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Coco Reef Resort - a myTobago guide to Tobago holiday accommodation
 

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Coco Reef Resort, Tobago

Coco Reef Resort

136-room Holiday Resort

The 135-room Coco Reef Resort is unquestionably Tobago's leading luxury holiday resort. A good hotel offering great food, fantastic staff and boasting its own... delightful private beach.

The Coco Reef may not have the polished veneer and glitz of modern luxury hotels in other parts of the world, but the faded Colonial elegance and genuine warmth of the staff create an ambience that many guests fall in love with. Proof of this is a repeat rate that other hotels can only dream of. Visitors go on holiday to the Coco Reef, rather than going on holiday to Tobago and staying at the Coco Reef.
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Coco Reef Resort

136-room Holiday Resort

The 135-room Coco Reef Resort is unquestionably Tobago's leading luxury holiday resort. A good hotel offering great food, fantastic staff and boasting its own delightful private beach.

The Coco Reef may not have the polished veneer and glitz of modern luxury hotels in other parts of the world, but the faded Colonial elegance and genuine warmth of the staff create an ambience that many guests fall in love with. Proof of this is a repeat rate that other hotels can only dream of. Visitors go on holiday to the Coco Reef, rather than going on holiday to Tobago and staying at the Coco Reef.

click/tap the photo to view a gallery of 32 photos

Property Description

Provided by the property, or taken from their website

Coco Reef is Tobago's premier beachfront hotel, sitting on ten acres of manicured tropical gardens. It provides the ultimate Caribbean vacation in a casually elegant setting.

Coco Reef's guest accommodations feature tropical elegance with saltillo tiled patios and balconies, exquisite wall stencils, tiled vanities and the very finest hand-crafted wicker furniture. Of Coco Reef's total of 135 rooms, suites and villas, 114 have ocean views.

IN-ROOM AMENITIES INCLUDE:

  • International and direct dial telephone
  • Refrigerator
  • Selection of natural bath cosmetics
  • Remote controlled air-conditioning
  • Bathrooms with tub/shower
  • Wall mounted hair dryer
  • Cable TV offering 20+ channels
  • Twice daily maid service

ACCOMMODATION CHOICES INCLUDE:

  • 100 Superior and Deluxe Rooms
  • 8 Garden Villa Suites
  • 9 Suites
  • 15 Junior Suites
  • 3 Royal Suites: The Sunset Villa, The Presidential Suite and The Havana Suite.

myTobago Review

Holiday Resort, Store Bay, Tobago

The following review was produced during a 7-night stay at the Coco Reef Resort in March 2014.

Introduction

The Coco Reef Resort is undoubtedly the most popular and prestigious resort on Tobago. If repeat-guest rate can be considered a measure of success, then the Coco Reef is undeniably the most successful luxury hotel on Tobago, by a considerable margin.  

I guess it comes as little surprise that the World Travel Awards organisation has awarded the Coco Reef Resort the accolade "Tobago's Leading Resort" every year since 2004; after all, there isn't a lot of competition. However, to have received the award "Caribbean's Leading Hotel" for the same unprecedented ten years puts the hotel into a different league.

Let's get this into perspective. The Coco Reef is a 4-star plus hotel at best. By international standards and bearing in mind the best modern urban hotels, some might argue that the Coco Reef is not even that. There is certainly no lack of super-luxury hotels in the Caribbean. So, why does the Coco Reef Resort win these awards? Why is it that every other guest you talk to at the hotel has stayed here at least once before? What keeps these visitors coming back year after year?

It is not really our place to judge. No hotel, anywhere in the world, is right for everyone. We can only describe our impressions and detail the hotel's facilities. You, our reader, must decide whether it sounds like your sort of hotel. All I can say is that the Coco Reef Resort is very much more than the sum of its parts. You will either 'get it' or you won't. I confess that we do!

Overview

The Coco Reef Resort boasts Tobago's only private beach. The general ethos of the resort is restrained good taste. The hotel's stylish up-market ambience attracts a wide range of clientele from young newlyweds to mature couples, with a substantial emphasis on the latter. It is perhaps not an ideal choice for families with young children, and certainly not for those wanting serious activity or nightlife. However, a repeat rate of over 47% proves satisfaction in the most eloquent and powerful way possible.

