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.
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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