Gluten-Free Travel: Barbados

Welcome to Gluten-Free Finder’s first travel blog!

Author: Lisa Triggs, Media Director, Gluten-Free Food Program

For our first gluten-free travel blog, we are featuring The Crane Resort, Barbados. If you appreciate architecture and just want to relax, or are travelling with others, the Crane is the perfect place to go. We should also mention that it is not an all inclusive resort, but they do offer breakfast packages when you book directly with the resort. For this trip we wanted to experience Barbados great local restaurants, beaches and activities. We booked rooms with a full kitchen so that we could prepare some of our own meals. The resort is about a 10 minute drive from a big grocery store, so we took a taxi into town for items to have on hand.

The Property

As the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Caribbean, the property began as a private residence and was transformed into The Crane Hotel, in 1887. The site of a small commercial port in the mid 18th century, it was known the the raising and lowering of cargo by crane so the surrounding district assumed the name, The Crane.

The Crane Resort sits on 40 acres of seaside property with stunning views of the Southeast coast of Barbados. The sand has a pinkish hue and is some of the finest we’ve seen! To our surprise, the sand did not get hot in the afternoon sun!

The Crane Resort, Barbados

The Rooms

Like most resorts, the rooms are divided into categories like ocean view, garden view and pool view. This time of year is busy, so for our 10 day stay, we had to book two different rooms. For the first week, we were in a one bedrooom garden deluxe with rooftop pool. Then for the remaining three days, we moved to a one bedroom garden with pool. Both were very spacious rooms that are decorated in the old world charm of the original hotel. They featured four poster beds and dark wood finishes. The rooftop pool area was large with an outdoor kitchen. It was a unique space for private sun bathing, quiet time to ourselves and an intimate BBQ for two.

The second room with the garden pool was surrounded by lush tropical plants and trees. The pool was larger than the rooftop pool, but, both were a nice option to have for a day of private relaxation.

The Staff

As former members of the Commonwealth, Bajans (local Barbadians) speak English. We were impressed that when we mentioned gluten-free and celiac disease, the staff understood what we meant, double checked if they weren’t sure about ingredients and offered alternative options that could be made gluten-free if needed. There was also a dedicated fryer, which made us feel that they knew what they were doing.

The Restaurants

We dined at all of the restaurants on the resort but we had two stand out for us. Our favorite restaurant was easily Zen, Japanese and Thai cuisine. There were quite a few gluten-free options and they had gluten-free soya sauce, which we were happily surprised at. Restaurants and resorts hardly ever have gluten-free soya sauce, so we purchased some travel packets and bring them with us when we travel.

Zen offers a variety of gluten-free sushi, sushimi and Asian dishes to choose from, so it’s easy to find something that suits your palate.

Rainbow Sushi Roll

If you prefer Italian, D’Onofrio’s Trattoria menu provides delicious gluten-free pasta dishes and steaks. We ate at D’Onofrio’s and Zen twice during our stay. They impressed us again by having gluten-free bread to dip in oil and vinegar.

Don’t Forget The Dessert

If there’s one thing that my husband cares about when we travel, it’s dessert! He enjoys having a full gluten-free dining experience where he can order an appetizer, main and of course, dessert. He often checks the dessert section of a menu first to gauge how his dining experience will be.

Though we did not list L’Azure as a favorite restaurant for the main dishes, it did offer a warm, soft, flourless chocolate cake! We went there twice for it, need I say more?

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Things To Do

Each night entertainment was provided at Bar 1887 showcasing the talented musicians and singers that Barbados has. It is a place to gather with friends to have some food, a few drinks, or meet some new friends and listen to local musicians.

The resort has various dining activities that you can take part in, in addition to just dining out. The Crane offers a BBQ night at The Grove Beach Bar & Grill, a seafood night at L’Azure and a managers reception on Monday evenings for your enjoyment.

Water Excursions

One of the things that we enjoy to do when we travel to a new place, is go on a Catamaran snorkeling excursion. There are a variety to choose from at The Crane conceirge desk. We chose to go on an El Tigre 5 hour excursion that included two sunken ships, snorkeling with turtles and lunch. We asked the conceirge to advise them that we needed a gluten-free meal and it was no issue. My husbands meal was wrapped separately, in its own container and contained local grilled fish with potatoes. There was also leafy salad that he was able to have. And rum punch! Lots of rum punch! It was a great day and we had a great time!

About Town

We took the resort shuttle to a local beach club called Harbour Lights Barbados on the other side of the island and it was amazing! An umbrella and two chairs were included, we paid for our own drinks and lunch. The perfect place to snorkel and search for sea turtles! A Crane representative stayed with us at the beach and took care of all of The Crane guests, He helped us navigate a gluten-free lunch as well as our drinks for the day. That was a nice touch!

On our second trip to the beach, we decided to stay and go for a local beachside dinner. We enjoyed a great meal and view at Lobster Alive Restaurant. Gluten-Free dining was no issue. We enjoyed steak, lobster and a gluten-free dessert! Barbados is on the pricer side, so learn what the conversion is from Bajans dollars to U.S. dollars.

Don’t Forget The Rum (Tour)

Anxious to try locally produced rum, we went on a tour of Foursquare Rum Distillary Rich in history, Foursquare is one of only a few distillaries in Barbados that are still owned by Bajans. Following the tour, we enjoyed a rum tasting and did our part to support the local economy, leaving with a bottle in hand and a skip in our step.

After 10 days we were rested, sunned, rummed and headed home with a love for Barbados. We added Barbados to our list of places that we will visit again on our gluten-free travels, for its kind people and beautiful shores.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and are for informational purposes only.

The Crane has become a large residence property, so you might be able to find listings to stay there through current owners, Hilton Grand Vacations and others, which may be more cost effective than booking direct and paying by the night.