The truly wonderful members of staff are, without doubt, the Coco Reef's outstanding attraction. They create that indefinable je ne sais quoithat lifts the resort from being simply good, to being truly memorable. Never have we found such a combination of service, courtesy, efficiency, friendliness and hospitality. They are magic!

Location

The Coco Reef is located less than a 2-minute drive from the airport, in Crown Point – the flat coral-bed at the southern end of Tobago. Despite the proximity to the airport, aircraft noise is never an issue. The hotel grounds are an oasis within a desert. Once you have passed through the security barrier at the grand walled entrance, you are in a different world; a fantasy world where you will be largely unaware of life outside the resort.

Let us be brutally honest here. This part of Tobago is not exactly a beauty spot. Other than Pigeon Point, with its beautiful white coral-sand beach, the area largely consists of nothing but an unattractive sprawl of low-end guesthouses, fast food outlets, small shops and local housing. However, it is a small island (just 26x8 miles) and within just a few minutes' drive, you will be away from the urban sprawl and able to appreciate Tobago's beautiful coastline and lush green hilly interior.

Architecture

The mature trees and foliage surrounding the hotel disguise the 10-acre size of the resort and help to generate the more intimate atmosphere of a smaller property. The eclectic architectural style, described as Caribbean-Palladian, is easy on the eye and blends superbly with the natural surroundings. Beautifully landscaped gardens compliment the architecture. The hotel comprises a main building, which houses the foyer, reception desk, restaurants and bar, flanked by two-storey accommodation wings on either side.

Every aspect of the architecture and décor are stylish, tasteful and totally in keeping with the hotel's Caribbean location. There is no hint of 'international chain hotel'. Even without being told, you would know that this hotel was designed and furnished by an individual, rather than accountants in head office. We endorse the hotel's own description of 'understated elegance'. In previous reviews, I expressed reservation about the Cuban art that dominates the hotel. Perhaps I've just got used to it, but admit that I actually quite like some of it. It does seem appropriate and undoubtedly affords the hotel its own unique identity.

Clientele

The hotel has been traditionally most popular with British travellers. The British component is still the largest, but the mix is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan.

The most noticeable change in recent years has been the substantial increase in holidaymakers from the sister island, Trinidad, particularly at weekends. During our 2014 stay, there was also a high incidence of Scandinavians, resulting from a new direct winter service from Stockholm and Copenhagen.  

The average guest at the Coco Reef is decidedly more 'senior' than 'junior'. The hotel is also deservedly popular for weddings and with honeymooners.

Accommodation

The hotel's 136 rooms are available in a range of basic categories:

  • Superior rooms with garden view
  • Deluxe rooms with sea view
  • Junior Garden View Suites
  • One Bedroom Suites with sea view
  • Two Bedroom Villas in the gardens

There are also three VIP suites. These include the hugely expensive Sunset Villa. This small detached villa sits on a private promontory overlooking Store Bay. It is no surprise that the resort has attracted celebrities as diverse as Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Stevie Wonder.

Over the course of our various stays at the Coco Reef Resort, we have enjoyed Deluxe rooms and, more recently, a One Bedroom Suite.

During our 2006 visit, our Deluxe room offered 40m2 (435ft2) of accommodation, including the en suite bathroom and 10m2 balcony. Some Deluxe rooms on the upper floor of the south wing are marginally smaller, but compensate for this with the best sea views. The Deluxe rooms are fitted with either a king-size bed, or two large double beds.

Whilst the Deluxe rooms are spacious enough for normal purposes, the amount of camera and computer equipment we carry during our review trips, and the fact that all reviews are written in situ while in the accommodation, meant that a One Bedroom Suite is a far more practical and comfortable choice for our needs.

We enjoyed the same suite on both of our last two visits. It offers a total gross floor area of 62m2 (675ft2) including bathrooms and balconies. The suites are essentially two standard rooms with an interconnecting door; one room furnished as a bedroom and the other as a sitting room. Our description and illustrations of the bedroom should represent a truthful and honest guide to the vast majority of rooms in the hotel. 

Peach is the Coco Reef Resort's signature colour. Every internal and external wall is painted a gentle peachy-pink, highlighted by white balustrades, doors and other woodwork. The walls are relieved by attractive stencils. The limed wooden ceilings and doors blend beautifully with the highly polished terracotta floor tiles, cane furniture and pink and green fabrics and soft furnishing. It is so nice to visit a holiday resort where the décor has some local character.

