Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 102
February 1, 2000

Last Update 28 Jan 2000

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REGIONAL NEWS

ARUBA RADISSON ARUBA CARIBBEAN RESORT ANNOUNCES SPECIAL PREVIEW RATES FOR WINTER SEASON

-- Unusual High Season Opportunity Offers Great Value --

ARUBA,  January 3, 2000 – While most Caribbean properties are raising 
their  prices  for  winter,  Radisson Aruba Caribbean Resort, Aruba's 
newest  five-star  caliber  property,  is  offering  vacationers  the 
opportunity  to save up to 43% off winter rates in honor of its grand 
reopening.

The  Radisson  Aruba  Caribbean  Resort, one of the island's original 
resorts,  reopened  on  January 1, 2000 with a first-class management 
team   and   a   brand   new  look  following  a  major  $55  million 
transformation.  The  resort  is welcoming guests with a special $250 
per  night  introductory rate now through April 24, 2000. The rate is 
based   on   double   occupancy   and   includes   breakfast   daily. 
Accommodations  are  offered run of house and the offer is subject to 
availability.

Located  on  Aruba's  famed Palm Beach, the "new" resort features 240 
rooms  including  19 one-bedroom suites as of January, and will offer 
358   elegantly   appointed   guest   accommodations  by  April.  The 
refurbished   resort   also   boasts   exotic  landscaping  including 
waterfalls  and  lagoons,  lounges and restaurants. Only the view and 
the island's most perfect beach location remain the same.

For  information and reservations, call Radisson at (800) 333-3333 or 
Radisson  Aruba  Caribbean  Resort  directly  at (297) 866555, or see 
your  travel  professional.  You can also visit the resort on-line at 
www.radisson.com/palmbeachaw.

SECOND ANNUAL NEGRIL FAT TIRE FESTIVAL SLATED FOR FEBRUARY 8-12, 2000

Jamaican  National Championship Series Race Anchors Festival February 
11;  12,  2000  Event Hosted by Jamaica Mountain Bike Association and 
Rustys X-cellent Adventures 

New  York,  NY  December  1999  --  Sanctioned by the Jamaica Cycling 
Federation  and  hosted  by the Jamaica Mountain Bike Association and 
adventure  tour  operator  Rusty's  Excellent  Adventures, the Second 
Annual  Negril  Fat  Tire  Festival  has  been  slated  for  Tuesday, 
February  8  to Saturday, February 12, 2000. Anchoring the Festival's 
activities  is  the Jamaican National Championship Series race, to be 
held  Friday,  February  11  and  Saturday,  February  12, which will 
determine  the  Jamaican  National Champion. The best Jamaican riders 
may  become  part of the Jamaican National Mountain Bike Team and may 
be  eligible  to participate in international UCI and World Cup races 
in preparation for the Pan American and Olympic games. 

The  Championship  Series  will  have  a Downhill and a Cross-Country 
competition.  The  Downhill  Race  is  scheduled for 10:00am, Friday, 
February  11  and will be a two-man eliminator format.; This exciting 
head-to-head  racing  will  take  place over a one-mile course and is 
expected  to  be  fast  and furious. The Cross Country Race is slated 
for  10:00am,  Saturday,  February  12,  and is set on a scenic, four 
mile,  99%  single-track loop that includes one major hill climb.; In 
this competition the expert class race will complete seven laps. 

Both  the  Downhill and the Cross Country race courses are located in 
the  hills  just  above the Negril Bay, close to the downtown area of 
Jamaica's  most  picturesque,  out-in-the-country  tourist town, with 
spectacular  scenic  views.  For  spectators  there is vehicle access 
parallel  to some sections of the racecourse, as well as at the start 
and finish lines. 

All  riders are welcome to participate and may compete in expert or a 
combined  sport / beginner class. A helmet law will be in effect, 26-
inch  (big  wheels)  are mandatory, and there is a JA$250 (US$7) race 
entry  fee.  Talent, prizes and sponsors to be announced. There is no 
charge  for  admission for spectators and as witnessed at last year's 
inaugural  event,  fans are encouraged to participate in other Negril 
Fat  Tire  Festival activities such as the famed Cave Rave;, a guided 
night  ride to a giant limestone cave in Little Bay lit with hundreds 
of  candles;  a  scavenger  hunt  by bicycle; and a street party with 
plenty  of  *reggae  music  and  a chance to experience warm Jamaican 
hospitality and spirited humor! 

Nearby  on  Negril's  popular  "West  End";  festivalgoers  will find 
charming  accommodations  in  small  inns  and hotels; with plenty of 
nightlife;  that dot the dramatic cliffs for which the area is known. 
Sparkling-clear,  bath-warm azure seas are just outside your door and 
affordable  air  and  hotel  packages  or  tourist information can be 
found  by  calling  1-800-JAMAICA, or by visiting the Jamaica Tourist 
Board website at jamaicatravel.com. 

For  more  information  on  the  Negril  Fat  Tire Festival, Jamaican 
National  Championship  Series,  or directions to the race site, call 
Rusty's   X-cellent   Adventures   at   (876)   957-0155   or   email 
jamtnbikeassc@cwjamaica.com.   Rusty's   X-cellent  Adventures  is  a 
mountain  bike  and adventure tour company; a division of the Jamaica 
Mountain  Bike Association Limited (JAMBA).; JAMBA, recognized by the 
Jamaica  Olympic  Association,  Ministry of Sports and Labour and the 
Jamaica  Cycling  Federation,  is  dedicated  to  promoting  mountain 
biking  in  Jamaica  and  to  the  support  of  the Jamaican National 
Mountain Bike Team. 

CELEBRATE JAMAICA…FAMILY STYLE!

* THREE-DAY JAMAICA FAMILY FESTIVAL SET FOR FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND *

NEW  YORK,  NY,  JANUARY 2000 -- Jamaica has long been considered the 
pioneer  of  the  family-oriented  resort. Today, the island boasts a 
number   of  resorts  just  for  families,  with  special  children’s 
programs and fun activities for kids and parents alike.

Now,  the  island  will  be  celebrating family togetherness during a 
special  three-day  "Jamaica  Family  Festival" set for the Fourth of 
July Weekend!

The  first-ever  Jamaica Family Festival, taking place from July 1-3, 
2000,  is  a unique opportunity for families to experience the island 
and  all  her  family charms. The gorgeous resort area of Montego Bay 
will  be  the  setting  for  this inaugural event, which will feature 
activities    for    all   ages   and   once-in-a-lifetime   cultural 
opportunities. 

