people!

The staff at the resort were completely wonderful.  They were really attentive and helpful.  By the end of our stay, many of them knew our names (and we knew theirs).  The resort, and the island too, was spotless.  We always had clean towels at the pool, our room was cleaned and about mid-stay, they started doing turn-down service in the evenings as well.  The waitstaff and bar staff were also really great, and very, very friendly.

In general, we tried to plan an excursion/outing ever other day, and then spend the other days relaxing at the resort.  There was a desk at the resort where the staff would help us book activities.  The sunset catamaran sail and swim with sea turtles was part of the inclusive package.  Also, bus shuttles to Oistin’s fish fry were also included.  We chose to add on an Island Safari tour which was absolutely amazing.  It went all day, included lunch and showed us 10 of 11 parishes on the island.  It was recommended to us by the activities director and we could completely recommend it to other travelers to Barbados.  I think it cost about $90 USD per person.  We also signed up to take a shuttle into Bridgetown for a half day of shopping ($10 USD each) which was really nice because we could explore on our own and do souvenirs and stuff.  We also chose to do a half-ish day tour of Harrisons Cave (limestone cave network that goes 600 feet down into the earth- very cool, especially since I teach Geology!) and the National Wildlife Refuge (we got there for feeding time and this park/zoo doesn’t use cages, so you could see turtles, deer-like creatures, birds, and monkeys just come up and eat right in front of you.  Wicked cool, got lots of good pics!). That trip was about $75 USD each.  We also got a complimentary couples massage at the resort so we used that and enjoyed the spa as well.  So clearly there were plenty of things to do.  The only thing we didn’t have time for but would have liked was the tour to the Mount Gay Rum distillery but we chose the caves and wildlife instead.  The locals were happy to take US dollars or Barbados dollars and the exchange rate was $1USD = $2 BDS so it was really easy to pay either way.  I don’t think we met anyone who wouldn’t take US money but we collected some Barbados money as we went along.

Overall, we had an amazing time.  You could tell that the resort was just opening again and that the staff was new but for us, everything seemed to run pretty smoothly.  There were a few minor things that could be noted for the future.  First, we had trouble getting the mini-bar in our room stocked.  They were pretty inconsistent about it and we called down to the front desk a few times about it.  We didn’t really drink in our room much anyway because the bars were more fun and better stocked but it was a little annoying at times that we didn’t get stocked when we asked to be.  It’s pretty minor though.  Also, another minor thing, was that there wasn’t an ice machine in our building.  If we wanted ice for the room (for when our bar was actually stocked) we had to do across the property to get ice which was also kind of annoying.  Otherwise, I can’t really think of any major complaints about the resort.  We talked about wanting to go back in a few years once they have worked out all the kinks but we really can’t complain about our stay.  We met (and then avoided like the plague) a very crabby New Yorker who complained about everything- from his bacon being undercooked, to the selection of food on the buffet, to the water pressure in his shower.  He complained to anyone who would listen, and often complained to the staff, stating that Couples Negril was so much better, etc, etc.  We just aren’t those people.  We thought the resort was very luxurious and while you could tell that the staff was new, you could see them trying their best to make everyone’s stay the best it could be.

Our flights home, as you know, were delayed but we weren’t stressed because we knew we had the travel insurance, and your emails were waiting for us in Miami.  I can not thank you enough for taking the time to reserve seats on the flight for the next morning, just in case we didn’t make our connection.  We barely made it, by the way, and only because they were holding the plane and we sprinted to the flight.  I guess there were a lot of people on the flight from Barbados that were supposed to make the same connection but very few of us made it.  You alleviated the stress of what to do if we missed the flight though, and for that I thank you.

So I think that about covers it… and probably then some!!  We would be happy to elaborate on any aspects of the trip in more detail if you would like.  Thank you again from both of us for finding the Couples Barbados for us and for helping plan our honeymoon.  The trip exceeded our expectations and we wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Thanks again for everything, Kathryn

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You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)