Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in March 2014
The Coco Reef Resort is undoubtedly the most popular and prestigious resort on Tobago. If repeat-guest rate can be considered a measure of success, then the Coco Reef is undeniably the most successful luxury hotel on Tobago, by a considerable margin.
I guess it comes as little surprise that the World Travel Awards organisation has awarded the Coco Reef Resort the accolade “Tobago's Leading Resort” every year since 2004; after all, there isn’t a lot of competition. However, to have received the award “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel” for the same unprecedented ten years puts the hotel into a different league.
Let’s get this into perspective. The Coco Reef is a 4-star plus hotel at best. By international standards and bearing in mind the best modern urban hotels, some might argue that the Coco Reef is not even that. There is certainly no lack of super-luxury hotels in the Caribbean. So, why does the Coco Reef Resort win these awards? Why is it that every other guest you talk to at the hotel has stayed here at least once before? What keeps these visitors coming back year after year?
It is not really our place to judge. No hotel, anywhere in the world, is right for everyone. We can only describe our impressions and detail the hotel’s facilities. You, our reader, must decide whether it sounds like your sort of hotel. All I can say is that the Coco Reef Resort is very much more than the sum of its parts. You will either ‘get it’ or you won’t. I confess that we do!
The Coco Reef Resort boasts Tobago’s only private beach. The general ethos of the resort is restrained good taste. The hotel’s stylish up-market ambience attracts a wide range of clientele from young newlyweds to mature couples, with a substantial emphasis on the latter. It is perhaps not an ideal choice for families with young children, and certainly not for those wanting serious activity or nightlife. However, a repeat rate of over 47% proves satisfaction in the most eloquent and powerful way possible.
The truly wonderful members of staff are, without doubt, the Coco Reef’s outstanding attraction. They create that indefinable je ne sais quoi that lifts the resort from being simply good, to being truly memorable. Never have we found such a combination of service, courtesy, efficiency, friendliness and hospitality. They are magic!
The Coco Reef is located less than a 2-minute drive from the airport, in Crown Point – the flat coral-bed at the southern end of Tobago. Despite the proximity to the airport, aircraft noise is never an issue. The hotel grounds are an oasis within a desert. Once you have passed through the security barrier at the grand walled entrance, you are in a different world; a fantasy world where you will be largely unaware of life outside the resort.
Let us be brutally honest here. This part of Tobago is not exactly a beauty spot. Other than Pigeon Point, with its beautiful white coral-sand beach, the area largely consists of nothing but an unattractive sprawl of low-end guesthouses, fast food outlets, small shops and local housing. However, it is a small island (just 26x8 miles) and within just a few minutes’ drive, you will be away from the urban sprawl and able to appreciate Tobago’s beautiful coastline and lush green hilly interior.
The mature trees and foliage surrounding the hotel disguise the 10-acre size of the resort and help to generate the more intimate atmosphere of a smaller property. The eclectic architectural style, described as Caribbean-Palladian, is easy on the eye and blends superbly with the natural surroundings. Beautifully landscaped gardens compliment the architecture. The hotel comprises a main building, which houses the foyer, reception desk, restaurants and bar, flanked by two-storey accommodation wings on either side.
Every aspect of the architecture and décor are stylish, tasteful and totally in keeping with the hotel’s Caribbean location. There is no hint of ‘international chain hotel’. Even without being told, you would know that this hotel was designed and furnished by an individual, rather than accountants in head office. We endorse the hotel’s own description of ‘understated elegance’. In previous reviews, I expressed reservation about the Cuban art that dominates the hotel. Perhaps I’ve just got used to it, but admit that I actually quite like some of it. It does seem appropriate and undoubtedly affords the hotel its own unique identity.
The most noticeable change in recent years has been the substantial increase in holidaymakers from the sister island, Trinidad, particularly at weekends. During our 2014 stay, there was also a high incidence of Scandinavians, resulting from a new direct winter service from Stockholm and Copenhagen.
The average guest at the Coco Reef is decidedly more ‘senior’ than ‘junior’. The hotel is also deservedly popular for weddings and with honeymooners.
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