Avocado Cottage - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2011
Avocado Cottage is a small two-bedroom wooden cottage in a very quiet private location on the lower slopes of Mount Irvine. It offers visitors the opportunity to sample what life for a real Tobagonian family might be like. The house is similar, if not identical, to the thousands of similar little wooden houses that you see dotted across the hillsides throughout the island. It is as authentic an experience as you are likely to find.
Visitors tend to associate Mount Irvine with expensive holiday rental villas and it is certainly true that the spectacular views and ideal location have made the area very popular with both wealthy Trinis and foreigners wanting a holiday home on the island. However, Mount Irvine was home to ordinary Tobagonian families long before the golf course was built and the hillside dominated by large expensive villas. Some Tobagonians ignored all offers to buy their family land and have stayed put, asserting their right to live in this desirable area. Good for them! I love the fact that multi-million dollar luxury villas exists cheek by jowl with more modest accommodation. It is greatly refreshing and one of the many charms of Tobago.
Tony Bobb is one such Tobagonian. His small wooden houses are nestled in lush gardens on the lower slopes of the hill, overlooking the Caribbean Sea and golf course. He built the second cottage, beside his own, specifically as a holiday rental property. It it is a totally genuine local house. Tony is a gentle, softly-spoken guy with clear and obvious pride in the island and a genuine desire to make visitors welcome. I have been most impressed by the fact that his rental rates offer real value for money and do not cash-in on the exclusive location.
The location is just a short 15-20 minute drive from the airport. Mount Irvine represents an excellent balance in location terms. The area is just a short hop from the shops, restaurants and facilities of the flat and unattractive built-up sprawl of Crown Point. It is often said that Tobago comprises of the Lowlands and the Nicelands. Mount Irvine is the start of the latter.
The Shirvan Road, which runs along this section of the Caribbean north coast road, has become something of a restaurant strip. More than half dozen of Tobago’s most popular restaurants are housed along, or adjacent to, this mile-or-so of coast road.
It is essential to have your own transport to get the best out of Tobago and this is particularly true at Avocado Cottage, as for other property in the area. Nowhere is within easy walking distance of the cottage and relying on taxis will be inconvenient and ultimately far more expensive than a self-drive rental.
Although the walk by road would be long, hot and arduous, reasonably-fit visitors can clamber down a narrow gulley and then walk across the golf course to Grange Beach. The walk will take about 10 minutes. Mount Irvine Hotel beach is not much further. The walk to Buccoo village will take about 15-20 minutes, but there are very limited facilities. None of these walks should be considered during the hours of darkness.
Avocado Cottage is a single-storey detached wooden house, 7.2m in length by 3.2m in width. It has a small bathroom extension at one end and a large covered balcony, protruding over the hillside, at the other. The house offers 44sq.m. of accommodation floor space, not counting the 9sq.m. balcony that is sure to become the centre of life in the cottage.
The bedrooms have wooden shuttered windows, covered by drapes. The living area is illuminated from a single huge window with a swing-back wooden shutter. A galvanised metal roof tops the building, above latticed eves that allow hot air to escape and breezes to enter. Needless to say, the house is not air-conditioned. Keeping the balcony and other doors open prevents heat build-up and we found that we had little need for the free standing floor fans provided.
The house is perched on reinforced concrete pilings on a moderately steep hillside. Set amidst mature tropical gardens alive with birdlife, there is actually limited ‘usable’ garden other than on, or immediately adjacent to, the pathway that leads to the cottage. This might be a blessing, because given the lush tropical nature of the landscape, you would probably be bitten alive by tiny midges and other ‘no-seeums’ should you lie near, much less on, the grass.
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