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“Not that bad”

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Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Black Rock
Reviewed 26 May 2007

It was with more than a little bit of apprehension that I approached this holiday having read all the bad comments that some people had written. However, things were not all that bad. Yes, the meals lacked a bit of imagination, some parts of the hotel are in need of a bit of TLC and the water sports equipment were nearly non existent but ‘what the heck’ this is the Caribbean.
We ate at all three restaurants and it was only on the day that we arrived that the meal was not palatable, eat early in the Bistro before the food overcooks. However, most other days we lunched at the beach bar and everything there is cooked on the spot, and Roxanne cooks a mean fish. My wife being a vegetarian found the choices limited but managed to eat well most days, the salads can be added to, but ask. Cheddar was the only cheese they served except for one day when Brie was offered, their idea of a cheese board is cheddar cut in different shapes! A la Carte in the Pinnacle was generally good but again fish and meat could be served with less spicy sauces.
The Spa gives you thirty minutes a day of treatments, these my wife really enjoyed and even went for extras. I have to admit that they were relaxing although it was something I’d never previously experienced. The scuba diving was also considered to be good value by friends who took this as an alternative to the Spa. Lorraine, the Spa manager, was extremely helpful and would go to great lengths to accommodate your pre-set bookings around tours.
On which subject I come to with my main gripe about the laid back attitude of the Caribbean folk. Ted’s Sunshine Tours should really have been labelled ‘Trotters’ with Trigger doing the organisation. Our first tour, a round the Island trip, was great, our guide Shirn, who called himself Sean was excellent and he went to great lengths to explain everything about the flora and fauna and the Islands history. After that it went downhill rapidly, we would have been left stranded on Little Tobago for two or more hours without shade and water after our boat left with another party. Had it not been for an accommodating private party hire that took us ashore after ninety minutes, failing that we would have cooked on the exposed beach and would have been quite the worse for wear. As it was, all out kit including water was on board the other boat and to top it all we missed the snorkelling part of the tour. We eventually met up with our boat coming to collect us about 200m from land. Our trip to the rain forest was in a dilapidated bus, akin to the Trotters Reliant but was in keeping with the glass-bottomed theme, you could see daylight through the floor! This must have served as additional ventilation as half way there the driver took pity on we poor passengers as escaping engine fumes fogged out the bus and forced a hasty breakfast break while alternative more modern transport was summoned. After giving our Rep a good ear bashing we were offered a trip to Bocco reef gratis. This just about compensated for the other debacles and is probably the best trip you can go on. In hindsight, ‘Ellis Tours’ at the Hotel run by Ellis himself is probably the best person to book your tours with. He probably knows all the cowboys and unlike the holiday reps is always there and is marginally cheaper and no one I knew who used him had a complaint. Stay clear of the of the beach entrepreneurs especially a [--] who wouldn’t give me the time of day and looked just as miserable.
Service at the Hotel was good, we had a couple of safe failures and an antique hair drier died on us but these minor mishaps were dealt with within minutes. The senior staff, with the exception of Carlston could be a little more proactive and could do with a makeover from Ruth Badger. However, you’ll go far before you find nicer people than Carmen (beach bar), Clint and Diana (pool bar), Stephanie (breezers) and Ron and Hazel the singing waiters anywhere. My apologies to the un-named others who where all wonderful and especially to the young girl who made our breakfast omelettes everyday who despite the heat and the hot stove always managed a smile.
Accommodation was basic but was always kept clean and tidy, a room with a Jacuzzi is probably not worth the extra as it takes two hours to fill. This is probably why they are not often used as I found out one night when I returned early from the pool to commence the fill. Looking forward to a nice soak the long awaited experience was curtailed when on kick starting the aeration crud of ages and a cockroach joined me in the tub. I’m afraid it was a case of discretion and not valour, I took a shower.
What made the holiday for me were the great people I met there. The atmosphere, entertainment and the free availability of good quality drinks all served to break the ice, rarely did couples sit on their own unless they were honeymooners too engrossed in themselves to care about the outside world.
Overall I thought it reasonably good value for money and would possibly return there when the proposed refurbishments are carried out, including the addition of a fine-dining room and the hotels upgrade to five stars. Look out for bargain breaks during this period! A tip from the horse’s mouth.

  • Stayed: May 2007, travelled with family
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7  Thank lynda3491
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 14 May 2007

Tobago

On holiday with my daughter at Grand Courlan Spa resort. From 14th April to 26th April 2007

The first night when we arrived at the hotel, we were told of a cruel instance of animal abuse by hotel staff. There was a stray dog, one of the” beach dogs” foraging for food around the hotel. She is a lovely docile black puppy about 5 months old. A party of guests were on the dance floor being taught Latin American Dancing, when the rather large bar lady decided to throw a pot of what was probably almost boiling water over the dog. The dog squealed and yelped in pain and ran off.