"Jamaica  has  always  welcomed  families  with  open arms," said Fay 
Pickersgill,  Director  of  Tourism.  "With  this  in  mind,  we have 
created  a  Festival  that will allow our visitors the opportunity to 
experience  our  traditions  and  trademark  hospitality while at the 
same time enjoying all that the island has to offer.

"We  hope that in addition to the activities we have planned that our 
guests  will  take  advantage  of  programs  such  as  our  ‘Meet the 
People,"   Pickersgill  said.  "This  program  will  pair  them  with 
Jamaican  families  and allow them to experience our wonderful island 
as  we  do  every  day,  giving  them wonderful memories and newfound 
friends," she added.

Visitors  will  dive  right  into  the  fun  on Saturday, July 1 when 
Gloucester  Street  comes alive with the sights, sounds and delicious 
smells  of  an  authentic  Jamaican  street fair. Montego Bay’s famed 
"Hip  Strip"  will  be closed to traffic for the occasion and will be 
lined with vendors featuring tasty Jamaican treats and beverages. 


Lively  art  and  craft  vendors and colorfully costumed dancers will 
fill  the  street,  live Reggae music will fill the air and a host of 
activities  such  as  professional  hair braiding, face painting, and 
more will capture the imagination in this festive kickoff event.

Sunday,  July  2nd features the all-day all-night "Family Beach Party 
&  Sports  Day"  at  Rose  Hall  Beach  from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 
Families  can  choose  from  a  host  of  fun  sports  activities and 
competitions  on  the beach, including beach volleyball and plenty of 
watersports  activities.  On  hand to lend their considerable talents 
will  be  a variety of Jamaican cultural groups, including musicians, 
storytellers and more.

The  Jamaica  Family Festival culminates on Monday, July 3rd with the 
"Country  Cook  Out" from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The day begins with 
a  taste  of river rafting, Jamaican style, as families board 30-foot 
bamboo  rafts  for a leisurely ride down the Lethe River (an activity 
made  famous  by  swashbuckling  actor  Errol Flynn!). Leisure is the 
order  of  the  day  here. Rafters can sit back and enjoy the sights, 
stop  along the way to sample vendors’ colorful wares or dive off the 
rocks  into  the  soothing clear blue waters. And when the ride ends, 
the  real fun begins with a Jamaican "Country Cookout" featuring more 
live  music, family sing-alongs, palm frond sliding (Jamaica’s answer 
to  sledding!) and a special "Pen Pal Signup" to ensure that visitors 
can stay in touch with their new-found island friends for life. 

Best  of  all,  nearly all hotels and resorts in the Montego Bay area 
are  less  than  20 minutes from the airport, so you’ll be in the sun 
and having fun almost right after you land!

For  more  information  on  the  Jamaica Family Festival, contact the 
Jamaica  Tourist  Board  office  nearest you: New York, 212-856-9727; 
Chicago,  312-527-1296;  Los  Angeles,  213-384-1123; Miami, 305-665-
0557, or e-mail the JTB at jamaicatrv@aol.com.

The  Jamaica  Tourist  Board’s  website  now features the new "J-Mail 
Dispatch,"  which  automatically  updates  you  via  e-mail about new 
events  and  happenings  in  Jamaica.  Sign up now; visit the Jamaica 
Tourist Board’s website at www.jamaicatravel.com.

JOURNEYS FOR FEBRUARY 2000

BAHAMAS: CABLE BEACH BY TINA AND ROB GALLAWAY

Trip 1/00 

e,  our  relatives  and  friends  flew  to Nassau on 12/28/99 for our 
wedding  which  was  on 12/31/99. We stayed at Sandals on Cable Beach 
(great  place!)  for  the  first of our two weeks and were to stay at 
Casuarinas  on  Cable  Beach for our second week, which was where all 
our  relatives  and  friends  had rooms. We canceled our reservations 
and  had  our  deposit  refunded (hopefully, it has yet to show up on 
our  credit  card  statement!) after EVERYONE in our travel party had 
things stolen from their rooms! 

Others  we  spoke  to also staying there had property stolen as well! 
In  one  incident,  a  person  walked into their room to find a hotel 
staff  maintenance man with her jewelry bag in hand going through it! 
She  went  to the from desk and made a positive identification of the 
employee,  only  for  him  to be working on the grounds the very next 
day!  Besides  this  one  incident, there were 8 additional incidents 
that  we  know  about  of  theft  over  a  one  week time period that 
included   jewelry   (my  mother's  recent  Christmas  gift  from  my 
father!),   money,   passports,   and  birth  certificates.  In  some 
instances,  the  thefts  occurred  in  the  middle of the night while 
those  victimized  were  asleep  in  their  rooms (with no signs of a 
forced  entry,  which  lead  us to believe that the perpetrator had a 
key, and even is possibly even a hotel employee)! 

Although  police  were called, identifications were made, and reports 
were  filed,  no  further actions were taken by local authorities nor 
by  the  hotel  owners/management.  The  islands  of  the Bahamas are 
beautiful  and  we  will forever treasure the memories of our wedding 
there,  but save yourself some trouble and DO NOT LODGE at Casuarinas 
of Cable Beach! 

BARBADOS BY ELIOT DEUTSCH

Myself,  my  wife  of  26  years,  and  my  teenaged  son traveled to 
Barbados  from  12/25/99  to  1/1/00. We returned home happy to be in 
one  piece.  The  following  is  a description, in my son's words, of 
what   happened  at  about  8:30  p.m.  on  December  30th,  1999  in 
Speightstown  (an  area  very near to the poshest resorts on the West 
coast of Barbados): 

""My  dad  and  I JUST got back from what we thought would be a nice, 
comforting  drive around Barbados. We drove up the western coast on a 
highway  to  a town that my dad had not visited yet, Speightstown. We 
were  in  a kind of vehicle commonly rented there called a "Moke." It 
is  a  three cylinder car with no doors and no side windows. It has a 
removable  canvas  top.  Our  top  was  up. All of the rented cars in 
Barbados  have  an  "H"  on the license plate - so it is easy for the 
locals  to  tell  that  a tourist is driving the vehicle. Our vehicle 
also  had  an  "H"  on  the  left side of the front window, in yellow 
tape. 


We  saw  a  sign that said "Speightstown Center" with an arrow to the 
right (we were heading south on a main road at that point). 


Eager  to see the rest of this area, we took a right and followed the 
signs  for  the  city  center.  We  drove  slowly down the quiet main 
street,  and  passed  a white "Diahatsu" truck that was parked on the 
left  side  of  the  road,  I  noticed that the back of the truck was 
filled with Bajans. 