On checking-in to the hotel, the bedspread of our king-size bed had been turned down and palm leaf segments arranged to spell out a welcome message on the pristine white linen. Little touches like this – not to mention the fruit bowl and bottle of wine – are the things that make a stay at the Coco Reef Resort special.

The bed was flanked by nightstands with large lamps. Furnishings include a circular glass-topped table with two padded chairs and matching dresser. In most rooms, the dresser has a discretely concealed mini-bar. However, in our case, the refrigerated mini-bar was in the sitting-room whilst the unit in the bedroom housed a small Philips CD-player/tuner audio unit.

A 31-inch Sharp LCD television was mounted grandly on the bedroom dresser, providing access to some 24 regional and North American digital cable channels. So, lots of choice but little to watch! Thank heavens for the BBC World Service. The sitting room had a large conventional CRT television.

The built-in wardrobe provided more than a metre of full-length hanging space and several storage shelves. Small digital safes have been installed in all rooms. Additional deposit box facilities are available at the front desk to guests who need more room to store valuables.

Each half of our suite had its own bathroom. The bathrooms are relatively small, but fit for purpose. It would be wrong to describe them as pristine, but they were certainly as good as we've seen at any hotel on the island. The salt laden tropical air takes a terrible toll. Water pressure was reasonable and we did not experience any shortages of hot water. We would have preferred a separate shower stall, rather than the shower-in-bathtub arrangement, but at least this latter arrangement gives guests a choice.

The bathroom vanity unit was attractively laid out with a basket of complimentary toiletries, face cloths and large box of soft tissues. However, it became somewhat cluttered by the time we had added our own bits and pieces. Thank heavens for two bathrooms! Shaver sockets and a hairdryer were provided, as were a pair of soft towelling bath robes. Naturally all linen is of the highest quality and changed as necessary. Beach towels are provided, as one would expect at a hotel of this type.

Every room has its own remotely-controlled air-conditioner. Some suites also have ceiling fans. Every room has a balcony or patio. With the air-conditioning off and the balcony doors open, our rooms remained light and cool throughout the day. Each balcony is furnished with a pair of comfortable armchairs and a table. Our bedroom balcony also had a sun lounger.

Our suite sitting room was furnished with a comfortable padded cane three-seat settee and matching armchairs laid out around a long low glass-topped table. A large television was mounted on a large cane dresser, which also contained a refrigerated mini-bar. Coffee and tea making facilities are provided on request.

The view from the balconies was as good as it gets. Being located in the southern wing of the hotel, our view was due north, across the lagoon and beach and towards Pigeon Point.

We have stayed in rooms in both wings of the hotel over the year and have always enjoyed the view from every room. Those on the upper floors of the building clearly have the best sea views. Ground floor rooms enjoy the beautiful gardens more than the sea.

Dining

The Coco Reef Resort enjoys a reputation for fine dining. I can only repeat the opinion expressed in previous reviews: we consider the catering very good, but not exceptional. Yes, perhaps it may be exceptional by Tobago standards. Perhaps even by the standards of all-inclusive Caribbean hotels. In fairness, I have to say that our opinion seems to be in a minority. Most of the guests we spoke to considered the catering excellent.

Breakfasts were always superb. They are served buffet-style in the main Tamaras Restaurant; a large circular open-sided domed structure with beautiful views over the beach and sea. A multi-level layout engenders a cosier feel than might be expected from a large restaurant with a capacity of more than 160 covers.

Those not wishing to face the world too early in the morning can enjoy breakfast in their room, or on their balcony.

Lunch is served in the casual Bacchanals bar and restaurant. Bacchanals is an open-air beach bar made up of several interlinked wooden decks and furnished with all-weather tables and chairs plus a number of large sun umbrellas. Located directly next to the beach, it couldn't be more convenient for sun worshippers. The multi-level layout creates a more intimate feel.

Luncheons consists of a barbeque grill, a themed buffet with daily theme, or small a la carte menu offering a range of items from sandwiches through to heavier fair.

Bacchanals is open for dinner five evening a week. It offers more casual dining experience than Tamaras, with a simpler a la carte menu, themed buffet or BBQ. This venue tends to be popular with families with young children, or guests who prefer to dress more casually than would be appropriate for Tamaras. Nonetheless, the presentation was always superb and service excellent.

