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“Top spot in tobago”
Review of Carpe Diem Villa

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Carpe Diem Villa
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed 24 February 2012

Tucked away in the hillside overlooking the bays of castara, carpe diem provides fabulous views in a lush tropical setting. The studio we stayed in was tastefully and thoughtfully furnished and well equipped, especially if you like to cook during your stay. The owners,Chris and Yvonne were really friendly and helpful, as were the local staff, Denzil and Doris. If you are looking for a Tobagan experience that takes you away from the resorts and guest houses clustered around Crown Point, and you value your independence too, then you're unlikely to find anything better than this gem of a place Martin & Sigrun, Feb, 2012

Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
Thank Slowmotion66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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85 - 91 of 142 reviews

Reviewed 15 February 2012

Yvonne and Chris place fits perfectly its name! Unconventional and peaceful, relaxing and beautiful! The best view in Castara and the best guests around... The sunset is a daily surprise and Christopher knows all the good connections in the village. A real pleasure, that's the british hospitality as the French love it,
Arielle and Pierre

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank pierre D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2012

A lovely studio apartment with fantastic views over the bays, especially at sunset. Superb wildlilfe all around, you just have to sit still and watch to see some of the most lovely birds. Yes, there are chickens running around and yes they make some noise but so what - this is Tobago life as it is lived! When we arrived I was unwell but sitting and reading and watching all around me was just what I needed to recover. Even if it meant I didn't have a rum until the end of the second week. Chris & Yvonne (the owners) were staying there and were so great and helpful, leaving me to be quiet when in recovery and then including us in a trip etc when I was up to it. The village is so friendly, the walking is hilly but very rewarding. It felt like being part of a community, the locals were very friendly and laid back and the fresh fish caught off the coast and brought in in the afternoon, prepared and sold on the beach was amazing. And there is a proper bread oven on the beach where a couple of local ladies bake twice a week. If we go again we would hire a car just for a few days and see a bit more of the island, although there is bus service into Scarborough (but why would anyone want to leave Castara?) A very happy holiday. ps: Don't forget plenty of insect repellant!

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank greenhouse51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 January 2012

We have recently returned from a 2 week stay at this great location. The property is just as descibed by the delightful owners Yvonne & Chris Runciman. Set back & above the beach (5 minute walk) in forest land it is surrounded by bananas,mangoes,paw paws,pineapples - a tropical paradise! A delightful variety of beautiful bird life & fruit bats came to visit us every day, to feed on the fruit & biscuits we left for them on the veranda. We became very friendly with a Mot Mot (we called him Maurice ) who came regularly to visit us.
We stayed upstairs in the 'Green Room', a large airy room with a spacious shower .There was a wonderful view from our bedroom across the bay - we found the sound of mangoes dropping on our roof during the night amusing!!
Castara is a typical Tobagian village & unspoilt by the tourist industry,we found it very refreshing.The local bars are small but full of friendly locals & a few visitors all enjoying the local rum. We made lots of new friends, Cheno's coffee shop is a must- such a lovely guy & a great cook -the Saturday BBQ , with steel band & rum punch was great. Also Sharon's place (The Boat House) on Little Bay did very good food, steel band & bongos on a Wednesday evening
Hiring a car for a few days took us around the island to view many more amazing beaches - mostly uninhabited & a stunning trip through the rain forest. Be prepared for windy roads & pot holes!
Yvonne & Chris couldn't have been more friendly & helpful, providing lots of useful tips & advice.
If 5 star plastic luxury accommodation is for you maybe you should try elsewhere. If you want authentic Tobago this is it!!
We very much hope to return soon.

Daphne & Tom January 2012

Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
Thank DaphneW451
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2012

I spent almost a month, in the run up to christmas, at Carpe Diem in Castara. I thoroughly enjoyed some very productive time there. I was travelling alone with the intention of getting some overdue writing completed so was looking for a peaceful and slower paced location away from the resorts of crown point and the south of the island. That said I was surprised by how much I ended up doing!

The house has been done, built and maintained really well. I felt like I was staying in a pretty authentic local building, looking at the others in the village, but it's obvious a lot of thought has gone into the little details. I stayed in the main house for a couple of weeks and a studio for the remainder when a larger group arrived. This was no problem as I found the studio more than adequate for a couple and I was on my own. The studio was as well equipped as the main kitchen which also serves as the owners home when they're on the island. At first I was worried about rooting about in the main house, it was obvious that it was someone's home. When I asked I was told anything that wasn't at my disposal had been put away so i wasted no time breaking out the binoculars, nosing through the extensive and informative local books and using some of the supplied insect repellant. Everything I could have needed for self catering was provided and in good order, even a kind of starter pack of oils and herbs, tea, sugar etc things you might not want to buy in the local quantities for a short stay which I thought was very thoughtful. Towels and soap etc were provided as well as a very handy selection of electric fans, mosquito nets and stuff like candles etc. Even food blenders/smoothy makers (something I don't even have at home! then again I also don't have a banana tree in the garden)

I was told the view from the studios wasn't as good as from the main deck but I almost preferred it. All the views are stunning and depending where you are in the house or garden you can feel like you're overlooking the bay or surrounded by the jungle.

