Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 111
January 1, 2001

Last Update 2 Jan 2001

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1/ PRESS RELEASES FOR JANUARY 2001

ST. MARTIN BOAT CHARTERS

I  have  found  your  website  on which my service is mentioned (Boat 
Charters)  referred  to as a late night taxi service from Anguilla to 
St  Martin.  Please  could  you update the information in your latest 
news.  

We now  have three cigarette  boats servicing St.Martin, Anguilla and
St.Barts.

Thanks

Eric Drai

ANGUILLA
Day  trip  :  setting off from the Marina Royale at 9:30. You will be 
drop in 5
idyllic  spots  including  tiny  offshore  islands  with  their silky 
beaches  where  you can swim and snorkel. Safe shallow bathing and no 
crowds!  Lunch  at  Shoal  Bay  or Scilly Cay. Returning Saint-Martin 
(Marina Royale) at 5:30 or ( Simpson Bay)

SAINT-BARTHELEMY
Day  trip  :  setting  off from the Marina Royale at 9:30 via Fourche 
Island
into  Colombier  where  only accessible by boat and to the Baie de St 
Jean  for  swimming.  Lunch  at  the  port of Gustavia. Returning St-
Martin (Marina Royale) at 5:30. 

NIGHT TRIP IN ANGUILLA
Enjoy  a night trip! (only on Saturdays). Setting off at 7:30 pm from 
the
Marina  Royale  to  the  port of Road Bay in Anguilla where dinner is 
served   at   the   Saint-Clair   restaurant.  Experience  Anguilla's 
nightlife. Returning St-Martin (Marina Royale) at midnight.

FARES
$ 120 per person, $ 20 deposit per person / $ 70 for the night trip
 The fares include fuel, skipper, drinks, and snorkeling equipment.
Passengers capacity : maximum 12 / minimum 8
Passport required, $2 tax per person
Lunch is not included $15 Shoal Bay and $ 25 Scilly Cay ( Lobster)
We accept credit card

Website: www.offshoresensations.com
E-mail: zippity@anguillanet.com
Phone: Anguilla: 264 497 7038, 264 235 7038
       St.Martin: 0690 65 53 63, 0690 65 16 16.




2/ JOURNEYS FOR JANUARY 2001

THREE ISLANDS: PUERTO RICO, SAINT MARTIN AND ST. BARTHS BY HENRY RINDER

Our report covers hotels, beaches, restaurants and nightlife.

On  the  way to SXM we had a stop over in PR. We figured why not stop 
here  for  a  few days and check it out. We made arrangements to stay 
at  Caribe  Hilton  right  in San Juan about fifteen minutes from the 
airport.  Great  place  with convenient location. Unfortunately there 
was   construction  work  going  on  in  the  Lobby,  which  made  it 
unbearable  to  stay there during the day. Otherwise the facility and 
service were superb.

In  San  Juan,  Puerto  Rico  we ate at very a charming bistro called 
Ajili  Mojily,  a bit loud but very chick with fantastic local Puerto 
Rican  cuisine and attentive service; a dinner for two, appetizer and 
main  course  with drinks was $52.00. The following night we spent at 
the  Parrot  Club  in  Old  San Juan, which we enjoyed even more than 
Ajili  Mojily.  The  food,  décor,  service  and price were great. We 
highly  recommend this place. For nightly entertainment, we walked up 
to  La  Rhumba  in  old  San  Juan,  where  we saw a local Salsa band 
perform  live.  If you are concerned about your safety late at night, 
just have the bartender or waiter call for a taxi.

Let's talk Saint Martin:

We  stayed  at Cap Caraibe Resort, small, brand new, three star hotel 
located  at  center  of  Orient  Bay,  right  next to L'Hoste and St. 
Tropez.  We  had  a  good deal, $170 a night; pay for five nights get 
two  free.  Its  location  next to the Orient beach was fantastic. We 
were  right  behind Waikiki and La Playa. As part of the deal, we got 
free  chairs  at  LaPlaya  and  50%  off with Waikiki. We paid at the 
hotel  in  $  because our travel agent booked us in dollars. However, 
you  can  get a better deal if you book in French Francs (FF) and pay 
on  your  Visa  or Master Card. Delphine is a resident manager at Cap 
Caraibes.  She  is  as  sweet  as pie and simply cannot do enough for 
you.

A  word  of  warning  about  these three hotels. There is substantial 
construction  going on behind the hotels. If you are disturbed by it, 
go elsewhere.

We  rented a small Korean car from Hertz for $132 a week. The car was 
new and performed well. It was surprisingly roomy inside.

I  read  about  the crime being on the rise in Saint Martin. However, 
the  official  governmental reports talk about higher police presence 
on  the  French  side.  We  noticed  strong  police presence in Grand 
Casse.  We  saw  practically  no  police  in Marigot. We did see more 
individuals  walking around under influence in early evening hours in 
Marigot  around the port area and the Marina but they did not seem to 
bother anyone.

Orient  beach was busy with nudists, mostly American, by Orient Club, 
and  others  "spread"  elsewhere on the beach. Lot's of topless women 
everywhere.  If that is something you want to try, this is definitely 
a  friendly  beach  for  clothing optional. However, nudity is always 
welcomed  at Club Orient facilities including the restaurant, but not 
necessarily  elsewhere.  In fact, I saw a nudist being asked to leave 
Waikiki  by  the host. The Bikini area attracted younger crowd and on 
some  days,  live music was played at the bar. We spent afternoons at 
Pedro's  eating,  drinking,  dancing, and never spent more than $20 a 
day.  We tried water sports, jet skis went for $40 a half an hour and 
16 foot Catamaran was $40 a half an hour.

