Over the weekend, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and the Consulate General of Barbados brought a little taste of the Barbados to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, with their three-day Barbados on the Water Festival.
Highlighting the cultural, gastronomical, and musical talents the island offers (Grammy award-winning singer Rihanna is from There, afterall), the festival started with a private media preview, before officially kicking off on Friday night with a series of free events for the public to enjoy.
“Barbados on the Water is our attempt to bring a slice of Barbados into the downtown core of Toronto,” said Peter Mayers, director of Canada, BTMI. “From the music, to the culinary scene, to elements of wellness and the visual arts, we’re trying to educate consumers about what Barbados stands for, so that we can build business for 2019 and beyond.”
From Friday through Sunday, future travellers had a chance to enjoy culinary delights including a fish fry cooking demo, live music, and authentic Barbadian rum experiences with award-winning mixologist Philip Antoine, who says the secret to any good rum cocktail is Barbadian rum—and lots of it—which makes sense, since Barbados is the birthplace of rum.
The year of wellness
With its white sand beaches, crystal waters, and a vast amount of accommodations for every type of traveller, it seems only fitting that those in search of rest and relaxation will find it in Barbados.
Though it's only 166 square miles, Barbados is unique in the sense that it “has the most luxurious accommodations that stretch all the way to the south coast,” said William “Billy” Griffith, CEO, BTMI.
“Barbados is a destination that attracts quite a large cross-section of the Canadian market, representing about 20 per cent of our business,” he continued. “During the winter months, we target the snowbirds, and in the summer months, we’re full of events and activities. We theme every year, and this year is the year of wellness and soft adventure.”
This year, BTMI is partnering with author, mindfulness instructor and wellness teacher Randi-Mae Stanford-Leibold on a November wellness retreat.
"Barbados has so many beautiful things, whether it's the lush environment, the serenity, or peace, and we want to highlight it as a wellness destination because that's what it is," Stanford-Leibold said. "One of the things we'd really like to highlight for our Year of Wellness is recognizing that it's a safe and beautiful place for people to engage and have an experience. You don't have to stay on a resort when you come to Barbados; you can go and mix and mingle, and the community will help and support you along the way."
The BTMI is hosting a wellness festival and summit called Mindful Living Barbados which takes place November 22-24, 2019, held at Sweetfield Manor Boutique Hotel. Guest speakers and wellness activations will be on offer, allowing people from all over the world to have an experience that engages the mind, body, and soul.
From farm-to-table eating to meditation, the goal of the wellness retreat is to allow guests to return back home with the knowledge learned in order to practice better stress management and personal well-being.
"People are moving away from the whole concept of 'I'm going to go to the beach, then get a massage and a drink," Stanford-Leibold explains. "People want to go on a vacation and align their mind, body, and soul, and come home feeling grounded. It's more of a transformational experience that's starting to happen."
Next year, the BTMI will focus on the theme "We Gatherin 2020", which as Griffith puts it, “encourages all of the diaspora to come back, and to give back to the country, and also to increase visitation.”
More ways to relax
With a wide range of accommodation styles, many of the hotels and resorts in Barbados offer wellness packages to their guests, including the following:
- Cobbler's Cove
- Coral Reef Club & The Sandpiper
- Little Arches Boutique Hotel
- Port Ferdinand & St. Peter's Bay
There are also many stunning four and five-star luxury offerings that provide the ultimate escape to relax in peace and serenity, like the five-star Sandy Lane Hotel, or the Fairmont Royal Pavilion.
In terms of new hotel development, Mayers says the “investment confidence is strong.”
“Over the past four years, air capacity from the Canadian market has increased by about 40 per cent, from both Air Canada and WestJet,” Griffith added. “We’ve increased seats and hotel rooms, too. Our biggest addition was Sandals, but we’ve had new builds as well; Sea Breeze Beach House has added accommodation, and several hotels have upgraded.”
The Wyndham Grand is building a 450-room hotel where the former Sam Lord’s Castle was, and there’s a plan for a Hyatt property to debut in Bridgetown, too.
For more information on upcoming events, festivals, and more in Barbados, click here.
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