Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 77
September 1, 1997

Final update 30 Aug 97 1300ET

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ARUBA BY BARBARA MEE

We  left  on  a charter from Boston on 7/12. It was through TNT and on 
SUN  PACIFIC.  (I  think it was an old Pan Am plane, looked like their 
logo  on the seatbelt. Left BOS about 45 minutes late, but made up the 
time  in  the  air.  We were in the lobby of Aruba Beach Club at 1:30. 
Direct  flight,  non-stop,  and  the  food  was  as  decent as regular 
airlines  (my  husband  says  even  better).  Only complaint about the 
flight  was  it  seemed  to get very warm on the plane but they turned 
air up. 

At  ABC,  they  told  us room would be ready in 1/2 hr. (NEXT JOKE!!!) 
Anyway,  we  walked  over to Subway and split a large sub. Walked back 
and  ,  were  told  another 1/2 hour. Sat and watched people in lobby. 
Unfortunately,  the 1/2 hrs stretched to 4pm. Next year, I will go and 
check  out the room and payoff the maid!!! Unpacked, changed, and went 
immediately  to  the  beach  for a while. Also hit the mini-market and 
stocked up on "necessities". 

For  anyone  interested,  I  took  two  pints of 1/2 and 1/2 in a soft 
cooler  bag  that  was  in  the  larger  carryon (4 icepacks in it) It 
survived just fine, and got me through the week of am coffee. 

Found  out  that El Gaucho was open this year(it has been closed every 
other  July  we  were  there)  so  went on Sat. night Now we know what 
everyone  else  raves  about.  Best  meal  for  your $$$, and value, I 
think.  Only problem were some HEAVY smokers behind us... and I really 
can't   stand   the   smell.   total  was  about  $59.  Bill  had  the 
churasco(sp?)  and  I  had  the  tenderloin.  Bill  also had the conch 
appetizer  (the  "hot"  onions don't seem hot at first!!) We split the 
mocha  hazelnut  cake. Some dinners, he had a glass of wine... I can't 
remember  which. I really don't drink, so we never had a bottle. Plus, 
my  stomach  was  a  bit weird (those of you who know me know about my 
being sick a year and a half ago... so I was trying to be careful). 

Sunday,  we  went  to  the  Holiday Inn champagne brunch. If you eat a 
ton...  and  like  that, it is great. I tend to overeat and feel lousy 
for  hours afterward. I wish we had researched more about brunches and 
breakfasts...  not sure at $19.95 each +SC.... that HI is worth it. HI 
looked  really  nice  in lobby, etc., and I did my first mind shopping 
(that's  when  I  start  to  picture what I'm going to want to buy!) I 
collect  Hummels, and Little Switzerland has a new, special edition of 
the  traveler,  carrying  a  LS satchel. (more about him later!) Got a 
great  tablecloth  and 12 napkins (like I'm going to iron all of that) 
for  $39.99  at  Artistic  Boutique  in  HI  lobby.  Made it as far as 
Americana lobby when I'd had it and needed the beach. 

Took  cab  back and spent rest of day walking and laying around beach. 
Saw some "friends" we have made over the last three visits.

Went  to Tony Roma's for dinner (heh, at least it wasn't Hooters!) For 
the  money, I think it is a great place and the ribs are the best I've 
had  anywhere.  Bill  only  wanted  a  salad, so he had that and soup. 
About  $40  total.  Their  chocolate  chip  cookie  in a little pan is 
great! 

Monday  we  did  go  to the ABC owners' mtg.. I can not figure out why 
people  go  and  then are rude through the presentations. Hard to hear 
all  of  the  info given. Very windy so stayed at the pool most of the 
day. 

Went  to  the  Old Mill for dinner. I had barbecue shrimp and Bill had 
red  snapper  Creole.  Split  chocolate mousse for dessert. dinner was 
fast  but  didn't  seem  rushed,  if that makes sense. Total was about 
$63.00.  I will add here that we seemed to lose very quickly at any of 
the  casinos  we  went  into.  It was not fun, and I quickly decided I 
would  rather  spend the money on something tangible that I would come 
home with (back to that Hummel at Little Switzerland). 

Tuesday,  another  day  around  the pool and beach. Went to an hour of 
"Blackjack"  instruction (HAHA... people really ANALYZE when they play 
that???  I'm  on  vacation, who wants to think???) We ate breakfast in 
the  condo,  and  had an assortment of cheese, crackers and cookies to 
tide  us  over. Bill had a couple of lunches at the Tortuga,I had one. 
...  dinner  at  Chalet  Suisse  on  Tuesday.  Bill had the dried beef 
appetizer,  I had a salad. Bill had the lamb chops (said it was better 
than  any rack of lamb he has had anywhere) and I had Weinerschnitzel. 
Bill  had  the  Kiss  dessert  ,  and I had apple strudel. (Jean, it's 
good,  but  I  think  the  Toblerone  is better!!) $84.00... and worth 
every  penny! Went to a show at the Wyndham, the Havana Review. It was 
$20  each  +  SC,  so came to $46. OK, but not the greatest thing. All 
done in Spanish, singer pretty good. Dancing girls pretty good. 

Wednesday,  Audrey  Gage,  on the board of directors at ABC came over. 
Bill  had  sent  his name in for nominations, and it never ended up on 
the  ballot.  She  is quite concerned about things at ABC and CDM that 
don't  seem  to  "reach  "  the  general owners. That is another topic 
though. 

We  went  into  town  when  they were done and had lunch at De Dissel. 
Quite  nice...  very  Dutch.  I  had  open-faced toasted sandwich with 
onions,   ham   and  mushrooms  and  cheese.  Bill  tried  some  house 
specialty.  Can't remember cost... maybe $15.00 or $20.00. Walked down 
into  town...  and shopped. Let's just say that Little Switzerland did 
OK  by  us,  and  neither  one  of  us  will  need  to go shopping for 
anniversary presents next month!! 

