Soleil - Review Page 5
Soleil boasts some 2000ft² of external wooden decking. Most of this lies along the sea-facing frontage and then wraps around and down the length of the northern aspect, which faces into the dominant winds. The 4m overhang of the upper floors provides shade to parts of the deck for much of the day. Basically, at any time of day, you can find a portion of deck in the sun, or in shade.
Ideally located under the roof overhang, a hugely impressive 14ft wooden table with bench seating makes a gorgeous place for al fresco dining. This is where renting the annexe might be beneficial. Situated immediately adjacent to the table, the facilities of the annexe kitchen would be invaluable when preparing meals and drinks, etc. Without this, drinks and meals have to be carried some distance from the main kitchen.
To the front of the deck, a number of comfortable all-weather chairs and padded recliners offer lots of choice. An attractive tiled circular outside shower with large raindrop shower head offers welcome relief.
At the far end of the deck, a small all-weather table and four chairs are located next to a large Weber gas barbeque unit. The barbeque did us proud during our stay.
A narrow water trough planted with water lilies and other water plants runs along the outer edge of the deck on the northern (side) aspect. The recirculating water re-enters the trough through a gentle cascade. The trough widens out and then abuts the upper level of the two-tier swimming pool, giving an almost seamless transition from one to the other.
The upper pool is roughly rectangular in shape with maximum dimensions of 5.4x2.2m and a depth of 0.8m (32in). Being located directly on the upper deck, this kiddie’s pool is an ideal play area for the younger members of the party.
The water from the upper pool cascades over an infinity edge into a slightly larger circular pool some six feet below. This second pool has a diameter of around 4.7m and a minimum depth of 2.2m. Clearly it is not a pool for serious swimming. It is probably best described as a large plunge pool.
Adjacent to the lower pool, a small wooden deck offers yet another semi-private space for guests to ‘do their own thing’. Furnished with an all-weather table and four chairs, plus two sun recliners, this deck offers wonderful views over the garden and sea. Steps lead down from it tothe lower parts of the hillside and foreshore. The bushes borderingthese steps were the jealously guarded home territory of a beautiful ruby-topaz hummingbird during our stay. The ruby-topaz is surely the most stunning of the five species of hummingbirds to be seen on Tobago and it was fascinating watching him see off any other birds that had the temerity to ‘invade’ his territory.
Around 75 concrete steps, arranged in short flights, wend their way down the hillside from the lower pool deck to the bottom deck, just above the foreshore. Furnished with six Adirondack wooden chairs, this is a wonderful place to sit and watch the sunset, or enjoy the sound of the waves breaking over the rocky shore.
A large circular reproduction sugar kettle (bowl) planted with various water plants makes an interesting water feature. It was a teaming mass of tiny tadpoles, some with brightly coloured tails. Best of all, a copper-rumped hummingbird had built her tiny nest on one of the lower branches of the tree that partly shades the deck. She seemed unconcerned by our presence. We visited herevery day, but sadly the two eggs had not hatched before our departure.
Passing through a padlocked gate, you can drop down to a lovely little palm thatched jetty projecting out to sea beyond the rocky foreshore. What a romantic spot! No wonder that this has already become a firm favourite for those key wedding photos. In fact the whole villa offers a host of photo opportunities and makes Soleil a truly magical wedding destination.
Sadly, only the very most adventurous will attempt to swim here. It would be something of a problem getting into the water. Climbing over the boulders and rocks – not to mention the occasional razor-sharp coral rock – would be fraught with danger and far too high a risk to be recommended. Fortunately, lovely Arnos Vale beach is just a five minute walk down the road, so there is absolutely no need to take risks.
Arnos Vale beach is a typical picture postcard tropical beach. The associated small hotel isnow a shadow of what it once was. However, the facilities of the hotel can be useful – although visitors should be aware that they charge well over-the-odds at the beach bar (which now seems to be seldom open. Surprise! Surprise!).
Snorkelling in Arnos Vale Bay is generally perceived to be the best on the island and conditions are suitable for both novice and advanced snorkelers. The small reef is still in good condition and you will see a wonderful variety of colourful tropical fish. Turtles are fairly common during the breeding season (April-July) and at other times manta rays and moray eels may be seen.
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