As  we  were pulling out of the main part of town, we heard screaming 
and  yelling  behind us. I saw that the truck had followed us and was 
about  two feet behind us, nearly ramming us. It was honking its horn 
and  driving wildly to the left and right with its brights on. My dad 
suggested  the  brilliant  idea  that we leave the area, immediately. 
The  Moke  is  not a fast vehicle, and we could not get away from the 
truck,  it  continued to swerve left and right all over the road, and 
tailgate  us.  They  pulled along side of us, on our right side (they 
drive  on  the left in Barbados); the people in the back of the truck 
were  screaming  and  hooting like wild animals. The truck started to 
swerve  over to drive us off the road into a tree or ditch. My father 
said half to himself: "Oh Shit, they're trying to kill us." 


That  was  when  it pretty much clicked. My dad slammed on the brakes 
as  the truck came totally into our lane, if he had not we would have 
been  a  statistic.  The truck was now ahead of us, still moving, and 
we  had slowed considerably. We saw that the truck turned left into a 
gas  station  and  started  to turn around in the gas station to come 
back  out onto the road.. If we turned around we would have gone back 
into  downtown  Speightstown,  -  there was no place to run to, there 
was no one to help us. 

My  dad  floored  the Moke, and we got past the gas station where the 
truck  was  before  it had completed turning around - the truck tried 
to  pull out behind us, but another car was in front of it. Once that 
the  truck  had  pulled  out,  it  had  a car in front of it, and was 
trying  to  pass  the car, but couldn't because of traffic coming the 
other  way.  There  was  now a line of 3 cars: Us, the other car, and 
the  Truck  full  of  screaming natives. All the while my dad had his 
foot  to the floor. We were putting more and more distance between us 
and them because they were stuck behind the car. 

We  went around a curve to the right, and due to the curve we got out 
of  their  sight, there was a turn off to the left onto a small road, 
my  dad  took  it  at  a  high speed - the road proceeded to go up an 
incline  so  the  Moke  started  to  lose  speed. My dad said that he 
wanted  to  get  far  enough  up the road that we were on so that the 
people   in  the  truck  could  not  see  us  when  they  passed  the 
intersection.  The  road  took us past a sugarcane field and into and 
through  a  residential  area. It was like a roller coaster at a high 
speed.  The road was dark, narrow and curvy - but my father seemed to 
find  his way through as if he had been there before - he got us back 
to  the main highway as soon as possible and jetted our asses back to 
our hotel. 

End  of  story. I hate Barbados. If we had been an elderly couple out 
for  a drive, or if my dad did not have extensive driving experience, 
I have no idea what would have happened to us." 

After  that  incident  we  decided  to just stay in the hotel for new 
years eve.. 

I  think  that  Barbados  should  follow  the lead from areas such as 
Puerto  Vallarta,  Mexico,  where  they actually have police officers 
designated  as  "Tourist Police." One of the primary functions of the 
Tourist  police is to assure the safety of visitors. Barbados, on the 
other  hand,  seemed  to  have a shortage of police - we saw very few 
the whole time we were there. 

In  the past we have frequented Jamaica, Grenada, St. Martin, Canada, 
London,  Puerto  Rico,  Hawaii,  Paris,  and  Mexico.  We have driven 
around  the United States on cross country sight seeing trips several 
times.  We  have  never  had anything like this happen to us anywhere 
else  that  we  have been. This was an unprovoked senseless attack on 
us  for  no  other  reason  except  that  we  were  white tourists in 
Barbados.  So,  if  you  are  planning  a  trip to Barbados, at least 
reconsider  the  trip, and whatever you do, definitely stay away from 
Speightstown  and  the  area around it. You may not be as lucky as we 
were. You may not get away. 

BARBADOS BY RICHARD JACKSON

Trip 12/99

My  first visit to the Caribbean was Christmas 99' with my family. We 
stayed  at  the  Club  Rockley  Hotel, just off the beach, so that we 
could  enjoy  the  set  in  golf  course.  The  hotel  was very nice, 
spacious,  and  nice rooms, just the right size for a family of 3, no 
need  for  maximum  luxury  in  a country such as Barbados, where you 
should be out of the room all day and night!

The  first  2  days  we  were  there it rained, and when it rains, it 
rains  hard,  there  were  lakes  forming  on  the  golf course and I 
thought  I  would  never get a round in. On the third day we ventured 
down  the  beach, as the rain had stopped. As we walked down the road 
I  could see the beautiful Caribbean ocean lapping against the golden 
sands  between  2  houses,  and  that  is  when  I knew I had reached 
paradise!!  It  then started to rain again and we got soaked but that 
didn't wash out my thoughts and feelings

The  rest  of  the  days leading up to the new year were spent on the 
beach  enjoying  the  brilliantly warm temperatures compared to rainy 
old  England.  The  waves  were  very  big  so no snorkeling could be 
attempted,  but the all-inclusive package meant that we could use the 
boogie  boards,  a  smaller sized surf board (made of foam) which you 
lie  front  down  on  and catch the waves. The waves were one picture 
which  will  stick  in  my mind forever, as you speed along this wave 
anticipating  when it will break and wash you right to the top of the 
beach!! - Brilliant

New  Years  Eve  was  spent  in the main hotel complex, where lots of 
shows  were  laid on for us, with by far the best being a singing duo 
of  a  big  Caribbean man with yellow hair and a beautiful young lady 
who  sang  'off  of  each other' and complimented each other in every 
way.  I wish them all the luck in the world and hope they make it big 
some day.

As  the New Years Eve celebrations came to a close, I ventured off on 
my  own  to the night-club in the Club Rockley complex where I stayed 
till  the early hours of the morning with other fellow party goers of 
my age

All  in  all my first Caribbean experience was brilliant and we shall 
be  returning to Club Rockley on Boxing Day in 2000 to do it all over 
again!!

Ps. I did get a couple of rounds of golf in, which was excellent!

BVI : BAREBOAT CHARTER BY JOHN T. CUTTINO

Dates: Dec 11-19, 1999 

Getting  there:  We  left from various points (Boston, Cleveland, and 
Baltimore)  and  flew  with American Airlines to Beef Island Tortola. 
The  flights  were  arranged  by  the charter company (The Morrings). 
There  was good weather and flights were all on time. The only glitch 
was  in  Boston  where  American  preferentially checked in the Miami 
bound  passengers and stopped the other lines. (rather annoying as we 
had  gotten  there  early  to  avoid  the lines). A hint: don't check 
luggage  and  go  to  the  gate.  You don't need much for a trip like 
this.  We left early am on Sat the 11th and got to Tortola at 3.30pm. 
We  were  met  by  the  Moorings  crew and taken to our hotel for the 
evening. 

