Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A historic, sprawling resort with a time-share option
The resort is located off of the quiet main road on the east end of the island. There is a long, landscaped, palm-tree lined drive that takes guests to parking and reception. The Crane is notable for several reasons: Its massive size (which means lots of walking but more privacy and fewer crowds); its apartment-style rooms (all of which come with kitchenettes or full kitchens); and the diverse offering of restaurants and activities. There's no other resort on Barbados in this price range that can compete with The Crane in terms of features (though the Bougainvillea Beach Resort makes a solid effort), and there aren't many other upscale resorts on the island offering all-inclusive packages (though note that guests will typically need to book all-inclusive rates directly through the hotel).
The grounds are pleasant and beautifully manicured, with palm trees, tropical greenery, winding walkways, small bridges, and even a few koi ponds. The main buildings are large but attractive, painted a neutral beige-coral color with towers on each side. The village area in the center of the property houses a variety of shops and one of the bars. It looks like a charming old-timey town with colorful buildings, porches, and window overhangs.
Due to its size, the Crane can please a range of guests. The bar/restaurant at the top of the pool complex, The Carriage House, and Bar 1887 in the middle of the resort, are lively and fun, with many people grabbing an afternoon drink or snack. The village area is a bustle of activity as well. The other restaurants at the resort, including L’Azure, D’Onofrio’s, and Zen, are elegant and upscale.
Both the Crane Pool and much of the enormous, spread-out pool complex are relaxing and peaceful, due to their sheer size. There are plenty of loungers and cabanas spread around the pools and guests can easily find a quiet nook if they desire. However, guests have complained that poolside service is slow or nonexistent. The popular beach is large and spacious with plenty of loungers.
The Crane is a time-share property, although this aspect is not emphasized and there are no staffers pressuring visitors to join.
On the remote southeast coast of the island
The Crane is located on the southeast coast of the island – far from other resorts and activity. While some might enjoy the remote location, others may find things to do limiting if they want to leave the resort. A car rental is recommended.
The east coast offers more rugged natural beauty than other parts of the island. The resort is perched on a cliff overlooking Crane Beach, providing beautiful and scenic views. Sandals Barbados, which reopened in late January 2015 after extensive renovations, is another large resort that offers an all-inclusive environment but has a more central location on the south coast. Prices there tend to be higher, however.
Spacious colonial-style rooms with kitchens and balconies; some have private pools
The classic, elegant rooms have dark wood trim, mahogany furniture, and cedar shutters. Exposed light wood on the ceilings, white stone walls, and white sofas add charm and help prevent the rooms from feeling dark.
The rooms at Crane are spacious, starting at 739 square feet, and each has a four-poster king bed, a large entertainment center, seating area, and a balcony or terrace. The bathrooms are huge even in the entry-level studio rooms (the Junior Garden View Suites), and each has marble tile, a whirlpool bath, separate shower, separate toilet room, and an attractive vanity. The ocean-view rooms offer beautiful views overlooking the cliff onto the turquoise blue water.
Junior Garden View suites have kitchenettes while all other room categories have a full kitchen, which includes a full-size refrigerator, ice dispenser, four-burner electric stove, microwave, and dishwasher, as well as cooking and eating utensils. All rooms except Junior Suites offer a washer/dryer. The suites have a large living room with white couches, a four-seat dining table, and a writing desk.
The corner and Penthouse Suites have their own private plunge pools, and ground-level suites have a 28-square-foot private pool.
As of Fall 2014, the resort is undergoing a two-year renovation plan on some of the residences. The resort states that noise is kept to a minimum, and elevated noise levels take place two days a week during business hours.
Five pools and lots of amenities
The resort’s pools shine here. The Crane Beach Pool, located in the historic part of the property, is large and rectangular, and the front is framed by classic Doric columns. Cushioned loungers are set up around the pool and the view is stunning – overlooking Crane Beach and the ocean.
The pool complex is both immense and scenic. Four pools cascade into each other through various levels. The space is attractively landscaped with palm trees and small gardens. Cushioned lounge chairs surround the pools on each of the levels and there are a handful of shaded cabanas for guests to lounge. Small winding paths take you from level to level, and the complex looks out over the cliff, offering beautiful ocean views. There is a jacuzzi pool at the top of the complex that is romanesque, surrounded by a stone enclosure, with square window cutouts overlooking the ocean.
The resort’s beach, Crane Beach, is located down long and narrow sets of stairs, down the cliff. There is a glass-front elevator to transport guests, but that was out of service during our visit. The beach is large and spacious, with plenty of lounge chairs. The cliffs to the right showcase Barbados’s rugged, natural beauty, which isn’t readily apparent in other areas of the island. Like most beaches in Barbados, the waves vary – the water is calm some days and rough on others. There were yellow flags during our visit.
The resort has a village area with a general shop (providing basic food and toiletries), a bank, art gallery, cafe, jewelry store, and Cave Shepherd (a department store chain on the island). The general shop in particular is convenient due to the resort’s remote location.
There is a large, bright fitness center with three treadmills, stair climbers, stationary bikes, strength machines, and free weights. The fitness center offers yoga and zumba classes as well as personal training for an extra fee. There are also two tennis courts on the property.
Five venues for food or drink
The resort has five restaurants, each offering a different ambience and cuisine.
Can host large and small celebrations
The Crane Resort hosts weddings for up to 180 people. Ceremonies can take place on the beach, in the resort’s wedding garden, or cliffside, which offers spectacular views of Crane Beach and the ocean. The reception can be held in one of the resort’s restaurants, or in one of their two meeting rooms (the large Town Hall or the smaller Pavilion Room). The resort offers a variety of packages that include the marriage license, hair and makeup for the bride, flowers, the wedding cake, and even a couple’s massage.
Meal plans as well as an all-inclusive option available
The Crane offers various meal plans that can include breakfast only, half-board (breakfast and dinner), or the full American plan, which includes all meals. Their Zen Restaurant is restricted for all meal plans and supplemental charges apply to certain menu items, special events, or holidays.
The all-inclusive option includes all meals as well as premium beverages by the glass.
A full-service spa
Serenity Spa, the Crane’s on-site full-service spa, offers massages, facials, body treatments, manicures and pedicures, waxing, and in-room hair services. The resort offers in-room spa treatments upon request.
The oldest continually operating hotel in the Caribbean (since 1887), The Crane Residential Resort is huge, with 252 rooms, five pools, five restaurants and bars, a “village” area complete with an art gallery, and numerous amenities spread out over 40 acres. The resort’s location is fairly remote, on the southeast coast of the island, but with all of the amenities and eateries, guests may not find themselves lacking. Although the property is large, it does not have the feel of a cheesy mega-resort – the rooms, restaurants, and grounds are tasteful and attractive and staff does not push the time-share/residence aspect. Elegant colonial-style rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens; some have private plunge pools.