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Shepherd's Inn - a myTobago guide to Tobago holiday accommodation
 

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Shepherd's Inn, Tobago

Shepherd's Inn

20-room Hotel / Inn

A recent addition to the Tobago hotel stock, Shepherd's Inn is a charming and quaint 20-room hotel just a few minutes' drive (or walk) from Tobago's airport. The... hotel is superbly located for Store Bay and Pigeon Point beaches, as well as for all the other facilities of the Crown Point area.

Shepherd's Inn occupies premises formerly belonging to Toucan Inn and Bonkers Restaurant. After this ill-fated establishment went into liquidation, the property was purchased by Colin Shepherd of Sheppy's Auto Rental fame. After major investment and a total refurbishment, the new inn was launched, looking better than ever, with a unique local character and emphasis that is sure to make it a great success.
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Shepherd's Inn

20-bedroom Hotel / Inn in Kilgwyn, Tobago

A recent addition to the Tobago hotel stock, Shepherd's Inn is a charming and quaint 20-room hotel just a few minutes' drive (or walk) from Tobago's airport. The hotel is superbly located for Store Bay and Pigeon Point beaches, as well as for all the other facilities of the Crown Point area.

Shepherd's Inn occupies premises formerly belonging to Toucan Inn and Bonkers Restaurant. After this ill-fated establishment went into liquidation, the property was purchased by Colin Shepherd of Sheppy's Auto Rental fame. After major investment and a total refurbishment, the new inn was launched, looking better than ever, with a unique local character and emphasis that is sure to make it a great success.

click/tap the photo to view a gallery of 36 photos

Property Description

Provided by the property, or taken from their website

Shepherd's Inn is a small and friendly 20 room hotel with teakwood Caribbean Style decor set amidst an oasis of lush tropical gardens with a relaxed ambience that keeps guests coming back for more.

Whether you choose a Poolside Cabana or a garden room, all have en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning.

Our restaurant is sure to have something to suit your taste. Here you can savour the mix of Creole and international Cuisine. Our ingredients for success are a friendly service, comfortable atmosphere, plus great food and drink. Put them together and you'll have a recipe for a good time. Come enjoy the sunshine Hospitality of Shepherd's Inn.

myTobago Review

Hotel / Inn, Kilgwyn, Tobago

The following review was produced during a 7-night stay at Shepherd's Inn in March 2016.

Introduction

The 20-room Toucan Inn was one of the most popular small hotels on Tobago for many years. It came as something of a shock when, in late 2014, we heard that the hotel had closed.

Tobago-watchers were possibly even more surprised, albeit pleasantly so, when it was subsequently announced that the hotel had been purchased by Tobago's most popular car rental operator, Colin 'Sheppy' Shepherd. Whilst there seems to be little common ground between hotel accommodation and car hire, Colin is convinced that the key to success in both markets is through providing the highest levels of service. It should be mentioned that Colin has owned and operated a successful holiday rental villa for the past five years, so is not quite a stranger to the hospitality industry.

Following five months of intense refurbishment, the Irwin Shepherd Inn Tobago, to quote its full name, formally opened in March 2016. Minor non-disruptive work was still in progress during our stay, three weeks later. More minor improvements are planned for coming months, but none of these should cause the least inconvenience or disturbance to guests resident at the time.

The old Toucan Inn was in need of major TLC and the year following closure had done little to help. We had expected that only the most serious defects and repairs would be completed before the opening. We seriously under-estimated Colin's drive and ambition, not to mention the sheer hard work and butt-kicking that must have taken place to achieve what can only be described as a refurbishment miracle.

Location

The Shepherd's Inn is located in a low-density housing area, just half a mile (0.8Km) from Tobago's A.N.Robinson International Airport.

Readers may initially express concern about the hotel's proximity to the airport, but during our seven days at the hotel, I only heard aircraft taking off on two occasions and neither times was it disruptive. Very occasionally the sound of aircraft taxiing can be heard, but I must stress that this will only be heard whilst in the grounds, not from the rooms.  

The two-minute transfer from the airport to the hotel is a major advantage. One would never describe Shepherd's Inn as an 'airport hotel', and I would hate to give the impression that that it is. However, if I was leaving Tobago on an early morning flight, or arriving late in the day and needing to shop for groceries before travelling on to more remote destinations like Castara, Speyside or Charlotteville, there is no better place to stay overnight than the new Shepherd's Inn. It is certainly a practise we shall be adopting – no question.

