Grafton Beach Resort - Reader Reports & Opinion
Grafton Beach Resort - August 2005
I haven't stayed at any other hotels on the island so can't make a comparison but I have to say I was pleased with the Grafton. You have to remember that it is a 3*+. If you expect 5* you will be disappointed. The resort itself looks, (and is), quite dated. However, the staff are all very friendly and helpful and it is clean and quite well maintained.
The food in the main restaurant was generally very good and there is enough of a variety to cope with most people's tastes. Staff are attentive and quite quickly become used to where you like to sit and any preferences. We ate at the other restaurant on only one night, (the Neptune), and whilst it was nice I didn't think the standard was significantly higher than the main restaurant. We ate at the beach bar twice and found the standard of food there to also be high, albeit you are limited to 'snack' food on all but Sunday, i.e. burger and chips, hot dog and chips etc.
Service at all three bars, (the main one, the beach bar and the pool bar), is friendly, albeit a little relaxed. You soon slip into 'Tobagonian time' and don't worry about it. Again, they are quick to note what you drink and how you like it. However, if you like snacks with your drinks you will need to supply them yourself. Crisps/nuts etc are not served.
The rooms, like the rest of the place, are dated but clean and the housekeeping service is good. All rooms have air conditioning. Ours was effective, if noisy! There is also a ceiling fan in the rooms and a fridge - very useful for supplies of cold water and nibbles!
There are three shops in the resort and you can get pretty much anything there from sun cream, mossie spray, stamps, water and cigarettes to souvenirs. However, they are expensive! As an example, a large bottle of water there cost approximately 15 times as much as it did when bought 'off resort' - that's probably an excessive example but it's the one I remember!
There is an ATM/cashpoint, small grocery store and pizza place about 5-10 minutes walk which is very convenient, albeit a very hot walk!
It is their quiet time of year, but we were told the hotel was quite full. We had no problems getting loungers either by the pool or on the beach. The beach is not the white sand of Pigeon Point but it is nice and not crowded. You have the usual hawkers both based on the beach and wandering up and down. In all cases they were pleasant if a little pushy. However, they do take the hint - some sooner than others! There were children of all ages on the beach although I'd hesitate to recommend either the pool or beach for very young children unless strong swimmers or in lifejackets/buoyancy aids as they are quite deep, i.e. the pool is quite deep as soon as you get in and the sea becomes so quite close to the shore.
You can use the spa facilities at Le Grand Courlan next door and if you like that sort of thing I'd highly recommend it. The price list in the room, (I think), leads you to think it's more expensive than it is. I thought the prices I was actually charged were extremely reasonable and the lady I got, (Hazel), was fantastic.
My only real whinge is that they close the gates to the beach at 6pm. This means that if you want to watch the sunset or visit somewhere down there after this time you face a very long trek back via the road. I'd like to see the guard presence on the gate until, say, 11pm.
Overall, we were very happy with the hotel for its price range and star rating and met several people who having been coming back for years, even shunning more stylish and expensive resorts in favour of the Grafton.
Grafton Beach Resort - April 2005
Spent 24 hours at this hotel in early April...the reason the stay was so short was the disappointment at the quality of the room and the very average food. Had an ocean view room in the row nearest the beach. The bathroom was out of US circa 1985 with bits missing and the room in general was tired and lacking in facilities - there was no hotel/island services information of any kind (not even phone numbers!). The bed was lumpy and the A/C very noisy. But, the view was beautiful and it's on a great beach. I transferred to the Coco Reef where I was much happier despite the limited beach. The staff were in a different league - friendly and interested versus bored and sullen (on the whole).
The Grafton may be good value but you may get a surprise if you are expecting a luxury hotel.
Grafton Beach Over New Year 2004 09 Jan 2005
Geoff Seabrook from Surrey
We stayed at the Grafton Beach for a week over the New Year holiday. It was a late booking and the hotel was surely not our first choice. We've also never stayed AI on Tobago before and did not go with high expectations that this was a luxury resort.
