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
Wanderlust, April 2015“Steve and Sue Felgate built Castara Retreats here, a cluster of stylish wooden lodges clinging to the hillside behind, and ensure that their enterprise benefits rather than blights the community.”
“Tobago doesn’t do five-star slick. Many travellers talk of the island’s rustic Caribbeanness; rougher around the edges maybe, but all the better for it… Castara is a good example. This small village on the north coast has a lovely sandy bay, and fine swimming and snorkelling, but there’s not a high-rise or tat-shop in sight. This is just how Steve and Sue Felgate like it. They built Castara Retreats here, a cluster of stylish wooden lodges clinging to the hillside behind, and ensure that their enterprise benefits rather than blights the community. They want to link guests with the village, encouraging them to pop in to Cheno’s coffee shop, buy coconut cakes from the ladies at the bakery, or help the fishermen haul in their seine nets; thanks to patronage from the hotel, locals have set up everything from laundry businesses to tour companies. Over a passionfruit mojito, Steve told me, “We provide the money to stimulate the economy; the local people provide the happiness and the lime.” The lime? Steve tried to explain; it’s chewing the fat, hanging out, having deep conversations, drinks, it’s one of those untranslatable phrases that just, well, is.”