Mary's Hill Lodge - Review Page 2
Mary’s Hill Lodge is a wooden house of novel open design. Those who enjoy feeling ‘at one’ with nature will love it.
The house is built on two levels, although the overall impression is more of a single single-level building. Constructed on a steep hillside, the lower floor is primarily a plinth to support the upper level. Louis, the owner, has his own joinery business in London so it is not surprising that the quality of the woodwork and general construction is very much above normal Tobagonian standards.
The two main bedrooms, kitchen and living area are located on the 129m2/1,380ft2 upper level of the house, together with a wide wrap-around veranda. A further 17m2/180ft2 of floor space sits on the lower level and home to a small third bedroom, bathroom and utility/laundry area.
The layout of the lodge is simple and comprises a large central open-plan living area with a bedroom at each end. Internal stairs lead from the living area to the lower floor.
When we first visited the lodge, in 2008, the frontage of the building was open to the elements, except for a decorative balustrade with bead curtains along the front. More recently, glass louvers have been fitted and the balustrade backed by a high-quality acrylic Perspex panels. Whilst this does marginally detract from the rustic nature of the lodge, the overall effect is much the same as before and we feel that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. You can now enjoy the views without getting wet during those frequent short, sharp downpours that keep this lush island so green. Furthermore, these changes, together with the addition of stair gates, etc., have made the lodge very much more “kid friendly”. Parents will be able to relax and enjoy the wonderful peace and privacy of this charming cottage without constantly worrying that harm may befall their cherished offspring.
Measuring around 6.2 x 5.5m, the living area is reasonably spacious and should prove adequate, even for the maximum occupancy of six adults and three children. The house is well furnished and the walls are attractively decorated with soca posters and carnival mementos. The overall feel is both comfortable and homely. It is far more reminiscent of someone’s home than a holiday rental property.
The main seating area is furnished with leopard-skin-print upholstered chairs and sofas, grouped around a coffee table. A small satellite television is provided and there is a cupboard full of board games and amusements for small children. There is also a small CD/tuner unit and a comprehensive folder of visitor information notes. A landline telephone is provided, with honesty box, so that guests can pay for outgoing international calls. I hope that this gets used! Complimentary Wi-Fi Internet is provided and devices should be able to connect from any part of the property.
Tobago is unusual in that properties can be wired for either, or both, 240v (UK 3-pin) and 110v (USA 2-pin) electricity supply. Most properties adopt the latter, but Mary’s Hill Lodge has chosen both. The master bedroom and kitchen both have 3-pin 240v sockets suitable for normal UK appliances.
An extendable wooden dining table and five wooden dining chairs are located next to the front balustrade and take full advantage of the great views down the valley. It is like dining among the tree tops. An additional table section can be added for larger parties.
The kitchen is functional and equipped with a six-ring gas stove with grill and oven, electric grill/toaster, large conventional toaster, liquidiser, electric kettle and a large American fridge/freezer unit with icemaker. With the exception of the fridge/freezer, the oven and much of the supplied utensils, crockery and cutlery were past their best. This would be our only material criticism of this otherwise-lovely cottage.
The kitchen has a very unusual layout in that the kitchen sink straddles the veranda, outside the main building. Actually, this is not as daft as it first sounds. There is a doorway between the kitchen and the veranda and, when this door is open, the sink is effectively an extension of the kitchen work surfaces. The stainless steel double-sink has a slow-running outlet for filtered drinking water. The main tap (faucet) is only plumbed for cold water. In fact, other than basic instantaneous water heaters in the showers, there is no plumbed hot water in the property. This feature used to be common on Tobago, but I confess that it is some years since we have actually come across a property that has not upgraded. However, owners Louis and Laura inform me that this is one of the improvements scheduled for 2013.
A central island between the kitchen and living areas forms a highly useful breakfast bar or work surface, with storage beneath.
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