The  crew: we had a mixed group of sailors and non sailors. Ranged in 
age  from upper 20s to low 50s. 3 men and 5 women. Turned out to be a 
"wild"  bunch.  The captain was Vinnie and experienced sailor who had 
done this run many times. 

First  night:  Dinner  was  at  Pussers  in  Road  Town.  We had been 
acquainted  with  Pussers  Triangle  (if  you  order  a Painkiller -a 
wicked  rum  drink-in each of 3 Pussers bars-there are 4 in the BVIs- 
and  get  a card stamped, you get a nice burgee at your third drink.) 
We  had  round  one  and  dinner. Our dinner was not great. We should 
have  taken  a  hint  that every one was getting Pizza there and done 
that.  On  the  way back to the base several in our group "crashed" a 
Christmas party at a local bistro and dance til late. 

Day  1:  The Moorings is a great outfit and does a great job of Chart 
and  boat  check out. Both were efficient and well done. The boat was 
provisioned  by them for breakfasts and lunches only (we wanted to go 
ashore  each  night for happy hour and dinner.) We left about 12.15pm 
and  sailed  across  Sir  Francis Drake Passage to Manchioneel Bay on 
Cooper  Island.  Arrived  about  2pm  and  picked up a mooring ($20 a 
night). 

We  snorkeled  (provided  by  the  Moorings)  at  Cistern Point. Good 
visibility  and  nice fish. It was tough getting back into the dinghy 
from  the  water.  Later went ashore for happy hour and dinner at the 
Cooper  Island  Beach  Club. Good, inexpensive (~$25 with drinks). An 
interesting  aside:  they  served our drinks in plastic, if you are a 
guest  of  the Hotel you get glass. The Boat: We chartered a Moorings 
4500  catamaran.  It  sailed easily. Top speed 8 knots. Loved it. The 
real   plus  was  having  twin  screw  when  we  motored.  This  made 
anchoring,  docking  and  maneuvering in tight harbors easy. The only 
negative  was  that  our windlass was under powered and sometimes did 
not  work.  This  made  raising the main sail and anchoring (which we 
did  little  of).  For  you  monohull purists, it did not heal like a 
monohull  but  also  did  not pound in rough seas either. Seasickness 
was  not  a  problem.  Lots of space. 4 cabins and 4 heads. The front 
trampoline  was great for cruising and looking at the stars at night. 
Had  a  CD  player (Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley were the big hits) We 
had  been  advised to bring CDs. Boat is equipped with cell phone for 
security. You call in your credit card and get a pin number. 

Day  2:  Left early and motored (only 2 miles) to the Baths on Virgin 
Gorda.  We got there at 9am before the crowds and picked up a mooring 
(part  of  the  National Park, You pay a fee and moorings are free at 
all  the parks). Went ashore and did the hike to Devils Bay snorkeled 
and  generally  did the tourist thing. This was superb and is a "must 
do thing". 

Returned  to  the  boat  and  made  a pitcher of painkillers (formula 
4,3,2,1  rum, pineapple juice, o j, and coconut juice). Had lunch and 
watched  the  crowds  come  and  go. (cruise ship types). Left around 
noon  and  sailed to North Gorda sound and moored near the Bitter End 
Yacht  Club.  When  you go ashore you are met and given a tour of the 
resort  and  allowed  to  use  their  facilities. (the girls craved a 
shower  and  blow  dryer).  Dinner and drinks at The Bitter End Yacht 
Club.  Elegant surroundings and overpriced meal (good salad bar) Cost 
~$50  each.  We  entertained  by a steel band playing for a Christmas 
party nearby. Caribbean steel band Christmas carols were a treat. 

Day  3:  Spent  the morning on the beach at BEYC. Beautiful beach. We 
were  entertained  by watching a thong bikini young thing learning to 
wind  surf.  When she fell it was very exciting to watch her get back 
on  the  board.  Motored  across  the  sound  to  Mosquito island for 
snorkeling.  Snorkeled  Anquilla  point  (a  little  murky).  Motored 
across  to  Liverick Bay and moored near Pussers. Went ashore for our 
second   leg   of  the  triangle  and  dinner.  Shopped  there  (nice 
boutiques). Good meal. (try the ribs). 

Day  4:  Sailed  in  am  to  Cane  Garden Bay on Tortola. Great sail. 
Arrived  around  1.30pm  and  picked  up  a  mooring. Beautiful beach 
filled  with cruise ship people. Vendors and hair braiding (all of us 
did  this,  including  the  men).  Ashore  for  drinks  and dinner at 
Rhymers.  We  picked the one night with no live music. Happy hour was 
2  for  1s. Nice painkillers and Bushwackers (a vodka based chocolaty 
drink).  Beach  became  more  deserted by 5pm we had it to ourselves. 
Dinner was cheap ~$15. 

Day  5:  Went  ashore and had the beach to ourselves til 11am. Crowds 
arrived.  There  were  topless sightings. Left around noon and sailed 
to  Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke. Small harbor loaded with boats. WE 
anchored.  Took  over  an  hour  to get a good "hook". Anchoring is a 
struggle  hear  and  watching others struggle is great entertainment. 
Went  ashore  to Foxys for shopping, drinks, dinner and entertainment 
by  Foxy  himself. This is another Don't miss. As the evening wore on 
it  was  evident  Foxy would not pass a "tox screen" He makes a point 
to  circulate and interact with his guests. By the end of the evening 
everyone  knows  each  other cheers appropriately. He left around 9pm 
not  to  return.  We  left  and  walked down the beach to another bar 
(Rudys) for live entertainment. 

Day  6:  Left  for  a  morning  sail  to  Green Cay and Sandy Cay for 
snorkeling.  Then  on  to Soper Hole on Tortola. By now we recognized 
lots  of the people everywhere we went. Went ashore for shopping (the 
best).  Final leg of Pussers Triangle. We got our burgees. Very nice. 
That  night  was  pig  roast so we stayed for dinner. A better choice 
(we later learned) would have been the Jolly Roger. 