We  also  went on the Ferry from Cul de Sac to Pitel Island and had a 
lobster  lunch,  which  was excellent. We paid $43 for a nice lobster 
and  it  was  truly  fresh  and  delicious.  Great  place, good food, 
attentive  service,  a  must  do  for those of you who have not tried 
this  place  before.  The beach was very attractive with a calm side, 
no  waves  no wind, and a windy side both connecting to a long, sandy 
tip. 

We  took  a trip to St. Barths on Voyager from Marigot. We paid for a 
daily  tour  and lunch, a total of 1,200FF ($160) for two people. The 
experience  was well worth the time and money. Firstly, we got around 
the  island tour of St. Martin. Secondly, for non-cruising types this 
was  a real open sea experience. Thirdly St. Baths is clean, safe and 
beautiful,  we  are  eager to go back. Despite its jet-set reputation 
the prices for food and clothing were fair and reasonable.

Now  let's  the  story be told on restaurants and nightlife. The best 
experience  was  at  Bistrot  Caraibes, best food, best presentation, 
and  nice  décor.  However, it is located on the main, noisy track in 
Grand  Casse. We split an appetizer and a main course, and had drinks 
and  coffee, all for $50. Service was good for most part and could be 
improved just a notch. 

We  ate  at Mario's Bistro at Sandy Ground and we were treated to one 
good  dish  and  another  mediocre dish. Mario should be told to stay 
away  from  soy  sauce  and  oriental  flavors  and  to  stick to the 
traditional  French  Canadian  cuisine. The dinner at Mario's cost us 
about  $100  with  dessert,  drinks  and  coffee.  Superb service and 
fantastic  fish  show  in  the  river lit on the side of the building 
(insist on riverfront seating) completed the dining experience. 

We  tried  Capt. Olivier at Oyster Pond for nightlife and food and we 
were  pleasantly  surprised.  Saturday night they had an all-you-can-
eat  buffet  that  was  far better than the Mini Club spread we tried 
last  year.  A  two-man band played Calypso on Friday and a Dominican 
band played Meringue and Salsa on Saturday. We had a ball both days.

We  ate  at  L'Taito  at  Cul de Sac and had a very nice dinner for a 
very  reasonable price ($61 for two). The meals were simple and good. 


We  tried  Café  Piccolo at Cul de Sac and our experience will send a 
shock  wave  throughout  the  hardcore "SXM nation", but we hated the 
food.  Other the cheep price there was nothing redeemable about it. I 
guess  we  are  simply  too  spoiled  to  accept mediocrity in French 
Cooking.  The  presentation  and service were OK but these people had 
no  idea  about  flavering  and  spices. This restaurant now joins La 
Cottonier  and  La  Diva  on the "to be avoided at all cost" list. We 
will not go back.

We  also  tried Thai Garden. Food and service were good, even thou we 
are  used  to  more aggressive use of hot spices in Thai cooking. The 
dishes were mild. Our cost for two was $45.00.

Here  is another word of warning. Most French restaurants bill you on 
the  net basis, which means the service charge of 15% is built in the 
price  of  the  meal.  Do  yourself a favor and check with management 
beforehand  regarding  this  policy.  Don't expect the waiter to tell 
you  the truth. Also, check the exchange rate used by the restaurant. 
Some  exchange  $1  to  7FF,  which  is excessively low. You are then 
better off charging in FF.

ARUBA: RADISSON BY HARRY RICHARDSON

Trip 12/00

In  order to avoid an extremely early limo pick-up we decided to stay 
the  night  before  our  departure  at The Carlton House at JFK. This 
worked  out  well  for  us and we would stay there again. We flew TWA 
with  a  connection  in San Juan, with both flights uneventful and on 
time.
Since  we  hadn't  been  to Aruba for four years (how time flies) the 
airport  renovations  were  quite  a pleasant surprise. Retrieved our 
luggage  and  were  through  customs in about 20 minutes. We rented a 
car  for  the  week  from Thrifty ($250)so it was a quick trip across 
the street to pick-up our car.
Oddle  enough,  as  soon as we started driving the directions quickly 
came back and it was easy to find some familiar landmarks.

The  first sight of the newly renovated Radisson convinced us that we 
made  a  good choice of resorts. This was also our first time staying 
in  the  high-rise  section  which  we  liked. Check-in was a breeze, 
literally  in  this  case  as the lobby is open air and pretty much a 
wind  tunnel  most  of  the  time. Our friends ended up in room #1602 
while  we  were  in #1410 as they were the available deluxe oceanview 
rooms  with  king  beds  at the time. Not wanting to unpack more than 
once  we  decided  to  just  stay  in  these  rooms  for the week. We 
requested  a  refrigerator  in  the  rooms  and they were provided as 
available.  They  are  given  out on a first come first served basis. 
The  rooms  were  very  large  and well equipped. There was plenty of 
storage and a small but adequate balcony with table and two chairs.

The  grounds  of  the Radisson are beautiful and well maintained with 
lush  plantings.  The two zero entry pools are large and winding with 
an  abundance  of  lounges  with cushions. Short reclining chairs are 
also  available  to  use  in the shallow areas of the pool. The beach 
area  is  very  large  and  has twenty or so Palapas<sp> for shade if 
desired. Soft music playing around the pool area as well.

