Albert has been coming to the Crane for over 30 years. He is almost 80 years of age and he doesn’t look a day over 60 by the way, must be the great banana bread and rum. He journeys to the Crane every day, and stays for hours, pottering along the world famous Crane beach, or dozing in the shade of Bar 1887.
Albert, is one of many Jamaicans enjoying the paradise of Barbados, the islands being a rich melting pot of Caribbean heritage art and culture. Albert imparts his illustrious knowledge, crafting bird feeders from coconut shells; using the precision cutting of a surgeon, he whittles away, adding wings, beaks and eyes to the shell; selling them to tourists in the resort. He loves it here, and recalls the changes over the years; the Crane and its life story is as interesting as his.
The Crane prides itself on being the oldest hotel in the Caribbean. Dotted around the property are images and signs of a bygone era. Take a look, safely of course, over the cliff by the Crane; here you will see the ‘horse’, a private bathing place for women. In the 18th century it wasn’t the done thing for women to bathe in public, sea bathing however was acceptable. So, the ‘horse’ was constructed, you can still see the steps leading to the ‘horse’ that were carved into the sea cliff, untouched since 1789.
The Carriage House
The Carriage House pool bar was once the official stables of the hotel when it opened over a century ago. 19th century plantation owners and wealthy merchants made the 18 room hotel home, now in the 21st century the same upper class clientele arrive, discretely this time, not with the fanfare of a horse and carriage.
Its unique name comes from the crane that used to lift and lower cargo, on the cliff just across from the resort where Crane House now stands. Surprising, as many associated the name with the long- legged bird.
It seems that its most precious feature is the renowned Crane beach, originally a harbour, it is considered by many to be one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. In fact, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous rated it as “one of the ten best beaches in the world”!
Visitors flock from far and wide to lay their sun craved bodies on its pink fluffy sand. A lift takes you from the Crane Hotel down to the beach or you can struggle with the stairs, not recommended in sweltering heat of the midday sun. Again, Albert’s knowledge knows no bounds, he will brief you on the rip tides and undercurrents, the waves are ferocious here, swimming is not for the faint hearted.
The Crane offers a down to earth atmosphere, you may be draped in Harry Winston, but no one here cares, nor needs to know. This is not a place for showcasing wealth, and this makes it pretty special in Barbados. You and your money will be easily parted though in the village shopping square.
Paul Doyle, the owner wanted to create a village resort where everything you need is on hand, and it certainly is. Reminiscent of the Wild West, the cobbled streets are framed with boutique shops, complete with white picket fences and shuttered windows. The only indication that you are in the Caribbean are the palms trees and foliage interspersed with the spindles.
There is a Town Hall, which can be hired for business events; this is also where the weekly manager’s cocktail party takes place, a frivolous community meeting if you will, officiated by Paul on the steps of the Town Hall. There is a general store, village gallery, photography studio and a gem store.
The community environment is made all the more complete by the staff. It’s like an extended family, you get to sample the Bajan way of life, food, culture and vitality and it never gets tiring. The sounds, smells and sights cascade throughout the resort, each pathway leading to a different element, one surprise after the next.
There are historic residences, in the original hotel, with the initial 18 rooms, residences by the sea and residences in the park in lush landscaped gardens. The suites are furnished in dark wood, which exudes a sense of luxury and traditional style. They are finished with cream interiors and four poster beds. Some on the upper levels have turrets with a bath, the views make waiting for the bath to fill worthwhile. All suites have a dishwasher, a kitchenette, washing machine and dryer.
Six Outdoor Pools
There are 252 different residences in this cliff top complex. There are six outdoor pools including a waterfall and whirlpool, a spa, and tennis courts. One particular feature is the adult only historic pool, built in 1970’s framed by a row of classic Doric columns and built on the cliffs edge; you can view the beach 50 feet below.
The hotel also offers tours around the island, the famous Mount Gay rum tour and St Nicholas’s Abbey are two of the best. Be sure to visit the spa, try a feature treatment such as the Crane glow, sea salt exfoliation, followed by a full body massage and a facial.
Dining in the resort never gets dull either; there are 7 different eateries here each catering for the discerning palate. L’Azure is fine dining at its best; it is also blessed with cliff top views. Built on the original coral stone walls, it has a wrap round balcony and serves Bajan dishes such as cou cou, similar to polenta, and steamed flying fish, there can be no better Neptunian dish than this.
Zen offers traditional Japanese and Thai delicacies, an award winning restaurant in Barbados. The tuna sashimi is particularly more-ish. Head to D’Onofrios Trattoria for Italian fare, situated on the main square, the alliacious aroma of the pasta sauces will make your mouth water.
Ask For A Mauby
To cap the evening, venture to Bar 1887 and ask for a Mauby. Mauby is a drink which is widely consumed in Barbados among locals. They typically drink Mauby along with lunch or dinner, a small snack or simply to quench their thirst on warm days. Mauby syrup is now available and only requires a splash of water but traditionally in Barbados, Mauby drink was prepared by using the actual Mauby bark. The Crane Concierge would be happy to share the recipe. Or better still, ask Albert.
The Crane is US $530 (£431) for a Junior Garden View Suite (valid from 19 November to 23 December 2016