The Coco Reef website describes the cuisine in Tamaras as "international based on local ingredients". Dinner is served buffet-style twice a week. On other nights the dinner menu is akin to table d'hôte, with a choice of around six entrées and a similar number of main courses. The presentation of the food offers more than a passing nod to nouvelle cuisine.

Table reservations are normally essential and generally placed at breakfast. Reservations are not required for buffet evenings (Wednesday and Sunday evenings).

Birds can be a problem at every open-air Caribbean restaurant during daylight hours. The moment you leave your table, opportunistic Carib Grackles (a blackbird with yellow eyes) and cheeky little Bananaquits (known locally as 'sugar birds') take your departure as an invitation to dine. In fact some don't even wait for you to head to the buffet. Most guests enjoy seeing the birds and many actively encourage them by feeding them titbits. Other guests find the birds hugely annoying.

The Coco Reef Resort has found a wonderful way to minimise the problem. They utilise the services of falconer Kelton Thomas of the Tobago Birds of Prey & Rehabilitation Centre. Kelton, a trained harrier, brings his magnificent Indian eagle owl, Lakshmi, and a juvenile Common Black Hawk, Sampson, to the hotel several times a week, either during breakfast or at lunchtime. The birds are not allowed to fly or hunt and remain tethered to the balcony, but their presence has a quite remarkable effect on other birds. Simply walking along the beach with Lakshmi is enough to cause the gulls on the lagoon wall, 75m away, to abandon their roosts and fly off with raucous alarm calls. Not only is this a practical and eco-friendly way of dealing with the bird problem, it has also become a hugely popular feature with hotel guests.

The hotel also owns the fascinating Café Coco Restaurant & Bar, a short 7-minute (500m) walk or taxi journey away. Café Coco oozes character. It is the largest restaurant on Tobago. In fact it is frankly too large for the island. Although clever design prevents it from appearing cavernous, the restaurant is seldom busy enough to generate the ambience that the décor suggests, or restaurant deserves. Both the décor and cuisine are more casual and relaxed than Tamaras Restaurant. We have enjoyed every visit to Café Coco. It is just a pity that the cost of dining there is not covered by the all-inclusive package.

The Coco Reef has a small 'champagne bar' next to Tamaras. In addition, The Gallery Bar & Lounge,  located above the lobby, is a pleasant place to have a drink with friends. Afternoon tea is served in The Gallery, but guests should note that this too is excluded from the standard all-inclusive package.

Dress Code

Most guests would endorse the dress code requested in the hotel's room notes:

Dress at Coco Reef is elegantly casual. We would be grateful if our guests would comply with the following guidelines in order to help us maintain an ambience with which everyone will be comfortable. Hotel Lobby/Reception area: Shoes and shirts should be worn in this area. Tamaras, The Gallery and Bobsters: During the evening we request that our guests dress appropriately. For breakfast, Gentlemen are requested to wear shirts and Ladies a cover-up. For Dinner, we request that Gentlemen wear long trousers and a shirt with a collar. Footwear must be worn at all times."

Obviously compliance with these policy standards does vary. During our week at the Coco Reef almost everyone honoured the dress code. However, over the years we have heard a number of complaints from fashionistas claiming that they have either been refused entry to Tamaras, or given a table in a dark corner and largely ignored; invariably because they were wearing jeans, cut-off trousers, collarless shirts or open sandals. Many local staff will take such disrespect personally. It will inevitably affect the way they treat you.

As mentioned in the hotel notes, evening dress for the Tamaras restaurant is smart casual. Ladies tend to favour dresses or long skirts. Slacks and open-necked short-sleeve shirts are the norm for men; jackets and ties now being virtually unheard of. Guests who prefer to dress less formally have the option of the more casual Bacchanals or Café Coco restaurants.

Daytime dress is typical of most beach resorts. Ladies generally throw a sarong or wrap over their swimwear for breakfast or lunch. Men simply add a T-shirt, although inevitably there always seems to be at least one oaf who ignores good manners and remains bare-chested in the beach restaurant.

Topless or nude sunbathing is strictly forbidden. It is both socially unacceptable and against the law on Tobago. Local society is steeped in religious values and may appear old-fashioned to many, but as guests in their country, these restrictions should obviously be respected.

