Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort
I have lived in Trinidad and Tobago for a few years now and even though the beach is so accessible I always feel as if I never enjoy it as much as I should. Tobago especially is a real gem with amazing beaches and serene atmosphere.
One of the major players in the tourism sector is the magnificent Magdalena Grand Hotel. I had heard a lot of good things regarding the food there and that they had recently hired a renowned top executive chef. Magdalena is especially famous to local Trinbagonians for its fabulous all you can eat breakfast – more on that later. Needless to say I was excited to see what was going on at Magdalena especially from a culinary perspective.
We arrived and were greeted by very friendly staff. Check-in and check-out was exceptionally smooth and all guests are greeted with a complimentary cocktail that you can enjoy as you are helped to your room.
Before I dive into the food, I should talk about the amazing facility and staff at Magdalena Grand Resort. The hotel is nestled along the Atlantic side of Tobago coast – a mere 10 minute drive from the airport. It’s located alongside an impressive and well manicured 18 hole golf course and all its rooms face the sea.
The beach is perhaps too rough to swim because of being on the Atlantic side but there are many pools that are at your disposal. There is a main pool which is quite large that includes a significant shallow area which is great for kids to play in. The other end has a fabulous swim-up bar where you can wade and drink your cocktails as you look out from the pool towards the beautiful ocean. There are plenty of comfortable chairs and beautiful cushioned lounge chairs to sit and enjoy the breeze, enjoy a little sun and just relax in. That is the main pool and there are two others on either end of the resort which are a little smaller and more recluse.
If you want a bit of a beach experience there are plenty of serene and picturesque beaches to choose from in Tobago. The hotel also has a free shuttle service to one on the best beaches on the island, Pigeon Point , with multiple pick up and drop of times during the day. A trip that only takes 15 mins or so to make. There are many beautiful beaches on the island but Pigeon Point offers bathroom facilities as well as secured lockers and plenty of food and drink options. If you want the all inclusive experience Pigeon point is the best for that. There is a 20TT dollar entrance fee and it’s extra to rent chairs and use the lockers as well. Just a heads up if you are visiting for the first time.
The staff was well trained and courteous. From the cleaning ladies and front desk to the kitchen and department heads. Always with a friendly smile and prompt service. Very professional, very impressive.
All of this is overseen by Executive Chef Eduardo Zarraga. Chef Eduardo brings an impressive pedigree of talent and experience to Magdalena. Originally from Mexico, he has been classically trained in French cuisine, tutored under Japanese masters, all the while able to draw on his rich Mexican heritage for further food inspiration, just to scratch the surface. Chef Eduardo has a real natural talent, he is passionate about food and possess a quiet strength. Although he is quite well known and famous in the culinary circles having been head chef in many top resorts, hotels and cruiselines.
You would never know it though from his unsuspecting demeanour, and humility (something that can be to be lacking in many top and renowned chefs). He has worked at the exclusive Lyford Cays Club where he has been a personal chef to many famous people and even members of the British Royal Family. Yet he remembers where he came from, knows his roots and is quite grounded. He likes to see others shine, likes to lead by example and is hoping to share his experience with those around him at Magdalena. He praises his sous chef, who is a woman by the way, and calls her literally his right hand! We got to meet the baker at Magdalena and serval others who are key at making the food and kitchen run smoothly. Everyone lends a helping hand and it’s seems no egos were bruised. If you saw a dirty plate on a table - it was quickly take up by a server, the chef himself or even the general manager - made no difference - everyone was there to work and help each other get the job done and with a polite smile.
Now on to the main course – the food. Magdalena Grand Hotel has 5 eating areas. The impressive buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner area is called Pembois. It serves local dishes as well as a variety of other foods. Everything is cooked and baked fresh right before service. Bring your appetite and you will find great value for every dollar spent.
The poolside and beachside restaurant is Salaka grill open for lunch and dinner for a more relaxed and casual atmosphere and dining experience. It serves up delicious grilled meat and fish dishes, wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads and of course drinks. It’s à la carte style service with very hefty portions. I’m a good eater and even I could stand to sharing an entrée.
Another place that makes it quick and convenient to pick up something small and perhaps a coffee or tea is Benne Cafe which is conveniently open daily. There is also Robinson Crusoe which is more of a pub style dining experience. The menu includes appetisers to entrées with a focus on drinks and cocktails. We had your typical pub food fare when we were there and really enjoyed it. Again the portions were big and we were also happy it was on the Friday that we visited because Friday is their Jazz night. They have some talented singers and musicians featured every Friday.
Last but not least there’s Kali’na, taking fine dining to the next level. A beautiful dining area with beautiful thought out entrees from starters to main dishes. We enjoyed some wonderful starters like the crispy veggie spring rolls and then some fabulous seafood from the fabulous shrimp tempura with red wine reduction and Chadon Beni sauce to the garlic butter escargot, to the perfectly cooked rack of lamb and to the deliciously prepared snapper on a bed of creamy lobsters sauce. Everything was well executed and Chef is very excited to introduce some new items to the menu and make some minor changes to it hoping to use more locally sourced seafood and ingredients. We are truly looking forward to going back and enjoying more of what these fine restaurants have to offer. You can too even if you are not staying at the resort. Anyone can reserve and enjoy dining at any of the restaurants.
In short, our experience at Magdalena Grand Tobago was thoroughly enjoyable. An excellent facility, attentive staff and really amazing food. Actually, it’s probably the best all round food experience I have had on both islands. Next time you find yourself in Tobago, definitly check them out.