Sandy Lane, Barbados

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 12:00am

Where? On the Caribbean island of Barbados, overlooking a sickle of cashmere-soft sand.

It's famous, right? Home from home for the rich and famous since it opened in 1961 (David Niven, Michael Caine, the Kennedys and the British royal family were early guests), Sandy Lane's recent refurbishment has attracted a new generation of high-flyers, including Claudia Schiffer, David Coulthard and Donatella Versace.

Contemporary or colonial? Neither. Reminiscent of a fancy cake covered in pink icing sugar, the hotel's Palladian architecture is in keeping with its five-star facilities and fawning service.

Tell us more: While guests are whisked about by Bentley, a personal butler unpacks your Burberry bikinis and ensures your bar is kept up to scratch. There's also a housekeeping team that descends for precision buffing and fluffing, a sunglasses cleaning service and a man who trawls the beach with a metal detector searching for lost bling.

The quarters must be beyond luxe? Each of the 112 rooms and suites combines stately redwood furniture with gadgets that control lighting, sound and temperature. There's also a multi-function plasma TV, a CD player with speakers in the bathroom and on the balcony, and a marble shower with seven adjustable nozzles.

Where will it all end? Even the rooms pale in comparison with the spa, which has a state-of-the-art fitness studio, a crystal laconium (with a room that combines steam treatment with colour therapy), a chakra therapy room and 14 treatment suites, nine of which have their own gardens. Additional facilities include underwater jacuzzi beds, showers that squirt differently scented waters (mint is best), and an ice cave for post-sauna chilling.

What's on the menu? Bajan Blue, which serves Mediterranean food all day long, is a godsend for sporty guests who've snapped up the chance to try every watersport under the sun. Formal French fare is available at L'Acajou.

Anything else we should know? Golfers have a choice of three courses at Sandy Lane, there's a kids club and a variety of boutiques selling designer gear at duty-free prices.

Orchid room from US$700 per night; ocean room from US$800; luxury ocean room from US$1,000; luxury orchid suite from US$1,200; dolphin suite from US$1,500; penthouse from US$3,200. St James, Barbados, tel: [001] 246 444 2000;