Beach

When John Jefferis purchased the old Crown Reef Hotel in 1991 and started the massive US$50 million rebuilding project that eventually became the impressive new Coco Reef Resort, the beach was a scrappy little affair largely only visible at low tide (click here to view a 1960s postcard showing the old hotel). Then, in 1999, tropical storms and tidal waves associated with a hurricane further north (Tobago is south of the hurricane belt) swept what little beach there was away and caused extensive damage to the beach-front. In response, the hotel built a 300m rock wall to protect the bay and created a new beach with 7,000 tons of powdery white river sand from Guyana.

Detractors still criticise the Coco Reef's man-made beach. However, the sea may have taken that original scrappy little stretch of sand away, but it has returned it, and with a rate of interest that makes payday loan companies look parsimonious. New sand is brought in on every tide. It has filled the lagoon and covered the beach. Natural golden coral sand now covers the imported white river sand, making it one of the finest beaches on the island. The only problem is that the lagoon is now excessively shallow. Less than half of it is more than waist deep.

Serious swimmers will be horrified by the lagoon. In fairness, it does mean that they can enter the water without any concerns of undertow or breaking surf and then swim out through the main entrance into Cable Bay, where they will encounter sheltered, but otherwise normal, sea conditions with good swimming. On the other hand, the lagoon is absolutely perfect for non-swimmers, young children, the elderly or anyone with mobility issues. It is somewhere that guests can wallow in the shallows without any fears of being swept off their feet by a wave.

The lagoon wall is not exactly a thing of great beauty. However, it undoubtedly protects the beach and has created an environment that offers guests the safest swimming on the island, no matter how rough the sea conditions outside. Another major advantage is the marine life that the lagoon wall supports. We could do without the noisy gulls that roost there, but the wall has become a full-blown reef in its own right. It is home to a wide variety of fish and sea life.

The lagoon is an ideal training ground for snorkelers. Swimming and snorkelling outside the protection of the wall should only be done with great caution; not because the seas are any more dangerous than elsewhere, but simply because boats and Jet Skis also use these waters. In fairness, local boat and jet operators have become more responsible in recent years and most give the waters outside the lagoon a relatively wide berth.

The numerous palm trees planted when the beach was created are now mature and provide lots of welcome shade. There are 30 or more thatched parasols and a huge stock of comfortable sun loungers. Despite this, some people still rush to the beach first thing in the morning to 'bag' their favourite positions. The truth is, however, that there's a perfectly adequate stock of loungers and sun parasols, with even more in reserve.

Beach attendants from the Bacchanals beach bar make irregular patrols along the shoreline taking orders for chilled water and drinks. Being a private beach, guest need have no fear of being 'hassled' by beach traders.

Entertainment

Entertainment was provided each night of our visit. It is invariably limited to a single musical-based performance, normally from 9pm to 10:30pm.

Our reviews have always warned readers that those expecting an active night life should look elsewhere – and, by elsewhere, I am referring to the destination, not the hotel. The public areas of the Coco Reef are almost deserted by 10:30pm every night. This is not unique to the Coco Reef – we have experienced the same at every hotel on Tobago. The truth is that Tobago's 'vibe' is so relaxed that the vast majority of visitors simply crash by 9:30-10:00pm – even those very considerably younger than us.

Activities

The activity facilities at the Coco Reef Resortare relatively limited and possibly reflect the expectations and requirements of the average guest. The hotel is not a 'family' or 'activity' resort and visitors seeking extensive sporting facilities will be disappointed in both the hotel and the island.

Complimentary snorkelling, paddle boats and kayaks are available. Water sports are operated, on a concession basis, by Derek Chung of Undersea Tobago. They are one of Tobago's very best dive operators and we have no hesitation in recommending them to guests, whether beginners or advanced divers.

Given the wonderfully safe and gentle swimming conditions in the lagoon, a swimming pool seems totally superfluous to requirements. However, the hotel does have a small pool. The surrounding pool deck is furnished with a good stock of sun recliners, so guests who don't want sand between their toes need have no fear.