We were befriended by the dog the next day and gave it food and water. The dog appeared to be relatively uninjured, but the fur on her upper left leg appeared very mangy. By the second day, bald patches began to appear in this area of her legs and these patches continued to grow larger. The exposed skin appeared blistered and septic, caused by the original injury and its continued exposure of bare skin to a very strong sun. It was quite clear that the dog was in considerable pain and distress.

I found an advertisement for the Tobago S.P.C.A and contacted them about the dog. A Mrs. Phillips came promptly eventually the dog was taken to their shelter to receive veterinary attention although this took 2 days to achieve due to lack of funds for the appropriate equipment required, a donation was given to her by us at this point. She also approached the hotel management regarding this situation, and while they freely admitted that a hotel staff member was responsible, they flatly refused to take any action that would help the dog. This attitude was made worse by the fact that, after the original incident, and despite seeing that the dog was in obvious distress, we witnessed other staff members, on a number of occasions, kicking at the dog, in attempts to drive it away. Incidentally the female Hotel owner just happens to be a life member of the T.S.P.C.A.

This incident of animal abuse was not the only one that occurred at the Grand Courlan during our stay. Another guest at the hotel found a little puppy, literally dying from a broken leg, on the beach used by the hotel guests. In her compassion, she personally took the puppy to the Tobago S.P.C.A by taxi. We understand that she is presently making arrangements to bring the puppy back to the UK and has also donated a chipping device to the TS.P.C.A. We, and some other hotel guests, are in the process of sponsoring the dog who was scalded with boiling water.


It should be made clear that we did not object at all to the presence of beach dogs, (and cats), around the hotel. I would say that they probably provide a useful function in reducing the vermin near and around the hotel. What is at issue is the cruel and callous attitude demonstrated by the hotel and staff of the Grand Courlan. The fact that they told us, before our departure, that the women who threw the boiling water at the dog had been dismissed, in no way makes amends for the other acts of animal cruelty that witnessed. It was these acts of cruelty which ruined, what we had hoped would have been, an enjoyable vacation.


  • Stayed: April 2007
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6  Thank 26square
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 May 2007

Booked with Thomson and were promised this was a great place - it is not. We are here now and to say the place is tired is an understatement.
The food is at best average and the choices for the meals is fine but the quality of some dishes leaves much to be desired. On a tropical island, especially when so much is in season, you would expect a wider choice of fruit especially. We are only offered pineapple, watermelon, papaya and bananas. It would be nice to get mango too. We bought some yesterday at 4 for 4TT$ - how cheap is that? To be offered the same every day is BORING!
The satff are generally friendly and helpful although some look and appear very fed up. None have been surly or rude.
We are supposed to get 3 free scuba dives a week but it seems the hire of equipment is extra. You could also have a spa treatment a day (they choose what you have and when) but you cannot have both. My husband did not want either, and I would ahve liked scuba one week and spa the next - NO! I could not use his spa treatment and whatever one books, the other has to have to. Not such a bargain after all maybe?
There are two bars here but one does not open until 12 and the other 10, so if you are thirsy before then, water from the tap is an option, or keep raiding the breakfast bar.
Although it seems there are only English guests here, they have aquired the German habit of 'bagsing' the loungers long before they use them. There do not appear to be enough umbrealls either, so unless you can stand the sun and heat all day, you are in trouble. When this place is full it must be a nightmare for guests.
The pool is nice but the water is a tad 'cloudy'.
A nice walk along the beach at night? Not to be. The gates to the beach are locked at 6pm.
Sadly, this has not met our expectations at all. A much needed holiday has been very dissapointing. But we will be taking trips out when possible. We did one yesterday into the Rain Forrest and it was excellent. But be sure you have water and something to eat.
Although near the airport, we are told the hotle there are excellent and you cannot hear the planes - this was our concern or we would have booked there. Wish we had!
All the chairs in the lounge areas of the bar and the restaurant are heavily mildewed and dirty. Not even a 1 star for that, far from the TTTT Thomson give it. How do they justify their ratings???
Our message - don't come here unless you have to?

Stayed: May 2007
5  Thank EnglishLady07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2007

We have just completed an enjoyable weeks stay in this hotel.

The previous comments about surly bar staff were in part sound however a lot depends on the attitude of the customer as well.

We found the staff to be generally very friendly and cooperative.

The exterior of the hotel could do with a bit of a refurb. The need for this could probably have been alleviated by regular maintenance and touching up.

The food and drink was comparable with other equivalent all inclusive hotels we have visited in the Carribean.

In all an ideal start to a 2 centre holiday. One week in Tobago is enough unless you want a quiet holiday for 2 weeks. Barbados it is not.

