Coco Reef Resort - Reader Reports & Opinion
We are due to visit Coco Reef on 3rd Nov 2005.
I have a question about the type of snorkelling equipment I can hire.
I am fairly new to snorkelling and prefer to wear a snorkelling vest. Does anyone know if these are available to hire at the hotel and how much they cost?
I know the water is quite shallow and does not have many waves as it is enclosed but I would like to venture further out.
I have all my own snorkelling equipment - just not a vest.
Dress For Dinner?? 13 Oct 2005
Graham B from UK
My wife and I are visiting for the first time from 3 November and would like advice on what "casually elegant" means for dining in the restaurant!
We don't want to take the whole wardrobe (we'll probably have the kitchen sink already), but don't want to be out of place either! Any advice?!?
We're off to the Coco Reef on 3rd November and would love to take a helicopter tour over the island. Are Tobago Helicopters up and flying yet?
Many thanks, Jill
Our Review Of The Coco Reef
Review of our Holiday in Tobago 8th to 22nd September 2005
We were last in Tobago in May 2003 when we stayed at the Coco Reef Resort.
In 2004 we continued our normal path of visiting other Caribbean Islands and different hotels. Last year we visited St Lucia where we stayed at the Rendezvous where we also had a great holiday and hope to return to one day soon.
In the last 10 years we have consistently visited the Caribbean at least once a year. This year was our first ever return to a hotel, The Coco Reef Resort, where we had previously had a great holiday and had used it to make comparisons with other hotels since.
Whilst we like to see other islands and hotels, when you do come across something a little special it makes the decision to go somewhere else and possibly regret, it a little more difficult.
The decision therefore to return to the Coco Reef therefore gave us some concerns as to whether it would come up to our expectations second time around.
We will write this review in three parts:
1) Our review of the Coco Reef as we found it this year.
2) How it had changed since 2003
3) What we would like to see changed given the opportunity.
Review of our Visit to Tobago and The Coco Reef 8th to 22nd September 2005
Arrival at Crown Point International Airport quickly bought back memories. The baggage hall still has the smallest carousel ever made (I think it was a salesman’s sample!) This needs attending to as there are now three large jets arriving on a Thursday, Virgin, BA and Excel all within a couple of hours of each other at an airport large enough to handle a bus. There is also no air conditioning.
Though only 3 minutes from the airport very little aircraft noise was heard over the course of the stay. This is due to the few large aircraft visiting the island arriving and taking off in directions that cause minimum noise. (We were on the beach when the Virgin 747 came in and we missed it).
On arrival at the hotel we were welcomed with a glass of rum punch at a separate desk for returning guests. As we were already familiar with the hotel we were taken directly to our room where we found the bed decorated with ‘A warm and special welcome back Mr & Mrs Gilham’ written in cut palm leaves and flowers. There was also a bottle of wine on ice and two glasses along with a large display of fruit. As well as being ‘Coco Repeaters’ we are also members of Virgin Holidays ‘Frequent Flyers’ club which the hotel recognises.
It was around 5:30pm so I called the Tamaras restaurant directly to book us in for dinner to find our reservation already made.
Our holiday got off to an instant start, as we knew the hotel well and didn’t need to explore, which we feel made our holiday seem much longer than normal.
A normal day consisted of Breakfast at around 08:30 where we have to say there is an excellent choice of fruit and cooked food. The egg chef cooks some of the best fried eggs we have ever had without ruining them by turning them over.
The restaurant is great as it is open, without any ugly nets to keep the birds out. All it needs is for us to take turns to go to the buffet whilst the other plays scarecrow. This is much better than being inside what resembles a bird cage (as they have at the Hilton).
Then to the beach, which is meticulously raked & cleaned at day-break, every day. There was no problem getting a sun lounger and parasol; the over 50’s bagging the sunbeds at 6am seems to have gone away (by the way, we are over 50!).
At around 10am Trevor made his round of delivering cold bottled water and was then soon back to take the first drinks order of the day. Trevor faded slightly as the day went on but was there when you needed him.
Around 11am most days, a young lady with a buttercup in her hair delivered fruit on a stick from an attractively presented pineapple. Some days though not regularly there was also ice-cold towels and Ice pops delivered to the sunbed.
Lunch at Bacchanals for us was usually BBQ fish of the day but that could have been a choice of Steak, catch of the day, quality Burgers or Hot dogs, or a selection from the chafing pans buffet (or as some had, all of it!!), dessert or ice cream to follow.
Then back to the sunbed to sleep off the lunch!
Around 4:30pm we would return to the room to find it always cleaned & ready for us with the bed decorated with wording for the day.
In the evening we would dress for dinner in Tamaras (shirt with collar for men and long trousers) and go to the terraced bar for pre dinner drink where we found the service much improved on our last visit. Normally we would have dinner in Tamaras as we prefer a little more formal dining in the evening though we did eat in Bacchanals Beach Bistro one evening and it was great also.
Whilst at the Coco Reef we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary and I had ordered ahead, some flowers to be sent to my wife which the hotel arranged weeks ahead and did not need reminding of. This seemed to have prompted the hotel to deliver a plate of fruit to the room that day and also decorate the bed with ‘Happy Anniversary’.
Our son had e-mailed the hotel and had purchased a bottle of Champagne for us at dinner as a surprise. When we arrived at the restaurant we were surprisingly greeted with ‘Happy Anniversary Mr & Mrs Gilham’ and taken to our table, which had been completely decorated with flowers and foil with even our chairs dressed in white linen. On the table was a card announcing the Champagne from our son. It was all done very nicely and effort had gone into what would for many hotels been left as a normal table.
