Turtle Beach - Reader Reports & Opinion
My Tobago Holiday
Steve - feel free to use all, some of none of this report anywhere on your site
My wife Sandra, son Joe (age nearly 3) and myself went on holiday to Tobago between 27th sep and 11th Oct 2004.
Check in/out - we took advantage of Virgins twilight check in service, which was brilliant. No queue at 7.30pm the previous evening and a leisurely 1 hr before flight arrival time meant that we were stress free for the flight. On the return we used the check in chill out service, which meant that we were able to check our luggage in at the hotel and thus enjoy a full day on the last day and arrive 30 mins before departure at the airport. One note – if you travel with young children then you must get a departure tax exempt sticker before going thru to the departure lounge – we weren’t offered one when checking in at the hotel so its worth asking the virgin staff who turn up to do the necessary, otherwise you have to queue like I did outside the terminal to get one.
Flight - 8 hrs 40 mins - uneventful - Virgin crew very helpful, excellent on board entertainment
Arrival in Tobago - having a small child we were ushered to the front of a very long and slow moving immigration queue! The baggage carousel is extremely small, but the handler’s offloaded bags to the side which speeded things up a little, although a short power cut did slow things slightly. Through customs and our Virgin rep was waiting to take our transfer coupon and load us and our suitcases onto a bus, and before long we were winging our way to the REX TURTLE BEACH HOTEL.
Hotel arrival and check in - we had to wait 2 hrs for our room to be ready which was a little tiresome after a long journey (the reason will become apparent later). The reception staff seemed a little standoffish, as was the lady who stuck our all-inclusive band on - branded for a fortnight!
Whilst waiting for our room to be ready we overheard a couple of guests complaining to the manager that a fellow holidaymaker had just defecated in the pool (more on this later)
We went to our room and crashed out.
The hotel rooms - The Rex is approx 30 years old and is very 'tired'. The rooms are large and airy, the aircon is a little loud, although I managed to sleep ok and I must be the world’s lightest sleeper. The decor could do with a spruce up, as could the bathroom, although everything was clean and functional. We had a king-size bed and a single bed. It turned out that I slept in the single and it was very comfortable. Joe and Sandra slept in the king size and the state of the mattress was, quite frankly appalling - it must have been as old as the Hotel - we didn’t complain about it and to this day I don’t know why we didn’t! The high numbers are further away from the main hotel but only a 3-minute walk at most (I timed it!). You are able to keep your room for the whole day on your last day for around £30 – we shared the cost with another couple and boy was it worth it! We didn’t check out until 7pm. No doubt someone else was waiting for 2hrs for their room at reception!
Hotel Grounds - pleasant enough with all rooms only 20 feet or so from the beach and set in coconut palm gardens.
The beach - a lovely 1km or so long beach with clean sand which gets extremely hot during the day so take some sandals to get from the hotel to the sea!
Beach Vendors - not particularly annoying - just trying to earn a living - a polite no thanks is sufficient usually. You must see Henry the leather goods maker - he is very skilful and produces top quality made to measure stuff at a very reasonable price.
Drugs - we saw evidence of drug dealing on the beach and at the fringes of the beach and hotel grounds with some of the younger guests - security and management take this very seriously and I urge all guests who see it to report it immediately.
The Sea - not too rough although some older and younger people could find it difficult to get in and more importantly out of the water if they timed their entry/exit wrongly (every 7th wave is a big one so I was told!) On the last day we saw some jelly fish and a couple of people got stung but the pain lasted no more than a minute and again was more a nuisance than anything else.
The staff - were, in the main wonderful! Having a 3 year old certainly helped break the ice and just about everyone was friendly and chatty, although it was evident that those guests that didn’t make the effort to be friendly with the staff, got the same back.
The food - we went all inclusive (our first time) mainly as we didn’t want the hassle of finding a place when Joe would be tired. Having spoken to other guests who went room only, it appeared that cost wise over 14 nights it worked out to be pretty cost neutral, especially when you then add on taxi fares to your meals out - so you pays your money and takes your choice I guess. The food in the Hotel was in our opinion pretty good. Breakfast was as much as you could eat of just about anything, lunch was a buffet or from the a la carte snack menu, and dinner consisted of around 3 salad dishes, 5 or 6 main courses, rice, local veg etc, a selection of sweets. In the two weeks we were there we never had a complete repeat of the same menu. The executive chef does a wonderful job with only 3 or 4 kitchen staff to help him.
