Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in March 2008 and March 2014
SeaBreeze is a spacious six-bedroom holiday rental villa. It is situated in Bacolet, a quiet residential district on the outskirts of Tobago’s capital, Scarborough. Set on a bluff above the sea, this securely fenced villa boasts more than an acre of landscaped gardens, with mature fruit trees and magnificently colourful shrubs and views over Rockley Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Gorgeous Bacolet Bay beach is just a five-minute walk away.
Although there are a plethora of holiday rental villas on Tobago, there are surprisingly few that can accommodate family groups or parties of up to ten adults with any degree of privacy and comfort. To make matters worse, the largest villas tend to be very upscale with rental rates to match. SeaBreeze represents an excellent choice for groups and families looking for something more affordable. It would be particularly suited to wedding parties or other family or group celebrations.
Bacolet is an upmarket residential suburb of Scarborough. Although within walking distance of Scarborough’s commercial district, known as Uptown Scarborough, the town and Bacolet are like chalk and cheese. Scarborough has frankly few redeeming features, if any. Bacolet, however, exudes an air of quiet calm and sophistication. It is not surprising that so many Tobagonian professional and business people live here.
The Atlantic coast of Tobago faces directly into the prevailing North East Trade Winds. As a result, it is normally cooler than the leeward Caribbean side. This is why most Tobagonians live along the Atlantic coast. The slight downside is that the most popular beaches are on the Caribbean side. SeaBreeze offers the best of both worlds; nice cool accommodation and close proximity to both coasts.
Having your own transport is essential if you are to get the best out of SeaBreeze. Bacolet Bay is a short walk from the villa, but there is little else within comfortable walking distance.
Bacolet is just a couple of minutes from the main Claude Noel Highway. All of Tobago is within easy reach. It is a 15-20 minute drive from the airport, Pigeon Point and Store Bay; a similar journey to any of the beaches on the southern Caribbean coast; 40 minutes to Castara; and about an hour to Charlotteville at the northern tip of the island.
Given that around 50% of all Tobagonians live in Scarborough and its immediate environs, one would think that the town would also offer the best shopping. In fact this is far from the truth. The best supermarkets (Penny Savers and Morshead Gourmet Foods) are all a 15-20 minute drive away from the villa. In fairness, Penny Savers has opened a smaller outlet on the edge of Scarborough and that is accessible from SeaBreeze without having to drive through Scarborough centre, which can be something of a log-jam on occasions.
Dining out is a similar situation. Shutters on the Bay (at the Blue Haven Hotel) and Café Havana (at the Bacolet Beach Club) are within walking distance of SeaBreeze, but both are expensive and neither is likely to satisfy gastronomic tastes. Ciao Pizza is conveniently located on the Bacolet-side of Scarborough and offers very good genuine Italian pizzas at reasonable prices. One of our favourite restaurants, the Salsa Kitchen, is little more than a five minute drive from the villa, just north of the main highway. Apart from these restaurants, dining out does involve a 20-minute drive to Crown Point or the Shirvan Road, where many of the island’s most popular restaurants are based. The same applies to most other rental properties on the island, as none are within walking distance of more than one or two restaurants.
SeaBreeze is set in more than an acre of mature tropical grounds, discreetly hidden behind a tall perimeter wall/fence. Electronic gates guard the entrance. Security is good, without being intrusive.
The villa itself lies at the end of an attractive curved driveway edged with mature palms. The gardens are a riot of colourful tropical shrubs and mature fruit trees, including lime, mango, banana, grapefruit and avocado. Guests are naturally invited to take their pick of any fruit ready for picking.
When viewed from the front, SeaBreeze looks like a single-level bungalow of conventional tropical design. The cream stucco finish is brightened by pink and blue lattice work, window frames and decorative balustrades. However, the single-storey image belies the truth; the gentle fall of the land disguises the fact that the house is actually built on two levels.
The original owner of SeaBreeze was wheelchair-bound and accessibility was a major consideration in the design. Whilst no specific aids for the disabled are fitted, the house could be well suited to wheelchair users or those with mobility problems. The entire upper level of the house, from the double carport to the front to the main balcony at the rear, is built on a single level with no steps or other obstructions, and nice wide doors and corridors. Wheelchair users would not be able to negotiate the stairs to the swimming pool, but can be wheeled down to the lower level through the gently sloping garden.
SeaBreeze is a relatively old villa by Tobagonian standards. It was renovated in 2004 and then again in 2011/2012 by the current owners. It is furnished and equipped as a private holiday home rather than as a rental property. In comparison to many of the spic-and-span new houses that have sprung up around the island, the difference is noticeable. However, it also means that SeaBreeze has character and personality and engenders a feeling of ‘homeliness’, as opposed to the more impersonal hotel-like experience of many new rental villas.
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