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Apartments & Security

Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 5:43 pm
by Rachael D
Hi All

Before I begin, thank you for such a great source of information on Tobago. It has been really useful in researching our Tobagan holiday.

My husband and I visited Tobago for the first time last September and stayed for a week at the Magdalena Grand. We had a wonderful time but found it quite expensive and had a limited choice for vegetarians (hubby is veggie). It is also quite a way from any other restaurants and we ended up spending a fortune on taxis.

We are thinking of returning again this September but wanted to be a little more independent so I am considering renting an apartment and hiring a car so we can do more under our own steam. I have noticed a few recent posts on the increase in attacks on tourists. I am not too concerned about safety out and about, as to a certain extent this can be limited by not wearing flashy clothes and expensive jewellery and taking other common sense precautions, although I am aware that some luck is involved too.

My main worry is someone breaking in to the place in which we choose to stay. I have been looking at the selection of recommended apartments on this website and wanted to ask if security was a consideration when conducting your reviews? Should this be something I check with the owner of the apartment? What level of security should I expect as a minimum standard?

How worried should I be about this? Is it a frequent occurrence that tourist villas/homes get targeted? I think that the story about the lady who woke up and ended up standing on a burglar's head has freaked me out somewhat but it has made me consider security as a criterion for selecting a suitable apartment, which I have not had to consider in the past.

Any help or wise words would be very much appreciated.


Rachael :)

Re: Apartments & Security

Posted: Mon May 06, 2013 9:40 am
by Steve Wooler
Hi Rachael

Welcome aboard and thanks for your kind words. :)

I hugely recommend self-catering apartments. It is by far the best way to experience the 'real' Tobago. Yes, there has been an increase in burglaries and other crime over recent years but it is important to remember that the figures only seem bad because it was an increase from exceptionally low figures. Burglaries and theft happen everywhere in the world.

You are putting me on the spot asking about our security policy when conducting reviews. Sadly, I have to be careful in my wording. I can't say that a property is safe to stay at: someone from the good old U.S.of A. will stay there, leave the doors and windows open, get burglarised and then sue me. I'm firmly of the old school who believes that responsibility starts with ourselves.

We only review and recommend properties that we have stayed in and intend to return to. If we have doubts about a property we won’t review it; or if factors became apparent during the review, would refuse to publish it until changes were made (and any such changes would be mentioned in the review for the benefit of visitors who had previously stayed there).

If I was a jobs-worth, I would cover my backside by saying that you should only stay in properties surrounded by razor-wire security fences, patrolled by 24 hour security guards, with bars on every door and window and a pair of Rottweilers on constant patrol. However, who goes on holiday to stay in a prison?

Security is largely a perception. If you think you might feel unsafe, then you will not relax or enjoy your holiday and so should choose another destination. However, I suspect you’ll be hard pressed to find a destination that doesn’t have burglaries. The biggest problem with Tobago is that visitors tend to relax too much, feel safe and allow common sense to fly out of the door. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve enquired about incidents and found that they could probably have been avoided if the visitor had applied more common sense.

I don’t wear rose-tinted spectacles and ’m not one to put my family and friends in danger. I can only repeat my comment above: the places we stay at and recommend are places we actually stay in and will revisit again in the future. I wouldn’t do so if I felt there higher risk than I face every day at home.

Re: Apartments & Security

Posted: Mon May 06, 2013 7:06 pm
by Rachael D
Dear Steve

Thank you for your reply, it is very much appreciated.

I fear I have put you in a bit of an awkward position, for which I apologise. I had not thought of the implications of asking about security and the litigious world we live in!

I have begun to narrow my search down to a few properties on the Lower Caribbean side. The ones on the Atlantic side that are suitable for two seem to be more expensive.

As I read the reviews more carefully and consult the owner's websites I can see security is mentioned and I can form my own view on whether these seem adequate for me.

I think the problem may be that I have never experienced any form of personal attack but I have experience burglary more than once. One occasion, the perpetrators entered my house whilst my husband and I were asleep and although we did not actually encounter them, I was left very shaken. I guess the stories I have read have re-awakened a little of that fear but I feel that your words have helped me put things into a little perspective.

I am not going to alter my plans just because something "might" happen but I do want to make sure I take reasonable precautions to keep me and my husband safe so that we can both enjoy a holiday in one of the world's most beautiful places.

Thanks for your help

Rachael :D

Re: Apartments & Security

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 2:24 am
by Andy K

burglary has become more of a problem in recent years, as Steve correctly mentioned, but it is
not the norm in Tobago at all.
Burglar bars though have been "imported" from Trinidad and i have to admit, i feel a lot safer with them,
leaving windows open at night (i don't like to use an air conditioner in Tobago).
"Louvres", the window of choice in the tropics in the past, are unfortunately no longer safe enough.
Many guest houses and also private homes, built within the last 10 years, have burglar bars. You may not even
recognize them, as they are mostly integrated in the window frames.
If i were a tourist, which i am not, i would want to stay in an apartment or guest house with burglar bars.
I would also make sure valuables (wallets, handbags, computers / smart phones, cameras) are stored away from open windows. Also don't leave keys visible and close to open windows.
But that should be it for the precautions at your accomodation.
Razor wire, dogs, CCTV and security patrols are considered optional ;-)



Re: Apartments & Security

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 8:50 am
by Glyn Kirpalani

I agree with Steve and Andy above, but for extra peace of mind, you could splash out a bit for a luxury self-catering villa or apartment at a guarded resort, so you have hotel-ish levels of security but with window grilles etc as well (check this when enquiring). Eg Sugar Mill Suites on Tobago Plantations resort, or even one of the many apartment-hotels, which have kitchens etc, if you check that they have security features or guards when booking. Then you will sleep well - but as Steve says, do not let your guard down, if you forgive the pun, by doing silly stuff you would not do in the UK - eg many Brits all head into the sea to swim at once, then find their bags swiped off the beach - one would not do that at Brighton for instance, but they over-relax. (This can be done if you carry only towels and lotion and a bottle of water). Have fun,

Re: Apartments & Security

Posted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:51 pm
by Rachael D
Hi All

Wasn't sure if you are interested but I thought I would follow up my original post on this thread by saying that, with the help of Mytobago, I have now booked an apartment for September.

I have used one of your recommended properties and had some lovely email correspondence with the owner. I am looking forward to our trip immensely and wanted to thank all of you who replied, as your shared knowledge and experience was invaluable to me.

Thanks again

Re: Apartments & Security

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:48 am
by Steve Wooler
Glad to hear you've found somewhere you feel comfortable about. I'm sure you will have tons of questions before you leave in September, so you know where to come. :)