Tobago accommodation

Touching Stillness

1 Week T’ai Ji workshops at Castara Retreats - June 2014

Workshop Overview

For some years we have imagined inviting people to join us in a T’ai Ji workshop in Castara on the Caribbean island of Tobago. We are delighted that our teacher, Ad Brugman, is coming to Castara Retreats to teach T’ai Ji in two 1 week workshops June/July 2014.  We feel it is the perfect venue to offer workshops to people who, like us, are seeking to learn T’ai Ji as a means to gain a sense of ease and well-being within our busy daily lives.

The T’ai Ji programme offers a daily programme for beginners and experienced practitioners alike, with sessions each morning and afternoon.  Around these sessions there will be plenty of time for holiday relaxation and fun.  

Each day from 12.30 to 4.00pm there will be time to enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking the gorgeous Caribbean coastline, to explore the village, enjoy the beach, or to simply take your ease in our luxury accommodations set in two acres of tropical gardens.  Castara waterfall is a 15 minute walk through the rainforest; the beach is a two minute stroll, and the coral reefs are a five minute walk along the beach.  Dining in the evenings is on the open pagoda terrace in our restaurant with options to eat in small groups and privately in couples.

Included in the workshop price are three half day trips which will provide the opportunity for you to explore more of this stunning island. These trips are:

  • A half day boat trip after lunch, which includes visits to secluded bays to snorkel, fishing en-route, and time to chat, swim and snorkel on a pristine sheltered beach known locally as Big Bay.
  • An early morning guided bird-watching and rainforest tour with an experienced guide, following ancient trails to explore the oldest protected rainforest in the northern hemisphere.
  • A morning visit to The Cocoa Plantation to see the workings of a traditional plantation producing cocoa beans that are the raw material an award winning single estate chocolate.

Touching stillness: the T’ai Ji programme  

The programme is led by Ad Brugman who, with over 35 years of teaching T’ai Ji, has developed a unique blend of forms to enhance awareness of the body and the breath. His approach, based on the Yang style of T’ai Ji, is gently physical and emphasises the importance of lightness, space and ease in our bodies. Through the movements we experience a more balanced flow of energy in our bodies and we learn to find the right amount of energy for the activity we are involved with and in so doing create more ease, relaxation and calmness in the body and mind.  

The programme is for both beginners and more experienced practitioners.  Ad is an accomplished workshop leader and practitioner, and has led many groups of people from different ages and backgrounds.  Everyone is welcome.   A typical day will be shaped around the following activities:

  • Before breakfast a short session of Chi-kung exercises with gentle stretches to get the blood circulating, and to stimulate our energy and breathing.
  • Leisurely breakfast on the pagoda.
  • A mid-morning session of T’ai Ji practice on the open deck overlooking Castara bay.
  • A four hour break with lunch and time to explore, swim, or rest.
  • A late afternoon T’ai Ji practice on the pagoda.
  • Dinner and time to get to know one another in the evenings.

There is also a large covered deck exclusively available for those wanting to spend more time practicing T’ai Ji or meditation.

You are also welcome to come with a friend or partner, with whom to share your holiday, who may choose not to participate in the workshop sessions.  The fee for the week is the same as for those attending the T’ai Ji sessions and includes all meals and excursions.

About Castara Retreats

Castara Retreats is a small, family owned eco resort superbly located overlooking the Bay of Castara, with stunning views of the Caribbean coast and mountains. For the past five years it has been consistently rated on Trip Advisor as the best holiday rental accommodation on the whole of Trinidad and Tobago.  Read the TA reviews from our guests.  Our restaurant opened in December 2012 has quickly ranked on My Tobago and Trip Advisor as one of the best restaurants on the island, with a reputation for fresh, locally sourced ingredients, wonderful ambience and friendly service.

The menu each day offers vegetarian and fish options at lunch and dinner.  See a sample menu for dinner at the restaurant.  To find out more about Tobago, visit myTobago, where you can read a wealth of in depth information on the island, its people, and services. 

“Limin', or hanging out, is an acquired skill best learned on the island that has elevated it to a true art form: Tobago. Once you get the hang of it, head for Tobago's fabled northwest coast, passing hillside hamlets with fairy tale names - Harmony Hall, Providence, Whim - to reach the quiet beaches of Castara, Charlotteville, and Parlatuvier, traditional places where you can still lend a hand by helping villagers tug their seine nets onto the sand in return for a share of the catch. Village guesthouses and small hotels are integrated into community life, like the eco-sensitive Castara Retreats, a six-cabin aerie overlooking village and sea, and backed by the island's most precious resource: the Tobago Rainforest Reserve. "It's the oldest legally protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, established in 1776 to protect the sugar plantation watershed," says guide and local ornithologist David Rooks. The island's primordial bounty allows for prolific bird watching, plunging into refreshing waterfalls, and snorkelling over the largest brain coral colony in the world.”  National Geographic Magazine:

Costs of workshop and flight

To help make the workshop as affordable as possible, we have reduced our accommodation fee by 50% for the duration of the workshop.

