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Expert advice

What You Need to Know About Traveling to Barbados (And Why it Could be Your Next Great Vacation Spot)

Insider tips from one Elite Premier Owner

Laurie L
Hilton Grand Vacations Owners posing on Barbados vacation.

We just got back from Barbados. What an unbelievable once-in-a-lifetime trip. I plan on putting a Barbados vacation on my list of yearly excursions. Yes, you read that right: a once-in-a-lifetime trip — every year. Going overseas anywhere for the first time can be stressful. So, I want to share what I wish I had known before taking my first trip to Barbados and some of the amazing things that make Barbados such a good vacation spot. 

Let's start with the must-haves. If you're considering a trip to Barbados, there are a few things that you'll definitely need: 

  • To make sure you meet the pandemic-related travel restrictions, including testing ahead of your trip into Barbados and again to enter the United States.
  • A smartphone, with or without data or cellular coverage, so you can access free Wi-Fi while in the Barbados airport. 
  • To download the free BIMSafe application to your Smartphone. Be sure to fill out all the information that they require.
  • Upload your Covid test results to BIMSafe.
  • Finally, plan your trip around getting this test, and it will be smooth sailing the rest of the way.
Hilton Grand Vacations Owners posing on Barbados vacation at The Crane, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club.    

Traveling to Barbados

Everyone is asking me about how we planned our flights to Barbados. As Iowa residents, we flew to the East Coast and stayed the night. Of course, we stayed at a Hilton hotel, using Hilton Honors™ Points, so it was essentially free. Then the following day, we hopped on a plane, and in about five hours, we were there. 

Insider tip: Put your breakfast credit to use. I used my breakfast credit at the hotel coffee shop and had snacks for the early morning flight.

Arriving in Paradise

I didn't know what to expect in Barbados, mainly because of the pandemic. Anything could happen. We got off the plane and took a short ride (about two minutes) to customs. As we exited the bus, a gentleman named Chad held a sign that said "Laurie L."  

It was pretty cool, and we were happy to accept any extra help navigating the process. Chad was not only our greeter, but officially, his role was specifically to fast-track our customs process. 

The Crane, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, can set up a fast tracker for a small fee to walk you through the customs process. Most importantly, this service gets you to the front of every line. Imagine being brought to the front of a line of about 100 people. 

He reviewed all our documentation (passport, Covid test results and vaccination status) and walked us through the entire process, which at the time of our trip, included another Covid test. The couple that traveled with us was so impressed — as was I. It was truly stress-free, and we were smiling the whole time. 

Yes, smiling through customs and a Covid test. If you've never been to Barbados with vacation ownership, request this service through The Crane. You won't regret it, plus Chad made us feel so special.

Customized Service to The Resort

Picturesque dutch-style windmill, wild flowers and blue skies, Barbados.    

In addition to Chad fast-tracking us through customs, I coordinated with the resort to send a driver to escort us from the airport to The Crane. Considering that this service isn't any more expensive than a taxi, it was a no-brainer. Having someone there waiting for us in a foreign country was perfect. 

We simply let him know how large our party was, and he arrived to pick us up in a 10-person van, which was more than enough room. David was our driver, and we got to know him very well during our trip, as he offered to drive us around the island during our stay. The price he quoted was low, and it would be just our travel group; we had to say yes. 

Since I'm always thinking about how to maximize my Hilton Honors Points and my credit card, I asked if we could charge it to our room. The answer? Of course, we could.

Insider tip: Consider skipping a rental car. If you're concerned about driving in a foreign country due to being on the opposite side of the road, as we were, hiring a driver through the resort is an excellent alternative to renting a car. We didn't regret it one bit. 

Continued Top-notch Service at The Crane, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club

For anyone nervous about traveling during a pandemic, The Crane's protocols will help you relax. Owners and Guests wear wristbands that signify where you are in the process of being able to move around the resort and island freely. 

We all had negative test results and didn't have anything to worry about after leaving the airport. Check-in was fun. I'd heard rumors of rum punch during check-in at The Crane. Based on what my co-travelers told me, I can confirm that this rum punch packed a punch. I opted for the fruit punch myself. 

