Tamarind Cove is refreshed; more amenities to come

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Associate editor Laura Dennis stayed at Tamarind Cove, a member of the Elegant Hotels Group. Her report follows:

Tamarind Cove in Barbados is surrounded by lush vegetation. ST. JAMES -- Tamarind Cove is the shining star among its siblings. The 166-room property, one of five members of the Elegant Hotels Group, is sporting a fresh look courtesy of a $6 million renovation that upgraded the accommodations as well as the public areas.

The project, begun in 1998, has considerably brightened the 112 rooms and suites in the property's north wing. Gone are the dark colors and dark-wood furniture. In their place are lighter woods, rattan and a rich blue color scheme.

The units were completely refurbished, and new air-conditioning units and satellite televisions were added. All the rooms are a good size, including my junior suite.

There was more than enough space for one person, and a family of four could stay in the room without tripping over one another. All of the rooms have king-size beds, hair dryers, mini-refrigerators, telephones, clock radios, in-room safes and balconies or patios.

The specialty suites take it up a notch with four-poster beds, arched doorways and coral stone walls. The honeymoon suites also have private plunge pools.

The makeover also extended to public areas and facilities. The restaurant, Neptune's, has been renamed and remodeled.Taking its place is Sasso, a sleek-looking venue such as one would expect to find at the new breed of "style" hotels that have cropped up in the U.S. Currently, guests can dine on the outside terrace, where blue, cone-shaped lamps with halogen lights create a trendy and upscale ambience. The restaurant's interior, which will be air conditioned and feature a saltwater aquarium, is still being worked on.

The menu at Sasso is extensive, with many seafood offerings, including Bajan flying fish (a traditional island dish). The cuisine is supposed to reflect an Italian influence, which wasn't the case during my visit. However, Italian-style dishes may be woven into the menu in the near future.

Tamarind is also using Sasso to enhance its meeting space. The resort's current meeting room can accommodate up to 50 theater-style and 30 sit-down, so Sasso presents a welcome addition.

Guests also have the option of dining at the beachfront Bamboo Restaurant and Bar or Tangier, an open-air eatery. Twice weekly, a candlelight dinner is served on the beach. Drinks are available at the Sasso Bar and Oasis Bar. The Oasis also serves light lunches and snacks.

As part of the makeover, the lobby area was spruced up with new tables, chairs, centerpieces and potted plants. New equipment was also purchased for the water-sports center.

The hotel attracts a mix of guests -- families, couples of all ages and honeymooners.

Tamarind Cove is spread out enough that it is easy to stake out a quiet spot, especially during the off-season. For example, you could end up with a pool to yourself because so many of the guests head to the beach.

One of the most noticeable features of the resort is its lush vegetation. An abundance of trees, bushes, bougainvillaea, hibiscus and potted plants can be found in every nook and cranny.

Plans are in the works to build a children's club, but until that is done, the resort blocks off some rooms and creates a facility for kids age 2 to 12. This is primarily done during the holidays, when Tamarind receives an influx of families.

The resort also plans to build two tennis courts, upgrade its fitness center and expand its meeting space. The current fitness center is small, with two treadmills, two bikes and one step machine. The south wing of resort is the next to be refurbished.

It used to be the Buccaneer Hotel and was purchased by Tamarind Cove in 1995.

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