On  a  trip  to  Oranjestad for shopping I definitely had the feeling 
that  many places weren't being as well maintained as on our previous 
trip.  This  was  especially  evident  in the area behind the Seaport 
Village  Mall.  Since  our  friends  wanted  to  see Charlies Bar, we 
headed  out  towards  San Nicholas. On the way we saw the new (to us) 
Balashi  Brewery  where  we  stopped for a quick tour and a free beer 
afterwards.  When we neared San Nicholas I couldn't believe the smoke 
and  fumes  coming  in  over  the  area  from  the  refinery.  It was 
especially noticeable when we were in Charlies.

Since  breakfast  was  included  in  our package at the Radisson, the 
only other meals we did were dinners at the following places.

1st  night-  French  Steak  House  -  Two  couples  each choosing the 
"Ambassador's  five Course Dinner" for $26/person, four cocktails and 
the included bottle of wine/couple came to $150 w/tip.
2nd  night-  Lagunas  at  the  Radisson - Four drinks, all four of us 
choosing  their  specialty  of  stir fry and four drinks came to $121 
w/tip. The stir fry was great and a HUGE portion.

3rd  night- Waterfront Crabhouse - 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, 1 dessert 
and  coffees,  4  drinks came to $190. There was also a tiger show at 
9:30  put  on  just  outside  the  restaurant  where  you could get a 
picture with the tiger for $25.

4th  night-  Sole  Mare  -  4  appetizers,  entrees desserts, coffee, 
drinks  and  wine  with  dinner  came to $200 w/tip. This was a GREAT 
place  and  very,  very  popular.  Not  only  was the food great, the 
service  couldn't  have  been better. Would definitely return to this 
restaurant.

5th  night-  Boonoonoos  -  4  drinks, appetizers and entrees came to 
$162  w/tip.  Two  had  the  Keshi  Yena(great)  and  two  tried  the 
sampler(not  so  good).  This place was something of a disappointment 
and not nearly as good as the last time we went there.

6th  night-  Madam  Janette's  - This was our favorite of the trip. 4 
drinks,  appetizers,  entrees,  desserts  and  coffees  came  to $180 
w/tip.  We  had  a  very nice table outside under the trees with some 
soft  lighting. Very attentive staff and first class menu. This place 
books  up  solid  and  reservations  are a must. According to what we 
heard  it  is  one  of the few places that stay very busy even during 
their slow season.

7th  night-  Chalet  Suisse  -  One of the steadily good restaurants. 
Impeccable  service  and  good food. This night there was only two of 
us  at  dinner.  2  drinks,  wine  with  dinner,  appetizers, entrees 
(fantastic duck) and a shared dessert came to $100 w/tip. 

Just  as a note, we could have eaten for less but truly enjoy some of 
the  better  dishes on the menu. These prices could be reduced easily 
if one so chooses. 

We  saw  the  show  at the Allegro that consists of snippets of a few 
Broadway  shows.  While  not  great,  it  was OK. Would try something 
different next time.

While  it was great being able to clear customs on Aruba, they really 
do need to come up with a better system with the baggage.

Our  flight  home  boarded on time, but then we sat on the runway for 
twenty  minutes waiting for clearance to take off. Landed in San Jaun 
about  15  minutes  late.  Our  flight  out of San Jaun left about 40 
minutes  late because we had to wait for passengers from a connecting 
flight that was delayed. Got into JFK about 30 minutes late. 

We  would  definitely  return  to the Radisson as we had a great time 
there.  Staff  couldn't  have  been  better.  Our friends loved their 
first trip to Aruba as we knew they would.

CANCUN: MOON PALACE RESORT BY DEBBIE HOFFREN

Trip 2/00

We  book most of our trips several months in advance and typically go 
around  holidays  in the April to December timeframe. However, I am a 
computer  analyst  doing  contract work, and my contract ended. I was 
anxious  for a trip, and my husband was anxious for me to job hunt. I 
had  something  tentative  lined up and wanted to head out. Then when 
it  got  more  firmed  up,  Todd  couldn't  get  away for a few days. 
Therefore,  we  were  left  with  a  3-night  gig, which kind of left 
Mexican Caribbean as our only choice for a tropical gettaway.

I  found  some Funjet charter tickets, but Royal Hideaway was booked. 
We decided on Moon Palace, although the agent recommended El Dorado.

We  typically like hotels with about 150-250 rooms, so Moon was to be 
an  adventure  (with  around 2000 rooms), but some reviews were good, 
and we booked on 5 days notice.

Todd  is  typically  unhappy  with any trip that doesn't include golf 
and  really  likes Jamaica. He insisted he would be fun when it was a 
choice  of  taking him or my mother, so it was arranged, tickets were 
overnighted,  and  I  set  out researching the resort to death like I 
always do.

Our  flight  was  to depart at 9:25 a.m. on Thursday morning. We left 
the  house  a  little  after  7  a.m. Weather at this time of year in 
Houston  is  typically  mid-70s to low 80s for a high, so we wondered 
what  we  were giving up. However, the forecast for Houston was rain, 
so  there  was  that  angle.  We stopped at Whataburger for a "to go" 
breakfast, as we assumed we wouldn't get fed flying mid-morning.

We  don't  live  that  far  from  the  airport,  but we knew our best 
shortcut  was  now closed in an effort to make everyone living on the 
north  side  pay  toll  to  get  to  the  airport. However, there are 
several  other ways in, and we got there fairly quickly. We parked in 
the  city  economy  lot, still $5 a day. The bus was waiting right by 
where  they  had us park. They went to our terminal last, but we were 
up  at  the  Funjet  (Sun  Country)  counter  in  plenty  of time. We 
couldn't  get exit row seats, but we booked late. We checked our bags 
and  had  only  swimsuits, cameras, and magazines with us as carryon. 
We  were  supposed  to board at 8:50 a.m. We headed down to the gate. 
We  found  out  our  flight  was  continuing  on from Minneapolis. It 
arrived  about when we were supposed to leave, and we left 45 minutes 
late. They only made up 5 minutes of the time.