Towel art, The Crane, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Barbados.   

We stayed in Barbados for a week, and we wanted to make the most of our time. There are five wonderful restaurants in the resort. So finding good food was never a problem, even if we didn't feel like leaving the resort. 

For example, we decided to try out one of the restaurants for brunch on the first day. The following day, the General Manager, Chris, tracked us to say hi and see if we had any questions.

He explained that the Caribbean had an unusual amount of seaweed, and they couldn't keep up with the removal. So the resort was offering a free daily shuttle drop-off and pickup from the best beach on the island.

Although the beach at The Crane is gorgeous, the chairs and umbrellas are free to use as a bonus. However, we had just flown in from Iowa, where a snowstorm was happening, and all the beaches looked pretty amazing to us. So we took the opportunity to enjoy the shuttle from The Crane.

Things To Do in Barbados

We had the driver drop us off at Carlisle Bay, and boy, we weren't disappointed. Locals came up and offered us beach chairs and umbrellas to rent, and even though we were just going to be there a few hours, we went for it. At $20 for four chairs and beach umbrellas, why not?

In my opinion, it was the best beach ever — warm, crystal-clear water and no rocks, just a gorgeous beach for swimming and walking. There were places to buy drinks and food nearby, and the pickup location had showers and restrooms. The pickup process was easy. We told the driver the time we preferred to head back to The Crane, and he made it happen. Nothing stressful about that.

So Much To Do, Such Little Time

Hilton Grand Vacations Owners posing on Barbados vacation.    

Did I mention that we had a birthday in our group? The team at The Crane found out we had a birthday to celebrate and arranged a special cake delivery to our Suite. We had a very excited birthday girl that night. They even included a bottle of wine, making it even more special. The cake was so big that we came back to the Suite every night and continued to devour that cake. 

Every day was an adventure. If visiting the island, remember that no Barbados vacation is complete without trying the Oistins’ Friday Night Fish Fry. Again, we had our driver drop us off and give him a time to pick us up. He was never late. 

Every time we had a driver take us somewhere, the driver would intentionally drive us back a different way so we could see more beautiful island sites. 

Know Before You Go

Finally, before you plan a Barbados vacation of your own, here are a few things to know that will make your trip less stressful: 

  • English is widely spoken on the island, so communication with friendly locals is easy.
  • The country has its own currency, but most businesses take the United States dollar. We didn't find one establishment that wouldn't take United States currency. (Most companies also accept credit cards.)
  • Be sure to check the conversion rate. For example, most items at the resort reflect the Barbadian dollar price, but prices aren't as high as they seem once you factor in the conversion. 
  • Don't forget about your Points. Anything associated with the resort, including transportation and tours, can be charged to the room, including any additional tips. It's nice using a Hilton credit card to pay for almost everything as a room charge, and The Crane made this extremely easy.
  • Covid testing doesn't have to be stressful. Check with the resort to see if they can help. At the time of our trip, we needed to provide a negative Covid test to enter the States, and we did ours through the resort. We registered online, took the test at the resort and then they emailed us the results. While there was a small fee, the convenience was worth the cost. 

Eventually, we had to go home. We felt like royalty, and it was hard to leave such a wonderful trip. But we'll be back. 

Read “Top Reasons Why I’m Ready To Go Back to Italy After My Tuscany Vacation With Hilton Grand Vacations” for more tips on traveling internationally with Hilton Grand Vacations.

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Hilton Grand Vacations Explorer, Laurie L.

Laurie L

As an Elite Owner, Laurie has a home-away-from-home at Elara byHilton Grand Vacations, Hilton Grand Vacations on the Boulevard and Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations. She joined in 2013 and says vacations are among the most important things in her life and a big part of her retirement plans. She enjoys traveling with her significant other and friends and is happiest with a bit of adventure (think: helicopter tours and biking trips). 

 

However, her favorite travel memory is touring an olive oil farm and winery while staying at Hilton Grand Vacations at Borgo alle Vigne in Italy. As a traveler who loves a good deal even more than travel itself, she's your go-to for tips on planning unforgettable trips that won't break the bank. 

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