Magdalena Grand Beach Resort - Review Page 4
You are almost spoiled for choice with the hotel’s three swimming pools. A large 130,000 gallon freeform freshwater pool dominates the terrace between the main building and the sea. With a maximum depth of 1.2m, it is what most would refer to as a leisure pool: ideal for relaxing and splashing about, but not for serious swimming.
Each of the two accommodation wings also has a small (15,000 gallon) satellite pool. These were not in operation during our stay, but should be open within a week or two. They represent a lovely, quiet place to relax, away from the busier atmosphere of the central pool. One of the pools is to be designated as “adults only” – a very wise and sensible decision.
Tiered wooden decks rise from the main pool to the upper levels on either side of the main building. Nearing completion at the time of our stay, these decks will be furnished with sun loungers and umbrellas. With an artificial turf floor, they offer the most perfect views over the sea and main pool deck and are a wonderful place for humans to become lobsters. Herein, a word of warning…
Because of the cooling trade winds, Tobago never feels as hot as it actually is. This is particularly true on the Atlantic Coast, which often ‘feels’ a degree or two cooler than the Caribbean coast. It is all too easy to misjudge how much sun you’ve had; a problem exacerbated by the miniscule salt crystals carried by the wind which dry on your skin and act as reflectors, concentrating the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. The net result is that without high-factor sun block, even a walk along the beach can be enough to cause sunburn.
The main pool deck and satellite pools are equipped with an adequate number of very comfortable fabric-covered sun loungers and umbrellas. Fresh beach towels are available daily from a pool attendant. We saw only marginal evidence of towel-on-the-sunbed syndrome, but this is sure to become an inevitable problem as occupancy rises – and don’t blame the Germans just because we Brits are so lazy that we’re still in bed while they’re out enjoying their holiday.
The main section of Little Rockley Bay beach is around 1,500 metres long and made up of highly compacted golden coral sand and black volcanic sand. It is undoubtedly the best ‘walking’ beach on Tobago. If you are to fully appreciate the delights of the Magdalena Grand’s catering, I heartily recommend a brisk walk along this beach at least twice a day.
The only problem with the beach is the exposed nature of Little Rockley Bay. Like most of the Atlantic coast, it bears the full brunt of the north-east trade winds as they blow in across the Atlantic Ocean. The sea is naturally affected by these winds, so, in general, the seas are choppier than on the more sheltered Caribbean coast. However, these conditions do make the beach popular with the local kite surfing school.
The waters here are very shallow. As a result, the surf breaks in a continuous cascade. Strong swimmers may love the conditions, but it is not for the fainthearted. There are no lifeguards and the bay is subject to currents, so bathers must exercise caution. The main beach shelves very gradually, but getting through to the deeper water can be challenging.
There is also a smaller beach to the south of the hotel. This is a little more sheltered than the main beach, but the sandy bottom shelves more steeply. This can be disconcerting for those less experienced swimmers who may already have apprehensions about the breaking surf. This little beach is furnished with sun loungers and umbrellas and is a much quieter, more natural, retreat than the main pool deck.
The hotel offers a daily shuttle service to Pigeon Point for those visitors who want calm swimming conditions with a white sand beach – and burger stalls. Pigeon Point can become exceptionally busy when cruise liners dock in Scarborough port. Fortunately, you can see whether a liner is in port, across the bay from the hotel, before committing yourself to the trip.
Surrounded by the best golf course on the island, the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort will be of great interest to golfers. Full details are given in our golfing article, but the 18-hole PGA-designed championship Tobago Plantations course offers a challenging game in a wonderful setting. The alternative Mount Irvine Golf Club is just a short 10-minute drive away.
The hotel has two floodlit tennis courts with a synthetic all-weather matting surface. I am told that the courts play well and that even the most serious and advanced players will find them more than satisfactory.
A scuba diving and water sports service, World of Watersports, operate from a small building at the northern end of the hotel. The original World Of Watersports had an excellent reputation, but the business was sold to Tobago Dive Experience in 2006. Both services are effectively one and the same. Divers are advised to refer to the reader ratings expressed in our dive listings and undertake independent research. There are a number of reputable and highly-rated dive services in this region of tobago and most/all will provide complimentary collection and return to divers staying at the Magdalena Grand.
The hotel has a well-equipped 24-hour fitness centre, with separate male and female saunas. The ‘Fun Manager’ arranges a wide variety of organised sporting and other activities and a daily guide delivered to each room. These include activities as diverse as walks around Tobago Plantations, badminton and tennis, various stretching exercise, workouts and yoga. Mountain bikes are also available and ideal as the immediate terrain is flat and the roads virtually empty.
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