Coco Reef Resort - Reader Reports & Opinion
Just Got Back From Coco Reef- Honest (but Lengthy) Review
Hi All past, future and potential visitors to Coco Reef!
My wife and I returned on Sept 2nd after two weeks AI at Coco Reef.
All-in-all a good value-for-money holiday. We had a great time, met lots of reallly nice people and will keep many fond memories.
Before we booked this trip I used this forum a great deal and found it very useful. As a kind of thank you I promised to myself to detail as much as possible about Coco Reef and Tobago upon returning. Here goes:
The transfer from the airport was swift (3 mins) after locating the correct taxi service designated by the tour operator. The baggage pick-up area was slightly chaotic at Crown Point airport as three carriers, Excel BA and Virgin all arrive fairly close together on a Thursday afternoon. This was compounded by the fact that the airport has the smallest baggage carosel I have ever seen.
A small investment in air-con and installing a larger baggage carosel would make life so much easier. Saying that, everyone was in good spirits and helped each other and we got our bags off in 20 mins- much faster than we did at Gatwick on returning-(1.5 hour wait).
As a big treat to ourselves we flew Excel One- (Business class equivalent). I was worried about some of the feedback I had read on this airline but was very pleasantly surprised. For a fraction of the cost you would pay on other carriers we had great service all the way. Well worth every penny and highly reccomended.
The organised chaos of the aiport is quickly forgotten as you enter the hotel foyer. Handed refreshment, check-in was fast and painless. Our bags were taken and we were shown brifely around the hotel. The air-con in the room was a real aahhh factor when we entered. We took about 3-4 days to fully acclimatise as it's the rainy season and humidity is fairly high. The rooms are exactly as advertised clean, comfortable and all you really need.
Half way through the holiday my wife enquired about the addditional cost to upgrade to a junior suite. Nobody got back to us on this for over a day and after a two hour wait in the lobby (whilst costs were being established) the hotel manager really kindly gave us the upgrade for free. This was the cherry on the cake for our stay at Coco Reef as the junior suites are a lot bigger and again worth the money. My advice is to bartar a bit when you have been there a few days. If no one is using the rooms you should get a good deal.
DINING, FACILITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT:
The food was consistantly of a high standard at every sitting. The fine-dining Tamaras was particularly good and at all times the service was discreet and attentive. If you partake, I reccomend a sundowner either on the roof terrace or in Baccanals, the sunsets were beautiful.
The Spa and Gym were also of a high standard. Ask the receptionist if you can book your free massage- (apparently you get 15mins free for every week you stay but this wasn't advertised and may be dependant on who you book with). They have male and female masseurs available.
The beach was as seen in the resort photos -white sand and the sunbeds and palm umbrellas abound. Trevor will pass by every hour or two to discreetly see if you would like a drink delivered.
Wastersports were limited to non-motorised with Kyaks, sailing boats and snorkeling equipment available for free. The highlight for me was Derek's Undersea Tobago Dive center located at the end of the beach. Along with Ellis and Rachel (the other instructers) I had 8 great dives both in the Carribean and the Atlantic. -apx. 10 min boat trip, with 2 dives in a morning and back by 12pm. Saw Nurse sharks,-(harmless ) rays, turtles, Moray eels, barracuda and dived the Maverick wreck(27m) which was great fun. If you havn't dived before and would like to give it a try they do PADI "Bubble Maker" Courses for kids and gentle introductory courses for adults all of them close in to the resort's lagoon.
My only minor issue was with the water in the resort's man-made lagoon. As the entrance to this is quite small I think that the water isn't moved around enough- there are no waves (so its great for small children) but I missed that and would have liked it "flushed out" more perhaps with a wider entrance or additional gap knocked through.
The grounds are otherwise beautiful and all is kept in immaculate condition along with a small army of dedicated people who constantly remove any sand in the hotel itself. Staff are very polite and friendly and the best waiter there is by far Kendrick-This guy will look after you. If you like cocktails ask him for a Viagra-these are not on the menu and 1 is usually more than enough
The evening entertainment consists of a variety of local performers and the standard was generally very good. Things can be a bit reserved at first, but if you feel like a dance go for it, the atmosphere was excellent as soon as people started dancing, as if everyone were just waiting for the excuse and the first brave soul to go for it! There is absolutely no pressure though if the sun, sea and food have taken their toll! If you are looking for late night boozy evenings to 3, 4 in the morning, it wont happen at Coco Reef. Most people wander off to bed after 12. I personally would have enjoyed 1 or 2 later nights with a disco or something, but this was not to be. Sunday School is a regular local event where the partying goes on late but is also (I was told) suitable for families in the earlier part of the evening.