Day  7:  Sailed  across  Sir  Francis Drake Channel to Norman Island. 
Snorkeled  at  The  Indians and the Caves (both excellent, the best). 
Moorings  right next to them. Swim right from the boat. Moored in The 
Bight  for  the night. Skipped the "William Thornton" (a floating bar 
restaurant)  to go to Billy Bones for drinks dinner and party. Dinner 
excellent (ribs). Partied til late. 

Day  8:  The  last.  Got up early to get back to the Moorings base in 
Road  Harbor.  One  of  us  had  an  early  (noon) flight. Uneventful 
checkin,  showers,  back to the airport, waiting, home (all on time). 
Summary  Impressions:  BVI is a sailors paradise. Good sailing, short 
distances,  easy  to  navigate.  Nice people, safe. Great harbors and 
lots  of  great places to go. No need to leave BVI waters. Places not 
to  miss:  The  Baths  on  Virgin Gorda, The Caves and the Indians on 
Norman  island,  Fox  on  Jost  Van Dyke, Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, 
Soper Hole. 

We have already begun planning our next trip. 

I  recommend  this  trip,  The  Moorings and the Moorings 4500 cat to 
anyone. 

CURACAO BY JAY AND BARBARA JENKNS

Well  it’s  another  fantastic  trip to the Caribbean, the place that 
never disappoints.

Getting there

Being  from Wyoming and getting a bad case of cabin fever, wintertime 
is  get  away  time.  We  absolutely  love the previous trips we have 
taken  and never miss a chance to get down there. With frequent flier 
points  and hotel points, planning the trip is the only hassle. It is 
very  difficult  to  coordinate  dates and places that you can get to 
and  the right times. This time we used our Marriott points and found 
them  to  be  the easiest so far to work with. We flew down on United 
and  connected to Antillian in Miami after a delay that stretched our 
layover  there  to  8  hours…….  Ouch.  Thanks to the Red Carpet Club 
there  it  was  at  least  bearable. We got into Curacao after a very 
quick stop in Bonaire to drop off some passengers.

We’re here

The  airport  is  an  experience all of it’s own. It looks like it is 
not  that  busy,  but  our  plane  got in at the same time as the KLM 
flight  from Europe. What a zoo. We all packed in an area where lines 
to  check  documents  formed  and  half  of the people had not gotten 
their  forms  on  the other plane, Our crew was great. After claiming 
our  luggage,  it  was the line for customs. Be forewarned that these 
Europeans  are  a  bit  on the weird side. They all lit up the minute 
they  got  in line and it looked like it must have been a non-smoking 
flight  the  way they were going after it. Also they cut from line to 
line  if  you  are  not  6”s  behind those ahead of you. We looked at 
these  old  people  that  did  this to us and they smiled and started 
chattering  and  everyone  else  just  ignored  us.  It  was 2 in the 
morning  and  we  were  just  glad  to  get out and get to the hotel. 
Everything  is  Dutch  and it is difficult at times to get around. We 
grabbed  a  cab  out  front  and the guy was parked around the corner 
instead  of  in the cab line, maybe that explains everyone yelling at 
us???  It  was  about  20 bucks to go 10 minutes to the hotel that he 
wasn’t  quite sure of. We made him wait until we were sure it was the 
Marriott  as  there was no signage. We got a clerk on the night shift 
and  were grateful to just get a room. He put us in a double bed room 
on  the  side  and  we  hit the hay. The next day I went down and met 
Roland  Pinto  who  runs  the  desk and because I am a Marriott black 
level, he upgraded us to a suite for the balance of our stay.

The resort

This  place  is one of the top resorts on the island. It has a casino 
for  the gamblers and is set up wonderfully for business meetings and 
any  other  type  of  party you would put together. The layout is all 
very  open. The pool area is really the centerpiece of the resort and 
is  extensive.  It  has  a  poolside  café  and  bar that was heavily 
utilized  the  entire  time  we were there. There was an outdoor area 
for  breakfast and lunch that I can’t swear by because we could never 
get  up  that  early.  They  had an excellent evening restaurant that 
took  advantage  of  on  several  nights.  It  was fantastic and very 
reasonably  priced.  Our room was overlooking the beach on the second 
floor  and was a three room suite with a patio on the end of the last 
building.  The  grounds are lush and beautifully kept. The resort was 
not  that  full  and  is new to Marriott. We found that out when they 
put  up  all  of  the  signage  while  we  were  there and even had a 
ceremony.  I  can not say enough nice things about this property. You 
should get there before the crowds find it.

The island.

This  is  a  beautiful setting. We had heard a lot about the dry arid 
conditions  in Aruba and assumed it would be similar here. It is very 
hot.  I  should  say  that  again, it is very hot. Everyone carries a 
handkerchief  to  wipe their faces with because it is very hot there. 
Did  I  say  it was very hot there? We rented a car from Hertz and it 
was  the  first  time I have every seen a car without a heater in it. 
Everything  on  the island revolves around Punta and Wilmsted. Almost 
one  town,  it  is  where  the  cruise  ships  come in and all of the 
shopping  is. In our car we drove out and about. We really got to see 
the   island  and  the  residential  areas  and  local  shopping  for 
residents.  The island is actually laid out quite well and is not too 
crowded.  We  came across new subdivisions in some beautiful settings 
in  the  hills.  One end of the island is very sparsely populated and 
only  has  one  road,  which  circles  that  end of the island. A few 
beaches  dot  the  coasts along the way. There are some parks at that 
end  but  they  are  poorly  developed and cumbersome to visit. It is 
very  beautiful  and  unspoiled. Not much as far as commercialization 
goes.  If  you are thinking Mexico or Jamaica or St. Thomas, you will 
be  pleasantly  surprised. Even the downtown shopping district is the 
regular  area for the locals. The floating market was interesting. It 
is  where  the  farmers  from  Venezuela  come over in boats and sell 
produce  and everything else to the locals. One day we had lunch at a 
restaurant  in  the  old  fort  that  overlooks  the harbor. A little 
pricey  but  well worth it. Busy in the evenings but wide open during 
the day, and a spectacular view.

The people

We  loved  the  people  there.  Many of the tourists are European and 
especially  Dutch. The locals are all very nice once you engage them, 
but  they  will  not  start  any  conversations.  They  have a unique 
situation,  as  they  are  just  off  the coast of Venezuela and they 
being  Dutch, it is very multi- cultural. We sat on a ferry next to a 
young  lady  in  business  dress and when we struck up a conversation 
with  her,  it  turns  out  she  speaks Dutch, Spanish, English, some 
French  and  the  local  pidgin.  Wow. She says everyone there speaks 
multiple  languages.  We  took  every  opportunity  to  eat  at local 
hangouts  rather than always doing the tourist thing. The people were 
always  friendly.  We  found  some  good food at some of the roadside 
stands.  One  of  note  was the Hot Road Bread Shop near the airport. 
Many  of  the people we talked to were from Holland and many of those 
born there had been to Holland to work.

