18 May 2024

Enjoy the sunset at Tamarind Cove
My Barbados love affair
The Footballer's Wives and former EastEnders actress, Gillian Taylforth, tells how she has fallen hopelessly for this jewel of the Caribbean.
See our offers to Barbados
View our hotels in Barbados
was love at first sight. Barbados captivated me the moment I first arrived - and every time I go back it’s the same. That first time I stayed at the Buccaneer Bay Hotel on Paynes Bay. When I returned, with my daughter Jessica who was five at the time, I went to Crystal Cove. After that, a stroke of luck - the BBC Holiday Programme sent me back again and we stayed at the Tamarind Cove Hotel, which was truly fantastic. So when I had a chance to take a holiday recently I went back to the Tamarind Cove with my partner Geoff, Jessica, who’s now 12, and my four-year-old son Harrison. It would be hard not to like the Tamarind: the people are delightful and so friendly.

The whole of the west coast of the island is, as far as I’m concerned, simply the most perfect place for a family holiday. The sea is a perfect temperature at any time of year. The children like it because it is so safe. On the west side, the Caribbean side of Barbados, the sea is flat calm. While pools are fine, I love to see them swimming in the sea. There’s a floating platform just off the beach that you can swim out to; Harry and Jessie were swimming to it all the time and diving off into the sea.
Enjoy the white sand beach at Tamarind Cove
It’s just so wonderful and safe. A holiday for me is family time - Barbados attracts a lot of celebrities but I don’t go to meet up with anybody famous. We just enjoy meeting other people who are staying at the hotel. I do get recognised; people come up and say: ‘Hello, it’s nice to meet you’.
Tamarind Cove is great for family holidays
"The whole of the west coast of the island is, as far as I’m concerned, simply the most perfect place for a family holiday. "
Whoever comes up to talk often has children, so our kids talk to their kids and you all end up chatting away, which I love. Over the years we’ve met some great people - families we’ve ended up getting to know while we’re there and having dinner with. The times we’ve been to Tamarind Cove the hotel has run a children’s programme. Our children say: ‘Oh we’re not going to do that!’ Then three days later they’re racing in with the rest of the children and they end up loving it.

When I did the Holiday programme report, they took me all over the island. I really enjoyed going over to the eastern, Atlantic side of Barbados. The waves there are fantastic and it’s a great place for surfers. But when I’m on holiday, I really just want to go and relax and do nothing. You have to visit the capital, Bridgetown, though, which I really like. The way to get there is on one of the yellow buses - wherever you go you pay one Barbados dollar. In fact, you can go all over the island for a dollar.
It’s a real experience on the buses, with the reggae music blaring out. I like trying out different hotels and although we spent most of our stay at the Tamarind, for the first two nights we stayed at Turtle Beach. It’s a beautiful hotel. The England cricket team were staying there. I’m not much of a cricket fan and I didn’t know who they were (I’m more of an expert on Arsenal) but Geoff recognised them. Turtle Beach is on the south side of the island, where the sea isn’t as calm as on the west coast - although by way of compensation you do get lovely cool breezes. The hotel itself is wonderful: three swimming pools, gorgeous gardens - flawless and a great
place to stay. Is Barbados a Footballers’ wives sort of place? I suppose so, to be honest. Actually, I think a lot of footballers go to Dubai these days, but you certainly spot famous people in Barbados. When we were at the Tamarind we went on long walks. You can go right up the coast and the beach just goes on and on. We walked all the way to Sandy Lane hotel. And there, sitting on the beach, was Michael Winner!

There were stories in the papers about me being sunburnt while we were in Barbados. I’m usually really careful about the sun: I put on factor 25 and cover up. But one day I was just sitting talking to someone. I’d just come out of the sea and sat under an umbrella, but my arm must have been in the sun and I hadn’t put on sun cream, which wasn’t very clever of me. The paparazzi photographers got pictures of me being towed on one of those inflatable boats and falling off. We also went on a catamaran and went swimming with the turtles that was a super experience. When I was in EastEnders, going on holiday could be difficult. Suddenly turning up in the programme looking really brown would have been odd. So when I went away I always had to cover up and plaster on the factor 85. But with Footballers’ Wives, getting a tan has never been a problem.

When I was filming the ITV comedy, Jane Hall’s Big Bad Bus Ride, where I play the driver of a double-decker bus, they wanted me to have a suntan. The character I played was always on the sunbed. They used to airbrush the tan on - so they were pleased when I came back bronzed from Barbados. I don’t know where we’ll go for our next holiday. I’m hoping to get a week or two away from filming during the children’s school holiday. Perhaps we might even go back to Barbados - we feel we’re old hands now and we’re certain to have a brilliant time there.

Original article published in Apr 2006. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
"It’s a real experience on the buses, with the reggae music blaring out."
Your sumptuous room at Tamarind Cove
The pool at Turtle Bay
Enjoy great cuisine at Tamarind Cove
0330·100·2220i 0330 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. X 0330 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. X