Top River Pearl - Reader Reports & Opinion
Top River Pearl, Charlotteville
We recently had the most wonderful time in beautiful Charlotteville, and a huge part of the reason for our happy holiday there was the Top River Pearl guesthouse. I’m shocked that there hasn’t been a review of it or posting about it yet (as of Nov. 2003), so I’ll go ahead and post something, because this place is NOT to be missed!
Top River Pearl is by far one of the best accommodations we’ve stayed in anywhere, and is quite reasonably priced for what you get. Because we were visiting Tobago with our 7-year-old daughter, we opted for the “house,” rather one of the two or three apartments, but I gather that the apartments have the same wonderful, airy, mahogany-rich feel -- they’re just smaller and have one bedroom.
The house is nothing short of magnificent! It is a very generously sized one-story house on top of TRP’s office and café. Its tremendously tall ceilings make the place seem even bigger. Mahogany is everywhere. The richness of the beautifully crafted hardwood doors, windowsills, louvres, tables, beds, and other furnishings perfectly compliment the vastly airy open space and the cool, attractive tile flooring. It’s kind of like “top-notch cozy Swiss ski chalet meets ultra relaxing Caribbean getaway.” It’s a combination that works splendidly. While there, I learned that owner, Rainer Tichai, of Germany, actually designed the place himself. He’s a landscape architect by trade, but I must say he did a remarkable job as a “regular” architect as well. TRP is first class all the way.
The bedrooms are also roomy and just as lovely as the rest of the place. Our daughter had the front bedroom, which had a queen bed. My husband and I took the back room with the king-sized bed. The beds were extremely comfortable. The futon couch in the living room can also be pulled out as a sleeping space, so the house can house up to six people. (The futon is not as comfy as the beds.) The bathroom is bigger than our bedroom back in San Francisco, and super airy, like the rest of Top River Pearl, with attractive blue and white tile work. The kitchen is spacious and well appointed. It has only a propane stove “top,” and that worked for us, but I can see where it would be nice to have a real range – it would fit the atmosphere of Top River Pearl, and enable guests to have more cooking options.
We loved the shared deck between the house and the apartments. It is large and has an attractive mahogany table and chair set, and two incredibly relaxing hammock “chairs.” (Picture a hammock you only sit in.) Our private deck was also lovely, with views of the bay (about 200-300 meters away, down the hill) and of surrounding local life. TRP has no screens, but mosquitoes were not a problem during our visit. In fact, none of us had one bite during our entire stay on the island.
Before I go on about the place itself, I have to say part of the reason our stay at TRP was so enchanting were the women who work there. Lisa is a friendly, helpful, very efficient and caring manager, and Chamion is also very engaging and extremely helpful. I enjoyed her company tremendously. She shared some recipes with me and even came by with ingredients one day to teach me to make a local dish I wanted to be able to cook at home. Their children also came by and made friends with our daughter, who enjoyed them so much that she didn’t miss her friends at home. Rainer is lucky to have them, and the rest of his staff, including Alicia (who was also kind enough to write out some recipes for a couple of dishes I wanted to be able to make at home) and Sheryl. It takes a lot of people to make TRP shine as it does.
At first I was worried about the lack of air conditioning, but that proved not to be a problem at all. It was much warmer than we’re used to in chilly San Francisco, but we quickly acclimated – partly because we didn’t have air conditioning! I found that when we stayed in air-conditioned lodgings in Store Bay on the way home, the heat outside felt stifling. In Charlotteville we were outside in the water most of the daytime, and at night a little breeze often graced the house. If we were warm at bedtime, we just showered and wet our hair and let the super powerful floor fans cool us off as we drifted to sleep.
Speaking of sleep, the only real problem we encountered were the nocturnal roosters Charlotteville seems famous for. At midnight on the first night there, I awoke with a start to the loudest cock-a-doodle-doo I’d ever heard. It turns out that our bedroom was right next to a large mango tree that these birdies like to roost in at night. When one of these fowl starts up anywhere within hearing distance, every other rooster answers in reply and soon the silent island is awash in a sea of crowing. It’s really funny to hear, but when you’re trying to sleep, the humor is quickly lost. (Our daughter slept through this every night, only once awakening to ask us “Who is playing a trumpet?” Ah, a city child indeed...) I managed to learn to sleep fairly well with earplugs firmly in place. The beasts would start crowing about every hour or half hour, and would die down after five to ten minutes. But after three nights of this, I was starting to imagine how tasty some rooster stew would be for breakfast...