OUT AND ABOUT
A Trip to the waterfalls is reccomended as is the Rainforest trip. Hiring a car and getting maps and a guide can all be organised by the very efficient Social Director. Also several people enjoyed the "Cocomotion" trip by speedboat around the reefs and beauty spots for some Rum punch and snorkelling. Other trips around the island to Englishman's bay and Charlotteville also had very good feedback. If you turn right out of the hotel entrance then right again you enter Store bay which has a great little market place and beach. We found the many Tobagan's we met to be friendly and with a great sense of humour.
The undisputed highlight of the holiday for us was a day trip to the Grenadine islands. Picked up from the hotel at 7.30 we flew to Union island (40 mins) and then on to the old style sailing boat (that was filmed in Pirates of the Carribean along with the crew as supporting extras) This is truly an idylic trip, dropped of on several small islands and spars with a couple of palm trees, crystal tourquoise water and a Rum punch and turtles swimming nearby for company. The crew and skipper were fantastic and we had the whole ship to just the 6 of us. Food and beverages were all provided.
The only catch here is that there is a minimum of 6 paying adults (Children are half price) needed in order to charter the 8 seater Cesna we flew in. We were fortunate to meet with a lovely family at Coco Reef who also wanted to go on this trip. After saying goodbye to the crew its a really nice plane ride over the islands back to Crown point and Tobago in time for a sundowner at 7 pm Coco Reef
Sand flies can be a nuisance in the evenings but buy some "Off" in the hotel shop (or at Jimmys shop around the corner -usually a lot cheaper) and spray liberally and it will keep them at bay. (This was far more effective than the spray I got in the UK) Also buy a stick of "Afterbite" to deal with the inevitable.
The hotel exchange rate is not good for travellers cheques. The bank is 100 yards outside the hotel and gives market rates. The bank closes at 2pm most days.
The resort is far from being an "adults only" hotel, but if you are looking for this go outside of UK school holidays. We didn't mind this aspect and felt that the place had a more lively atmosphere as a result.
I hope this gives you a flavour of what a holiday at Coco Reef is like. If you have any questions on anything mentioned I'd be happy to help if I can. If you are going soon -Have a great time.
Coco Reef - Returned 8th Sept
I've just noticed a previous review of Coco Reef and having read through all of it, can't argue with anything and don't think there is a need to do a long contribution other than to add some individual bits based on our experience that you may all find useful.
Coco Reef was every bit as lovely as were were led to expect. The food was fantastic - we are both vegetarian and the buffets at the beach bar were just amazing. We only went b & b and really glad we did as it gave is opportunity to try some other places. I will post something under the food section about this though would like to just tell anyone visiting the Crown Point area to visit Store Bay and have lunch there at one of the huts. The rotis are fab and at only £1 (equivalent) fantastic value.
We got married at Coco Reef and the service was really lovely. It was really hot and humid (and we never got used to that unfortunately) so we got married at 5pm in the gardens. I did have one quite serious problem though - I had booked a hair appointment at Coco Cuts and regretted it! I found out afterwards that the regular hairdresser was away and the guy who did mine was the 'stand in'. To cut a long story short, so to speak, the guy didn't have a clue what he was doing and burnt my hair so badly I've had to have over an inch cut since coming home - and as it is already short, an inch is a lot! I did complain, especially as this was my wedding day, and though nothing could be done on the day (I had to do my hair myself and manage the best I could with the burnt bits) I was offered compensation that I was satisfied with.
Part of the compensation was a night in the Royal Suite. We were very excited about this and very much looking forward to the experience. If anyone is considering upgrading I thought it might be worth commenting on what we found. The suite is a duplex suite with a large bedroom downstairs and a lounge upstairs. The bedroom looks over the gardens at the front of the hotel, the lounge looks over the lagoon at the back - beautiful view. However, apart from a lot of space, there wasn't anything else to say about this suite. I think I had been expecting that the bathroom would be different to the standard ones in that it might have had a larger and more luxurious bath or even a jacuzzi - but it didn't. The only difference to the standard bathrooms was that there was an additional sink and a dressing area.
So, the suite is very lovely with great views and more floorspace, but that is about it - but a great experience all the same.
All in all, we were more than happy at having chosen Coco Reef for our wedding and honeymoon and would recommend it to anyone - although for any brides to be, check who is doing the hair that day!!
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.
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
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