by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 01, 2004

Fairmont Royal Pavilion

Spruced up: Fairmont Royal Pavilion

Barbados has long been the British darling of the Caribbean, thanks to almost  340 years of colonial rule. Decades of political stability and a steady currency have helped this 120-square-mile island, the most easterly in the Caribbean, avoid the social and economic ills that have plagued some of its neighbors.
    The last two years have seen a rise in hotel inventory, as well as continued investment in established properties. In addition, new meeting facilities and tourist attractions, as well as increased air lift to the island, are helping position Barbados to attract a greater share of the lucrative North American meetings and incentive market.

On the hotel front
The 353-room Hilton Barbados is scheduled to celebrate its opening during the fourth quarter of 2004. The property will feature two restaurants, a health club, a pool and the Hilton Meetings Complex, which will feature 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,200-square-foot ballroom.
    On the island’s south coast, owners of the 110-room Coconut Court Beach Hotel, which recently completed a top-down renovation of all guest rooms, have acquired the ruins of an adjacent former government building. Renamed the Barbados Pavilion, the property is in the midst of a massive renovation and restoration project, set to be completed by year’s end. The new pavilion will feature six conference rooms with seating for up to 600 people, a business center, two restaurants and 50 suites.
    Following the completion of a US$5 million renovation in November 2003, which included the addition of 26 guest rooms, the former Asta Beach Hotel has been renamed the Amaryllis Beach Resort. The 150-room property now also includes a business center.
    The 72-room Fairmont Royal Pavilion, on the island’s colorful west coast, completed a US$10 million renovation of all guest rooms, along with all public spaces, in October 2003.
    The 112-room Sandy Lane resort had a big year in 2003. The luxury property opened its fourth golf course, the 18-hole championship Green Monkey, designed by Tom Fazio and  carved out of a former quarry. In addition, the property snagged a AAA Five Diamond rating.
    Accra Beach Hotel, on the island’s south coast, opened a new 18-suite wing in November 2003, bringing its total guest room count to 142. The resort also added a third conference room, increasing its total attendee capacity to 336 people.

Airport wrap-up
New entry requirements became effective as of March 1 this year, mandating that all citizens of the United States and Canada present a valid passport.
    Meanwhile, Barbados received a much-needed boost in air lift with the arrival of Continental Airlines, which began daily nonstop service to the island last December, from Newark, N.J.
    A US$100 million terminal expansion continues at the island’s Grantley Adams International Airport. The two-year old project, expected to be completed by the end of this year, includes the addition of a new arrivals terminal, new airline business lounges, additional ticket counter space and an expanded immigration and customs area.