Crown Point may not be the prettiest place in Tobago, but it is undoubtedly the most "happening" area. Pigeon Point and Store Bay, two of the most popular and beautiful beaches on the island, are within walking distance of the hotel. The Crown Point area has also become a hive of small restaurants, cafes and bars.

You certainly do not need to hire a car to get around Crown Point. Everywhere is within reasonable walking distance. However, we did notice that lots of guests at the hotel had hired mountain bikes. Crown Point is a low flat coral bed, making it ideal cycling territory. There are several bike rental outlets close by and the hotel will gladly put guests in touch with the best.

Having said that, it would be a crying shame to visit Tobago and not tour the island. We generally suggest that first-time visitors start by taking an island tour with an experienced guide. Shepherd's Inn is almost a second home to the charming Mr. Blackman, known to one and all as "Mr B". This colourful local septuagenarian has been providing taxi services and island tours for the best part of 50 years. He is virtually a Tobagonian institution.

An island tour with "Mr B", or any other responsible guide, will help first-time visitors build confidence and give them a feel for the road layout. Driving in Tobago is actually very easy and can be such great fun. Having your own transport enables you to visit different beaches and sightseeing features without the high cost of taxis, which are quite expensive on Tobago. This is particularly true for visitors travelling on to Castara and Charlotteville, or other isolated locations, where car rental facilities are limited. Given the shared ownership of the hotel and Sheppy's Auto Rentals, not to mention the mere 300m proximity of the car rental office to the hotel, the advantages to guests are obvious. I am confident that they can be assured of a great rental deal.

Architecture

The architectural style of the property is effectively a quadrangle. The guest rooms, restaurant and reception form the outer perimeter, all facing in towards a central ornamental garden and pool (or pasture and pond as Mr Shepherd has named them).

The walls of the Pasture Rooms are faced in attractive coral rock and stretch around three sides of the palm-lined pasture. Adjacent to the garden is the 'pond', with four octagonal cabañas, faced in half-logs, on two sides of the pool, and the large octagonal semi-open restaurant on the other side.

The external walls of the hotel are shrouded with a dense border of palms, banana trees and tropical bushes. The exterior of the hotel gives little indication of the oasis within. The surrounding foliage so discretely hides the property that you can neither see nor visualise the style or nature of buildings within – or even the type of establishment. The clever landscaping continues within. There is no single point from which you can see the entire hotel. Every step treats you to new and exciting views.

With just 20 rooms, Shepherd's Inn has a cosy feel. It is an intimate and friendly place. The buildings are simple, but effective. Not an inch of space is spared or wasted.

No rooms are specifically equipped for the disabled. However, all the buildings are single storey and the doors are wide. Attractive wheelchair-friendly tiled pathways with gravel borders lead to the Pasture Rooms, which have a level entrance. The Cabaña Suites have an 8-inch step. The restaurant entrance has two low steps but a portable ramp for wheelchairs will be available before publication of this review.

Just as the garden and pool are called the pasture and the pond, the restaurant and bar and each of the guest rooms are individually named in homage to villages and places in and around Delaford, the small Atlantic fishing community on Tobago's northern Atlantic coast, where Colin Shepherd was born and raised.

Accommodation

Shepherd's Inn has just one room category. However, the 20 rooms are available in two very different and distinctive styles.

Pasture Rooms

The 12 Pasture Rooms overlook the attractive palm-bordered garden, or pasture. The garden is a lovely peaceful place to relax or sunbathe. You are almost oblivious of the busier pool and restaurant side of the hotel. An attractive tiled pathway leads through a gravel border to each of the rooms.

The Pasture Rooms are all near-identical and offer an overall size of 25m2 (4.5x5.5m/15´x18´). We stayed in one of the two slightly larger corner rooms. Due to their position in the corners of the U-shaped guest room block, these two rooms have a narrow frontage and do not benefit from as much natural light as the other rooms. However, in addition to being larger, they do have a wider double-door entrance and would be particularly suited to wheelchair users, or those with mobility issues.

The improvement in these rooms since the Toucan Inn days is simply staggering. The previous décor was neutral and boring with nothing to relieve the starkness of the plain walls. Now, apple-green paintwork acts as a wonderful foil to the striking terracotta feature wall behind the bed, while white plastered ceilings adds light and compliment the light beige non-slip floor tiles.

