The Blue Haven Hotel is located on a ruined outpost of Fort King George, once the guardian of Tobago's capital, Scarborough. From the 1940's through the '60s it was a popular retreat for celebrities and has been visited by the Queen and senior members of the British royal family. A number of movies have been filmed on the hotel's beach, including Swiss Family Robinson.
These halcyon days passed and the hotel closed. It stood shuttered and decaying for 25 years until Austrian entrepreneur, Karl Pilstl, and his Trinidadian wife, Marilyn, spotted the tumbledown building. Wandering around the shuttered hotel, they were fascinated by the possibilities and became increasingly determined to restore the hotel to its former glory.
The fully restored, renovated and expanded Blue Haven Hotel opened its doors in December 2000. With just 55 rooms, including 8 suites, it has become Tobago's premier boutique hotel.
The Blue Haven Hotel is located on a 15-acre peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean in Bacolet, a quiet up-market residential suburb of Scarborough. All rooms, particularly those on the upper levels, have wonderful views of Tobago's southern coastline.
The drive from the airport is a short but uninspiring 20/25-minute journey. Upper Scarborough, the commercial district of the capital, is a 10-minute walk from the Blue Haven. It is disappointing that Scarborough has so little to commend itself. The market has a certain Caribbean vibrancy and the Botanical Gardens and Museum can be a pleasant way to pass an hour, but retail therapy is not an option. However, all roads emanate from Scarborough, so it an ideal location from which to tour this stunningly beautiful island.
We highly recommend that visitors budget for the rental of a self-drive car or jeep for all, or part, of their holiday. An island tour with a good guide is a great introduction to the island and a perfect way to get your bearings, but by far the best way to get the most out of Tobago is to drive yourself.
The original historic Blue Haven building has been retained, but fully modernised. The hotel retains something of a colonial feel, without appearing old-fashioned. Full credit must be given to Karl and Marilyn for remaining true to the original, whilst incorporating major ecological and environmental benefits, including a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant and solar water heating systems.
Accommodation annexes have been added to two sides of the original coral-pink stuccoed three-storey building. These defy easy description and attract diverse opinion, so it is best that I let the photographs do the talking. The overall architectural style is unique. The combination of a pink main building with blue and white wooden wings is intriguing. The design is highly efficient and practical. The buildings are very eco-friendly and the flying roof protects the rooms from the heat of the sun.
The grounds of the hotel are nicely landscaped. The foliage around the property totally blocks any view of neighbouring properties and the hotel has a really pleasant ambience of quiet solitude.
The Blue Haven has no rooms specifically modified or equipped for the disabled and there are no lifts/elevators. The ground floor rooms would probably be practical for those with mobility issues, but the restaurant is located on the upper floor of an adjacent building. Access to the beach would also present difficulties.