I loved the feeling of proximity to the jungle proper and the lazy availability of wildlife, after a while it became routine to keep left overs, especially fruit, for the bats and birds who always seemed to have better things to do if i didn't put food out for them. I spent one night on the upper balcony trying to take pictures of the little, lightening fast fruitbats for hours and managed to get a couple of good shots. If you love wildlife but want the comforts of mains utilities I can't think of anywhere i'd recommend more. I didn't buy a single banana, mango or guava the whole time i was there as all are free in the garden as well as local bush herbs for seasoning fish.

Doris, the housekeeper, and her husband Denzel who picked my up form the airport, where both really helpful and friendly. Doris was more than happy to answer questions about the village and popped round a couple of times between servicing linen etc just to ask if I needed anything. There was also an information pack with loads of local info which was really helpful. Castara isn't a big place and it only takes a day or so to get orientated. Although Denzel suggested we stop off at the big supermarket in Canaan on the way out on the first day I found everything I needed in the village. You need to relax into the local pace of things but then there's very little you can't get hold of or track down. Apparently there was some work being done on the mains water supply so on a couple of occasions the water pressure dropped but never for very long and the house had it's own gravity supply of collected rainwater so I was never without it.

If I couldn't be bothered making myself breakfast in the morning I'd go to Cheno's coffee shop at the south end of the village where you could get lovely local salt fish or bacon and eggs and good real coffee. I spent many a happy hour in there batting away the braver local song birds that are omnipresent at the house and in the surrounding jungle. There are a few bars in the village, mostly just a couple of chairs on the side of a shop but none are over developed or flashy, just places to get a drink and chill out. There's a shop/bar literally at the bottom of the path up to the house so it takes about 2 minutes to stock up on juice, beer or rum;) The only real noise in the village comes from the beach when the fishermen relax after a hard days work, never late into the night though. To be honest, if there's something else noisy going on in the village and you're not actively involved in it you've got to ask yourself why you've not been invited! There are a few places to get dinner and they seem to share the visitors around, each place, restaurant, cafe, the boat house having an event like steel drums or a bbq etc on different nights. Having spent some time in Castara I don't think there's enough tourists for things to work in any other way. On one hand this means you've got to let people know to ensure they have what you want (or in some cases open at all) but on the other hand there's a real sense of community in the village and no obvious rivalry. Strange but quite refreshing.

Although I was there to get my head down and some work done I still managed to make some new friends and get involved in some of the local pass times. Tobagonians will generally respond in the manner in which they are approached and I found everyone in the village to be very friendly. I managed to get some diving in as well. There's a guy called Richie who'll pick you up from the village in his 4x4. I checked round all the other dive operators on the island and none of them offer this service. The viz wasn't great due to the weather and wash off from landslides on the island but I still had a few great days diving with abundant hawksbill turtles who breed on some of the islands beaches and one massive leatherback with a fin missing.

I was there at the end of the rainy season but showers were mostly at night, short lived in the day and quite frankly were a relief from the heat in the first few days acclimatising after the chilly UK.

I'll definitely be back to catch up with new friends and complete some failed attempts to watch the local football team. If you can't survive without air conditioning or freak out at the sight of a millipede this isn't the place for you, well, tobago isn't the place for you, better stick to a resort or book a week at disneyworld. If you want somewhere peaceful and private to relax and experience the real Tobago with some home comforts (like free Wifi! fast enough to stream a movie, sorry i couldn't believe that as T&T have only had the internet for about 5 years!) then I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

Room Tip: If there's 4+ might prefer the main house but the whole place is great. Get involved in the vil...
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  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled solo
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Thank jdcwiseman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 January 2012

Amazing view, but we expected more for what we were paying.
I can appreciate the north part of the island is more rustic but for this price rustic charm wasn't enough; you want a good night's sleep, the shower to have pressure etc. Bats, roosters at 5am, barking dogs, falling fruit on the roof, the local bar... I think i slept well twice out of seven nights. There was a high pitched box to scare off animals. Supposed to turn this off at night? Very disturbing noise...
There is no breeze up there, so gets very hot, the water pressure was a constant pain (a trickle if anyone else was using it which they invariably are), you change your own bedding and you're totally open to the outside world with all it's lovely insects, including some of the biggest grasshoppers i've ever seen. Literally a foot long.
We thought of it like a glorified shed.
Still, we managed to have a good time and there were some redeeming points:
The view of the bay is amazing and the big balcony is a great setting for an evening cocktail and meal - very romantic. It's a short walk to the beach, which is very nice. The village has a nice local feel and there are a couple of good (north tobago good) restaurants. The owners have put in a lot of effort to the very comprehensive info pack in the villa. It is a good base to explore the north of the island. The sunsets are great. But sunset means it's getting dark, soon it will be bedtime and you're back to the incessant noise and dawn chorus. I grew up with one rooster which was bad enough but there must be around 5 in close proximity all screaming at eachother. I'd actually recommend drinking heavily prior to bed when staying here, you may sleep through it.
All in all, I wouldn't have minded if i was paying $20 less a night, particularly compared to our previous guest house on the island, which more than justified the price. Still, i hear Carpe Diem is one of the best in Castara. And that's the North of the island really. It's beautiful and cut off and some people love it and some people don't. With so few decent places to stay up there maybe the price is justifiable, but we didn't think so. I also didn't appreciate having to pay up front, understandable perhaps if the owners are not on site but it made me uncomfortable.
I would recommed staying here for a few nights only, which is all you need really to see the north (in my opinion when you're on a 2 week holiday or less).

