Media Article: Warrington Post
I HAVE to admit, I am nervous. Uncharacteristically so, writes Katie Wright.
I will happily belt out Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody to a pub full of strangers without hesitation when karaoke is on offer. But at 10am on a Monday morning, standing alongside 14 other choir newbies at The Club myself quivering in anticipation, even though there’s no audience in sight.
This is the first of our four daily sessions, a preview of the choir workshop that will be launched this year as part of the resort’s allinclusive offering, led by British vocal coach Mike King and wife Carol.
Within minutes, my nerves have melted away, as Mike, who’s worked with the likes of Boy George and Florence Welch, eases us in gently with a few warm-ups.
Next, we’re split into four sections and get straight to work on Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. I had been dreading some kind of strict, Simon Cowell-esque instructor, but Mike is warm, energetic and encouraging.
I’m amazed at how quickly we pick up our respective parts and start to sound pretty good (if I do say so myself). Within two hours we’ve also mastered the basics of Bob Marley’s reggae classic One Love.
On day two, we tackle Rockin’ Robin and Rihanna ballad Stay (naturally we had to include one of the Bajan pop princess’ ditties), tuning before we perform our four song set for guests in the Club’s main bar.
But why, you might ask, would you want to spend two hours a day indoors when you have flown 4,000 miles to bask on a sun-drenched Caribbean island?
“It’s been written about a lot, how sining benefits people physically and mentally,” Mike says. “I’ve had people come to Barbados who are suffering from bereavement and they leave feeling energised, because they’ve got something off their chest.
“It’s good to let that emotion out.”
I couldn’t agree more. I thought the rehearsals might feel like a chore, but they fly by, and my fellow singers and I can really feel the mood-boosting endorphins flowing.
“We don’t take it too seriously,” Mike adds, “But at the same time, I want people to improve and feel like they’ve achieved something at the end. And they’ve still got time to relax.”
They certainly have. I spend half my afternoons reclining on a lounger in the resort’s lush, bougainvillea-filled gardens, the other half discovering what the rest of Barbados has to offer.
The island was unscathed by the hurricanes that hit other parts of the Caribbean last year, but its east coast is continuously battered by strong Atlantic currents, so swimming is out of the question.
The west side is where the best beaches are found. According to Barbadian law, not a single square inch of sand is allowed to be privately owned, no matter how many million dollars you spend on real estate.
Every beach has to be publicly accessible, even the bay in front of the uber-expensive Sandy Lane resort (just round the corner from where I’m staying), where Rihanna is rumoured to have a holiday home.
Take a taxi 10 minutes down the coast to Gibbes Bay instead, which is reached via an un-signposted track found next to a house called Dudley Wood.
The stony path may not look promising, but at the end of it, you’ll find the calm, azure waters and a stunningly serene stretch, the incredibly soft white sand framed by tropical foliage.
With no bars or cafes on this unspoilt cove – and no other sunbathers on the day I visited – you’ll have to bring a picnic, but elsewhere, the island has a lot to offer hungry holidaymakers.
For upmarket eats, book a table at the Lone Star Restaurant at Alleynes Bay (Simon Cowell loves their shepherd’s pie, apparently) or for relaxed fare, head to Oistin’s fishing village on the south coast.
I would have thought the Caribbean was a bit far to go to join a choir, but after a magical seven days in paradise, topped off with an exhilarating swan song, I can safely say I’ve changed my tune.