Orchid Villa Apartments - Review Page 1

Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2006

Orchid Villa Apartments is a new apartment house, owned and run by a hospitable English lady. Centrally located in Mount Pleasant in the The Beach House, Castarapopular south-west of Tobago, the property offers two 2-bedroom apartments, a single studio apartment and a charming one-bedroom cottage. All the accommodation has full self-catering facilities, but owner Elaine also offers catering options such as breakfast and dinner, at extra cost.

With a maximum accommodation capacity of 14 visitors, the property is suitable for small groups of friends and family. It should be noted, however, that young children are not accepted.

Facilities at Orchid Villa Apartments include a cold-water Jacuzzi, plus a games room with pool table and exercise equipment. Construction of a new swimming pool is due to be completed around July 2006.

Location

Orchid Villa is situated in the pleasant low-density residential area of Mount Pleasant, the first village on the Shirvan Road (Caribbean coast road) just north of the main road between the airport and Scarborough. It is a short 10-minute drive from the airport and just far enough away from the rather untidy sprawl of Crown Point. The villa has no sea views, but looks out over the gently rising slopes of Mount Irvine and the start of Tobago’s hilly central spine.

The front of the main houseThe villa is discreetly tucked away down a short unmade road on the edge of Mount Pleasant. No signs mark its presence and visitors would have great difficulty finding Orchid Villa without detailed directions. This very quiet residential area typifies Tobago; large and impressive properties sitting cheek by jowl with neighbouring wooden houses and shacks. Tobagonians tend to have a strong sense of community and are generally very protective towards visitors, so when staying in a local community (as opposed to the few gated communities servicing overseas visitors), you will invariably experience nothing but courtesy and politeness from neighbouring local residents.

The location of Orchid Villa Apartments places it firmly in the centre of the most popular part of Tobago. Buccoo, Grange and Mount Irvine Bay beaches are less than a five minute drive away, as are 90% of the island’s best restaurants and the three leading supermarkets. Store Bay and Pigeon Point are only 10 minutes drive away. As usual, I strongly recommend that visitors rent a car or 4x4; it is the only way to get the best out of Tobago, no matter where you stay. For those without their own transport, Orchid Villa is just a 3 minute walk from a main road, where you can catch a local bus service or hail a cheap public (route) taxi.

Architecture

Orchid Villa is a large and attractive rendered concrete two-storey building. The low pitch of the wide off-centre roof and wrap around balcony on the upper floor give the building great character and remind me of Alpine chalets.

Like all its neighbours, the villa is surrounded by trees and dense vegetation. Before arrival I assumed that neighbouring properties were bound to have chickens and cockerels and that the lush vegetation was sure to attract Tobago’s raucous national bird, the turkey-like Cocrico. We therefore expected some degree of disturbed sleep. I am delighted to report that both were near non-existent; or if they were, I certainly never heard their early morning (3am onwards) calls. Barking dogs are always a problem in Tobago villages, but barking sessions seldom lasted long and never disturbed our sleep. All in all, it has proven to be the quietest location of our current round of reviews.

An aerial view of Heavenly BayAs I look out of the windows, I can see little but greenery and hardly anything of neighbouring properties or other man-made intrusions. The Mount Pleasant village playing field is just a few hundred yards away. A Heritage Festival fete was held there two nights ago. We were treated to three hours of entertainment; pan (steel band) music, drum playing, singing and cultural acts. The local steel band practice hall is located at the far end of the playing field. It is Carnival next week and one of the highlights is the steel band competition, which is very fiercely fought. The village players have been practicing for several hours every evening. It has been bliss relaxing on our balcony, a bottle of cold Carib in hand, with the background sound of a full steel pan orchestra.

Although the rooms are spacious and the doors wide, access to the property would be tricky for wheelchair users and no special facilities are provided for those with mobility problems. Both of the two-bedroom apartments are on the upper floor. The steps leading to them are wide and in two stages, so should present little problem to the elderly or infirm.

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