Instead  of arriving at 11:30, it was about 12:20. We had been served 
turkey  sandwiches,  Fritos,  cookies, and soft drinks. They had beer 
and  wine  for  $3  and  mixed  drinks for $4. The crowd was somewhat 
rowdy,  and some seemed rough to us, particularly the mob near us. An 
amazing  amount  of  people seemed to know each other. The flight was 
quite turbulent.

After  departing  the  aircraft, we went inside to the airport (which 
we didn't remember at all from when we were there 7 or 8 years ago).

One  of those loud people immediately lit a cigarette outside and was 
told  to put it out. He laughed because he got a puff or two and felt 
he  got  away with something. They let people smoke like crazy in the 
airport.

They  herded  people into the customs lines. We had been told to only 
fill  out  one  form  on the plane (per family). We had two different 
forms.  We  knew from all the other trips one form was per family and 
one  was  per  person.  Well,  the herder gave us another form, and I 
rushed  to  fill  that  out  while we waited. We have passports. They 
stamped them, and we went on.

We  got  our  bags immediately, and we pushed the random pick button. 
We got the green light and went on.

We  found the Lomas Travel people; they are the guys in the turquoise 
shirts  and  white  pants. They led us to a van (after tons of people 
thrust  brochures at us) for the Moon. Someone tried to sell everyone 
beers  for  $2. One girl on the van actually smoked inside. We waited 
20  minutes  while they tried to stuff 10 people in the van. Finally, 
they  settled  for  8  people and allowed us to go to Moon. The Lomas 
guys  asked  us  to book tours and ask questions from them so that we 
could  avoid  the timeshare people. However, when it was time to meet 
the rep, I couldn't find him.

Moon  Palace is just a short ways down the Cancun-Tulum highway along 
the  Mayan  Riviera  Coast in the Caribbean. We arrived in just a few 
minutes.  We had to tip the driver (as well as the person who WHEELED 
our  bags on their own wheels to the van), and we were dropped off at 
Moon  Sunrise. We stood in our first line there, and helped ourselves 
to  champagne like other guests did. We found out we should be at the 
Moon  desk, and we had to go out and beg a shuttle person to take our 
bags  and  us over there. At least we saw the Moon Sunrise lobby, and 
it was big and pretty.

We  were  frustrated  by now, and we stood in a longer line here, and 
again  helped  ourselves  to  some  champagne.  Right  after  that, a 
hostess  came  to  offer  it  to people, so we were not able to get a 
second  (needed)  glass at that point since we had a 2-sip one in our 
hands. 

They  strapped an armband around our wrists-yellow. I didn't know it, 
but  they gave Todd a map and restaurant info. He didn't open it, and 
we  discovered  it  on  the way home. We are (me especially) the type 
who  doubts anywhere that needs a wristband is upscale enough for us. 
By the time all this took place, it was 2 p.m. 

We  were  given room key cards. No one offered to take us to our room 
(5612),  so  we  wagged  our bags and asked directions along the way. 
None of this was what we were used to or expected.

The Room

Our  room  was  a  couple  of  wings  down from the main building. We 
passed  the conference center, the sanitation plant (ick), tennis and 
basketball  courts,  and  some  rooms and finally found it. There was 
some  type  of  fireman's  accessory  display  at  the  bottom of the 
stairs.  We  went  up and found our room at the top of the stairs. It 
was  decently nice with a sink outside the bathroom. The bathroom had 
a  nice marble shower and seat. We had a king-sized bed, and dressing 
table,  and  a dresser. The tub overlooked a nice view of gardens and 
ocean.  We were on the second floor. Some of the water controls had F 
for  frio,and  "c"  for caliente, and Todd thought the "c" meant cold 
and  the  "f"  was  an "h". He had lots of trouble with that. That is 
his  fault; his mother was a Spanish teacher. The fridge was tiny and 
had  some  Dos  Equis  beer, regular coke and coke light, and bottled 
water  from Xpu-Ha. There was no bubble bath there, but we had towels 
by  the  tub and brought our own bubble bath. The TV had a remote and 
was  on  a  wooden spinning shelf that allowed you to turn toward the 
tub  or bed. There was a couch and coffee table. The balcony had only 
one  chair  and  wasn't big enough for the other. The closet was tiny 
and would hold only one suitcase. It had a safety deposit box.

We  read  that  the  fridge  was stocked every other day. That is the 
case,  and  they  put  whatever  they  want in it despite any note. I 
believe  those  that tipped happened to hit them on the day they were 
supposed  to  come  because  the  resort  website and the book in the 
lobby display say that it is filled every other day.

After  the  first  day,  we did get bubble bath and were very glad we 
brought  our  own,  as  the water was green/brown in the tub. The tub 
was  at  least 6' x 4' and very deep with two seats in it and 7 jets. 
Our  indoor  tub  at  home  is 6' x 5' ft. with 10 jets and is bigger 
than this tub in width but probably not quite as deep.

