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.”
The Telegraph Magazine, February 2012“This is as good as it gets”Edmund de Waal, The Telegraph Magazine
Woken by awe. ‘Awesome!’ shouts the figure in pyjamas leaning over the balcony. ‘Come and see, come and see this now!’. A bay 100ft below us with a scattering of narrow fishing boats at anchor, houses with metal roofs embedded into the hills of palm and banana, the sound of waves. And magnificent frigate birds…sweeping and diving into azure. Disbelief at dawn. Fishermen dragging a seine net into the shore. There seems to be flocks of parrots. We seem to have made it.
…We booked 10 days in a lodge at Castara Retreats. These lodges seem simple: polished floors and large open verandas and fretted wooden shutters, each one angled to make most sense of the spectacular views. But it is a deceptive simplicity, for there are hammocks and a dock for an iPod and the kitchen has a proper coffee machine, and the stack of novels turned up books for us all. It is not a hotel. It is owned by an English couple, but managed by a local couple, Porridge and his wife, Jeanell, warm and capable and unflappable in the face of requests. They produced the best book on the birds of Tobago one night, a bottle of disinfectant for a wound another.
…Castara itself offered the chance of easy days. The warmth of the sea was a shock for our children used to the cold waters off the coast of Scotland. The joy of playing in the waves, getting knocked over in the waves, the snorkelling. They loved disappearing into the village with a fistful of dollars and returning with fudge (delicious) and a carmine sorrel drink (peculiar). Foraging in the village for supplies was an art. If you wanted fish and rice and salad, you were in heaven.”
The independent June 2015
“There is touch of the treehouse to each of the 14 lodges that make up Castara Retreats, poking up through lush vegetation on a hillside outside the small village from which it takes its name. With views of a perfect mezzaluna of golden sand, the one-and two-bedroom, self-catering villas and apartments are simple yet stylish with louvred shutters and hammocks for al fresco lounging watching the hummingbirds dart around you. Castara Retreats has extended its wellness o ering, and now has yoga classes and massages with mind-blowing views of the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean; or you can simply wander down to the village and mingle with the locals.”
City AM“To stay there is to experience something approaching the ‘real Tobago’…”
“Castara Retreats is run by locals, staffed by locals, and any activity you choose to do there – be it snorkelling, or a boat ride around the bay – will be undertaken under the watchful eye of a local. As an example of sustainable integrated tourism, it’s been such a success that the government is using it as a model for further developments.”
“…Castara Retreats, complex of ‘rustic luxury’ self-catering lodges overlooking the bay…They may not have chocolates on the pillow, but they do have all you could need for a comfortable spell in the Caribbean: glorious west-facing views across the bay, luxurious beds with high quality mosquito nets, a well equipped kitchen…With fretted wooden shutters for walls, there’s no need for air-conditioning, and the openness allows for intimate contact with the island’s incredible fauna.”
Escapism Magazine – Issue 29