Had  dinner  at  Papiamento.  Now,  don't  get me wrong... atmosphere, 
service,  etc.  were  top-notch.  Food  was  very  good.  But bill was 
$110.00...and  I  didn't  like my shrimp bisque at all!!! Bill had the 
seafood  combo  on  the stone, I had the filet or tenderloin. We split 
the  coconut  mousse for dessert. It too was great, but $7.50 seemed a 
bit steep for the dollup of mousse you got. 

If  anyone  is interested, we picked up info on weeks for sale at ABC, 
both  by  members  and some repossessed weeks. the repos are all hotel 
units/studios,  for  4,  and  they  are $2200 each. We contemplated... 
then  decided  that  unless we sell our week 37 and week 50 in VT., we 
just  don't  need another week right now. Thursday we spent the day at 
ABC... beach, walking from one end to the other (it seemed!) 

We  had  6:30  reservations  at  the restaurant at the Lighthouse (why 
didn't  they call it that instead of the name no one remembers???)Bill 
had  the  eggplant  parm  appetizer  and  I  had  salad. Get the house 
Italian  if  you  have salad. I didn't want that, and all they had was 
balsamic  vinegar and olive oil... which was Ok, but not great the way 
they  poured  it  on. I had roasted chicken with peppers... wonderful. 
Bill  had  one of the fish dinners (not the bass... the guy next to us 
had  that... nothing like watching them decapitate a fish at the table 
to  make  for  a  pleasant evening of dining). We split a tiramisu for 
dessert...  very  good.  It does kill me in all these places though to 
pay $3.00 a pop for iced tea... with no refills. 

We  went to the Jewel Box Review afterward. FANTASTIC show!!! Boy, did 
I  love  those  dresses that MC wears!!! GORGEOUS. Plus, I found a way 
to  make  $5  at  the  casino.  They  give  you a coupon to buy $10 in 
quarters  and  get $15. So you take the $15, go to the window and cash 
in,  and  you  made  $5. Too bad I didn't figure that out on the FIRST 
coupon!  One  coupon  gave  us  a  free  t-shirt (that they were later 
selling  for  $9.00)  Bill  had  found a coupon in Columbian Emeralds, 
downtown,  that  took  $3.00  off  per ticket and gave you one free t-
shirt.  It's  a  pink  card.  Tickets are $30 each... nothing (drinks) 
included. What I really liked is the show room is non-smoking. 

We  had  signed  up to play in the Heineken golf tournament at 3:30 at 
Tierra  Del  Sol.  We  both got something to eat at the Tortuga bar in 
early  afternoon.  It  was  $57  each  for  9 holes, including a cart, 
clubs,  and  shoes.  I  wore my sneakers, and Bill had brought his own 
shoes.   I   was   disappointed   in  the  selection  of  golf  shirts 
available... Bill is an 

L  and  they  had  none.  I  had to buy 3 golf balls and a glove b/c I 
didn't  bring  mine.  Of  course,  I  forgot my titles... so hope this 
stays  consecutive.  We  played  with  another  husband and wife. Very 
nice.  He was a native, and she was from Holland, but had lived on the 
island  for  34 years, since their marriage. I would have been just as 
happy  taking  pictures.  The  views and scenery were/ are incredible. 
Hope  my  pictures  in  the throw-away camera come out OK. There was a 
cash  cocktail  party  afterwards.  (b4  the  event  you  got one free 
Heinekin,  powerade,  or  Coke)  Hor  d'oeurves (sp?) were pretty good 
too.  there  were  some prizes. One of our partners won the closest to 
the  pin...  and  gave us the prize of a poster. Riita, his wife, said 
they  already  had four or five of them! We really weren't that hungry 
afterward, so never went out to eat. 

We've  never  had  a  last night when we haven't gone out to dinner!!! 
Lost a bit more at Alhambra and gave up. 

Oh  well....  ABC  seemed  fine. I don't like the new drink mixes they 
are  using  at the pool bar (they have to b/c of ice machine rental... 
imagine...  pina coladas out of a quart container...) and for those of 
you  who  say  the  road  in front of LaCabana isn't busy... our taxis 
always  used  it  to go to the high-rises, and many days it was bumper 
to  bumper  traffic  all  along  there.  Traffic  in  town was another 
story!!  The  Phoenix  doesn't  look like much has happened in a year. 
Carib.  Palm  Vil.  had signs about selling the next phase. There is a 
new  McD's  down  near  Houlihan's (my all time fav. place). I'm about 
out  of  things  I can remember. Feel free to write and ask questions. 
Oh,  as  I told Sandy in another post... Sandra's was closed and being 
"refurbished".  the  old Steamboat has been repainted and something is 
supposedly  going  to  open. One taxi driver told us that the owner of 
the  Steamboat going bankrupt was a joke b/c it is the person who owns 
DePalm...  and  no  way are they bankrupt. He was very upset that they 
had  been  allowed to get away form their taxes and debts. Speaking of 
which...  looking  at  brochures...  is  there anything DePalm doesn't 
own??? Oh, well... enough for now! It was a wonderful week!! 

ARUBA BY ROSALYN PIER

This  was  our second trip to Aruba. We also visited in April 1996. We 
left  from  Newark  on  American  Airlines.  We took American Airlines 
because  last  year  we were delayed for 4 or 5 hours leaving Aruba on 
Air  Aruba,  and  because of a concern of the solvency and the overall 
condition  of  Air Aruba, what with frequent delays, planes inoperable 
and  financial problems. Our flight out of Newark on American Airlines 
was  delayed  by  about 2 hours which caused us to miss our connection 
in  San  Juan. (In order for American Airlines to be price competitive 
with  Air  Aruba,  we  had  to  use  discounted  coupons and be routed 
through  San Juan.)We had about a 7 hour layover in San Juan--American 
gave  us  each  a  meal  coupon  for  use in the airport (Cafe Caribe) 
$11.00.  We  decided  to go into San Juan to the beautiful El San Juan 
Hotel.  We  relaxed  in  the  lobby,  had a drink at the bar, made our 
deposit  at  the  casino,  and  had  a great margarita and nachos in a 
Tequila  Grill  on  the  10th  floor of the ESJ hotel. Beautiful view. 
This  little  side  trip to San Juan reminded me that I do not want to 
return  on vacation. Back to the airport for dinner with the vouchers. 
Dinner  took  35  minutes,  and  then  was inedible. This was all that 
American  was  going to offer us, until, we were able to convince them 
to  upgrade  us to first class for the flight to Aruba. It was nice to 
see how the other half live. 