The Property

The  road to Moon is long and has some very WIDE speed bumps that are 
interesting  for  cars,  especially  stretch  limos.  There  is  lush 
foliage  all  along the path. The entire resort is a huge complex and 
has  basically  become Phase I, II and III. There are two reservation 
lobbies,  the  Moon  Side  and  the Sunrise/Nizuc side. So far, Nizuc 
just  is an extension of Sunrise. There is really not much over there 
in  the  way of facilities. All room blocks are arranged to have some 
sort  of  water  view.  They have ponds, little rivers, pools and the 
ocean  to  look at. The various wings are arranged in "U" shapes that 
are  all  interconnected with the others in their section. There is a 
long  pathway  along  the  back that runs along the ocean. The entire 
property  runs  long,  and  you can walk the beach along the property 
and  further  past.  The  pools and palapas (snack huts and bars) run 
between  the  pools  and beach. The Sunrise side has the swing bar, a 
bar  where  you can sip your drinks in swings, rather than on stools. 
Each  side  has  a  huge  lobby  with  a bar that is open often. They 
always  have  snacks  that  suit the time of day sitting around, from 
pastries  and  fruit  to  sandwiches. There are frozen drink machines 
and  self-serve  soda  machines  and  bottles of hard liquor (certain 
hours)  that  is  not  top-shelf  to add to all of those drinks. They 
also serve bottled water all over the place. 

Both  sides  of  the  property  have an indoor pool with a restaurant 
nearby  and  a  bar in it with self-serve sodas. Both sides also have 
self-serve tea and coffee.

The  specialty  restaurants  are  all  accessed from the two lobbies. 
These  restaurants  are  all decorated attractively, according to the 
regional theme being represented.

Each  side  of  the  property  has a big main building that house the 
lobby,  gym,  restaurants,  conference/ball rooms where entertainment 
is  held,  beauty  salon,  and some offices. Guest relation desks and 
tour  desks are there also. We avoided those desks and whoever called 
us to avoid a timeshare lecture. 

MiniGolf

Miniature  golf is available between the Moon and Sunrise sides (also 
at  Cancun  Palace). It is an 18-hole course with several challenges. 
The  course  is  open  from 10-5. They provide balls and putters. The 
course  is VERY popular. We played twice a day and played through one 
or two times. 

Dining & Drinks

A  person  should  never  go  hungry at Moon. I never saw a timeframe 
where  you  couldn't  get  food.  In both the Moon and Sunrise sides, 
there  is  a  lobby bar with snacks and drinks. The lobby bars have a 
drink  menu posted with a few suggestions for table service, and they 
have  snacks.  The  Sunrise  is more formal with the service than the 
Moon  side,  but  Moon has sandwiches and fruit anytime I was around. 
They  had self-serve sodas all the time and frozen drinks and bottled 
water.  Certain  hours,  they  had  pour  your own hard liquor. Other 
times,  it  was  juice  and  milk.  They had a bar in the lobbies and 
indoor  pool  areas  serving  up mixed drinks and wines and beer. The 
palapas  had  self-serve  sodas  and beer. All of the bars around the 
property  have  a  wide  choice  of  alcoholic drinks available. Most 
drinks  aren't  top  shelf. I only drink wine, and the wines were all 
from  Baja  California and all one label. They had two or 3 whites. I 
had  champagne  a  couple  of times. It is much better than the white 
wine.  They  also  had  red  and  zinfandel  (one  bartender said the 
zinfandel  is  only  available  at  night,  but I doubt that is true. 
There  are  lots of virgin drinks and fruity things available for all 
ages.  Sodas  I remember are Coca Cola, Coca Cola Light, Pepsi, Pepsi 
Light, orange, fruit punch, and brisk tea. I know they had others.

A  really  fun  option  on the Sunrise side is the swing bar. It is a 
palapa  bar with a thatched roof and seats that are individual swings 
instead  of  bar  stools.  This  is  "the"  spot for conversation and 
drinks.  When we went for Crazy Monkeys (sounds like a Jamaican dirty 
banana  with  Kahlua instead of Tia Maria), they had no bananas. Todd 
tried  their  "Ernest  Williams"  version  of Jack Daniels. I visited 
this place on two occasions and either stuck to wine or Coke light.

Generally,  you  can  get drinks from 9 a.m. on, and in the room, the 
fridge,  stocked every other day, has DOS Equis (the one with the two 
Xs  on  the  can), Coke, Coke light, and bottled water. Kids stood in 
line  at  the  bars  like adults and order Shirley Temples and virgin 
stuff.

 Breakfast

For  breakfast,  you  had choice of the cafeteria buffet (El Manglar) 
on  Moon  side,  didn't  like  the  looks of it, but they had made to 
order  omelets,  fruits,  meats,  Mexican  corner,  and  cereals, and 
yogurt.  The  pool  restaurants on both sides had eggs to order (line 
on  Sunrise  side),  lots of fruits, breads, pastries, meats, cereal, 
and  yogurt.  Sunrise side had seafood. Both poolside restaurants had 
a  shake  station  where you picked 3 fruits and either OJ, water, or 
milk  to  be  blended  with  ice. The strawberry, peach, plum was the 
best!  They  have  kiwi,  banana,  grapes, and some other stuff, too. 
Experiment.  The  Sunrise  side  by  the  pool had mussels and smoked 
salmon  and  fake crab every morning and lobster claws and shrimp one 
morning.  We did not find Los Caporales open for breakfast, as we had 
read on the web. 

