Pampered but not Fussed
The best thing about this hotel was the inclusive spa treatments each day. Being a spa virgin I thought all of the treatments received were very good.
Otherwise I'm afraid there is not much else to sing the praises of the hotel. It just seemed like another tourist hotel with very little that was outstanding. The food was OK but ran on a buffet basis most of the time - there was a "bookable" cosy set of tables down below which offered a menu but even this was repeated after a while.
The beach was OK in places - further away from the hotel though.
Overall I would not pay too much for this hotel - we had a rate of £50 pppn from a travel industry perk.
We had a very relaxing and enjoyable stay at Le Grand Courlan and cannot understand the poor reviews. Like most reviews its down to personal taste and I will try to give an un-biased opinion :
We stayed in a standard garden room on the top floor which was clean and had a good view. The down side being that a cockerel had set up home in the garden and woke us up very early for the first week until we moved rooms. The staff were meant to be removing the bird but never got round to it. The food is very good in the hotel but we weren't impressed with the food at the beach bar. The pool area was very nice, but very hot so we spent all of our time elsewhere mainly on the beach which is excellent. The evening entertainment was generally good with one or two exceptions, however, Tobago is a quiet and small island so don't expect a great show. The hotel does offer water sports but don't expect to get instruction (unless diving) you will need some experience of wind surfing or sailing if you want to use the equipment. Not a problem with the canoes, paddle boat or snorkelling equipment though. We were unimpressed with the spa treatments which were a bit "amateurish" and didn't bother with our last 4 or 5, mainly because the "beautician" was rude to my wife. The Yoga and Thi Chi classes were very good. We did spend several days away from the hotel and would certainly recommend it. There are some fabulous places to visit ; rain forest, Englishmans bay, Buccoo reef, Argyll waterfall....
Generally we found the staff polite and hard working. The whole Tobago experience is relaxed so don't expect things to happen in a hurry. I think you would be hard pressed to find as nice a hotel (the Grafton hotel next door is good also) in such a nice location, some of the hotels we saw on our travels looked in need of major refurbishment.
In summary I would recommend Tobago as a relaxing holiday destination and would certainly return but would go self catering and hire a car.
Finally, if flying with BWIA expect all flights to be delayed by at least an hour and the onboard entertainment faulty.
Ok but not as good as the brochure suggests
We stayed at the Grand Courlan for a fortnight in April 2004. The cold towels and fruit punch on arrival were welcome and check-in was prompt.
We had booked a garden view room but could definitely see the beach through the foliage (our room was in the nearest block to the beach on the ground floor. There were a lot of ants on the terrace which did get into the room, but they didn't bother us. The room was very spacious with decent air conditioning. There was a fridge, but it would have been nice to have it stocked with drinks, even if you had to pay extra.
The turn down service didn't work for us as the maid generally arrived quite late, if at all, and we were tending to go to bed at around 10pm before she arrived. This meant we usually couldn't get fresh beach towels as these were changed in the evenings.
The beach was ok, but very few parasols. There is some sort of outflow pipe onto the beach, but I think it is only normal water drainage and not sewage. Disappointing that the beach bar advertised in the brochure actually belongs to the sister hotel next door, and is a fair walk from the Courlan part of the beach, and we were unsure whether it was part of our all inclusive package.
The dive school is *excellent*. I took my PADI certification course and they were superb. Many thanks to (Captain) Kirk and his team. Be aware though that the sea is quite rough at the Courlan which makes getting in and out of the dive boat tricky, as well as kayak launching and snorkelling.
Now to the less positive points. Firstly, the service. I appreciate this is the Caribbean and service can be slow, but not this slow. Lunch times were often chaotic due to insufficient tables (main restaurant is not open for lunch) and staff, and you can wait over an hour to get a table.
Dinner was even worse. We started booking for 7pm (the first slot) as we thought the service would be better when they were less full. Not so. We usually had to wait until 7.30 to be seated, and they had a bizarre seating system. You would be greated by one person and your reservation checked, then handed to someone else to walk you across the room to the tables, then onto some else again to actually seat you. We also had to wait over an hour between our starter and main course one evening as they had forgotten us. This is pretty inexcusable when the a la carte evening basically means the waiters collect your food off the buffet tables instead of you doing it yourself...
Secondly, the spa was awful. The hot tub room has never had its decor finished. The pedicures were so rough that my feet were bleeding at the end of it, and my husband's feet were also so scraped that we couldn't wear shoes afterwards. Others had the same problem with the pedicures as you could see from their feet. Someone else reviewing on this website mentioned problems with the facial - my face also burnt a bit after my facial. The staff refused to change or reschedule any of the treaments, and we could not book any additional spa treatments even if we were paying for them.
