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Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels 3.5

Paynes Bay, Saint James Parish, Barbados

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Review Summary

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  • On a white-sand beachfront
  • Rooms have patios or balconies
  • Scenic, three-tier pool complex
  • Two restaurants and a neat cave bar; all-inclusive option available
  • Beautiful lobby and lounge overlooking the property and ocean
  • Water sports available on-site
  • Kids' club
  • Large on-site fitness center
  • Masseuse on-site
  • Business center
  • Free in-room Wi-Fi


  • No spa 
  • Common areas are close together and can feel congested
  • Rooms are small
  • Maintenance problems
  • LGBT travelers reported experiencing discrimination 

Bottom Line

Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels is located on the west (platinum) coast of Barbados, close to transportation, attractions, and shopping. Guest room decor is stylish and contemporary, the beach is scenic, and the three-tier lagoon-style pool complex is picturesque and inviting. The hotel, however, falls short for a four-pear property, with small rooms, no on-site spa, and general maintenance problems both on the property and in the rooms. The rooms at the nearby Waves Barbados, another all-inclusive property, are larger.

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Compact, scenic property with a mix of guests

Unlike its sister hotels Turtle Beach and Colony Club, Crystal Cove is a compact property with many of the common areas in a single location at the heart of the resort. The lobby and recently refurbished upstairs lounge are scenic, overlooking the pools and ocean. A set of stairs leads to the three-tier pool complex, which is attractively landscaped and popular among guests. It can also feel congested, with many loungers, chairs, and tables crowded into close quarters. Down more stairs is the beach, which is gorgeous but has a ton of loungers as well. Since the resort’s exteriors have multiple levels, it may not be a good choice for guests who have limited mobility.

The two-story buildings are charming and quaint, although the multi-colored painted balconies look a bit gaudy. The grounds are attractive but not particularly lush. Tamarind, another resort in the Elegant Hotels chain, has nicer gardens. The resort’s Cave Bar is actually located in a cave and is funky and interesting. Guests have complained that the two restaurants are often not open at the same time, making for a lack of choice at mealtime. There is also no place to go when it rains – the Cave Bar is the only covered facility and it is not large.

The resort is family-friendly with a large Kid’s Club that is open daily. The club has mats, tables, crafts, games, and plenty of activities. The resort’s atmosphere is casual and friendly, although it does lack nightlife. For those wanting more entertainment at night, the resort’s sister property, Turtle Beach, is located on the St. Lawrence Gap, a hub of activity.

In August 2017, Oyster received a report from a gay couple who, on a recent stay at Crystal Cove, experienced discrimination from the hotel staff. LGBT travelers should be warned that homosexuality is technically illegal in Barbados (though the anti-gay law is rarely enforced and many Barbadians are accepting of the gay community), and they might encounter intolerance or animosity.


On the ritzy west coast

Centrally located on Highway 1 just a bit south of Holetown, Crystal Cove is within easy driving distance of local sights and restaurants, including Limegrove Shopping Center and a grocery store. Buses and other public transport run frequently.

  • Six-minute drive to Limegrove Shopping Center
  • Seven-minute drive to Holetown
  • Seven-minute drive to Sandy Lane Country Club
  • 13-minute drive to Bridgetown
  • 15-minute drive to Speightstown
  • 18-minute drive to Harrison's Cave
  • 22-minute drive to St. Lawrence Gap
  • 23-minute drive to Oistins Fish Fry
  • 23- minute drive to St. Nicholas Abbey and Cherry Tree Hill
  • 30-minute drive to Grantley Adams International Airport


Nicely decorated but have some maintenance problems

Crystal cove has 88 rooms consisting of Basic Rooms, Junior Suites, and One-Bedroom Suites. All rooms have  private balconies or patios. The rooms are stylishly decorated with white bedding, orange and red accents, colorful art, dark-wood furniture, and white tile floors. The bathrooms are good size with double sinks, dark-wood mirrors, and shower/tub combos.

The living room in the loft-style Oceanview One-Bedroom Suite has a geometric patterned rug, burnt-orange couch, and red and orange accent pillows. The circular chair adds a funky modern touch. The furniture is white and clean, and the living room has its own bar area.

All rooms have mini-fridges, safes, and free Wi-Fi. Although the rooms are nicely decorated, some have general maintenance problems, including patio doors that are hard to open, noisy air-conditioning units, and creaky drawers. 


Three-tiered pool area and a beautiful beach

The three-tier, lagoon-style pool complex is a highlight of the resort. With curving, inviting pools with nooks and waterfalls, the pool area is popular among guests. Funky, colorful furniture surrounds the pools. The top tier, home to the Cave Bar, has tables, colorful chairs, and couches. The bottom two levels are more suited for lounging and have many cushioned chairs surrounding the perimeter. Since each tier is not particularly large, the area can get crowded and feel congested. The beach is reached through a short set of stairs from the pool, as well as from the other side of the property near Drifter’s Bar. The beach is long and scenic, with palm trees and clear turquoise water. Waterskiing, banana boating, tubing, snorkeling, sailing, boogie boarding, kayaking, and windsurfing are available on the property. One end of the beach has a spacious stretch of sand but is littered with loungers.

There are two on-site restaurants and a swim-up bar. Reflections, the most upscale restaurant, offers scenic views of the beach and pool. Drifter’s Beach Restaurant and Bar, located on the south end of the property, is an open-air, informal restaurant that serves lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea. Cave Bar, located on the first tier of the pool, is also a swim-up bar. The all-inclusive option includes all meals, drinks, snacks, and alcoholic beverages, but excludes champagne and fine wine.

Other amenities include a large fitness center with multiple treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, strength-training machines, free weights, and balance balls. Tennis courts are also on the property. The resort has a business center that is free to use. A large Kids' club is open daily and has mats, tables, crafts, games, and plenty of activities. There is also an outdoor play area. There is no spa on-site but guests can use the spa at Tamarind, one of the hotel’s nearby sister properties.

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