Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 81
January, 1998

Last Update 29 Dec 97 1300ET

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1/ REGIONAL NEWS

ANGUILLA NEWS FROM BOB GREEN

(Material copyrighted by Bob Green 1997)

Project  for Blind Child. The Computer Club has received a donation
of  $800   US  from  the Anguilla Financial Services Association to
use  toward  the   purchase  of  a computer for a blind high school
student.  Anyone  with  any  experience in computers for the blind,
software,   hardware,   donations,  or   support  networks,  please
contact us before Dec. 22nd. Thanks.

Winners  of  the  Culinary Contest. An All-Anguilla cooking contest
was  held  at  Anguilla Great House on December  6th. Pictured here
is  Lasana  Reid  of  Koal  Keel  , winner in the pastry  category.
Raoul  Rodriguez  from  Hibernia was Chef of the Year, second place
was  Zeff Bonsey of Restaurant Ici , and bronze went to Deon Thomas
from   Cyril's Fish House (read about his brother's new woodworking
shop  on  Mary  Ann's Tropical Construction page . Bartender of the
Year  was  Ron Webster  (again!). The winner of the Rib-Off was Big
Jim,  featured  in  our recent  report on Blowing Point. The winner
for  traditional  foods was Mabel Gumbs for  her corn soup and Cora
Richardson with her salt fish patties and roti.

Oliver's  Restaurant  is  new on Long Bay. We went for dinner there
recently.   It  has  an  incredible  setting above the sand and the
surf,  good  food,   reasonable  if not cheap prices, a comfortable
lounge on the water, and it was  packed.

Sandy  Ground  Village  won  the  Best Village award in the Tourism
week  clean   up, but all the villages have been spiffed up for the
season.

Anguilla  Network  is project of Kenneth Harrigan and Lindy Tamn to
book   vacation  villas  and  provide  real  estate services. Their
office  is located  near the airport in the same building as Island
Car Rental. Telephone: 264- 497-4803. Fax 4804.

Architectural  Digest.  Frank  Wendt reports that the January issue
of   "Architectural  Digest" has an article on the new four-bedroom
villa  at   CoveCastles Resort on Shoal Bay West (not East). If you
have  always  wanted  to  look inside these striking buildings, now
is  your chance. The magazine has  some spectacular pictures of the
villa and the ocean views.

Where  is  Gwen?  In  response  to email queries, I have discovered
that  Gwen,   who  used  to  cook  for Uncle Ernie , has moved from
Hardbroke  further  west on  Shoal Bay (East) to the Fountain Beach
Hotel,  where  she is now creating her  speciality local dishes for
lunch.

Cheddie's Carving Studio

Traveliing  west  on  the  main road, Cheddie's Carving Studio is a
landmark  to  art lovers visiting Anguilla for the first or thirty-
first  time.  Cheddie   Richardson  is  not  yet  30 years old, and
carves  some  of  the most beautiful  sculpture from objects we all
walk past everyday without thinking twice -  driftwood.

Cheddie  started  carving  wood at the age of ten. He describes his
first   carvings  as  "messin'  in  wood",  and  gave the shapes he
created  to  friends  as   gifts.  As  his  talents  developed, the
carvings  of  walnut  and mahogany merited  special bases to be set
on,   and  Cheddie  decided  on  driftwood.  After  a  while,   the
driftwood  bases became as interesting to him as the sculpture, and
the  rest, as they say, is history!

Not  giving  out  secrets  for  his  special  sources for driftwood
hunting,   Cheddie  says  the beaches of Anguilla and offshore cays
are  rich  in  his  raw   materials.  A found piece of driftwood is
studied  for  at least a couple of  days before this artist touches
it  even once. Go for walk on a beach any day  and study a piece of
driftwood,  then  drive  right  over  to  Cheddie's  and  see   the
transformation. Astounding.

Cheddie's  been  in  his west end studio for 5 years now. He's open
Monday  through Saturday 10 - 6, or by appointment. Telephone: 264-
497-6027.

Upcoming Events in Anguilla

The  Anguilla  Local  News  has  an  Calendar  for the year showing
events,  holidays, and activities.

A  Reason  for Coming in March! The Highway Tyre Services and Sales
in  George   Hill  and  the  Optimists  Club  are  holding  a  Team
Triathalon  on  Sunday,  March   29th,  with  biking,  running  and
swimming,  followed by a bbq beach party. More  details in the next
news  issue,  but  if you can't wait call Optimist Art at  264-497-
2369 for more details.

Fantastic Sunsets

Bayberry  and  Chinaberry  are  a  pair  of vacation villas between
Rendezvous Bay  and Sandy Point . More Web Information:

Jim  Jordon,  a  long-time  Caribbean  hand, had this to say on the
Internet  about these villas:

The  double  villa is located just a few minutes from Blowing Point
in  an  area   that  is  known as Cul de Sac. Actually built as two
separate  buildings  joined  by a common courtyard, Bayberry is the
main  house  and  Chinaberry is the  adjoining guest house. The two
houses  provide  two  sides  for  the courtyard,  while a beautiful
Spanish  wall  stretches  across  the  front  and a raised  parapet
walkway,  connecting  the two structures across the back, completes
the   enclosed  area. Gayle [the owner] has done a masterful job of
decorating  both   houses,  as well as overseeing the gardenscaping
of  the  tiled  courtyard  and  all of the landscaping of the yards
outside  the  walls.  ...  The walk looks out  on Rendezvous Bay to
the  west  and  the  sunsets viewed from this vantage point  are as
magnificent as any I've ever seen anywhere.

Update on Straw Hat Restaurant

A  Visitor  Raves.  Joan  liked  Straw  Hat  Restaurant  the  best,
according  to  her posting : "...We  liked it so well, we ate there
twice!  ...  Both  evenings, our table overlooked  the water...nice
touch."

Straw  Hat  Restaurant  on  the  wharf at Forest Bay has a new chef
this  season,   Bertrand  Louguet,  who will be a permanent part of
Straw  Hat  (he's  partner   with  Peter Parles). Bertrand has kept
many  of  the most popular dishes from  last season and has added a
few new ones, along with an expanded wine list.

Dumpa, Master Entertainer and Teacher

Who  leads  the  growth of quality steel pan music in Anguilla? One
Giving  Guy.  Denise  and  Chris Graves write "Earlier this summer,
Michael  "Dumpa"  Martin   took  some  Anguillan school children to
Philadelphia  to perform in steel band  competition. In August, the
students  from  Philly  had  the opportunity to visit  Anguilla and
perform  as well. His generosity in taking time to teach the  dying
art  of steel pan to the children of Anguilla should be recognized.
He  is another reason why we all love Anguilla and her people."

Dumpa! And it seems as if he is everywhere on the island.

Each  night he plays his steel pan with an accompanying guitar at a
different   tourist venue, such as Malliouhana, Eclipse, and Scilly
Cay.  Then  on  Sunday   nights  he  and  his  full band (Dumpa and
Anvibes)  play  to  a local dance crowd  at Hardbroke on Shoal Bay.
And  during  the  day he teaches steel pan at the  primary schools.
Dumpa  also trains and leads the high school steel band,  which has
improved  tremendously  in  the  last two years and now performs at
numerous  events:  opening  of the national museum, careers day, 15
year   anniversary  of  Social Security, the Soroptomists Christmas
Fair , etc. And  they play with musical elegance and style.

Dumpa  and  Anvibes  have a CD of their music entitled Pan Fusion .
It  is  a   most  listenable  and  professional  CDs produced by an
island  band.  Lively,   Caribbean  beats  of soca and calypso plus
jazz  and  ballads.  You  can  usually  buy it at the Anguilla Drug
Store and gift shops around the island.

Updates and Feedback

More  on Money and Exchange. "Please can you tell, me are there ATM
machines   in  Anguilla?" asks Rob Blaney of Chicago. The answer is
"not  really". The  Scotiabank has one, but it only works for those
with  a  local account at the  bank. For more information on money,
banking, and exchange, read our earlier  article.

