Blue Haven Hotel - Review Page 3
The Blue Haven’s main restaurant, Shutters on the Bay, is located in an attractive restored colonial-style villa. The restaurant is open to non-residents and located slightly away from the main buildings, next to the car park.
Breakfast is served buffet-style, as in most Caribbean hotels. There was always a reasonable buffet selection and eggs were cooked to order. Guests can also enjoy breakfast in the privacy of their room, or on their private balcony.
The culinary theme of Shutters on the Bay is a fusion of international cuisine with West Indian ingredients and spices. Tobagonian cuisine is invariably much more interesting than that of most Caribbean islands. Trinidad’s ethnic mix has produced a unusual mixture of cooking styles and flavours and this has inevitably been adopted in Tobago. The Blue Haven seems to have captured the best elements in a blend and format that should appeal to visitors not necessarily used to the normally highly spiced foods of the region. The menu varied daily with entrees being typically limited to three dishes plus a vegetarian option.
Guests at the hotel have a choice of various meal plans, including All-Inclusive. I hasten to add that the Blue Haven is not an All-Inclusive hotel and should not be thought of as such. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of AI is beyond argument, but in our experience it can, and invariably often does, lead to a lowering of standards (in both hotel and clientele). Hotels that combine the option with conventional meal plans seem to avoid the worst excesses, probably because they must maintain standards if they are to persuade non-AI guests to use the dining facilities.
Main Bar & Beach Bar
The hotel has a single lounge and terrace bar, located off the main lobby. It has a very traditional feel and is attractively furnished with furniture made from water hyacinth. The adjacent terrace offers marvellous views over the bay, pool and grounds. The lounge bar serves afternoon tea and light meals and dinner can be ordered and delivered from the restaurant or beach bar if guests prefer to eat in the bar or on the terrace. It is open throughout the day.
The No Problem bar is located on Bacolet Beach. The wooden building blends brilliantly with the coconut palms bordering the beach and enhances, rather than diminishes, the rustic nature of the beautiful setting. No Problem serves light luncheons and snacks from a relatively limited, but enticing menu. We were pleased with everything we tried. The beach bar is open to non-residents.
A highlight of eating at the No Problem beach bar is seeing the beautiful resident Motmots that live in the dense foliage and banks surrounding the beach. During our visit two of these stunning birds, with their distinctive twin bare-shafted racquet- tipped tails, were daily lunchtime visitors to the beach bar. They have become so confident that guests can hold out a chip and the birds will often fly down and gently take the offering from your finger. It is an experience that delights everyone present.
The Tobagonian people have an ingrained cultural attitude problem towards service. Their historical ancestry hangs heavy and they seem unwilling, or unable, to accept the difference between ‘service’ and ‘servitude’. This presents a huge problem to Tobago’s hospitality industry.
In our 2007 review of the Blue Haven Hotel we reported that the hotel had overcome the problem by recruiting staff from the Philippines. This ensured very high levels of service, but it was just so sad that such extreme measures were necessary.
In the way of the world, most of the Filipinos have fulfilled their initial contract and moved on to pastures new. We therefore returned to the Blue Haven with some trepidation, suspecting that service standards might have dropped since our last visit. Not a bit of it. I am delighted to report that all staff, from ground staff, through housekeeping, waiting and administration were highly professional and hit just the right balance; exhibiting friendly but efficient service and making guests feel immediately comfortable, at home and in good hands.
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