Guest Report

125 room budget all-inclusive hotel at Great Courland Bay (listing)
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Richard Baldwin

Guest Report

Post by Richard Baldwin » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:17 am

Turtle Beach Hotel, the Cuban refugee camp:

We arrived early in the morning (7am) due to the time of our flight. We had no choice in this time, it was the only flight from Toronto, then on to Tobago. When we were arrived we were given a Chilly greeting by Crystal at the desk, who was obviously unimpressed that we had arrived before the 3pm checkin time and made us immediately aware of it. She informed us we will have to wait as the rooms were not ready. Sleep deprived, overdressed in travelling gear, long pants and heavy shirts, we were forced to wait on the pool deck in weather well in excess of 80 degrees for 5 hours. We were not offered a drink, or a temporary room, or anything. After the first hour the restaraunt opened and we asked if we would be able to get some eggs and coffee. They begrudgingly agreed, then made us sign a charge of $188 TT for this simple breakfast. Also during the five hour wait in the scorching heat we asked if we could have something to drink. We were told we would not get any free drinks and were charged an additional $200TT for the three drinks we had during our five hour wait. I need to add that we had paid for an all-inclusive package.

Finally at 12pm we were given the privilege of having a room to get some sleep. Crystal begrudgingly allowed us to leave the pool deck and take our room, only because I asked every hour if the room was ready. We were told we would be charged for any food or drink until 3pm when we would receive our "Armbands". I found it embarrassing to wear armbands for an entire week around Tobago.

Then things got worse. The staff and bartenders seemed to have an air of "resentfulness" of our presence. Even after several sincere attempts to make friendly conversation. We finally gave up trying. Never was there a smile or a friendly word. They would accommodate whatever you asked, but almost begrudgingly.

The restaurant was stifling hot, so hot you could barely breath. At least 2-3 times each meal, I needed to go for a short walk just to stop from sweating in there. There were no fans were we were forced to sit. We were not allowed to take our food to the patio. We were not allowed any glassware outside of the restaurant. We were sent back to our room for wearing short pants to dinner, yet we noticed other guests were allowed tank tops, miniskirts, and even bare feet. When we returned with long pants, we elected to sit at a table that had a ceiling fan over it in order to find a way to bear the stifling heat in the restaraunt, only to be scolded like a schoolchild and told to sit elsewhere because that table was "set for breakfast".

The food was mediocre at best, and the menu and breakfast selection never changed for the entire week. Eggs, hash browns, bacon, fruit. Luke warm coffee. If you sat at a table set for four with only two people they would give you a dirty look and remove the excess two settings from the table. The dinner selection was bland and boring. I dont consider roast beef and ham to be authentic creole cuisine.
By Thursday there was no more buffet and they went "a la Carte" and the food was not very good, crunchy bits in improperly cooked pasta, chicken in a basic sweet/sour sauce on top of it. By this point, even though we had paid for the meals, we decided we would no longer be eating at the Turtle Beach hotel.

Security guards everywhere who would scold you for trying to hop the wall to the beach, but did nothing while peddlers pestered you to the point where you had to go running back to the shelter of your room. The resort was situated on one of the finest beaches but if you dared set foot on it they were all over you forcing mangos and crafted goods on your chest and demanding money. Offering to sell narcotics and tours no matter how many times you said "no thank you". They didn't stop at waiting for you to go on the beach, they would call out to you over the wall, and one of them even boldly marched into the resort pestering guests while the guards made very little attempt to send him back behind the wall.

Good points: Located on one of the finest beaches in Tobago where we DID get to observe a turtle nesting. Also the rooms were clean and well air conditioned with security boxes. For these points I gave two points to the rating, but the resort deserves no more points after that.

We spent the last two nights dining at other establishments which were fabulous, the Pavillion and the Seahorse which are both a little pricey, but well worth the experience. We were just glad to get away from the poor treatment at Turtle Beach Hotel.

On a final note, a strange occurence happened on the last night. Someone showed up with a clipboard in hand, who was observing the hotel and guests and spending a lot of time talking to the manager. All of a sudden, there was entertainment, people were allowed to eat on the patio, and the Pool lights were actually on! First time all week! (Pool all week is promptly closed at 6:30pm with no lights on) This was obviously some attempt to fool this "important" person who showed up and disguise what was really going on there.

We cannot say we enjoyed drinking out of chipped 8oz plastic cups all week and denied any glassware. I would have to give my overall rating of the Turtle Beach Hotel as what we fondly call the "slob tourist" resort.



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