Our experience certainly exceeded our expectations. The AI package booked through Best@Travel was not expensive. The rooms were as nice as the rooms at the Coco Beach and the food way just fine. It was not gourmet, but we don't expect that at these prices. Our two teenaged boys were well catered for and we all felt the food service was just about perfect for a family holiday. The staff were efficient and helpful. We were worried they were a bit unfriendly when we first arrived, but think this was due to the fact that the hotel was full and had a lot of leavers and new arrivals that day. It must have been pretty stressful for them. From then on it was all smiles. We thought it was strange they’d want you to book the restaurant as it was all inclusive, but quickly realised all they were doing was trying to avoid a mad rush at certain popular times.
We have to mention a couple of niggles, after all nothing is perfect. The advertised free non-motorised water sports seemed to only be snorkels and masks. Our boys wanted Body Boards, which were rented from the beach vendors in the end. Beach and pool towels were also a bit short, although as we said before the hotel was completely full. We never had to wait more than an hour for a towel but they did always seem to be playing catch up.
In conclusion we found the Grafton Beach a wonderfully relaxed hotel. It does not have the stuffy formality of some Caribbean hotels, but then if you want that you should go to Barbados and not Tobago. We thought it fitted well with the relaxed atmosphere of Tobago and will certainly consider it again for our next trip to Tobago.
Review Grafton Beach Resort November 8th – 14th 2004 24 Nov 2004
Graham Jones from Bournemouth
Perhaps I should preface my review by admitting that this was not our first choice of hotel, we had to accept it after Le Grand Courlan failed to honour our booking. Undoubtedly this has coloured my views somewhat.
The hotel is nicely located on a hillside above Stonehaven Bay; most rooms appear to have a sea-view. People with mobility problems should be aware that between pool level and the beach there are 70 steps and a ramp to negotiate. The hotel is set back on the hillside, so the steps are in sections, but they still have to be climbed! There is a narrow, quiet road between the hotel grounds and the beach bar. There are a delightful number of birds in the grounds, even if some of them join you for meals! Also very close (a 10 minute uphill walk) is the Grafton Bird Sanctuary – don’t miss it! Feeding times are 8 am & 4 pm.
The beach is very pleasant, despite some rocks along the shoreline. It does have a small number of stones on entering the water and shelves fairly rapidly. Towards the end of our stay there were some very impressive breakers coming in from the Caribbean! It is long enough for that essential post-breakfast stroll and affords the opportunity to watch the local fishermen pulling in their nets. In the time we were there, we didn’t see any boats from the hotel being used at all. (A shared facility with Le Grand Courlan.)
During our stay the majority of guests were British (about 55%), with about 35% German-speaking and a small number of Dutch and Americans.
The pool and swim-up bar is one of the most attractive features of the resort, though if I had young children I would be concerned that there is very little shallow water. Within a couple of paces from the steps, you are in quite deep water. There is a tiny paddling pool, nicely shaded, which is pretty full by the time a couple of mothers and their toddlers are in it!
The pool bar has plenty of seating and the majority of it is in the shade throughout the day. Service at this bar is patchy. The staff here are pleasant enough, but it was quite common for the bar to be 30 mins late opening and for the only bartender to then disappear for 10 – 15 mins at a time.
There are far too few loungers and sunshades, both by the pool and on the beach. As a consequence, there was a steady stream of people reserving places from 6.30 in the morning.
Meals are served in the open-air restaurant. I found breakfast to be very acceptable, with the usual cooked items and omelettes or fried eggs to order. There was also a range of pastries, breads and cereals. However, I know my wife who avoids cooked breakfasts, was disappointed by the limited range of fresh fruit.
Lunch was either served in the restaurant or the beach bar. We sampled the beach bar twice and found the food to be reasonable and served with a smile! This bar is also shared with Le Grand Courlan.
The lunch in the restaurant was a great disappointment generally. On previous all-inclusive holidays in other islands, lunch has always been a full meal – here it was not. Starters were very limited; dessert was ice cream – if you asked for it. It was rarely offered.
Dinners were equally disappointing. It was necessary to book for dinner, at breakfast time, even in the main restaurant. They would only take 12 bookings per half hour, so unless you were in breakfast by 8 am, dinner was either 6.30 or about 8.30 pm.. We soon learnt that it had to be 6.30 as the trays of food were not replenished with any urgency and the already limited desserts were mainly gone. Meals were always buffet-style; these were without doubt the worst meals we have had in the Caribbean. At the Carvery, small family-sized joints were generally rationed to one slice per person. Staff were good at clearing the tables, but on many occasions a ‘please’ or ’thank you’ was ignored, leaving the impression of a poorly trained staff.
