Mahi Mahi 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 four units were occupied and, to be honest, we saw so little of other occupants that we could have been on our own.
The centrepiece of the beautiful sloping grounds is the pool deck. It has to be said that the pool is more ornamental than practical. It is hardly likely to be used by athletes training for the 2012 Olympics. 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 is used as a shallow kiddie’s pool. The depth of the three main pools varies between 1.4m and a little under 2 metres. One of the pools has an attractive water feature, with a gentle cascade tumbling 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 attractive garden setting.
A rear gate provides direct access on to Grafton beach. The gate is securely locked outside normal daytime hours. A tap 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. Mind you, the best laid plans of mice and men are meaningless when tourists are lulled by Tobago’s ability to induce an all-encompassing sense of relaxed wellbeing that sometimes leads them to ignore common sense security precautions that they would take for granted at home.
Each condominium is a secure entity in its own right. All windows within ladder height of a lower level have iron security bars behind heavy wooden shutters to block entry. The front door to Mahi Mahi is double-locked and the external spiral staircase that leads from the front balcony to the ground floor is protected by a strong iron grill gate with heavy duty lock. Access for visitors is controlled by intercom from the main gateway. An internal security system can be set either at night, or when going out for the day. A reasonably sized electronic security safe is provided within the apartment for cash, documents and valuables.
As if this wasn’t enough, Black Rock Dreams boasts secure perimeter protection. The beach gate is securely locked at night, as are the beefy gates that guard the small drop-off/parking area to the rear of the property. The complex boasts an underground car park, large enough for one car for each condominium. Entry is via remotely controlled electric gates. A supplementary manual sliding gate across the garage entrance is closed and securely padlocked during hours of darkness. Owners are provided with keys and remote controls, so are able to come and go without hindrance. 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 light golden sand is washed ashore leaving fascinating patterns on top of the heavier black sand.
I well recall an email from an American visitor who spent a day touring Tobago during a Caribbean cruise. She complained that myTobago was misleading because it made no mention of the oil-polluted beaches. In the 50+ years that I have been visiting the island I have never seen any oil pollution on Tobago beaches. It became apparent that the lady in question had never seen or heard of volcanic sand and was assuming the dark colour to be oil or dirt. No, it is not!
Without question, Grafton Beach is our overall favourite as it offers the best combination of visual interest, walking, swimming, surfing/body boarding, access to cafes and restaurants, security and general accessibility. 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, when the North East Trade Winds are more subdued. The winds strengthen during the peak winter months and the seas can be much more boisterous. Swimming at the southern (Pleasant Prospect) end of Grafton beach is often not for the faint hearted during this period. However, the northern end, opposite the Black Rock Dreams building, is sheltered and offers good swimming all year round. There are a few rocky parts along the beach, but these are clearly visible and the best swimming areas have a clear sandy bottom with no hidden ‘nasties’. The beach shelves relatively gradually, so again there should be no sudden surprises. There are no lifeguards, warning flags or other safety facilities, so visitors should take great care and never, ever, exceed their capabilities and experience. The rocks along the shoreline at the northern end also offer reasonable snorkelling.
Stone Haven beach is home to a number of beach traders. None are in the slightest 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. Fishermen regularly fish from the beach, close to the apartments, and are happy to sell fresh fish to guests.
We had been told that this was a stunning apartment and knowing the location and having seen and admired the building from the beach, we were expecting a lot. Normally a quick recipe for disappointment. Not this time though!
The Mahi Mahi Suite offers true luxury accommodation, particularly for the lucky couple who bag the master bedroom. The other two bedrooms may not be quite as luxurious, but provide perfectly comfortable accommodation.
As I hinted earlier in the report, this is an apartment that we would happily move into tomorrow; not just for a holiday, but permanently. I will bore our reader no further and will close this review 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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