Tropic Breeze prides itself on being able to offer first hand advice from personal experience, therefore, it would go against the business model to send clients anywhere without us fully understanding how COVID19 will impact the holidays we are recommending. We are extremely excited to confirm that Mark flew out to Barbados earlier this month to visit a number of hotels and restaurants, and has updated the team in order to be able to offer the best travel advice.
If you would like further information on any of the properties mentioned or a quote, please call us on 01752 880 880 or email [email protected]
PRIOR TO TRAVELLING
The current guidelines for travel to Barbados required me to produce a negative COVID19 test which had been taken within 72 hours prior to my departure from the UK. This can be a bit of an issue for those, like myself, who want to travel out on the Tuesday flight as not all labs have the facility to transport the kits for testing over the weekend. I used Nomad Travel (www.nomadtravel.co.uk/travel-store/coronavirus/coronavirus-certificate-for-travel) who run a COVID19 PCR swab test clinic, and provided me with the necessary certificate which had been signed by a medical professional, time stamped and my identity verified.
Once I received my results, I was then required to complete the Barbados Online Immigration/Customs Form (www.travelform.gov.bb/form) at least 24 hours prior to departure from the UK, where I uploaded an image of the certificate. I recommend printing the confirmation email to take with you as you are required to produce this when passing through immigration once in Barbados.
Gatwick Airport was lovely and quiet, which made social distancing slightly easier and a more pleasant experience compared to travel prior to COVID19. Inside the Aspire lounge they have increased health and safety measures by offering table service and complimentary access to read and download the latest publications via PressReader rather than providing physical newspapers or magazines.
Once at the gate, the crew boarded passengers 5 rows at a time, working from the back of the cabin to the front – which did not take as long as I expected considering it was a full flight. Once seated we were issued with sanitising gel and two face masks, along with a sealable bag to dispose of any used masks. We were advised that masks should only be worn for a maximum of 4 hours, therefore we were asked to replace with a fresh one as required throughout the flight.
As expected, there were changes to the in-flight services. I only had the option of pre-packed cold meals designed to minimise the contact from cabin crew, and we were not offered the usual magazines or duty-free sales. On the plus side, we were still offered alcoholic drinks throughout the flight which were served in single portion bottles with plastic cups.
ARRIVING IN BARBADOS
Upon landing in Barbados, we were advised to remain seated until our row was called, something worth thinking about when selecting seats as those at the front were first to be called and subsequently off the plane quite quickly. Once my row number was called, I was then allowed to collect my hand luggage, depart the plane, and advised to board a bus waiting alongside the plane. Thankfully, it was a large Cobus 3000 which meant we could spread out during the short 50m journey to immigration.
As I got off the bus there were clear instructions directing those without a negative COVID19 test certificate to the right, and those of us with the required certificate to the left. Here my certificate was checked thoroughly, and I was then able to proceed on to the arrival’s hall. Here my temperature was taken and I had to complete a form to confirm that I was symptom free, and had not been in contact with anyone known to have COVID19, before confirming where I would be staying for the duration of my trip.
Once all forms were complete, I moved on to immigration where I was asked to pull my mask down for identity confirmation purposes and here I had to provide the confirmation email to prove I had submitted the online immigration/customs form. Next, I had to queue for the Port Health Authority to check through my questionnaire and where I was issued with my own thermometer and a temperature record sheet. I was advised to record my temperature both morning and night throughout my stay which they then reserve the right to inspect between 5 – 7 days after arriving into Barbados.
After collecting my luggage, I then passed through customs where they also checked the barcode on the confirmation email one final time before it was dropped in a box prior to me being allowed out of the airport.
As this was a brief trip, and to adhere to social distancing measures I opted to hire a car through Stoutes Car Rental (www.stoutescar.com/). I was very impressed at how quick and easy the process was, and would definitely use them again. Stoutes have a number of increased measures in place to ensure the cars are cleaned more frequently and have a particular focus on sanitising the key touch points such as steering wheels, door handles and seats.
As expected, the roads were extremely quiet in comparison to previous visits. Most of the bars and restaurants have been operating on reduced hours, opening only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays however they hope to extend this towards the end of August as travel restrictions are lifted and holiday makers begin returning to the region.
I have to say, the country is taking the additional health measures seriously. I was required to wear a mask and have my temperature taken when entering a shop, bar, or restaurant, plus hand sanitiser was sprayed on our hands rather than trusting guests to help themselves. In the bars and restaurants that I visited I was able to remove my mask once I had been seated, but I was asked to wear it if I got up from my table to visit the bar or toilets etc.
During my trip I visited Waves Hotel & Spa by Elegant Hotels. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at the improvements made to ensure social distancing could be adhered to. The seating in the dining room was spread out, and the furniture in the lobby area had been removed which really opened the space up allowing guests to pass without having to awkwardly pause to allow people through one at a time.
There were ample hand sanitising stations set up around the resort and temperature checks were being conducted on anyone who arrived at the hotel which gave peace of mind whilst staying in the resort. Inside the rooms, non-essential items have been removed such as the rug to ensure thorough cleaning can take place between guests plus housekeeping is operating upon request only to reduce the contact from staff moving from one room to another unnecessarily.
In summary, the reduced capacity and additional space being made available around tables made the experience a little more exclusive and the service even more attentive, however I cannot wait for the hustle and bustle and true Caribbean atmosphere to return to this lively destination – that is why we return year after year after all!
If you would like any more information about Mark’s experience travelling to Barbados, please call us on 01752 880880.
Waves Hotel & Spa by Elegant Hotels
Depart 29 September 2020 for 7 nights in a Standard Guest Room on an All-Inclusive basis from just £1,625 per person. Price includes direct flights and airport transfers. Other dates available.
Depart 6 October 2020 for 7 nights in a One Bedroom Suite on a Self-Catering basis from just £1,075 per person. Price includes direct flights and airport transfers. Other dates available.
Mullins Grove Hotel
Depart 24 November 2020 for 7 nights in a One Bedroom Apartment on a Self-Catering basis from just £1,299 per person. Price includes direct flights and airport transfers. Other dates available.
Prices quoted include special offers valid on 18 August 2020 and are based on two adults sharing. Prices are a guide only – contact us for a tailor-made quotation.
Tropic Breeze offer fully bonded and protected holidays, whether booked with flights via our ATOL 5615 or for accommodation only holidays with our ABTA Y5401. This means you can rest assured that your Tropic Breeze holiday is safe and secure.