We  arrived  at  about  11 pm and went right to our hotel. The Holiday 
Inn  is  really  less  than  your  standard Holiday Inn, only soap and 
shampoo  are  provided  in  the  room  as  amenities, but the room was 
clean,  with  a  nice  balcony,  and we were upgraded to a room with a 
king  sized  bed.  For $80 (plus a $3 energy sur-charge) it is a great 
value,   but  very  basic.  Sadly  to  say,  the  HI  beach  was  very 
disappointing.  The sand was very coarse. Also for some strange reason 
there  was  a smell of gas along portions of the beach in front of the 
hotel. The pool at the HI is also ordinary. 

On  Thursday  morning  we  walked over to the Marriott looking for our 
favorite  breakfast  bar...it  now  opens  at  noon...maybe one of the 
disadvantages  of  going  off  season. Anyway they do have a very nice 
outdoor  restaurant  near  the  beach  and  we  had muffins, fruit and 
coffee ($15 for two). 

Back  to  the  beach,  and  onto El Gaucho for dinner. Dinner for two, 
Guacho  steak, pumpkin soup, conch, flan, Baileys coffee, 2 glasses of 
wine  came to $85. Excellent dinner. I did not find out when in August 
they would be closing. 

On   our   last   trip   in   April   1996  there  was  no  noticeable 
humidity...this  time  the  rooms, the furniture, clothing, even cash, 
seemed  to  be  damp  constantly.  But  it  was 83 degrees, breezy and 
mostly  sunny.  The  occasional clouds in the distance did not provide 
sun  cover,  but  you  did  not get a clear sunset. Also the last day, 
Tues., 7/29 was overcast, but not a drop of rain all week. 

On  Friday  7/25  we had burgers for lunch at the HI, the burgers were 
great,  (great  beef  all  around),  but  $30  for  a burger lunch was 
pricey.  Friday  night  we  had  the  Fajitas  and Ritas at the Hyatt. 
Included  in the price of $14.95 each, for all of the fajitas you care 
to  eat,  was  the  cloud covered sunset. Not bad. Great dinner, great 
service  overlooking the water. Played bingo in the afternoon, won $14 
and  a  free  lunch at the HI, that was probably my biggest win of the 
trip. 

On  Saturday  we  moved  to the Wyndam. We stayed there last year, and 
although  the sand does kick up on the beach, the room was better, the 
pool  is  great,  and  the  sand  was  a  little  bit  finer. Cost was 
competitive,  $87.50.  Saturday night we had dinner at Papiemento (sp) 
Food-10,   Ambiance-10,   Service-10.   We   had  no  trouble  getting 
reservations.  The  hotel  called and set it up for us with only a few 
hours  notice...the  same  was true for El Gaucho. We had French onion 
soup,  shrimp  bisque,  the  beef  mixed  grill  (lamb chop, beef, and 
chicken  cooked  on  a  stone)  and  the seafood mixed grill (snapper, 
lobster,  shrimp, cooked on a stone) 1 pina colada, 2 glasses of wine, 
flan  and  banacoca  for dessert. It was wonderful and pricey $120. On 
Monday  night  we  had  dinner  at Boonoonoonoos, the only repeat from 
last  year.  Pumpkin  soup,  oyster soup, Carne con Papas Dominique (a 
beef  dish with tomato sauce) and Keshi Jena (a chicken dish cooked in 
Gouda  cheese)  I  did  not  care for this dish, it was too heavy with 
Gouda.  Drinks  were  the  Caribbean Delight (with Bailey's Irish) and 
the  Boonoonoonoos  Special,  with rum and grenadine...again I did not 
care  for the drink. The flan was very good. The cost was about $85. I 
do like this restaurant and just felt that I ordered poorly. 

Overall,   our   first  trip  to  Aruba  was  our  best.  I  was  very 
disappointed  in the quality of the sand. I remembered, from our first 
trip  a fine, silky sand. The HI beach was horrible. The sand was very 
coarse  and  actually  hurt  my feet. The Wyndham was somewhat better, 
but  not  as  I remembered, and then there is the business of the sand 
kicking  up.  The  Radisson  and  Americana  don't  seem like anything 
special  and I think they were going for about $130. The Hyatt at $175 
and  the Marriott at $200, I think are certainly finer hotels, but big 
bucks.  The  Playa  Linda  also looked beautiful, and they had a silky 
beach, but the price was up there with the Hyatt and the Marriott. 

For  me  the  problems with the sand were a big deal. If I did go back 
to  Aruba,  I  would  probably  try  renting  a time share, if I could 
afford it. 

Oh--I  really  didn't consider the HI your standard HI, I think it was 
less  than  standard,  as  some of the HI s are quite nice and do have 
their  share  of  amenities.  The Wyndham has improved, other than the 
beach,  in  the  past year, as it has only just re-opened when we were 
there in April 96. 

The  trip  home  on  American  Airlines  took off 45 minutes late from 
Aruba.  When  we  got to San Juan the flight to Newark was overbooked, 
so  we offered to be bumped. After they decided that they did not need 
our  seats,  the  AA  guy  at  the gate offered us free headphones and 
drinks,  since  we  had  volunteered  for  bumping. When we got on the 
plane  the  in-flight  crew  was never informed....so no headphones or 
drinks...I  was  somewhat  miffed..the  crew  member  never  sent  the 
supervisor  back to see me, as I had requested twice. When we got home 
I  called  AA  to  tell  them of our experience. They have promised to 
send 2 vouchers for $100 each as an accommodation. 

