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.
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!
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
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.