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Licence to trill

Licence to trill

Tobago’s Coco Reef has just devised a unique solution to ensuring birdsong keeps in tune with the paradise resort’s remit to provide the ultimate relaxation experience. BTN finds out more

Birdsong may be music to the ears of the nature lovers who flock to the paradise island of Tobago to see its wealth of tropical birdlife, but the feathered beauties can make unwelcome breakfast companions.

John Jefferis, owner of Coco Reef Resort Tobago, has come up with a novel solution which makes a virtue out of the problem. Rather than banning all birds from breakfast, he has brought in three rather special birds that by just their presence make a feature of keeping their smaller cousins under control.

The three birds are now permanent employees of the hotel and just their presence in the morning sunlight acts as a deterrent to the smaller birds such as banaquits and blackbirds who are relegated to watch from afar.

Under the watchful eye of their trainer, Kelton Thomas, a professional falconer and ornithologist, Coco, Lakshmi and Starling create a spectacle rarely seen over breakfast in the Caribbean.

Birds are not the only form of wildlife to have made Coco Reef their home. Fish have also been well cared for. An interesting part of the original development plans for Coco Reef involved the construction of a 300 metre, manmade, eco friendly reef, which was constructed using local rock.

The practical purpose of the reef was to preclude coastal erosion, and to provide safe bathing for the hotel guests. From a conservation point of view, as planned, the reef has now evolved into an attractive coral reef and is the habitat for over 24 different species of fish. The extensive landscaping project for the resort included the introduction of over 300 coconut palms and more than a thousand new plants and trees for the hotel grounds.
Jefferis acquired the Coco Reef property in 1991 and spent five years and some $50 million developing what is now one of the region’s most successful and popular resorts.

It has won countless international awards including, most recently, “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel” at the World Travel Awards, an accolade presented to John Jefferis last week at a sparkling black tie dinner and ceremony held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

Coco Reef has recently undergone a $9 million refurbishment, and has planning permission for the addition of 10 luxury villa suites. However, Jefferis maintains that it is the friendliness and professionalism of the management and staff that sets Coco Reef apart from other resorts.

Under the management of the Caribbean’s most celebrated General Manager, Eric Feniet, guests of Coco Reef regularly return giving the resort one of the highest return guest ratios in the region positive ratings.

(Coco Reef owner John Jefferis picks up “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel” at World Travel Awards)

In a market often seen to be dominated by multi-national chains, individuality and ingenuity are qualities which Coco Reef’s guests value. Whether it’s a falconry display at breakfast or the Resort’s 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow formerly owned by Errol Flynn which is a favourite with couples getting married at the resort.

The 140 rooms, suites and Villas property is situated in ten acres of manicured tropical gardens overlooking its own private beach.

Jefferis has already started planning for the employment of a similar team of birds for another of his properties, the Coco Reef Resort in Bermuda. Training has started and it is hoped that they will commence their duties in the New Year.