Waking up one morning in a palatial three-bedroom abode in Port Ferdinand, Barbados, I found the view deliciously mind-boggling. From the grand oceanfront terrace, there was electric-blue Caribbean sea, a 120-berth marina and lustrous white yachts. But the windows on the other side of my unit told an altogether different tale: Here were simple chattel houses and far-off sugarcane fields swaying in the breeze—a typical snapshot, in other words, of rural Barbados. Humble or haughty? Depends which side I peered from.
“Yep, sounds like Barbados,” affirmed Randy, an affable bartender at the resort, when I shared my observation. “We got plenty of both, that’s for true.”
That, for true, is why I love the posh-yet-still-down-home island that is Barbados—I never miss its annual Carnival celebration, Crop Over—and why I’ve had my eye on Port Ferdinand from the moment I heard of its construction, five years ago. Possibly the most significant development to debut in Barbados in over a decade, the luxury marina property was literally carved into land and rock, creating a stunning oasis in the heart of a bucolic parish, St. Peter. It’s just ten minutes up the road from the tony parish of St. James, home to feted West Coast properties like Sandy Lane, but it feels altogether different—in the best possible way: Exit the gates of Port Ferdinand and you will, quite happily, be reminded of exactly where you are. The closest town is historic Speightstown, a small fishing village known as “Little Bristol,” home to a beloved local fruit market and charming traditional storefronts.
Hitting the market in January, the 32 units representing phase one of Port Ferdinand—all but two have three bedrooms; phase two will feature 14 three- and four-bedroom units—are available for ownership or holiday rental. They boast a villa-style experience with all the amenities of a resort: concierge, restaurant, spa, kids club, pool, top-notch gym, personal training services and more. The concept is simple: a full-service home-away-from-home for yacht owners—or yacht lovers, like me.
Indeed my unit did feel like a home—a supremely luxurious one. My state-of-the-art kitchen was stocked with groceries, beckoning me to make eggs and bacon in the morning. The décor was my aesthetic to a tee: modern and minimalist with the limestone-esque walls, wood accents and rounded high arches evoking traditional Barbadian architecture. Owners are offered one of four modish design schemes, and they’ll discover, as I did, that size indeed matters: I was awed by the spaciousness of my unit until I laid eyes on the mammoth Penthouse suite, which has a wet bar, tiled hot tub and a balcony that seems to go on for miles, offering a bird’s-eye view of the entire marina.
Reader, I confess: I spent far too much time at the property’s Quarterdeck Bar & Pizzeria. Blame it on the otherworldly pool, suspended in the midst of an azure sea. Or blame it on Randy. He was good company; he helped me learn the rules of rugby, playing on the big-screen TV behind the bar; he served me jerk-chicken salad and freshly made pizzas with servings of local Mount Gay Rum.
Because I was too busy luxuriating at the pool I did not play pool in the game room or try my hand at golf, via the high-tech golf simulator. I eschewed available water sports like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or snorkeling. But I didn’t need to snorkel in order to catch a glimpse of one of Barbados’s most famous inhabitants; I spotted gorgeous local sea turtles from the plush perch of my balcony every morning.
When I finally extracted myself from the pool deck, I went looking for the property’s beach. I strolled down the long marina, exited a side gate, turned left and voila! Here was a sliver of sand where locals were taking a dip and a woman was chopping coconut branches on the shore. I plunged into the water, only to find three men in uniform beckoning me.
“No, no ma’am,” called one of them. “Not this beach. You want the other beach. The Port Ferdinand beach. Come, come—I just clean it this morning. It perfect.”
Quite content with my current swimming situation, I nonetheless heeded the man’s orders and thus discovered the beach on the right, which was indeed petite, pristine and perfect—and all mine for the afternoon.
After a magical sunset, Veronica laid her healing hands on me. At Port Ferdinand’s newly opened Sandbox Tree Spa—overlooking a tropical ravine, it’s nestled in a tropical gorge—the emphasis is on holistic and Ayurvedic methods, using the organic Bamford body line. Veronica displayed my options: The Bamford Body Signature Treatment combines Shiatsu, Meridian and Swedish massage; the Post-Race Recovery Legs massage was an attractive option for this exercise fanatic; the Bamford Jade Hot and Cold Stone Treatment was ideal for inducing balance and peace. Or perhaps exfoliation, or a facial? Opting for the signature massage, I exited the boutique spa sans any and all tension, muscles loose and spirit relaxed.
Port Ferdinand is the second UNNA Luxury Resorts and Residences on Barbados, and before leaving I paid a visit to the older one, Saint Peter’s Bay Luxury Resort & Residences. Guests can enjoy the amenities of the two resorts, which adds up to the best of both worlds: An idyllic 15-minute water taxi ride led to a traditional beach resort, complete with lush grounds, lagoon pool and a newly expanded gazebo and deck. Soon enough, though, I found myself missing my marina perch—a sure sign that Port Ferdinand had, officially, won me over. PortFerdinand.com
Travel to Barbados in style thanks to JetBlue’s new Mint all-business service launching from New York’s JFK Airport this November. Jetblue.com. Port Ferdinand’s Platinum Service then whisks visitors through immigration and customs.