The Guests - well what can I say! The hotel consisted mainly of British and German guests with the odd American or two. The Germans as ever kept themselves to themselves and were model tourists, as were the Americans.
The British - well, here goes. Upon our arrival one of the guests who had been there a week had just defecated in the pool and thus the pool had to be closed. It transpired that this person was an alcoholic who had been causing mayhem all week and generally upsetting everyone. There was also a small element of British guests who seemed intent on being as loud, and obnoxious as possible. The hotel management closed the pool and began shock treating it with copious amounts of chlorine. They also got an expert in from Trinidad to do various tests. Anyhow, the pool was supposed to open on the Saturday (the incident happened on the Monday), but unfortunately although the pool was now clear, they then had to balance the chemicals in the water, and therefore there was a further delay of a couple of days. In the meantime a certain element of holiday makers (around 10 - 15 and all British) continued to moan and whinge at the managements efforts (very unfairly in my opinion). In the end this led to one guest physically threatening the Virgin rep because the pool hadn’t been opened when the hotel said it would be. All in all a pretty disgusting display of loutishness and generally pathetic behaviour. The whole mood of the hotel for our first week was fairly confrontational. Luckily for the most part we were enjoying the island. Those for whom the pool was so important merely let the situation wind themselves up and with it the rest of the hotel. What the Germans and other foreign tourists thought of us god only knows, but I felt embarrassed to be British.
The number of English guests wearing football shirts also surprised me – why DO people insist on wearing them on holiday? Does it make them feel somehow ‘hard’ or ‘superior’ – its just pathetic. I could go on and on about some of the guests and their actions but I wont. Suffice to say that the 17 man wedding party that stayed at the hotel were barely better behaved! Perhaps it was poetic justice that throughout their wedding ceremony, the bamboo carving salesman jumped about on the beach shouting Bamboo!!!
The weather – it was hot hot hot ! and very very humid. The locals were saying it was unusually hot for the time of year and that there had been a shortage of rain so far. The temperature in the first week hit around 35C and cooled slightly in the second. My wife got prickly heat quite badly and we had to call the doctor. So my tip is that if you suffer, don’t forget your antihistamine tablets and take them prior to going away.
Insects – the mosquitoes have a voracious appetite and on the odd occasion I stepped out of the room to take a sunset photo without taking precautions they got me! The sand flies are also a menace. Even during the heat of the day they congregate in the shade so its either run the gauntlet in the shade or burn your feet on the sand!
The Rain Forest – spectacular! Due to having Joe with us we decided to ask Peter Cox (a naturalist) to tailor make an hour’s trip for us. The guide he supplied was Wayne Gray of Waynes World Tours. A great guy who is totally passionate about the ecology of Tobago and he deserves your business – you can call him on (868)7807020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. He does snorkelling trips as well as bird watching and forest walks.Website http://www.waynesworld-tours.com
Car Hire – we prebooked through Yes Tourism and Shermanns. The lady from Shermans was helpful and our car was ok (if a little underpowered – a Proton Wira, Auto). I would recommend using an auto as it is one less thing to have to worry about when a local comes round a bend in the middle of the road and does not look like he is going to move! The locals work on the principle of ‘the road will be clear when I go round that sharp bend’, so beware. The island is only 26 miles long but to drive from the Rex to Charlotteville in the north will take you knocking on 2 hours as the roads are very windy and hilly but in the main reasonably good standard. Petrol is around 30p per litre but there are only about 5 stations on the island and every one we passed as some point was out of one type of fuel so don’t rely on one station having your super or premium – always best to get topped up as you go.
Snorkelling – Arnos Vale was good ( although I have to say ive been spoilt by the Maldives, great barrier reef, south pacific and Kenya). Turtles were regularly seen in the water there as was a turtle hatching the second to last day we were there (although we missed it by 2 hrs!). Due to heavy rain showers which turned most of the bays brown with the run off from the hills and the Orinoco river from Venezuela the water wasn’t perhaps as clear as you would expect to snorkel and therefore on this front it was a little disappointing. The sea generally tho is pretty clear and warm.
Beaches – the ones I would point out as being excellent and very quiet are:
Canoe bay, Arnos Vale, Culloden, Castara, Englishmans bay, Charlotteville, and my two favourites, Buccoo Bay and Pirates Bay (not marked on the maps by name but just a 20 min walk from Charlotteville and bloody fantastic!
