Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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(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
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/
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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>
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!!!
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.
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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