Lookout Villa - Review Page 2
Lookout Villa is a single-storey wooden building set on a one-acre bluff of land in a rainforest clearing. The villa provides absolutely stunning views over the rainforest, Englishman’s Bay and the Caribbean Sea.
The somewhat unusual design of the property blends well with the environment. With the exception of the concrete block pillars which act as a base, the property is built entirely of local woods, topped by a green corrugated roof. No wonder it is so difficult to spot the property from the coast road.
Offering some 1,525 square feet of living accommodation, excluding the balcony, the three-bedroom property is adequately spacious. The high cathedral roof and exposed beams provide the feel and ambience of a traditional English barn. The kitchen area has an unusual, but practical, raised tower which ventilates the hot air and allows cooler air in.
A primary aim of the design was to provide unrestricted views of the bay and surrounding hillsides. Almost the entire length of every wall is made up of doors or windows. There are no glass barriers between the occupants and the environment. Each window is fitted with a mesh insect barrier and a top-hung shutter for security and protection when the villa is not occupied. We had no trouble with mosquitoes and did not even consider using the provided mosquito nets.
The property has mains electricity, supplemented by a generator. Housed in a small hut away from the main house, the generator is simple to operate but be sure to familiarise yourself with it on arrival – trying to learn how to use it for the first time during a night-time blackout is bound to test the patience of a saint.
Discreetly tucked away on the hillside behind and below the property are ten huge water tanks. These are filled by rainwater throughout the year. As you can imagine, there is no mains supply to the property, so naturally water should not be wasted. Filtered drinking water is supplied to a special tap in the utility room.
The property does not have a normal land line telephone, but owners Pete and Jane tell me that guests are to be provided with a local mobile (cell phone) from April 2007. There is a cell phone booster mast in the next village, Parlatuvier, so mobile reception is normally good at the property, as I can testify. Pay-as-you-go top-up cards are widely available in the local villages. Most major European and North American service providers have roaming agreements with the local provider, TSTT, so guests may also find that their own mobile/cell phones work perfectly –subject to the rip-off charges charged on international roaming calls. My tip would be to use the cheaper local alternative provided by Pete and Jane.
The grounds of the property extend to one acre. However, most of this is on a steep hillside and is only accessible by the most sure-footed. The large sun deck at the front of the property is pretty much the only place for guests to sit and relax out of doors. There is no swimming pool.
Although the property is on a single level, it is raised above ground level and both entrances would mean negotiating four/five 8-9 inch steps. No wheelchair ramps are available and although the rooms are on a single level, the general layout means that this property is unlikely to be suitable for those with physical infirmity.
Accommodation: Living Room Area
Lookout Villa consists of a long, tall narrow main building with smaller annexes, or wings, at the end and to the rear. These ‘annexes’ house the three bedrooms. Although the wooden internal ceiling planks are painted white, all other woodwork has been treated with a simple preservative stain and is otherwise unpainted and unadorned except for a few tasteful, interesting and appropriate wall decorations. The overall effect is impressive and cosy. The general standards of workmanship are excellent, particularly by Tobago standards.
Having entered the villa by a somewhat incongruous-looking narrow entrance annexe, one passes a cloakroom and a utility room, which is fitted with a large washing machine, drier and stainless steel sink and drainer. The adjacent kitchen is of reasonable size and furnished with a nice collection of clean, new appliances including a large fridge-freezer, microwave oven, electric stove with grill, toaster, electric kettle, food mixer and coffee maker (cafetière). There are no overhead cabinets to block the beautiful views, but this does limit storage a little. The kitchen units are tiled with lovely African slate and stocked with a good range of very high-quality crockery, glassware, crockery and a range of kitchen utensils.
A breakfast bar separates the kitchen room from the main living area. We loved the decor and style of this room – and not just because it reminded us of the wonderful converted barn we lived in until recently (a barn built many years before Columbus, or any European, set eyes on Tobago for the first time).
A lovely dining table with six comfortable chairs sits close to the kitchen area. The table top is made up of more colourful African slate tiles, complimenting the matching coffee table and occasional table in the lounge area.
The lounge consists of a very comfortable, deep and all-enveloping, three-seater settee and matching armchair and rocking armchair with adjustable footstool. These are grouped around an entertainment area consisting of a wonderful collection of books and novels, plus a television, VCR, DVD-player and radio/cassette/CD unit. Television reception is so poor that it is effectively unwatchable, although it has to be said that the channels available in Tobago are virtually that even with the very best reception. Fortunately, a collection of CDs and DVDs are provided, together with a number of board games. Guests are therefore unlikely to find themselves with nothing to read, listen or watch, even assuming they tire of the views and rainforest sounds. A 60x700m telescope is available and proved a fascinating way to study the birds in the adjacent trees and yachts entering the bay. Two pairs of 10x25 binoculars were also provided: ideal for non-professional bird watchers, like us.
Three sets of folding shutter doors lead from the living area onto the large (9x3m) balcony. A teak dining table with six chairs means this is sure to be the dining spot of choice for most guests. Two Adirondack-style teak armchairs complete the furnishings, but sadly like other examples of this over-hyped breed, proved too uncomfortable for our bony bottoms. Fortunately we were able to make them tolerable by borrowing cushions from the suite in the living area. Immediately adjacent to the balcony, a concrete plinth acts as a base for a small coal-pot style barbeque unit. Fuel for this is available at local supermarkets.
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