  • Stayed: May 2007, travelled with friends
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1  Thank roosterbri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2007

We spent a week at this hotel, having spent the previous week at the Stonehaven Villas for a family wedding.

The hotel is tired and could do with being refurbished. Staff were always very helpful and obliging, the only exception being the bar staff who seemed surly and unfriendly. The food was excellent and there was plenty of it. The room was clean, with fresh sheets, towels and beach towels every day.

There were plenty of sunbeds around the pool but there were not enough umbrellas. It gets very hot and there is no shade around the pool area at all. The spa treatments were good. In all, we had a very relaxing holiday.

There weren't many people staying whilst we were there. Not sure what it would be like if it was full to capacity.

Our holiday was spoilt by an incident on the last night. There is a stray dog that roams around the hotel, a lovely docile black puppy about 5 months old. A party of us were on the dance floor being taught Latin American Dancing, when the rather large bar lady decided to throw a cup of what was probably almost boiling water over the dog. The dog squealed and yelped in pain and ran off. After so many complaints to management about cruelty to animals, we were told the bar lady had been sacked but seeing is believing. Can't recommend a hotel that lets its staff treat animals like this and have told them this.

  • Stayed: April 2007, travelled with family
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6  Thank bobtail001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2007

My husband and I took our honeymoon at this property. This hotel is very much for the young or the young at heart that require total peace and quiet and a good base to explore the island from. The hotel is set on a hill so you will climb many steps and stairs. The hotel does not offer an active program of events but some form of entertainment was on offer most evenings. This hotel is ideal for those that want to relax, enjoy each other's company and the sunshine in a total adult environment (only over 16s can stay at the hotel). Hiring a car is a must as the Island has much to offer and should be explored. We spent many sunbathing days at the hotel and were always able to find a sunbed. The beach is great but it does not have a lifeguard. We had a lot of fun playing in the big waves and snorkling further around the natural bay of Stonehaven where this hotel is located. With regards to the hotel it has good facilities and two restaurants. If you want lots of variety with food this may not be the hotel for you. However, the two restaurants provided a good range of food and the local specialities were the best choice everytime. Breakfast always offered much choice and local fresh fruit was always on offer The staff were very friendly and willing to help. However, the Tobagans are a proud people and react to frendliness rather than barking orders or commands (which some other guests found out the hard way). The rooms at the hotel were very clean and comfortable. The bathrooms are very basic but if you have every been to Greece, they were luxurious in comparison. All rooms have a large balcony. Although I would not pay the extra for the jacuzzi rooms. The terrace to these rooms were closed off and thus no view. The hotel has gardens which are well kept. Tobago itself is a great island. It is a wildlife lovers paradise. Building big hotel resorts has taken a backseat to the wildlife. However, as the island becomes more dependant on tourism this may change as we noticed many areas of land up for sale for property development. Those that were used to more touristy islands i.e. St Lucia were disappointed with the lack of facilities on the island and in the major towns. This is not a "stop for a drink at a cafe" type of place like Barbados but if you want to see the Caribbean before it became the tourist trap that many islands are, this is the place for you. The rain forest and the wildlife of the island is fantastic and should be explored fully. If you want posh restaurants, perfect buildings and "Sandal" style hotels this is not the place for you. Although this island has many 5*hotels - Hilton and Blue Haven. We did speak with others that stayed at these hotels and their comments were that they were very far away from anything and visiting other restaurants and bars was a chore. If you want to be near anything slightly touristy then the Coco Reef is the place to be. However, we enjoyed the Grand Courlan very much and enjoyed our free treatments in the Spa (although these can be quite intrusive in your day and we missed a lot of our appointments). I would definitely rate this hotel above average but it is not yet excellent. Tobago though, I would rate as an excellent destination and would love to return.

  • Stayed: February 2007, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank pincess#1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2007

We booked this hotel back in May 2006, even after reading some of the horrendous reviews here. I have to say that on the whole, the hotel really does need TLC, but would go further and say it needs a complete re-fit, with the exception of, perhaps, some of the de--luxe ocean view rooms

Room: We found ours, an Ocean View Room, quite adequate and comfortable, clean, with a superb view of the a-typical Caribbean beach and sea.

Food: Yes, it was pretty awful in many ways, although one night I had a great Chateaubriand steak in the Pinnacle Restaurant - other days we had some good meat dishes, but mainly very spiced, which is what one should expect in Tobago anyway, I would have thought. There was very little choice of dishes - both savoury and sweet, either from the buffet or "a la carte" (take that with a pinch of salt!!)

Spa: We thought the "treatments" would just be samples, and we would be pushed to buy others from the menu, but this was not the case. Full treatments were well carried out with well-trained staff, and although I missed some because of trips etc. there was an excellent selection. The spa was clean, but in great need of re-furbishment - equipment was tired, and in need of replacement.

