As the cold winds come down from the north, out come the wistful screensavers depicting golden sunsets, limpid waters, swaying hammocks and sweet drinks with little pink umbrellas. But when you get tired of holding your mouse really still to get a glimpse of digital paradise, think about cashing in those unused vacation days and heading down to Barbados. The warm Caribbean waters caress its western shores, the wild Atlantic is to the east, and rum takes care of everything in between.
Once a British colony and still part of the Commonwealth, English-speaking Barbados has long been a favorite retreat for the kind of people who like baked beans for breakfast. American tourists are a bit of a novelty on this unspoiled coral island, and you’re unlikely to get stuck with a raucous party of spring breakers in the room above you. There’s a thriving nightlife, but the island’s true siren song is one of tranquility and family-friendliness.
All-inclusive is the way to go for a stress-free vacation in the sun. Mango Bay resort (www.mango baybarbados.com) offers everything you could ask for: Rooms with a fantastic view, helpful staff, a good bar, breakfast (there will be beans), lunch and semiformal dinner, a Caribbean beach with watersports and a sigh-inducing sunset. The resort is literally just steps from a street bustling with nightlife and a European-style mall with high-end retailers.
The resort also offers wedding packages, nightly live entertainment and plenty for the kids to do.
There might be a secret competition on Barbados as to who can serve the best —and the most— rum punch. It’s all pretty delicious, so don’t pass up a taste. If you want a bit more history and a little less punch, visit Mount Gay distillery (mountgayrum.com). They’ve got lunch, a museum, an informative (and musically dramatic) film and a tasting. Rumor has it that Mount Gay was George Washington’s favorite rum.
Tip: If rum isn’t your thing, the resort’s bartenders do sweet, smooth justice to a mango martini.
If you’re the kind of person whose tan more closely resembles Santa’s rosy cheeks than the electric orange of Jersey Shore beach bums, don’t despair. Here’s a sample of activities that don’t require your own weight in SPF 9000: