Turtle Beach - Reader Reports & Opinion
Rex Turtle Beach May 2003
Having returned recently I am still on cloud nine, but will do my best to give my opinion of what I can say was a wonderful island.
The outbound flight was great. We flew on the inaugural Virgin flight, flight time 8 hours (See posting New Virgin Flights) The flight was direct to Tobago.
We stayed at the Rex Turtle Beach all inclusive, and I have to agree with most of the other reports posted here regarding the hotel. It is in need of refurbishment, but clean and comfortable.
Most of the staff were extremely pleasant. There was a problem with the hotel water and a note was posted on the main notice board saying that until the situation had been resolved complimentary bottled water was available from the reception area, there was a severe water shortage in Tobago but the rainy season has started so should easy the situation.
The food was good, with a good choice, breakfast was great fresh fruit served by a delightful lady dressed in local dress also with a big welcoming smile, you name it they had it eggs of any type. Lunch buffet was also good loads of fish and salads more fresh fruit. Dinner was of the same standard with a good choice once a week there was a Bar-B-Q with Steak, Chicken, Fish, bangers, Chops etc. And once a week a very good carvery it was generally tasty enough and there was plenty of it.
You could go Al-la-Carte and were given Credit of 135TT$, 8oz steak was 130TT$ and I was told this was very good.
The beach was wonderful you could walk one way to Plymouth a Bar and some shops and the other way to Black Rock Bars and supermarket (Hardly Tesco) the traders very friendly and not at all pushy. My wife had a massage from Mary on the beach too, which after a hard days sun bathing (!) is very welcome and wonderful.
Where else could you help the local fishermen pull there nets in on the beach just yards from the BAR thirsty work pulling in nets.
Highlight seeing the Giant Leatherback Turtles come ashore and lay there eggs we saw 6 during our stay, including one which had got tangled in some fishing nets which we managed to get back into the sea at 06:00 in the morning. (See posting Giant Leather Back Turtles).
We went to the rain forest with a guy called Kelton Thomas who is a qualified Ornithologist, we wanted to see birds, I wouldn't have missed this for the world seeing the Blue-Backed Manakins doing there dance. Awesome, on the way back we took in the Grafton Bird Sanctuary although there had been a fire there were still lots of birds. We hired a car, I was told they drive on the Left (Sometimes)!!. We visited Speyside and got the boat over to Little Tobago, Apart from the Red-Billed Tropicbird & Boobies the birds were much the same as seen before, the sea was rough and I am not a good sailor but I lived to tell the tale. After returning to Blue Water Hotel which was full of police, the President was at the hotel having lunch, we lunched at Gemas Tree House boy the shrimps were so tasty. We travel most of the island and loved Pigeon Point (Just one guard at the gate house) and the other bays, but I liked the location of the Rex as being able to get out and about easy.
We also spent two days in Trinidad staying over night at The Asa Wright Centre famous for its birds and wild life. I would recommend this trip to any bird watchers or nature lovers, on the way back we called at Caroni swamps to watch the Scarlet Ibis returning at sunset hundreds of them flying in to roust for the night a great sight to behold. Cost flight 200TT$ each return 20 minutes flight time Asa Wright 130US$ including meals for us both. http://www.asawright.org We hired car at airport easy trip into mountains can give very good directions if required.
We went to Sunday School which was great fun and my favourite evening of the holiday. The Steel band was great playing anything from Beatles to Classical and we danced and partied with the locals as if we had been on the island for years. I am not joking when I say they are some of the friendliest and nicest people I have ever met. Everyone was just great.
The evening entertainment at the Rex was OK but the dance floor could have been better placed.
Whilst the Rex has to have one of the best locations on the island as far as the beach is concerned, it also offers excellent value for money. Someone said it was full of old people, it may have been once, but with the Virgin Holidays quota of rooms, 28 rooms on our flight there was a good age mix.
Tobago has to be one of the best places I have ever visited for hospitality, beaches and general island beauty. It is just a pity to be home again so soon. Thanks for all the advice on this Web site Steve, keep up the good work I may want to go back next year.
Well “That’s all folks”.
Rex Turtle Beach May/june 2003
Having used myTobago.info to a great extent to find out as much as possible before we went, I thought it only too fair to post a review of the Rex Turtle Beach Hotel for others to assist their own research as to whether or not the hotel is for them.
We used Ian's comments from January/February to guide us, so this should really be read in conjunction with that.
The Rex Turtle Beach is situated on the Grafton Road at Great Courland Bay
The beach itself is quite long, although the hotel has positioned itself on the best part. The end towards Plymouth (away from the hotel) is a little smelly and the end towards Black Rock (also away from the hotel) is quite littered adjacent to the residential areas.
The sea is very changeable. Sometimes it is reasonably gentle and clear but most times there is a strong current and waves that can crash over and drag a person under even near the edge. At 6ft tall, this happened to me a number of times. If you bring a boogie-board, you would get to use it frequently. The strength of the sea means that many families opt to use the pool (more on that later).
The hotel has direct access to the beach. This does make it better than the Le Grand Courlan and Grafton Beach Resorts, in my opinion because, when we walked down to these hotels, we noticed that there is a small road to cross to get to the beach (Stone Haven Bay). According to rumour, however, the Rex Turtle Beach should have been built on the other side of the Grafton Road, which would have made access less easy.
The beach shelters (rondevals I think the hotel calls them) are lined up along the hotel at the top of the beach. These start to be reserved (towels on sunbeds) from 6.00am and is not limited to German holidaymakers. This practice is reprehensible when there are normally enough sunbeds to go around but it is tolerated and is used throughout the hotel grounds.
There are plenty of shaded areas in the gardens in which to pull up sunbeds, particularly near a large mango tree by the kayak stand at the bar end. Note that this is near to, not directly underneath as mangoes fall frequently and heavily at this time of the year. Watch out for the cows that come along and eat the mangoes in one bite, stones and all.
Beach traders walk up and down, offering various items & services, such as bamboo pots, aloe, massages, boat trips, etc. Be polite and they generally leave you alone (not as persistent as traders in Antigua). The garden is generally off their beaten track.
Calling the hotel pool a swimming pool is an insult to respectable swimming pools. A wading pool would be more accurate and is probably still an overstatement. Three people would and do make it seem crowded. Bizarrely, this pond is actually split into two circular areas, one shallow and one for swimming.
Around the edge of the pool is and area for picking up complementary pool/beach towels and arranging watersports (including lessons) such as kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Immediately in front of the pool is the entertainment area. Whilst I agree that that the view is partially obscured and the area is in need of upgrading, generally the position in relation to seating is difficult to improve in the current circumstances. Perhaps the low fence should be removed because when entertainers do not use the stage, i.e. the Limbo Dancer, the view is obscured from the seating area. The actual standard of entertainment is no more or less than expected (more of a background style than audience participation).
There are 125 rooms, mainly accessed from central areas of six (three up a set of stairs, three at ground level). A three-floor block of around 45 rooms is at the far end from Reception. All have balconies / patios with views of the beach / sea and our room (348) had an excellent view between two tall trees. Sunrise comes from the entrance side of the hotel, so sunset can be viewed from the balconies / beach when not obscured by clouds.
The rooms are of an expected standard for the class of hotel, e.g. large bed, easy chair, large vanity mirror with fixed seat to one side next to a hairdryer. The washbasin, shower & toilet all functioned adequately, although a water shortage currently exists, for which a schedule is sometimes in effect. This water schedule did not affect us and water was always available when we required it, although some people did experience loss of supply on occasion.
The rooms are cleaned on a daily basis and towels are changed as required. As with most hotels, the stated policy is that towels that require changing should be left in the bath, otherwise they will be left for re-use. However, unlike most hotels, the Management is to be commended in this area for their adherence to this policy. Too often, hotels pay lip-service to this policy by putting a notice in the bathroom but still replacing all used towels, whether required or not.
According to the holiday brochures there are two restaurants: The Kiskadee Restaurant (breakfast & dinner) and Courlanders Coffee Shop (lunch). In reality, there is a doorway between the two marking inside & outside and, apart from breakfast, both are open at the same time, operating the same menu (A la Carte & Buffet). In fact, buffet collection is always from one location inside The Kiskadee.
