EVER SWUM IN AN AQUARIUM? WELL, NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!
Just a few metres off the beach, Coconut Court Beach Hotel has a small lagoon with 18 reef balls providing a sanctuary for fish.
A myriad of tiny fishes - and some big ones too - swim in and out of the structures which have been part of the hotel’s underwater architect since 2000.
They were installed just inside the breakwater by James and Mark Blades, members of the family which runs the south coast hotel.
Too fast for the camera
The tiny French angelfish, with its yellow stripes against a black body was camera shy and one of a kind, although it swam with a shoal of silvery jacks.
Unlike the inquisitive red fish with its big eyes. It was very interested in the tiny hand held camera.
Blue tang and silver jacks moved around in shoals. Others sought the safety and privacy inside the reef balls, occasionally glancing out to see what all the fuss was about.
The beautiful Sergeant Major with his tell-tale stripes was fairly common and easily identifiable.
And there was a large parrotfish which escaped the camera, moving too fast and unwilling to pose, but darting in and out of the reef balls and the breakwater. You may also see spotted eagle rays and turtles, especially the critically-endangered Hawksbill, for which Barbados has become famous.
There are some that still need to be identified… Just who is that red fellow with the bulging eyes?
Conservation in action
Fortunately there was no sign in the Coconut Court reef balls of the lionfish, the foreign predator which lunches on the reef fish of Barbados. Despite its poisonous spines, it has become a tasty snack on the island, so watch out for it at local restaurants.
While it’s a chance for guests to get off the sun lounger and explore the sea, the reef balls serve a greater purpose. Reef fish in Barbados are under threat so this is a great chance to see conservation in action.
So next time you visit Coconut Court Beach Hotel, don’t forget your mask and snorkel!
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ANTONIO'S SECRET? HAVE MORE FUN THAN YOUR CUSTOMERS!
Antonio Gilkes – bartender extraordinaire – is a hard man to interview.
If he's not cracking jokes or cleaning the bar, he's running up and down the beach delivering ice cold beer and cocktails to hotel guests who are soaking up the sun. Did we mention that he knows everybody’s name?
Awkward? Who, me?
Antonio says he was a “shy and awkward” teenager.
One night, he visited a friend who was working as a bartender at a local nightclub.
As Antonio watched, he quickly realised that his friend knew everybody in the place and they knew him!
“He was having the time of his life!” Antonio said. He decided there and then that he wanted to meet people and have fun.
No two ways about it that meant becoming a bartender too!
Antonio loves his office!
Antonio has been running Captain Charlie’s Beach Bar at Coconut Court Beach Hotel for more than 10 years. He's happily married with a nine year-old-son. Among the things that he say that he loves most about his job are meeting guests and making friends from all over the world, his working hours (the perfect mix - not too early and not too late) and of course, the view from his “office window”. Life’s a beach right?
Working at the beach
But Antonio takes his job very seriously. “It’s important to anticipate people’s needs," he said. “The secret is to have more fun than your customers – you have to love people to do this job well.” He added: “To be able to do this job and to hang out at the beach all day…who wouldn’t love it?”