As a kid, my summer vacations were always great but often random. Holidays in Cornish or French villas would be interspersed with trips to Florida to stay in identikit Howard Johnson hotels, or wet jaunts in Brittany, separated from the rain only by the thick cotton fabric of a heavy-duty tent. They were comfortable but not always lavish, and only very rarely ventured into the realms of luxury.
But then you grow up and get a job, accumulate some savings, invest wisely (or unwisely), gain access to a trust fund, marry well (or all of the above), and start to enjoy life – and to learn how to spend what you earn. In a way, of course, that’s what Stylebible is all about. You start to get picky. And as you do, you start to expect more: hotels with that extra special ‘thing’ about them, whether that means the location or the luxurious rooms, the spa or the private sundeck.
Some hotels, however, just stand out as special. Not because they have everything you will ever need (no place, however grandiose and self-regarding, can ever promise that) but because they have something that no one else offers. In their own way, such places are extra special, in they make you feel like a kid again – albeit one that grew up and got a proper job.
Such a place is the Colony Club. The entrance to the hotel, which stands a mile north of Sandy Lane beach, is reached down a long, gently lit avenue, which makes you feel like you’re staying at the Hotel California. Inside, the entire premises are crisscrossed by interlocking lagoons, some public, some private. Our room came with its own lagoon, allowing you to luxuriate in your very own clean, warm, personal and unique little meandering pool. Each room has its own exclusive garden and balcony, allowing you to stretch out in total privacy, and completely relax.
Inside, the rooms are really rather exquisite. The linen is pure Egyptian cotton with a seriously high thread count, while the beds are so comfortable, you could spend all day on them. And you can: the full air-con means you can spend the night with the drapes and the curtains open, or close them completely, leaving the room in blessed, pure, cool, and unadulterated darkness. Goodies are everywhere, notably the bathroom packed with great Ren-brand toiletries. Shirley the head housekeeper takes genuine pride in her work, and cares about her guests. She stops to amiably ask if you’re having a good day, and if there is anything you want, and leaves little bedtime snacks for night owls, such as strawberries dipped in coconut and chocolate.
The Colony Club used to be a private home, and how wonderful that residence must have been. Its current owners have sensibly opted to retain much of its original charm, including the huge Koi carp pond, and the colonial style building that now houses an interconnected bar and outside restaurant, with its linen-draped porticos and tables. We found the food to be sublime, enjoying mahi-mahi, char-grilled Atlantic salmon, steamed mussels, and pan-seared diver scallops at the Laguna restaurant, and enjoying cocktails-and-beer on the Sunset Bar & Deck while watching the sun go down. During the day, the beachside restaurant offers a standout lunch, as well as, in our opinion, the best breakfast on the island.
But sometimes it’s what hotels are willing to do outside the normal, expected parameters of service that you remember. I found myself in a bit of a bind on my second-to-last day here, faced with the need to get some dry-cleaning done by the following morning. Not only did the wonderful and effortlessly friendly and engaging staff at the Colony Club get my suit and shirts cleaned and starched within a matter of hours (I was flying from Barbados to London to Mumbai later the next day), they had them delivered to a completely different hotel. Anyone can tick a box; it’s when an establishment is willing to go above-and-beyond to meet often disparate demands, that you feel a genuine bond to them, one that can linger and remain forever. The Colony Club did that for me, and I will always remember their kindness and effortless professionalism. And for that, as well as all of the many, wonderful other reasons, I will always return.