Fitness Room: Although I didn't use this, we had a peek in to see what it looked like, and it had all very up-to-date gear, with considerable selection, and looked first-class for those people who wish to indulge in sado-masochistic pursuits!

Restaurants:
The Pinnacle - "fine dining" so said the menus - what a beautiful outlook from a high level out to sea, with a cool breeze coming in all the time - really needed. Birds were abundant on railings, and as soon as you left your seat - they were on the tables, and into left-overs. We didn't mind this - it is a common occurance on all the Caribbean islands. As long as you ensured your drinks were covered when you left for the buffet, you were alright. Everything was clean, and the waiters/staff very friendly and helpful, with only one exception as far as we were concerned. We mentioned her inadequacy to the manager, and suggested she be trained properly.

The Bistro - Again, the same helpful staff, but the place in need of refurbishment too. Food generally about the same quality as the Pinnacle, but in greater abundance - the Pinnacle served the same but in a nouvelle-cuisine style!

Food: I have to agree with previous comments that it was either excellent, or very poor. On the whole, there ought to be a review of their menus here. They do seem to be opting for the cheapest menu they can get from the budget allotted. Food is prepared long, long before service time, and all dishes from the buffet tend to be brown, sticky and uninteresting.

Bars and drinks: I can't agree with some of the negative comments here - drinks were good - Gordons Gin, Hankey Bannister/Dewers whisky, all the other propriety names with good Trinidadian rum! Ask for bottled tonic and other mixers, as the dispensed mixers are quite tasteless. Bar staff were great - Nazeem, the main Bar Manager was so helpful - went out of his way to supply us with some fresh coconut water - also got us a fresh soft gel coconut which my wife adores (not the hard white core) Other staff, (Stephanie and Clint spring to mind) went out of their way to be courteous and helpful, always with a smile.

Entertainment: The best we have seen in an hotel for very many years. The inevitable steel bands were top class, and the African Drum and Dance team were of top international standard. The singer, previously mentioned on this site - Michael Baker - had us in stitches. He could well go on the international circuit, if he hasn't done so already!

Beaches: The beach in front of the hotel did get dirty - mainly because it was 90% used by we dirty Brits, who are too lazy to take their plastic glasses/cups back to the beach bar - drop cigarette ends in the sand, leave paper etc. all over the place. I saw the beach being raked and cleaned at least twice a week, and it was, for most of the time, quite acceptably clean. Dogs were present, (3 at any one time) yes, but I did not see dog mess anywhere. Beach vendors were about, but inoffensive, and not in great numbers as on the other islands. There were tatty thatched umbrellas along the beach, but by no means enough - they were taken by the early birds - most before 7.00am - by - no, not the Germans - the Brits! But what a beautiful beach, safe to swim most of the time, but with a deadly under-tow on three occasions. With common-sense, quite safe, with a gently shelving beach.

Finally, we heard from "Management" that there will be a refurbishment programme starting in October this year, on a rolling basis, doing sections at a time (not a complete shut-down job.) They are also going for an up-grade in their star rating to 5 stars. They will have to make some drastic improvements though, starting, I would suggest, with their food selection and presentation!

Virgin Rep: Complete waste of time at the airport when we arrived - we had other reps show us where to go. She gave us the usual "sell" at the meeting on the day after arrival - but couldn't be found most of the time, and arrived late for most of her appointments at the hotel.

Trips: I thoroughly recommend the "personal" jeep island trip - book it from the hotel Customer Relations, with Ellis, who also has his own company - the jeep tour thingy - ask for Michael, who took us on a wonderful tour of the island, very knowledgeable about flora, fauna - you name it. The trip was well worth it (I am a VIctor Meldrew - so if I think something is good, it is!!!)

On the whole, we WOULD go back, and will probably do so in 2 years time. We had a fabulous holiday, laid-back, with sunny friendly people all over the island. I would say Tobago now is like Barbados probably was 30 years ago - but I am afraid that "progress" will spoil it in the next 5 years. Given the reservations mentioned about the hotel, we could put up with them, as everything else outweighed the negative points by far. Perhaps deserves its 4 star rating for the Caribbean, (but could do better lol)

  • Stayed: March 2007, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Devoran1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort

Address: Shirvan Rd, Black Rock, Tobago
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Trinidad and Tobago > Tobago > Black Rock
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Black Rock
Price Range: £136 - £200 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 79
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Also Known As:
Le Grand Courlan Hotel Black Rock
Le Grand Courlan Resort And Spa
Hotel Le Grand Courlan
Grand Courlan Tobago
Le Grand Courlan Tobago
Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort Tobago, Trinidad And Tobago

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