Cram 15 small open-style chalets and apartments onto a small plot better-suited to mountain goats, scatter some petals around, charge hotel rates and you have Tobago's version of glamping – Castara Retreats. The initial concept was commendable, but avarice seems to have reared its ugly head. Full credit should be given for the power of clever marketing.
An increasing number of properties in Castara offer similar or better standards of accommodation and have locations nearer the beach. We even had to borrow a coffee machine for our last stay. Worse still, hours after we left, the incoming guests had an underwater camera and money stolen. With no resident staff, security is clearly higher risk. Noise from a local bar is a regular major issue, with guests complaining, checking out or having to be moved to other accommodation due to the often weekly near all-night raves at a bar just below the property. There were cases of food poisoning at their restaurant, although we believe that the restaurant is now under new management.
We were once great fans, but not any longer.
Provided by the property, or taken from their website
Castara Retreats is located overlooking the bay of Castara on Tobago with stunning views of the Caribbean and mountains. Set high above the beach, backed by the deep green of the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere and framed by mango trees and bamboo, it offers accommodation that allows you to live in the landscape.
The main house is divided into three stylish and comfortable apartments designed to create open, spacious living areas that allow unhindered views, cool sea breezes and the natural sights and sounds that surround the property. There is free WiFi broadband internet access in each apartment.
Rainforest apartment covers the entire upper floor (1000 sq ft) with stupendous views over the Bay of Castara and the beach below. The living and dining area has a real WOW factor and is a very spacious open plan space some 30 x 20 feet with gorgeous cypress hardwood floors sitting under a vaulted roof that is specially designed to allow the breeze to move through. The panoramic views arc across 180 degrees to the setting sun in the West and to the beach and ocean below. Bedroom 1 is spacious and comfortable with a queen size bed and looks out over the deck to the ocean and beach. Bedroom 2 is a medium sized room with twin beds that can be put together on request to make a king size bed. It has French doors that open directly on to a new (2009) 12ft by 15ft deck where you can sit in the garden surrounded by tropical flowers and shrubs with views of both the ocean and valley beyond.
Hummingbird 1 is below Rainforest and has the same astonishing views of the beach and the whole of Castara Bay. It also looks east across the garden to the village beyond and to the rainforest ridge in the distance, where the sun rises. Recently extended and upgraded, Hummingbird 1 has one bedroom with queen size bed and en suite shower room and a new, separate fully equipped kitchen. The terrace across the front of the apartment offers a lovely space to relax, dine, read or absorb the ever-changing landscape of ocean, beach, garden and rainforest. On the east side is a patio garden – perfect for morning coffee.
Hummingbird 2 is on the west side of the house and is a little smaller than Hummingbird 1 with easy access to a magnificent newly completed pagoda just a few steps away for enjoying the setting sun and the westerly view over the Caribbean. It has one bedroom (with either twin beds or a king size bed), en suite shower and an open plan living area with a neat new kitchen built into the side. All in all there is a spacious 16' x 16' terrace room for cooking, dining, relaxing and limin' with comfortable chairs, a hardwood coffee table and full size hammock - all with views to the beach and bay.
A few steps away are two detached wooden houses (Coasthanger and Birdsong) - built to the same high specifications - offering one or two bedroom accommodation along with a beautifully renovated Fisherman's cabin with one bedroom.
Our new pavilion is beautifully set among the trees below Fisherman's Lodge, with wonderful views to the West. It is a very spacious 18ft x 15ft with comfortable seating, atmospheric lighting and an adjoining deck and is ideal for special events like weddings and family reunions. All our guests are invited to share its use. Our manager, Porridge, and our boat captain Sherwin, offer Friday night BBQs in the pavilion which is a great way to meet all the guests and sample Sherwin's delicious food.
We would point out to readers that our apartments are located on a steep hillside overlooking the beach. Access involves a 75 yard walk up a winding pathway. Consequently our accommodations may not be suitable for those with walking difficulties or who easily get out of breath.
This property has a weighted Reader Satisfaction Rating of 97.7% . Click below to read the 99 reader reports that this is rating is based on.
Lesley-Ann James from Trinidad visited in August 2015 and awarded
Our stay at the Castara Retreats' Studio apartment was better than expected. From start to finish we were treated extremely well and we loved the open plan design and view from the apartment. The selections at the restaurant were positively delish and the locals are extremely helpful and friendly. We even hopped a ride a few times. Many thanks to Lorna, Porridge, Jeanell, Milk, Kenny and the rest of the team for making our stay enjoyable. Alex & Lesley
Much love from the USA & Trinidad.
Hugo and Claudia Meier from Switzerland visited in April 2014 and awarded
Our stay at Castara Retreats was simply perfect, as always. The view, the garden, lots of birds... what else could you ask for? The views and the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks are just spectacular. We can't recommend this accommodation highly enough! Porridge, Jeanell as well as all other staff are wonderful hosts. They are happy to answer any questions you may have and they make sure you love this paradise as much as possible.
We enjoyed chatting with the other guests at the bar of the restaurant which is part of Castara Retreats. Kenny, Patricia and team serve Italian style food with a stunning sea view included. Don’t forget to try the fabulous selection of rum sitting at the bar!
Go down to the village and get in touch with the locals who always give you a nice smile. It is also a good opportunity to talk with other visitors.
This was our ninth trip to Castara and we are already trying to figure out when we can return. Can't wait!
To view a detailed interactive map showing the location of this property relative to restaurants, shops and sightseeing features, click this link