The hotel has two floodlit hard-court tennis courts and lessons can be arranged. The hotel can also arrange various other tours and activities, including golf on the excellent Tobago Plantations course or older Mount Irvine Bay course. We would recommend that you book tours and outside activities either directly with the operator concerned, or through the services of the hotel's Social Director. Tobago is not best suited to large-party tours. Personally, I would prefer to negotiate a day-rate with a friendly taxi driver rather than going on a tour in a party of more than three or four other visitors.

The small Coco Spa is housed in an attractive complex at the top of the hotel and offers a range of services including aromatherapy massages and various forms of beauty treatment. The complex also features a small gym with a basic range of fitness equipment.

Children

The Coco Reef Resort is not a 'family' resort. Having said that, I'm sure the hotel does everything possible to welcome youngsters and make their stay enjoyable. Baby-sitting services are available, at extra cost, but this is effectively the limit of childcare facilities.

Tobago is a chill-out destination. The Coco Reefis a chill-out resort. How can anyone chill-out if children are running about screeching (or anyone else, of course)? Don't get me wrong; there is nothing more endearing than watching well-behaved children at play. But, I mean 'well behaved' in the traditional manner.        

Everything about the Coco Reef Resort is focussed toward couples. Not just the middle-aged and elderly, but also young honeymooners. What about the couples who have left their children at home, possibly for the first time, and are trying to spend 'quality time' together; perhaps trying to keep their own relationship on track? By taking babies and young children to this sort of resort, parents are in danger of destroying the very type of hotel that they will one day desperately seek for themselves.

I appreciate that these views are contentious and will be condemned by many. I am, however, heartened by the many emails received in support of these sentiments when I expressed them in earlier reviews. And, let me state for the record that I am a loving parent of four wonderful children and six grandchildren.

Weddings

It is little surprise that the Coco Reef Resort is such a popular wedding/honeymoon destination. After the stressful lead-up to the happy event, the quiet calm of the hotel must be a tonic.

The hotel's Social Director will make all arrangements for the ceremony, either directly or through the guest's tour operator. A minimum of three working days of residency on Tobago is required before the wedding. The hotel can provide the necessary two witnesses. Weddings at the hotel are performed by a priest or minister. Civil weddings (without a priest or minister) can only be conducted at the Registrar's office in Scarborough.

On your first day at the hotel, you will be taken on a tour of the property so that you can choose a spot for the ceremony. Most couples opt for the beautiful gardens with the ocean as a backdrop. The hotel then decorates the wedding area with palm branches and colourful tropical flowers. Subject to weather conditions, couples may prefer to have the ceremony on the beach, or on one of the jetties overlooking the sea, although this can be a trifle windy. The private veranda of Sunset Villa makes a wonderful venue, but this can only be arranged when this exclusive suite is unoccupied.

The hotel's Wedding Package includes a one-layer wedding cake, a bottle of champagne, a bridal bouquet plus all official arrangements and costs. The hotel can also arrange a still or video photographer, extra flowers and even musical entertainment.

Staff

With all due respect to the Coco Reef Resortand other hotels on Tobago, I would suggest that few people come to the island just for the efficiency of local services, the wonderful restaurants, the coral-sand beaches or the range of activities and sightseeing options. I can think of far superior destinations for each and every one of these features.

The fact is that Tobago, and the Coco Reef Resort in particular, has an innate ability to considerably exceed the sum of its parts.

The reason is the Tobagonian people. In the context of this review, I am specifically referring to the staff at the Coco Reef Resort. No other large Tobago hotel achieves anything like the same staff friendliness or efficiency. And, efficiency is not an attribute common on Tobago.

John Jefferis, the hotel's owner, once told me that the main characteristic that his management look for in front-of-house staff is personality. As he so rightly said, you can teach anyone to lay silver service, but you can't teach them to smile from the heart.

This ethos shows and is clearly endorsed and practised by Executive Director and General Manager, Eric Feniet. Eric demands and gets the best from his employees. It is the reason that so many guests leave with tears of sadness and join the hotel's remarkable and constantly expanding happy band of 'repeaters'.

Eric is remarkable. Assisted by equally dedicated Food & Beverage Manager, Kirton Sorias, and their team of long-serving employees. They will be seen morning, noon and night, seven days a week, buzzing around the hotel, checking that everything is running properly and chatting to guests. Eric is a traditional hotelier – his primary focus is the guests, not the balance sheet. Leading from the front, he wins the respect of guests and staff alike. He has trained his staff to perfection and they achieve a wonderful combination of service, courtesy and friendliness. Within a day or so of arrival, guests are laughing and joking with the staff and, in turn, with each other.