Even though A la Carte is offered, the restaurants are geared towards buffet. There is a limited A la Carte menu, for which you have to ask, which differs between lunch and dinner. The lunchtime menu offers such things as burgers (TT$50-60), club sandwich (TT$40-50) and dessert (TT$25). The limited dinner menu does not include burgers & toasties, but a small few items in the TT$60-100 range, and others of mainly TT$130-160, not including dessert. The reason I mention prices for the A la Carte is because even on 'All Inclusive' the A la Carte is only included up to a value of TT$135, whereas the buffet, which is fully covered on All Inclusive, has a price value of TT$185.
That said, the buffet food selection and quality, especially breakfast, is usually very good (meat, fish, pasta, rice, salad, desserts). However, when brochures claim A la Carte is offered under All Inclusive terms, All Inclusive is expected, at least up to the corresponding buffet value, along with the presentation expected with A la Carte.
Sadly, the service in the restaurant is very erratic and also geared to buffet style. To that effect, clearing of tables is good and prompt. Taking of orders and presentation of A la Carte food is the opposite. Indeed, drinks service has sometimes been so poor that it has been necessary to go to the bar and take one back to the table. The issue is not so much the service per se (which is normally very friendly), but the lack of the required number of staff members for the size of the restaurant. One person taking drinks orders (and sometimes not even that, when the trainee appeared too afraid to ask) is not enough.
Watch out for the Dress Code. When they say 'No Shorts' in The Kiskadee in the evening, they mean it. Even smart or dress shorts seem to cause you to get pushed out to the Courlanders area. That said, this was on a Barbeque night and on this and Carvery night, there seems to be an inexplicable push to seat you outside (it's always noisier and smokier there).
One other irritating policy is the idea of smoking / non-smoking areas, which barring the complete banning of smoking sections, usually works quite well. Here however, the non-smokers are crammed into a small end section of The Kiskadee, whereas a much larger smoking section remains half-empty. This needs a bit of a re-think by the Management, especially when the Courlanders area has no segregation.
The bars suffer similar problems with regard to All Inclusive here. If you want to drink between 11.30 in the evening and 10.00 in the morning, you are limited to coffee and fruit juice at breakfast, and not much else. In fact, the shop opens earlier than the bar, and sells drinks!! This does prevent excessive drinking in most cases, but is it really All Inclusive? Even when the bar is open coffee appears to require a special order, and is not worth waiting for when it arrives.
As stated, the circular Surf Bar at one end of Courlanders Coffee Shop, opens at 10.00 and closes at around 11.30pm. The Crusoe Bar next to Reception, serves a large inside / outside lounge area but is only open from 6.00pm to 11.00pm. This is wholly inadequate and should also be open all day.
The drinks selection is not especially extensive. Many times a basic cocktail, such as a Margharita, was not available due to lack of ingredients. The non-branded spirits appear to be rougher than some branded versions, although this could be due to liberal quantities served! Three rum punches were enough to incapacitate us one afternoon, so much so that the evening could not be enjoyed.
As with the restaurants, service could also be slow in the bars. Staffing was not always scheduled correctly according to the time of day. Sometimes in quiet parts of the day in the Surf Bar, three people could be serving, whereas in the busy evening hours there was occasionally only one person (although to be fair, these may have been when one member of staff went to replenish the ice). The Crusoe Bar only ever seemed to have one member of staff, who was also taking orders from a hatch in the restaurant. This meant that sometimes there was nobody actually behind the bar at times.
Aside from the service and drinks selection, the main irritation with the Surf Bar is that it is at one end of the hotel. The hotel covers a significant length of the beach and it is quite a long walk from the far end to get a drink from the bar at the other end. A beach bar, centrally placed (or one at either end), would be useful.
In summary, although the hotel is of the expected standard, certain areas need to be addressed. The pool and entertainment area should probably be replaced with a larger pool. The entertainment area could be moved to the other side of Courlanders Coffee Shop, in an unused section of the garden, which is overlooked by Courlanders, Kiskadee and the Crusoe Bar areas.
A long, hard look needs to be taken as to whether A la Carte should really be offered. If so, the service needs to improve to handle this, perhaps a dedicated restaurant. Also, bearing in mind that half-board and room-only options are available, should the limited 'All Inclusive' option remain limited or be scrapped all together?
We heard a rumour that this Rex Hotel is the only one in the Caribbean not to have had a recent face-lift. If this is true, now is the time. We have no plans to favour this hotel above others, unless these elements are addressed.
