To the marketing team at O2, ‘new’ means that the official opening was on December 14, 2021, my most recent birthday, as it happens. Let’s just say the ribbon-cutting by global citizen and personal hero, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, brought an especially meaningful tear to this Wordsmith’s eye, streaming live on Facebook from the glittering party on the white sands of Dover Beach, Barbados.
Eight months later and a few steps toward post-pandemic ease-of-travel, planning ‘7 Days at O2 Beach Club & Spa’ as a Bleisure trip to Barbados was a great opportunity to experience if/how inter-island travel in the Caribbean is evolving into its new normal – and to experience for myself the resort that has been instant hit with the global travel media.
Packing was like a military campaign, which is still for another blog, but my InterCaribbean Airlines flights (outward SLU-DOM-BGI, return BGI-SLU) cost just under US$470 and were spot on, other than a couple of pax who weren’t ticketed correctly at their originating airport and a spot of rain causing a brief delay on the return leg. Per aeronautical mile though, that’s a high price to pay for island-hopping, which is the regional travel industry’s existentialist crisis going into the busy season.
A quick scoot through the vaxed-channel at Grantley Adams International, baggage claim took a few minutes but was enjoyably overseen by a fifty-foot smiling Rihanna in her Crop Over costume, and outside the door was Shaun, whose luxury transfer service is flawless.
Within 20 minutes I walked into O2 Beach Club & Spa, located on the fringe of the legendary Saint Lawrence Gap on the southeast coast of Barbados, to be greeted by the wonderfully welcoming Pierre, a goblet of delicious bubbles, and the start of a week-long VIP luxury all-inclusive odyssey.
So, what were my favourite things that made this particular Bleisure assignment so successful?
In reverse order, like all the best award shows …
5 Jump Into Bed! Enjoy The King-sized Luxury Sleepfest Of Your Dreams
Sleep is important every night of the year, but when you’ve travelled to a paradise destination like O2 Beach Club & Spa on the stunningly beautiful south coast of Barbados, whether the trip is Business- or Leisure-related, it’s crucial to stay on top of your zees in order not – as Aerosmith would put it – to miss a thang.
Simply put, I can’t remember sleeping for seven nights in a more comfortable bed than in my exclusively adult, classy but cool, fourth floor beachfront Luxury Collection Junior Suite. It’s a pile of crisp white cotton duvet heaven that also does well as a work space on those stolen laptop catch-up sessions.
Definitely a ‘wow!’ bed, although shorter guests may need to vault onto it via the convenient footstool 😉
4 Take A Bath: Luxury Is In The Simplest Pleasures
Even if it’s just once in your stay, take a little time to pamper when the itinerary allows. Sun, sea, sand and air-conditioning combine into the perfect storm of dehydration on skin like mine, so I planned ahead by bringing a customised range of organic skincare products by my friend and talented creator of the hand-made Patricia-Lee brand in Saint Lucia. (I call it my ‘adult skincare regime’ – also note adulting dress getting steamed for its public premier) 😉
The humongous en-suite bathrooms of the Luxury Collection – with their deep, over-sized tubs – are perfect for me-time, and the scented bubbles from the amenities range were delicious, while Patricia-Lee’s Caribbean Mocha Body Scrub gently exfoliated as the sun went down with a java-energising punch of scent. Her rich and refreshing Vanilla Mint Body Cream would make a great dessert, but this time it was the aprés-scrub finishing touch before a wee pre-business-dinner power nap in the bed of dreams.
Now that’s what I call a Bleisure self-care moment!
3 Cool Off At The Bar: H2O Is All-Day Swim-Up Breezy
Jumping in the pool didn’t happen for me this time; such are the personal Bleisure dilemmas faced by the likes of this Direct Marketing fearsome twosome – GH Tourism Solutions and Wordsmith Agency.
Instead, between meetings, dining experiences and How-To Classes, we enjoyed a daytime mocktail and/or cocktail at the resort’s literal coolest spot, H2O Pool Bar, where the breeze is always welcome and the bartenders have some very Bajan performing skills.
The yummy rum-based Watermelon Cooler is for the ‘At Leisure’ sections of the itinerary, while a zesty lime squash is perfect for wetting the whistle after the exertions of How-To Blow A Conch Shell – but that’s for another-nother blog 😉
2 Have The Daily Catch For Lunch At Bluefin
Simply that! Cooked in foil with a light dressing and a big bunch of fresh herbs, it’s so good that some Bleisure-seekers may have to do it twice. Close to Oistins fishing village, the catch-of-the-day at Bluefin could be marlin, snapper, mahi mahi – or just one mahi if you’re not a big eater 😉 #thehousebunny #lamemomjoke
My soft fish tacos (above) were packed with chunks of well-seasoned grilled catch and came with all the expected toppings (Jah bless avocado season), while the burgers looked like a big pile of heaven to be experienced next time.
Let’s just say Bluefin speedily delivers a classic beach-grill menu in a shady spot, just steps from the white sand beach, which Bleisure lunch protocols allow to be accompanied by at least one delectable passionfruit or mango dacquiri. Sure it would be rude not to …
And my absolutely transformatively favourite three hours of Bleisure at O2 Beach Club & Spa? Indian hang drum roll please …
1 Step Up To The Spa-In-The-Sky: Acqua Spa Is The Real Deal
It’s a bit like that BBC funny video doing the rounds of social media about what happens if you say you don’t like Beyoncé. When I reluctantly admit to any group of wellness travel professionals in the Caribbean that ‘I’m not the spa-type’, a hush of mistrust tends to descend on the room.
I mean, even more of a hush than usual …
Sometimes it turns into something akin to the classic Hollywood trope of ‘beloved thinks they’ll be the one to finally change their (insert name) into the perfect (insert pronouns)’: This time you’ll love it, Dee, we’re different from those other spas.
Welcoming us with How To Make A Body Scrub, followed by a light lunch from the custom Spa Menu, Acqua Spa Manager Lisa Mayers and her team of discreet, caring staff definitely shifted my thoughts towards becoming a spa aficionado like so many of my girlfriends (and my youngest who builds a full-body massage on some breathtaking beach into his days off every week – taking after his dad).
Customised for my comfort-level, a half hour aromatherapy reflexology foot and leg massage in the treatment room pictured above was followed by 20 minutes with travel buddy Gillian in the literal hottest spot at O2 – the Hammam Steam Room, where for up to half an hour you’ll enjoy clouds of billowing vapour that induce the sweat of a thousand marathon runners from every pore, while you slather a selection of amazing seaweed-based products from OSEA all over your already pampered body. It’s absolutely unique in Barbados and an adrenaline rush experience that left my skin feeling pristine and rejuvenated.
Cocooned in cold towels back in the appropriately-named Tranquility Room, a surprisingly zen session of Oculus (sorry, I can say no more 😉 ) … was the very 21st century finale to a very special afternoon at Acqua Spa.
And those mesmerising, blue-for-days ocean views from the eighth floor treatment rooms!
Yes, maybe I could be a spa-girl after all …
O2 Beach Club & Spa at Dover Beach is on the southeast coast of Barbados.