La Vie En Ruffian: Barbados Interlude
Heard enough about Tulum lately? The Ruffian’s Brian Wolk and Claude Morais ditched the “fashion vacation spot” and went on an adventure to Barbados to unwind. They’ve given us a full report on their vacation in their latest installment of La Vie En Ruffian. Color us jealous.
“George Washington once said “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one”, and when it comes to rest and relaxation, we Ruffians need no excuse to escape the bleak winters of New York. So, in the spirit of our founding father, we too decided to take refuge from the cold, huddled masses and head south to the tropical utopia known as Barbados. George visited Barbados in 1751 to find a thriving economy and pristine beaches; today, not much has changed.
We exhaled a collective sigh of relief when we touched down at Grantley Adams International Airport and the equatorial sun shone warm upon our faces as we descended the staircase on to this idyllic island. Our driver whisked us eastward through pastoral fields filled with sugar cane and bucolic black belly sheep. Shortly thereafter we arrived at The Crane, a resort with a history as rich as the soil of this legendary island. The Crane has been a playground for those seeking solace from the woes of civilization since 1887 and is the oldest and arguably most treasured resort in Barbados.
Located on top of a cliff overlooking the crystal clear sea, the pink sands of the secluded Crane beach make it without a doubt the most prized piece of real estate on the island. Since its inception The Crane has been known for it extraordinary service and its diverse and sophisticated clientele seeking simple, authentic pleasures. The guests at The Crane, not interested in the artifice associated with commercial resorts, come to escape and connect to Barbados’ inherit beauty. We were served Rum Punch on arrival and escorted to our stately quarters. Our two-bedroom suite was chicly appointed with beautiful furniture, charming antiquities, three bathrooms, two kitchens, a balcony with a private plunge pool and commanding views of the ocean. After settling in we decided to head to the Bar and Grill, located in the original estate’s carriage house, overlooking the majestic cliff pools. We spent the remainder of the afternoon snacking on delicious frutti di mare and sipping island cocktails.
That evening, we decided to head to L’Azure for Dinner. Its neo-classical beauty is the stuff on which romance novels are based. With sweeping views of the ocean, gossamer curtains which billow in the breeze, and crashing waves which serve to punctuate sentences, it is perhaps one of the most enchanting restaurants we’ve ever dined in. The fusion of continental and Caribbean cuisine was perfectly in harmony with the dulcet tones of the grand piano and the soignè chanteuse, who created the perfect accompaniment for this unforgettable evening.
The next morning, after a delightful breakfast, we headed down to the beach for our first full day of unadulterated sun. No detail was forgotten by the practically clairvoyant staff at The Crane beach; before we took our last sip of a cocktail, another magically appeared! The charming Coconut Beach Bar and Grill was the perfect option for daytime snacks. Shaded by royal palms, we wandered down a winding path off the beach to this adorable lunch spot. Not only did it offer us a great break from the sun, but it made us feel like castaways from Gilligan’s island!
The next day we were in for our treat. Our friends Alan Emtage and Michael Rhodes, who winter on the island, generously agreed to spend the day giving us a driving tour. The landscape of Barbados is incredibly varied given the island’s relatively small size, at only 21 by 14 miles. As we headed north of our resort the topography became hilly and lush, with canopies of mahogany trees. Perched 850 feet above sea level, Cherry Tree Hill offers some of the most spectacular views of the Island. Just a short distance away, we explored St. Nicholas Abbey, home of one of the three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere and the picturesque Codrington College, which has educated the local gentry since its inception in 1745. As we headed down the hill we entered Bathsheba, the mecca for all surfers on the island. Huge pre-historic rocks stand alone like monoliths in the sea creating otherworldly landscapes. As we rounded the corner of the island, we began to transverse The Platinum Coast, known as The Beverly Hills of Barbados. This western coast is relatively flatter and is filled with luxury shopping venues, golf courses, traditional resorts, and Barbados’ largest city, Bridgetown. But, alas, as much as we loved to visit the more populated bits of the country, our heart had already been won by the East coast’s cloistered beaches, dramatic cliffs and quiescent scenery.
That evening, upon our return to The Crane, we decided to try Dinner at Zen, a Japanese Thai Fusion restaurant rated number one in Barbados by Zagat. As we settled in our private tatami room, we were dazzled with the prodigious chef, who presented course after course of masterful Japanese cookery. Sushi and sashimi so fresh that you can hear the sea, and Japanese yakitori classics that highlighted the incredible quality of the ingredients. The Twenties modern Asian Deco-dence (excuse our aesthetic pun!) of the restaurant was framed by floor to ceiling windows overlooking Crane Beach. Another remarkable evening whose culinary feats will be indelibly marked in our memory.
On our final day, we enjoyed the beach to the fullest. As the sun set over the distant jungle we had pre-dinner cocktails at Bar 1887 whilst listening to sounds of live Bajan music. As we were finishing our aperitifs we ran into the dashing John Doyle, heir apparent to The Crane, who made sure every detail of our trip was in perfect order. We thanked him for the great care, and of course obliged his recommendation to have our final meal at D’Onofrios, which specializes in Southern Italian Fare. The thin crust pizza was pure poetry, as good as the best Manhattan has to offer, and they even whipped up a Fettuccine pesto for us, which wasn’t on the menu. We took our glasses of chianti with us after dinner and enjoyed a last promenade through the manicured gardens and cliff side pools leading up to our quarters. The wind blew ever so gently, and from our balcony we bid adieu to this beautiful country.”