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“Amazing birds but very basic rooms” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge

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Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge
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3.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Blanchissuese Rd, Arima, Trinidad   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Amazing birds but very basic rooms”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2013 via mobile

The first experience of the viewing verandah is definitely a wow moment with stunning birds constantly coming & going, a birdlovers & photographers delight. Friendly knowledgable rangers were always on hand with a scope to find and identify anything that moved near & far.
There are trails through the forest but some are quite rough & steep with advice to stay on the trails due to nasty bitey things that lurk in the grass & snakes. The guided walks are excellent for orientation & identifying species.
AW is a unique experience but there are some negatives such as basic ground floor bungalow rooms with just a ceiling fan, not the place for an afternoon siesta to escape the heat & humidity. Cruise ship & day visitors are a requirement for financial reasons but often appeared noisy with no concept of how to behave in order to encourage the wildlife. Food was ok but limited in variety & options. The 2 way hilly road from Arima up past the quarry to AW is dire, twisty, very rough & unmade in places with potholes requiring driving on the wrong side of the road which has to be negotiated for every excursion south.
Staff though were fantastic, friendly and extremely helpful.
Great to experience AWC but wish it had lived up to expectations.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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74 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    38
    27
    5
    1
    3
See reviews for
4
40
6
2
Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Newbury, Massachusetts
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2013

"All-around" because Asa Wright can be considered as either a hotel or an attraction, and both merit high marks. We recently spent four days there as part of a package through Caligo Ventures and the cost was very reasonable, appearing to be significantly less than what some reviewers seem to have paid on a per diem basis.

As far as lodging is concerned, there weren't any issues. We stayed in one of the rooms in the original plantation house, it being spacious and clean. Although we had been told it might be noisy, we never had a problem. It put us closer to everything (the veranda, meals, front desk, etc.) and made life much easier going back and forth to the room.

Meals are in the main building and served as a buffet with family style seating. Breakfasts were excellent with eggs or omelets cooked to order. Lunch and dinner quality was slightly less, but ample and overall good. The only negative in this regard is a fixed menu, so if one doesn't like an item there isn't a substitute. They do inquire about dietary restrictions or food allergies on registration and will accommodate accordingly. Afternoon tea was fine, the tarts, meat pies, cookies, etc. all fresh and very good. Daily rum punch at 6:00 lived up to its reputation.

The staff couldn't have been friendlier and more helpful, notably Deborah at the front desk and the guides, especially Molly. Kudos to all. We had no problems with cruise groups, there being only a few day-trippers two of the days, and there was no impact on lunch or on the veranda.

From the attraction standpoint, namely as a birding/nature venue, it was fantastic. One can spend hours on the veranda watching dozens of species close up at the feeders, and numerous hiking trails also offer opportunities to see many others. Guided tours are available, both on-site as well as off. Definitely a destination for serious birders.

All in all, a wonderful four days spent above the Arima Valley.

Room Tip: Some of the bungalows require climbing flights of outside stairs, so anyone with some stair-climbing...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

Lovely colonial atmosphere, run very efficiently (eg dinner bell!) You will not go hungry here. The main focal point is the balcony which commands fine views of rainforest, toucans, humming birds etc & where you can help yourself to tea from 0630 onward. Ideal for serious birdwatchers, still very pleasant for anybody who enjoys the natural world but only has a mild interest in birds. Take plenty of insect repellent & use it.

Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
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Boston, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2013

This is a magic place for the fanatic birder and (like us) just people who want to observe nature at close quarters with expert, knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides to help.
The main house retains all the charm of its origins as a plantation home, with lovely verandah and airy reception rooms. The accommodation in (basic) cabins is comfortable and clean. The food is OK and the staff very friendly and helpful.
Strongly recommend the trip to see the Scarlet Ibis flying in at sundown over the Caroni swamp, and another to watch the leatherback turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs in the sands of Matura beach. Both were quite exceptional experiences.
A great couple of days completely removed from the modern world!

Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Princeton, NJ
Top Contributor
91 reviews 91 reviews
42 hotel reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013

Asa Wright is a mecca for birders. Practically every birder I've met from Acadia to Cape May to the Galapagos has either been or wants to go. And it lives up to its reputation. There's a fabulous concentration of neo-tropical species, the on-site guides are knowledgeable and charming, and many of the field trips--especially Aripo and the Blanchisseuse Road--are great. Asa Wright is in the northern mountains, by far the most appealing part of the island. The flatland is not very prepossessing and the poverty is striking. It was also a bit unnerving to find off-site field trips occasionally shadowed by a security van from Asa Wright.
Most of the rooms seem fine, but avoid #22. It's noisy and shabby.
The breakfasts are excellent, other meals only OK.

