Looking at the reviews here before we went, I was confused as some people were rating Excellent and some rating it as Terrible. Having just come back from an 8 day stay I think I understand! So some generalities first and specifics later...
Basically the 'problems' that are discussed by the 'Terribles' are definitely there but the issue is really to what degree they bother you!
To some extent this will be factored by previous experience of All Inclusive (AI) resorts and previous experience of the Caribbean 'way'.
So - lets be blunt - nothing happens quickly in the Caribbean! You're there on holiday and the local population just wont understand what on earth you want to rush for! Once you get into that groove then you will find things less frustrating.
Next the AI 'thing'. It is attractive because it fixes your budget but any AI resort will have a proportion of guests who's sole intent is to get the maximum possible value for money. At the same time the resort has to cope with a larger proportion (maybe high 90%-age) of guests eating on site every meal - that is always going to mean restrictions on menus, eating times, and available space.
As you aren't settling a restaurant bill at an AI resort you probably aren't leaving a tip for your waiter either so all-in-all no big surprise that sometimes the staff aren't rushing themselves ragged to look after you!
Basically then your view of this place is probably going to be dictated by your expectations and that may well be dictated in turn by what you are paying.
However Barbados is expensive - if you do choose to eat out, even a relatively modest restaurant will set you back £25 a head for say fish and chips and a couple of beers. A decent restaurant will set you back £50 a head after wine as well, so realistically even if you had free accommodation it would cost you maybe £150 a head per day to eat.
Add in drinks and you can see that the All Inclusive option represents very good value indeed - but if you dont understand that then you're going to see this resosrt as expensive and thus expect a better level of service than is perhaps realistic.
Anyway - onto the specifics:
Location - stunning!
South side or Barbados is - in my view - the better coast. A pleasant prevailing south-easterly warm breeze keeps you from baking but you get the sun all day long. St Lawrance Gap is in easy walking distance if you do want to walk there and eat out and its near the airport meaning much lower transfer taxi fees than the west coast.
Arrival and Reception
Efficient - we were expected, given a welcome drink and shown to our rooms quickly.
Overall state of decor/maintenance
Showing some signs of tiredness. The Almond group used to own 3 resorts on the Island and has sold two. (This has yet to be properly reflected in some of their brochures and website so - for example - there is still mention of a free shuttle-bus to the other resorts.) Supposedly this provided them with the funds to improve and develop the Casaurinas resort and it is quite evident that this is overdue. I understand the sales were made quite recently so it is early days but to be honest I was disappointed that the whole resort needed a spruce up.
Clean but basic. Nosiy extraction fan in bathroom (occasionally screeched). We were told when we booked that lower priced rooms were not available so 'upgraded' to a 'Superior Pool/garden View'. Not quite sure what was superior about it. Nothing wrong, but nothing special. The room was cleaned every day, the aircon worked well. This was block 3. The rear of the block (ie when you come out of your room and go along landing and down stairs) looks over the resort maintenance area providing a fine view of stepladders, painting trestles etc etc.
No shortage of sun beds, plenty of shade for those that want it. Pools clean. ( a new pool is being constructed near blocks 5 and 6). You are provided with a beach towel when you arrive and can change this as and when you wish with the beach watersports staff.
First big problem. OK it is hot but there was a pervading acidic smell near the bar that reminded you of vomit! I guess this is the fruit etc, but I have been to several other resorts with poolside/beachside bars (ie in the heat) and have never smelt this before. Basically the bar needed a good hose out at the end of the day whrreas I suspect all it was getting was a wipe down. The poolside bar (ie you sit in the pool and drink at a below water level bar) was almost never open. Always a queue and a wait for a drink at any bar at any time.
Food was nice but menus a bit samey. As mentioned elswehere be prepared to book your time slot early r be left with little choice. On some nights one of the three restaurants were closed and on one evening the Caribbean beach barbecue was the only option.
Generally friendly - occasionally a bit surly but it wasn't personal to us! The staff work long hours and by and large were helpful. Occasionally you did get the impression that you were being fobbed off or passed on to someone else.
Way overpriced (my wife said!) it was nearly always empty (I wonder why!).
Plenty of sun loungers, lots of trees for shade if you prefer, stunning location and sea view etc.
As mentioned before the sailing (Hobie Cats) is just as a passenger. This is a bit like advertising waterski-ing and then you find that all you can do is sit in the boat and watch someone else ski-ing! Worse the staff just dont want to go out unless everything is 'just-so' (Basically lazy, in my view!) neighbouring resorts cats were sailing on many a day when the watersports staff told us it was 'too windy', not enough wind', 'too rough', 'too rainy' etc.
To me this was one of the worst aspect of the resort - I felt cheated.
Snorkels, kayaks and body boards available on a first come first served basis.
A great location, generally good value for money when you take into account price of eating out elsewhere, generally helpful and friendly staff with a few exceptions. Resort definitely need investment though - it is tired and it is clear from this site that the same problems are surfacing again and again yet the management choose to do nothing (or cant afford to?)
I would come again but I'd make it a shorter trip and spend the money I saved on that by eating out more often
- Also Known As:
- Almond Casuarina Beach Hotel St Lawrence Gap
- Almond Casuarina Beach Hotel
- Hotel Almond Casuarina Beach
- Almond Casuarina Beach Resort
- Almond Casuarina
- Casuarina Beach Resort Barbados/St Lawrence Gap
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on the white sands of Dover Beach, close to St. Lawrence Gap, on the sunny coast of Barbados will be the world-renowned award winning Almond Casuarina Beach Resort. A mere 4 miles from the capital city, Bridgetown and 5 miles from Grantley Adams International Airport, this environmental oasis will be set in 10 acres of lush tropical landscape. ... more less
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