The hurricane

Unbelievable,  we  were  in  a hurricane. Hurricane Lenny formed just 
above  Curacao  several  days  into our trip and made for two days of 
excitement.  Because  it  formed  in  the  Caribbean and went west to 
east,  it  did  severe  damage  to  areas that had never had exposure 
before  to  that kind of weather. The day we drove to the west-end of 
the  island  was the day it hit so hard and we were witnesses to some 
unbelievable   damage.   During   the  night  a  pier  and  50  boats 
disappeared.  Several  homes  were  gone  and we saw several that the 
back   half  of  the  home  overlooking  the  ocean  was  gone.  They 
sandbagged  at  the  hotel  and still had the whole outdoor café area 
underwater.  The  most  devastating  aspect  was  the  increased wave 
action  that  ate  most of the beach. It was really quite spectacular 
to see. It did cool it down slightly.

Quirks

Some  of  the  funny  things  we  noticed  and  wanted to pass on. As 
mentioned  before,  the  people  look  as  though they are having the 
worst  day  in  the  world,  but  if  you talk to them, they are very 
friendly.  The  maps that you get from the rental car agency are very 
general  and are horrible at identifying most things. We tried to get 
a  better  one  and  all we found were just like it. All signs are in 
Dutch  other  than the retail store signs, which are in English. This 
means  that  attempts  at driving are risky the first couple of days. 
The  roads  are horrible to try to navigate. The signs to places like 
Seaquarium  take  you  to the general area then don’t get you all the 
way there. 
People  don’t communicate very well in English. We saw several others 
that  were  having  similar  problems to ours when you just can’t get 
your  point across or don’t quite understand what the other person is 
saying.

They  have  some  of  the Jamaica syndrome where nothing gets done on 
time  but  it’s  not  as  bad. We saw quite a few buildings and roads 
under  construction,  but  never  once saw anyone working on one. Not 
once  in  the course of a week. We had to gas up the car when we were 
leaving  and  while  at  the  gas  station,  every car that filled up 
squealed  out  as they were leaving the pump area. Now this was every 
one  of  them  and  it  didn’t matter if it young or old. One guy was 
even  in  his work truck. Yes I did too, (when in Rome). They take us 
dollar  bills  or  Dutch  guilders. No one can figure out how much in 
U.S.  It was different every time and half of the time they had to go 
get help. Amstel is what you drink if you are a beer man.

The beaches

We  hit  several  in  the  course  of the week and all were nice. Our 
hotel  also  had  a  nice beach. The beach of choice was the beach at 
Seaquarium.  Seaquarium  is  more  of  an area that a place. It’s the 
aquarium  but  then  some  restaurants and bars have built next to it 
and  that  is where it all happens. There is one night that the party 
goes  on  all  night  and all morning. Of course we missed it. We did 
hit  the  beach  there  though.  It  is a private beach so there is a 
charge  and  then  also  a  beach chair rental. The cruise ships that 
come  in  take  their  people  over  to  this beach for the day. That 
provides  much of the entertainment. The beach has no restrictions on 
going  topless.  We  met  some New Yorkers that actually thought this 
was heaven. Go figure.

You  do  get all types and shapes and I would say that about 20% went 
topless.  There  were  several  that  were  a  credit  to all that is 
wonderful  and on the other side of the scale were several that had a 
boat  from  Greenpeace circling to try a rescue. (Think for a minute) 
All  in  all  it was a wonderful beach and it was packed with people, 
families,  great  food,  drink  and  a little of everything you could 
imagine.

Adios

Well,  when  it’s  time  to go it’s time to go. We hated to leave the 
hotel. We turned our car back into Hertz,
And  should  mention  that  I  hate  to  say anything bad about Hertz 
because  I rent from them almost every week for work and they do very 
well  by me. BUT, this place here was the worst. Very expensive too I 
found  out.  The  line  for  our  plane also had a sign for Haiti and 
after  inquiring  which  one  went  to Miami I was told ours. It just 
made  a quick stop in Haiti…….Where did that just come from?……….. All 
I  could  think  of  was  that  little sign in our local airport that 
informs  you that there are two airports in the world that don’t have 
adequate  security and won’t fix their problem. Oh yes, one is Haiti. 
Luckily  it  all  passed  without  problems  and  we were back in the 
states  for  layovers  in  Miami  and Denver. We did make it home and 
loved every minute of it.

We would highly recommend 

JAMAICA: GRAND LIDO SANS SOUCI BY ANN MASO

Trip Report on Grand Lido Sans Souci, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
December 4 through 11, 1999

The Thumbnail Report

CATEGORY
GRADE
Scenery
A+
Rooms
A+
Service
B-
Staff
A+
Food
B
Activities
B
Facilities other than room
B-
Overall Grade
B+

The Short Of It

The  hotel  and  its grounds are pleasing to the eye. The lushness of 
the vegetation being the most impressive. 

The  room I had was an ocean view suite with a Jacuzzi hot tub in "A" 
block  (very convenient to the nude beach). I couldn't have asked for 
a better room. 

Service  was  a  bit  disappointing  for  a place ranked so highly by 
others.  Room  service  was  disappointing (see detailed review). Spa 
services  were  delivered  fast  and  brusquely,  rather  than  in  a 
luxurious,  pleasing  style. This was countered by incredible service 
at  restaurants  and  bars MOST times, and once or twice we had awful 
service. 

Staff  were  remarkably  friendly and considerate, with the exception 
of  one man. Other than him, everyone, every single staff member, was 
a joy to spend time with. Very incredible staff! 

The food was uneven. Id say it was good for an "all you can eat" all-
inclusive  place. Some dining experiences were awesome, and some were 
fair. 

There  were  a  good  number  of activities, though not very many for 
rainy or sunless days. 

Nit Picky Detailed Review 

Explanation 

I  am  a  very  detail-oriented  person. This review is for those who 
want  to  know  all  the  details. I came to Sans Souci expecting the 
Best  of  the  Best.  I have a cultured background and have stayed in 
some  excellent  places.  I  was  comparing  Sans  Souci with my best 
experiences or expectations. 

