by Diana Lambdin Meyer
When Christopher Columbus first sailed through the Caribbean and around the island which is now Tobago, he dubbed it Magdalena. This point, where the Magdalena Grand Hotel is now located, is where Columbus and his crew came closest to touching shore, thus the name of this magnificent, all-inclusive property.
Located on the Atlantic side of the island, the Magdalena Grand occupies more than 2 miles of beachfront and 112 acres on what was once a sugar plantation. The remains of the original sugar mill are located on the golf course between holes 16 and 17 and the design of a sugar mill is represented in a castle-like appearance of the wing of the hotel that houses the gift shops and a coffee shop.
With all of that ocean and three pools, as well as a separate, dedicated pool for scuba training, the Magdalena Grand has just about everything a family looks for in a beach resort vacation. The children’s program is seasonal, but even in the off-season, if management notices reservations for a number of families, special activities will be arranged, including a bouncy house on the grounds and other out-of-the-box offerings.
For families who appreciate nature and the environment, Hawksbill sea turtles lay eggs on the beach directly in front of the south wing. March to September is nesting season. If the turtles begin to hatch and move to the ocean, you can ask to be notified of this miracle of nature – an earth science lesson your children will not likely forget.
Our Editor Loves
- Oceanfront location
- Sea turtle nesting site
- All-inclusive rates
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
The Magdalena Grand has 178 guestrooms, including 22 one- and two- bedroom suites situated in two wings, each three stories high. Each and every room has an ocean view, although the north wing has more beach/ocean in sight. The south wing, while closest to the kids' club and playground, includes more gardening and landscaping with the ocean a few steps farther away. All rooms have a private balcony or terrace.
In addition to multi-room suites, most rooms connect to adjacent rooms. Two handicapped accessible rooms available.
Bathrooms, although a little tight for more than one person at a time, include a lighted make-up mirror and a separate tub and shower. Robes, slippers and an in-room safe are also provided, along with a mini-refrigerator and coffee/tea service.
Cribs are available at no charge; rollaways are $120 TTs or about $60 U.S. per night.
Available in king or two queens, these rooms are quite spacious with plenty of room for a rollaway or crib, as well as the extra paraphernalia of traveling with children. A family of five could make the space work for them. The 30-inch television could be a little bigger for the space. There's a lounge chair and desk, but the only table is on the patio.
Suites all come with a private Jacuzzi. Otherwise, one- and two-room suites are basically standard rooms connected by a parlor that includes a small table for games or electronic equipment, a large 51-inch TV and an extra full bathroom. The couch folds out for extra sleeping arrangements, which brings total accommodation of the suites to a possible of 10 people.
We stayed at the Magdalena Grand in Tobago, as a couple, for a little break away from a longer stay in Trinidad. We had read the reviews and chose the Magdalena Grand due to its sea view rooms.
It is situated a 10 minute drive from the airport and a long beautiful drive through the Tobago Plantations leads you to the hotel.
Check-in took longer than anticipated and we were waiting for much longer than we’d normally expect to wait for a hotel check-in. We were given a free drink on arrival and the staff were very pleasant. After check-in, we were escorted to our room by golf buggy by a friendly employee.
The complex looks old and run-down with very old-looking tennis nets moss/mildew on the building walls.
The room itself also looked tired but clean. The bedroom had a big comfortable bed with a desk and good looking decor. The bathroom was big but the white bath was stained and the taps tended to spray water everywhere. There was a limited selection of complementary toiletries and not enough towels (considering it’s a beach and pool resort!)
The view from the room, however, was stunning. A patio door opens out onto a beach with the Atlantic Ocean only meters away. It was really pretty and relaxing.
Unfortunately, we had issues with our patio door being incredibly stiff to open due to a build up of rust on the bottom rail. We told concierge about this and they sent a workman with a can of WD40 which naturally did nothing to fix the problem.
Breakfast was served at a good time and we were able to sit outside with that wonderful view of the sea. We had to wait a while once sat down to be given cutlery and tea/coffee. The food is of great quality and there is a wide selection. A chef is present to cook personalised omelettes and their is a delicious choice of local and international cooked food, pastries, cereal and juice.