Update  on  Fishing.  We  recently  ran  an  article  on fishing in
Anguilla  and  asks for feedback from experienced sports fishermen.
Georget  Petrilak  writes:  I have gone out with Lionel Richardson,
497-2936,  on  Arvencia,  a  new  30'   center  console boat out of
Crocus  Bay.  He is set up for line fishing ( bottom  fishing ) and
trolling  with 2 rods. We have caught a lot of bottom fish as  well
as  tuna,  barracuda  and snappers while trolling, called towing in
Anguilla.  The  boat  has dual 150 outboards and is a very good sea
boat.

I  have  also gone out with Ed Carty, 497-2337, on his Hatteress 31
from  Sandy   Ground.  He  owns the Fish store in North Hill. He is
set  up  very  well  with   outriggers  and usually runs 5 rods. He
doesn't  always  agree  to  take people  out, especially if you get
seasick ! Very knowledgeable fisherman.

Update  on  Amy's  Bakery.  Guest  reporter  Danny Laud provides an
update  on  his   article  about Amy's Bakery: "Amy has a new place
next  to  their  bakery  called   Amy's  Place . It's like a little
snack  bar. They sell iced tea, lemonade  drinks, sodas, malts etc.
and  sandwiches,  pizzas  &  other snacks for  breakfast, lunch and
dinner.  With  tables  and chairs inside this is definitely  a nice
tourist attraction."

Coyabi.ai  is  the  finalized  web  site for Claudel Romney's large
villa  and   conference  center at Lockrum. This is a point of land
between Little Harbour  and Blowing Point.

Viewfort  on  Crocus Hill have a web page at http://net.ai/viewfort
with  lots   of  pictures.  As  the  highest point of Anguilla, the
vacation  apartments  have  a  fantastic view of Crocus Bay and St.
Martin both.

Beachshack.ai,  Mary  Ann's  tropical  construction  page  has more
building news,  including the completion of the guest villa roof.

Serenity on Upper Shoal Bay

The  eastern  end  of Shoal Bay beach has a serene place to laze on
the sand,  snorkel, sip a cool drink, and have a meal.

At  Serenity  Restaurant you will probably be greeted by Petra, the
charming   petite  hostess.  Or  by Ken Rogers, the owner, who also
owns The Old House  Restaurant in George Hill.
Serenity offers:


- Breakfast (see new menu below)


- Lunch and dinner, with menus available on the net


- Beach chairs and umbrellas and shaded tables


- Happy Hour from 5 to 6 daily, New


- Sunday: relaxing live music by Mitch from 2-6


- Open 8AM to 10PM daily


- Phone 264-497-3328

Directions:  located  on  the  gravel  road  between  Shoal Bay and
Island  Harbour.  From  The  Valley,  take  the  paved road through
Little  Dix,  turn  left  for  Shoal  Bay,  then  turn right at the
Serenity sign just before you reach Uncle Ernie .

All prices in US dollars. 10% service charge is added

Serenity  Breakfast Menu Dec97 

Chef's Specials 
Baked Eggs in Tomato Shells....8.95
with Ham, Bacon or Sausage ... 9.95 
Eggs Benedict ... 8.95
   with  Ham,  Bacon  or  Sausage ... 9.95 

Serenity Specials 
Choice of Juice, Croissant,  Coffee or Tea ... 5.95 
Pancakes or French Toast, Choice of Juice, Coffee or Tea ... 7.95
   with  Ham,  Bacon  or  Sausage  ...  8.95 
Eggs any style, Choice of Juice, Coffee or Tea ... 7.95
   with  Ham, Bacon or Sausage ... 8.95
Ala Carte Fruit Fair Toast ...2.25
Croissant ... 2.95
2 Eggs with Toast ... 5.95
French Toast ... 5.95
Pancakes ... 5.95
Serenity Omelet ... 9.95 
Fresh sliced Pineapple ... 4.95
Half Grapefruit ... 3.95
Fresh Fruit Cup ... 5.95
Fresh Fruit Platter ... 11.95

Side Orders
Ham, Bacon or Sausage ... 2.95
Hash Browns ... 2.95

USVI NEWS FROM FRANK BARNAKO

The following information is provided by Frank Barnako who owns property which he'd like to rent. You can check it all out at:
For the most relaxing vacation of your life, stay at Over the Rainbow Our management company has produced a new web site for Beyond the Sea, a spectacularly sited 2-1/2 bedroom property. Please take a look at: http://www.caribbeanvilla.com/develop/carib/beyond/beyond.html.

** Westin St. John opens

The  Westin  Resort,  St.  John is open and doing business, much to
the  satisfaction  of  many business people, residents and visitors
on  St.  John.  The  285-room  hotel  has  undergone a post-Marilyn
renovation  costing  $20  million.   The  hotel employs 200 people.
Guests  will  have a choice of three restaurants and a deli.  Water
sports,  six  lighted  tennis courts, and a fitness center are also
part   of   the   property.    The   last   project  completed  was
reconstruction  of  the  hotel's  signature 400,000-gallon swimming
pool.(27Dec97)

** Caneel, workers not agreed

Negotiations  between  the United Steelworkers Union and Caneel Bay
Resort  have  not  concluded, despite several months of talks.  The
union   represents  almost  200  workers  at  the  resort,  and  an
agreement  had seemed close, according to Daily News reporter Lynda
Lohr.  However, union head Fred Joseph says a last-minute objection
from   Caneel   scuttled  an  expected  ratification  vote  on  the
agreement.    One   still-unresolved  issue  continues  to  be  the
disposition  of  Caneel's  10  percent service charge, a portion of
which  is  used  by  the  resort  for  operations rather than being
passed  onto  employees.   "That's  immoral,"  the  union executive
said.(27Dec97)

** Frenchmen's Reef reopens

Fifty-two  million dollars' worth of renovation later, the Marriott
Frenchman's  Reef  Beach  Resort is open and back in business.  The
St.   Thomas   complex  reopened  for  business  Sunday,  Dec.  21.
Management  said  business and room bookings are good, but could be
better.   Managing  director  Nick  Pourzal told the Virgin Islands
Daily  News  a continuing lack of airline flights from the mainland
is  handicapping the resort, and the islands.  "I have said that if
a  community like this can build a hotel like ours, technically, in
five  months,  then  they (the VI government) can come up with some
ingenious  ideas  how  to  solve  the airline-seat problem that the
island is facing."(27Dec97)

Pourzal  says  the  VI's  need  their own airline.  "The government
gets  revenue  from  overnight visitors because they spend, by far,
more  than  cruise-ship  visitors,"  he said.  "The tax base is the
overnight stay."

Pourzal  says  his new facility will be full early in January, when
President  Clinton  and  family  pay  another  visit to St. Thomas.
"Thanks  to  his  entourage,  we  will  be sold out," Pourzal said,
noting "They don't need airline seats."(27Dec97)

** Season in high gear

This  season  is  likely  to  be  the best in several years for the
islands.  Earlier  this  month,  the  owner of one tourist-oriented
souvenir  shop said business was up 30 percent, compared to that of
last  year.   And  V.I.  Ecotours  expects a 70 percent gain in its
volume,  its  second year in business.  The company takes people on
tours  of  mangroves,  and  about  80  percent of the customers are
tourists from the cruise ships.(27Dec97)

Source: http://www.stjohntradewindsnews.com/

2/ JOURNEYS FOR JANUARY 1998

SANDALS ANTIGUA BY GARY BABALUK

We   just   returned   from   spending   14   nights   at   Sandals
Antigua(November  15-29,  1997).  This review is put in the context
that  my  wife  and I have traveled numerous times to the Caribbean
and  we  have  stayed  at  5 other all-inclusive properties. We are
both  in  our  40ís  and enjoy fine dining both at home and when on
vacation.

We   booked   our   vacation  with  Air  Canada  Vacations  (Travel
wholesaler)  from  Toronto  and  the  departure  was  2  hours late
because of a snow storm the day before.

