AFTERNOON TEA AT THE SANDY LANE HOTEL

AFTERNOON TEA AT THE SANDY LANE HOTEL

Scones, sandwiches and liquid sunshine.

Simon Cowell is a frequent annual guest. Rihanna is said to own a house but a stone’s throw away. Sandy Lane Hotel, Barbados. It’s palm-lined, powdery alabaster frontages play host as the backdrop to countless celebrity Xmas getaway ‘selfies’. Small armies of paparazzi are said to hide in its bushes. And the very name of the place would be top of a trending hit list if it only appeared over xmas.

I arrived outside the plush Bajan Blue club of the outrageously swanky Sandy Lane hotel only a few days into the new year. The island was just re-emerging from its heady daze after another wild NYE celebrations.

With all this in mind, you could forgive me for picturing myself milling amongst glamour. But it wasn’t to be the case. A band of cloud had drifted at speed in our direction, and soon the patting of a flash downpour had drowned out the slow lulling notes of Jimmy Buffett.

Not to be put off, I was directed to my table by a waitress named Shirlene who had a magnetic smile. She quipped jokes about the weather as I sat down excitedly, my head on a swivel, scoping the scene. “Liquid sunshine!” she cooed soulfully, busy laying the china for the spread ahead. I assured her that it wouldn’t be a true English afternoon tea without a spot of rain. She laughed in appreciation.

The website had described the Lower Terrace as an architectural design “styled to create the feeling of an amphitheatre.”

You can begin to forgive their decadent use of metaphor when you take in the surroundings. Everywhere was marble with low lighting that softened the bright symbolic shade of pink (the hotel’s colour) that splashed the chair cushions, parasols, and staff uniforms. Ahead of me, the Caribbean sea remained remarkably calm despite the storm.

At $90 (Bajan – about £35) I received a banquet of scones, macaroons, sandwiches and cakes. In truth, it seemed more like an art-installation. I felt like I was seated in front of an algorithm of Alice in Wonderland, with Shirlene my very own Mad Hatter. The colour was awash.

For a few more Bajan dollars you can attach caviar and rum to the order. I simply stuck to my hilariously eccentric mixture of champagne in one hand, fine china teacup pinky-fingered in the other. There is something breathlessly refreshing about taking afternoon tea in the Caribbean, even despite the rain, the tame heat that a January Caribbean provides is like a warm blanket, nothing too suffocating like the summer months – expect a steady 30 degrees.

When we were all stuffed, Shirlene and co swiftly cleared away the table. Shortly before leaving, we were led on a quick tour. We strolled by the Green Monkey bar, a famous haunt where the rich and famous are said to let down more than their hair. Sweeping up the grand staircase we savoured the views of a staggering sunset. The clouds had cleared just in time and nature was posing, it seemed, just for me.

Upon leaving, Shirlene flashed one final infectious smile as another waitress arrived with a pink carrier bag emblazoned with the hotel name and logo. Inside were several equally impressive designer pink cake boxes more befitting of holding expensive watches within than our paltry leftovers.

Still, despite not rubbing shoulders with stars, at least I got a mightily impressive beach bag!

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