One note about Pigeon Point – it costs $20TT for the day but if you just tell them on the gate when you get there that you want to have a look around, they refund the 20TT on the way out providing you stay for less than half an hour, which to be honest is probably enough, as whilst the beach is fantastic, it does seem a little manicured and touristy. But go take a look and get your photo!
Free Car Hire- Yes you read it right! Here's how you get a days free car hire. The exchange rate in the hotel is 8.5 TT to the £. In the banks it’s 10.8 TT. A 21% difference. If you exchange £200 at the bank instead of the hotel then the saving to you is $460TT, which is by coincidence what it would cost you to hire a car for a day! Good or what?!
Summary – Tobago is a lovely island full of friendly chatty people going about their business not upsetting anyone. The Rex is a tired but functional hotel, which with a little TLC could be a belter, but as it stands is adequate and no more. If you are used to a European standard of service and level of comfort then not only is the Rex probably not for you, but neither is Tobago (even guests we spoke to staying at the Hilton complained about the food!). If however you accept that you are visiting a developing country, with differing standards and approach to life than we have here in Europe and accept that not everything is going to go right then the Rex and Tobago make an excellent choice of holiday destination. It would be easy to pick fault as did a lot of holidaymakers whilst we were there, but my advice would be to get out of the hotel, explore, talk to the locals both in the hotel and out and you will experience a lovely holiday. Would I go back to Tobago and the Rex? Tobago possibly (although we have never returned to the same destination twice – the world is too large!), the Rex? No – I think Arnos Vale would by my choice.
Trying To Sell A Holiday
This site was invaluable when I was researching where to go on holiday. Unfortunately, as my partner and I have split up two weeks before we were supposed to go to the Rex Turtle Beach for 2 weeks on 13th November, it looks like I will lose all my money on the holiday as well. I don't know if it's permitted Steve, but I was wondering if there's any way I could offer the holiday for sale on this site or if anyone had any tips for getting a refund?
It was 2 weeks all-inclusive in a superior room with Hayes and Jarvis.
Rex Turtle Beach October 2004
We have just returned from Tobago, our second visit. It is still a wonderful holiday paradise.
We stayed at RTB for the first ( and only! ) time.
We were on room only as we like to eat out and use hotel as a base only. We like to see the island and hired a grand vitara for that purpose. Arranged it with Thrifty through Yes Tourism both of whom provided excellent service. The car was in very good condition, clean and obviously not very old.
Arrived late on first day and decided to eat at RTB. Food very poor and overpriced. Other guests we spoke to during our stay who were on all inclusive were not very impressed. Became aware there was no fresh fruit available at any time - read into that what you will.
The staff, with the exception of the watersports boys and two of the bar staff were offish and unfriendly despite our best efforts. We became very friendly with the watersports guys who were fun and looked after us at Sunday School.
Had problems with air con which seemed to pump out hot air. Spoke to hotel but no action taken.
On the plus side, pool was excellent.
Enough of the RTB!!
Overall, we had a wonderful time and found 99% of the locals friendly and welcoming. We had been before so were aware of the pitfalls of aloe vera etc. Saw our old friend at Pigeon Point and bought two bracelets.
Visited some wonderful restaurants. Our favourite was MeShells but others of note were Bonkers, Best of Thymes, Karawak and Seahorse Inn. Cafe Coco ok but very dark and chairs very uncomfortable.
Had excellent shark and bake at Store Bay and a good lunch at the beach bar in Charlotteville.
If you want a boat trip for snorkelling at Englishmans Bay and BBQ at Paradise Bay go with 'Overload'. You can find him most nights at the pool bar in RTB.
Our Holiday - Nov 2004
Here goes, I landed at 9.30 this morning and have now been awake for too many hours to count. Excuse the typos, I hope this is of help.
We travelled to Tobago on 4th Nov, there were two of us myself and my partner, both in our 30's and pretty laid back about things. I have been to Tobago for one 3 day visit whilst working in Trinidad but this was Bev's 1st experience. I had read a fair amount about Tobago on this website and in teh rough guide and went with a very slight element of anticipation regarding the hotel and our personal safety. We paid about £1500 for the two of us for 11 nights room only, flying with BA. This was all done through KUONI.
Outgoing flight was fine, we stopped at Antuiga on the way which was a tad boring but otherwise a breeze. We were met at the airport and bunged in a taxi drien by a great guy who talked to us about Tobago for the whole trip. On arrival at the hotel my glasses steamed up when I got out of the car!!! At the hotel we were given a Rum punch while we checked in and everyone was really nice, we had to pay a $1000TT deposit on the CC and slightly light headed we plodded off to our room. We were in one of the high number rooms and it did seem like a bit of a treck fully laden after a long day BUT we could have got the stuff taken by porters so that is fine.