Room Tip: Avoid #22. Rooms above the lodge may be breezier.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2013

If you are a birder or nature lover, this is one of those places that you will absolutely love. Guided tours were the highlight of this place. The wonderful naturalists lead tours through the grounds pointing out a variety of brilliant avian inhabitants including such as the entertaining manakins, dazzling hummingbirds, and the mysterious and rare oilbirds - the only nocturnal fruit eating birds in the world. A night time flashlight walk was also fun - searching for scorpions, tarantulas, glowworms, and other critters of the night. The observation deck is delightful with a great view of the birds at the feeders all around. The naturalists are on hand to answer questions, set up scopes to view far off birds, and point out special sightings as they occur.
We saw dozens of species of birds here, the tufted coquette hummingbird being my favorite.

Our room was comfortable, not fancy and as another reviewer described it, quite atmospheric. I found the mattresses simply perfect. They seemed over-firm, but once I settled down they were were extremely comfortable and gave a very restful night's sleep. We were away from the main building in room #6 and it was quiet and peaceful there.

The food was slightly above average, but the dining room was a beautiful open air experience with an occasional bird zipping through, and even a bat one evening.

If you are a coffee drinker, I'd have to say the coffee is horrible - but I didn't find a decent cup of coffee anywhere in Trinidad or Tobago. This may be because I drink my coffee "Tico-style" (Costa Rican) which means hot strong coffee with lots of hot milk and sugar. No place we went had fresh milk - it was either canned or boxed, or reconstituted powdered milk. Not at all appetizing to me. So I just switched to tea, which worked for me.

The tour to Caroni Swamp to view the spectacular red ibis was simply amazing. These brilliant birds are something special to see.

As another reviewer mentioned, it is NOT fun when dozens of cruise ship guests arrive and take over the observation deck. They simply are a different sort of traveler, not birders and the groups tended to be very noisy. The disinterested folks get on the internet, make phone calls, and take up all the seating. We wondered why they bothered to come - just to get off the big boat? Some took walks on the grounds and stamped out their cigarettes on the trails and left them. Very disrespectful.

I'm glad I went and I would recommend it to nature lovers, especially birders.

Room Tip: We liked the location of our room #6 - away from the central building. Quiet.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2013

My non-birding spouse and I stayed at Asa Wright for 4 nights and had a thoroughly enjoyable stay. Our room was one of just two in the main building, which had both advantages and disadvantages. It was convenient, for sure -- just a few steps from the verandah, close to the diningroom -- and the room, while slightly shabby and no one's idea of stylish, was atmospheric. High ceilings, long windows with heavy shutters, dark wood everywhere: think classic tropical colonial plantation, which of course is what the building orginally was. The main disadvantage was noise -- our room, #1, was hard by the kitchen area and you could hear breakfast preparation going on in the morning as well as post-dinner clean-up. But since Asa Wright is an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kind of place, that wasn't a huge issue for us. It was the kiskadees, not other guests or staff, who woke us up with their racket every morning.

We didn't run into any problems with large numbers of cruise ship passengers dropping by during our stay. There were a few daytrippers, to be sure, but they mostly seemed to be local folks and weren't disruptive at all.

The food was decent -- basically Trini home cooking. There were a few misses (hey, even Mom has her off nights, right?), but it was generally quite good. Rice and some sort of stew beans were a fixture at every meal during our stay, so there was always that (plus a generous and tasty salad) to fall back on if the main dish was a miss. Oh, and we became very fond of afternoon tea and evening rum punch. (If you are very lucky, they will offer their delicious coconut rolls for tea during your stay.)

The big attraction is, of course, the beautiful setting and the birds. The naturalists on staff were knowledgeable and helpful, both during our organized walk and for general questions. If they spotted an interesting bird off in the distance, they'd set up a scope and offer everyone a chance to see it. Even my non-birding husband was impressed by the sheer variety and beauty of the birdlife.

We booked our stay as part of a larger package, so it's hard to weigh in on the value proposition. While it certainly wasn't cheap, the absence of hassle (pre-arranged transportation to and from the airport, all of our meals, a pre-arranged excursion to Caroni swamp) was worth it to us.

Center staff - guides, front desk, housekeepers, servers, kitchen, drivers - were uniformly helpful and friendly.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge

Address: Blanchissuese Rd, Arima, Trinidad
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Trinidad and Tobago > Trinidad > Arima
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Arima
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 24
Also Known As:
Asa Wright Nature Centre Hotel Trinidad

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