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.
Arrived here the week of the 18-26th of April. Quick 15 min ride from the airport. Hotel entrance looked nice, resort was clean, and rooms were comfy.
We had a king size bed in our oceanfront room. Rooms/hotel was dated and in desperate need of some paint and new furnishing. It appears that this hotel has been neglecting some maintenance. But either way, everything worked. Down side is there is a mini fridge in the room with nothing in it. Asked to have drinks brought up to room 3 times through out the week and not one person fulfilled our request. Not even the maid. All rooms face the ocean front so don’t upgrade your room.
Beach was packed full of seaweed. Most I have ever seen. Ocean was mildly rough but the red flag for swimming was up all week. Main pool was great and had plenty of loungers around. Some umbrellas were torn. It had a pool bar and swim up bar. There are 2 other “so called” pools. They appeared to be about 25’ in diameter. But the lounging area was very small.
Restaurant by the main pool was great. Good atmosphere. Great food. Buffet restaurant was good as well with theme nights nightly. Buffet was small but never ran out of food.
Bars were ok. Drinks inconsistent as usual at an all inclusive resort.
Grounds were somewhat well kept. Staff were hit and miss there. Some couldn’t give you the time of day there, others made you feel like you were requesting the world from them and a small handful were great.
The golf course was in ok shape. Appeared very dry even though they have plenty of water ponds around. Pro shop women was not very helpful. Again, it was like pulling teeth to try and get anything done with her. Carts were in bad shape. We had a deal of $150pp usd and play golf for 7 days with a cart. That’s a great deal for Caribbean golf, just too bad that the course didn’t look like the brochure.
All in all, this place was alright, nothing to write home about. The food was surprisingly good but the rest was either “meh” or awful. This place could definitely use some customer service experience, a fresh paint job and some much needed maintenance. If you come here, it’s to relax. There isn’t much going on here. We made the best of it and didn’t sweat the small stuff. Free spotty wifi all over the resort.
BEWARE!!! Don’t bring anything with Camouflage on it. I’m talking like luggage,clothing, bags or anything. They will seize it at the airport. It’s against the law there to have camo as it has to do something ridiculous about the military there. They have the right to confiscate it and either sell it, use it or destroy it. I lost an expensive backpack and I did them a favour and destroyed it in front of the officer at customs. He wasn’t too happy that I did that but he wasn’t going to profit off of my belongings.
As usual, if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. I always like to help out others.
Our stay here was incredibly relaxing. We were a group of 4 visiting Tobago for the first time. We chose this hotel mainly because of the offer that was available however we did find it very suitable for the style of holiday we wanted. We have been to the caribbean several times and enjoy the slow pace, wonderful weather and friendly people. It is on the Atlantic coast so there is always a warm breeze/wind
The plus points were:
1. The staff were very friendly and couldn't do enough for us. Just talking to them became a real part of our holiday. A few are mentioned below but nearly everyone we met was so cheerful.
2. The rooms were next to each other, had lovely views, loads of space, good facilities and comfy giant beds. Tea making facilities were good and the hotel were more than happy to provide us fresh milk at the start of each day (thanks to Krystal and Troy for this) . 2 small problems in our rooms, one with a tv remote and one with a tap, were rectified almost instantly. The rooms were cleaned and beds made up promptly in the morning , (while we were having breakfast) on every day except one. That day it was done in the afternoon.
3. The food was quite varied and we all had lots of things we liked. It all seemed very well prepared, tasted good and was well presented. Pamela was very welcoming and we enjoyed lots of laughs . The main problem with the food was trying to get smaller portions if it wasn't a buffet. The chocolate cake portions were ridiculously large!
4 We never had queues for the bar, where Adanna and Kerline made us our drinks and also made us laugh. We also had hardly any queues for food and we nearly always sat exactly where we wanted. On two occassions at lunch they set up extra tables for us on the patio which was a really nice touch (thanks to Troy again). The one exception was Mothers Day breakfast which caught us by surprise. We enjoyed the singing entertainment that morning.
5. The pool area was very nice with a very large clean pool and easy access, good recliners and umbrellas and quick access to everything.
6. The little cafe out the front was a hidden gem for the late afterrnooon. Nicole and Desreen were so welcoming and provided lovely coffees and cookies. Again we never queued.
7. The hotel is in a lovely setting , the sea birds and land birds are spectacular. We really enjoyed the frigates and swifts whilst relaxing by the pool. Even the lapwings which buzzed us on the golf course were so interesting.
8. The use of the bikes and golf course were bonuses - best used later in the day when it was cooling down a bit. We didn't try the tennis or gym. The free shuttle to
Pigeon Point was also useful.
The negative points were:
1. Having to sign for nearly everything even when we were all inclusive and everything we had was included.
2 The beach was out of action due to the weed. (Not really the hotels fault)
3 It wasn't always clear which restaurants were going to be open for lunch and dinner.
4 We think the hotel would benefit from a bit of regular maintenance and update. The mixer in the pool bar was on its last legs, a few of the general wcs had loose fittings/cracked tiles, the lights were loose on a couple of stairs etc.
5 The all inclusive drinks are a little limited compared with other caribbean holidays we have been on.
6. The wi-fi was strong in the main areas including the pool, but was very intermittent in the rooms we had.
All in all, this was lovely place for a quiet break. The setting is a real paradise.
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.