The  airport  arrival  in  Antigua  was  uneventful  with the usual
exception  of  the  fact  that  there was the usual number of local
baggage  carriers  waiting  at  the  luggage  carousel to carry our
luggage   about  20  feet  to  the  customs  person.  The  one  who
approached  us  was  rather  rude  about my carrying my own luggage
because  it  was  bad for business for him! This is no indication
of  the  Antiguan  people who are probably the most friendly people
we  have ever met in the Caribbean. The Antigua airport is not air-
conditioned so be prepared for the Caribbean heat.

We  breezed  through  immigration  and  were  met  by  the  Sandals
representative  who  put  us in a mini-bus with 3 other couples and
we  were  off.  The  ride to the resort took about 15 minutes which
was  great.  We  have  been  to  Jamaica 4 times and unless you are
staying  in Montego Bay, you have to endure a 90 minute bus ride to
go anywhere.

When  we  got  to the resort, we were met by the check-in staff and
by  the  usual  waiter with a glass of champagne. The check-in took
about  20  minutes  to  fill-in  forms for the return flight and to
leave  them a credit card imprint. The check-in staff came and gave
us  a  package  of  shampoo,  conditioner, etc. and the bell person
then took our baggage and escorted us to our room.



We  were  in  a GrandLux room which was very nice. The rooms at the
resort  are  all  pretty  much  the same. Our GrandLux was the same
size  as  the  deluxe  (cheapest category)  as well it was the same
size  as  the  Oceanview Studio. The Rondovals are only a room that
is  circular.  The  only  true suites are the Honeymoon suites. All
the  other  rooms  are the same size with varying degrees of better
quality  furniture  and  have slightly better views of the gardens.
The  maid  service  was excellent and we got turn down service with
fresh towels nightly.

This  resort  was very beautiful with well manicured grounds and as
the  brochure  says,  there  were  5 pools. We were in the Oleander
block  which  had  a  pool  and hot tub in front of it and was very
quiet.  The  main  pool with the swim-up bar was at the rear of the
resort and that was the most active of the pools.



We  are  beach  people  so  most of our time was spent on the beach
with   the local VENDORS! All beaches in Antigua are public so be
prepared  for  vendors.  There  are quite a few and they are polite
but  if you have a problem with people constantly walking up to you
carrying  tee  shirts  and  everything  else  to sell, find another
island  or stay by the pool.   I found the vendors quite polite and
we  got  to  know most of them on a first name basis and eventually
they left us alone.

Sandals  does  not  put  too  many  chairs  out on the beach in the
morning  so  we  had  to  drag  chairs  to the beach on a number of
occasions.

Now  to  the  stuff  that  makes  me  want to come back to a resort
sometime in my lifetime, the food.

The  breakfasts  and  lunches  were  the  usual  buffet  fair  with
everything  normally  available.  The  breakfast  buffet ran out of
High  fiber  cereal  after 4 days and by the end of the second week
your  choice  for  cereal  was  Frosted  Flakes,  Rice  Krispies or
Special  K.  If  you are an egg eater, youíll be happy to hear that
there  were no mass produced trays of scrambled eggs. If you wanted
eggs  of  any  kind,  they were made to order. The lunches were the
same  as most buffet lunches, choice of at least 4 or 5 entrees and
salads.  Their  potato  salad  was great (made from baked potatoes)
but it only appeared about 3 or 4 times during our visit.

The  Courtyard  Grill  was  available most of the time for burgers,
fries,  etc.  and if you are into fast foods, they were decent. All
breakfasts and lunches were served at the Bayside restaurant.

There  are  4  four  restaurants:  (Bayside),  Ii  Palio (Italian),
Kimonos  (Japanese)  and  OK  Corral  (Southwest Steak House). As a
general  observation  after  eating  the first time at all of them,
was  that  the  food  quality  (ingredients)  was very good BUT the
preparation  was  marginal at best! Their gourmet restaurant was Ii
Palio  and  for  an  Italian  restaurant,  you  have to know how to
properly  cook  pasta.  Every pasta order was overcooked, the cooks
(I  canít  use the word chef because they were short order cooks at
best)  obviously  have  never heard of the word el dente. All the
sauces  for  the  pasta  were  very  thick and tasteless. One other
couple  we  met  summed  up  the  restaurant as being of the Olive
Garden  variety.  Olive  Garden  is  a national chain (at least in
Canada)  of  so  called  Italian restaurants which are owned by the
same  company  that owns Red Lobster. So if you go to these type of
Italian  restaurants  back  home,  thatís the type of food you will
get  here.  The  menu was quite extensive but other then two of the
meat  dishes  which  were  lamb  chops and pork medallions, all the
entrees  were  either  deep  fried or if you ordered the fish, were
overcooked   with   some  sauce.  There  was  too  much  grease  in
everything.  Even the vegetables were coated in too much butter.



One  other  very  important  comment about the food preparation. In
the  Bayside  restaurant,  every  time  the door to the kitchen was
opened,  there  was  the  smell of cleanser or chlorine. Also, most
of  the  chicken  and pork, and sometimes the fish,  had this taste
in  it  as  well.  It  seemed  that whatever the kitchen staff were
using  to  clean  their  knives and cutting surfaces, they were NOT
rinsing  them  properly and the taste was getting into the food. We
thought   that  maybe  we  were being too petty about the taste and
smell  but  we asked a number of other people and the same comments
were made.  One person described the taste as soapy.
In  the  OK  Corral,  the  ribs  had this soapy taste. I had also
ordered  a  shrimp  kabob  with black bean sauce.  The sauce was so
salty,  the  shrimp  were inedible. The one excellent meal here was
the    filet   mignon.   Kimonos  was  probably  the  best  of  the
restaurants.   A  teppanyaki  chef  cooked  your  feast  of shrimp,
scallops,  marlin, beef, pork, chicken and vegetables in front of a
group of 10 guests in a private room.



Once  a week there was a beach BBQ and show and another night there
was  an  Antiguan night buffet which turned out to be the best meal
of  the  vacation.  Also,  we  were  there for Thanksgiving (US) so
there  was  a buffet that night which was also very good. For me to
make  this  statement  about  buffets  is  very important. I detest
buffets  for  evening dining. I will only go to resorts where there
is  a  la  carte  dining  available  every  night.  Also,  what has
happened  to  Caribbean Lobster? There was NO Lobster on any of the
menus!  When  you are paying the per diems of this magnitude, there
should  be  at  least  one lobster feed per week. In summation, the
food  was not too good if you are used to decent  dining back home.
If you enjoy gourmet (fine) dining this resort is NOT for you.



Concerning    the   beverage   selections,  there  were  the  usual
varieties  of alcohol and the bartenders were great. If they didnít
know  about  the  drink  you  wanted, they would ask how to mix it.
Also,  their  only  premium  Scotch  was  JW Black and there was no
Crown  Royal.  Their so-called imported beer was Red Stripe and the
local  beer  is Wadadli (which is a lite beer) which is made by Red
Stripe.

The  biggest disappointment was the wine served at the resort. They
gave  you  a wine list to choose from and out of the 12 whites, red
and  blush, the only drinkable ones were the Pinot Grigio (Italian)
and   the  Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile). I wouldnít buy these 2  back
home  but  they  are  both  about $5-7 in a liquor store in Canada.
They  had  other  wines  for  purchase  but  how about reducing the
selection  and  paying  a  little  more for better wines or selling
upgraded  wines  at  cost to people who know the difference between
grunge and real wine.



Concerning  the  clientele  at  the  resort,  the  first  week  was
primarily  20ish  honeymooners  from the tri-state area (New York).
The second week was a little more mature.

The  biggest  annoyance  was  the  CIGAR  smoking  at  this resort!
Whatever  happened to the health conscious crowd? They were smoking
them  everywhere and even if you were in the non-smoking areas, the
smell  was  always  there!  I  knew that Sandals catered to a young
crowd  but  I  did not expect it to be this young and smoking. Most
of  these  honeymooners  will  not  be  the  returning  guests.  We
attended  the  returning  guests  dinner  and  the  average age was
definitely  40ish  and  believe it or not they handed out cigars to
the  men at the dinner! How about using the cigar money to buy some
lobsters or hiring a real chef .

