Cuffie River Nature Retreat - Reader Reports & Opinion
Simone Kist from Canada visited in January 2009 and awarded
My new husband and I decided to get married in Tobago. Everthing we had researches suggested that Tobago might be the island paradise we imagined to be the perfect setting for our big day. With its lush rainforest and picturesque sandy bays, it did not disappoint, indeed it was more beautiful than we expected, with lovely people to give it the right vibe too.
We didn't actually stay at the Cuffie River but having decided to get married right on the beach, I had picked out Cuffie River Retreat for our reception dinner. After checking their website and seeing that they host and arrange weddings, I decided to have Regina, the lovely owner and host, take care of all the planning of our wedding. It turned out to be a great decision and the result was a wonderful day that ran smoothly and without a hitch.
A few days after arriving in Tobago, Regina arranged for one of her drivers/staff, Hethzell (I hope I'm spelling it correctly!) to pick us up from our hotel in the south of the island and take us around to do all the formalities. We went to the registrar's to get our licence and then over to meet the wedding officiant. I should mention that we had our two friends and all of our luggage with us too, as Hethzell was dropping us off in Castara after we had done our running around. She was absolutley great to do this, even stopping in Scarborough to pick up some groceries to take to Castara.
The day of our wedding was truly dreamy, my bouquet arrived with the minister, it was perfect with anthirium flowers, sea shells and ribbons to match my dress. Although Regina had never met me or even seen my dress, she had somehow picked the perfect arrangement for the bouquet--many compliments to the flower arranger too!
The service was lovely, the minister was very nice and we stood in a circle on Heavenly Bay beach just before sunset.
After the sunset we emabrked on the comfortable bus that Regina had arranged to go for the dinner at the Retreat, about 30 minutes away from Castara. The bus driver was very nice and my mother enjoyed some good conversation with him.
Arriving at Cuffie River we really felt like we were in the middle of forest, though the sun had gone down you could hear all the wonderfully strange noises of the forest all around.
We had the dinner in the main restaurant area. There were 15 in our group and we all sat at one table.The food was fabulous, I had requested seafood so we had shrimp, salmon and a really large variety of tasty vegetarian dishes (also my request), including eggplant parmesian, callalou soup, cheese stuffed potatoes and many more... The wedding cake was a rich rum cake which was decorated with sea shell motifs. We had opted to include drinks for our guests and a 'help yourself' bar had been set up and generously stocked beside the dinner table.
After dinner we were bused back to Castara where we continued the party on our own into the wee hours of the next morning.
David & Sue Broadley from U.K. visited in December 2008 and awarded
Our 7 day stay at Cuffie River was the 1st part of a 2 week holiday in Tobago and definitely the best part.
As my wife is not an ardent birdwatcher and likes her hotel accommodation to be comfortable. She was not disappointed and really enjoyed watching the antics of the hummingbirds around the feeders as she sat either in the lounge or from our balcony whilst I birded the trails, road and river around the hotel.
The food that Regina prepares in her kitchen is simply divine and her idea of everybody sitting at a long table for the evening meal turns turns it into a houseparty.
We are already planning to return to Tobago and Cuffie River is at the centre of those plans.
David And Eileen Chell from U.K. visited in May 2008 and awarded
We stayed for 5 days and wished it could have been more. A fantastic place with helpful knowledgeable staff - Desmond is a brilliant guide - and excellent food. We are both vegetarians and Regina went out of her way to ensure that we had, in her words, "a properly balanced diet". It tasted great and there was plenty of it.
We have no reservations whatsoever in recommending this beautiful, tranquil place to anyone intersted in birds and nature who really wants to get away from it all.
The rooms were large and airy and perfectly clean with tasteful furnishings.
Regina offers a wide range of optional tours at a fair price to (nature) attractions on the island. We had a tour to the Gilpin Trace with Peter Cox (organised by her) that gave us sightings of sabre wings, collared trojan, blue backed manikins and many more.
The opportunity to live amongst such incredible scenery and wildlife (mind you don't step on a nightjar) is something that we will never forget and as for the swimming pool, well, you will just have to go and see for your self.
Anne Decker from U.K. visited in April 2008 and awarded
We stayed for a couple of days at the Cuffie River Eco-lodge in April. We found it even better than the reviews and photos had led us to believe. We stayed in the 'Executive Suite' which was a huge, airy room on the ground floor from which we watched humming birds just inches from our windows.
The forest around was alive with sounds night and day. Fortunately our jet lag meant that we were already awake before the raucous dawn chorus from the chacalacas began.
As it was low-ish season we were the only guests there which made us feel very spoilt. The excellent food was served by several of the charming cooks. It was undoubtedly the best food we had on the island. We didn't go to the lodge for the food - but met others who did and can quite see why. Interesting, well-cooked spicy food accompanied by fresh juices.
We made full use of the well maintained pool and also went on a couple of entertaining tours with Desmond, the guide. Easy walking, amusing stories and a good eye for birds made these unforgettable.
Our well-travelled 18 year old daughter said that it is a place she will definitely return to when she is older - and we couldn't agree more! Our only disappointment was arriving a day late because of snow at Gatwick!
Lloyd Mcintosh from U.K. visited in April 2008 and awarded
Originally we booked to stay for 2 nights before heading onto Trinidad, by the end of the 1st day, my Family of 5, my Wife and I and 3 boys, aged 19,16,13 had unanimously decided to stay an extra night and we were glad that we did, what a pleasant experience it was, the Hotel was empty, apart from 1 birdwatcher from Canada, who only stayed 1 day, so it was like a private villa for us, with Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner being expertly prepared for us, which was not only a bonus for my wife, but an experience for my boys to try for the first time, real homemade West Indian food, which they enjoyed very much, especially the soups.
The Dawn chorus is something that I won't forget for a long time, even as I write this note I can hear the cacophony of sound that greeted as we woke each morning from birds (that you might only see in a zoo)and the booming noise of the Bullfrogs at night ( we thought they were Monkeys!)
Even to see the clouds coming over the mountains in the morning and to see the early morning rainfall as it fell from on high into the valley below was magical,
The Rain forest tour was interesting and worthwhile doing and one of the reasons for staying an extra day, our guide was a bit of an authority on Birds and added to the tour.
There was a large enough swimming pool which provide a lot of fun for my Boys and provided a place for us to relax, read and snooze, plus provided another interesting view of the valley.
The Hotel from the outside looks a bit functional almost drab, but inside the whole place was nicely decorated, the large rooms were clean and comfortable as can be seen from the photos.
All in all, a great place to wind down and to get away from the crowds and be close to nature. Bring your binoculars not only for the Birds but also the amazing sky at night.