The  people,  sun,  weather, breeze, and food all rate a 10. The beach 
and  the  traveling  were  a  bummer.  Maybe  I'll  try a short hop to 
Bermuda next time. 

BAHAMAS: GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND BY ROBERT KEENEY

Scuba with UNEXSO and snorkeling, too.

We  just  returned  from diving on Grand Bahama Island with Underwater 
Explorers  Society  (UNEXSO).  While  their  most  popular dive is the 
Dolphin  Dive  (advance  registration  a  must!), we were only able to 
partake  of  the popular "Theo's Wreck" (100fsw) and their Shark Dive. 
We also dived some medium deep reefs.

We have heard many rumors about UNEXSO, and found them unfounded.

They  do  NOT  require every diver do a pool-orientation before diving 
with  them.  If you have not dived for 6 months, and want to check out 
your buoyancy control, mask clearing and regulator recovery, the pool-
orientation   is   complimentary.   A   pool-orientation   is   always 
complimentary, never required.

While  they  would  prefer you do one open water dive with them before 
descending  100fsw  to  Theo's Wreck, if you have AOW certification or 
equivalent,  and  have dived recently, an instructor has the option of 
waiving this requirement.

While  a  large  number  of divers diving UNEXSO are the infrequent or 
newly-certified,  they  can  easily  accommodate  the more experienced 
diver  using  computer  on  deeper sites. And there are many sites for 
every  level  of  experience  and preference. There are also caves and 
caverns for the cavern/ cave-certified.

With  a  fleet  of  boats  and intelligent, sensitive staff, divers of 
similar skill levels can be placed on the same respective boats.

There  is  no  shortage  of  personnel  which also cross-train - shark 
feeders,  captains,  instructors,  DMs might be the same person during 
the  day  and  on  other days. This high level of expertise guarantees 
one of the safest, educational, fun diving we have ever enjoyed.

For    our    more    inclusive    trip    report,    check    out   - 
http://www.SoftScuba.com/grand_bahama_island.html

For   a   list  of  over  40  deep,  medium  and  shallow  sites  with 
descriptions,                check                out                - 
http://www.SoftScuba.com/go_grand_bahama_island.html

Enjoy Grand Bahama Island diving with UNEXSO,

Robert & Marilyn, Dive Travel Specialists, Focus On Travel/Soft Scuba

info@softscuba.com"Tips on Diving Better
 
:FocusNow@ix.netcom.com" 

BONAIRE AND CURACAO BY JONATHAN GAL-EDD

We  flew  to  Curacao with American Airlines ( no events to report) in 
Curacao  we  connected  with ALM ( Always luggage missing) to Bonaire. 
ALM  is  unorganized  and  people  board planes by who know who ( over 
booked  no announcements), we took the 3 PM flight our luggage arrived 
at  9:00PM.  In  Bonaire  we  stayed at Sunset beach and dove with the 
shop  there.  Diving  in Bonaire means freedom and each dive was about 
60  minutes long. We enjoyed Sunset hotel as it had a real sandy beach 
and  people seemed to hang out near the bar all day. They also provide 
free  breakfast  where  people  get together before the 9 Oclock boat 
dive.  The  big  question in Bonaire is to Boat dive or not Boat dive. 
We enjoyed boat dive because: 

1. It is only a one tank with short boat rides (10 minutes), 

2. The shore dives requires some swimming or fighting waves.

3.  You  meet other divers on the boat. The reef in Bonaire is healthy 
and  very pretty ( Pristine..). We saw many spotted Eel, scorpion fish 
,  groupers,  tarpons  and  the typical tropical fish. In each dive we 
also  saw  one  special creature: Big Moray Eel ( in tug boat in front 
of  Sunset  beach), two squid ( Karpatra), Frog fish ( Klien Bonaire), 
Sea  Horse  (  Clif),  turtle  ( Sunset beach). The only disappointing 
dive  (  out  of  16  dives in 4 days) was a night dive under the town 
pier. 

My  recommended diving schedule for Bonaire is: Boat morning dive, One 
tough  shore  dive ( 1000 steps, Karpatra, Alice in wonder land, Hilma 
Huker),  One easy shore dive in front of hotels ( Sunset, Sand dollar, 
Habitat  etc..).  Night  dive  in front of hotels. 4 days of diving in 
Bonaire was enough, as things seems to repeat themselves. 

Curacao 

We  took  the  early flight (7:30 AM to Curacao), by 9:00 we were on a 
dive  boat.  We  stayed  at  Holiday  beach  and  dove with Eden Rock. 
Curacao  diving  is a two tank boat ( excellent fast boat ), the water 
is  rough  and  the  coral  is  similar  to  Bonaire. ( In a nut shell 
Bonaire  is  better  for  diving). We did however enjoy Curacaos down 
town  area  with  the  charming buildings and the floating bridge. The 
food  and  Shopping  in Curacao is better, and at night we went to the 
casino. 

In  summary  we enjoyed visiting both islands, a week in either one is 
a little long, but a week for both is great. 

BVI BY GINNY NOYES

We  flew  down  on  7/3  so  we  could  sail  down to St. John for the 
fireworks  on  the  4th.  Cruz  Bay  was  a  madhouse with the parade, 
carnival,  etc.  But,  after customs we went over to St. James Is. and 
anchored  with two other boats of friends for the night. The fireworks 
were  better  than  last  year! It was a great evening and good to see 
friends again. 

Saturday  we  headed for JVD, cleared customs there and picked up some 
other  friends for the day. Two of our group had their hair braided by 
Lorna  at  Christine's Bakery. She is very good. Over to White Bay for 
snorkeling  and  lunch  at  the  Soggy  Dollar.  Thanks to a fellow bb 
member  for  the painkillers left there for us. Back to Gt. Harbor for 
the  night and lobster dinner at Rudy's was excellent. Then dancing in 
the sand at Foxy's. Just another perfect day in paradise. 