The a la carte restaurant may have been nice, we never found out, it serves 8 tables per evening Monday – Friday and then is seafood only. Why have a restaurant that the majority of the guests won’t be able to use?
Seating in the bar area is quite insufficient for times when the hotel is nearly full, as it was when we were there. Incidentally nearly all the major hotels were full or overbooked during our stay– the consequence of hurricane Ivan affecting Grenada.
Would I go there again? –No thank you!
Just Returned From Grafton Beach
Hi - this is my first post on this site but have been reading it avidly for the last few months. Have just returned from our first trip to Tobago, so here is our report. Will be happy to answer any questions.
Flew out with Virgin from Gatwick, flight was delayed by 2 hours, but not really a problem. Had used the twilight check-in service the day before which works really well - only a couple of people in the queue at about 4:00 pm. Friendly staff on the plane, good choice of entertainment, time passes pretty quickly.
Immigration was straight forward and the luggage arrived reasonably quickly. Once outside headed for the Virgin rep who informed us that they had lost our welcome pack! She didn't seem overly concerned by this and told us to get on the mini-bus anyway. Only 15 minutes to the airport and the local driver kept us entertained along the way.
Grafton Beach Resort
Checking in was easy and we were met with a welcome fruit punch. Still not sure why we were asked for a credit card number though? Had to wait a while for the concierge to show us to our room and the suitcases were delivered shortly afterwards.
We had paid extra for an ocean view room and it was definitely worth it! Fabulous view from the balcony, although the constant sound of the sea takes some getting used to. The room had everything we might need including hairdryer, TV with some US cable stations and a fridge. The air conditioning started leaking water on the second day, but was fixed within the hour after reporting it.
The hotel looks as though it could do with a bit of a spruce-up. Everywhere is spotlessly clean, but the paintwork is peeling and some of the seats are ripped and the springs have gone. Nearly all of the staff are incredibly friendly (particularly Marsha in the restaurant and Elroy the guest relations manager).
Now - the food... Contrary to some other reports, ALL the meals are buffets. There is no waiter service or a la carte option (unless you use Neptune's restaurant) and the beach bar closes at 5:00 pm, serving only a limited range of meals at lunch time (burgers or burgers!).
Breakfast is absolutely fine - a wide choice available ranging from cereals, fresh fruit, bacon, sausages, eggs, pancakes, toast etc. Plus a chef makes omelettes to order.
Lunch has an international range of food - pizzas, chips, burgers plus more local dishes of chicken and fish. In some respects, this was usually better than the evening meal.
Dinner - there was only ever a choice of two appetizers - soup or salad, neither of which I particularly like. The main courses usually consisted of a carvery (beef or lamb), chicken, fish and a vegetarian option. Plus potatoes, rice and pasta. ALL of the dishes were covered in different sauces. This is assuming that the food was available! If you had an 8:00 pm sitting, a lot of stuff had gone and you had to wait up to 20 minutes for it to be replaced! The standard of the food deteriorated throughout the 2 weeks we were there. I actually got food poisining on the second week and was unable to eat for over 48 hours. Several of the dishes were completely inedible and the fish was often alarmingly undercooked.
We ate at Neptunes just once and this was really no better. We all picked something different from the menu, but each dish was presented in exactly the same way and bore no relation as to how it had been described.
Please be aware that this is very much a "family" hotel. During our stay there were a lot of young children there, some of them seemingly unsupervised. The pool area was extremely noisy. (The pool was actually closed for two days due to "faecal matter" being present!).
Check-in, chill-out - this is supposed to be a time-saving idea. Your suitcases have to be in the reception area at 10:30 with checking-in commencing at 10:50. The airport staff didn't arrive until nearly 11:30 and we were then queuing for nearly 2 hours! Also, because we missed the initial welcome meeting, we weren't aware that a form needs to be filled in at least 3 days prior to departure. Because of this, they didn't have our boarding cards at the hotel and we had to join yet another queue at the airport to get them.
I will stop writing here, as I am sure you have all fallen asleep reading this! I will post in a different forum regarding our trips and opinions of the island. Just to sum up so far - Tobago is absolutely fabulous, the people are wonderful but we wouldn't stay at the Grafton again.