I have taken a long time to write this review, wanting to offer a fair and balanced opinion of this place. I have also pondered whether or not to write one at all.
I do not want anyone reading this to take a negative view of Dominica as a place to visit or of Calibishie itself. Both are well worth your time.
My wife and I stayed in one of the lodges for the first three nights because there was no water in the apartment that we had booked. This is to be expected on an island that is effectively third world, so no criticism of the owners. For the remaining four nights we stayed in one of the lodges situated on the other side of the road overlooking the village and bay of Calibishie. We also used the Bamboo Restaurant for the first three days that is situated adjacent to the apartments. The views offered from the accommodation are excellent, in particular from the lodges.
The physical appearance of the accommodation and the restaurant is at first glance excellent, and it sets a good impression against the claim that it is highly awarded and of boutique standard.
On the first night we had an excellent meal. On the first morning we were disappointed with the quality of the breakfast on offer. Everything on the menu is priced and you are given what is effectively an allowance. Thus, the concept of “would you like some more toast” comes at a price. I can think of nowhere I have ever stayed before where extra toast is chargeable. On the second night the food was poor and on the third we regretted going back. When we moved to our lodge after three days we decided to abandon the restaurant for dinner and also for the breakfasts that had been pre-paid we were so disappointed.
The exterior appearance of the apartment and lodge was very good. But, as soon as you step inside the veneer falls away. These are supposed to have fully equipped kitchenettes. But the crockery, glasses and cutlery are what you might expect from a job lot at a village jumble sale. In the lodge we had two cups, one of which was cracked. In the apartment we had two cups, one without a handle, and two small tumblers of different type and size to drink our wine from! The shower outlet at both places was semi blocked. No hot water in either basin. The TV sets worked, but were tiny and the sun loungers in the apartment were two old aluminium kitchen chairs. I could go on!
My impression was of a place that had been good but had been neglected over a period of time and had been allowed to reach a condition that was frankly unacceptable by any standards. Anyone who considers the Calibishie complex to be “boutique”, as advertised, in the state that we saw it is in my view deluded. And, this is taking account of the fact that we were living on an island that is third world. After four days we considered moving out to somewhere else, even though we had pre-paid, but decided instead to stay.
This then begs the obvious question as to how our experience was at such odds with my expectation from the website and the awards it had gained. So, I will propose a possible explanation.
The current owners are relatively new and bought the lodges, apartments and restaurant from the people who I understand built the place and won the awards given. They are expats from the UK who gave up professional employment to avoid the rat race and live instead in a beautiful Caribbean island. It is my view that as charming and intelligent as they are, they have not a clue about how to operate in the hospitality industry. I consider that they are completely out of their depth and are advertising the place on the basis of what the previous owners achieved, not on how far they have allowed standards to slip.
During our stay we met quite a few expats living in the village. One lady spotted us buying breakfast food in the local shop and queried why we were buying this when she had seen we were staying where we were. Without us answering she followed the first question with “Is the food really as bad as people say – we have noticed that the people who used to eat there now go elsewhere”. A couple we met told us how good the place used to be when the previous people owned it, but all she hears about the place now are complaints. Incidentally, on the three nights we ate in the restaurant, only one other couple ate there.
So, to my advice.
To anyone wanting to stay on the island, Calibishie village is a good place to stay, but start off trying to book Jacoway Inn, and if they are full, ask Carol, who owns it, where to stay. I would trust her advice. For an evening meal, the Rainbow restaurant in the middle of the village served us one of the best meals we have ever had. The French chef clearly knows her trade.
To the current owners, either sell up or invest probably around £30,000 to bring the accommodation back up to boutique standard, find yourself a good chef and employ a professional manager to manage the place.
Finally, I don’t always write a review of the places I stay. I have before today written 33 of which 18 I rated excellent, 9 good, 3 average, 2 poor and 1 terrible.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.