Sandy Lane Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Decked out in signature pink, the 112-room Sandy Lane is the creme de la creme of Barbados -- indeed, it's one of the most luxurious resorts in the world -- known for unparalleled service and distinct touches. Guest amenities run rampant; perhaps the most noteworthy is access to the super exclusive Green Monkey golf course with a separate apparel line that can only be purchased after completion. A Rolls Royce Bentley, top-notch spa, outstanding restaurants, and celebrity sightings are just a few aspects that set the elegant Palladian-style hotel apart from the rest. This is a very special place, for those who can afford it.
Fairmont Royal Pavilion Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This adults-only luxury resort offers just two room types: deluxe rooms on the second floor, and slightly larger junior suites on the lower level with access to the beach. Sprawling across 11 acres on the west coast of Barbados, the property is situated closer to the waterfront than others in the area, due to it being built before legislation forced future resorts to build further inland. The pink Colonial-style property is romantic, and offers two restaurants and bars, as well as free afternoon tea on the terrace. Because there are only 72 rooms, the beach never feels crowded. Excellent amenities include an outdoor pool, tennis courts, and free non-motorized water sports.
Mango Bay Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Mango Bay is a friendly 76-room resort within minutes of shops and restaurants in historic Holetown -- a quick escape for guests when they need a break from their all-inclusive stay. Packages include meals in one indoor/outdoor restaurant (which feels limiting), drinks (bar opens in the morning), nightly entertainment, and activities such as waterskiing and catamaran rides. The beach area can get crowded, but calm waves appeal to swimmers of all ages. Rooms range in size and views, but are spacious and lack the tacky Caribbean decor found in many resorts. Overall, the resort has a casual sophistication that is ideal for groups and romantics looking for an easy vacation.
Almond Beach Club & Spa Rating: 3.5 Pearls
At 161 rooms and suites, this adults-only resort is the smallest of the three all-inclusive Almond properties in Barbados. Located on the ritzy west coast, guests have easy access to Holetown and nearby golf courses. While the beach area is smaller compared with the other two resorts, it has calm waves perfect for swimming and amazing sunset views. There's lots to do here besides swim -- free water sports are plentiful. Plus, there's a large pool area, nightly entertainment, a dance floor, and full-service spa. Need more than that? Take the free shuttle to the other two Almond properties to avoid all-inclusive monotony.
White Sands Beach Villas Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This 22-unit condo building on the island's lively south coast is walking distance to an ATM, grocery store, and numerous restaurants and bars along "The Gap." A busy neighborhood, yes, but guests will feel like they have this hidden gem all to themselves, especially when taking advantage of the beautiful stretch of beach that has zero crowds and constant turquoise waves. One-, two-, and three-bedroom units are decorated with a contemporary flair, and full kitchens come with high-end stainless steel appliances. Rental cars on-site and at-home accommodations make this a fantastic option for those looking for that rare mix of quiet relaxation and nearby nightlife.
The Atlantis Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
If the name "Atlantis" conjures up images of the megaresort in the Bahamas, then think again. The Atlantis Hotel in Barbados -- a historic property from the 1800s with only eight rooms -- is the polar opposite. The boutique hotel re-opened in 2009 and offers freshly decorated nautical-themed rooms with canopy beds, stylish furnishings, and modern amenities. (For families, there are two two-bedroom apartments in a separate building.) Located on the remote and rocky east coast, the beach is more suitable for surfing than swimming, and a car is recommended to get around the island. The Atlantis restaurant is popular with locals, and the varied cuisine comes with outstanding views from both indoor and outdoor tables.