The Pasture Rooms are available with a choice of twin beds or a double bed. Our only real criticism was the two very small wall-mounted shelves that acted as bedside tables. We would have appreciated a little more storage space for spectacles, books and morning cups of tea, etc. However, the twin wall lights above the bed were ideal for reading in bed and looked simply stunning shining across the terracotta feature wall behind the bed.

Additional furnishings included a table and two chairs, a water flask and two glasses, a digital security safe. The standard rooms have two built-in wardrobes offering over a metre of hanging and shelf space, with a decent number of garment hangers. Being slightly larger, the two 'corner' rooms have a little more wardrobe space. Electric BugMat mosquito deterrents were provided, but we found them totally superfluous as mosquitoes and other insects were conspicuous by their absence.

All rooms are equipped with a sophisticated direct-dial IP telephone system and a high-quality flat-screen TV with Internet-based cable TV and Netflix, plus a useful half-height refrigerator. Complimentary Internet access is available throughout the property.

The lovely new fully-tiled bathrooms are a notable signature feature of the hotel. As might be expected, they are equipped with toilet, pedestal wash basin and walk-in shower. Needless to say, everything was in 'as new' order and worked as expected. The lack of a shaver socket was a slight disappointment and a little more shelf space for cosmetics would have been appreciated, but these small criticisms should not take away from what are otherwise highly impressive bathrooms.

All the rooms benefit from modern remotely-controlled split-unit air-conditioners. We found them to be quiet and effective in use. The linen and towels was new, clean and of high quality. The rooms are serviced daily and a laundry service is available.

Pond Rooms

Four octagonal cabañas are located around the swimming pool. Each cabana is sub-divided into two separate 'Pond Rooms'. They are furnished and equipped almost identically to the Pasture Rooms. There is little to choose between the Pond Rooms and the Pasture Rooms in terms of location; it is entirely a matter of personal preference and whether you would prefer to be in the busier area around the swimming pool, or enjoy the peaceful ambience of the garden area.

The Pond Rooms are slightly smaller than the Pasture Rooms, offering around 18 square metres of total area and measuring 6.35 x 3.1 metres at the widest points. They are furnished with a double bed, bedside tables and lamps, a small dressing table, wardrobe, easy chair and wall safe. Equipment levels are identical to the Pasture Rooms with direct-dial IP telephone system, flat screen Internet-based TV with Netflix and a small refrigerator. They are also fully air-conditioned.

Restaurant & Bar

Continuing the tribute to his background and childhood, Colin has named the restaurant Betsy's Hope and the bar King's Bay Lounge. The attractive wooden building that houses the restaurant and bar is situated immediately adjacent to the hotel entrance, making it ideal for non-resident patrons. At the time of our visit, less than a month after the official opening, the restaurant was not quite fully operational. It was open for breakfast and dinner, but technically not for lunch. However, the staff always managed to rustle up something simple but tasty for us, so we were more than happy. The restaurant should be fully operational before the summer of 2016.

The attractive wooden building echoes the octagonal shape of the cabanas. Most of the dining tables are on the outer perimeter of the open-sided building and overlook the swimming pool and central courtyard area. The open nature of the restaurant makes it like dining outside, whilst still being inside – and with no concerns should there be one of the sudden short sharp evening showers that are so common in Tobago and that help to keep the island so lush and green.

The catering at Betsy's Hope Restaurant is best described as International with a strong local emphasis. Those unused to local Creole food will not find their digestive systems blasted with overly hot spices. It's a great way to experience authentic Caribbean cooking prepared with an international bias.  

Live entertainment was being provided each Saturday courtesy of a truly excellent local girl singer. The layout of the hotel really lends itself to entertainment and we understand that entertainment will be provided on other night of the week over the coming months.

Swimming Pool

The small swimming pool measures 5.7x10.8m with depths of between 1.2m to over 2.5m. The pool had been partially refurbished and was looking reasonable, as can be seen from our photos and video. However, it was perhaps not quite up to the high standards of the rest of this newly refurbished property. We understand that the pool is scheduled to be completely retiled later this year. Still, I can't see anyone complaining in the meantime.