However,  about  midnight  we  were  awakened  when  a  large boat was 
drifting  toward our bows. The kids sleeping up top yelled when it was 
10  feet away. They tried to tell us we were loose. We told them boats 
don't  drift  against  wind  or current! Get their engines on and MOVE 
THEIR BOAT. 

Next  morning  we  went over to visit another boat of friends and they 
had  the  same experience but that boat hit them. Heard another of the 
same  from  someone  there a few nights later. Best advise, check your 
anchor. And check the guy in front of you. 

Sunday  we  stopped at Sandy Cay, met up with another boat of friends. 
Over  to  Cane Garden Bay for the afternoon. Two of our group did some 
windsurfing.  Off  to  Club  Paradise  bar for sunset cocktails (happy 
hour  $2) on the beach. Fell asleep on the nets out frong listening to 
Quito Rymer singing. Great night. 

Monday  we  snorkeled in Brewer's Bay. We always see squid there. Sure 
enough,  they  were there again. Then we motored up hill to Marina Cay 
for  a  quick  stop.  Anchored in Cam Bay for the night. Pretty tricky 
place  unless  you  have  shallow  draft.  This is one of our favorite 
places  for  night  time snorkel. It was good but not great. There had 
been  a  lot of damage to the coral there because it is so shallow. We 
did see a lot of juvenile fish varieties there. 

Tuesday  we  met  a  fellow  *P bb member at Marina Cay and had a nice 
visit.  (Show  me  your  boat,  I'll  show you mine) Great to meet you 
Gene.  Then we picked up another boat of friends and sailed to Anegada 
together.  Great  fun.  As  always  we  walked down the beach to Pam's 
Kitchen  for  brownies  and coconut ice cream after lunch. Then it was 
over  to Loblolly Bay for great snorkeling. Had another lobster dinner 
at  Big  Bamboo. It was good but not the best we've had. That night we 
had  a  terrific  blow  in  the  middle  of  the  night. We got up and 
scrambled  to  get  things off the lines. Bill lost a bathing suit. No 
other  casualities  on the boat. However, two other boats broke anchor 
and  went  drifting  by  several other boats. One ended up on the mud. 
Winds  were probably up to 45K. We have never seen so many loose boats 
in anchorages. 

The  next  morning  we  had coffee while watching everyone pitch in to 
get  the  monohull off the mud. That was a good hour of entertainment. 
But it is nice to see how fellow sailors do come to your aid. 

Wednesday  we  had  another  great  sail  from Anegada to North Sound, 
Virgin  Gorda.  We stopped at Leverick Bay. Some went ashore for great 
hot  showers,  as  long  as  they  wanted  to.  We  went to the BBQ at 
Pusser's.  Food  was  good  and  plentiful.  They had a live band. Fun 
evening. 

Thursday  morning  we  picked up tanks and did a dive at Mt. Point. It 
was  a  good dive, not too deep, lots of fish. We headed for Guana Is. 
for  the  night.  Great BBQ dinner on the boat. Great snorkeling. More 
squid, 2 small nurse sharks. 

Friday  we  made  our way to the Baths. We arrived about lunch time so 
the  crowds  were  not  bad.  We  swam in and walked to the top of the 
baths  and  over  to  Mad Dog for lunch. They have good shrimp or tuna 
salad  sandwiches,  hot dogs, and the best pina colada I have ever had 
and  I  don't like coconut. The views are out of this world. This is a 
Must see. 

That  night  we anchored in Savannah Bay. Usually this is a very quiet 
place  but  there  was  a flotilla of 15 boats there. We anchored away 
from  them  a  bit  and had a great evening highlighted by a wonderful 
dinner  at  Georgio's  Table.  This  is  another must. This is a great 
place  to go ashore and walk on the beach. Great sunsets too. Saturday 
we  sailed  down  to  Cooper  Island,  picked up tanks and did another 
great  dive  at  the  Rhone.  We  never  tire  of this dive. Again, we 
arrived  about noon, no many boats there as the morning group left and 
the  afternoon  group  had  not  arrived.  With  the  mid-day sun well 
overhead  the  visibility  was  excellent. We spent more time over the 
mid  section  this  time  and  really  enjoyed it. Then it was back to 
Cooper  to  drop  off  tanks  and  a short sail down to Deadman's Bay, 
Peter  Island.  This  is  our favorite last night anchorage and it met 
out  expectations  again.  The  water  was very calm, like a lake. The 
lights  on  the  island  were  lit,  the lights of Road Town reflected 
across  the  channel.  It  was  great.  We met another boat of friends 
there  and  spent  the evening visiting under the stars. We always see 
turtles  here. Although the resort is closed this is still a beautiful 
place to be. It reminds you that the BVI's are paradise. 

Sunday  morning  we  went over to Dead Chest for some good snorkeling. 
We  did some video filming of our boat and the other one we were with. 
We  had  a  friend aboard who works for Disney and he thought it would 
be fun to film the trip. 

Later  we  sadly headed back to the base. No matter how long our trips 
are it is never long enough. 

Our  base  is  in  Fat  Hog's  Bay  and the highlight here was finding 
Penn's  Landing  Restaurant.  This  place needs to be tried. They have 
several  choices of fresh fish and 4 choices of sauces for them so you 
can  create  your  own  entree. The seafood chowder is to die for. The 
chef  is  one  of  the best in the islands. They have excellent steaks 
too. 

Well,  it  was  another perfect trip. After many trips over the last 4 
years  we  still  find  the  BVI's  to  have much to offer us. We have 
enjoyed   making   so   many   friends   there  and  love  meeting  bb 
"acquaintances" from time to time. 

As always, we started planning our next trip on the plane home. 

I  would like to hear from the two others I saw on the board that said 
they  just  returned  from  sailing trips too. Hopefully you will post 
your favorite places too. 

