Flamboyant Suite - Review Page 4
Swimming Pool & Gardens
The Black Rock Dreams gardens, whilst small, have been beautifully landscaped and are immaculately maintained. Full credit must be given to the resident Swiss property manager, Chris, who can be regularly seen toiling away in the grounds. Clearly, the gardens and associated facilities are shared by the occupants of all eight condominiums. Not that that is likely to ever be an issue. The condos are all privately owned holiday homes. None are permanent residences and only a few are available for holiday rental. While we were there, only three units were occupied and we saw so little of other occupants that we often wondered if we were on our own.
The centrepiece of the beautiful sloping grounds is the pool deck. In truth, this is more ornamental than practical. However, it is great for a cooling dip or when the seas are running high and you don’t want to be battered by the surf.
Consisting of four interlinked circles, separated by a pair of mature palm trees, one of the circles is independent of the others and forms a shallow kiddie’s pool. The depth of the main pools varies between 1.4m and a little under 2 metres. One pool has an attractive water feature consisting of a gentle cascade that tumbles into the pool from a ledge beneath a wooden bridge across the pool.
Attractive non-slip tiles border the pool, forming a spacious pool deck. Eight plastic sun loungers and a table with four chairs offer parents somewhere to rest whilst watching the kids, or to lounge away the hours in the lovely garden setting.
A rear gate provides direct access on to Grafton beach. The gate is securely locked outside daylight hours. A water tap (faucet) and hose is provided, just inside the gate, so that guests can wash the fine sand off their feet when returning from the beach. A cold water shower is also available, beside the swimming pool, just a few metres away.
Security & Shared Facilities
The owners and management of Black Rock Dreams pride themselves on security. The biggest problem is Tobago’s ability to induce an all-encompassing sense of relaxed wellbeing that sometimes leads visitors to ignore the common sense security precautions they would take for granted at home.
Each condominium is a secure entity in its own right. All windows within reach of the ground are fitted with heavy security bars behind wooden shutters. The front door to Flamboyant is double-locked and the external spiral staircase leading from the front balcony to the ground floor is protected by a strong iron grill gate with heavy duty lock. An internal security alarm can be set at night, or when going out during the day. A medium-sized security safe is provided for cash, documents and other valuables.
Black Rock Dreams also boasts secure perimeter protection. The beach gate is locked at night, as are the beefy gates that guard the drop-off/parking area at the rear of the property. The complex boasts an underground car park. Entry is via remotely controlled electric gates. The basement level is also home to the permanent property coordinator’s office and apartment, plus various utility rooms.
Grafton Beach is fractionally under a kilometre in length (0.6 mile). Soft golden sand dominates the southern end of the beach, interspersed with powdery black volcanic sand at the more sheltered northern end. With every tide, the lighter golden sand is washed ashore, often forming fascinating patterns on the heavier dark sand.
I recall an email from an American visitor who spent a day on Tobago during a Caribbean cruise. She complained that our site was misleading because we make no mention of the oil pollution on so many beaches. She had never come across volcanic sand and was assuming the dark colour to be oil or dirt. The black sand is actually pulverised volcanic rock.
Without question, Grafton Beach is our favourite beach on Tobago. There are other, more spectacular, beaches but none of them provide the same combination of ideal features: swimming, body boarding, walking, access to cafes and restaurants, security, accessibility. The snorkelling isn’t brilliant, but the sheltered northern end is fine for practising your skills before trying more adventurous locations. A round-trip walk of the beach takes about 20 minutes and makes a wonderful wake-up call before breakfast.
Tobago’s seas are relatively calm during the summer months. The dominant North East Trade Winds strengthen during the peak winter months and the seas can be much more boisterous. The northern end, opposite Black Rock Dreams, is sheltered and offers good swimming all year round. The few rocky parts along Grafton beach are clearly visible and in most parts the clear sandy bottom shelves fairly gradually, with no hidden surprises. There are no lifeguards, warning flags or other safety facilities, so visitors should take care and never exceed their capabilities and experience.
The beach is home to a number of beach traders. Few are ever intrusive – in fact they will become friendly beach companions if you take the trouble to pass the time of day and exchange a friendly word. Watching the fishermen cast and land their seine net is almost a daily feature of Grafton beach, immediately outside the apartments. The fishermen are always appreciative of a hand to haul in the net and please never take photographs without asking their permission first.
We are very familiar with the Black Rock Dreams complex, having stayed here to review another, almost identical condominium, last year. I confess that this review is very largely a modified version of that review because the two apartments are very similar and furnished and equipped almost identically. The subtle differences in size, layout and furnishings will be apparent in the individual reviews.
The Flamboyant Suite offers true luxury accommodation, particularly for the lucky couple who bag the master bedroom. This is an apartment we would happily move into tomorrow - not just for a holiday, but permanently. I will bore our reader no further and close by saying that I can think of no other self-catering accommodation on Tobago that offers a better balance of location and comfortable living.
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