Upper Floor Apartment
We would have been happy to stay in any of the apartments, but were fortunate enough to enjoy the spacious two-bedroom apartment on the upper floor (Apartment 1). Although ground-floor accommodation can be easier for us old fogies, the truth is that higher floors generally catch more cooling breezes and provide better views, so are normally our first choice.
The upstairs apartment is spacious, with overall dimensions of 8.4m by 7.5m, excluding the balconies and deck. The front of the apartment is entirely given over to a large open-plan living room with fabulous views over the beach and across Great Courland Bay. The two bedrooms lie to the rear of the apartment. Both have large windows and technically provide sea views, but why look at the sea down the side of a building when there is a gorgeous balcony with uninterrupted sea views just a few feet away?
The property is decorated and furnished in simple local style. Everything was spotlessly clean and in good maintenance order at the time of our stay. The accommodation is highly comfortable and all basics, such as linen and towels, are provided. The apartment floors are tiled and polished to such a high gloss that we almost felt guilty to walk on them.
The living room is dominated by a large wooden display unit that separates the lounge and kitchen areas. Furnished with three wooden stools, it also makes a useful breakfast bar. This display unit is also home to a collection of tourist brochures and a small library of books and magazines. Guests are encouraged to add to the library by leaving books they have finished reading.
The lounge area is furnished with a three-seat sofa and two armchairs, arranged around a wooden coffee table. The suite is presentable, although not particularly comfortable. During our visit, the coffee table was replaced by a hand-carved table of Prince's own design. The top of the table represented a map of Tobago. No matter how busy he is, Prince constantly tries to come up with new ideas and features that will inform and entertain his guests and make their stay even more rewarding.
Entertainment is provided in the form of a 40-inch Samsung HD smart television with DVD player, plus digital cable unit. In addition to the countless American TV channels, guests staying in Apartment 1 (not the other apartments) have access to the full Netflix library of movies. There is also a small powered speaker unit for guests with iPods.
The living room is equipped with a large split-unit air-conditioner. If you are out during the day and leave the house locked up, the heat naturally builds up inside. It was rewarding to find how quickly the air-conditioner cooled the house on return. We enjoyed some very hot days during our stay. However, we were never too hot in the house. We simply followed our normal practice: open every door and window as early as possible in the morning to prevent heat build-up; keep bedroom curtains drawn; keep floor and ceiling fans running on medium setting (if particularly hot, run air-conditioners on the 'fan' setting).
The kitchen is simply, but adequately, fitted out. The large full-size fridge-freezer is large enough to store everything you are likely to want to lug from the supermarket. A four-burner bottled gas oven with grill takes care of the cooking and is supplemented by a medium-sized microwave oven (although setting instructions would have been helpful). Additional utilities included a filter coffee maker, four-slice toaster, kettle plus a reasonable selection of cooking utensils, cutlery, crockery and glassware. All these items were in decent condition and clean. Birdie's is certainly not one of those places where you feel it advisable to wash everything before first use.
Nothing can ruin your day more than trying to prepare meals in a hot stuffy kitchen. Whilst many people, myself included, prefer kitchens to be in a separate room, there is no doubt that the open-plan layout is considerably superior from a ventilation aspect. At no stage did kitchen heat prove more of a problem than can be expected.
An arched opening to the rear of the living room provides access to the 'family' bathroom and two bedrooms.
The master bedroom is comfortably spacious, offering some 3.6x4.3m (15.5m2) of floor space, not counting the en suite bathroom. We were honoured to be the first guests to sleep in a brand new king-size bed. Designed by Prince, the wooden bed frame was hand-made from attractive cypress wood by a local joiner and has built-in nightstand shelves, lamps and flexible LED reading lights. With a high-quality firm new mattress, we have never slept better on Tobago.
Light sleepers, like Jill, can often find Tobago something of a challenge. When staying in rural locations, the raucous sound of Tobago's ugly national bird, the cocrico (Rufous-vented Chachalaca) can keep you awake at all hours. When staying in more urban location, loud music, cockerels (roosters) and barking dogs are often a problem. Sometimes the only recourse is to close the window, bang on the air-conditioner and put the fan on a high noise setting. Fortunately, none of these issues applied at Birdie's. In fairness, the sound of the surf breaking on the beach masks a huge amount of extraneous sound.
The master bedroom has a large built-in cupboard with 1.2m of full-length hanging space, plus a two-drawer vanity unit with three-quarter length mirror. A medium-sized digital security safe is available for valuables.
The master bedroom has its own spacious, but simple, en suite bathroom, with washbasin, toilet and a large fully tiled walk-in shower. One complaint in our original review was that neither of the two bathrooms has shaver sockets. I am delighted to report that both bathrooms now have 110v sockets next to the washbasins; ideal for electric shavers or electric toothbrushes.
We had no shortages of hot water or other water problems during our stay and water pressure was excellent. The condition of the taps and tiling were open to criticism, but the bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoyed every shower, whether a quick freshen up, or a longer morning soak.
Both bedrooms have large ceiling fans and discrete split-unit remote-controlled air-conditioning units. They were highly effective and virtually silent.
The second bedroom is actually marginally wider than the master bedroom, with a generous 3.9x4.3m (16.7m2) of floor space. Since our last visit, the beds have been upgraded to a comfortable 5ft queen-size bed plus a standard 4ft 6in double bed. The double bed is flanked by small nightstands with touch-controlled reading lamps. A wardrobe provides 1.3m of full-length hanging space (a few hangers provided), overhead storage cupboards and a vanity unit/dressing table with two deep drawers and three-quarter length mirror.
Although the room is furnished with two large beds, it appears far from crowded.
Immediately adjacent to the bedroom, so virtually en suite, is an attractive 3.4x2.2m tiled bathroom. This bathroom is furnished with a huge bathtub (1800x760mm internal) with a wall-mounted shower unit at one end. The bath is more like a small plunge pool and will undoubtedly be really appreciated by those who like a good soak. The only downside is the 21-inch step in and out of the bath. As with the master bathroom, the shower was excellent. There was never any shortage of hot water and the shower stream was powerful, yet gentle and all encompassing.
A smart new modern countertop washbasin with monobloc mixer tap had been fitted on the day of our arrival.
Finally, the bathroom provides a further meter of wardrobe and shelf storage space. Between the two bedrooms and the 'family' bathroom, Birdie's Nest undoubtedly provides more clothing storage space than any family are likely to require for even and extended Tobago beach holiday.
Balcony & Deck
Wide six-foot double doors lead from the living area onto a 4.2 x 2m covered balcony. This provides a shaded seating area until mid-afternoon and made a particularly pleasant dining and 'liming' spot, both day and evening. The balcony is furnished with a simple all-weather plastic table and four chairs. It became our prime dining spot.
The balcony runs around two sides of the building and provides access to the wonderful open deck. Made of rock-hard Guyanese greenheart, the 2.8 x 3.6m deck is fabulous for sunbathing and liming. It is furnished with two very high-quality cushioned all-weather armchairs, a pair of similarly-cushioned recliners, plus a table and a large sun-umbrella. Almost suspended over the pool, the deck is a truly wonderful and romantic spot to watch the sun setting over Fort Bennet, two hundred metres down the beach.