A stay at a colourful, soothing and creatively infused luxury resort is exactly what the doctor ordered me, a normally gregarious extrovert who, like so many people, has been psychologically impacted by the pandemic. Sure, you might say, there is an overabundance of pampering luxury hotels, offering guests a sense of peace as well as a myriad of activities to satisfy those (like me) looking for learning experiences and of physical activity. But, as an all-inclusive, the elegant O2 Beach Club and Spa challenges the very concept, embodying all of these characteristics, while employing friendly staff members who genuinely care about guests, know how they like their iced lattes in the morning and, perhaps most importantly, spontaneously strike up conversations during the day to find out how your day is going and if they could do anything to make it better. After staying here, I felt recharged, both physically and mentally, with a sense of optimism and joy that I hadn’t felt during the entire pandemic. And, now, it makes perfect sense for the property to be called O2 – an essential – because a holiday here is essential to your well-being, as it was to mine.

Immediately after arriving at this 130-room property that overlooks the pristine white sands of Dover Beach – a nesting ground for sea turtles at certain times of the year – I found the visual sensory delights captivating, whether the ubiquitous tangerine and bright pink hues of beach umbrellas, plush, ultra-wide cushions and loungers, or contemporary art and design details that provide a creative thread. These – and other things, including the carefully prepared cuisine – are a celebration of this vibrant island. And, while this property’s footprint is relatively compact, the O2 Beach Club and Spa felt quite expansive, thanks to the variety of bars (seven), pools (three), restaurants (five), and other places to relax.

To stay

The bright Caribbean sun streaming into my large oceanfront suite in the Luxury collection – adults only, and one of three collections – lifted my spirits. And a bountiful hot pink rug with the shape, patterns and vibrant colors of a hibiscus flower made me smile every time I laid eyes on it, as did a painting in bold hues showing the tentacles of a hibiscus. an octopus created by renowned local Sian Pampellone. artist who also painted the pastel seascape duo hanging in my room. (As an artist, I was delighted to learn that the art on the property includes works by established and emerging local creators.)

The headboard of the bed with a modern geometric interpretation of the veins of the palm leaf and the large silver-gilt mirrors in the hallways that take up the patterns of a banana leaf are part of the organic design theme that permeates the property and, for someone like me who thrives on a connection to nature, are balm for the soul.

To eat

Perched on the ninth floor with stunning water views, Gold (Spanish for “gold”) manages to convey fine dining in an understated, contemporary way. Of course, there’s plenty of marble as well as golden chandeliers, finishes, and wall designs, some in the shape of palm leaves. But, it all feels wonderfully minimalist as it’s the food that takes center stage, with a menu that includes both seasonal and local specialties, such as grilled lobster tail, seared snapper and filet mignon.

Take a close look at the decor, architecture and location of Elements and you will understand the name. After all, this open-air restaurant is bathed in earth tones, it faces the sea as well as a fire pit that glows at night, and on the rooftop above is the sun terrace (representing the element, air) with its twin jacuzzis, lounge chairs and daybeds. In other words, just as the ancient Greeks believed that four elements (air, water, fire, and earth) made up everything in the world, Elements is central to this concept that pervades property.

While other guests simply and naturally enjoyed the cuisine, such as a wild cream crimini mushroom feuilletine that was not only delicious but looked like a work of art, I was also drawn to, what else, but design features that are inspired by natural materials, such as wood, stone and metal. A long row of cast metal leaves is an industrial 3D art installation along one wall of the restaurant, while in the adjoining lounge bar is a contemporary hand-painted mural of fish, representing the element of water . Even the raku-type porcelain plates seem to be forged from natural materials.

Drink and chill

Once the elevator doors opened on the eighth-floor rooftop, revealing Broken (Portuguese for the word “breeze”), I felt like I could touch the clouds. I turned to this peaceful enclave for tapas and alfresco drinking each evening to take in the panoramic sea views, the twinkling lights of Oistins Bay on the south coast of Barbados, and the phenomenal sunsets. One wall displays a hand-painted plan of a sailing ship and, in keeping with the nautical theme, small blue and white ceramic plates are intricately detailed, each displaying elements such as a one-masted ship, a compass or an octopus .

With so many options for lounging and snacking at Brisa, including daybeds, poolside lounge chairs, a contemporary wooden rocker, and even two comfy wooden hanging chairs, I checked them all out, preferring watch the full moon, listen to the surf and enjoy the light breeze from the vantage point of a daybed where every day I ordered a different range of delicious tapas. Among my favorites: the crab cakes with corn salsa; chicken nuggets and sweet potatoes served with a remoulade; and crispy marinated mahi mahi cooked in a red lemon-honey pesto, all served in a small frying pan. Luckily, I saved room for the ever-changing array of equally scrumptious desserts, including pistachio sponge nougatine mousse, pistachio cream cake topped with blueberries, and banana/peach éclair.

be pampered

All spas offer a soothing retreat, but Aqua (the Italian word for “water”), the newly opened eighth-floor spa, so envelops the guest in the ocean theme that instilled a sense of rejuvenation in me. Muted gray and white marble predominates, allowing the sea to be the focal point. In fact, you are greeted by panoramic sea views from a multitude of windows.

In the lobby, a lovely 3D art installation depicts seaweed. Fittingly, given that oSea (Ocean, Sea, Earth, Atmosphere) is the premium, seaweed-based spa product line of choice. A modern coral sculpture sits atop a table near the relaxation room where lounge chairs overlook the sea, making it easy to drift into a state of serenity.

I savored my land and sea scrub, one of their signature treatments which is based on a moisturizing gel made from seaweed and sea salts from five different parts of the world. Don’t miss the spa’s hammam, the first on the island. And, if you’re vacationing with your partner, you’ll want to luxuriate in the spacious couples treatment room with its dual rainfall showerheads.

Playing

Although I traveled alone, the O2 Beach Club and Spa made it easy for me to meet other people while intimately connecting with the soul of Barbados by participating in fun and educational “Learn To” experiences. and how”. (These range from playing dominoes or blowing a conch shell to mindfulness training or learning to surf.) Not only did a bartender teach me the steps (and tricks) to making a margarita basic fail-safe in Margarita Madness class, but I also learned how to whip up a watermelon version, something that will come in handy with my margarita-loving friends. My outdoor acrylic course with Yasmin Vizcarrondo, a well-established painter, was particularly rewarding. Normally I work in watercolor and collage, but Yasmin’s fun, flexible and understated teaching style ensured that the two hours flew by as I was immersed in creating a colorful movable home while being sitting in the shade at a picnic table on the sands of Dover Beach. Could it be more perfect? I do not think so.