Guest Report

2 apartments on outskirts of Castara.
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Diane Hash

Guest Report

Post by Diane Hash » Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:05 am

I was in Tobago for 6 days with my husband and several friends and various relations for a wedding. We had not considered Tobago as a vacation destination until the bride and groom picked this beautiful little island as their wedding destination. Their choice was strongly influenced by their love of diving and underwater photography. Their honeymoon was a week aboard a liveaboard dive boat just off the coast of Tobago.
Now having experienced Tobago my husband and I are definitely returning. Part of what made the trip so exquisite was our accomodation at Sandcastles. The owners, Adam and Ria are wonderful hosts and it felt like we were staying with friends. From the beginning as I peppered Adam with questions about location and beaches and transportation he patiently answered my questions. I'm sure he began to rue my name popping up in his email inbox.
When we arrived it was dark and raining and still the place looked lovely. Adam had dinner waiting and a lovely bottle of wine set out. He's an amazing chef and the ambience so relaxing that even if you're staying elsewhere you should experience dinner there. It was just the elixir for three weary travellers.
By next morning we awoke to sun and birdsong and the sound of the sea and I felt like I was in paradise.
Sandcastles is a truly unique accomodation choice. It sits on a hill overlooking Castara Bay, close enough to hear the surf but not so close that you're bothered by the fishing boats or beach parties. To walk to it is 10 minutes tops. Adam and Ria have lived in Tobago for the last 9 years and this is evidenced by how much Adam knows about where to shop, where to go dancing, where to go horseback riding and rent snorkel gear. This is someone is very useful to have as your personal visitor guide.
Not all of our party were staying at Sandcastles however and having seen several other places I realized how lucky we were to have booked in with Adam and Ria. The value for the dollar is incredible. The two bedroom apartment we shared with another friend had a kitchen and living room area. Each bedroom had a bathroom and it's own balcony. Even the father of the groom was amazed with it and he had rented a villa in Englishmans' Bay.
Staying with Adam and Ria just added to a wonderful experience. We got to know their daughter Elizabeth and their dogs, who I'd like to think are missing us, (Big Boy got alot of good belly rubs while we were there).
Our stay in Castara at Sandcastles was just the perfect place. My husband and I will definitely return and will be staying there again.

JOE HASH

Outstanding hospitality...we'll be back!

Post by JOE HASH » Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:32 pm

The only reason we went to Tobago was that two of our closest friends had decided they would be married there. Via the Internet, we had arranged our own accommodations a few minutes down the road from their villa. But truthfully, we didn’t know what to expect. After a tiring 11 hours of air travel, we arrived in the dark, during a downpour. The door of our hired van opened, and I heard a cheerful cockney accent chirping, "Welcome to Tobago!" It was Adam, our host, who had prepared a delicious dinner for his weary Canadian travelers. Hot squash soup, with the hollowed-out squash serving as a bowl. Baked bonito, a tuna-like fish, fresh from the sea, presented whole on a platter, fragrant with coriander and rosemary, and artfully striped with paprika. Potatoes au gratin, roasted to crispy perfection. And a wonderful, full-bodied South African cabernet. It was like one of those high-end metropolitan restaurants where you get to interact with the chef while he prepares your meal...without the attitude, or the dress code. We sat on the covered patio and unwound from our journey over a surprising dessert combining sweet and sour, hot and cold: pancakes with coffee ice cream, smothered in passion fruit (from the garden) and maple syrup (in our honor?). We met Ria, Adam's beautiful wife, who introduced us to Elizabeth, their charming toddler. As we lounged on the patio, relaxing after dinner, we mentioned that we were dog lovers. So, out came the dogs to meet us: Xena, Marbles and Big Boy. Very sweet and playful. When Adam and Ria's adopted son, Alex, added his cheerful presence to our gathering, it felt as though we were simply hanging out with friends at the end of the day…or “liming,” as they say on the island. And that's Adam and Ria’s great gift...the ability to make you feel instantly at home, as well as properly looked after. Soon, we collapsed into a comfy bed wrapped in embroidered white linens and draped with white mosquito netting...romantic, yet functional. And we fell asleep to the soothing sounds of the yet-to-be-seen surf. We awoke to a spectacular view of the blue Caribbean breaking below us between two rainforest mountains. That day, Adam showed me where that delicious bonito came from…just at the foot of the hill was Castera Beach, where the fishermen pull in the day’s catch. Adam told us of island customs and lore. He showed us landmarks, one of which is in his own front yard. It’s a giant mango tree, several hundred years old. Below the tree, the mangos cover the ground knee-deep, and islanders come from everywhere with bushel baskets to help themselves. Every night, the sun dropped straight into the sea directly between those mountains, and every night it was gorgeous. We enjoyed Adam’s culinary skills several more times, and after the wedding we left reluctantly. Because by end of our six-day stay, we really were hanging out with our friends…our new Tobagan friends. And we’ll be back.

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