Scenery/Aesthetics 

At  first  I  was  not impressed with the scenery at Sans Souci (SS). 
The  pink  stucco  buildings  were not freshly painted, some wear was 
showing,  and  some  aging.  I  compared  it  to the modern metal and 
mirrored  hotels  I  had  known  in the US and this hotel seemed less 
clean  and crisp and up kept. However, once I let go of that standard 
of  excellence, I could appreciate the beauty of the architecture and 
its pink color with white trim. 

The  great  beauty  of  the  place is in its landscaping. No, its not 
sculptured  gardens  like  at Versailles or similar places. But it is 
beautiful  in a more wild and natural way. Some of the most beautiful 
foliage  grows  on the property. The lake was a calm and lovely touch 
to  the  property.  The  tropical palms and trees were feasts for the 
eye,  especially  to those of us like myself who do not live in palm-
tree climes. 

The  sea  is gorgeous with its varying hues of blue, and the wildlife 
added  to  the  enjoyment. A small cat hangs out at La Palazzina. The 
most  beautiful  black  birds  flock  in  the trees. They have a very 
pretty  song.  A  little  unsettling  is the night songs of the local 
frogs.  They  sound  like  high  pitched crickets or birds, and never 
stop  until  the  sun  rises.  It took a day to get used to them. The 
property  also  holds  3  parrots,  one  of  which has the run of the 
place,  and  will  let you pet him. That was a wonderful time. It was 
great  to  see  butterflies  and  moths, when back home they had long 
gone.  The  lake  holds  some ducks that you can feed. And of course, 
there  are the ubiquitous small lizards that scamper about the place. 


The  restaurants  are  nicely decorated in tasteful outdoor furniture 
made  of  iron.  The  tables at La Palazzina have glass tops set into 
the  iron.  Though  the  Cassanova  is supposed to be a super-upscale 
place,  it  seemed  de  clase  to me. The chairs were of a Queen Anne 
style,  but  obviously  made  cheaply,  like furniture one can buy at 
WalMart.  The  padding  was  so  thin  I  felt  the  fiberboard  wood 
underneath  me.  The  china  was  from  England, but in a very casual 
design.  All  in  all,  it  seemed that they asked greater class from 
their  guests  (in  terms  of  proper dress) than they afforded their 
guests.  This  was  true  even  in the food, which shall be discussed 
elsewhere.  But  I  felt that La Palazzina was completely on par with 
nicer restaurants in the US. 

Rooms 

I  think  the  room  is the most important part of any vacation where 
you  are  staying  in  one  place  for more than a few days. The room 
needs  to  be  your  place of retreat for rest, relaxation, sewing up 
the  days  events  and  of  course,  intimate fun. The room I had was 
quite excellent for all these needs. 

I  stayed  in  a  ocean view suite with a Jacuzzi tub. It had a large 
bathroom, ample bedroom, and comfy sitting area. 

The  bathroom,  tiled  in  a  tasteful  peach  marble  was  the  most 
impressive  and sumptuous part of the room. It had two sinks, his and 
hers,  a  shower with room for two to fit comfortably, and a separate 
counter  area  with  mirror  for drying hair and applying makeup. The 
hot  tub  was  large,  fitting  two  people  very comfortably. Once I 
figured  out  how  to  operate it (a switch outside the bathroom high 
above the closet door), I enjoyed it immensely. 

The  bedroom  was  oddly  shaped,  which threw me off at first. But I 
found  it  to  be very functional. It had a king sized bed, lamp, end 
tables  with  lamps,  ceiling  fan, a large chair, and a dresser that 
was  barely  large  enough to hold two people's clothes for the week. 
There  was  plenty of closet space and what I call "breathing space". 
The  sitting area was small in a cozy way, consisting of a couch with 
end  tables  and  lamps, a chair, a television set and a small, light 
coffee  table. The television offered satellite tv, which didn't mean 
much  to me when I read it in the brochures. I wasn't expecting much, 
considering  that  most  foreign  countries offer few stations. I was 
impressed  that  it  received  ABC and NBC, as well as CNN, TNT, HBO, 
and  a  local  Jamaican  station.  I was surprised to see it received 
Playboy  Channel,  as well as a Japanese station. (SS has quite a few 
Japanese  clients.)  The  sitting  area  was comfortable for viewing. 
This area also had a ceiling fan. 

I  was  impressed  with  the  air  conditioning, which was not really 
central  AC,  but  a  unit attached to the ceiling in the bedroom. At 
first,  this  worried  me.  But  I  was  thrilled  that  the  AC  was 
operational   by   a  remote,  and  that  the  temperature  could  be 
controlled  by degree. This came in handy, as some days a few degrees 
in  difference  made  a  big  difference.  The  only  drawback to the 
arrangement  was  that  it  was often much cooler in the bedroom area 
than  in  the  sitting  area,  so  adjustments  had  to  be  made for 
sleeping. 

The  mini  refrigerator,  hair dryer and CD/cassette player were nice 
additions.  Especially the hair dryer. I am not one to use the things 
in  my  ordinary  day, but being at the beach, and showering at least 
twice  a  day,  I  found the dryer to be priceless for pulling it all 
together  for evening activities. And the refrigerator meant we could 
sip  Red  Stripe  or  soda  at  whatever  hour of the day we desired, 
without  waiting  for room service or leaving the room. The CD player 
helped  make  our  mornings  seem  more like being home since I could 
hear  Eric  Clapton  as  I  dressed which I do most mornings at home. 
However,  the  CD  player did not work very well one day, perhaps due 
to age. 

The  one  nit-picky  detraction  of  the room was the "ocean view". I 
had,  perhaps  like  many  of you, envisioned that "ocean view" meant 
sitting  on a private balcony seeing nothing ahead of me but the blue 
water,  and maybe a mountain in the distance. I imagined waking every 
morning  to  the sound of the pounding surf. None of this panned out. 
The  view  of  the  ocean was from a good distance, over the pool and 
the  sidewalk, and a swim up bar. It lacked some privacy and we could 
not  hear the ocean from our room. We could just make out whether the 
surf was calm enough for snorkeling, so it wasn't *much* of a view. 

Service 

Here  we come to chief gripe number one. Why can't room service bring 
food that exists on property, if we ask for it? 