The outdoor pool is large and clean and sited next to the sea. It was very quiet when we went for a swim.
Another gripe was that the hotel promised free WiFi which was of appalling quality. When it did work (which was pretty much never) it was ridiculously slow!
Overall, the Magdalena Grand is a pleasant hotel with beautiful views of the Tobago coast. Unfortunately, this is offset by poor service and a lack of attention to detail. With good management and some maintenance, it could turn into a great resort.
by Aurelio G
Ok, let's start with the good:
- Nice full breakfast
- Friendly staff
- Good large pool with plenty of space to hang out and comfortable chairs
- The breeze of the ocean is just amazing
- Spacious rooms
- Free bikes (in good condition) to ride around the neighborhood
- The location is one of the best in the whole island. Golf course, lakes,...
Now, the not so good:
- Biggest issue is that the hotel is a bit old and although clean, it is obvious some areas need renovation if they really want to be a luxury resort.
- I find the price a bit high. We paid $135 per night, breakfast included. There are other options, such as Mount Irvine Resort, for about $100 per night.
Overall, it is a nice place to stay if you can get a deal and are not too picky about the facilities.
The CeeCee Club is available from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day during the summer and North American holidays for those ages 5 and up. In addition to crafts and games indoors, there are beach walks, pool time and occasionally cricket lessons. The center is located in the north wing near the playground.
Bicycles and helmets are available for those of all ages, however, child carriers or tricycles are not common on the island. The lengthy asphalt drive into the property, as well as a number of sidewalks and other paths provide plenty of opportunities for biking for the entire family.
Pigeon Point Heritage Park Beach Outing
The Magdalena Grand is located on the Atlantic side of the island, and as we all know, sometimes the Atlantic is quite a bit more energetic than the calm Caribbean. Therefore, each day, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle several times a day to a beach on the opposite side of the island. With several beachfront restaurants and gift shops to choose from, it's a nice outing, even when the Atlantic is calm.
The featured pool, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean just off the lobby, was closed and completely re-tiled and remodeled in September 2016, creating a fresh, fun and modern look. With an exaggerated stair step entry, toddlers may comfortably splash in ankle-deep water while parents sit a bit deeper just a few inches away. Overall the pool ranges from 4 to 6 feet in depth, with river-like tributaries that lead to the swim-up bar.
An adults-only infinity pool is located near the north wing, while another smaller round pool is near the south wing. A fourth pool is dedicated solely to scuba training. Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As energetic as many parks, this colorful playground near the north wing includes swings, slides, tunnels and climbing apparatus. Make sure the kids wear shoes when heading to the playground.
One of the four pools on this property is one dedicated to scuba certification. Children as young as 5 can participate, with some limitations. Diving in the waters around Tobago is greatly influenced by the flow of Orinoco River that empties its nutrient rich sediment in the Atlantic here, thus attracting a colorful and diverse variety of sea creatures.
Two asphalt courts, located near the south wing, are lit at night. Racquets and balls are available at the concierge desk. An instructor can be scheduled with advance notice.
Enjoy the Atlantic Ocean's energy with sailing, snorkeling, windsurfing and kayaking, among other activities. New and additional activities are added seasonally, all at no additional charge.
The spa is located in a separate building near the south wing of the property. In addition to many of the expected massages and treatments, children's mani-pedi packages are available.
With five onsite dining options for families (technically six if you count the adults-only spot), as well as in-room dining, you should find plenty of variety during a lengthy stay. Children's options of chicken fingers, pizza, burgers and PBJ are available at all restaurants, with the exception of Kalini, which is adults-only. Two meal plans continue the choices. Many people prefer to opt out of lunch on the property in order to explore other options around the island.
This coffee/tea shop is also the only gourmet pastry shop on the island. The macadamia nut cookies are spectacular, but chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and other flavors are worth exploring. Kids can get an extra scoop of ice cream here and soft drinks. If someone is celebrating a birthday while vacationing at the Magdalena Grand, the culinary artists at Benne will make the day extra special. Open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As the name implies, this restaurant is a part of the golf course. Open for breakfast for breakfast and lunch, it serves light dishes and snacks from 6 a.m. until sunset.
