A couple Sundays ago I took a trip to Freeport to explore my country a little more. There I interviewed the owner of Sandy Hill Nature Park and Terrace, Brian Stollmeyer. What a delightful escape from the concrete jungle for a bit!
It was first published in last Saturday’s (5th March) Newsday. You can read it here: http://www.newsday.co.tt/features/0,224919.html
Many people seeking adventure may not know about one of Trinidad’s best kept secrets which lies just 6 minutes off the Uriah Butler Highway, hidden in Freeport known as Sandy Hill Nature Park and Terrace.
The owners Brian and Patrice Stollmeyer bought the property in 1999 because of his wife’s love for horses since she enjoys riding every day. Freeport was chosen because they both loved the countryside having grown up in Santa Cruz and Mayaro.
With just over 50 acres to enjoy, the owners would like people to come and discover relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of city life with fresh, clean air.
Here they can enjoy many activities such as sports days, team building events, retreats, birthday celebrations, horse rides by their once famous (now retired) race horses and tractor and trailer rides that take you around the property in 15 minutes.
If you are a bird lover, you may be in for a treat as you discover hawks, parrots, caracaras, orioles, woodpeckers, tanagers, tyrants, egrets and more on your trails, while taking in the beautiful flora with the coast of Venezuela as the backdrop.
The property can accommodate a maximum of 1000 persons at a time and there are various packages available starting at $2,500. For your comfort, only one group of over 30 persons at any one time are allowed, however groups of less than 30 can share the grounds for the day.
Horseback riding and photoshoots with a saddled horse and a handler can be arranged separately without renting the venue where visitors can pay a nominal fee.
The venue offers a scenic location for weddings and I am told at night, it’s a beautiful sight to behold with chandelier lights operated by the generators and beautifully lit flambeaux on bamboo branches which light the way.
One can relax by the pool or on hammocks and swings and there are also bikes provided for adults and kids to cycle. For the sports enthusiasts, you can play windball cricket, small goals football, badminton and volleyball with all equipment provided at no additional cost.
As an added bonus guests get 10% off the rental on weekdays (not including Carnival and public holidays) and if you wish to have church and staff retreats, tables and chairs are included in the costs.
The facilities are danger free, but there is a first aid kit available on the premises and the nearest health centre is 10 minutes away. Management also insists upon guests wearing the provided helmets when riding horses and bicycles. If a child is less than 4 feet tall, an adult must accompany them in the pool.
Guests are allowed to cook in the kitchen and coals are provided if persons wish to barbeque.
Though you can’t overnight because of the horses which get their freedom at night, you can bring along tents for camping while arrangements are made for them to be contained during that time.
In fact, for the first time ever there will be a two-day event held at the venue entitled New Fire Festival on Easter weekend (March 26th and 27th) hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Bridge Initiative (TTBI).
It is a totally sustainable event with zero waste (re-usable containers only) so as to reduce the carbon footprint with only local goods for purchase.
Here guests can come and enjoy outstanding live musical acts from reggae to rock, a drum circle, yoga, wellness and a midnight rave.
There will also be an upmarket showcasing indigenous artists, a pottery workshop, art displays and much more.
Most of all, Stollmeyer wants people to remember Sandy Hill Nature Park and Terrace for its beauty and serenity.
“I want more people to enjoy this kind of peaceful life that’s found right here in Trinidad and forget all their troubles. This is what life is all about.”