I've often heard it said that service in Tobago is not up to the standards of top hotels in many other destinations. There is some truth in this. The nature of the Tobagonian people means that they will never become the bottom-kissing servile automatons found in some parts of the world. They are an extremely proud people and no matter how professional their training, will find it near on impossible to hide their feelings should you upset their sensibilities. Clicking a finger, for example, is a guaranteed way to cross that line. However, treat them with respect and good manners and you will experience truly genuine Tobagonian warmth and friendliness; the very characteristics that cause so many visitors to fall in love with the hotel and, in turn, the island.

Meal Plans

The Coco Reef Resort offers a wide range of accommodation plans from room only through all inclusive. So popular has this last option become that it is now rare to find a guest not on that plan. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that this means reduced standards.

According to the room notes, the hotel's all-inclusive package includes the following:

  • Full Buffet Breakfast in Tamaras
  • Lunch at Bacchanals restaurant
  • Dinner in Tamaras or Bacchanals
  • Soft Drinks, Juices, Bottled Water
  • Beer, Local Brand Scotch Whisky, Dry Gin, Vodka and House wine by the glass
  • Local rum-based alcoholic beverages (Pina Colada, Rum Cooler, Planter's Punch, Rum Punch, etc.)
  • Kayaks, Pedaloes
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Day/Night Tennis
  • Exercise Room
  • All Taxes and Gratuities

The package specifically excludes the following:

  • Mini Bar
  • Bottled Wine or Champagne /Sparking Wine
  • Room Service Delivery Charge and Room Service Drinks
  • Champagne, Fine Wine, Liqueurs and Cognac
  • Picnic Baskets
  • Dinner Supplements
  • Laundry
  • Telephone Calls
  • Crown Terrace Tea and Coffee Service

In summary, the package includes everything one would consider reasonable.

Shopping

The hotel has a small arcade with four boutiques selling dresses, local t-shirts and similar souvenir-wear, plus a gallery selling the unique and distinctive Cuban art that adorns the hotel. There is also a hairdressing salon and a small general boutique.

Visitors wanting to buy some souvenirs of Tobago may wish to read our Shopping article.

Communications

A direct-dial telephone system allows guests to keep in voice contact with the world.

Free Internet access is provided to guests through two computers in a small air-conditioned room next to the front desk. Guests wishing to use their own computers or other devices can buy a 24-hour or weekly Internet access. Wireless access is currently only available in the reception areas, or possibly the rooms closest to reception.

Repeaters

The Coco Reef Resort places very great store on customer loyalty. And rightly so!

I have seen Internet reader reports, both on myTobago.info and elsewhere, voicing displeasure at the 'special treatment' given to repeat guests at the hotel. The complaining visitors often accuse the staff of being insincere and say that their apparent friendliness is simply to cultivate gratuities. Frankly, words fail me and I will refrain from voicing opinion about those who make such comments.

Yes, the Coco Reef does 'look after' repeaters – and the more often you visit, the better you will be looked after I imagine. Doesn't that apply at every good hotel? If not, then frankly those establishments don't deserve repeat business. Do the detractors complain about the friendlier, more personal, greeting they get at their local restaurant or pub? Do they feel that this is discriminatory? To use a grossly awful Americanism: get real!

The bottom line is that repeaters are visitors who have "connected" with the hotel's employees and, probably, Tobagonians in general. Once you've unlocked that initial reserve of the local people, the friendliness is invariably totally genuine. The Coco Reef is Tobago's premier hotel and being employed there carries a certain cachet. Consequently the hotel attracts the best employees and has a low staff turnover. You would be surprised at the number of employees with more than 10 years' service. Returning to a hotel is a compliment, so it is hardly surprising that many staff members remember repeaters and make a fuss when they return. The 'special treatment' given to repeat guests is not just a hotel-imposed policy or good job training – it is evidence of the very characteristics that makes so many of us fall in love with Tobago.

Conclusion

The Coco Reef Resort does not pretend to be a 7-star Dubai-type hotel and travellers seeking that sort of establishment would be advised to avoid disappointment and forget both Tobago and the Caribbean generally, and stick to the Middle or Far East.

