Naturalist Beach Resort - Reader Reports & Opinion
Naturalist Beach Resort ... 2005 Update 09 Apr 2005
Paul Tallet from Yorkshire
I am pleased to update the forum about the Naturalist Beach Resort following my recent stay in Castara.
The Naturalist Beach Resort
A 6 room Guesthouse situated at the northern end of the main beach in Castara and with some rooms looking south down the length of the beach.
The business is owned and operated by Ancle George who has developed the business organically over the last several years with some substantial upgrades and improvements over the last 12 months.
I understand that this is one of just a handful of businesses in Castara that does not depend on overseas investment and therefore Ancle has been able to develop the business under his own steam and with no outside influence.
Much of the management of the business is now handled by Ann Marie under which a growing number of loyal staff maintain the Guesthouse and Café.
The main Guesthouse comprises of 5 rooms of different sizes that can cater for between 2 and 4 guests.
All rooms offer clean, simple and basic accommodation with double/twin beds, basic cooking facilities (including a microwave and 2 ringed stove, kettle, pots, pans and cutlery) and a fridge (that can be stocked with drinks on request).
Each room has a bathroom including a hot shower, toilet and washbasin.
Furniture includes tables and chairs and storage cupboards (i.e.; wardrobe and drawers).
I think all the rooms have air conditioning apart from one.
All rooms have TV for some reason, I never use them but I guess some may like watching TV.
The most popular room is the ‘Kingfish’ that has an outside porch in which you can sit and enjoy the view down the beach. You would be lucky to get this room at short notice during peak times.
The Blue Marlin Suite
Situated above Café Delight this accommodation was opened in April 2004.
The suite is very spacious and much more comfortably appointed with a full kitchen (with cooker/oven) and a much larger bathroom suite.
A large and sheltered balcony provides panoramic views south over the main beach in Castara and further south down the coast.
Furnishings include a double bed with mosquito nets, a single bed, a 3 piece suite and ample cupboard and storage space.
No air conditioning is provided and it is not needed because the whole suite can be opened up to the outside elements and this allows the sea breezes through and a large ceiling fan can be switched on during particularly humid times.
With all the shutters open, the views from the suite are quite stunning (even if you are lying in bed) and the ambience is quite awesome due to the suite’s proximity to the beach (i.e.; it is on the beach) and the pounding waves can be felt as well as heard.
The suite includes a TV, Mobile Phone and a hire car although I guess the price could be reduced by declining the hire car if other arrangements are in place.
Honeymooners are the first to come to my mind when I think of the appeal of the Blue Marlin Suite.
The panoramic views can only be bettered by some rooms of the nearby Blue Mango apartments and marginally better at Alibaba’s Sea Breeze in Heavenly Bay, however the Blue Marlin is really in a class of it’s own due to it’s location on the beach.
All rooms are cleaned and fresh linen provided regularly every 2 days.
If you want drinks in the fridge, these are kept stocked up.
The whole area is hosed down and swept each day, plants watered and bird feeding implements replenished.
A small library exists in the former Breakfast Bar of the main building which is lighted all night for the benefit of those insomniacs that like to read or lime all night.
Breakfast and Lunch is optional in the Café Delight where there is access to the Internet for $20TT per hour in an air conditioned room ... I used to go there just to cool down sometimes !!
Situated right underneath the Blue Marlin Suite with lovely views of the main beach.
Café Delight is open all week for breakfasts, lunches and soft drinks. They even make nice ground coffee there.
On Fridays and Sundays (this could change!) the café hosts barbecues and entertainment is provided by a group that plays old style African Drums.
Being below the Blue Marlin Suite, the café has beautiful views down the length of the main beach and out to sea.
At the time I was there, this was the only place to go for breakfast in Castara.
The Naturalist Beach Resort seems to have cornered all the commercial opportunities available to it in Castara with the rooms, a café, internet facilities and it’s excellent location right next to the main beach.
Don’t expect Gourmet Cuisine or Luxury (arguably with the exception of the Blue Marlin Suite).
Expect simplicity with clean and comfortable accommodation in an excellent location, convenience for meals and a good and reliable host (Ancle) and his staff who are always on hand if you need them.
Naturalist Beach Resort
I've noticed that you've removed the link for hotel websites and e.mail. I'm having trouble with the Naturalist link. Is this just a temporary blip?
We are now going to be going to Tobago with our 3 kids aged 18/16/9 and thought the Naturalist might be worth a look as you speak so highly of it for your family. It's only got a few apartments so is it too late for us to book for early April 06 (just before Easter) or will they have been booked up by now? If it is booked any other kid friendly (well at least other kids to hang out with) places to stay in Castara? We've set our heart on Castara but may have to re-think now the brood are tagging along!!!
Thanks in advance, guys.
Yearning for Tobago all the more as I'd be their now if we hadn't had to cancel.
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 it’s hostelries attractive to tourists that like to explore due to it’s 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 won’t 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 ... it’s 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/TV’s 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