The  service  was  always pretty decent and the people would go out
of their way to help you or get you something.

After  drinking  (a  taste)  all  the  wines  and  determining  the
drinkable  ones, no matter where we ate, I would always ask for one
of  the  2  and  they would go and get it for us if it was in stock
(they ran out of the Pinot Grigio for awhile).



The  people of Antigua are GREAT! If it werenít for the hotel staff
(specifically  the  Assistant  Manager, Manager of Public Relations
and  the  Head  of  Housekeeping), the great new friends we met and
the people of Antigua, this vacation would have been a bust.



I  had mentioned earlier that we have been to 5 other all-inclusive
properties  before  and I would rate this one as a will NOT return.
We  were in Sandals Negril 7 years ago and the food was much better
back  then.  I  hope  that this Sandals is not an indication of the
other   properties.   I   have   heard  of  other  instances  about
inconsistent  service  and  food quality before about Sandals which
stopped  us  from  coming  back  too soon. I will definitely not be
looking  at  other  Sandals  too  soon  in the future. It took us 7
years   to  return  and  the  next  time  maybe  longer.  The  best
properties  we  have been to have been Ciboney  and Couples in Ocho
Rios, Jamaica.



So  in  closing, if you are youngish (under 30) and want to stay at
a  very beautiful resort and are not too particular about the food,
this  resort  is  for  you.  If you have a palette for fine dining,
find  another  resort  and  make  sure your travel agent knows what
good food is all about.

ARUBA BY DONALD ANTHONY

In  this,  our  4th  Aruba visit, we stayed at the Radisson for the
first  time,  and  enjoyed  it there very much. The rooms of course
are  not  at the level of the Costa Linda, but were still O.K. with
us.  Our  travel  package included a daily breakfast buffet, and we
felt  their breakfast buffet was excellent. They reserve beach huts
by  the  hut  number  on  a  first  come-first  served  basis.  The
towels/huts  building  now  opens  at 8 AM, and some people start a
line  at  7:15  AM  just because they have a favorite hut that they
want.  I got there at 8 AM the first morning, and found about 25 to
30  people  in line ahead of me, but still got a nice hut location,
so there are plenty for all.

The  Radisson will close for renovations on March 1, 1998. They are
telling  people it will be 9-10 months, but everyone seems to think
it  will  take  more like 15-18 months. The plan is to make it a 5-
star  hotel. I did not get feedback on the extent of the plans, but
did  learn  that the casino will move upstairs into what is now the
area  of  the  Papiamento  1  and  2 rooms, which are large meeting
rooms.

We  had a daily shower 4 of the 6 days we were there, but it passed
over  rather  quickly.  I had a rental car from Thrifty, because at
night  we  like  to  drive  to dinner and then move around to a few
casinos,   etc.   Gambling   wise,   I   was   holding  my  own  at
blackjack/craps  for  a few days, win some, lose some. But then, on
my  final  night on the island, hit a terrific "hot shoe" (actually
2 shoes)and won $1000. at blackjack.

Regarding  restaurants,  we  went  to Tony Roma's one night and had
the  most  delicious  ribs  I've  ever had. We always liked the Sea
Gull  for  breakfast,  but  since  we  had  the  Radisson breakfast
included  this  time, we tried the Sea Gull for dinner. We love the
location,  the  food  was  "O.K."  but  nothing  to  brag about. We
visited  our  favorite place, The Buccaneer one evening, and had an
excellent  meal.  Went  for the first time to Sole Mara, an Italian
restaurant  just  a  short  distance  past  where  you turn for the
Buccaneer.  It  was  really  excellent!  Food  was  super,  and the
strolling accordion/guitar players added to the enjoyment.

ARUBA BY MARTIN DOCTROW

Just  back  from our favorite island. Had so much fun I extended my
trip  to  17  days. I will pay the price at the office for weeks to
come.

The  election  was all the talk for two weeks, then it was over and
the  same parties were reelected. It was a pleasure to see everyone
involved  in  the campaigns.. 85% voted. The only inconvenience was
on  election  day  when stores closed at noon. restaurants at 9 and
Air Aruba canceled most flights.

There  are  some  new  places  to  eat on the island..  The Outback
Steakhouse  opened  on  schedule  and  reports were favorable as to
price  and service. Indiana Jones an Indian style steakhouse with a
belly  dancer  has gotten good reviews on the beach. Valantinos has
priced  themselves  out  of  reason  all  al  a  carte with dinners
averaging  $55  per person without any alcohol. La Dolche Vita good
as   usual,   as  was  El  Gaucho,  Que  Pasa,  Chalet  Suisse  and
Trattatoria  de  Ferro  Blanco. Best new place is Le Dome' which is
where  Sandra's  was.  Fine  French  cuisine, excellent service and
fair  pricing.  Reservations  a  must  book  a few days before. Cab
fares  were  raised  just  before  the  election  a  dollar or two.
Airport  to  hotels  now $15 ($13) and hotel to hotel $5 ($4)  Some
cabs  are  not  taking  the  increases  causing confusion among the
tourists.  We  took  three  cabs  from La cabana to Papiamentos and
paid three different fares.

New  bus  terminal  downtown  almost  ready, Paradise resort coming
along  quickly.  Divi Phoenix still being worked on, rumors abound.
A  new  traffic  plan  will  be in place after January 1 making the
road  in  front  of  the Sonesta one way from hotels to airport and
diverting  traffic  through  downtown  area.  Work  well  along  on
revitalizing  old  main street (too little to late??) Main downtown
business  area  is  in Pink Palace (Royal Palm Plaza). Pueblo is no
more   King  Hong  new  market  killed  them.  work  moving  on new
Certified  Market  to  take on King Hong and Ling and Sons. Now you
can  buy  any  food item you want. No need to carry from US. ATM in
supermarkets,  caffeine  free  soda now available it is almost like
home!!!

There  are  6  screens at the Seaport Movies with up to date films.
Tell George that La Cabana serves 11 ounce beers at their bars.

Went  on  an  overland  horseback  ride.. my wife will never let me
forget  that  I  talked her into it. I had previously   taken the 1
hour  ride.  who  knew the 2.5 hour ride was over the mountains and
out to the natural pool. I now know riding downhill is worse.

ARUBA REPORT BY KAAREN SHANAHAN

We  left  JFK  on  11/24  on  time on AA. The only problem with the
flight  was the screaming 11 month old behind us that never stopped
for  three  hours.  We  arrived  in  AUA  at 4 PM to 91 sunny (hot)
degrees.  It  took  forever  to  retrieve our luggage from the new,
renovated(?)  airport.  DePalm  bus  took us through town and round
about  to  get to the Rad because traffic lanes heading out of town
were  closed  for  construction of the new bus terminal (right past
the pink monstrosity).

The  Rad  was  nice, as usual, and we pretty much camped out at Hut
39b (the shady side) the whole time we were there.

We  saw  the Jewel Box Review was going to go on vacation again, so
we  caught their last show, having dinner at the Baccarat Room just
before  it.  Dinner  was  good (could have given us a little larger
portion)  and  the  show  was  great!! Afterwards I got a tee shirt
autographed  by  the cast. Since we didn't have our rental car yet,
we  took  a  taxi  (only  $5).  Afterwards I decided to donate some
money  at  Royal Cabana, but Tom hates the place so much he made me
leave before I gave my full donation.

We  did  the  Carnival  at  the  Rad  for the first time and it was
pretty  good, but pricey ($34pp for dinner and drinks). We met some
black  people at the Carnival and spent the evening with them after
they  thought it was hysterical when Tom complimented them on their
tans.

We  got  our  rental  car  on  Thurs.  at Thrifty, but had a little
disagreement  as to the price. They said $204 per week, we said our
coupon  we  copied from the internet said $170. We haven't received
the final bill to see who won.

We  checked  into  Costa Linda on Friday and ran to the supermarket
before all the other timeshare people arrived.