BVI: FT. RECOVERY COMMENTS BY BILL EDGEWORTH

(Note: For more info and pictures view our sponsor's Fort Recovery webpages.)

We  said  Goodbye  to our daughter, her husband and our 2 grandsons at 
Bitter  End  as  they had to take a different ferry and struck out for 
Tortola.  The  storm  clouds were gathering over the island all during 
our 40 minute ride from Virgin Gorda. 

We  arrived,  got  a  cab  to  Avis,  and  picked  up our car. When we 
explained  to the cab driver where we wanted to go, I asked the amount 
of  the  fare, which I have found is always a good idea. He said $2.00 
a  person  so  of  course I knew we were close. Did he cop an attitude 
upon  finding  he  had  a  small  fare  as many do here in the States? 
Absolutely  not!  He helped with our luggage and provided some helpful 
hints  along the way in addition to pointing out notable buildings. He 
was a joy and we took good care of him. 

So  now  we head out towards west end to Ft Recovery wondering what to 
expect  after  receiving  a number of conflicting reports prior to our 
departure.  We have been to Tortola before and on our last trip stayed 
at  the  Sugar Mill. During our exploration of the island on that trip 
we  found  that  all  the  good  beaches were on the north side of the 
island  but we never found a "resort" that we said to ourselves-"let's 
try  this  place  the  next  time". We decided on Ft Recovery based on 
comments  and  from  their  advertising and also personal contact with 
Pamelah--the Manager of the resort-via Fax and Email.

The  features  that led to our decision include-air conditioning, full 
kitchen,  great  views,  recently  renovated  units,  availability  of 
dinners   served  in  your  villa,  free  continental  breakfast  each 
morning,  free  dinner and 1/2 day snorkel outing with a week stay. So 
we  booked  knowing it was not a beach resort. It is on the water-yes. 
There   is  a  small  beach-yes-man  made,  I  am  told-but  a  beach, 
nonetheless.  If  you  would  book  here  and  be  looking for a great 
swimming  beach  and  just  plan  to  stay around the resort-you would 
probably  be  disappointed.  However,  if  your vacation plans include 
renting  a  car  and  exploring  the  island-which if you are going to 
Tortola  is  what  one  should be doing-in our opinion-this is a great 
place  to  stay.  We loved it. Pamelah was a great hostess in spite of 
problems  with  the cable TV, Electricity, Water, and her computer-all 
weather related. 

Sat-the  day  we  arrived-was a bad weather day from about 3 PM on and 
Sunday  was  worse  with an all day downpour except for an hour in the 
morning  when  it  looked like it might clear up. Our villa was on the 
second  floor  and  it included a small deck with a 2 seat Glider with 
cushions,  a  living  room  with  sofa,  and  a table and 2 chairs for 
dining,  a  small but complete kitchen, a large bedroom with King Size 
Bed,  and  a  very nice bathroom with shower, and spacious vanity. The 
view  from  the  porch  and  living room was beautiful-St. John looked 
almost  close  enough  to swim to-it wasn't, of course. The winds were 
plentiful  the  week  we  were  there  and  the  way  the apartment is 
designed  you  get great flow through ventilation. We only used the AC 
2  nights  out of 7. There is daily maid service and nice beach towels 
are  provided. A week stay gets you a bonus of dinner in your room one 
night and a half day snorkel trip. 

Since  we  arrived  late  in  the afternoon and the weather was not so 
good  and  we  were  not  really  familiar  with the area yet, Pamelah 
suggested  we  might  want  to  have  our  dinner  served that eve. We 
thought  that  was  a  great  idea  and I ordered a blackened NY Strip 
Steak  med  rare  and Marie ordered a chicken dish. I gotta tell you I 
have  had  some fine NY Strips over the years but I have never had one 
better  than  the one I had that night!! Marie's chicken dish was also 
very  good.  Turns  out  the  owners  son,  Brian,  who used to have a 
restaurant  in  upstate  NY  is  the  chef.  We elected to "dine in" a 
second  night  and  shared  a  steak  dinner  this time at $25.00 plus 
gratuity  and  I have to give the service very high marks based on our 
experience!! 

Brian  also turned out to be the Captain of the Resort boat and took a 
dozen  of  us  on our snorkel trip and it was a great trip! We went to 
the  Caves  on  Norman  Island  and snorkeled for at least an hour and 
then  pulled  along  side the "William Thornton"-a floating restaurant 
anchored  off  the island sort of in the middle of nowhere and boarded 
for  lunch.  That  was  a  fun time, for sure. Then we were off to the 
Indians  for  more  leisurely  snorkeling and finally an enjoyable, if 
bumpy,  ride  home. All in all, everyone agreed it was a great day and 
a nice touch for guests who sign on for a week. 

The  daily  rate  at  the resort also includes a continental breakfast 
each  morning  from  7AM-11AM.  Each room has a tray which you take to 
the  office  area  and  get  your  coffee, juice and home made muffins 
and/or  banana,  or  nut  bread. We are not big breakfast people so it 
was  great  for us. There is a USA Direct AT&T phone on premises which 
is  a  big  plus  and also a phone for local calls which cost 25 cents 
for  3  minutes.  There  are  plenty of books and Pamelah will provide 
info  on  local  restaurants  etc.  We  found  her  very  helpful  and 
courteous. 

If  I had to look for areas that need to improve-and I just love to do 
that-Ft  Recovery  gave  me more problems than most. I would suggest a 
better  variety of breakfast muffins and breads-they start getting old 
after  a  week-the pool water may be OK-I am not an authority on that-
but  it didn't look OK and we never ventured in. The water had a funky 
greenish  caste  to it and compared to the water we had in the pool at 
Bitter end, its appearance left a lot to be desired. 

Finally,  while  the  resort  is  small  and  there  are  not a lot of 
employees,  the ones that were there always had a ready smile and were 
friendly-except  one. The girl who served our meals just broke a smile 
once  during our visit-something Marie said did the trick, but for the 
most  part  she  just  looked like she had a problem most of the time. 
Someone should have a little talk with her. 