Lucky for the chortling chickens, I found a solution on Night 4. I’d gone on a wonderful rainforest tour with Newton George (I’ve subsequently read the great reviews of him and his tours on mytobago.info, and couldn’t agree more.), and this foremost bird expert gave me some advice that made the rest of our stay as blissful by night as it was by day. He said to take some whacks at the tree with a stick or broom and rustle the roosters out of there shortly after they went up to roost in the evening. They’d fly off and after a night or two of this might not come back to the inhospitable tree for a while. With maniacal glee I followed his advice and took a broom handle to the brushy parts of the tree. Suddenly at least seven hens and roosters buzzed out of the tree right over my head, protesting all the way to wherever roosters and hens go when they’ve been roused out of bed. (A startling experience for me and, I’m sure, them; I felt a little bad, but there were thousands of trees within earshot so it’s not like they’d have to go homeless.) A total of 15 hens and roosters flew out of the mango tree and didn’t come back that night. Our sleep was long and deep. The next night I performed the same chicken chicanery and only three flew out, leaving us in peace all night. Our last two nights we didn’t even bother with the tree. They’d found other lodgings. Granted, other roosters abounded, but they weren’t so close and never interrupted our sleep. (I think the people who stay in the apartments don’t hear the crowing like we did, because the trees aren’t right next to their windows, so that’s a plus for staying there if you don’t want to have to beat around the bush, so to speak.)
Clark (known around Charlotteville as The Kayak Guy), who runs a fun kayak touring business in the village, told us about another way to hush the roosters at night: Soak corn kernels in rum all day and sprinkle the boozy corn around the tree before the birds head up for the night. They’ll apparently be so soused they won’t give a hoot about crowing.
I mention our rooster solutions at such length because they might come in handy if you stay at TRP. I wish I’d known about these techniques for quelling their sonorous ways right from the start, but it worked out fine in the end, and I have a good story to tell friends now. (I’ve heard from other not-so-lucky guests at other lodgings in the area who had no way of controlling the nearby crowing because the trees were too high or they didn’t have access to them, so really, Top River Pearl is one of the easier places to rid yourself of midnight roosters.)
Top River also has a café. It is very beautiful, and serves European and American breakfast and lunch fare. Our last day there, Alicia made a magnificent loaf of coconut sweet bread, and we devoured several slices. I hope in the future that the café can feature a few more local dishes like this.
My dog is in bad need of a walk now (he is crossing his legs...I told him when I started this post that it would be just a couple of minutes), so I’ll wrap it up by saying that Top River Pearl is truly a gem waiting to be discovered by lucky visitors, and we greatly look forward to our next stay there.
Stayed For A Week March 04
My boyfriend and I stayed at Top River Pearl in March of this year for a week.
I fell in love with Charlottesville when we were in Tobago in June last year and we decided rather than doing a package holiday we would go inderpendently.
Rainer the owner was very quick in his response to emails when we were making intial enquiries.
We stayed in one of the studio apartments. Although it was basic it was clean and adequate. to be honest we would not of wanted to do any cooking as it was so cheap to eat out in the village.
Although the Cafe shuts for the evening, by prior arrangement they will do dinner for you and this is a must. We had a three course meal of local dishes and it was fabulous. by the end of it neither of us could move.
My boyfriend was worried about the noise from the cockerels as he's a light sleeper but to be honest there didn;t seem to be any near the apartment so we both slept well at night.
The views from the apartment were wonderful, right across the bay. The best sight for me though, was first thing in the morning sat on the balcony watching the local children go to school.
We both really enjoyed our week here. We felt that by staying in this part of the island you got a real feel for the laid back life on the island. I would definatly stay at Top River Pearl again.
A must to try is the juice bar on the road through the rain forest. It's a wooden stall on the side of the road not far in on the road from the atlantic side. The guy who owns it will mix you a fabulous fruit juice of whatever is in season. It is one definatly not to be missed.
Top River Pearl 16th October.... 25 Oct 2004
Paul Williams from Hamble,Southampton,England
We arrived from Castara on Saturday 16th October for a weeks stay at Top River Pearl which is well located about 200 yards up Spring Street and is very much in the middle of the village housing.
We had booked a one bedroom apartment and found ours to be on the upper floor and therefore had a very high ceiling which helped the airflow which as the temperatures were in the very high thirties was of great benefit.
The design of the building is attractive and with the use of local timber adds to the feeling of comfort etc.
We were there during a quiet period and were the only guests for the first 3 days and this did make it a bit quiet to be honest.
The cafe was also very quiet during this time and we found ourselves making snacks and enjoying the views from our balcony a lot.
I have to say that all of my dialogue with Rainer the owner was dealt with in a very professional way and helped me to think I had booked correctly.
I would say that it is a great place for basing yourselves while in Charlotteville probably offering the best guest house style accomodation in town.
My comments about Charlotteville will be covered in my overall visit report which will be completed later.
Two Weeks At Trp 26 Feb 2005
David Watkins from Bude Cornwall Uk
I stayed at Top River Pearl for two weeks in Jan 05.The accommodation consisted of a bathroom/w.c a small kitchennette and a bed sit room with a private balcony.There is also a communal meeting area and a small coffe/breakfast bar.The staff were very friendly and helpful and the children were charming and polite.I would reccommend the TRP whole heartedly,however I do think that C'ville itself was over rated and is only a day or two stay.
Top Floor Or Ground Floor?
As I consider reserving a room at TRP, I had been thinking a top floor room would have more exposure to cool evening breezes. However, then I thought that a top floor room would also absorb much more solar energy during the day, and that a ground floor room might be cooler overall. Anyone have any thoughts on this?