The room was cool as the aircon was on, the room was fine, basic but it had everything you needed, the bathroom was fine, clean and fine - at the end of teh day they are there for function and they did the job. The rooms we were on were a bit newer so not sure what the other rooms were like. The aircon was loud - I was happy to put up with it all night, Bev preferred it off once it had cooled.
We ate in the Hotel that night which was OKish -we used the A La Carte menu and it was about $250TT inc a few beers.
The 1st morning I was amazed at the sea view - bloody hell!!! HOLIDAYYYYYYY!
We weren't on all inclusive so popped up to Black Rock (about 10 mins max walk) and got a few provisions, the Superette was quite well stocked and well priced.
We booked tow tours with our KUONI rep. A half dfay snorkelling trip to Buccoo reef and a trip to Sunday School.
The snorkelling trip was great, it was $25US and we had a great time on the boat, a couple of reefs to snorkel and a swim in Nylon Pool - all with a few tall tales from out guide.
Sunday School was also a good night although the organised trip was not necessary. The trip was $25US and included the bus and drinks. Unfortunately it was just beers out of the back of the guides car, we felt that it didn't really give us a feel for for the evening so we ditched the tour paid our $5TT and hit the Hendrix Bar with its $7TT bottles of Stag, great music, dancing and FUN!!! (the following week we took a cab $150TT for the two of us) and had a great and more authentic night. There is plenty of good street food around it it is a great night out. No hassle at all - a few lads chatting up the girls but find a plcae where that doesn't happen.
I did a bit of diving which I won't go into here. I used R and Sea divers - they were absoultely brilliant.PM me if you want any info.
We hired a car from Tobago Travel at $50US a day inc insurance and collision damage waiver. All very easy. We went everywhere and had a laugh. Only slight concern was on the road to Speyside. This guy stood in the middle of teh road so we had to stop the car, he came over and said he was after a lift to work so I told him to hop in. When he asked me to turn up a dirt track we got a bit suspicious. He was conning us into a tour, we felt a bit concerned as he was quite persuasive but when I put my foot down he was fine, he tried to blag $100TT of us and I gave him $20TT and told him he was a cheeky sod!! We were silly but we also felt a bit concerned, we were fine but felt we could have ended up in the middle of the rainforest in a confrontational situation. If you see Wayne be aware - he wants to take you on a tour!!
Food - we ventured out the hotel on a few occasions and found good, great and OK food.
Roti King in Stone Haven (? about a miled outside Black Rock), a miserable guy but great Roti. $12TT and really good.
??? Bakery Basket (I think...) Black Rock. Brill, we had a meal in which was good, we sat on plastic chairs in the takeaway bit and had a great meal. I had flying fish Bev had Chicken, with salad calaloo and veg, a couple of glasses and pop and all for $100TT.
Crown Point airport carpark. The best doubles in the world!!! Served from the back of an old car and only $2TT each!!! A must for any visitor.
Store Bay Beach Facility - a few food places, We had Rotio the 1st visist with coconut water - great and about $14TT for Roti. We went again and I had a dissapointing 'crab n dumplin' - not much crab and too much dumplin!!
Dillons - Crown Point. A more upmarket dining experience (well more upmarket than a car park meal out of a car boot). The first visit we had Lobster crepes, crab, stuffed snapper and grilled snapper - a really good meal. The second night we had shrimp curry and flying fish. The main courses were about $100TT ish. Well cooked, well presenetd and nice place. Appaling piped music tho!!
Castara - a meal on the beach, chicken and rice, aboutr $100TT for two and fine.
Hotel - food was overpriced and the A La Carte was limited, we used it a few times and it performed a function and we can't complain.
The hotel staff were really nice, everything was very Tobago - very laid back and random. If you went with the wrong frame of mind it could seem chaotic and frustrating. On holiday it is all part of the fun. We didn't use the pool or pool side facilities. They looked fine and great if you had kids.
The sea was brill, a tad wild at times and a lot of people got dumped and taught the power of the sea!! Once you were in it was fine but getting out could be fun. We had a bad rain storm and it was crazy in there after then.
There was one guy offerring spliff, we stayed well clear. I bought a local paper yesteday, a local guy had been caught with a spliff at Sunday School, he got a fine OR 4 months inside with hard labour.....