Li'l Nylon Grill
This poolside cafÃ© offers simple bites throughout the day, including burgers, wraps and other munchies. The bar is swim-up for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pembois is a patois word that means breadfruit. Located on the lower level looking out on the pool, the Pembois buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Designated evenings feature Tex Mex, Pan-Asian, Mediterranean and food unique to Trinidad and Tobago. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Robinson Crusoe Pub
This friendly two-level pub, located just off the lobby, is open from 10 a.m. until midnight most nights. Children are welcomed until 9 p.m. The old-world nautical theme is a lot of fun, as are the billiards and foosball tables. In addition to burgers, pizza and wraps served all day, healthier choices include grilled vegetable salads and fruit plates. For picky eaters, this is where you can get a PB&J any time of the day. On Saturdays, this is the spot for extra games and music to celebrate the weekend.
Another poolside cafÃ©, this one specializes in seafood and pizza for lunch. For evening dining, the family offerings include Asian fare and several tapas dishes. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The 72-acre golf course lines the drive into the Magdalena Grand and is highlighted by the remains of the sugar mill that once operated here. The Par 72, 18-hole course is 7,000 yards long and dotted with a number of water features. Be careful around the lakes. A species of alligators known as the Caiman flourishes here. Unfortunately, the golf course does not offer an ocean view.
The fitness center is located on the second floor of the south wing and includes a number of Cybex elliptical machines, as well as free weights and resistance weight machines. Saunas are located in the men's and women's locker rooms. Children are welcome to join their parents at the fitness center. Unfortunately, a view of the ocean is not offered while you work out.
In-room babysitting is available at an additional charge.
No need to pack any electric converters. T&T uses 110 voltage, just like North America. However, because the hotel is about 20 years old, the rooms are not equipped with as many electrical outlets as we need today. Consider packing a multi-plug extension cord for games and computers.
Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the property, but it is weak and spotty at times.
Other than service animals, pets are not allowed at the Magdalena Grand. However, cat lovers will rejoice in the number of cats that patrol the grounds. They are healthy and well-cared for by a local animal care organization and often snuggle with guests who need a little love and attention. On occasion, those kitties have been known to spend the night in a guestroom.
A baby grand piano is available in the lobby and/or Tavaco lounge. Children and adults who know how to play are welcome to keep up with their practice and showcase their skills while at the Magdalena.
Three shops onsite provide any necessities you may have forgotten, as well as a limited selection of resort wear and souvenirs. For a very special souvenir, take a look at the art display in the hallway leading to the north wing. It's all created by local artists and is for sale.
The Art of Smart Timing
As you might expect, the high season in the Caribbean is when it's cold and snowing in the north. The Christmas holidays and spring break period are particularly busy. Rainy season is June through November. This doesn't mean it will rain all day every day, but more rain is likely during these months.
The Tobago Airport (TAB) is about 20 minutes from the Magdalena Grand Resort. No shuttle service is available from the hotel, yet taxi service is a bargain. The rates vary somewhat depending on time of day, but expect to pay less than $20 U.S. for up to three people in the cab.
Other than the complimentary daily shuttle to the Pigeon Point Beach, the hotel provides no other transportation service. Taxi service around Tobago is less expensive than you'll experience in many other Caribbean destinations. Grab a cab and get out there.
For Mom and Dad
The infinity pool near the south wing is adults-only, but unfortunately there is no bar with that pool. Instead, you can go to the adults-only Tavaco Lounge, where on Sundays, live jazz is featured. Live music and dancing may be available throughout the week.
If grandparents are watching the kids, sneak away to Kalini, a serene space offering adult-only, upscale dining. It's dinner only with the exception of Wednesdays, when the restaurant is closed. The focus is Caribbean and Creole cuisine, and there's a great wine list. Open 6:30 to 10 p.m.