Blue Haven Hotel - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in March 2007 and March 2012
The Blue Haven Hotel was built on the ruins of an outpost of Fort King George, once the guardian of Tobago’s capital, Scarborough. From the 1940’s through the ‘60s it was a popular retreat for celebrities and was visited by Royals, including the Queen. A number of movies were filmed on the hotel’s beach, including Swiss Family Robinson.
Those halcyon days passed and the hotel closed. It stood shuttered and decaying for 25 years. Then, one day, Austrian entrepreneur, Karl Pilstl, and his Trinidadian wife, Marilyn, spotted the tumbledown building whilst visiting Fort King George. Wandering around the old shuttered hotel, they became fascinated by the possibilities and increasingly determined to restore the hotel to its former glory. A chance visit then became a three-year campaign to persuade the owners to sell the property.
The fully restored, renovated and expanded Blue Haven Hotel opened its doors in December 2000. With just 55 rooms, including 8 suites, it is undoubtedly Tobago’s premier boutique hotel. We reviewed the hotel in 2003 and 2007 and looked forward to a week’s revisit in 2012.
The Blue Haven Hotel is located in Bacolet, a very quiet up-market residential area on the outskirts of Scarborough. Ensconced in the grounds of the hotel, you will be totally unaware of your close proximity to Tobago’s capital, or any other habitation.
The drive from the airport is a comfortable, but uninspiring, 20-minute journey. The Blue Haven is situated well away from the increasingly touristy Crown Point area and just a 10-minute walk from the centre of Scarborough. It is disappointing that Tobago’s capital has so little to commend itself. The market has a fascinating Caribbean vibrancy but anyone interested in retail therapy will be sadly disappointed. However, all roads emanate from Scarborough, making it an ideal base from which to tour this stunningly beautiful island.
We highly recommend that visitors budget for the rental of a self-drive car or jeep for all, or part, of their holiday. An island tour with a good guide is a great introduction to the island and ideal way to get your bearings, but by far the best way to get the most out of Tobago is to drive yourself around.
The Blue Haven’s historic original building has been retained, but fully modernised. The hotel has a certain colonial feel, without in any way being old-fashioned. Full credit must be given to Karl and Marilyn for remaining true to the original, whilst incorporating major ecological and environmental benefits, including a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant and solar water heating systems.
Accommodation annexes have been added on two sides of the original coral-pink stuccoed three-storey building. These defy easy description and attract diverse opinion, so it is best that I let the photographs do the talking. The overall architectural style is unique. The combination of a pink main building with blue and white wooden wings is intriguing. The design is highly efficient and practical. The buildings are very eco-friendly and the flying roof protects the rooms from the heat of the sun.
The Blue Haven does not have any rooms specifically modified or equipped for the disabled. However, the ground floor rooms should be accessible to those with mobility issues. Unfortunately, the restaurant is located on the upper floor of an adjacent building and access would present difficulties, as would access to the beach.
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