Review by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2010 and February 2015
Arnos Vale is one of the most beautiful places in Tobago. Once a sugar and cocoa plantation, it offers an unrivalled habitat for birds and some of the best snorkelling on the island. It has been my favourite place in Tobago for more than 55 years.
So, it will come as no surprise to our reader to learn that I know the road to Arnos Vale well. I can claim intimacy with every pothole along its length. There is, however, one section between Plymouth and Arnos Vale where my attention wanders from the potholes. This is where the road passes the Arnos Vale Vacation Apartments. Passers-by are sure to notice and appreciate this lovely property, with its beautifully maintained gardens, pristine white statues and immaculate white and green paintwork. Long before I knew that it was a guest house, I always wondered who the house belonged to and regretted the English reserve that prevented me from stopping and asking.
The property is the pride and joy of a local retired couple: fire officer Victor Forde and his schoolteacher wife, Ursline. In addition to their home on the upper floor, the property offers three self-contained holiday accommodation apartments – two with two bedrooms and one with a single bedroom. Furnished and equipped in traditional West Indian style, these very affordable apartments offer visitors the opportunity to experience genuine Tobagonian hospitality and comfortable accommodation in a peaceful and inviting village-outskirt setting.
Arnos Vale is an attractive 25-30 minute drive from the airport. It defines the northern boundary of Tobago’s most populated area; what we refer to on this site as the Crown Point–Plymouth–Scarborough triangle. The downside to the location is that it is further from the main shopping and restaurant areas. The upside is that it is in one of the most beautiful areas of Tobago. This is where the ‘real’ Tobago starts.
Although Victor can provide transfer to and from the airport, a self-drive rental vehicle is strongly recommended. Local shopping facilities are limited and there are no facilities within easy walking distance of the apartments. Taxis are available, but given the distance to the main shopping/restaurant areas, this option is likely to prove more expensive and considerably less convenient. Very few Tobago holiday accommodation properties are within reasonable walking distance of multiple beaches, shops, restaurants and other facilities. In this regard, the Arnos Vale Vacation Apartments fare no worse than most. At least Victor makes things easier for his guests as he has vehicles available for rental to guests.
Having said all that, I confess that I was surprised by how the small local supermarket had come on since I last used it, about five years ago. It is a 10-15 minute walk from the apartments, but if your catering is likely to be restricted to local/Caribbean cuisine, you could well find it perfectly adequate for all your needs. Nowadays it tends to be mainly dairy, frozen and imported goods that necessitate a trip to the large supermarkets.
The accommodation at the Arnos Vale Vacation Apartments consists of a one-bedroom apartment (Apartment 3) on the first (upper) level of the building, and two two-bedroom apartments on the ground floor. Between them, the apartments can accommodate a total of up to 13 adults.
Due to the amount of luggage and equipment needed for our 8-week review tour, we opted for the smaller of the 2-bedroom apartments on the basis that we could use the second bedroom to store the equipment flight cases, rather than falling over them. It had been over two years since we had inspected the Arnos Vale Vacation Apartments and I had forgotten how spacious all the apartments were. Having stayed there, I can truthfully stay that we could, and gladly would, have stayed in any of the three. However, as we chose Apartment 2, we will start the description with details of that apartment:
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