We  ended up going to Hong King, but really did miss Pueblo. We had
dinner  at  the  Mill,  Filet Mignon excellent as usual CL had some
fund-raiser  fashion  show  on Sat. night for $70, so we decided we
would  go find somewhere to eat. Cars were circling the parking lot
looking  for  a  spot, so we decided not to move the car and eat at
the  Sun Club at CL. ($14 for an early bird- up until 7:30 special,
complete dinner, and it was great!).

Our  happy  hours  were  spent at the Pirate's Nest with Lionel the
bartender.  Any  mixed  drink  half-price from 4-6 PM AND they gave
you  pizza,  chicken wings and fried onion rings. What a Deal!! You
could  get  entertained  by  PACO,  the man eating parrot. He loved
women,  would  let  men  pet  him, the when they least expected it,
BITE!!

We  ate  at  Chalet  Suisse  twice  and  said  hello  to Bennie for
everyone.  He  is  so  proud to be mentioned on our Chats. Jean, he
especially  misses  you and says his arm is cold without you there.
We  had  the  rack  of  lamb, Beef Stoganoff, Lobster Tail and Veal
Scallopini (each dinner was better than the next). $$$$

We  ate  at  Roma Di Notte, which was sold since last year, but the
ex-owner   continues   to  make  the  homemade  pasta.  Dinner  was
excellent and the mgr is wonderful.

Tony  Roma's  was  good,  and  a  great  buy.  Le  Dome (long pants
required) was good, but not all that busy.(the old Sandra's).

Le  Bistroquet  is one of my favorites because of the hot rock, and
Tom  didn't even burn his mouth this time. We were going to try the
new  Argentinian  steak  house,  Tango,  but too many people didn't
like  it  so  we  went  to  our  usual, El Gaucho's. Still the best
steaks  on  the  island. We did our shopping thing, snorkeled at De
Palm  Island  and  Baby Beach, horseback riding at Rancho Del Campo
(Tom  didn't  get  bitten  this  Year), and the best was a sailboat
trip  to  Venezuela  on the Monsoon. When I wasn't leaning over the
side  getting sick, it was really nice. We had a school of Dolphins
following us for awhile.

Trip home, more screaming kids, but we still had fun!!

BONAIRE BY P. L. SPERRY

For  those  who are not familiar with it, the Sorobon is located on
the   island   of  Bonaire.  Bonaire,  located  off  the  coast  of
Venezuela,  is,  together  with  the  nearby  islands  of Aruba and
Curacao,  part  of  the  Netherlands Antillies. Bonaire is not your
typical  Caribbean  island; it is essentially flat and arid. Do not
expect  waving palm trees and hybiscus - it runs more to cactus and
rock.  Bonaire  is  not  noted  for  its  restaurants or night life
although  there  are  a  couple of casinos. That being said, I like
Bonaire  a  lot.  There  are  no stop signs, let alone stop lights,
there  are  herds of wild goats and donkeys, flamingos, iguanas and
some  parrots.  I am not a diver but it is reputed to be one of the
world's  best  scuba/snorkeling  locations  with  most of the sites
accessible  from  the  shore. People either seem to love Bonaire or
hate it.

You  _can_  get  along  without  one  but  a  car  is pretty much a
necessity.

The  Sorobon  is  a small clothing optional resort consisting of 25
duplex  cabins.  Each half consists of a sitting/dining/kitchenette
room,  a  bedroom  and  bathroom. There is no air-conditioning, TV,
'phones  or stuff like that. The bedroom can be a bit stuffy during
the  day  but I have found it to be comfortable at night. For those
familiar  with  Club  Orient,  the  accommodations are a cut or two
above  CO's  studios but perhaps not quite as good as the chalets -
I  am  not  all  that  familiar with the chalets. There is a small,
_really_  small, beach with plenty of shelter from both the sun and
the  constant  breeze  (  if  you call 10 to 20 mph a breeze - hang
onto your hat ).

The  Sorobon  is located on Lac Bai, a shallow, reef protected bay.
Here,  shallow  means  waist deep or less - one can wade out to the
reef.  This  is  the  place  to  learn  to  windsurf and there is a
windsurfing business adjacent.

I  was  last at the Sorobon two years ago as a Club Orient refugee.
(  This year as an Eden Bay refugee. ) There have been many changes
in those two years.

The  expansion  is  now  complete and the new landscaping has had a
chance  to  mature.  They  seem to be making a real effort with the
landscaping  and,  although  "manicured" does not spring to mind, a
drip  irrigation  system  has been installed to try and keep things
healthy.  The  older units have all been refurbished. The hot water
is  still  solar  - as a single, I get along all right but a couple
or  more  had  better like tepid showers I think. The paths are now
well lit at night in a subdued sort of way.

The  Sorobon  seems  to be trying to position itself as a mini Club
Orient.

The  small  restaurant  (  which as been different each of the five
times  I  have  been there ) is now called the "Sugarbird" and is a
"real"  although  small  restaurant  and  had more customers than I
have  seen  in  the past The food is OK to good with a variable but
limited  menu  - about US$25 a person. They now serve breakfast and
lunch  and have a pretty good salad and sandwich take out service -
much  appreciated  by  me.  Virtually everyone still seems to dress
for dinner - breakfast and lunch are more informal.

There  is  an  on-premises  masseuse/beautician  (  I  did  not try
that.).  They  offer  a  nude  trimaran trip to Kline Bonaire ( nor
that).  There are ocean kayacks available. They have added - wonder
of  wonders  -  an ice machine. There is a petanque court - I never
saw anyone using it.

There  are  now  some sundries available for purchase. Don't expect
to  fulfill  all  your  supermarket  needs  but  if  you run out of
toothpaste  or  milk  or orange juice you don't need to make a trip
into  town.  The  Sorobon  _is  _quiet_.  Although  they  were near
capacity,  I  often  felt  as  if  I  were the only one there. Club
Orient  is  a  hotbed  of frantic activity compared to the Sorobon.
For  those  don't  mind  a  slightly  eccentric island, who are not
looking  for  a  luxurious resort, who can entertain themselves and
especially  for  divers,  I suggest you give the Sorobon a try - it
is  not  Club  Orient  (  nor  is  Bonaire  St.  Martin ) but it is
pleasant  in its own way and is a lot more professional than it was
in '91 when I first went there.

The  Sorobon  has  a  web  site:  <http://www.sorobon.com/>  which,
however,  seems  to  be  inoperable  at  the  moment. Some outdated
information     is     also    available    at    <http://www.bare-
necessities.com/sorobon.htm>

CAYMAN TRIP REPORT BY ANNE BULLARD

We  had  a  direct  flight  from Charlotte NC that was about 3 hrs.
Upon  arriving we could clearly see why this is a favorite...clean,
safe   and  flat...we  rented  a  car  and  it  was  very  easy  to
drive...the roads are excellent compared to other islands.

We  stayed  at  Victoria  House  in  what  they  called a 2 bedroom
penthouse.  It  was  an end unit right on 7 mile beach. Their staff
could  not  have  been nicer or provided better service. I will say
and  mean  no reflection on Victoria House but I would have enjoyed
staying  between  the Holiday Inn and T/I. I then could have walked
to some shopping areas.

Stingray  City  was  tops. We went with Capt. Marvin's and ended up
with  a total of just 6 in our group. That was wonderful to have so
few  our  original  group  was suppose to be 30 and this other boat
only  had  3 so they switched us to the smaller tour. The guy spent
lots  of  time  and with only 6 it was like a private charter. That
trip  really  was  amazing...to  think  I  would  actually  hold  a
stingray.

We  snorkeled  Cemetary  Reef, the reef at T/I, Spots Beach and the
beach  at Indies. Our first trip to Cemetary was a bust because the
water  was  so cloudy from the current. We did go back 2 more times
and  it was good. The fish have been fed so much they swim all over
you  for  their daily meal. Lots of fish...honestly I feel the real
lure  is the diving...the snorkeling was ok but diving must be key.
We  had  1 rainy day on Sunday so we drove to Rum Point...all shops
were closed in Georgetown as well as the liquor stores.

