Surrounded by happy people
Matching guests with the excursion that suits their budget is just one of the things that makes Vaida Blades’ job so rewarding.
Vaida runs the Activities Centre at Coconut Court Beach Hotel - she's the go-to person for advice about things to do on Barbados - and is married to Ted Blades, son of hotel founder Charlie and owner of Ted’s Tours.
“For a small island Barbados has so much to offer,” said Vaida, who is originally from Lithuania. “Sometimes people have a smaller budget. If they don’t want a taxi or a tour guide, there’s always a local bus to places like Hunte’s Gardens, Welchman Hall Gully or Harrison’s Cave.”
Love blossomed on tour
She’s had a few unusual requests over the 13 years she's been on Barbados. “Guests who got married here 30 years ago wanted me to find the minister who carried out the original service," she said. "I tracked him down and they all got together and renewed their vows. It was lovely.”
Among the most popular things to do is the catamaran tour where guests sail along the west coast and swim with turtles. The dinner show at Harbour Lights and Ted’s Tours is up there too - it was while on a tour as a guest that love blossomed and she met her husband Ted Blades.
Contact with guests
One of Vaida’s favourite activities is Hike Barbados, organised by the Barbados National Trust. It’s popular with locals and free, though a small donation at the end is appreciated to cover the organisers’ costs.
“There are two hikes on a Sunday, one at 6am which I prefer or one in the afternoon. When they go over to the Codrington area of the island on the east coast… that’s just so beautiful.” And her favourite attraction? Hunte’s Gardens in St Joseph.
It’s the contact with guests that she really enjoys. Working at Coconut Court means Vaida is surrounded by happy people.
“I love meeting people, listening to their stories and it’s great to see them return to the island,” she said. “When I see them back again, it makes me think “where has the time gone?””
You can book your excursions through Vaida – she doesn’t charge a fee or a mark-up. This also has the advantage that any activity booked in advance with Vaida can be cancelled.
You’ll find Vaida in the Activities Centre, just above Cocos restaurant. Contact her via the hotel or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is https://www.barbados-funtours.com/.
Connnecting Hearts To Barbados
From Speightstown to the rugged east coast, Ted Blades loves to share Barbados.
But a trip with Ted’s Tours is not just about seeing the sights.
“It’s about about putting the people and the island together, helping them connect,” said Ted. “I want to make them part of the Barbados family – to connect their hearts to Barbados.”
Trip back in time
It’s no surprise that a trip on Ted’s Tours is often the highlight of people’s holiday – just check out Coconut Court’s TripAdvisor comments for proof of that.
Ted has been guiding tourists around Barbados for 36 years and set up Ted’s Tours 32 years ago.
He's part of the Blades family which has owned the hotel for more than four decades. Favourite stops include Speightstown in the north. “It's a trip back in time,” said Ted.
“Everything slows right down there… and that suits me just fine. I want people to go at that pace. I want them to slow down. We don’t do a really fast “zip” tour otherwise you don’t get to savour the flavour. I give people the chance to let Barbados soak in.”
Views and pews
You don’t have to beg Ted for a drink either. He makes a simple punch that everyone loves. And return guests are a feature of Ted’s Tours.
“I had a couple join me for their golden wedding anniversary. They’d also been on a tour with me for their silver!”
Other highlights include Cherry Tree Hill with its rugged coastal panorama and the historic St John's Church where some like to browse for souvenirs, some are mesmerised by the church and others just love the amazing views of the east coast.
Barbados - like a buffet
There's always plenty to explore here and you're not looking over your shoulder, he said. “There are lots of places with sun, sea and sand, but Barbados is special. It's just the right size, still quaint and it’s not so big that you can’t learn it. And of course the people are always smiling and welcoming."
People are central to Ted’s philosophy. He loves meeting clients and making their holiday unforgettable.
“I had a couple here last season. The wife told me they had to come on my tour… her son recommended it.” Turns out the son had been on Ted’s Tours 23 years ago and hadn’t stopped talking about it!
“The island is like a beautiful buffet,” Ted added. “Show people what there is and they’ll take what they want.”
To book a place on Ted's Tours speak to Vaida Blades in the Coconut Court activities centre or contact Ted on (+1 246) 262-8687. For more information go to www.tedstour.wixsite.com/tedstours.
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