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The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Some say it’s the sea, others say it’s the sun but for one English couple, it’s the Bajan people that stole their hearts.

While Barbados offers many unique experiences, Gill and Mike Morris say it’s the good ole Bajan hospitality that has kept them coming back to the island’s shores time and time again.

The British couple, who has been together for over 50 years, first visited the island in 1984 and while they loved “the weather, the swimming and the heat”, they told Loop News that there was just something welcoming and special about Barbadians.

“The people are so friendly, everybody we have ever met is so nice,” Gill shared.

Happily recounting one of their initial visits to the island, the couple expressed how shockingly refreshing it was to just be greeted by persons who randomly passed them on the streets. Gill recalled how struck she was the first time. She turned to Mike to ask whether he knew the individuals speaking to them because it was not something they would have been accustomed to in their hometown.

For Mike, one of his fondest memories of the island’s warm hospitality was visiting a lifeguard station on one of the island’s beaches he frequented. He didn’t visit for approximately three years and being absolutely blown away when one of the lifeguards inquired how he had been and called him by name!

“I love that too. For us, Bajan people are some of the best we have ever met anywhere and they are so special to us. Everywhere we go, we feel so relaxed, and they’re just so friendly, we love them,” he chimed in fondly, while light-heartedly mentioning that he feels like an honorary Bajan now.

The fun-loving couple was among those hosted during the Loyal Visitors and Friends of Barbados cocktail reception at Ilaro Court on Friday evening. The visitors were all being recognised and honoured for their numerous trips to the island.

Mike and Gill Morris at the Loyal Visitors and Friends of Barbados cocktail reception at Ilaro Court

During the two-hour reception, the pleasant duo took the time to share memorable anecdotes about their 40-year love affair with Barbados, which amounted to approximately 19 visits to the island.

“We stayed at the Barbados Windsurfing Club which is now Butterfly Beach. Then we moved to the Sheridan which is now part of Sea Breeze [Hotel] and then we decided to go self-catering. Then we have one year at a beautiful place called Peach and Quiet which has now been sold,” Gill recalled.

She shared for their last seven to eight visits that they have been staying at Inch Cape Seaside Villas.

“We love the food, the fish is always good,” Gill gushed, explaining: “In England, we don’t eat so much fish, a lot of it is imported, here we know that most of it is [freshly caught].”

Mike, who loved to windsurf said: “I know you don’t have enough flying fish now, that’s a sad thing because when I used to windsurf here, hundreds would come out of the water as I approached them and they would end up around my feet, all flapping and now you never see them.”

Although the couple had a varied litany of things they loved about the island, they agreed on the one thing they saw creeping over the years that they disliked – the beach umbrellas.

“We don’t like the beach umbrellas. I have to say, that’s the only thing that we think is going backward because they are starting to look like a beach in Spain and I don’t like that,” Mike lamented.

“I want it to be more natural and I want to see fewer hotels and more people enjoying the fantastic restaurants you’ve got. That’s something that’s going to keep Barbados alive because it’s got all that fun and vitality. People enjoy themselves in so many good restaurants,” he added.

When questioned about their favourite place to dine on the island they both nodded and smiled in unison before Mike said, “That’s easy – Harlequin in the Gap.”

The couple hopes to continue visiting for as long as they can and when asked whether any family members accompany them on any of their many visits here, they knowingly looked at each other before spontaneously laughing in unison, after which Mike light-heartedly quipped: “No, we come here to have a good time!”

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