There are definitely insufficient parasols around the pool. Tobago is the furthest south in the Caribbean, so pretty much everyone there, including the real sun worshippers, wanted some shade. It is very much towels on the loungers at 7.30am or you don't get a parasol.
The final straw came with check out. Our rep changed partway through our holiday but the hotel reception lost two messages from them regarding this change and details of our transfer back to the airport. As a result we had to sort out our own transfer, and arrived a the airport only 40 minutes before the flight, with me in a complete panic that we might miss our flight. Reception made no apologies for the mix up.
Overall, I did enjoy the holiday, but the service lets this hotel down badly, which is a shame.
Excellent food, friendly staff, good facilities and a spa that does a good job considering most of the treatments are given for free. For the price you'd find it hard to beat.
The only explantion I can give for the poor reviews is that the hotel has clearly been refurbished in the last 12 months.
Very enjoyable holiday
We had a most enjoyable holiday. The staff were friendly and helpful. The food was good. The rooms were roomy and well decorated. The pina colardas excellent. The beach perhaps was a little scruffy but the pool area was most pleasant. A most enjoyable stay.
I too was a bit concerned after reading the negative reviews, was pleasently suprised at the level of service offered and the attractions that were included in the all inclusive package.
The resort is a little rough around the edges in some aspects (poorly lit corridors and walkways, incomplete electrical work in some rooms in the spa etc) and you had to ask questions about the facilities you were entitled to so I would suggest to management that a tour of the facilities is done for all guests.
Food was excellent and pool area fantastic, spent our honeymoon there, big ups to Duty Manager Roy, Mr Thomas and Jomo at Pinnacle Restaurant service was out of this world.
I really think if the front desk staff are a but more vigilant to the finite details regarding their guest upon arrival, this resort can improve its star rating for now I would say 3.8 stars
But we will be back (Mr. & Mrs. Satyam Mangroo)!!!!
Can't understand the complaints
We spent our Honeymoon (10 - 26 July) at this hotel. All the staff were polite and friendly, the food was great and there was some wounderfull snorkling off of the beach. We also read the reviews on here and were ready to cancel our honeymoon. Thankfully we didn't!! Thanks to all at Le Grand for a great honeymoon, see you all in 5 years (when we've saved up again!)
Lovely Hotel, Great Holiday EXCELLENT VALUE
Lovely Hotel, GREAT HOLIDAY. I don't know why everyone is whingeing. Tobago is a lovely island to visit. It is hot hot hot, so expect leisurely service in the Caribbean, you'd be nuts to rush around working in that tropical sun. The staff were friendly and helpful. A please and a thankyou goes a long way anywhere. As for the water outlets on the beach.....where on earth do people think the rain water goes? The Hotel is on an elevated position so with the laws of gravity it flows down channels from the hillside to the beach. Not sewage as suggested by previous reviews. When it rains its fast, quick and generally over as quickly as it began. Being so near the equator everything dries up quickly and its back to the sunloungers. Again I never had a problem with sunloungers, we always found somewhere nice to relax either at the pool or on the lovely beach. We found the service, food, rooms, SCUBA and SPA facilities great. We enjoyed our stay and will go back again.
ignore the reviews
we recently returned on the 31st august after a most enjoyable stay at the grand courlan.we were most worried by previous reviews but these were totally unfounded.the staff are friendly & helpful,the rooms spacious & clean.there were numerous umbrellas by the pool & the pool bar a welcome stopping point.the view from the pinnacle resteraunt is worth the cost alone.on the downside the nightly entertainment leaves a lot to be desired & the beach whilst public is not what you imagine a caribbean beach to be.all in all we met lots of friendly people & would recommend visting the hotel.
"All Inclusive First"
Everyone told us we would need some time to relax after all the wedding mayhem so we decided to visit the Caribbean - the ultimate in relaxation (supposedly).
On arrival we were surprised how run down the island looked from the back of our very old cab. Mind you we had just experienced the upgrade with BA for the past 11 hours of flying from the UK. We stayed in Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort on the north of the island. It was not particularly Grand even though it might have been somewhat earlier in its life.
We had both passed a windsurfing course in the summer thinking we could put it to good use - but alas despite the promise of watersports equipment it was almost non existent and even the stuff they did have was not allowed to be taken out - for insurance reasons they thought the conditions were too dangerous. I think that the real reason was that no one was bothered or could offer sufficient cover.
This was also our first experience of all inclusive. I can't believe people can sit around at the pool bar drinking beer in the morning just because it is free. The food was OK but after 10 days it got a bit repetitive.
We hired a car for a couple of days and explored the island for ourselves - walking through the rain forest in gum boots, bird watching off Little Tobago and snorkelling. We also visited the infamous Sunday School but it felt a bit imposing at times.