  • The fee for the week is £795 to cover accommodation, all meals, three excursions, airport transfers, and the T’ai Ji sessions. 
  • The flight ticket is additional and you will need to arrange a seat with Golden Holidays, who are the agent for the weekly Monarch Airline flight on Wednesdays.  Golden Holidays have offered a slightly discounted economy seat for £422 for the return flight. See below for details on how to book the flight.

Workshop dates and options for an additional week

Two workshops are planned, though we will only take reservations for the second workshop, once the first is filled.  The dates are as follows:

  • T’ai Ji workshop 1:  Wednesday 25th June - 2nd July 2014.
    • Anyone wishing to extend their stay can book to do so for the following week from 2-9th July.
    • The week preceding is allocated to a Raw Food programme and is therefore not available unless you wish to attend this raw food workshop.  Read details on this additional programme on raw food and healthy eating.
  • T’ai Ji workshop 2:  Wednesday 9th July - 16th 2014.  Anyone wishing to extend their stay can book to do so by reserving to stay on the week preceding (2-9th July) or the week following (16-23rd July).

For those of you wishing to extend your stay into a longer holiday by coming for an additional week, we are offering a 25% reduction on the cost of the accommodation for this additional week. The cost for this additional week depends on the specific accommodation that you reserve.  For the second week the cost of meals is not included and our guests can decide each day whether to self-cater or eat in our restaurant.  The restaurant costs are very modest for the quality on offer.  To view our accommodations and prices explore our website.

The accommodations

All of our accommodations are built to the highest standards and are set right above Castara beach in lush tropical gardens. 

The seven lodges and apartments are specially designed to create open, spacious living areas that allow uninterrupted views of the beach and rainforest, cool sea breezes and the natural sights and sounds of the ocean, rainforest and village. They are designed in classic Haiku style to "allow man and nature to live in mutual respect".  Our philosophy at Castara Retreats is to reflect principles of beauty, balance and respect and we endeavour to reflect these aspirations in our buildings, the gardens, in the relationships with the people we work with, and with our guests.

 “Overlooking Castara Bay, the lodges of Castara Retreats combine simplicity with luxurious touches……each one angled to make the most of the spectacular views. This is as good as it gets…We loved it.” Lead feature in The Telegraph Magazine; Feb 2012 by Edmund de Waal.

We have 15 places available in shared accommodation and the arrangements are as follows:

  • There are 4 x two person lodges;
  • There are 2 x four person lodges offering two bedrooms and one large living room.
  •  All are available for couples to share, or for individuals or friends to share
  •  The programme fee is based on shared accommodation.
  • For single room occupancy there is a weekly additional supplement of £225.

Once you are ready to book, we recommend you email Poppy at to discuss the accommodation and your requirements and to book the accommodation that best suits your requirements.  The accommodation is being allocated on a first come first serve basis.

Like-minded people

Ad’s light approach and humour, coupled with the warm and friendly approach of the Castara Retreats team, gives us confidence that everyone will quickly feel at ease and form friendships to share time together on the beach, in the rainforest, and snorkelling.  Also to socialise with one another during the day during meals, and in the bar over a cold drink or cocktail at sunset.

Outside of the formal programme, and depending on your mood and energy levels, some of us may choose to remain quiet and private whilst others may choose to socialise and engage more with one another.

In summary

The following summary may help you take the next step to find out more or to reserve a place on the workshops:

  • To discuss the possibilities in more depth contact Poppy by email or fix a time to chat on the phone –  Telephone 01497 831505 in office hours.
  • To reserve a place go to the reservations page on our website.  Please indicate in the Message box at the bottom of the form that you will be attending the T’ai Ji workshop;
  • To confirm your place a one third deposit is required of £265 and this will be requested from you after you complete the reservation form.  The balance of £530 is due 8 weeks before the start of the workshop; 
  • To reserve an additional week following your workshop requires a further one third deposit on the cost of this additional week which is dependent on the specific accommodation you reserve for his extra week.
  •  The workshop is designed to fit in with the Wednesday flight with Monarch Airlines.  Seats are booked directly with their agent, Golden Caribbean.  To book a seat call them on 0845 0858080.  Mention Castara Retreats Workshop to access their reduced rate of £422 for a return economy seat in June/early July 2014;
  • Each place is on a first come first serve basis.  We aim to fill the first workshop starting June 25th before opening places on the second workshop starting July 9th.  At the time of writing, seven of the places on the first workshop are already reserved;
  • We recommend that you take out holiday insurance to cover theft, cancellation or illness;
  • Please read our Terms and Conditions.

Both Sue and I are on the first workshop and will be resident at Castara Retreats for the period of the workshops and indeed through to the end of July.  We are looking forward to meeting all of you who choose to join one of the workshops.


Steve Felgate: October 2013

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