Oh my goodness where to begin....? To start off with, my guidebook of Trinidad and Tobago did NOTHING to warn me of this place, by all accounts it sounded okay and the website doesn't really give much info. Well, I am here to give ya the 411, folks. This place is bad. Real bad.
I am NOT a picky traveller. Basic is fine with me. Spartan is dandy. But spartan AND dirty are not. Should have known something was up when we walked in the lobby and IMMEDIATELY smelled water damage -- really strong, like the place had been flooded or something. Got to our first room with carpet and unfortunately, the place smelled of urine and mold. My fiancee and I looked around in amazement and I said "Dude, this is like, border-line crackhouse".
Got out my handy-dandy guide book again and noticed that the hotel had been built in 1940. Well, yep. It was built in 1940 and has apparently had very little upkeep or updates since then. And trust you me, it was not 1940's in a cool, retro way. It was 1940's in a skank way.
So, we went back to the lobby and I tried to diplomatically say "Well, see-- our room smells off . Can we try a different one?" My fiancee broke in (never one to mince words) and said "quite honestly, it's horrible." We were then showed a pool-view room, which was marginally better, mostly due to the fact that there was tile in the room instead of carpet, which got rid of the pee/mold aroma. The mattresses were terrible, to put it plainly, but my fiancee and I did manage to sleep after a vigorous hike to Rio Seco waterfall and swim in the cascade pool below. Upon entering the lobby again later, I happened to notice that most of the ceiling looks like there has been significant swelling/water damage, and in some places looks like it might cave in. Another thing to keep in mind is that this hotel is very LITERALLY right next to the airport, like, right next to the runway. You get to hear the charming sounds of planes taking off every few minutes. Fortunately we had earplugs and a rattly air unit.
What's sad is that the staff is actually nice and were apologetic. They did try to accommodate me, in as much as could be done under the circumstances. What's also sad is this place could actually be retro-cool, if they gutted most of the interiors, kept some of the funky 40's fixtures (I mean, they still have metal umbrellas over the tables around the pool).
But what is an OUTRAGE is that all total, with taxes, I ended up paying around $185 US dollars for my one-night stay (fortunately no longer than that, and this was the low season, rainy August). I am used to getting NICE hotel rooms for LESS than that. I told my fiancee that they would be lucky if they got $15 for that room in the US. The fact that they can charge this and apparently have been doing so for some time, is absolutely ludicrous.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Spend the extra 50 or so bucks and stay at the Holiday Inn Express down the road. I believe that chain hotels like Holiday Inn have to follow a certain set of standards, whereas, clearly, the Bel Air does not!