Now  for  the restaurants...Edoardo's was the best food and service
was   excellent...however  it  was  Sat.  night  and  with  a  9:00
reservation  we  were  seated  at  9:45. They made up for the wait.
Cracked  Conch was very good, Benjamin's Roof was good. Our mistake
was  the  Lone  Star on Friday night for prime rib. It was bar food
and  not  good  with  a $5 glass of tea...get real!!! We stuffed on
the  Sunday  H/Inn  buffet great deal for the money. We took Dave's
advice  and  that  night  just  visited  the  Wharf  for the tarpon
feeding...unreal  how  they  show  up for food. Jerry the bakery at
the  seven  mile  shops  was  wonderful. I even took stuff home. We
stopped  by  3 times even though diet is my middle name I could not
resist some of their pastries.

The  new  Foster's  grocery store is very nice. We did not cook but
bought  drinks and junk food. My husband liked the Stingray beer so
we  visited  the brewery on the way to the airport. Shopping forget
it!!!  We  bought  some prints, hot sauce and T shirts, I liked the
shop  at  the  Wharf,  Too  Hot and Island Dogs. Of course we drove
through Hell... we were tourist to the ultimate degree.

It's  a great place but almost too sophisticated for an island...or
maybe  it  is  like Bermuda with the English influence. I'm glad we
visited...it  was  a  good trip. Now we understand why Grand Cayman
is so popular and enjoyable. It was a good vacation!!!

CAYMAN BY LAWRENCE KAMINSKY

My  wife and I just returned from a five night stay at the Marriott
and  had  a  wonderful  time.  I really didn't want to leave and am
ready  to  turn  around  and  go  back. If is wan't so expensive, I
think I could retire there.

Based   on  suggestions  made  we  ate  at  the  following  places:
Benjamin's  Roof  - Just okay. I think it would have been better if
we had ordered something other than crab.

Casanova  -  Great. My wife ordered off the menu and they were very
happy to make it.

The  Peninsula at the Marriott - The swordfish was terrific. We ate
at  a  chinese  resturant  near Edwardo's (couldn't get in there on
Saturday  night).  The  chinese  food was very good but it was slow
since they had such a big take out business.

For  lunch  we  ate  at  the Lighthouse at the Breakers,the Cracked
Conch,  the  Hog Sty, and Burger King. All were very good (even the
grilled  chicken sandwich at BK) We went for drinks at the Wharf to
see the Tarphon feeding at 9PM (Must see!).

We  had  a car which was relatively expensive at $ 50 per day after
a  $  10/day  insurance charge.Next time we will get a car for only
one day and take cabs to the beaches and the resturants.

The  beaches  were  unbeleiveably  clean  and the water was crystal
clear.  Just  bring a little bread crumbs out to the reef (the best
we went to was "Cemetary Reef") and the fish swarm all over you.

We  took  a day sail and snorkeling trip with Red Sail Sports ($ 65
US  per  person  including  lunch  and  equipment). They took us to
Stingray  City  and  one of the reefs. I felt it was very worth the
price.

Not  much  to  do  in the evenings after dinner but that suited our
plans  since we were trying to have a relaxing trip to recharge our
batteries and it was better than we expected.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: CASA DE CAMPO BY JAMES HINSCH JR

Airport.

We  chose  to  arrive at Santo Domingo s Las Americas International
Airport  (code  SDQ, Aeropuerto Internacional Las Americas or AILA)
instead  of  flying  directly  into La Romana because we would have
had  to connect. It was faster to arrive in Santo Domingo and drive
to  Casa  de  Campo  than  it  was  to connect via air, and we also
didn't have to worry about missing our connection.

Our  voucher  had told us to go to some desk (I can't remember what
they  called  it), but I couldn't find it. Some taxi guys out front
(there were

dozens  of them pleading to be my driver) directed me to a Tropical
Tours  bus,  but our name was not on their list of passengers going
to  Casa  de Campo. They directed us to a Taxi van and we were told
to pay the driver

US$60,  but  that  the resort would reimburse us. The voucher I had
indicated  that  our  transportation provider should not charge us,
but  if  they  did,  to  get  a  receipt  and  that the hotel would
reimburse  us.  So,  we decided to go in the taxi and therefore had
our own comfortable and air-conditioned ride to the resort.

I  directed  the  driver  to  stop at a colmado (small store) so we
could  pick  up  a few beers for the road and I bought the driver a
Coke.  There,  Veronica  got  her  first  taste  of  the  Dominican
Republic   in   the   area   near  Santo  Domingo  s  Las  Americas
International  Airport. A bunch of small children came up to us and
were  begging for money. One was rubbing his stomach to indicate he
was  hungry  and  gave  a  big frown. His friend smacked him in the
face  and he returned to a smiling little boy with his hand out. We
passed  out Peso coins (valued at about US$0.07 each). They thanked
us and waved as we left.

The  ride  to  the  resort, although advertised as 1 ? hours took 1
hour  and 10 minutes. The road to La Romana, where Casa de Campo is
located,  is  only  about  5  years  old  since it was redone is in
excellent  condition.  It  is  a  two-lane  highway  made of smooth
asphalt.  The  trip was uninteresting. The only real town we passed
through was San Pedro de Macoris. The landscape
is mostly rural.

Arrival.  When  we  arrived at the resort, I asked the driver for a
receipt,  but  he  didn't  have one, so I told him to come into the
reception  area  with  me.  I  explained  to the front desk that my
voucher  from  GoGo  Tours  had  indicated  that  the  hotel  would
reimburse  me if the driver charged me for transportation, and that
since  the  driver  was here now, they could just pay him directly,
which they did without discussion.

The  reception  area was small and unimpressive. We were checked in
minutes  and  after some brief explanations about what was included
and  where  things were located, we were given a map of the resort,
some  papers  describing  what  we  had  been told, and two plastic
cards  that could be used as charge cards throughout the resort and
the  town  of  Altos  de  Chavon. We were taken to our room via the
bellmen  on  a  golf cart. We were on the golf card about 5 seconds
and  we  were  at  our room. We commented how if we had know it was
only  50  feet  away, we could have walked. It happened to be about
the  most  convenient  location  on the property, with the pool and
hotel  area,  along with the only restaurant open for breakfast all
within  very  close  walking  distance. We were in casita room 209.
Note  that there is a villa located elsewhere with the same number,
as  during  our  stay, several deliveries meant for the villa ended
up mistakenly at our door.

The  Room.  We  stayed  in  what  the  resort calls a casita, which
translates  roughly  to "little house". The casitas are hotel rooms
that  are  all  connected  side  to  side,  with  a terrace out the
backside,  the entrance in the front (some with car ports), and all
1  story.  The  setup is similar to a 1story motel except the rooms
have terraces on the backside. The room had a cathedral ceiling.

On  entering  the  room,  there  was  a small counter with a coffee
maker  and  coffee.  Below  it was a mini refrigerator stocked with
liquors,  soda,  water, and munchies. Because it was stocked, there
wasn't  any  room  to  make  personal  use of it, but we managed to
rearrange  things  to  that  we  could  store  the  free  bottle of
Champagne  that  Continental  Airlines  had  given us on the flight
over.  Items in the minibar are not included, but the only items we
took  from  it  during  our  trip were bottles of water (45 a day),
cigarettes,  and  a  candy bar. The minibar was restocked every day
about noon.

Inside  the  room (via a modern electronic door lock the kind where
you  insert a plastic punch card we were given two) were two double
beds,  a  small  walk-in  closet  with  a  chair  and a full length
mirror,  an  average  sink,  a  hair  driver, and a bathroom with a
bidet.  The closet also had an iron and full size ironing board, as
well  as an electronic digital security safe (you enter 4 digits of
your  choice  to  lock  and the same digits are entered to unlock).
The back wall is lined with doors, wall to wall, and

each  door  has  a  screen,  shudder  panels  that can be opened or
closed,  and  an additional glass door over those. These doors open
up  to  the  back  terrace, which has a small table and two chairs.
Our  terrace  didn't overlook anything spectacular just a courtyard
with  more  casitas.There was a book in the room that explained all
that  was available at the resort, as well as short descriptions of
excursions and restaurants.

