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How to beat expensive family travel in Tobago
Tiny Tobago may not be as bold and brash as its neighbours - but that’s what makes it so special. That, and the fact that it’s perfect for beach-loving families to experience the Caribbean as it’s supposed to be - without the price tag. With this in mind, we’ve checked out some of the island’s most affordable stays to wow kids and grown-ups; from unflashy beachfront boutique resorts to budget-friendly luxury villas with private pools.
First up is the travel. British Airways ensures that every member of the family has a comfortable and restful flight to Tobago, with plenty of in-flight entertainment and delicious complimentary food and drink along the way. The flight to Tobago is 11 hours, with a short stop to Antigua, but those hours will just fly by with the airline’s wonderful kid’s activity packs, and each individual TV even has games and TV programmes. For a budget flight that doesn’t skimp on comfort, go for British Airways’ World Traveller economy class – with ergonomically designed chairs, plenty of space and a fantastic crew, your flight will certainly be a great one.
Resort stays: Five family favourites
For families weighing up their accommodation options, a resort stay in Tobago is heaven-sent. Not only will you not have to lift a finger for the duration, but kids’ clubs and babysitting services means you’ll get to enjoy guilt-free time away from the kids.
Tropikist Beach Resort
Following a nip and tuck in 2015, this good-looking Crown Point boutique bolthole ticks the boxes for families seeking a three-star stay with a relaxed vibe. Set in five acres of tropical gardens in the island’s south-west, it’s all impossibly smart without being over-the-top - especially in the 54 refurbished rooms that all have balconies for sublime beach views. On the dining front, there’s the Bayside Restaurant for continental and Caribbean fare, the Sunset Grill and Bar for palate-pleasing dishes, and weekly barbeques and themed nights during peak season. Further highlights include a Jacuzzi, decent-sized outdoor pool with swim-up bar and sunloungers, and smaller pool for diving lessons and water games. For kids, the resort runs a supervised club (Easter and summer holidays only), separate children’s menus, and a babysitting service.
Turtle Beach Tobago by Rex Resorts
Adding a touch of sparkle to the palm-fringed Courland Bay, this simple three-star resort is a cool pick for beach-loving families seeking an intimate island stay. There’s 125 sea-facing rooms with private balconies, the flagship restaurant Kiskadee Restaurant for all-day buffet cuisine, the à la carte Courlanders Restaurant for more formal dining, and a few chill-out bars for daytime drinks and sundowners. Equally impressive is the private beach, lagoon-style pool with swim-up bar, two tennis courts, nonmotorised water sports (kayaking, windsurfing, snorkelling), and the chance to see giant leatherback turtles laying their eggs on the beach at night - but only if you’re staying between March and July. For kids, the expertly-run Rexplorers Club opens on weekdays for children aged four to 12. Babysitting services are also available.
Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort
A big draw for luxury-seekers, this sleek four-star resort within the 750-acre Tobago Plantations Estate on the island’s south-west has 200 lovely rooms and suites - all with ocean-facing balconies. There’s three superb restaurants for all-you-can-eat buffet and à la carte dining, three laid-back bars for daytime snacks and hearty pub fare, and a wonderful café for all sorts of delicious baked goodies. But what makes this property a real game-changer are the facilities; mostly the 18-hole PGA-designed championship golf course, on-site PADI diving centre, two tennis courts, spa, fitness centre, and three outdoor pools - one of which is just for adults. For kids, the resort provides free bikes for cycling around the plantation, a well-run kids’ club catering for children aged four to 12 years old, and the chance to enjoy outdoorsy activities such as birdwatching, horseriding and nature walks.
More information and to book: Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort
Grafton Beach Resort
Appealing to those who like their beach backdrops a little more green and lush, this three-star resort set on a hillside overlooking Stonehaven Bay is a spot-on choice. With views across the gardens or ocean, each of the 106 rooms and suites reveals bright Caribbean décor with a contemporary kick. Further highlights include two air-conditioned squash courts, onsite dive centre for scuba diving, and outdoor pool with swim-up bar. There’s also a spa and fitness centre that’s shared with its posher sister-hotel, Le Grand Courlan Resort & Spa. To top things off nicely, you can choose to dine in three restaurants: Ocean View for local and international cooking, Neptune's Seafood and Grill for fresh seafood, and Buccaneer’s Beach Bar and Grill for light bites and drinks. For kids, there’s a children’s pool, kids’ club, and games room.
