Birdie's Nest - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2007
In March 2003, a myTobago reader asked for opinion about a small self-contained apartment in the village of Black Rock. Birdie’s Nest was not a property that I knew personally. By coincidence we were staying just a couple of minutes away. So, I picked up the phone, rang the owners and asked if I could pop over.
My interest in Birdie’s started with the intriguing names of those involved. Owned by Princess Robinson and managed by her son Prince, the property was named in memory of Prince’s grandmother, Birdie.
A shy and retiring lady, Princess leaves the day-to-day management and administration of Birdie’s to Prince. No problem! Except that Prince was a school boy who had turned 18 just two weeks before my first visit.
I was superbly impressed by Prince. I would have been impressed by any property owner who demonstrated such a desire to provide good service; so willing to learn what visitors want and expect; so keen to provide them with a comfortable and memorable vacation. The fact that the manager was so young made the situation all the more memorable.
Two years later, my mobile (cell phone) rang. A voice said “I bet you don’t know who this is”. I don’t know how or why, but I did. “It’s Prince Robinson, isn’t it?” Why did he ring? Well, he simply wanted to share with me the fact that it was his 20th birthday.
I have subsequently followed the progress of Birdie’s Nest with keen personal interest. So, why haven’t we reviewed the property before? The answer is simple: I was concerned that the publicity might over-tax Prince before he was ready. At 22 years of age he is now a mature young man with more than six years of management experience behind him. He still shows the same burning desire to offer his guests the best of Tobago. Does he succeed? Undoubtedly! Please read on…
Despite having many miles of beaches, Tobago has surprisingly few holiday accommodation properties located beside a decent beach. A search of our Accommodation listings indicates just 30 such properties. Others may claim a beach-frontage, but are they usable beaches? The island’slargest resorts have grabbed the best locations. Only a small handful of those on the list offer affordable family vacation accommodation of a high standard. Virtually all are already included in our “Reviewed & Recommended” list.
If Birdie’s Nest was any closer to the sea your feet would be wet. The property has lost more than a few metres of front garden to beach erosion in recent years. A retaining wall is currently being built to protect the house and grounds. As a result, our external photos do not show the property at its best. However, with the rapid growth of tropical plants, the gardens are bound to be green and lush within just a few months of the current work being finished and hopefully we shall remember to update our photos in 2008.
Black Rock is a typical small Tobagonian village. The single small mini-mart is supplemented by two or three small local shops and bars; the sum total of these only outnumbered by the churches in the village. The pace of life is simple and slow.
Birdie’s Nest is located on a large plot surrounded by houses belonging to other members of the Robinson family. Visitors soon feels part of the local community. We experienced little but smiles and cheery waves, both from neighbours and from villagers generally. This is a typically Tobagonian characteristic. Many villagers feel proud when visitors choose to stay in their community.
Black Rock is located on Tobago’s Caribbean coast. It is little more than a 20-minute drive from the airport and well within the main Crown Point-Plymouth-Scarborough triangle. As such, 90% of all the main shops, restaurants and facilities are also within a 20-minute drive. The nearest supermarket, Moorshead’s Gourmet Foods, is 10-minutes away and the larger Penny Savers supermarkets at Carnbee and Canaan, just five minutes more.
As I say in 99% of our reviews, it is essential to have your own transport if you are to get the best out of your stay. There are no restaurants within comfortable walking distance of Birdie’s. The village mini-mart is a good 10-minute walk away – and walking down hot dusty roads during the heat of the day carrying bags of groceries is not something I would welcome. Having said that, there are a few small local shops within just a few minutes walk of the shop and selling basics like bread and fruit, etc.
Birdie’s Nest is a rendered concrete block two-storey house, built around 1997, in typical Caribbean style. The upper floor offers a spacious self-contained apartment with two air-conditioned bedrooms and two bathrooms. The ground-floor level of the house is split into two self-contained one-bedroom apartments. A connecting door enables the lower floor to be converted into another spacious two-bedroom apartment when rented as such.
The gardens of the property are still ‘work in progress’ due, in part, to construction of the beach retaining wall. However, Prince has already done extensive planting to the front of each apartment and even as I type this report I can see him below, watering the new palms and lawn.
The property has unhindered views over Great Courland Bay to the front and a spacious car park to the rear. Behind the car park is Duke’s House, an apartment house belonging to another Robinson family member. Being situated behind, and on higher ground, this property in no way intrudes on your privacy; in fact the presence of a few other visitors might help those less familiar with Tobago to feel more at home during their first few days in the village. A new Norwegian-owned apartment house beside Birdie’s is a little closer than I would have liked, but this affects visitors at the new house more than at Birdie’s, which is set further forward, towards the beach. Overall I can only say that we were largely unaware of neighbours, either in the downstairs apartments or at any of the adjacent properties.
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