Saturday 27th December, 2008

 

Rustic retreat in Tobago

 
 
 
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Liaquat Ali relaxes in a rattan chair in the gallery of the main building.
Encased in wood, ceilings, walls and floor of the cabanas. Photos: Adrian Boodan

BY ADRIAN BOODAN

When Couva businessman Liaquat Ali, 47, decided to build a cozy log cabin getaway in Tobago in January 2008, he, along with many, did not foresee the global financial crisis that has impacted in the last few months. Ali said he has changed his marketing strategy and now plans to target local tourists to his mini-resort instead.

Ali said the idea to build the Sala Log Cabanas is unique to T&T, noting that this was the first time that such a venture was ever entered into. He said the idea for the cabanas came to him after he constructed a similar type cabin in Trinidad at a farm in Central.

Ali said he fell in love with the rustic look emanating from the “concept cabin,” adding that many visitors to the farm told him the cabin evoked a 19th century nostalgic feeling. They even compare the cabin to what they saw on old western television shows. Ali said he quickly moved to transform this idea to paper and utilised a parcel of land at Shirvan Road to start the groundwork.

He disclosed hardwood logs were split and shipped from Guyana to Tobago where Guyanese craftsmen spent 11 months working on erecting a main building and three separate cabins out of bulletwood and greenheart that he said would last well over 30 years.

Ali said because of the extreme hardness of the wood many local carpenters backed out of the project that required extensive drilling and the use of special nails.

The cabins have a full wood interior and a western style gallery. The units are coated in a glossy varnished and stocked with items including handcrafted rattan furniture from Guyana.

Ali, who opened the facility in the last week of November took the Guardian on a tour. He said during the construction phase he was approached by a number of individuals who were interested in building their own log cabin homes.

While he did not want to share the cost of the venture, Ali said it was “costly” and constructing a similar sized unit out of brick and steel would be cheaper. Ali said despite the impending downturn in the economy because of falling gas and oil prices, nationals would still need to go for a vacation.

However their purses would be strapped for cash, because of this many locals would stay at home and seek local venues for recreation instead of venturing to foreign shores.

 

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