NEWS: Barbados – what it’s like there now, new rapid 3 hour PCR test at Heathrow & new Hilton points offer

Barbados

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Barbados – what it’s like there now

You may remember that I went to Barbados last year and loved it. You can read all about my trip here, but be advised protocols have changed since then if you are vaccinated. You need to take a test before departure and on arrival but no longer need to quarantine for 5 days like unvaccinated people do, just until the results. 

Reader Simon wrote in to share his recent experience arriving in Barbados. Barbados is on the green watchlist. 

Barbados is very much open – albeit with travel restrictions. 6 jets on the tarmac when we arrived! Air Canada, JetBlue, Caribbean Airways, LIAT  and our BA777- all disembarking pretty much at the same time- GROAN!

Without going into all the travel regs- which I’m sure readers will be aware of – PCR before, double vaxed, download the app etc, U.K. visitors who meet this have to self-isolate at their accommodation until airport tests results come through.

Last year when we came the plane was empty and our transit through the airport took no more than an hour.

BA at Bridgetown airport

Yesterday with all the arrivals I heard that processing through everything can take up to four hours. Just imagine missing out on your first rum punch and your first Caribbean sunset!

So, being the travel savvy person I am, we booked Platinum Services Arrival Concierge. With no exaggeration we were through the airport, escorted by a lovely host, in 30 minutes- including a visit to the nurse to perform the deepest swab ever! The queues looked horrendous for those who hadn’t booked, including those travellers in First Class who looked very miffed!

I’m now sitting drinking my coffee overlooking the beach and the results are back already, a 12 hour turnaround time. We are now free to go to the beach.

There seem to be a number of arrivals concierges at Bridgetown. I would wholeheartedly recommend the £65 per person spend!

I used Five Star when I visited last year and there is also Carib airlines that provide the airport concierge services. 

 

New rapid 3 hour PCR test at Heathrow

PCR tests for travel are always a slightly nerve racking experience. What happens if something goes wrong and you don’t get the results in time? What happens if the results are inconclusive? Before getting a rapid PCR test was very difficult and also very expensive. Last year same day PCR tests were costing £500!

So it’s good to have a new option should something go wrong and you need a PCR test in a hurry. The good news is, it’s not even that expensive. At £95 for a PCR test it’s only just above the average price anyway. It’s accepted by many destinations but check with Collinson before booking if you are not sure. 

The test is only available at the new Collinson Travel Test Centre at Heathrow, Cardinal Point, Newall Road, TW6 2BP. The centre is open 7am-7pm.

If you are struggling to find the right Covid test for travel (especially trying to use the awful government list), your best bet is to use a comparison site such as Covid Testing Network. They can sort by things such as location, type of test and price. 

 

New Hilton points offer

Waldorf Astoria Maldives

At the moment, I would never ever buy points except when an offer is on, since they seem to be almost continuous. For the latest Hilton Honors offer you need to purchase a minimum of 15,000 points by 30 September 2021 to qualify for the 100% bonus. As usual, the maximum you can buy is 160,000 points per calendar year. This gives you a total of 320,000 points for $1600 which is equivalent to ~£1164.

The question remains the same – should you buy? For topping up to make a redemption then it’s a good time with a 100% bonus which is the most Hilton gives at the moment. However, for buying rather than paying cash for a property it will depend on the points and cash prices of the property. Points prices are dynamic so only buy points just before you plan to book or you may find that the price has gone up by 3 or 4 times as the standard redemptions have sold out.

Also, look at how busy the hotel is for your dates. For example, for very popular hotels on points you have to book a year in advance to get the standard redemption rates. 

Many top end hotels cost from 95-120,000 a night for a standard redemption. So at best you will get 3 nights from £1164 of points. So you need to make sure that the hotel costs more than around £400 a night to make it worthwhile on a 3 nights stay as an absolute minimum. Consider that if you decide to cancel for some reason, then you are stuck with a load of very expensive points which would not be the case if you booked on a refundable cash rate. 

You can find the Hilton buy points page here. 

4 Comments on "NEWS: Barbados – what it’s like there now, new rapid 3 hour PCR test at Heathrow & new Hilton points offer"

  1. I was going to BGI in a few weeks, but not fully double vaxxed so moved to February, without a doubt this part was well worth me reading…. “So, being the travel savvy person I am, we booked Platinum Services Arrival Concierge.” was it the 1hr $55 service you booked, and is that per person including children?

  2. What a great article- very informative. The big issue for the travel industry right now is testing. I’m now retired but I worked my entire career in this incredible industry at Board level. Many of my friends are running tour operators and airlines at the moment and they know, as we all do that testing is an obstacle preventing people from travelling. All of them are in DIRE straits. Until it is absolutely clear that we will forever have to test pre departure or return to the U.K., I, like many, will be staying put and I hate to say this when travel has been in my veins for 40 years.

  3. Sounds more like a trip to a prison camp. Test before you go, tests when you get there, confined to approved hotel, G4S prisoner style tag, approved transport providers, yet another “app”. And pay handsomely for the privilege, even having to pay extra to get through the airport in less than 4 hrs.

    I’ve been to most of the Caribbean islands and enjoyed them very much for their laid back atmosphere – this is not that!

    It’s not a holiday and I won’t be going. I hope the operators survive but I doubt they will.

  4. Just back from Barbados, I can’t emphasise enough the need to book private testing on arrival. The airport waiting room has no air-con and the procedure process was a mess. Despite having everything on the Barbados government app, everything was being manually written down and it took hours. Also while we were lucky and got results in just under 24 hours, other hotel guests had longer wait times and even people who were travelling together were receiving their results hours apart, sometimes even on different days.

    Other than that a great holiday and people are still as laid back and as friendly as ever. However they are taking their procedures such as mask wearing, temperature checking and hand sanitation extremely seriously.

    Finally do go to the airport earlier on return, limited check in desks for all classes meant that it only took a few people with the wrong documents for retuning to the U.K. to cause havoc. We were in the business check-in queue for well over an hour with similar wait times in first and economy queues.

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