Alibaba's Sea Breeze - Review Page 2
Architecture & General Layout
Like most of the houses in Castara and other mountainous parts of Tobago, Sea Breeze is built on the side of a steep cliff-side on sturdy reinforced concrete supports. The two storey building is of block and concrete construction, with wooden verandas, balustrades and roof facia.
Although the house is perched some seven metres above the beach, surprisingly little of the building can be seen from the sand. Great care was taken to preserve the trees and shrubs lower down the slope; not least because the foliage provides essential shade to beach users. Judicious pruning ensures a good balance between the natural look of the bay and beach whilst preserving the wonderful views offered from each apartment's balcony.
And what amazing views they are. There are half a dozen properties in Castara that claim to have the best views in the village and I hesitate to judge a winner. Each has different merits and without any false diplomacy, I couldn't the best! Few visitors will have the opportunity to judge them all, and even less will care. It would be a cold-hearted individual who is less than satisfied with any.
Sea Breeze is located at the very end of Little Bay beach. The balconies face south-west, facing the centre of Castara Bay, with open sea to the right and views of both the main Big Bay beach and Little Bay beach to the left. Being able to see both beaches at the same time is an almost unrivalled feature – and being a working fishing village, the beach is where the 'action' happens and your eye constantly enticed.
The entrance to the apartment is immediately behind the Boathouse Restaurant. A narrow concrete driveway leads up to the house, through a small car park. Fifteen shallow steps lead up to the entrance corridor at the back of the building. Due to the mountainous terrain, Castara is not a good option for wheelchair users and no mobility aids are fitted at Sea Breeze.
Inside the entrance corridor, a notice board offers visitors a variety of useful information and a collection of novels and reading matter, in both English and German. Flotation rings and a waterbed for children are also available. Although finished in different colours and with a slightly different theme, the four apartments are basically identical. The end apartment is around a foot (30cm) wider than the others, but otherwise they are of identical size.
Three of the apartments offer a comfortably spacious accommodation area of 30sq.m/320sq.ft., plus a 6.3sq.m./70sq.ft. balcony to the front. As mentioned, the fourth apartment is marginally larger and this will normally be allocated when a fold-out divan bed or cot is required for a small child or baby.
Each apartment essentially consists of a single high-ceilinged room (8.3x3.6mx2.75m) with 2m-high partitions separating the central bedroom area from the bathroom, to the rear, and the kitchen/dining area and balcony to the front.
Whilst immaculately clean and undoubtedly comfortable, Alibaba's Sea Breeze offers no-frills accommodation, just like all other vacation accommodations in this back-to-basics fishing village. Those expecting mini-bars, direct-dialling telephones, TV, or room service should limit their search to the more commercialised end of the island. However, the Sea Breeze apartments have all the essentials, including the fastest wireless Internet access we have found on the island. The apartments are serviced three times a week, together with a change of linen and towels, which were of excellent quality and immaculately clean. Unusually, for such modest accommodation, beach towels are provided. A basic laundry service (no ironing) is also available.
The spacious bedroom area occupies 50% of the apartment floor area and is dominated by a bamboo four-poster, king-size bed with mosquito net and large bedside tables on each side. The overall effect is most attractive.
The bed is actually made up of two 38-inch single mattresses fitted into a recessed base which prevents them from separating. What a perfect solution for those with a restless partner. Even better, the mattresses are high-quality orthopaedic models with firm but comfortable cushioning. We slept wonderfully every night.
The bed sits some 32-inches above the floor. This affords valuable storage space for suitcases and other luggage below. What a lovely change not to be falling over suitcases or have them taking up valuable space in wardrobes or storage cupboards.
Adjacent to the bed, a large open wardrobe with storage shelves provides 34-inches of full-length hanging space, plus four very large open shelves for smaller garments and sundries.
A wall mirror, colourful prints, pictures and other decorative features enhance the atmosphere and combine to create a pleasing and homely room. The apartments are not air-conditioned – nor have any need to be. A large and quiet ceiling fan above the bed helps keep the air moving and a free-standing floor fan is there when required.
Some may argue that the central location of the bedroom prevents guests from waking to the spectacular views over the beach and bay. True, but on the other hand, it also means that the bedroom remains cooler and is not subject to the glare of the afternoon sun; a feature you will truly appreciate should you wish to rest during the heat of the day. Moreover, when staying in self-catering accommodation, it is a safe assumption that someone will be spending valuable holiday time in the kitchen, preparing meals. How much nicer to do so with stunning views as a backdrop and also to be able to serve and eat those meals on the adjacent balcony.
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