R & Sea Divers, one of Tobago's leading and highest-rated scuba diving services, are based at the Shepherd's Inn. The hotel is sure to benefit from this and will undoubtedly prove highly popular with dive parties as a result. It means that guests may also find themselves sharing the pool with divers on occasion, as R & Sea use the pool for initial training when giving novices their first exposure to scuba equipment and breathing underwater.

The wide and attractive pool deck is furnished with a number of wooden tables and chairs with fitted large sun parasols, and a decent number of padded sun loungers.

Security

The unique quadrangle shape of Shepherd's Inn means that there is only a single open entrance and this is immediately adjacent to the Reception cabana (known as Delas, the local name for Delaford). This makes it possible for the hotel to maintain low-profile 24-hour security. In addition, all rooms are furnished with small security safes for guest valuables.

Although located in a semi-urban built-up area of the island, Shepherd's Inn is in a very low-density area with no immediate neighbours. We had no qualms about walking around the area; in fact, it became our normal practise to take a stroll every evening, after dinner and before retiring for the night.

Conclusion

Knowing how dilapidated the old hotel had become before final closure, we had reservations about staying at the new Shepherd's Inn so soon after it had opened. We had faith in Colin Shepherd and knew that he would give the project his total commitment, but we also recognise that Tobago has a different concept of time to the rest of the world and construction work of any type can be interminable. We felt that it would be safer to wait another year before undertaking a review, but with a dearth of good small hotels on the island and few that we would personally use, much less recommend, we decided to risk it.

We were invited to tour the hotel when we first arrived in Tobago. I am not given to platitudes but must say that I have seldom inspected a Tobago hospitality property and come away so impressed. The transformation from the run-down premises we had last seen two years previously was almost unbelievable. This was what the Toucan Inn should always have been, but never quite achieved.

All the reservations we had about conducting a review were totally dismissed. A few weeks later, we returned to the hotel and enjoyed a week of total comfort and excellent dining. The features and facilities of the hotel are unquestionably up to scratch and aesthetically the buildings and grounds are a beautiful oasis in the urban sprawl of Crown Point. I can't think of a nicer looking small hotel on the island. However, the stand-out feature, as far as we are concerned, was the friendliness of the staff. At every level, from housekeeping to management, we were made to feel welcome. We experienced none of the attitude problems that so beset most local hotels.

The Shepherd's Inn may not be located in the high hills and forests of Tobago, nor offer spectacular views of beaches and bays, but this hotel undoubtedly offers a high quality of accommodation and catering in a compact, friendly and intimate environment. There is no doubt that it would make an excellent base for a holiday in Tobago.

I would also add that anyone who knew and liked the old Toucan Inn is going to simply ADORE Shepherd's Inn.

Reader Reports

This property has a weighted Reader Satisfaction Rating of 93.3%   . Click below to read the 6 reader reports that this is rating is based on.

Dexter Moore from Trinidad visited in March 2017 and awarded   

Morning, my stay at the Inn was enjoyable and relaxing. It took a two fold purpose. To celebrate my friend birthday, and secondly to conduct business. Lisa the hostess was wonderful.

There was only one problem I had and that was the bed. Your beds need to be upgraded to international standards.

I thank you for accommodating us and I would use and

recommend your lovely hotel.

Dexter Moore

Barry w from U.K. visited in November 2016 and awarded   

The best thing about Shepperds is the staff they were brilliant including the Reception team who did everything to help. Colin the owner was also very helpful and always there if things were needed. However there are two areas which let the hotel down the restraunt which kept running out of food from the menu so much so that we were forced to eat out on two nights. The other issue is the cleanliness of the pool not very good at all especially for children.

All in all a good stay with the two exceptioins which spoilt it somewhat

Location Map

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

Room Rate:$90 - $120
Minimum Nights:0 nights
Property Type:Hotel / Inn
Bedrooms:20
Air-Conditioned:Fully air-conditioned
Children:Children welcome
Hair Dryers:Available
Telephone:Yes
Internet Access:Yes
Television:Yes
Safety Deposit:Yes
Wheelchair Access:Yes
Swimming Pool:PADI dive centre offering full scuba facilities and free try dive in our swimming pool
Spa Facilities:No
Fitness Centre:No
Restaurant:0
Meal Plans:

Housekeeping:Daily housekeeping
Baby-Sitting:No
Personal Laundry:Yes
Personal Cooking:No
Location:Kilgwyn
Region:Crown Point
Location Type:Village Outskirts
Airport:5 minutes
Beach:11-15 minute Walk