We kep away from a lot of the hotel stuff, there were a few people complaining about things and I can't comment too much. From the oputside it seemd like people enjoying complaining but can't be sure
Hmm..... I think that is it, sorry for my randomness, the old jet lag is kicking in.
We will try and go back - that says it all really.
PS - an late addition. The one thing that really, really pissed us off was the selfish people that got up at 6 and put towels on the sunbeds and dissapeared all day. The hotel states that the beds are not reserveable but people take them over all day without using them - some of them even dragged them to their patios to keep them. The only upside was when there were a few freak waves and there stuff got wet!!!
The Truth Very Disappointing 2
Hello to everyone one on this forum.
I have thought long before starting this second topic and after all the interest show for the first one I have decide to come back . My ideas about the REX and Tobago haven't changed .....just matured , in a way that after some months now I can look back without caring the anger and delusion of this experience ( we usually go on with our personal life, as a matter we have already booked our next holiday and I am afraid it will not be Tobago ).
I wanted to came back on a couple of points that many of you all make :
you must go to Sunday School >>>>>> a wonderful night , great experience , a night with the locals. Are you all sure that this night is so great? Here is what happen when I went on the famous Sunday school.
We were told to go with a local ( for safety reason and to finance the local economy employing someone ) so followed all suggestions , booked a local to stay with us ( came around £60 ) and left the hotel at around 8pm. Arrived in a little square , found a parking place and noticed about 100 tourist , from all hotels plus people from the REX and 200 locals . They were playing some dreadful band music ( see better around the world ) and there were two stalls selling rice, chicken and beans sauce plus about 1- stalls selling t-shirts, painting of Bob M and junky souvenirs. Then there was a little Disco club ( with no more than 15 people at the same time ) and this feeling that everyone , specially the tourist like us were waiting for something to happen. Something magic, special. Didn't we all wait for this night ? Didn't we all read : You can't miss Sunday School? so as we waited ( honestly I don't know for what )and had some drinks ( at 10 it became difficult to find beers ) . My GF attempted a little dance and the dance floor was 1 girl to 50 guys . Would you fee comfortable leaving here there alone and wander away .Not that I am jealous or over protective but trust me you would wander alone to the toilets as there were no lights at all and you could never know what to find next. After walking the same strip for 20 times ( yes 20 ) and played with some local vendors I decided that it was time to leave as nothing , NOTHING , would happen here. If I would have stayed in the hotel lobby I would have seen , drunk and eaten the same stuff anyway.
See if any of you can find some Pictures of Sunday night school browsing the web . I didn't . No one has posted any ? or maybe there was nothing to post.............
Tobago has great beaches, friendly people and wonderful food.
Uhmmmmm..........not sure were many of you have travelled but
the beaches are not so nice ( I have seen better, like Phi-phi island, Phuket , Cancun, so if your main reason is because you love sea and sun then check out some other destinations with crystal clear water and white sand )
Food : nothing special , no fresh fish ( maybe jemma tree house but it is a 2 hour round trip with the boiled lobster as the main dish set at £20 each ), the rest of all the restaurant are either too expensive for the average food they server , at £40 pp or not worth visiting. No fresh local fruits and vegetable ( I mean it : No where to seen all the Mangos, papayas , Melons or whatever you like ...) you will see and find more of this stuff in my kitchen and the whole island. TRUE.
3) Local People : if you think that 25 sellers per day ( every day ) trying to sell a magic (?) trip, some bird watching or be your personal body guard at Sunday School while relaxing on the beach , means friendly than good luck to you and your holiday . Just think : these locals are supposed to be friendly people and you need someone with you at Sunday school? good luck with your new friends.
Last but not least .........we even struggled to purchase some souvenir as there is nothing ( NOTHING ) were you can buy anything . So ladies we aware: the most you can bring with you is vanilla tea bags and Caribbean coffee.
If you consider going to Tobago please to some research before hand. Visit some sites and make sure you know what you want from this holiday : If you are in search of beaches and fresh sea food then go to Thailand , if you want white beaches and 24 hours fun the Mexico will do ( UK charter flights can be found from as little as £200 ) but I leave the choice to you. One think is certain We will not visit Tobago again as we can back empty ( with our soul and mind ) and my GF has already forgotten about Tobago as nothing impressed here there : Would it be nice to say WOW at least once when you are in holiday?
Thanks for support received in the previous threat . This is the personal opinion of a simple traveller in search of wonderland for 7 days a year.