Food.  There  are  numerous  restaurants, but only 1 for breakfast.
Most  of  the  restaurants  require  reservations,  long  pants and
collared  shirts for the gentlemen, and nice attire for the ladies.
We  sampled  all  but  two  restaurants  (El Sombrero, a delightful
little  place  serving TEXMEX fare, and El Pescador, located at the
beach and serving seafood).

Lago  Grill.  No  Reservations  needed,  casual  attire (shorts and
Tshirts  allowed).  This is the only restaurant open for breakfast.
Breakfast  is  a buffet with all eggs cooked to order and the usual
array  of  breakfast  stuff. It was as good as any breakfast buffet
I've  experienced  in  the Caribbean and overlooks part of the golf
course  and  the  sea.  Eggs  were cooked up quickly, as there were
always  two  cooks,  each operating 6 burners. Breakfast was served
until 11:00am.

19th  Hole  Bar.  No Reservations needed, casual attire (shorts and
Tshirts  allowed).  This  was  the  only place to eat between 3 and
5pm.  All  they  have  are sandwiches. You select from a variety of
ingredients and breads and they

custom  make  your sandwich. This place was located adjacent to the
proshop  and  we  ended  up  eating there twice by default. Nothing
special  but a really nice view over the golf course and out to the
sea.Tropicana.  Reservations required, long pants, collared shirts,
etc.  Located  right  at  the main hotel building, this was a steak
house.  Their  food  was  incredibly  good and served in a romantic
setting  overlooking  a tropical garden. Angus beef is served here,
two  inches  thick.  We chose this place our first night because it
was  the  only  reservations required restaurant that we could walk
to.

El  Patio.  No  Reservations  needed,  casual  attire  (shorts  and
Tshirts  allowed).  A  simple  country  restaurant  with simple but
tasty   menu  items,  including  Dominican  Stew  and  other  local
culinary  specialties.  Located within the main hotel building, the
food was very good and the service was speedy and attentive.

El  Cano  Bar.  No  Reservations  needed, casual attire (shorts and
Tshirts  allowed),  swimsuits allowed with cover-up. This is mostly
a  bar  with  musical  entertainment in the evening. They also have
Cuban   and  club  sandwiches,  fried  chicken,  French  fries  and
popcorn.

Tables  are  small  lounge  style  tables  and I would describe the
place as a lobby bar.

La  Piazzeta.  Reservations  required, long pants, collared shirts,
etc.  A  fine  Italian  restaurant  in  Altos  de  Chavon. Food and
service  were  excellent  and  the  ambiance was wonderful as well.
Their  pasta  bar  was  excellent  and I had ostrich, which was the
first time I had ever had it.

It  tasted  like  medallions  of beef in a mustard sauce. It was OK
but I don t think I d order it again.

Cafe  del  Sol.  No  Reservations needed, casual attire (shorts and
Tshirts  allowed).  This  is a nice pizza place and they also serve
ice  cream.  Half of the seating is outdoors and is situated in the
center  of  Altos de Chavon. The setting was very relaxed. I've had
better pizza. The service was fast.

We  ate  there  late in the afternoon (about 5:00p) and we were the
only patrons. They had just opened.

Cafe  del  Rio. Reservations required, long pants, collared shirts,
etc.  We were unable to get reservations here until our last night,
so  make  your reservation for this place immediately upon arrival.
This is the resorts

finest  restaurant  and  they  serve French food in a romantic 17th
century  setting.  A fantastic place to eat and perched on the edge
of  the  rock  hilltop of Altos de Chavon with spectacular views of
the  river down below. I give it 45 stars. Veronica had cornish hen
and  I  had  rack of lamb. The banana souffle was out of this world
and  the creme brulee was average. Korbel Brut Champagne was served
by the glass (included).

Room  Service.  Room  service  was also included, but we didn't use
it.  The  menu  was limited to sandwiches. The also offer an option
to  deliver  complete  box  lunches to your room so that you can go
off on your and an bring your lunch with you.

The  Main  Hotel  Area.  The  main hotel area contains a gift shop,
tobacco  shop,  liquor  store,  a bank, an excursions desk, an Avis
Car  Rental  counter,  a  golf  card  rental counter, the reception
desk,   an   information   counter,  La  Cana  Bar,  the  Tropicana
Restaurant,  the  El  Patio, a small courtyard, a florist, a beauty
salon,  American  Airlines  counter,  a  florist,  a  beauty salon,
American  Airlines  counter,  and  the  pool  area.  None of it was
spectacular  and  I  would  even  say it was small, considering the
size of the resort.

The  Main  Pool  Area.  The  main  pool  was  one  of  the resort s
disappointments.  It  is  set  up  with  a shallow pool at one end,
stepping  down  some stair, water fall feeds the second pool, which
goes  to  about  9  feet deep and has a tiny swim-up bar at one end
and a baby pool off to one side.

There  were  plenty  of  chairs  and pool attendants bring you your
towels  and set them up on your chair. They also will relocate your
chairs for you.

The  pools  was  square  and nothing spectacular, but adequate. The
morning  hours  were filled every day with kids yelling and playing
marcopolo.  The  perimeter of the pool area is surrounded by plants
and  trees.  I  could  not  relax  because of the noise, flies, and
mosquitoes.

Drink  service  varied  between  5 and 20 minutes. The food from La
Cana bar

was  also available. The club sandwich I ordered took 20 minutes to
arrive.

The  Beach. The beach was also very unspectacular. It was small and
clean  and  not  so  beautiful  when  compared  to  other Caribbean
beaches.  The  sand  was a graining golden brown and not compacted.
Both  ends  of  the  beach were bordered by large stone walls, with
golf  course  on the other side of each of the walls, so it was not
possible  to  take  a  beach walk of more than a few hundred yards.
Beach  service  was  good.  They  bring  you  your beach chairs and
towels and set them up right where you tell them.

The  beach  was  inconveniently  located such that it could only be
reached by bus or a 10 minute ride in the golf cart.

Water  sports  were  limited, but there were sunfishes, catamarans,
kayaks,  paddle  boats,  and  snorkel equipment available. About 50
yards  out  into  the  water,  a  manmade  breakwall of stack rocks
formed  the  back  boarder  of the swim area. Snorkeling was not so
good  on  the swimming side of the rocks but on the backside of the
rocks were lots of fish and submerged reefs.

No  motorized  water  sports  of any kind were available and when I
inquired  about  renting  the  only  boat there, a work boat with a
60hp  outboard,  I  was  told that it was a rescue boat. After some
negotiation,  I  arranged  to take an "excursion" (water skiing) on
the  boat  before the beach opened, from 8 9am. I had to provide my
own  equipment  (rope,  handle, ski, and gloves) and I didn't use a
jacket. The boat was a real piece of junk.

As  we  headed out into the ocean it was clear we were not going to
find  any  spot where the water was sufficiently smooth amongst the
giant  swells.  The  driver suggested we go up the river. The river
was  as  smooth  as  glass  and  the water was a black brown color,
making  it  look  like a giant mirror. To one side were rock cliffs
that  went  up  what  I would guess to be about 1000 feet, with the
town Altos de Chavon perched at the top.

The  other  side  was  filled  with  grass and tree filled meadows,
grazing  cattle, and various other river sights. It was a fantastic
tour  that  lasted  for  about  an  hour and took me 5 miles up the
river,  three  times  there and back to the mouth. There, we passed
people  fishing  and  some  Dominican  people  that live off of the
river.

I  was  so  thrilled  with the trip, for which I paid US$75, that I
brought  Veronica  along  the  next  morning  to  do it again, even
though  she  would  ordinarily  be quite bored watching me ski. The
water  was intensely smooth as I threw giant rooster tails into the
air  side  to side, bringing in quite a few unusual stares from the
local  river  people.  I was told that it is somewhat rare to see a
water  skier up this river, although a Swiss guy had done it just a
few weeks earlier.

