Mary's Hill Lodge - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2008
One of the biggest rewards when conducting myTobago reviews is that in addition to the ‘safe’ choices that might satisfy the majority of travellers, we get to stay in interesting properties that might otherwise escape notice. Visitors may well have a wonderful holiday in an all-inclusive resort. But, by being a little more adventurous, they stand the chance of having a far more memorable experience with memories that will last a lifetime.
This is very much the case with Mary’s Hill Lodge. The majority of visitors tend to focus on accommodation near the beach. Inland properties are often ignored. However, we know that many visitors hire a vehicle for all or part of their holiday. So, given the tiny size of Tobago, why not have the best of both worlds; enjoy the peace of the lush green interior whilst never being more than 10-minutes from a great beach?
[2010 Update] We understand that extensive baby/toddler-proofing has been undertaken in the house, since our visit, and a small single bed added in the master bedroom.
[2011 Update] We are informed that a 20x10ft swimming pool has now been installed at the lodge.
- A new bathroom has been built on the decking outside the guest bedroom. This can also be used for the pool users.
- Bunkbeds have been built in the guest bedroom.
- There are now glass louvers in the living room so that you still get the view but not the rain!
- A new road has been built enabling guests to drive through electronic gate directly to the steps by the pool.
- The property now has wireless internet.
Mary’s Hill Lodge is located, unsurprisingly, at Mary’s Hill – a tiny village between Scarborough and Plymouth, just a 30-minute drive from the airport.
The village is nothing but a scattering of houses along the main road. The fact that the road connects Tobago’s two largest towns could easily give the wrong impression. The total population is around 50,000. Some 35,000 live in the Scarborough area and around 7,500 in Plymouth. Far from being a busy highway, the road between the two towns is little more than a twisty lane.
Mary’s Hill Lodge is set on a hillside in a picturesque glade. You almost feel that you can reach out and touch the densely wooded hills opposite. There are probably 20 or 30 buildings in the valley, but we can see less than a dozen, so effectively does the foliage mask everything.
The unmade track from the main road soon turns into a narrow concrete driveway leading to a small parking area beneath the lodge. There is room for just one vehicle. Reversing is far from easy and turning should only be attempted in daylight. So, a little planning is essential.
Some 34 concrete steps, with attractive inlaid mosaic tiles, lead from the parking area to the lodge. The lodge is not suitable for wheelchair users or those with mobility difficulties.
Having your own transport is essential. Relying on public transport or taxis is not an ideal option. Taxis are far from cheap in Tobago. Most taxi drivers will have no concept of where Mary’s Hill Lodge is situated. Trying to describe a location when you have less than intimate knowledge of the area is a hit and miss affair at the best of times. Fortunately the telephone number of a local taxi driver who knows the property is provided for guests. Mind you, the island is so easy to navigate that a self-drive rental car or jeep is almost a no-brainer.
Turtle Beach, considered one of the finest beaches on Tobago, is less than a 10-minute drive away. Several other popular Caribbean-coast beaches can be reached in less than 15 minutes. Scarborough is 10 minutes in the other direction. With your own transport, you have easy access to the entire island.
Mary’s Hill Lodge is marketed with another family-related property (Mt Pelier Cottages) under the trading name Tobago Retreats. It is a very appropriate name. This truly is a retreat. Not in the sense of being alone and isolated in the rainforest, but in terms of being totally removed from commercialised tourism. There’s nothing the remotest bit touristy about being located in this small Tobagonian community.
Tobago could never be described as a quiet place. This is not something specific to Mary’s Hill Lodge. On the beach the dominant sound is the crashing surf. In the rainforest, you are enveloped by the sound of birds, both day and night. In the villages – well, where do I start? Dogs barking, cockerels crowing, horns tooting and the all-pervading sound of music – something endemic to the heart and soul of every Caribbean of African descent; in other words, the average Tobagonian.
We arrived at the lodge on a Friday afternoon. That evening we were serenaded by the choir of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church located just below the lodge. How can such a small village produce so many beautiful voices? On Saturday morning, their Sabbath, we enjoyed the sound of the full service – particularly the organist practising before the service and providing a virtuoso performance beyond that required for the service. I am not the slightest bit religious, but confess that I will miss not being here next Saturday for a repeat performance.
Yes, there is constant noise, natural and man-made. However, it is all hugely atmospheric. If we had a volume button, we would have been turning it UP far more often than down. Negative or annoying sounds have been entirely momentary. The lovely sounds of this location will remain with us for a long time.
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