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12 apartments in Castara (listing)
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Judi Hussey And Nick Kerr

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Post by Judi Hussey And Nick Kerr » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:37 pm

We have just returned home after visiting Tobago for three weeks. We had a wonderful holiday - we have visited and sailed around the West Indies over the last ten years but found Tobago the best of all the Islands. Warm, hospitable people, stunning scenery, incredible beaches with clear water for diving and snorkelling. We decided to travel around the island staying in various locations. I used your site to find out where to stay. One of the places we visited was beautiful Castara - a real gem!
We booked Alibabas' Sea Breeze apartments for five nights and needed somewhere else for the preceeding four nights. I was nearly put off Angel apartments by a mans extremely negative report until I realised all he was complaining about was the essence of Castara and Tobago itself, the sounds of cockerels, dogs and steel pans (if you are lucky) playing locally. We were delighted with Angel Apartments, they were spotlessly clean with comfortable furniture, extremely spacious and a large balcony. Seabreeze was also wonderful for its stunning location over the sea but it has such good press I do not need to say more about it. Angel though, I feel has been unjustly treated. Sites such as this one, with one strange mans very odd and unjust report, can influence the decisions of future holiday makers and make or break a hotel trying to succeed in a competitive market. I have just read a report condemming Angel because a relative of the owners wrote on your site positive things about it. Wrong in your books but I can understand the frustration of having only negatives printed about it. Castara is obviously under some change - looking at postcards from just a few years ago it is now more developed but now providing perhaps a few more food shops and restaurants. Angel apartments is not the only place in Castara to have grown and it does provide well needed accommodation in a superb location.

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Steve Wooler
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Post by Steve Wooler » Thu Apr 20, 2006 4:47 pm

Hi Judy and Nick

I am delighted that you had such a wonderful stay in Castara. If you had visited Castara a year or two ago, you would perhaps understand my sentiments.

Short-term greed has no place in sustainable tourism. If Tobago is to succeed as a serious tourism destination, it has to ensure that the features that attract visitors are still there in 10-15-20+ years time. Rushing to grab a quick buck now could be very short-sighted long-term.

What is it that attracted people to this small and homely fishing village? Viewed from the bay or the lookout position as you approach the village, you couldn’t see a single building a year or two ago. Look at the picture below. The Angel Apartments (and the apartment house under construction just behind) are ugly blots on the landscape. They have totally ruined the natural landscape of the village. Does this look like a quiet fishing village?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that development must not be allowed. What I am saying is that development must be sympathetic to the environment. These two buildings (and another on the main beach) have done major damage to Castara. Lets be honest, the village hasn’t got the infrastructure for a large number of tourists and the moment you get wall-to-wall hotels/apartment houses and deck chairs lining the beach, those who are prepared to pay decent rates for the ethos of a genuine village environment will go elsewhere. My fear is that over-capacity will make Castara become a very down-market destination simply because these large guesthouses will have to slash prices to attract custom.

My comments about Angel Apartments have absolutely nothing to do with the sounds of cockerels, dogs and steel bands, etc. They are entirely based upon the size and nature of the property.

Referring to your other comment, the “relative” you refer to is effectively the owner. Our review conditions – which you must have seen yourself – strictly forbid owners, relatives and anyone other than “rate-paying” guests from posting reports, for very obvious reasons.

My negative comments about the property were made only a few weeks ago, AFTER the owner blatantly abused our system in contraventions of our clearly posted warnings. OK, others have made the same mistake, apologised and not a word has been said on the site. However, his reaction was frankly insulting. It was the final straw. It made me decide to come clean and voice concerns that I had held since I first saw the property and in response to the numerous emails I have received from concerned regulars. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than you read here in on the site, believe me.

As I clearly say on our Home page, our aim is to steer visitors to the best of Tobago and away from the worst. Those who show no regard for a sustainable future for Tobago cannot expect to be considered the 'best' of Tobago and therefore cannot expect support or sympathy from this site. What’s the point if I'm not prepared to be true to these principles?

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Paul Williams
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Post by Paul Williams » Thu Apr 20, 2006 11:30 pm

This thread is one which I feel will be cropping up so much in the future ie where does the village go.
I am in Castara at the moment though sadly for only 2 more days on my second visit, I really love the Nothside of the island and have stayed on our visits in this area and have excluded the more developed parts, however today I hired a car and drove "around the island" taking in so many of the places that I have read about on the forum and I have to say that compared with Castara some of them have been developed in an awful way.
Steve is right in that the village must learn from some of the mistakes made in other areas but I feel this will be unlikely to happen as a lot of the money that will "spoil" it from my personal view is not local but comes in investment from people who will not have to worry how things are in 10-20 years time as they will haved moved on to the next "paradise".
Being myself from a village that has been heavily influenced by outside forces I hope I am not seeing this happening here.
Other peoples thoughts on the way forward would be interesting.
PS Heavenly or Little Bay has changed beyond recognition in the 18 months between our 2 visits.
Regards from a place still close to paradise.
Paul

