Guest Report

3 cottages on the edge of Plymouth village (listing)
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Ian Winn

Guest Report

Post by Ian Winn » Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:17 am

My wife and I stayed at Adventure Eco Villas for one week following a week on the beach at Speyside. The owner, Ean, proved a kind and hospitable host-- recommending restaurants, letting us use his computer, lending us a complimentary mobile phone, giving us free-reign of his copious fruit supply, supplying information on the various creatures to be found around the property-- and the villa itself was both eclectic and homey. We very much enjoyed our lofty perch amid the rainforest and overall felt that staying here was a unique experience that contrasted nicely with our previous week of lounging by the shore.

We stayed in one of two well-appointed, self-catering villas built on stilts, connected to each other by a spacious deck. In the morning we threw open the screen-less wooden shutters and enjoyed our breakfast overlooking the lush reserve and listening to a cacophony of birdsong. The small sitting area and kitchen table were also an auspicious place to watch the sunrise, fix our binoculars on nesting hummingbirds or wait out the occasional tropical downpour as it thundered on the metal roof. The bedroom was very comfortable and, since the foliage often sheltered us from cooling ocean breezes, we greatly appreciated the fan and powerful air-conditioning which we used in the humid afternoons and to help us get to sleep at night. Come to think of it, cranking the air-con and watching a film on HBO after traipsing around the forests and reefs of Tobago all day was quite the guilty pleasure. The bathroom was spacious, bright and kept spotless by the friendly and efficient housekeeping-and-grounds tandem of Petra and Anton. One downside was the detachable shower nozzle which tended to splash the windows and baseboards around the bath but this was easily dealt with thanks to the ample towels provided. There were even complimentary beach towels on offer, along with several other nice touches such as bird guides, a personal safe, a small library, large-sized toiletries and a picnic hamper.

The small kitchen had everything we needed and more: gas range, powerful fridge/freezer, toaster, blender, coffee-maker, pots, pans, knifes, the works.. Plus there was the added bonus of having a plethora of fruit trees right outside our door. Over the course of the week we feasted on mangos, papaya, grapefruit, bananas (pick these early in your stay to give them a chance to ripen), cashew fruit and lemons. The birdlife was also magnificent, even for non-twitchers, and after breakfast (or the obligatory self-prepared local-rum-and-fresh-fruit smoothies!) we very much enjoyed setting our leftovers out for the mot-mots, ant-shrikes, bananaquits, tanagers, doves, lizards et al. There were also legions of hummingbirds swarming around the many feeders outside of Ean's house which, for the record, are almost impossible to photograph with an automatic camera. At night, the lights attracted numerous insects which in turn brought out flying frogs, toads, bats and enormous chirping geckos, all of which amused us greatly-- especially coming from London where all we get are ruddy mice and pigeons.

The villas are located about a mile or so from the ramshackle town of Plymouth where you can pick up basic necessities such as groceries and petrol. However, aside from a couple rough-and-tumble bars and a take-away Chinese, there's not much else on offer here and I would strongly recommend renting a car to get to restaurants and attractions further afield. The Arnos Vale Hotel is about a twenty minute walk from the premises, as is the start of the Mot Mot trail-- a lovely, sweaty, three-mile hike that leads along the bluffs to Culloden. Arnos Vale also has a decent beach with an excellent reef for snorkeling, with lots of unbleached, car-sized coral bommies to explore, but personally I would rather drive my snorkel/beach gear to the public parking lot than walk there from the Eco Villas-- if only to conserve energy for the water (the wife and I tend to snorkel for hours).

With a rental car we were also able to hit a number of quality restaurants in the surrounding area, and make numerous trips to Turtle Beach until we finally got to see a nesting leatherback-- from 3 to 5 a.m. If anyone is interested in this, you can save a bundle of money by not hiring a guide and instead making your way to the beach-bar-shack just south of the Turtle Beach Hotel. There, you can find the extremely helpful volunteers from the Save our Sea Turtles foundation and ask them if there's any nesting action on the beaches. Watching one of these half-ton behemoth's make her nest and lay her eggs was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

Downside: unfortunately, if you're headed to Tobago during the wet season, you are going to have to contend with mossies, especially in the island's interior and that most definitely includes the mostly open-air Adventure Eco Villas. Due to the aesthetically-pleasing wood-beam construction, the bedroom is not air-tight and even though we burned anti-mossie coils, plugged in our trusty insecticide diffuser and slathered ourselves with 100% DEET, we always seemed to wake up with a couple bites apiece. That being said, mosquitos the world over have always found me extremely delicious and my wife was much less affected than I was.

Still, insects support the birds, amphibians and reptiles we enjoy so much and a few bites were a small price to pay for staying at these wonderful, comfy villas. A great experience at a reasonable price with the added bonus of a fantastic, informative host. Oh, and the guide dogs were a treat as well.

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