Paradise Point Villa & Apartment - Review Page 1

Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in March 2007 and March 2013

Tobago is a Caribbean island of two halves. Most holidaymakers stay in the flat south-west of the island where all the large hotels and resorts are located. Whilst this area does enjoy beautiful beaches, good accommodations and the best dining and shopping opportunities, it lacks the rugged beauty and splendour of the mountainous ‘real’ Tobago further north.

Hillside perch - click to enlarge Located mid-way along the Caribbean coastline, in the heart of this prettier northern area, is Castara. No other Tobago community has caught the public’s imagination or affection like this small fishing village. Visitor accommodation tends to take the form of small self-catering apartments and cottages. There are no hotels or full-service catered guesthouses.  ‘Back to basics’ is the ethos to which most properties subscribe. Once something of a ‘backpacker’ destination, standards have risen dramatically in the last decade. Castara is now firmly ‘middle market’, with one or two accommodation options that raise the bar even higher.

Living cheek-by-jowl with local villagers can be a hugely rewarding experience, as evidenced by the substantial number of visitors that return year after year. However, village life will not suit everyone. Some people prefer the sounds of nature to that of roosters, dogs and radios. In this respect, Paradise Point represents a unique choice.

Location

The apartmentsCastara is the fifth largest community on the island. Home to around 600 lucky souls, it is a working fishing village. It has no industry or commercial agriculture. Until little more than a decade ago, families survived growing their own vegetables and fruit, raising goats for meat and milk and relying on the fishing catch each day. Nowadays, tourism is playing an increasing role in the economy of the village.

A holiday in Castara will not suit everyone. You will either love it or hate it. There are no luxury hotels or big supermarkets. Even getting petrol (gas) means crossing the island. Food shopping has improved in recent years, but choice is still limited and you can still only get essentials – and this does not include fresh bagels and ground coffee. You do not go shopping to buy the things you want; you go to see what is available. Although the village now has an ATM machine, payment by credit card is almost an unknown concept. There are a small handful of restaurants, but the menu in most tends to be the same – chicken, meat (lamb/goat), fish or shrimp. Fortunately, a very good small restaurant serving international cuisine recently opened on the outskirts of the village, offering visitors a little more choice.

Views of Castara from the main deckIf you have ever toured Tobago, you will probably have stopped at the lookout point, 1½ miles before Castara, and admired the wonderful view of the bay and village. No doubt, you will also have commented on the good fortune of those lucky enough to stay in the property immediately below. This is Paradise Point.

Built on a steep hillside, the property has numerous short flights of stairs. Those of normal fitness and health will find this of no significance, but the property would not be appropriate for wheelchair users or anyone with restricted mobility. There are no stair-gates or other childproofing, so Paradise Point would not be ideal for parents with young toddlers, except under the VERY strictest of supervision.

Your own transport is essential when staying at this property. There are no shops, restaurants, beaches or other feature within walking distance. The village is 1.6mi/3km away. It is a lovely downhill walk, particularly during the early hours of the day when the road is in shade. However, walking back uphill, especially in the heat of the day, will tax all but the most hardy and dedicated hiker.

Architecture & General Layout

When American visitor Alice Farling purchased a few acres of cliff-side land and talked of building a villa on it, locals scoffed. Many said the land was too steep. Houses here are designed during construction, the work primarily being undertaken by the owner, family and friends. Architects and civil engineers are unheard of. They had not reckoned on Alice’s determination and vision. With the help of a good Trinidadian architect, she proved them wrong – and built two villas side by side.

The apartmentsA steep driveway drops from the end of the Castara lookout to a small parking area. Two flights of steps lead down to the property’s centrepiece: the vibrantly coloured 2,000ft2 viewing deck. The deck boasts quite exceptional views of Castara Bay, beaches, village, coastline and the surrounding rainforest-clad hills. Flying staircases lead from each side of the deck to the lower level and Paradise Point Villa. A separate short flight of steps leads to the two-storey Paradise Point Apartment, perched on the adjacent cliff-side.

The buildings are constructed of reinforced concrete with deep roof overhangs for shade. The balconies feature attractive arched wooden columns and decorative balustrades. Stylish lattice window shutters and fretwork complete the picture. The style is impressive. It is a pity that so little of the property can be seen from the road or elsewhere. Although clearly visible from Castara village, you need binoculars to see the detail.

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