Because  there wasn't any good spot to tie my rope onto, we tied it
to  a piece of cotton rope that was already attached to the back of
the  boat. The friction between my ski rope (which was the best and
brand  new)  and  the cotton rope caused my rope to break once, and
later, the cotton rope broke.

The  Shooting Center They have a Trap Field, a Skeet Field, Flyers,
and  Sporting  Clays.  I  went  for  the  Sporting  Clays, where we
enjoyed  simulated hunting. We would go off into the woods on these
trails  in  a  golf cart, with two Dominicans on the back. Every 50
yards,  we  d  stop, and one Dominican would run off into the woods
where he would locate one of the clay disk launching machines.

The  other Dominican would signal when I was ready for they disk to
be  launched,  let  me  know where to expect the clays to come, and
hand me my shotgun shells.

There  are  over  300  different  positions  to  shoot  from in the
Sporting  Clays  section.  I  shot  over trees, from bunkers carved
into  the  ground,  and  they  even  had clays that shot across the
ground  like  running  rabbits. The sent clays directly at me, over
my  head,  away  from  me,  off  to  the sides, and in a variety of
patterns.   The  cost  was  US$150  for  1  hour  and  100  shells.
Reservations  were required. I had never fired a shotgun before and
they  spent  a few minutes with me in the beginning to instruct me.
Had  Veronica  wanted to shoot, they offered a variety of different
shotgun and ammo sizes.

Golf.  While  golf  is  one  of the biggest draws to this resort, I
didn't  play.  I'm not so good and didn't want to go hacking around
such  a  nice  course.  Word  was  though that there were plenty of
hackers  out  there, so next time I'll play a round. They also have
a  driving  range for practice. I asked some other guests what they
highlight  of their trip to Casa de Campo was and they all told me,
the golf.

Tennis.  They  have numerous regular and clay courts including some
lit for night play, but I didn't play.

Horse  Back Riding. Apparently, they have quite a ranch for riding,
but I didn't t go. I really don t like horses.

Disco.  There  is one disco located in the town of Altos de Chavon.
It  was medium sized, air conditioned, quite comfortable with sofas
and  cushy  chairs  along one side and all the high-tech lights and
sound  you would expect from a disco. It was only open on Thursday,
Friday,  and Saturday nights. Friday it was crowded but it was kind
of  dead  on Saturday. The restrooms have attendants. The reception
area  had  told  me  it  was open to the public but some Dominicans
confided  to  me  that  Dominicans  cannot  enter  unless  they are
somehow associated with the resort.

The  Property.  Casa  de Campo translates roughly to Country House.
The  word  "campo"  in  the  Dominican  Republic is usually used to
refer to a rural area, but it can also mean any wide-open field.

Rather  than  describe  Casa de Campo as a resort, I would describe
it  as  an  upscale  private  suburban  neighborhood (think Beverly
Hills)  and  country club. Its property is vast and goes for miles.
Most  of  the  property  in  fact  is made up of private and rental
homes  that  cost  between  US$250,000  US$1,000,000.  Some  really
beautiful  homes are here, including many owned by celebrities. The
resort  is  essentially a bunch of winding asphalt roads that weave
through   the   hundreds  of  houses,  beautifully  landscaped  and
decorated,  some  of which are under construction and many of which
can  be rented as villas, some with private pools. I was constantly
sighing, "Wow. Look at THAT house."

I  would  recommend that on arrival, you immediately go to the "red
carts"  rental  desk  next  to  reception  and  rent a golf card at
US$27/day.  You  really  need them to get around the resort. It was
fun  to  tour  the  property  for  an afternoon and look at all the
houses,  but it became clear that most of the resort was made up of
private and rented villas and closed to the individual guests.

The  bottom  line,  was that I was grew quite bored with the place,
was  disappointed  with  the pool, the beach, the lack of motorized
watersports,  the fact that everything was so spread out you had to
drive  everywhere you go, and that you had to make a reservation to
eat  at  most  of the restaurants (I don t like to plan when I m on
vacation).  I should have brought my rollerblades as the roads were
perfect  for  blading.  I  did  see some kids on in-line skates one
day.

They  do  not  allow  the  red golf carts up to Altos de Chavon, to
leave  the  resort,  or  onto  the golf course. The golf course has
their  own  white  carts  for  rent. They have frequent shuttle bus
service  throughout  the  resort  to  get  to  the  beach, Altos de
Chavon,  and  other  areas,  but  having your own cart is much more
convenient.

Most  of  the  resort guests, from what I could tell, were American
(maybe  75%), and almost all the employees spoke good English. They
were  also  a  very  friendly  and  helpful bunch of employees that
really  seemed  to  enjoy  their job. Service throughout the resort
was  spectacular  not just relative to the typical slow service I d
experienced  elsewhere in the Caribbean. The speed of service would
be  considered  fast,  especially  in  the  restaurants, even to us
hurried Americans.

Altos  de  Chavon.  Altos  de Chavon is a replica of a 17th Century
Mediterranean  village  built  on  top  of  a  rock  cliff and also
constructed  of  rock,  and is part of the Casa de Campo Resort. It
was  built  by a group of artists. The village is only a few blocks
long,  plus  an  absolutely  giant  amphitheater,  and  a disco. It
overlooks  high above the Chavon River with breathtaking views. The
town  has  several  restaurants,  some  art  galleries, a church, a
park,  and a few shops. The floor is all brick and stone throughout
and  is  really  fun for an afternoon walking tour. After that, you
won  t want to bother coming back except for the fine dining at the
various  restaurants. I saw a wedding in the old church while I was
there and it was really fantastic.

Ladies  don't  wear  narrow  spiked  heels when you visit this town
because   walking  along  the  stone  and  brick  ground  could  be
hazardous.  Veronica  had a tough time walking around at night with
fancy  shoes  as  the heels kept slipping into the crevices between
the stones.

Fitness  Center.  There  was  a fitness center across from the main
hotel  area. I did not use the facilities but I did tour the place.
There  were a few racquet ball courts, a sauna, and a workout room.
The  workout  room  was  small  with  only  about a dozen different
machines. It was not impressive, but adequate.

Kids  Center. I also toured the kids center. It resembled a typical
day  care  center  as  you  might  find  in any Midwestern American
suburb.  Nothing  special. The resort also offers nanny service and
I  witnessed  a  couple bratty kids telling their Dominican Nannies
that  "I  can  do  anything  I want" when they were asked to settle
down on one of the buses. The nannies remained calm.

What  was  included  (at  about  US$150 per person, per night). The
room.  All  meals  and  drinks at all the restaurants, bars, beach,
room  service,  and  pool areas, except for bottles of wine and the
in-room  minibar. Horseback riding. Tennis (equipment not included)
Water  sports at the beach. Use of the fitness center. Kids program
(up  to  2  children per room) Towels and lounge chairs at the pool
and  beach. Transportation throughout the resort. Transportation to
and from the airport.

La  Romana.  I  did go into La Romana 3 nights and had a good time,
but  it  s  not  for  everybody. Since this review is about Casa de
Campo,  I'll defer from describing the details, other than that the
places  I  went  were  typical  Dominican  night  life scenes loud,
crowded,  lots  of  Merengue  dancing, etc. I didn't t see a single
other tourist while I was out either.

Summary.  Casa  de  Campo is a spectacular property and first class
most of the way.

Overall,  I  had  a great time and will likely return, but probably
only  if  I  can  convince at least another couple to join us. As a
beach  resort I found it lacking and the pool wasn't so spectacular
either.  For  those that don t care that much about the pool or the
beach,  but  love golf or tennis, this is great place. I was bored,
so 4 days was just right for my stay.

Any  longer  and  I  d have run out of stuff to do. The service and
food  were  excellent  in fact as good or better than anywhere I've
experienced  in  the Caribbean. This would be a nice place to build
a house and retire. I m considering it!

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