Whilst at the hotel we had a problem which is too minor to mention in detail but at the time annoyed me intensely. I made Eric Feniet, the Hotel Manager aware of my displeasure and thought his initial response to be disappointing. However he investigated and within minutes had sorted the problem. The effort made by both him and his staff to ensure that we were completely happy left us feeling (almost) that the problem hadn’t occurred. We realise that small problems will occur in any business but the professional manner in which Eric and his staff had responded gave us much assurance that they really do care about their guests.
Some reviews comment on the unfriendly staff and we have to say that last year we compared them with the staff in the Rendezvous in St. Lucia and decided the Coco Reef staff were less friendly. However, maybe because now we are a little more familiar with the hotel and island we found it easier to start a conversation, and this year our opinion has completely changed. The staff at the Coco Reef almost without exception we found to be very friendly and pleasant.
We mentioned the birds, earlier in the review. In all countries with outdoor or open eating areas, birds are a problem, more so for fouling the furniture. The Coco Reef must be the best hotel we have stayed at for keeping furniture and paintwork clean. It’s not obvious but there must be a constant cleaning programme as you rarely see birds droppings on anything you need to sit on or touch.
Our holiday was extended by a day due to the very sad reason of the Virgin pilot, that was due to take us home, had taken his own life whilst staying at the Hilton Hotel. Virgin then put us in the Hilton for a night, which did give us the opportunity to see probably the second best hotel on the island. The room was very nice but you could have been anywhere in the world (the air-con was very poor in many rooms). Food at breakfast and lunch was far from the quality of the Coco Reef. I have to say that with the exception of the Virgin rep at the Hilton, they looked after us very well during this 24-hour delay. We were able to keep our room until 6pm at no extra cost.
How the Coco Reef had changed since May 2003
Very little had changed since our last visit.
Service in general was better but this was low season.
No problem with towels on the sun-loungers this year.
Lunch in Bacchanals we felt was not quite such a high standard as in our previous visit. Although the food itself was of the same high quality, the choice was very repetitive. The chafing pans had much more choice previously, often with Prawn and Lobster dishes, which were not seen this time.
We were keen to try the Lobster again as last time they were the largest we have ever eaten and good value at a supplement. This time we had 3 Lobster meals and found them of varying quantity. The pan fried with a tomato based sauce was served out of the shell and was clearly a large Lobster; the grilled lobster with garlic butter was served in the shell, as all were last time, and again was of good size; the Lobster Thermador was however disappointing as it had been removed from the shell and cut into small pieces and seemed a very small portion in comparison, at the same supplementary price, however this was very tasty.
What we would like to see changed given the opportunity -
Please bear in mind we have had two weeks to do little else but review the hotel.
One thing that we did still find a bit of a bind, was the lack of an in-room safe and therefore the need to use the safe deposit box in reception. We had jewellery that we did not want to take to the beach for fear that with lotioned hands, rings may slip off and be lost. As we swim we also did not want to leave them at our sun bed although in reality we had no fear that they would have been stolen. We see that the newly opened Coco Reef in Bermuda has in-room safes so maybe this will change in the future.
We would also like to see the spot light on the terraced area moved to the other end so that when the entertainers are performing you can actually see them. Currently the light is behind them and all you can see is a silhouette. Small point I know, but we felt that sometimes the entertainers struggled to hold our attention but it was difficult to be responsive when you could hardly see them!
Although we have grandchildren of our own, we would really like to see this as an Adults only hotel. Whilst we were at the Coco Reef there were a few very young children, which were really no problem, themselves. However, we really feel it’s not a typical family orientated hotel (there isn’t a great deal for children to do) and also for some unknown reason it seems to be the parents that become very loud at what is otherwise a very quiet resort. Why do parents need to talk to children in such a loud voice? Do they think they are like old people, deaf! Also, the mess the parents left in the restaurants at the end of their meal, has to be seen to be believed. Whilst we were there we were really surprised at one young couple that had a very young baby totally exposed to the sun (though I am sure with sun screen) for 8 hours a day with no cover to its body at all. Apart from the sun on its head, can it control its bodily functions at that age!!
We realise that this review might seem just a little too positive but it is a very honest review from our experience, during this visit. Rest assured, we are not easily pleased and regularly complain when there is a justified need.
One concern we have with the Coco Reef is that it must be close to winning a 5 star rating at which time price will rise and we may no longer be able to afford to return.
Needless to say we will be returning if we can to Tobago and the Coco Reef.
John & Chris Gilham
Great Holiday At Coco Reef
My family and I had a wonderful holiday at the Coco Reef in early September. Having stayed at many 4*+ resorts in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world, I have no hesitation in recommending the Coco Reef.
The plus factors:-
- excellent friendly, well trained, staff and attentive service
- good food
- good swimming and snorkelling with lots of fish in the shallows
- friendly locals
- well appointed and maintained bedrooms
- quiet and peaceful ambiance
- beautiful gardens and surroundings and clean beach
- plenty of sunbeds
- good selection of day and evening boat trips up the west coast
- stunning sunsets
- short distance from the airport
- no hawkers on the beach
I am usually quite critical but, genuinely, the only complaint I had was that they only provided BBC World from midnight until 0600hrs. Most of the guests were from the UK and keeping up with world news and UK sport, courtesy of CNN, can be rather frustrating! The management team are aware of this and were hoping to rectify it - not that you spend much time watching television anyway, but the cricket was on whilst we were there!
Other minor irritations - the birds at breakfast and insect bites at sunset , but you expect that in the Caribbean.
Would we return - most certainly!
Finally, I found the http://www.mytobago.info site most informative and useful.