Lunch

At  lunch,  you  can eat indoors at the poolside (Arrecifes) or lobby 
(El  Manglar)  on Moon side (I am sure there is comparable on Sunrise 
side).  The "a la carte" options were chicken fajitas and things like 
that  that  could  also  be  found  on buffets. The cafeteria (lobby) 
buffet  on  Moon  side  was our least favorite meal with dry chicken, 
fruit,  and  pasta  show  cooking  (not  as  good  as it sounds). The 
service  was  good, and the wine was good, a Chenin Blanc / Sauvignon 
Blanc  mix.  At  the  poolside,  they  had a lot of pastas and salad, 
fruit,  some  grilled  items,  and  a  few Mexican things. There is a 
soup,  too,  but  most  didn't  look  good.  The  palapas  are  snack 
huts/bars  that  also  serve  as  swim-up  bars between the beach and 
pools.  They  have  things  like  nachos,  burgers,  hot dogs, fries, 
chicken  tenders,  pizza,  shrimp  kabobs, steak kabobs on the grill, 
shellfish  on  the  grill  (lobster  claws,  mussels, shrimp, squid), 
sausage  on the grill, fajitas, and salads. Lots of places in and out 
have  Popsicles  in  coolers.  The grilled items were off to the side 
and  usually  available from 12-2. Lunch was available from somewhere 
around 11:30-4, but the prime hours gave you the best meal.

  The  Moon  lobby  restaurant  serves almost continuously during the 
day.  The  Spanish  restaurant, is advertised to be open other times, 
but  it  seems  to  currently  be  open  with reservations only for 3 
seatings  at  6,  8, and 10 each night. Reservations are required, no 
shorts. 

Dinner

The  poolside  restaurant  on the Moon side (Arrecifes) at dinner has 
flambé  desserts. You can watch them cook up things like strawberries 
in  brandy  sauce  over  ice  cream.  I  recommend  it. They also had 
several other fruits in sauces. 

For  dinner,  Arrecifes  doesn't require reservations. In addition to 
the  flambé,  they  have  a salad bar and serve various grilled meats 
(some  also  available at lunch). They cooked a great skirt steak the 
night  we  had  the  flambé.  We  also  had lobster claws and mussels 
there.  We  had  already  eaten the t-bone at the palapa and couldn't 
finish the skirt steak, but it was the best I'd ever tasted. 

On  Thursday,  we  reserved  for  Friday  night  at  8  p.m.  for Los 
Caporales,  the  Spanish  restaurant.  They  seated us at a table for 
two.  Wine  came  in  a carafe and was served by the drink. Other bar 
service  was available. We had a nice table setting, and the room was 
beautiful.  Be  very  selective  here. They served up some antipasto-
like  stuff  that  was  mussels  served  about  3  ways,  tiny shrimp 
cocktail,  and  some  canned  tuna  all  on  one plate. They had some 
French-style  bread  with  the  tips dipped slightly in light tomato. 
You  ordered  3-4  bowls  of  items from a big list or ordered one of 
their  "pica pica" put together combos. We both had battered shrimp & 
garlic  shrimp. Todd had potatoes and one other dish. I had frog legs 
and  seafood  in noodles. Each was a sampler size. We left stuffed. I 
think  we  tried  a dessert, but I am not sure. This left us out just 
in time for the evening entertainment that began at 9:30.

On  Thursday,  we  reserved  for  the  Oriental  restaurant (Mo No No 
Hanna)  on  the  Sunrise  side  and  could  only  get into the 6 p.m. 
sitting  on  Saturday.  That was fine, and we took it. We headed over 
there  quite early to have a walk (I'd hurt my foot playing minigolf, 
and  we couldn't get a golf cart when calling the lobby for help). We 
noticed  a  big  crowd  in  the  lobby  bar,  just like Moon side. We 
ordered  champagne  and  went to stand in line to get in. Most people 
were  dressed  in  long  casual  dresses,  sundresses,  or slacks for 
ladies  and  Docker-style  and  golf  shirts  or dress shirts for the 
guys.  Kids  were  all  dressed  in  dressy  casual, as well. We were 
seated  where we had a view of the pool and ocean, but it soon became 
dark,  and  we  were seated near a table that had 4 couples that were 
all  in  their  early  to mid 40s and were somewhat rowdy. We enjoyed 
the  meal  anyway.  They  say  they have "show cooking", but it isn't 
like  Benihana. To see it, you'd have to go stand there and watch the 
chefs.  They  had  a  large  menu with teriyaki, teppanyaki, tempura, 
chow  mein,  and some sushi. Various meats were offered. They offered 
a  variety  of  soups and appetizers. We ordered miso soup for me and 
chicken  broth  for Todd. Both were better than Benihana and Kobe and 
such.  We  had the spring rolls for appetizers. These were good, too. 
We  both  had beef teriyaki. It was served over (lightly) fried rice, 
but  I wish I'd have asked for white rice. The serving was huge. They 
brought  out coconut meatballs for an appetizer, too, one per person. 
Those  were  interesting.  The  wine service was excellent, our glass 
was  never  empty. We left before dessert, and the waiter followed us 
to make sure he hadn't neglected us.

On  Thursday  night, we walked around looking for dinner. We intended 
to  eat at the seafood palapa (Barracuda), but there was a long line. 
Todd  didn't want to wait, so we strolled on and had t-bones. I think 
that  restaurant  was  Fragata.  There  was no wait, and the food was 
great.  The  t-bones  were  1/4 inch thick and grilled with excellent 
seasonings.

Other  specialty  restaurant  we  didn't try: The Bugambilias Mexican 
restaurant  on  Sunrise  side,  3 seatings at 6, 8, and 10. It looked 
very interesting from the lobby.

We  were not able to call just one number to reserve everything. Each 
restaurant  had  its  own  reservation number. Also, at breakfast and 
lunch,  wherever we ate, they ticked us off with one of those number-
counting gadgets, if we walked in the front door.

