The Times, December 2017“This hotel has everything you want from the Caribbean”
Perched above a proper Tobagonian fishing village, this hotel has everything you want from the Caribbean. The 16 rooms are gorgeous, with hardwood floors, shutters and verandas with hammocks. All have kitchenettes should you wish to self-cater, but Castara’s restaurant is everything you would want it to be, with jerk chicken and freshly grilled fish that has been caught by the villagers.
Metro, November 2017“Look beyond the main Caribbean islands and you’ll find quality boutique hotels at staggering prices: Exhibit A... Castara Retreats”
Look beyond the main Caribbean islands and you’ll find quality boutique hotels at staggering prices. Exhibit A: the 16 apartments of Castara Retreats, set on a hillside above Tobago’s especially verdant north-western coast. Though Firefly is the cheapest, it still comes with a four-poster bed, a kitchenette, a dining area and an ocean-facing garden terrace, while fragrant cedar wood and billowing white fabrics complete the tropical vibe. Snorkelling, fishing and even waterfall-jumping can all be arranged locally.
Marie Claire, October 2017“Paradise, it seems, is far from lost. ”
Glamping, flashpacking, digital retreating – travel trends come and go but the latest tourism buzzword is here to stay – sustainability. Proving it is possible to enjoy the world responsibly, an increasing number of hotels have committed to giving something back via local community initiatives and eco programmes designed to help counter the negative impact of air travel and mass tourism. With the UN declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we’ve rounded up some of the world’s most environmentally conscious resorts putting greener travel firmly on the map.
Nestled amid tropical rainforests on the north-west coast of Tobago in a tiny fishing village, Castara Retreats consists of 15 treehouse-style lodges with views across the Caribbean. The family-run resort on Trinidad’s little-sister island is a bastion of community-led tourism. The eco hotel’s ‘one-family’ approach empowers locals who have a stake in the business, working as waiting staff, drivers, chefs and fitness instructors. Guests can pick coconuts from trees outside their windows, watch chickens and agouti (an endangered species of guinea pig, protected by the resort’s on-site wildlife sanctuary) roam freely and soak up authentic Caribbean culture from locals who spearhead everything from kundalini yoga on the beach to bread-making in the kitchen. The trickle-down effect of tourism goes straight back to local business, so swing by Chenos for a breakfast of patty buns and eggs, or learn to dive with a local marine biologist. You’ll be rewarded with views of some of the most unspoilt reefs in the world thanks to Castara Retreats’ coral regeneration programme, which trains young locals to monitor them. They recently discovered fields of elkhorn, an endangered coral species that had declined by 98 per cent is now under protection. Paradise, it seems, is far from lost.
Escapism, April 2016
“If you’re seeking a turn-down service, manicured sands and an all-in bar then you’ve come to the wrong place. But then again, that’s what makes it so right. Tobago has largely escaped the Caribbean’s influx of American resort hotels – instead, a handful of boutique guesthouses scatter the shores, one of them being Castara Retreats – 12 deeply loved wooden lodges that dot the tree-packed hillside of the fishing village of Castara. Open-air bedrooms mean you fall asleep to distant calypso notes from the village bar and wake up to the sound of playful birds and gentle waves lapping the shore. It overlooks one of the prettiest bays I’ve seen in the Caribbean, a view so irresistible that by 7am I’ve abandoned my four-poster bed to float on my back in the tranquil sea, while a couple of friendly dogs guard my belongings and a few intrigued fisherman haul nets around me on the blissfully empty beach.”
The Sunday Times, May 2014
“From the breeze-kissed terraces of Castara Retreats, the view sweeps around the bay, taking in the sparkling cobalt sea, the clean white curve of sandy beach and the sweetie shop – bright paintwork on the houses clambering up the hillside. It brings to mind the prelapsarian stake of a once similarly enticing Mediterranean fishing village. Have I discovered the St Tropez of the Caribbean?
…There are plenty of guest houses and holiday flats in Castara village but this is the chicest, a collection of 12 lodges and apartments cantilevered out from the lush green hillside at the southern end. No TV, no air con, just natural wood, slatted blinds, secluded terraces and simple, comfortable furniture – it’s like living in a grown up treehouse, with parrots swooping through the foliage.
…The rooms are kitted out for self-catering – buy a bonito tuna from the fisherman’s co-op on the beach for about £8, bread from the village’s traditional clay oven – but Castara Retreats has its own bar and restaurant. [It] doesn’t open for breakfast, so you have to wander down to a village café for your eggs and coconut bake – but that is exactly the point of the enterprise. Steve Felgate, founder of Castara Retreats, is determined to run it along the principles of responsible tourism, ensuring that as much cash as possible goes directly into the community.”“It’s like living in a grown up treehouse, with parrots swooping through the foliage.”