Coco Reef Resort
Set on the glittering white sands of Coconut Bay at Crown Point, it’s all colonial-style finery at this four-star resort that’s been named the Caribbean’s Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards for 12 years running. There’s 135 rooms and suites with private terraces or balconies for day-to-night lounging, as well as a spa, state-of-the-art fitness centre, two floodlit tennis courts, outdoor pool, PADI diving centre, non-motorised watersports, and stunning private beach. On the wining and dining front, choose from Tamaras for buffet-style breakfasts and dinners, Bacchanals for Caribbean-style lunches and all-day snacks, Bobster’s Champagne Bar for made-to-order cocktails, and The Gallery Bar & Lounge for afternoon teas. For kids, there’s bike rentals, around 10 acres of tropical gardens for hide-and-seek, and babysitting services.
More information and to book: Coco Reef Resort
Villa stays: Six of the best
For families, the virtues of a villa stay are simple. Not only do they offer the freedom and flexibility to do exactly as you please, but also there’s typically more living space than you’ll ever need as well as nice extras such as ocean-facing terraces, private infinity pools, and daily housekeeping.
The Villas at Stonehaven
There’s nothing better than bagging a villa that’s a home-away-from-home - only better. So it’s no wonder, then, this super-chic gated complex overlooking the sea is such an all-rounder for families. Characterised by French colonial-style décor, each of the 14 self-contained villas has three bedrooms to sleep up to six. All come with open-plan living and dining areas, fully-equipped kitchens, patios, barbeques, and private infinity pools. There’s also housekeeping, 24-hour security, and the chance to book an in-villa chef for off-duty days when you don’t fancy cooking.
More information and to book: The Villas at Stonehaven
For families who like their digs functional and fabulous, this modish four-bedroom villa between the PGA-designed golf course and the glittering ocean is spot-on. Expect four large air-conditioned bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, an open-plan living room and dining area, and a fully-equipped kitchen with plenty of cupboard space. There’s also a rather cool ocean lookout, outdoor shaded terrace for family suppers, and swimming pool with a separate paddling pool for little ones. A housekeeper is on call three times weekly, and a chef can be booked on request.
Designed to sleep a maximum of eight, this four-bedroom villa just a 15-minute drive from the island capital of Scarborough is set on the Tobago Plantations Estate, smack bang between the PGA-designed golf course and the ocean. There’s an open-plan living area, well-equipped kitchen, separate TV room, and outdoor furnished terrace leading down to Atlantic-facing gardens. Add to the mix a sizeable private pool, Jacuzzi, and a rather talented housekeeper-cum-cook who’ll look after you, and you’ll never want to pack your bags and head home.
Custom-designed for family holidaying, this gleaming single-storey villa on the Tobago Plantations Estate offers the best of both worlds: off-the-scale Atlantic views for beach lovers and a championship course for golf fans. Complete with classic Caribbean décor and plenty of modern must-haves, it comes with three en-suite bedrooms, sizeable living area, well-equipped kitchen, and outdoor terrace for all-day chilling and al fresco dining. There’s also a lovely pool and Jacuzzi, housekeeping three times a week, and an optional chef service.
It’s all about outdoor living and drop-dead-gorgeous sea views at this dual-wing crash pad on the Tobago Plantations Estate. Designed to sleep a maximum of eight, it has a curved outdoor pool, large Jacuzzi, and shaded terrace and sundeck for those balmy days when you don’t feel like moving. Inside, there’s an open-plan lounge and dining area, four air-conditioned bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, and a separate TV room. Bath towels, pool towels and bed linen are provided and housekeeping is available three times a week.
Plantation Beach Villas
For high-end living with no chance of the kids getting bored, this collection of six villas seals the deal with a shared outdoor pool, fully serviced reception area, BBQ pit, and direct access to Grafton Beach. Each villa has three air-conditioned bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, open-plan living and dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, and separate laundry area with washing machine and dryer. There’s also daily housekeeping, a large wraparound veranda with sunloungers, and a communal poolside bar for the times you’re craving conversation with someone who isn’t a member of your family.
More information and to book: Plantation Beach Villas