Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2007 and February 2014
Many years ago, a reader posted a question in our forum asking for information about a small Tobago guesthouse called Birdie’s Nest. I knew nothing about the property other than the few lines of general description in our listings. By coincidence, we happened to be reviewing a villa just a few minutes away from Birdie’s Nest at that time. So, I called and arranged to view the property.
Less than an hour after the reader posed their question, I was being shown around the house by Prince Robinson, who manages the property on behalf of his shy and retiring mother, Princess. I was under the impression that I was there to inspect the guesthouse and report to our reader. Prince clearly considered this only part of the deal. He countered every question I asked with half a dozen of his own. He was like a huge sponge, soaking up information; clearly determined to learn and understand what visitors want in their holiday accommodation.
Prince was still at school at that time. He turned 18 just two weeks before my visit. Although in full-time education, he had been managing the guesthouse for his mother for over two years. I would have been impressed by anyone who demonstrated such a commitment to good service; who was so determined to learn what visitors want and expect and so eager to provide a comfortable and memorable vacation. The knowledge that Birdie’s manager was little more than a boy made the experience even more memorable, and Prince himself more deserving of support.
Following that visit, I followed Prince’s progress very closely. He had a steep learning curve to face. Too much publicity, too early, could undo all his efforts. So, much to his chagrin and despite our desire to support him, we didn’t actually stay, review and formally recommend Birdie’s Nest until 2007, when Prince was a mature young man with more than six years of hospitality management experience under his belt.
Our 2007 review commented, “He still shows the same burning desire to offer his guests the best of Tobago”. Seven years later, I am delighted to report that this has not changed.
Although Tobago boasts many miles of beach, there are surprisingly few holiday accommodation properties with genuine beach frontage. Our advanced search facility reveals just 35 beachfront properties currently. We define “beachfront” as those properties that have direct access, or are within 30 seconds walking, of a sandy beach that offers safe swimming to reasonably experienced swimmers.
Birdie’s Nest undoubtedly passes this test. In fact, if the house were any nearer to the sea, you would have permanently wet feet. In fact it is at the southern end of one of the longest and nicest beaches on Tobago; the mile-long Turtle Beach, where endangered Leatherback Turtles come to breed during the nesting season.
Black Rock is a relatively large village by Tobagonian standards. However, facilities are limited. A single small mini-mart is supplemented by two or three small local shops and bars; the sum total of which is outnumbered by the number of churches. The pace of life is simple, and slow.
Birdie’s Nest is located on a large plot, adjacent to the guesthouses and homes of other members of the extended Robinson family. Visitors rapidly feel part of the local community. Bid everyone a “Good Day” as you pass and you are likely to experience nothing but smiles and cheery waves.
Black Rock is located on Tobago’s Caribbean coast, just 20-minutes from the airport. Virtually all the island’s main shops, restaurants and facilities are within a similar 15-minute drive of the house. The nearest supermarket, Moorshead’s Gourmet Foods, is 10-minutes away and the larger and cheaper Penny Savers supermarkets at Carnbee and Canaan, just five minutes more.
Having your own transport is advisable if you are to experience the best of Tobago. In fact, you are likely to have a more rewarding holiday by trimming your accommodation budget and hiring a car, as opposed to staying in more expensive accommodation without a car. This advice applies as much at Birdie’s as at most other properties. There are no restaurants within comfortable walking distance. The village mini-mart is the best part of a 10-minute walk away. Carrying bags of groceries down dusty roads during the heat of the day is not exactly a rewarding way to spend precious holiday time.
Birdie’s Nest is a two-storey house of rendered concrete block and wood construction. Built around 1997, it is of typical Caribbean style. The upper floor offers a spacious fully air-conditioned self-contained apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The ground floor offers two self-contained one-bedroom apartments with connecting door that enables the two studios to be converted into a spacious two or three bedroom unit.
When I first visited Birdie’s, there was no clear distinction between the front garden and the beach. However, in recent years the government has built a brace wall to prevent beach erosion. By backfilling the wall, Prince has created a more formalised front garden with swimming pool. A little over two metres above beach level, the garden offers stunning views over the beach and bay.
The sides and back of the property are now enclosed by a high security fence. The main public-facing aspects of the fence are largely hidden by thorny multi-coloured bougainvillea and other tropical flowering shrubs and plants. Your senses are assailed by the display of striking vibrant colours.
The property has unhindered views over Great Courland Bay to the front and a spacious car park to the rear. There are a number of small self-catering apartments in the immediate area, but none materially intrudes on the privacy of Birdie’s Nest; in fact, the presence of a few other visitors might help first-timers feel more at home during their first few days in the village. Overall, we were largely unaware of neighbours, either in the downstairs apartments or at adjacent properties.
The buttons above present articles sequentially, in the order shown in the menu bar
at the top of the page. You are currently on the Property Review page in the Accommodation menu.