Soleil - Review Page 6
There is a small supermarket (small being the operative word) and a number of local stores in Plymouth, five minute drive away from Soleil. However, this will only satisfy very basic requirements.
The nearest “decent” supermarket is Morshead Gourmet Foods at Mount Pleasant. This is a 15 minute drive back towards the airport (turn left just before Me-Shells Restaurant, one mile from the Buccoo junction crossroad at the end of the golf course). This supermarket has an excellent choice of imported foods, but it has to be said that it is more expensive than the larger PennySavers supermarkets further on in Canaan or Carnbee.
The fisherman’s co-operative at Mount Irvine will be of particular interest to guests staying at Soleil. You can’t miss it because every afternoon from around 4:00-4:30pm you will see the fishermen selling their catch from the tables mounted next to the sea wall beside the beach and road. You won’t get fresher fish anywhere. Simply tell the fishermen what you want and they will fillet the fish, or chop it into steaks. Shoot back to the villa, slap it on the barbeque and you are almost guaranteed a meal to cherish.
The Arnos Vale Hotel is open for dinner, but has a poor reputation for catering and, if their beach bar prices are anything to go by, the cost will be far in excess of quality and service provided. The associated Arnos Vale Waterwheel is set in a wonderful romantic location and was known for good catering at one time, but is currently closed and, we suspect, unlikely to reopen.
There are a few small local restaurants and take-away facilities in Plymouth. Please see our Restaurant listings for up-to-date details of all Plymouth eateries.
Apart from these limited options, it is a 15-20 minute drive to the half dozen or so excellent restaurants between the villages of Black Rock and Mount Pleasant.
Tours & Excursions
Soleil’s location makes it an ideal base from which to tour the beautiful beaches of the northern Caribbean coast, the rain forest and indeed, the entire island. This can either be accomplished in your own self-drive rental vehicle,or through one of the many tour guides, most of whom will bewilling to pick you up from the property.
There are a number of very pleasant nature trails in the area. One particularly nice early morning walk, with wonderful coastal views, is the old Mot Mot Trail at the foot of the hill, beside the Arnos Vale Hotel. It takes about an hour to walk to the Footprints Eco Resort at Culloden, but you could always arrange to be collected from there for the short drive back. You could even break the journey on the way with a slight detour down the cliffs to Hidden Bay, although be warned that the seas can run high and make swimming a little tricky.
Although a self-drive car is by far the best way to experience Tobago, we do strongly recommend that first-time visitors to Tobago initially take a guided tour with one of the reputable tour services on the island. The villa's managers will gladly arrange this for you. This is a great way to get a general feel of the island and the background knowledge will make touring on your own very much more meaningful and rewarding.
Housekeeping & Staff
Soleil is serviced six days a week by housekeepers Camille and Dawn. They are both cheerful and helpful girls and we found their presence totally non-intrusive. Private arrangements can be made with the girls for additional cooking duties. If our welcome meal is anything to go by, they are excellent cooks – although visitors need to appreciate that almost without exception, local staff will only be able to cook ‘local’ food rather than the international range of cuisine that some people might expect.
The villa’s caretaker, Curtis, was particularly helpful. A night watchman, Augist, is on constant duty during the hours of darkness and ensures the safety of guests. Augist is ably helped by Sandy, the villa’s lovely pothound who the owners rescued from the local animal shelter.
It would be tempting providence to say that Soleil is the biggest house on Tobago. I can think of several that have more bedrooms and several that appear large enough to possibly put up a fight. However, after staying at more than30 rental villas on the island over the last ten years (and doublethat if you include hotels, guest houses and apartments, etc) and double that figure again in terms of houses we have visited or inspected, I have to say that it is the biggest house we know on Tobago.
We all know that size isn’t everything. In theory, it should have been something of a strange experience for two people to stay in such a large house, particularly as we especially asked that the housekeepers only attended every third day, rather than daily, so that I could concentrate on the writing. Little did I know how easily I could have found a quiet corner. The point is that far from finding the place intimidating, we found it just totally amazingly relaxing. The very clever architectural design and interior décor have combined to create a home that looks quite stunning from the outside and is hugely cosy on the inside. Very, very clever!
What more can we say?
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