The Crane: a fitting prelude to the Silver Spirit
From the Deck Chair
By Aaron Saunders
You know those beautiful photos you see in magazines and brochures that show a majestic, colonial-style resort perched atop a bluff of green grass and surrounded by white sandy beaches and crystal blue seas? That’s where I find myself today – grappling with the reality that such a place really does exist.
Located just 8 minutes from Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport and 30 minutes from Bridgetown itself, The Crane Resort has existed here on this idyllic spot along Crane Beach since 1887. In fact, it’s the oldest operating hotel in the Caribbean. Its longevity might have something to do with the fact that Crane Beach itself was rated as one of the Top Ten Beaches in the World, with its crystal-blue waters and sand so fine you’ll think you were walking on a bed of powdered chalk.
After an early morning flight from Toronto Pearson Airport, we were whisked by car to The Crane where we were offered complimentary fruit punch or rum punch to refresh us while we waited to check in. For the curious, the Rum Punch lived up to its name: there was no skimping on the important ingredients here, and the drink was garnished with nutmeg on the top that gave it a very distinct, pleasant smell and taste. It was a great little touch that made the entire experience relaxing straight from the get-go, and that’s one of the chief aims of The Crane – to allow you to “escape from the everyday.”
Our own personal escape began with our room: a 1 Bedroom Ocean View Suite that measures a whopping 1,120 square feet and features a fully-stocked kitchen area, a guest bathroom and shower, a full living room with two couches, a coffee table, dining table, and a separate bedroom and master bath. The master bath includes both a jetted deep-soaker tub and an oversized shower along with dual vanity areas. For longer stays, there’s even a washer and dryer unit tucked behind some attractive, wood-panelled doors.
There are two features in the room that I think are well worth mentioning: one is the free wireless internet access, which still remains shockingly missing from many properties. The other: free international calling. No, that’s not a typo or the result of one too many trips to the Rum Shack – the Crane features IP (Internet Protocol) telephones, meaning you can call any number you’d like, free of charge. We’d love to see other properties follow in The Crane’s footsteps on this one!
But as soothing as these colonial-themed rooms are, there was one feature that immediately caught our eye: the magnificent blue hues of the Atlantic Ocean just outside our window – which, I should point out, doesn’t have to function as a window in the traditional sense – glass windows can be thrown open and slat-style shutters closed in place instead, letting the warm ocean breeze drift through the room.
I stood there, stunned for a few moments, taking in the sight of the Atlantic pounding against the shoreline. The sound the ocean makes as it rushes in to meet land is one of the most powerful and soothing noises I’ve ever heard, and coupled with the tasteful design and décor of the rooms, put us instantly at ease. It was a testament to the natural beauty of The Crane’s surroundings, not to mention the services and amenities that keeps guests from around the world returning year after year.
After taking a minute to freshen up, we set out to capture the remaining few hours of daylight with a trek around the property. Beach-seekers and pool-lovers, this is where you will want to perk up: in addition to being located along Crane Beach, the Crane also offers its own private access to a section of this wonderful natural resource. A wooden walkway leads to a bank of stairs descending to the sand hundreds of feet below, or you can opt to take a glass elevator down to the beach level!
After dipping our toes (and very nearly my camera!) in the exceptionally warm waters of the Southern Atlantic, we headed back up the stairs to stroll the grounds, in search of the pools. And did we ever find pools: The Crane’s official press kit states the property has five outdoor pools, but that really doesn’t do them justice.
Each pool is distinctively designed and tiered on five separate levels, and each one is a veritable oasis in its own right. The Atlantic Ocean is never lost from sight, and many of the pools even incorporate design elements from the original structures that were on the site over a hundred years ago.
In fact, during the course of the afternoon I became convinced that it’s the sprawling grounds of The Crane that really lend this resort its magical ambiance. Stunningly beautiful by day, the resort takes on a new life of its own at night, with subtly-lit pathways and inviting open-concept lounges, bars and restaurants.
I can now also tell friends and family that some of the best Japanese and Thai food I have ever had was served right here in Barbados, at The Crane’s Zen Restaurant. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Zen features a sprawling menu of both Japanese and Thai delicacies that are sure to please even the most discerning palette. I’m always leery of ordering Japanese food abroad, simply because Vancouver has so many high-quality Japanese eateries that I’ve become spoiled forever. Zen, however, can run with the best of them: our food was prepared fresh and was generously portioned. As someone who suffers from an allergy to nuts, I also appreciated one considerate detail: menus marked to indicate the inclusion of nuts in dishes on the Thai menu. I wish more restaurants did this – particularly with the nut-laden landmine that is Thai food, which I love dearly but have to be extremely careful eating.
Zen is just one of five restaurants on the complex, each of which offers up their own unique cuisine and atmosphere. If anything, “choice” is the world of the day here at the Crane, which also features a movie theatre on-site along with two tennis courts, duty-free shopping, a Day Spa, and even a café that serves up fresh, homemade ice cream. My personal recommendation? Try the refreshing Ginger Mint ice cream in a homemade waffle cone.
So after a long day, it’s once again time to call it an evening and drift off to the soothing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow is the “big day” – after relaxing here at the Crane until mid-afternoon, we’ll be whisked to board the Silver Spirit, a ship that myself and my fiancée already think of as our elegant home-away from home.
These last two days have been the perfect prelude of what’s to come.\