Anthony P

Ruin of Castara

Post by Anthony P » Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:59 am

We didn’t stay in Castara, but we toured the island. We were horrified when we stopped at the look out abve Castara. The forest behind the village has been ripped out for buildings. Two years ago there was nothing but trees. All the houses were hidden. We were just so disappointed that this has been allowed to happen. We went to the Boathouse for lunch and saw the buildings Steve is talking about. I agree that they have ruined the village. It was such a pretty and charming little valley. Now it is just a scruffy, untidy mess with cars everywhere. Then, when we went down to the beach and saw the lines of deckchairs, well, I have to tell you that we just forgot lunch and left. I know we have to expect change, but there is good change and there is bad change. Sorry to disagree, Steve, but there’s not a danger of it going down-market – its clearly gone there already if the foul-mouthed young English party who were creating a fuss because they couldn’t get there car out of the lane from the new apartments is anything to go by. I can’t believe how much its changed in the two years since our last visit. We won’t return to Heavenly Bay. It is just so sad. You are probably right, Paul, in that it is possibly down to foreign investors. But, surely there are planning laws on Tobago? How can they allow villages to be raped like this?

Stephen Hull

Post by Stephen Hull » Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:11 am

I think Castara is still a wonderful place and reports of its demise are somewhat premature.

Things have and will continue to change. I agree that some of the development has been unsympathetic. The development has also been paralleled by a degradation of the reefs at Heavenly Bay, untreated sewage the presumed culprit.

I think what most of us are struggling with is the fear that what is happening is part of an inexorable slide downhill, but the place is far from ruined yet.

Steve

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Post by Brian Taylor » Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:51 am

read all this and could not keep my mouth shut:

I cry for every tree that is cut down, but in this country you have to learn, that everything grows back in no time. it did not look nice arround our house when we finished building, but now it is green and nice. palmtres in front of the boathouse restaurant are coming up and will cover the big building soon and their own garden will grow and hide the place again and make heavenly bay a cosy and green place again!

I don't like beachchairs, but I don't see the difference of 10 people sunbathing on the beach on their towels, or the same 10 people having a beachchair under their butt. I checked yesterday (when there was not a tourist soul in little bay, but a lot of locals enjoying their holidays), there where 10 empty beachchairs in big bay... :wink:

to the parking I must say, that if noone would block the "lane" that is actually our road as well, all the cars could be hidden behind the big building and will be in the future, when the green building in the back is finished and the parking behind angelapartments organized.

Don't say I am happy about the big building, but beeing a foreigner myself, I learned to accept that we are only guests and in the end have to live with the local development. it is hard to positivly influence the locals, because almost every tourist who comes here tries to tell them how to do it better (sorry, but some in a really anoying manner). after almost 4 years here, I realized how even I listen less and less... hope that the way steve appoaches tobagos problems (beeing in the postion to talk to the important people now) is helping to make them see things that go wrong in this country...

come back in another two years, when we have more trees in little bay again (and our last building is done :oops:, no worries...all wood... and no shiny roof!)!

Looking forward to see you all again for another check then :D

STEPHANIE
Stephanie & Brian "Alibaba" Taylor
Alibaba-Tours - http://www.Alibaba-Tours.com

Marc Jones

Post by Marc Jones » Mon May 28, 2007 12:42 pm

28 days to go until I spend 2 weeks in Castara.

When we visited Tobago previously we visited Castara for an hour or two but in a funny kind of way it felt a little intrusive - that's not to say anyone made us feel unwelcome, just that it was clearly someone local people lived rather than a place swarming with visitors.

We decided to go to Castara as we'd not seen enough of it and wanted to visit somewhere a bit different to staying (for eg) at Rex Turtle Beach.

Stumbled across this thread in my excitable build up to the trip and just wondered if anyone involved in it (or indeed anyone else!) had anything more recent to add?

Have things 'got worse' or have the newer buildings become a little less intrusive? Is Castara changed for the better or worse with these developments?

Marc Jones

Post by Marc Jones » Mon May 28, 2007 12:45 pm

Stephen Hull wrote:
Things have and will continue to change. I agree that some of the development has been unsympathetic. The development has also been paralleled by a degradation of the reefs at Heavenly Bay, untreated sewage the presumed culprit.
Gulp (or rather not!) "untreated sewage" not exactly my idea of Heavenly Bay - any improvement to the bay/reef since this was posted?

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Post by David Watkins » Mon May 28, 2007 1:48 pm

Marc,to my knowledge,and I am a regular at Heavenly Bay there is NO untreated sewage discharged into the sea.I am almost certain that is so over all the Island.
"Grey"water goes into the sea as in UK(road run off,your roof drainage,and in some case washing and laundry water).
As for damage to the reef,that is down to idiots! I'll say no more on that,except that the idiots aint 'Bogonians.
David :D :D
ps.Marc you're getting stressed again :evil:

Marc Jones

Post by Marc Jones » Mon May 28, 2007 2:04 pm

Couldn't be less stressed, just curious to be honest 8)

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Post by David Watkins » Mon May 28, 2007 2:08 pm

Okay mon,ask Sharon to put your first Carib on my Tab,
David(A tink 193 days)

Marc Jones

Post by Marc Jones » Mon May 28, 2007 2:15 pm

Mmm Carib... Ice cold in Castara :)

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Post by David Watkins » Mon May 28, 2007 8:09 pm

Theme for a movie??????

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