Tosca Villa - Review Page 1

Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2012

Tosca is a three-bedroom semi-detached villa on the Sanctuary Villa Resort. It is located on Tobago’s northern Caribbean coast, just a short 15-20 minute drive from the airport.

Tosca Villa, TobagoSanctuary was one of Tobago’s grandest development projects. Occupying a 21-acre valley on the hills of the Grafton Estate, overlooking Buccoo Reef and the Caribbean Sea, the original plans were for a 56-bedroom hotel, 40+ detached and semi-detached villas and a dozen or so hillside condominiums. Only 18 semi-detached and 8 detached villas were ever completed. The shell of the hotel was completed, but worked ceased in 2003 when funding ran out.

Clearly, uncompleted buildings are never going to be easy of eye. Every effort has been made to make the best of an unfortunate situation. As can be seen from the aerial photo adjacent, the shell of the hotel and condominiums have been painted to better resemble completed buildings. The construction scars and detritus have long since been covered by natural vegetation and careful landscaping. Tosca is the most westernmost unit (left, on the aerial view). Visitors staying at this charming house are almost totally unaware of the eyesore further up the hill. In fact Tosca is an ideal choice of holiday accommodation…

Location

The Sanctuary Villa Resort is located on the Grafton Estate, near Stonehaven Bay on Tobago’s Caribbean coast. The development is just a short 15-20 minute drive from the airport.

Tosca Villa, TobagoThe Crown Point beaches are attractive and popular, but have become over-commercialised and can often be crowded. The beaches along the Caribbean coast are much quieter and much more natural. Other than a few beach traders, these beaches are largely free from any sort of commercialisation.

The Shirvan Road, running along the lower Caribbean coast road, from its intersection with the Crown Point-Scarborough highway, is rapidly becoming Tobago’s restaurant gold strip. More than half dozen of Tobago’s most popular restaurants are housed along this mile or two of road – all within a 5-10 minute drive of Tosca.

When one combines these factors, the Sanctuary Villa Resort is as good a location as any. It is within 15-20 minutes drive of everywhere in the main Crown Point-Plymouth-Scarborough triangle and ideally located to tour Tobago’s northern coastline and rain forest.

The Sanctuary development is located in a quiet valley well away from the main road. Although only a 10-minute walk from the nearest restaurant, take-away, mini-mart and a shade longer to the nearest beach, the uphill return is much longer. Walking will only appeal to the very most athletic of visitors. Fortunately, Tosca comes with full use of the owner’s Daihatsu Terios 4x4.

Architecture

Tosca Villa, TobagoDrawings of the completed Sanctuary Villa Resort are quite attractive, with the rather grand Great Plantation House Hotel dominating thehigh ground at the head of the valley and a beautiful water feature cascading down the central valley. Running down either side of the valley are nine identical privately-owned two-storey Heaven Villas, each split into two semi-detached 3-bedroom villas.

The resort’s original marketing literature described the architectural style of these villas as “Island Vernacular”. I think this is as meaningless as my own first thoughts – “Caribbean Pastiche”. Whatever their style, they are both attractive and distinctive, with their high light-blue roofs, pale yellow brickwork and green and yellow balustrades.

This review is about Tosca (villa number 2), not the Sanctuary Villa Resort. Readers interested in other property on the development should be aware that the desirability of units varies enormously. Our endorsement of Tosca does not apply to all other properties. The Heaven Villas on the western side of the development (9-18) overlook the foundations of the uncompleted hillside condominiums. Even if ever completed, the view is likely to be reminiscent of the worst type of Mediterranean development.

Tosca Villa, TobagoThe villas on the eastern side of the development have few of these problems. Those at the highest point (5 to 18) have the best views of Buccoo Reef and the Nylon Pool. They look over the top of the hillside condominiums, but sadly their view is also dominated by the unfinished hotel building.

The first four villas (1 to 4), which include Tosca, escape all these disadvantages and are by far the most desirable villas on the development. Only the very end foundations walls of the hillside condos can be seen, together with brief glimpses of the upper floor and roof of the hotel. However, they still have views of Buccoo Reef and are currently the only Heaven Villas not blighted by the unfinished project.

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