Naturalist Beach Resort - Reader Reports & Opinion
The Naturalist ... 2009 Update 26 Jan 2009
Paul Tallet from Yorkshire
Naturalist Beach Resort ... 2009 Update
Rather than go over old ground (See my 2005 Update), coupled with the fact that having stayed 6 consecutive times at the Naturalist, I can hardly be seen as giving a neutral view ... and therefore I think it would be appropriate to provide some information about new services that Ancle has been introducing and some tips and comments about how to optimise your stay for the benefit of those that decide to go there.
The Naturalist offers basic and very comfortable accommodation that can be suited to every need. All rooms except the Blue Marlin Suite are at ground level.
The Blue Marlin Suite is not easily accessible for those who are (leggy) disabled and possibly for very young children (toddlers) due to the steps and there is no gate to keep out the local pesky dogs that have a habit of enjoying the use of the sun-beds overnight ... I believe Ancle is working on this but, for the meantime, I just put a couple of upturned chairs at the top of the steps to keep the dawgs out.
The location of Castara makes any of itís hostelries attractive to tourists that like to explore due to itís central position along the Caribbean coast of Tobago. Ancle has plenty of cars for rent for those that have places to go and people to upset
I was on a very strict budget this time having chased the rising dollar since last Summer.
It is noticeable how the credit crunch is affecting tourism in Tobago when it became apparent that I could book a last minute deal to stay all-inclusive at the Rex Turtle Beach for 2 weeks at a marginally lower price than the one I paid to stay in the Blue Marlin with Breakfasts and the flight ... having said that I would have had to shell out more on a hire car that came within the optional packaged price I paid for the Blue Marlin.
But who wants to stay at the (currently) seemingly deserted RTB without a means of escape (in a hire car)? Come on, hands up!
Ancle has already introduced cell phones for each room. You can do this on a Pay-As-You-Go basis and I understand this is much cheaper than bringing your own.
Another new thing that I understand is being introduced is Wireless Internet Connectivity for each room that would be handy for those bringing their lap tops and wanting to stay off the beach.
While I was there, Ancle started doing meals for about $TT40 which is very competitive compared to the prices of other local restaurants which start around the $TT60 level and average about $TT90 per meal depending what you like.
The only problem is the opening hours are only until 4pm. Ancle hopes to extend them to as late as 6pm or later as soon as possible. Having said that, if there is sufficient demand I am sure something can be arranged for large parties in addition to the weekly BBQ that is held every Sunday night ... ooops, should I have said that?
Another noticeable feature is the growth of the fleet of rental cars ... plenty of choice but check the insurance terms on the Naturalist website where the costs concerning damage waiver are clearly explained and the financial consequences of taking flying lessons off nearby cliffs are also clearly disclosed should you be fortunate enough to survive such an adventure.
On the other hand ... no I had better not say it and leave it to your wild imaginations.
How Would You Like It?
The Naturalist can cater for everyone with the exception of the most discerning that would typically dote on luxury accommodation, pampering and a swimming pool to slide into (preferably directly from the sun-bed).
Your experience at the Naturalist can very much depend on what you want.
This last year, I rented the Blue Marlin Suite for a full 2 weeks having previously only stayed in the Suite for up to a week.
This is not a criticism ... just an observation based on my experience ... The Blue Marlin Suite is above the Cafe and accessed by steps leading up the sea-facing side ... nice and private ... but I somehow felt a little cut-off from the maddening crowd, constantly peeping over the sides of the balcony for mischievous Canadians or whatever other trouble was going on below ... or just spying on people!
It was also too convenient to just sit on the balcony at times and enjoy the view rather than allow my bruised and bitten legs to transport me shakily down to the beach and be a part of it.
On the other hand, my past experience of being in the other rooms without sea views compelled me to get out and get more integrated with the daily goings on and to experience the elements at first hand ... it was good for my legs too when they worked!
In between all this is the Kingfish Suite ... a little room with 2 double beds, a Porch and a view of the beach ... this is arguably the best room by far. At least you can say hello to passers by and you wonít miss a trick (or any scandals) if you want to get involved with it.
So ... I would say that the Blue Marlin Suite is ideal for people that want to keep themselves to themselves and/or participate only in acts of self indulgence and pure laziness ... I am not sure if I could hack the sheer tranquillity, outrageously beautiful location and luxury of this apartment again for more than a week ... itís just not right if you have spent most of your childhood raised on crusts!
