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By John and Sandra Nowlan
The rum punch at check-in was the best we’ve ever tasted. But perhaps that smooth and spicy Barbados welcome was appropriate at the resort that claims to be the oldest in the Caribbean.
The Crane Resort, situated on top of a rugged 30-40 metre cliff overlooking the open Atlantic Ocean, traces its origins to 1887. The prime attraction then, and now, is the magnificent, wide soft sand beach that spreads out below the resort and slopes gently into the warm, azure blue waters of the South Atlantic that stay a constant 24-27 degrees. There’s nothing to the east but ocean…and Africa. The eye-popping beach has been listed as one of the top 10 in the world by both Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and by the BBC.
Open ocean waves on this east side of Barbados can be dramatic and forceful, unlike the quiet and laid-back lifestyle of the resort itself. The marketing director, Joanna Robinson, told us that this gentle pace of life is not for everyone. “If you want a variety of water sports, a busy night life and lots of constant activity,” she said, “this isn’t the place for you.”
But apparently it’s that peacefulness and relative remoteness that makes it the ideal place for thousands of guests each year, mainly from Canada, the US and Britain, who book one of the 200 generously sized suites for a short holiday or a longer time share. Ranging in size between 800 and 4,000 square feet, all the rooms have full housekeeping facilities, elaborate mahogany furniture including four-poster beds and multi-media entertainment choices that include CBC Television. Several have private plunge pools at their front door and most of the newer buildings (the resort is constantly growing) have a two-story penthouse unit with a personal, oversize rooftop Jacuzzi. The well-maintained property also has a series of cascading swimming pools.
In spite of its age and historic features (the oldest part is well-preserved), The Crane seems determined to remain a top Caribbean resort by adding innovative features like free WiFi throughout the property and a new area called The Village with shops, cafés and even plans for a theatre.
It’s in The Village that an innovative Italian restaurant, D’Onofrios, sets a new standard for cuisine in this part of the world. The resort hired a top French chef from New York, Jean-Jacques Carquillat, to oversee and improve its culinary operation. His first focus was on D’Onofrios and, in our view, he succeeded admirably. He may be French but his pizza was the best we’ve ever enjoyed outside Naples and his antipasti was both imaginative and flavourful. Our two main courses, fresh snapper and Chicken Filini, were both infused with just enough herbs and spices to make our taste buds sing. Delizioso!
Chef Carquillat told us he’s now working on menus for The Crane’s International/Caribbean restaurant, L’Azure, which is perched on the edge of the coral cliff with spectacular views of the beach and open Atlantic. The resort also boasts an excellent Japanese/Thai restaurant called Zen and The Carriage House, the former stable 100 years ago at the Crane Beach Hotel, which has a bar and grill featuring an Island specialty, Flying Fish sandwiches.
Andrée Steel and Don Adams of Ottawa first visited Barbados five years ago continuing their policy of never vacationing in the same place twice. They told us that policy changed when they visited The Crane and fell in love with the property, the rooms, the amenities and the view. “Here on the east coast of Barbados we feel very safe and very comfortable in a warm, friendly environment,” they said. “We come here to relax, not to rough it. On the way from the airport we stop for groceries and some great bottles of wine at prices that are comparable to Ontario.”
For them, and for us, that relaxation starts with a generous glass of the Caribbean’s best rum punch.
John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax
Spice up the holiday season this year with a visit to Grenada, ‘The Spice of the Caribbean.’ Trade in the mittens and hot chocolate for a pinch of Caribbean spice, rum punch and warm, sunny days.
A part of the Windward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, the Island of Grenada is a little piece of paradise and the perfect destination to ring in the New Year. Whether you’re solo, or travelling with family or friends, spending the holidays in Grenada will certainly be memorable.
“We are always honoured when visitors choose to come and spend the holidays with us in Grenada,” said Simon Stiell, director of tourism for the Grenada Board of Tourism. “Across the island we go out of our way to ensure this is a special time for all of our guests.”
The tiny island offers a change of pace and a different way to celebrate the holidays. For those visitors looking for rest and relaxation, the island has over 40 white sand and black sand beaches, including the famed Grand Anse Beach. Grenada is also home to a tropical rainforest, perfect for hiking opportunities. For those looking to get out on the water, Grenada is a popular yachting destination and offers some of the Caribbean’s best diving. Whatever type of holiday you’re after, it can be found in Grenada, ‘The Spice of the Caribbean.’
Visitors can bring home a taste of Grenada with the following Fruit Cake recipe:
• 1 pound margarine
• 1 pound sugar
• 1 dozen eggs
• 1 pound flour
• 1 pint wine
• ½ teaspoon lime juice
• ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon browning or brown coloring
• ¼ teaspoon lime rind
• ¼ pound ground nuts or cashew nuts, finely chopped
2 lbs. mixed preserved local fruits as follows:
• ¼ pound mangoes, diced
• ¼ pound mammy apple, diced
• ¼ pound French cashews, diced
• ¼ pound pineapple, diced
• ¼ pound golden apple, diced
• ¼ pound ripe banana
• ¼ pound mixed peel
• ¼ pound cherries, halved
Drain fruits of syrup. Pour wine over fruits, cover, and set aside. Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lime rind and juice. Fold in flour and mixed soaked fruits alternately. Mix well after each addition. Add spices and browning. Fold in nuts. Pour mixture into prepared baking tins and bake in moderate oven.
Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
Bring the Dominican culinary experience home with Casa de Campo ’s exquisite Conch Cocktail. Served at the exclusive Beach Club by Le Cirque, home to some of New York’s greatest chefs, this recipe will have your mind sailing back to the white beaches, lush gardens and tropical sunsets of La Romana.
Conch Cocktail with Passion Fruit and Cilantro, Yautia Chips
|Poach the conch in salted water with roughly chopped onion until tender
(about 45 minutes to one hour.) Strain the conch and let cool completely.
Thinly slice the conch in a bowl then combine the sliced conch with finely
diced onion and peppers, chopped cilantro, lemon juice, passionfruit juice,
mayo and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Peel the yautia
and thinly slice lengthwise and deep fry until crispy.
For more information contact Barbara3@rogers.com