If  you  are  looking for a base of operations and prefer to stay in a 
little  out  of the way, quiet, and peaceful setting, with no noise or 
music  from a night club or restaurant and no crowds-I would recommend 
the resort and we would go back again. 

GRAND CAYMAN BILL HARRISON

Just  got  back from 8 days in Grand Cayman. My wife and two kids ages 
4  and  1 had a great time. Since my wife and I don't dive, we felt we 
missed  out on one of the main attractions of the Caymans which is the 
diving.  We  are planning to take the diving courses we need before we 
return  and  hopefully  we  can  explore  the undersea world off Grand 
Cayman during our next trip. 

We  arrived on July 30, rented our car from Andy's at the airport, and 
stayed  on 7 mile beach at the Holiday Inn for the first 2 nights. The 
hotel  was  fine  as we had a beachfront room and got to hear Barefoot 
from  our  balcony. By the way, a trip to Grand Cayman is not complete 
without  seeing  Barefoot. Breakfast both mornings was at the hotel as 
they  have  a $8 breakfast buffet, which is a good deal and during the 
summer  months  kids staying at the hotel eat free. As has been posted 
here  before,  GC  can get quite expensive when it comes to eating out 
and just about everything else for that matter. <G> 

The  next  day  we  had  nothing  to  do,  and  all  day to do it. The 
following  day  was  a  little  more  active  as we checked out of the 
Holiday  Inn  and  drove up to the Turtle Farm. If you have kids, this 
is  a  nice  trip  for  them  and even grownups will enjoy the farm as 
well.  Lunch  was at the Cracked Conch which is right next door to the 
Turtle Farm and then it was on to Hell to mail our postcards. 

Morritt's  Tortuga  Club  was  our home for the balance of our stay on 
the  island. The drive to Morritt's took us over an hour as we stopped 
at  the  blow  holes  and  Stingray brewery on our way there. The blow 
holes  were an interesting sight. This is one of the few places on the 
island  that  waves  actually crash onto the shore. Most of the island 
seems  protected by a reef and thus waves are almost nonexistent close 
to shore. 

Now,  a few words about Morritt's. This is a fantastic resort, but the 
only  drawback;  it's at the other end of the island. There is NOTHING 
else  around.  This was fine for us, but if you were looking for night 
life  or any life for that matter outside the resort, this was not the 
place  to be. Don't get me wrong, the resort itself has plenty to keep 
you  busy.  There are watersport rentals, and the Tortuga Dive shop is 
located  on  the  property.  The  Monday  BBQ  was  a  big hit and the 
Wednesday  night  Mudslide  party  was  well attended, but outside the 
resort  property,  you  will find very little else to do. That weekend 
we  lounged  around  and  did some snorkeling right off the beach near 
the  dock.  There  were  some  very  colorful fish swimming around. At 
night, from the dock, we fed the tarpon that gather around. 

On  Monday it was off to Rum Point. This is nice beachfront property I 
believe  operated  by  the  Hyatt  which  runs a ferry boat from their 
hotel  on  7  mile  beach. It is open to the public and has watersport 
rentals,  a  swimming  area,  hammocks  and beach chairs for anyone to 
use,  a restaurant, a beachside bar for refreshments, and a snack shed 
for  lunch  and  munchies.  We  enjoyed  spending a day here and would 
recommend it for a day outing. 

On  Tuesday  we  took a snorkel trip to Stingray City. We brought both 
our  kids  and  everyone  loved  it.  You take a boat out to where the 
stingrays  are.  You  are  then  docked off a sand bar a few miles off 
shore  where the water is only about 4 or 5 feet deep. You can snorkel 
or  just  swim  around and the stingrays will swim right up to you and 
let  you  pet them or feed them. Bring a waterproof camera with you to 
take some pictures. 

The  weather  during  our trip was terrific if you don't mind temps in 
the  low  90's  during  the day and low 80's during the evening. A few 
thunderstorms  at  night but otherwise no rain to speak of. And if you 
ever  got  too  hot,  a  Tortuga  rum  punch made things seem a little 
cooler.  <G> Before I forget, thanks to "Cayman Dave" for his help and 
tips. 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CARIBBEAN VILLAGE AT PLAYA GRANDE BY PHIL KELLEY

My  wife  and  I,  and  our  two daughters, ages 11 and 14 went to the 
Caribbean  Village  on June 21 and returned on June 28th, with 2 other 
adults and their 3 boys ages 6,12 and 13. It was a wonderful trip.



The  Caribbean  Village  is  a  300 room resort located about an hours 
drive  south of Puerto Plata, Dom.Rep., the town into which we flew on 
a   direct   flight  from  Atlanta.  It  is  an  all-inclusive  resort 
frequented  mostly  by German and English citizens on 2 week holidays. 
Americans  are just now discovering the resort and this lovely area of 
the island.



At  check-in  we  were  met  with  an  island drink and very efficient 
personnel.  Our  room was neat, clean and larger that what we had been 
used  to  in  Cozumel, Jamaica and the Caymens. Two queen beds were in 
our  room  with  a color TV, (it received about 10 channels, all but 3 
of  which  were  in  English). Each room had a balcony overlooking the 
ocean, a golf course (not yet open) or a garden.



Pool and Beach. 

The  pool  was  very  large  and  accommodated  everyone fairly easily 
except  when  one  end  was taken up with group water polo. There is a 
small  island  with a walk-across in the middle of the pool, primarily 
for  decoration.  The  pool  was  always  clean  and  there were ample 
lounges  around  it.  Because  many  of  the Europeans are there for 2 
weeks,  they  learn the ropes rather quickly and will sometimes obtain 
the  "better" locations early in the morning with towels, but that was 
really  not  a problem for us. When you check in, each person is given 
a  towel  card  which  is  exchanged for a towel each day and returned 
when  the  pool  towel  is.  The  pool is surrounded on 3 sides by the 
resorts  lodging  and  on  the  other is a golf course presently under 
construction.  (Almost  complete,  it is scheduled to open in November 
and  has  11  holes  on  the cliffs next to the ocean, very similar to 
Pebble Beach.) 

