Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017
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Island Indulgence

Discover two Barbados hotels where MDs get treated like VIPs

Ah, this is the life. The beach butler has just brought my passion-fruit smoothie and some chilled towels. Would I like my face spritzed with an Evian spray? I'll just finish this chapter of my trashy novel and inquire if our tee time has been arranged.

Sound indulgent? And why shouldn't it be? Every Canadian deserves a break from the winter doldrums and Barbados is the ideal place to get away. The year-round sunshine and gentle trade

winds help me forget the bleak, cold days I've left behind. The Bajans are warm and hospitable, the island is safe and I like that refined British flavour and the tradition of afternoon tea.

In this oasis of warmth and refinement, I've found two hotels that treat all their guests like VIPs. And what better place than posh Barbados to live a life of luxury?

Diplomatic Vacations
I haven't even reached The House at Tamarind Cove and I'm already getting the royal treatment. I'm about to stand in a long line at the Barbados airport, when Shelly, The House's official greeter, comes to the rescue. She whisks me through Immigration and Customs and supervises the transfer of my luggage to a waiting limo. En route to the hotel I'm offered a cold drink and towel.

We arrive at the security gates at The House on Barbados' west coast (also known as the Platinum Coast for the high-end hotels and perfect sand) and drive across a wooden deck surrounded by lily ponds. A bougainvillea tumbles down a wall that looks like the facade of a Moorish castle. Then comes what general manger Chris Venner calls the "wow" factor: massive wooden gates swing open onto a stunning view of turquoise waves lapping at a sugary white sand beach. Wow, indeed.

Wearing a flowing white outfit, Dale, one of The House Ambassadors, greets me at the door. She escorts me past a comfortable indoor lounge to a canopied deck that resembles a ship. Guests are basking on the beach and around the pool. In seconds, a tall fruit drink is proffered.

What's right with this picture? There's no reception desk. No rigmarole of lining up, filling out a registration form and producing the plastic card. Instead, I'm escorted to a suite and introduced to Jane, my personal service Ambassador. Would I like my bag unpacked? My clothes pressed? How about a complimentary de-stressing massage on the balcony?

Have I died and gone to heaven? The House at Tamarind Cove was the brainchild of Marcello Pigozzo, chief executive officer of the Elegant Hotels Group. A 30-year veteran of the global hotel industry, Pigozzo has assembled a team of managers who want to throw out the book on standard hotel service. The smooth check-in procedure and VIP treatment begins before you even reach the island. When you book your reservation, you give your passport number, flight and arrival time, credit card number and special requirements (drinks, newspapers) in advance: hassles are avoided and expectations are met.

The dream team at The House knows travellers' pet peeves and aims to fix them -- like finding the right person to provide a service or solve a problem. Do I buzz for the bellboy, the housekeeper or room service? And how do all those darn buttons on the phone work?

At The House you simply push the Ambassador button on your telephone and someone is at your service. Ambassadors are trained to be your breakfast waiter, concierge, luggage lieutenant and island guide. One morning, when my golf tee-off time was too early for breakfast, Jane arranged for sandwiches to eat en route to the course.

Each congenial Ambassador has been trained by a real English butler, an etiquette expert and a guest satisfaction consultant. Imagine Jeeves in white pajamas ready to cater to your every whim.

"We're obsessed with the details," says Venner, who tested mattresses for three months before finding one he was satisfied with. The beds are dressed with white Frette linens and six pillows. Venner also selected the goodies in the bathrooms: hand-made soaps, three exotic bath soaks, citrus shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer, sewing and manicure kit and scented candles. The mini-bar area is outfitted with an espresso machine and complimentary mini bottles of liquor.

Every evening around 6pm, a plate of canapés is delivered to my room. I sit on the balcony and nibble on smoked salmon and Brie while watching spectacular sunsets.

There's non-stop pampering down by the water as beach butlers and Ambassadors circulate with umbrellas, cold towels, Evian spritzers and iced fruit-sicles.

So, this is how the rich and famous live. Indeed, we were told that recent guest Dionne Warwick bonded so well with her Ambassador, she invited her to spend a week in New York.

Rooms at The House at Tamarind Cove (tel: 800-326-6898; fax: 246-432-5255; www.eleganthotels.com) start at $US236 per person, per night. This includes airport pick-up and drop-off, full breakfast, welcome massage, the services of your Ambassador and nightly canapÄs. Six Elegant Hotels properties are located along the west coast and guests can take a complimentary boat to sister hotels and enjoy bar, restaurant and recreational facilities with signing privileges.

 

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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