So many guests over the years have asked me about how my family acquired Coconut Court and how long we have owned the business, so I thought it was about time that I wrote a ‘family tree’ of the Blades family and the hotel for everybody. I hope that I have not left anything out. Happy reading….
My dad, Charlie Blades was born and raised in Barbados. In the 1950’s he moved to Nassau, in the Bahamas, with his brother Philip. There he met my Mum, Lorraine and her sister Beverly from Ontario, Canada. It was not long before Charlie and Lorraine were married. Their eldest son, my brother James was born in Nassau in 1964. Shortly after James was born they decided to pack up their belongings and move back to Barbados where my father found work as a ‘tour rep,’ welcoming visitors to Barbados.
Now, those of you that are acquainted with my Dad would know what a ‘larger than life’ character he is. With a lot of hard work and effort Mum and Dad purchased an old Barbadian home on the beach which my parents renovated into a sixteen room guest house with beach bar. They named it, “White Sands” and it was located in St. Lawrence Gap. This work was accomplished with help from Mrs. Vera Worrell (my honorary Grandmother) who ran the Front Desk. Auntie Vera was born in Prussia (modern-day Germany) and moved to Barbados when she married her second husband, Elmer Worrell, cousin to the first Prime Minister of Barbados, Sir Errol Walton Barrow. My parents also employed one bartender; George Ashby, one cook; Ermentha Weekes and one waitress; Claudine Waithe. Their first White Sands guests were Ray and Doris Ritter from Detroit Michigan, USA and Ray and Marge Beemer from Windsor Ontario, Canada.
The family had grown by that time to include my brothers,Ted and Mark (the twins), my sister Beverly and me. With such a large family to support, my Dad continued moonlighting as a tour rep to bring in extra money. One of the hotels that my Dad would rep regularly was a South Coast hotel in Hastings, Christ Church named, The Coconut Court. The hotel was owned by an eccentric Englishman named Mr. Happy Apthorpe who owned Beecham frozen foods in the UK.
Mr. Apthorpe took a liking to my Dad and as he was ready to retire and return to his native England, he asked my Dad if he would like to purchase the hotel. Mr. Apthorpe was eager to sell the hotel so that he could return home so he offered to sell Coconut Court to some other folks as well and a heated court case ensued. My parents, with the help of Sir Harold Bernard “Bree” St. John (Prime Minister of Barbados 1985-1986) won that court case and became rightful owners of Coconut Court Beach Hotel in 1975. The rest they say is history!
Sadly, my parents divorced in 1985 but my Mum Lorraine continues to live in Barbados so that she can remain close to her five children and her ten grandchildren (Jack, Katie, Ben, Kia, Nelson, Lance, Lee, Scarlett, Laurence and Kimberly). My dad, Charlie officially retired in 1995 and lives with his wife Jean (renowned artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia) at their home on the island where he enjoys fishing, playing the guitar, reading and listening to country music.
Coconut Court is a labour of love. The family tradition started by our parents so many years ago of offering clean, affordable accommodation with friendly and fun service still continues to this day. There have been lots of sweat and tears along the way but plenty of laughter and good times too. We have made some wonderful friends over the years and my family and our dedicated team of staff continue to welcome guests to our hotel from all over the world. Thank you everybody.