  • Stayed: January 2012
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1  Thank Jjwilliams100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GinandtonicSurrey, Owner at Carpe Diem Villa, responded to this reviewResponded 28 January 2012

What a shame the upstairs apartment was not how you envisaged it but would have been ok at $20 less??
Why did you not make your problems or misgivings known to Doris the housekeeper or to us at the time?
The only correspondence that we received from you was a question on how to connect to the ( free) wi-fi.
We do try to make sure that you know exactly what you get for the price but as you said our house is not a European style villa with a pool which is where you were staying prior to visiting us & is not and never has been portrayed by us as being so. It is a typical locally built wooden house similar to many other rental properties in the Castara area, some charging considerably more than us! We have a 45ft open balcony with sun-blinds to give us shade during the hottest part of the day. As the house is of open design it is kept cool at night by the breeze ( katabatic wind ) that flows down the hillside.
As the house is set on the hillside in the village of Castara it is surrounded by the rain forest is subject to all local noises such as the sound of the sea breaking on the shore below, song birds & local wildlife (cicadas & tree frogs ) including hens which range throughout the village and the without the associated cockerels there would be no eggs.
We do have many returning guests that stay for between 2-5weeks periods & have no problem with it.
You saw a foot long grasshopper that must be a record-we have only ever seen ones 5/6inches in length at least we have something here bigger than you have in Texas!
We are lucky to be surrounded by fruit trees & we cannot help if the mangoes, guava, paw paw & bananas etc fall off the trees near us or fall onto our neighbour’s roofs- we pop the fruits into the smoothie maker.
The Transonic Pro bat scarer in the room had been left on to prevent any bats roosting when the room was unoccupied, its pitch is almost inaudible to humans at 20khz-21khz & it sounds like cicadas at close range but the device can easily & simply been unplugged-something you could have checked with our housekeeper about?
The problem that you encountered with the water to the shower was explained to you by our housekeeper & was due to WASA’s work on replacing the whole island’s water main. When normal service was resumed so was the full pressure to the house & all its kitchen & bathrooms.
Paying the balance due 30days prior to arrival is quite normal practice worldwide.

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Reviewed 8 January 2012

The studio accommodation is basic but there is everything you need. We are a mature 'pampered' couple and we found the basic accomodation and equipment challenging but this says more about us than the provisions! The bed is great, very comfortable and a good size. The steps to the studio are challenging at night especially if it is wet as they can be slippery and not well lit.
The best thing about this accommodation is the terrace with its spectacular veiws of the bay and wildlife visitors. We were visited by tropical birds, fruit bats, and a stunning display of fireflies one night during a storm which took the power out for the whole of the Northside.
Denzil and Doris are a great asset as they are full of local knowledge and extremely helpful. Chris and Yvonne (owners) were not there but also made themselves available above and beyond by text.
All in all this is a good place to experience real Caribbean life in a real working village which is not too touristy.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Nicola H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Carpe Diem Villa

Address: Northside Road | Castara Tobago, Castara 00000, Tobago
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Trinidad and Tobago > Tobago > Castara
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 10 Speciality Lodging in Castara
Price Range: £54 - £142 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In the top 5 Speciality Accommodation on TripAdvisor for last 7 years with 142 reviews. All suites have queen size beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot & cold water. Fully equipped kitchen with large fridge/freezer, stove + grill, toaster, juicer, water filter etc. Personal safe & Swann security system. All the rooms have GREAT SEA/SUNSET VIEWS , (without even getting out of bed), as we face almost due West! ( Banana & Cocoa trees may obscure the studio view a little depending on how they are fruiting! ) The 2 safe beaches are 100 yards away and all village amenities,bars and cafes are within walking distance. Wi-fi hotspot/5GB fibre optic! Check with your partner if you are allowed to use it,OK?! Ideal for birdwatchers as you can see most of the island's birds from the balcony. We can arrange fishing, diving, car hire, rain-forest walks etc. Smoking allowed outside only,( well it is a wooden house! ) A lot of couples seem to get engaged while staying with us, be warned!! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Carpe Diem Villa Hotel Castara
Carpe Diem Villa Tobago/Castara

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