Cobblers Cove, a leading Caribbean lady, has real stamina, finds Rasika Sittamparam
Hollywood stars, jet-setters and English aristocracy looking for a unique Bajan getaway in Barbados have visited Cobblers Cove since it opened in the 1940s. This grand dame of a hotel, with interiors dusty pink, sits in the sleepy town of Speightstown on the west coast of Barbados – and is as welcoming as the sea breeze of the shimmering Caribbean Sea.
Alan Godsal (who sometimes accompanied Princess Margaret to town) inherited the former plantation house which now houses the hotel from his great-uncle in 1944. When he died in 2011, there was talk of the sale of the property. But Alan’s son, entrepreneur Hugh Godsal, left the property in his late father’s will and didn’t have the heart to give it up. Additionally, his wife Sam Godsal, an author and fashion graduate from Central Saint Martins, had a clear vision for the future of the property.
Sam brought Colefax & Fowler upholstery, coral stone floors and custom-made Santa Monica signature umbrellas. These all remain and were only topped off with a refurbishment completed in 2021. This collaboration with Lulu Lytle of Soane Britain has only made the 40 suites bigger – think pretty chintz curtains, hand-printed bed linens. locally handcrafted and the most comfortable rattan furnishings of the lobby, lounge and its honeymoon suites, Camelot and Colleton.
The brilliant staff — who work under the charming general manager, Joanna Roterberg, who was hired in 2020 — help make this a property that appeals to those who want to relax as well as adventurers. While there I was determined to swim with green sea turtles as it was mating season when I visited. And the team at Cobblers Cove made it happen.
On my first boat trip, we admired neighboring properties – as well as Rihanna’s chic superyacht, the 52-meter Latitude, built by Benetti. But no turtles appeared, even though our guide threw pieces of meaty fish in three different places. When we returned, visibly disappointed, Roterberg made sure our wishes were granted – she organized a follow-up boat trip which was ultimately successful – at least one green turtle came to play.
Caribbean hotels that cater to an international crowd can sometimes avoid local cuisine. Not here. The restaurant at Cobblers Cove showcases authentic local flavors with fresh produce. What’s even more impressive is that Bajan steak and a variety of fish dishes are as lean and healthy as they are delicious. The appetite for wholesome, nutritious food extends to breakfast, where a selection of ginger and turmeric shots are on offer. Indeed, Gwyneth Paltrow goop — no less — said the Cobblers Cove restaurant is “often hailed as the best on the island.”
The highlight of the trip for me was meeting Lou and Dale, our Kilimanjaro Connections hiking guides, introduced via Roterberg. Lou’s encyclopedic knowledge of Barbadian history, geography and plants will delight any experienced traveler, while Dale’s gentle advice and subtle encouragement to latecomers (I was one unfortunately) will make the experience enjoyable even for the most sedentary of the C-suiters.
The duo, who presented us with a bottle of Mount Gay on our last day, made me realize that what will keep visitors coming back perpetually, in the future, is the enduring warmth of Bajan hospitality. And what better place to enjoy this, and the rest that Barbados has to offer, than at the captivating property of Cobblers Cove. Dame Judi Dench would return every year – and I understand why.
Current owners Hugh and Sam Godsal
Room rates start from £650
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