Tours

A  stay  at  any  Palace resort includes 1 tour if staying 3-4 nights 
and  2  tours  if  staying  5-7 nights. The tours offered at Moon are 
Chichen-Itza,  Tulum/Snorkel,  Isla Mujeres, and Xpu-Ha. We didn't go 
on  any,  in  spite  of how much I wanted to. Todd wasn't too keen on 
it,  and  after  I  hurt  my foot, I wasn't that anxious to go. Don't 
miss  these  tours,  especially  if  you  haven't been. Not that many 
resorts  include  tours,  and  this really adds to the value you get. 
Here is what I know about them:

Chichen-Itza-this  sis  a tour to a Mayan temple. They take you there 
on  an air-conditioned bus, pay your entrance fee and give you buffet 
lunch  at  a restaurant (I think it is called Xaybeh). From what I've 
read,  I  recommend bringing a few bottles of water with you from the 
resort.

Tulum-departs  at  8:20 a.m., returns at 5 p.m. You visit the city of 
Tulum.  You get there on an air-conditioned bus. They pay your fee to 
the   archeological  site  at  Tulum  and  take  you  to  Akumal  for 
snorkeling.  You  must  pay to rent snorkeling equipment if you don't 
bring any, and you have to buy your own lunch.

Isla  Mujeres-departs  from  hotel at 8 a.m. and is an all-day thing. 
They  return  to  the pier at 5, and then take you back to the hotel. 
The  tour includes continental breakfast, entertainment and open bar. 
On  the  island,  they  include  a buffet lunch and bar. You can rent 
snorkeling  equipment or take a golf cart or bicycle to view scenery. 
They also have a turtle farm that requires a small donation.

Xpu-Ha-They  take  you on a bus (the one I saw was quite decorated in 
the  Xpu  Ha  theme)  down  to Xpu Ha, further down the Mayan Riviera 
close  to  Puerto  Aventuras.  You  can see birds, snakes, fauna, and 
fish.  They  offer windsurfing, boogie boards, and other watersports. 
They  have  mangroves  you  can kayak through and a cenote. There are 
also  birds  in  the  jungle. Some people just sit in hammocks on the 
beach. The park has a restaurant that is included in your tour.

 Activities & Watersports

Lots  of  activities are held around the pools. They have pool games, 
like  water  polo and volleyball that involve adults and kids. We saw 
some  kids  club  activities  that  involved arts and crafts. I think 
they  let  adults  play,  too.  We  saw  a mixology class and Spanish 
lessons.  We  also  saw  a fashion show around one of the pools and a 
game like the Newlywed Game.

They  also  had  lots  of  water activities at the beach organized by 
Aqua  World. Those guys had their hands out for tips and beer, and we 
avoided  them, as the water was too cold. People were being taught to 
sail,  and  kayaking  seemed  to  be popular. We didn't see anyone on 
aqua  trikes  and paddleboats. For an additional cost, they offer Jet 
Ski  and  parasailing. The various Aqua World people do assist people 
in  getting  what they want and are easy to find. If you go to try to 
book  the  free  tours,  they  try to sell you other ones instead. We 
just went for towels, and they tried to sell us a tour.

They  also  had  well-used  tennis  and  basketball  courts (near the 
sewage  plant!).  We  saw people on bikes but no one on rollerblades. 
They  also  had  pool (disco on Moon side now is a pool hall) on both 
sides  of  the resort and ping-pong near the pool. We saw volleyball, 
also.  The  pools  are  huge. The Jacuzzis outdoors are not heated at 
all,  and  the  indoor  ones have weak jets and are barely heated and 
have  kids  jumping  in  and floating on rafts (even though signs say 
that adults only are allowed there).

The  Sunrise  side  has the only disco, but we didn't look for it and 
didn't see it.

Gift Shops

Each  side  of  the property has a really big one with pottery, snack 
items,  toiletries,  reading materials, postcards, jewelry, t-shirts, 
beach  shoes,  and  many other items. They also sell some liquor, but 
it  was  MUCH cheaper at the airport. Also a good deal at the airport 
were  the  duty free perfumes, appearing to be 20% cheaper than here, 
on  average. We didn't spend a cent anywhere on souvenirs or anything 
else to take back.

Beauty Salon/Spa/Gym

There  is  a full service beauty salon on both sides of the property. 
They  offer  various  services for hair, nails, waxing, and a variety 
of  spa  services.  On  the  Moon  side,  the  massages  are  held in 
treatment  rooms  in the bathrooms at the gym. That room also has the 
sauna  and  lockers  and what looks like a steam room, but I couldn't 
find  any  way  to  turn  it on or any staff to assist. Most services 
appeared  to  be comparable with service prices here (e.g. about $1 a 
minute for massage). 

The  gyms  on both sides offer a view of pool/ocean, with the Sunrise 
side  having  a  better view and far better equipment. On the Sunrise 
side,  I  did  the  whole  weight  circuit and rode a bike for a long 
time.  The  day I went to the Moon side, I rode a bike and sat in the 
sauna.  The  sauna  was  large and nice. They had steps for aerobics, 
but  I never saw classes posted at either gym. I imagine they do have 
them, though.

