Sherwood Park Apartments - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in January 2004 and February 2011
Sherwood Park Apartments was the culmination of a dream. The story behind the project explains the fervent enthusiasm and dedication of Dutch owner Fred Abbink and the small team of work colleagues who are his partners in the project.
While still a schoolboy, Fred met a boy from Suriname (then Dutch Guiana). They became close friends and kept in touch after the lad returned to Suriname. Fred took a job, saved hard and bought an air ticket to Surname to spend the summer with his friend. What an adventure it must have been for a 15-year old lad, travelling alone to this far-off land.
The journey became an annual pilgrimage. During an early visit Fred first heard of the island of Tobago. He couldn't explain why, but he simply knew that it was a place he had to visit.
Fred’s association with Suriname was sealed when he married a girl from the former colony. Dreams of Tobago persisted. Determined to resolve the matter once and for all, he jumped on a plane and travelled to the island. He fell in love with Tobago the moment he stepped off the plane. Returning to Holland, he pledged to return with his wife Rebecca and to buy a plot of land on which to build a house. So contagious was his enthusiasm that work colleagues became captivated by the idea and agreed to club together to buy a larger plot of land and build a small guesthouse.
Several years and many visits later, after inspecting and rejecting more than fifty possible sites, Fred found the right location. Two years later building work commenced and, in 1997, the 10-apartment Sherwood Park Apartments opened for business.
The property is located in a lush green fold of the eastern flank of Mount Irvine, overlooking the Atlantic Sea and on the upper outskirts of Carnbee village.
As the crow flies, the apartments are about 1½ miles from the Atlantic coast and around 2½ miles from the Caribbean coast. Carnbee is pretty much the centre of the main Crown Point-Scarborough-Plymouth triangle. As a result, every beach, restaurant, supermarket and other shop within the most popular and populated part of the island is within a 20-minute drive of the property. The ever-popular Caribbean beaches at Grange, Mount Irvine and Grafton are a 5-minute drive away; Turtle Beach about 10 minutes and Store Bay and Pigeon Point a 15-minute drive.
Okay, so being located inland means that visitors can’t walk to a beach. True! But how many hotels, guest houses or holiday apartments are there on Tobago where the visitor can walk to a beach and/or restaurant? Outside the built-up unattractive sprawl of Crown Point, the truth is that surprisingly few boast that facility.
The bottom line is that to get the best out of Tobago, no matter where you stay, you need your own transport. Even if your accommodation claims to be within walking distance of a beach and/or restaurant, you are likely to be keen for a change of scene after a few days. Car rental is expensive, but believe me – it would be better to rent a car and stay in cheaper accommodation that be stuck anywhere without transport. You will be amazed at how much more you see, do and experience without having to waste valuable holiday time walking or waiting for taxis. There’s nothing wrong with walking – but there’s a big difference between walking along a long beach with the golden sand sifting between your toes and walking along a busy road trying to avoid the being knocked over by cars or suffocated by toxic exhaust fumes!
Carnbee is not a village of any great beauty and, in truth, has little to offer the average tourist. Fortunately this is of little consequence, because once you are ensconced at Sherwood Park Apartments you will have little idea that you are on the outskirts of a village. Carnbee does, however, boast a branch of the island’s main (3-branch) supermarket chain, Penny Savers. You will be able to get everything necessary here, but don’t expect European or North American supermarket choice. A more up-market supermarket, Moorsheads, is a not much further and offers a better choice of imported goods, but prices are relatively high. Immediately in front of Penny Savers is a Republic Bank ‘Blue Machine’ ATM cash machine and a useful and helpful pharmacy, Dove Drugs, who have saved the day for us on more than one occasion. Tobago’s new Lowlands shopping mall and (only) cinema is also located just a 5-7 minute drive from the apartments.
The ten self-contained apartments of Sherwood Park are contained within an attractive single two-storey building that was cleverly orientated towards the cooling sea breezes whilst providing lovely views across the beautiful gardens and surrounding green hillsides. The six upper floor apartments have views of the Atlantic Ocean, glimpses of which can be seen from the ground floor. Despite the location on the outskirts of a village, neighbouring habitation is very low density and the overriding ambience is one of greenery and nature. You truly believe that you are in a far more remote situation. It is a hugely relaxing and peaceful environment.
The architectural style of the building is fairly original. It is very Caribbean, practical and attractive. The building makes optimum use of the natural contours of the land, curving around a central focal point – the swimming pool – with terraced gardens dropping to an attractive paved patio or terrace and then on down to the swimming pool itself.
The white stucco finish of the building acts as a beautiful backdrop to the pale yellow doors and shutters of the apartments. However, the predominant colour is the Caribbean-blue of the roof and veranda balustrades that so perfectly match the colour of the swimming pool and contrast so colourfully with the vibrant colours of the surrounding landscape.
The property has no specific facilities for the disabled, but the ground floor rooms are accessible by wheelchair. Access to the terrace and pool might present problems to those with limited mobility, but I am told it has proved entirely possible with the assistance of the ever-willing staff.
I can honestly say that I have never stayed anywhere with such a cosmopolitan mixture of guests. Although only four of the ten apartments were occupied during our stay, each party was of different nationality and age group.
Being Dutch owned, it is understandable that the Sherwood Park Apartments have always found particular favour with travellers from the Netherlands. Over the years, the reputation of the establishment has spread and so similarly, the visitor demographic widened. Possibly the only common criteria is that most visitors are drawn by the property’s reputation for friendly, good-value accommodation in a very peaceful setting. Sherwood Park replicates the primary features of the island itself - tranquil, hospitable, friendly and very laid-back.
Although perfectly suited to families, this is not a place where you expect to find hordes of children charging around the pool, or loud music playing. Other than the occasional yapping of a dog from one of the few neighbouring properties, the only sound is that of birdsong. No traffic noise, no loud music from village rum shops or local housing and only the occasional cocrico (Tobago’s noisy national bird) or cockerel to disturb your sleep in the early hours.
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