The  beach  is about a 300 yard walk from the resort down a path, then 
a  set of stairs going down a cliff side. The beach itself is about 75 
yards  wide, maybe a mile long, and at its edge opposite the ocean, is 
lined  with  shade  trees where the lounges are located. Lots of shade 
under  the  trees,  lots  of  sun on the beach. There are also outside 
showers to wash off the sand and salt, and clean one-whole johnnies.



Food. 

There  are  2 grills, a buffet, 2 restaurants and 2 additional bars on 
the  resort. The main eating is at the buffet, which is open from 7am-
10am,  12  noon-3pm  and 6:30pm until 10pm. It is very large with lots 
of  all  types  of  food, beef, pork, chick, fish and veggies. Lots of 
good  sweets  and all you care to eat. The pool grill serves up pizza, 
burgers,  dogs and fries. Opposite the pool grill is the pool bar with 
mixed  drinks. It opens about 10am and closes about 1130pm. There is a 
soft  drink  dispenser  available  for  your own use. The grill at the 
beach  serves  the  same  along with mixed drinks, and also has a soft 
drink  dispenser  for  everyone  to use as needed. It opens about 11am 
and  closes  at  5  pm.  The other bar opens about 8 pm and is located 
away  from  the  pool and beach, next to the tennis courts. It is very 
quiet  and  secluded  and  is  not  visited  by  very  many people. An 
excellent  place  to  go  with  your wife for a quiet drink and a good 
cigar! 

Two  restaurants  on premises, one Italian and one Brazilian. When you 
check  in,  you  will receive a card to use for each. You must sign up 
to  eat there on the same day you wish to use the restaurant. We found 
that  the  sign  ups  were  usually full by 8:15 am so get down to the 
buffet  early  to  sign  up for either the 6:30 or 8:30pm dinners. Men 
MUST  wear  long  pants. This is included in the all-inclusive, unless 
you  order  a  bottle of wine which goes on your room bill (they serve 
house  wines as part of the all-inclusives). The food is excellent. My 
wife  loved the Italian, while I got warmed up with the Brazilian. The 
wait staff were superb.


Entertainment. 

This  is  a European style resort, so the men are somewhat entertained 
by  the  topless  swimsuits (perhaps Mermaids) of the Germans, English 
and  a  few  American  women  who choose a more covering suntan. To my 
surprise,  after  the  first  day,  my daughters and their cousins got 
over  it  and  paid  no  further  attention to this unusual (for them) 
circumstance. Fortunately, I did not. 

At  the pool, the staff have activities all day from learning Spanish, 
to  water  aerobics,  to  samba  lessons, to pool volleyball. A resort 
scuba  course  is  offered  for  free,  but  an  actual  dive  must be 
purchased.  At  night,  the  staff  puts on shows such as Cats, Grease 
etc.,  which they choreographed but pantomime to the music. It's a lot 
of  fun and they do a very good job considering they have been working 
all  day.  Our  children  loved  the  shows and watched all of each of 
them.  Sometimes  I lasted and sometimes not, it was simply a function 
of whether the rum in my drink was 151 or 80 proof. 

At  11pm  the  disco opens, with its own bar and gyrates until about 1 
or  2  am  (I  don't  know which because I was already in bed dreaming 
about mermaids for some reason hey, hey †). 

There  is  a children's program for 6 to 12 year olds, but none of our 
children   participated.  On  the  beach  there  is  sunfish  sailing, 
sailboards,  bogey  boards, snorkeling, water skiing and banana riding 
(big  yellow  tube  full  of air and shaped like a banana on which you 
sit while being pulled by a boat).

Entertainment off premises. 

We  scuba  dived several times with a PADI dive center in Rio San Juan 
(10  minutes from the hotel). Probably we made a mistake in not diving 
with  the  hotel  staff because of the convenience of no taxi ride and 
the  staff  was  available to you at the pool as well as while diving. 
They  have everything you need if you prefer not to take any equipment 
and  it  does  not cost you anything to use their equipment. It is $50 
for  a one tank dive at the hotel and $40 at Gri-Gri Divers in Rio San 
Juan,  but then it costs about $10US to go to Rio San Juan even though 
it is so close. 

What  our  group  really loved, and the kids voted the most fun on the 
whole  trip,  was  our  4 Wheeler tour. Campo Tours, across the street 
and  about  1km  from the hotel, they will pick you up and take you to 
their  premises.  The  rent of a 4 wheeler is $85US, but that is for 2 
people  and  includes  lunch  and your drinks. Our tour lasted about 5 
hours,  and  we  went  off  road  up  into  the beautiful, palm filled 
mountains,  and  into  small  villages  dotting  the land side. It was 
truly  a  magnificent view, however the poverty seen on the trip was a 
real  eye  opener  for  all of us. It is a poor country, obviously 3rd 
world,  but  the people were always friendly. A German names Hans Merk 
is   the  proprietor,  speaks  very  good  English,  is  helpful  with 
suggestions  and runs a nice business. I highly recommend this as part 
of your vacation. 



Dress. 

Very  casual, like swimsuits and t-shirts in the grills and buffet. At 
night,  in  the  buffet  it  was usually shorts (not swimsuits) but t-
shirts ok. In the restaurants, the men must wear long pants. 



Two caveats. 

When  you  check  in, go ahead and pay the aprox., $15US for your room 
lock  box  rental (no reason to keep you money and passport with you). 
When  you  arrive  at  the  airport,  throngs  will herd toward you to 
<help>  with your luggage. Give a firm NO, and hang on to it until you 
know  you  are  delivering it to you group tours agents. Otherwise you 
will  be  paying  tips  all  day  to men who disappear after receiving 
them.



As you can tell, my family had a very excellent vacation.