Shows

Each  side  of  the  property offers shows in the ballroom/convention 
center.  Also,  sometimes  throughout the day or early evening, there 
are  musicians  playing  in  the lobby near the lobby bars. Shows are 
advertised  on  big  signs  in the lobby. The only one I attended was 
the  Masquerade  horror  show.  It  was  held on the Moon side. I was 
escorted  to  my seat (Todd went to bed) by a nice young guy who made 
sure  someone  got  my drink order and that I was having a good time. 
An  emcee  came  out  amidst  some  smoky  special  effects  to greet 
everyone  (about  400  people  came to see this show). He asked where 
everyone  was  from.  Next,  we  were  treated  to  a cabaret show of 
costumed  dancers  dressed  up like characters from Michael Jackson's 
Thriller  doing  that  style  of  choreography.  I left after an hour 
because  I  was getting too sleepy. If this show is any indication of 
the  quality  they offer, I recommend structuring your evening around 
attending. I know another night they had karaoke. We skipped that. 

Other Guests

We  saw a wide variety of guests ranging from high chair age to upper 
70s  (a  surprising number of those). There were a lot of guests from 
the  U.S.,  U.K.,  and Canada. There were also a number of Europeans, 
Asians, and South Americans from various other countries.

Staff

Our  first  impression  of  the staff came upon arriving at the wrong 
side  of  the  hotel  and  being told to go to the other side with no 
assistance.  We  didn't  enjoy  struggling  with  our luggage and not 
being  escorted to our room. We found all restaurant staff to be very 
friendly.  Most knew enough English for the function they were doing. 
One  guy making fruit shakes did not know any English. However, in my 
opinion,  it  is  a convenience for me if I visit another country and 
they  know  my language, but it is not a requirement. If it is, it is 
my  job  to  go  to an English-speaking country. One bartender was so 
rude  I  got  into a fight with him trying to get white wine when the 
other  bartender  just  gave  some to someone else. Lots of staff had 
signs  out  for  tips or tip cups. I didn't see anyone getting better 
service  for  tipping,  and  tipping  is supposed to be included. The 
guys  stocking  the  room  and  picking up dishes ride around in golf 
carts  and  are  friendly,  too. We avoided guest services due to not 
wanting  to hear a timeshare speech. Most staff at the front desk, if 
you  could  get their attention or get them on the phone, didn't seem 
to  know  enough about the hotel and what was offered and seemed "put 
out"  if you wanted anything. Wait staff at the specialty restaurants 
was the best.

Departure and Return Home

Checkout  time  at  the resort is noon. The policy states that if you 
haven't  checked  out  by  noon  they automatically tack $125 U.S. to 
your  bill.  Don't  test it. We went down to breakfast at 7 a.m. over 
on  the  Sunrise  side. Also, if you lose those armbands, it is $100, 
and  it  is $100 if you lose the safe deposit key. We had a note that 
we  had no bill and could just give the key cards and safe key to the 
bellman.  We were to be on the bus with Lomas at 8:23. We wheeled our 
own  bags  all  the way to the lobby and were going to get some water 
or  soda. The Lomas guys had been waiting for us, even though we were 
10  minutes  early.  We did get the sodas in a Styrofoam cup. We were 
escorted  to  a  white  Lincoln  stretch limousine that had two other 
couples  in  it.  We got to hear muffler sounds, and each time we hit 
one  of  those HUGE speed bumps, we thought we would have to push the 
car.  The  limo had a TV going with Lethal Weapon 4 playing. We had a 
great conversation with the two couples in the car.

We  got  to  the  airport  by  8:45,  tipped  the driver, and someone 
wheeled  in  our bags and didn't wait for a tip. We stood in line for 
customs  and  checked  bags.  Our  departure  tax was included in our 
package.  Then  we  got  a  drink and looked around. As more and more 
people  arrived,  it  got  suffocating and smoky in there. Our flight 
was  supposed  to leave at 10:20 and didn't board until almost 10. We 
left  about 10:35. We were given a ham sandwich, chips, and a cookie. 
The  same  group  who  had been rowdy on the way was more subdued. We 
found  out  they  had  all  been  down  there  for  a Harley Davidson 
convention.  One  guy  (who  had been sitting right next to us on the 
way  down) had a broken leg from busting up a bar fight between a guy 
and  his  girlfriend.  Supposedly, he did that on the first night. We 
were  in  an  exit  row  on  the way back by ourselves. We arrived in 
Houston  just  after  noon.  We  got our bags and easily went through 
customs  there.  We  caught  the  bus back to the lot and found a new 
shortcut home. We were there at 1 p.m.

  Comments  on  What  I've  heard, Truths & Myths The beach is awful: 
True,  the  beach  has  a  lot of seaweed, as does the water, but the 
beach  is  long  for  walks  and  lovely  to look at. I wouldn't mind 
swimming  there  if  it  was  warmer (probably in a few weeks it will 
be).  Snorkel  somewhere else, but do resort watersports here with no 
problem.

The  food  is awful: Be very selective, as some of the food is awful, 
but  some  is splendid. We didn't find anything spacey to eat or even 
Tex-Mex  spicy. The only peppers we saw were pickled jalapenos. Fruit 
was  always  big and tasty. The seafood was excellent. The soups were 
terrible.  Todd thought the omelets were the worst he'd had anywhere, 
but I did fine with fried eggs and toast.

Topless  guests:  We  saw  no  one  topless, and they supposedly have 
signs out now asking people to stay dressed.

There  are golf shuttles everywhere: We couldn't get on them; we were 
told  they  were for timeshare people. Even after telling them I hurt 
my foot and could barely walk, we couldn't get on one.

Moon  is  for  couples  and  honeymooners: We saw all ages and mixes. 
There  were  same-sex  singles,  groups,  lots  of  kids, and lots of 
seniors.

We  had  some  fun,  but  I doubt we will ever go back. The place was 
just  too  big,  and  we  would  have liked more help and information 
about  what was offered but didn't want to risk getting signed up for 
a timeshare sales pitch, so we just went on our own.

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