The hotel quotes a repeat rate of 47%+. From our own experiences at the hotel, I know that this is not simply marketing flimflam.  In our 2011 review, we reported that we didn't personally meet a single first-timer during our week at the hotel, although some must clearly have been there. On this visit, we did meet and talk to several; and most said they would be back, including one couple who said they normally never return anywhere.

Owner, John Jefferis, once commented: "Our guests come to the Coco Reef, not Tobago". It took a few years to convince me of the truth of this, but he was undoubtedly correct.

As we are well known to the management of the hotels we review, we appreciate that our experiences may not be totally typical. However, one of the reasons that we allocate a week to each review is that this gives us lots of time to meet and talk to other guests. We hopefully establish their opinions long before they learn our reasons for asking.You will never satisfy everyone.Yes, many guests commented that the hotel is somewhat 'shabby chic' and that their rooms would have benefitted from refurbishment.The Internet has many such reports of this nature. However, ALL the guests who made those comments equally said this this had in no way spoiled their holiday and most claimed that they would still return.

As I said in my introduction to this review, the Coco Reef Resort is very much more than the sum of its parts. We have never stayed at any hotel, anywhere in the world, where such a high percentage of the guests that we speak to have so clearly enjoyed their stay. What higher praise could there be and what more can one say?

Reader Reports

This property has a weighted Reader Satisfaction Rating of 94.3%   . Click below to read the 80 reader reports that this is rating is based on.

Peter Denison from U.K. visited in May 2018 and awarded   

The Coco Reef hotel offered my wife&I an upgrade to a very good suite. The breakfasts were excellent: Juice, cereals, toast, cakes and a good range of fried items. I liked the architectural feature of the 'shopfronts' which incorporated indoor retail outlets along a corridor leading from the reception. My main concern was perhaps the hotel pool which had two depths: 4'6" and 10'. Though the depths were indicated at the poolside, the pool was an irregular shape and so the position of the depth-change could not be discerned. This is not a problem for confident swimmers such as myself, but could be for children and non-swimmers. I assume that the pool may once have had a diving board; hence the deeper section. However, the pool now has no diving board so, for the sake of safety, the deeper section should be filled, giving the pool a uniform depth of 4'6". Nevertheless, on balance, we enjoyed our stay and would possibly return. Thankyou.

Ramsay Ellerton from U.K. visited in January 2018 and awarded   

This is the fifth time I have stayed at Coco Reef and it gets better each time.

Whilst the hotel and it’s surroundings are important factors in an enjoyable holiday, it is the excellent service by very helpful and pleasant staff which really makes Coco Reef so exceptional. Nothing is too much trouble and the management can be proud of the high standard they have set. It is notable how many of the staff have been there for many years.

The hotel itself is a little dated in design and decor but is still a very comfortable and welcoming environment and the enclosed beach adds a reassurance about safety.

The facilities offered by the hotel are excellent and the restaurants and bars are well managed. The standard of catering is similarly excellent.

I took full advantage of the services of the onsite Underwater Tobago dive shop which is brilliant. Anyone wanting to dive or considering learning can be assured of friendly, knowledgeable and safe service to the highest standard.

I fully intend to return in the not to distant future. Coco Reef claims to be the best resort in the Caribbean and, while I am in no position to judge, for me it definitely is.

Location Map

To view a detailed interactive map showing the location of this property relative to restaurants, shops and sightseeing features, click this link  

Superior Room (Garden):0 - 0
Deluxe Ocean View Room:0 - 0
One Bedroom Suite:0 - 0
Two Bedroom Garden Villa:0 - 0
Other Suites:0 - 0
Minimum Nights:0 nights
Property Type:Holiday Resort
Bedrooms:136
Air-Conditioning:Fully air-conditioned
Children:Children welcome
Hair Dryers:Available
Telephone:Yes
Internet Access:Yes
Television:Yes
Safety Deposit:Yes
Wheelchair Access:Yes
Swimming Pool:Full pool
Spa Facilities:Yes
Fitness Centre:Yes
Tennis:Yes
Restaurant:0
Meal Plans:


Housekeeping:Daily housekeeping
Baby-Sitting:Baby Sitting Notes
Personal Laundry:Yes
Personal Cooking:No
Location:Store Bay
Region:Crown Point
Location Type:Low Density Urban
Airport:5 minutes
Beach:Beachside Property