For the actioners ... take any room, the ones without sea views force you out into the community, off your laptops/TVís and out of your beds and you will be wandering aimlessly around Castara and the beach before you even realise it.
I loved it ... I always love it. Ancle is such a good host and he looked after me and the other inmates so well while I was there.
Many people go back, several times, this is the backbone of any business and Ancle and his staff are incredibly successful in making you feel more welcome every time ... it becomes home from home.
In closing, I cannot recommend the Naturalist as a great holiday destination ... it is a Great Holiday Institution.
Join the club.
Naturalist Beach Resort 10 Mar 2010
Joanne Green from Ohio, USA
This is our 3rd. visit. Each time, we have seen improvements (new air conditioners, mattresses, interior paint, kitchen cupboards). Given the location, I think Ancel George's property gives one of the best values in Castara. He has now added a 2nd. floor to the main building, adding 3 new apartments. The design is such that it looks like it has always been there! We always stay in Kingfish, which is a large ground floor room with 2 beds, kitchenette, a/c, ceiling fan and private seaview porch. We love to sit on the porch & watch all the activity that is always present in this lively village. And Ancel is the perfect host -- very accomodating without being intrusive.
The Naturalist ... 2012 Update 15 Apr 2012
Paul Tallet from Yorkshire
I have lost count of the times I have come to the Naturalist ... 6 or 7 over 12 years.
Every time I come there is evidence of Ancle's commitment to improving the property and improving the facilities for guests.
Breakfasts are now included in the room price and coffee is on tap all day. Plus Wifi.
And ... An Ice machine!! (But don't ask Ancle how he acquired it ... that's a long story ... smile).
Air conditioning is now available in all rooms (although I don't need it).
And the property is still right on the beach ... yes folks, it hasn't moved. And don't forget that Castara is one of the most popular and beautiful locations in Tobago.
And apart from the very comfortable accommodation you have the most important feature of this unique place ... Ancle. He hasn't changed either ... always good fun, caring and a good friend of mine ... he will make all visitors feel secure.
The Naturalist now has many many returning guests each year ... as I said in my 2009 review, it is becoming an Institution, a very good business that has been developed slowly and organically over many years.
Look out for it on Facebook too
If you are considering a visit to Tobago ... this is the place to be.
I am just waiting for Ancle to install his first Jacuzzi
Newsflash 16 Jun 2013
Paul Tallet from Yorkshire
Ancle has installed a Power Shower in the Blue Marlin Suite and it's better than the showers at Coco Reef and my own power shower at home.
The Naturalist ... 2013 Update 21 Jul 2013
Paul Tallet from Yorkshire
I no longer believe that anyone should view my posts about the Naturalist too seriously because I am biased, Ancle informs me that my last visit was my 9th visit, Ancle is more a good friend than a host and I would, of course, recommend the Naturalist to everyone ... but I will try to be as objective as possible ...
Ancle has increased the accommodation to 13 rooms ranging from small 1 bed rooms to a huge 3 bed (ensuite) apartment. It is a massive project that Ancle has taken on despite the recent slump in tourism.
In addition to this, Ancle has sorted out his water supply and, in the Blue Marlin, added a wonderful new power shower. The only problem is that it was so powerful that I had to duck underneath the blast of water to reach the controls to turn it off!!
Ancle is constantly looking for improvements and this attitude is extremely positive and I joked many times that he should add a hot-tub and a switch to turn the sea on and off on demand!
The only negative for Ancle has been the state of the road leading down to the Naturalist and he has been working hard to get the repairs done whilst dealing with the idiots at the THA and consequently my son and I were happy to take part in a news report that Glyn has kindly posted on this forum.
On this occasion, Ancle joined us on many of our trips and we had many enjoyable barbeques in the Blue Marlin when Ancle would bring the barbecue up, cook our catch of fish, enjoy his whisky and snooze on our sunbeds until the early hours of the morning ... Ancle added the 'fab-factor' to our holiday.
We were amazed that Ancle had never been to Buccoo Reef, stood in the Nylon Pool, been to No Man's Land, snorkelled around Englishman's Bay, Arnos Vale and Lovers Bay ... so he came on all our trips while his trusted and lovely daughter, Jodie, managed the business in our absence.
We also went on a very special trip to Trinidad that I will cover in another topic.
So ... in a nutshell, I sense it was Ancle that was shedding tears at the airport when we left.
Keep it up Ancle and look forward to lots more mischief at Christmas
Regards ... more reviews to follow ...