Although this review seems to have picked out many negative aspects, we did however have a good time.
Incidentally, the walks mentioned by Ian were very easy to follow and we also ventured a little further afield, particularly to the Adventure Farm and Nature Trails along the Arnos Vale Road. This was quite severely affected by the dry season that Tobago is experiencing at present but was made quite pleasant by two dogs that virually led us around the trails.
Hope this helps...
Rex Turtle Beach
ive just returned from the rex turtle beach on tuesday 10th june 2003, and thought the location was brilliant , the beach was lovely and clean, the swimming pool was tiny, but when you have the beach on the door step it doesnt matter.
we went there on a room only basis, and im glad we did as the food in the hotel wasnt up too much at all, we went to some lovely restaurants just down the road from the rex.
we did have breakfasts and they were charing 95.00tt for a full english and 85.00 for a carribbean breakfast, which over 2 weeks is a lot of money, especially as they were buffet style meals, so if you only had cereal and toast it was the same price !!! expensive.
the waitresses were a bit offish at times and could of been a bit more pleasant.
the local trips you can go on are excellent, we were lucky enough to see dolphins on our fishing trip which we took with woody ( bobby ).
and to see the leather back turtles coming up on the beach to lay their eggs is a sight to see, we say two, one at night and one during the day, and on our last morning there we actually got to see baby turtles being hatched !!!!
in total the holiday was lovely and we would go back there again, not for the hotel its self but for the beach and the location.
its an idea place to relax and chill, which we did, and get a nice sun tan, and swim in the carribbean sea...............
Rex Turtle - April 2003
I visited this site way back in February of this year and learnt an awful lot about the wonderful Island of Tobago.This Web Site has changed since then. Due to computer problems I have not been able to visit this site.However,I visited the Island with my family in April and stayed at the Rex Turtle Beach Hotel on an All Inclusive basis. It Is true that this hotel is positioned in the most wonderful setting on the beach.
It is also true that it does require a major refushbishment,but having said that the accommodation we had was clean and comfortable,with air conditioning The food ,not being 'per Savoy Hotel'was good and varied,and plenty of it.The staff at the hotel whilst being very helpful and friendy were a bit stand-offish. The swimming pool is very small,ideal for children,but with a beach so close who needs a swimming pool!
We ventured outside the hotel on sightseeing trips around the island and it here that we scored a'Bullseye'. A chap called Simon McLetchie acted as our guide.The information and knowledge he has of the Island and the birdlife is astounding.We spent a whole day with him in his 4 track and he took us to nearly every part of the Island.Excellent chap and a lovely day.
If visitors to the Island wish to use Simon as a guide they can contact him by e-mail(simon_contact'yahoo.com) or telephone(868)639-0265 and view his web site http://www.tobago-adventure.com I have some wonderful photos and reminders of the Island due to the services of Simon.
We enjoyed our trip and hope to return next year.
Rex Turtle Beach August 2003
Just back from two weeks all inclusive at the Turtle Beach. For those who are considering this option, here is our view as first time Tobago visitors.
The hotel is rather tired - the rooms could do with refurbishment, and the public areas are a little drab, but overall we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Here are the good bits:
The location - the beach is stunning, safe and very close
The hotel staff - on the whole very helpful and eager to please
The food - a great variety catering for kids and awkward adults (we didn't feel the need to venture out much. The breakfasts were particularly good).
The watersports - Mike is great - very patient
Some of the beach vendors - we had a great trip out with Stumpy (Tuna Man) - a real Caribbean experience and much more memorable than the Virgin organised trips - we also had braids from Mary and bought T shirts from Kerrin
The fact that you can just get a drink when and where you want - the kids thought this was great
The other guests were very friendly
Laundry was prompt and not expensive
And the not so great bits:
Room cleaning was haphazard and the maids' attitudes variable
The kids club was non-existent
The pool cleaner was very strong and the kids definitely needed goggles
The Virgin rep was ill and the service very patchy
They don't phone you if you have asked to be on the turtle watch
The air conditioning is very noisy - we had to have it turned off at night
The check in and chill out service from Virgin leaves you with a day hanging around - fine when the weather is good but a pain when it is not
Limited space to dry things - some of our clothes went mouldy