During  my  stay,  I  ordered  room service. My companion requested a 
beef  patty,  which  is available at any grill on the property, comes 
already  prepared  and all you do is heat it up. Room service refused 
to  deliver  a beef patty, though why it wouldn't was beyond me. Cant 
the  staff  get  to  the  refrigerator  and  heat  up a little patty? 
Likewise,  I  had  to  beg  for Diet Coke, instead of the odd tasting 
Diet  Pepsi  that was almost pure syrup. Is it bottled especially for 
Jamaica  with  a different method? The Diet Pepsi came in thick glass 
bottles  and  had almost no carbonation. This lack of carbonation was 
true  also  if  you were getting Pepsi from the bar on tap. I was not 
the  only  person  to  remark on how different and odd the Pepsi was. 
Another  lack  of  service  from room service was that they would not 
provide  Ting,  the  local  equivalent  of  "Sprite". I was under the 
impression  that  SS  was so upscale as to provide what you wanted if 
they  could.  With  Ocho  Rios  just five to ten minutes into town, I 
thought  they  could  have  told  us it would be a wait (even a day's 
wait  would  have  been  okay)  but  that  they  *would*  provide it. 
Instead,  we  had  a  resounding  no,  and  had  to go into Ocho Rios 
ourselves to get a taste. 

Beach  service  was  barely  present.  I  had  imagined  sipping pina 
coladas,  and  having  someone strolling the sands, noting when I was 
almost  finished and offering to get me something from the bar. I had 
heard  tales  of staff timing your sunbathing, so you would not burn. 
None  of this manner of pampering was present. One day of the 7 I was 
at  the  beach I saw one person do this for about 30 minutes. Another 
day,  this went on, but only because the actual bar itself was closed 
for  repairs. I would have liked to see more of this type of service, 
though  it  might have been avoided because of some sense of privacy, 
it  being  a  nude beach. Also, a few days there were towel shortages 
on the nude beach. Not good. 

The  spa services in general seemed very quick and dirty. My favorite 
treatment  was  the  foot  reflexology  which was delivered with some 
care  and  ease. The loofa scrub left our skin feeling very nice, but 
it  seemed  very rushed and forced, instead of like the spa staff was 
pampering  us  or wanted to. The massage, even though in the hut over 
the  water,  was  not  as  good as the massages I have had in the US, 
even  from  massage  students.  Again,  I  think  the rushed feel was 
conveyed  to me, instead of a relaxing, steady effort. The facial was 
relaxing. Both my partner and I fell asleep during it. 

There  were  times when I felt completely invisible at a bar that was 
not  busy, but for some reason, I could not get an order taken. I was 
not  impressed  by  the  staff  at the reception, which is usually an 
important  place  for  a  hotel.  The front desk had a difficult time 
handling  our  departure plans. They kept forgetting our reservations 
to  Montego  Bay  via  Tim  Air.  The  front desk also would not cash 
travelers  checks into American money. I found this to be service far 
below  what  I expect of a top-rated hotel. Especially when my travel 
companion  said  that  Breezes  Runaway  Bay  (  (a  lesser resort of 
SuperClubs)  changed  travelers  checks into American money without a 
problem.  Though  maybe  this  reflects  a change in Jamaican law, or 
something. 

The  last  day  of my stay, the service for breakfast at La Palazzina 
was  atrocious.  My  companion  and  I  waited  for ten minutes to be 
seated.  There  were  many tables available, but none had been bussed 
or  set  up for dining. We were told to select a table ourselves, and 
get  our food, and someone would get us place settings. Instead, when 
we  returned  from  the  buffet,  nothing  was set up. I had to steal 
forks  and  knives  from  indoor  tables  that were partly set up. No 
napkins  were  available  and  they  were never offered. After almost 
finishing  our  meals,  someone  came  by  with glasses for water and 
orange juice. But bad service was the exception and not the rule. 

These  few  bad experiences were counter-balanced by some exceptional 
service.  One  night, while eating at La Palazzina for dinner, we had 
the  most  phenomenal  service.  Glasses  were only half empty before 
being  filled.  Unusual requests were granted graciously. (We ordered 
a  third  meal,  to  be  brought  to us as an appetizer.) The manager 
inquired  to  our comfort. It was exactly what I had hoped for months 
earlier,  when  I  was wishing on a star and writing the considerable 
check for our vacation. 

Some  staff  members  provided  service  above and beyond the call of 
duty,  going  into  town  to pick up coffee, or taking us to tour the 
local  dining  establishments  in  Ocho Rios. One staff member (Brian 
from  the  nude  beach,  the best staff member-- why didn't he win an 
award  at  the  staff  party?)  cleaned  a  conch  shell my companion 
brought  out  of  the  Caribbean  Sea. The staff teaching diving were 
skilled  at  explaining, patient and used many good techniques to try 
to  help  me get certified to dive. (I needed extensive help with the 
"clearing  the  mask"  technique. With their great instruction, I was 
able  to  see  that  I  couldn't do it because of a breathing problem 
that  I  was  not going to remedy anytime soon, so I bowed out of the 
class.)  The  water  sports  director, Junior, was super helpful. And 
David  Pyne  made  the  MOST  delicious  Bloody  Marys  in the entire 
resort.  Some friends we made there (Michael and Marie from Toronto-- 
great guys!) testified that David makes the best drinks, period. 

The  laundry service was excellent. I used it twice, each time if you 
asked  for  laundry, the clothes were back within a few hours! If you 
asked  for dry cleaning it was 2 days. Nothing was ever lost. I would 
have  used the service a third time, but for some unexplained reason, 
I  never  got  another laundry bag or laundry slip, so I couldn't use 
it. 

Staff 

The  staff  were, with only one exception, the nicest bunch of people 
you might ever meet. They were friendly, patient, conversational. 

Besides  all  the  wonderful  people  mentioned under Service (Brian, 
David  Pyne  and  Junior),  I  should mention that Monster was fun to 
talk  to. And two of my favorites were the flamenco guitarists, Fidel 
and  Roberto from Cuba. I adored the music they played, in and around 
the  Cassanova  restaurant. And being one of the few people who could 
converse  (sorta)  in Spanish, I spent considerable time talking with 
them  when  they  were off duty and we would bump into each other. It 
was  such  a  pleasure  to encounter such friendly people wherever we 
went. One never lacked for conversational partners. 

Food 

Breakfasts  were sumptuous at La Palazzina. My favorite breakfast was 
punctuated  by  a  solo flautist and the beauty of that accompaniment 
made  my heart sing. Lunches at La Palazzina were very nice too. This 
restaurant  is  conveniently located near the beaches. For breakfast, 
it  is the only place to eat, except for room service. And for lunch, 
the  only  other choice is the beach grills with a limited menu. This 
arrangement (grill or Palazzina) suited our needs perfectly. 

The  Jamaican  food  at the grills was good, though limited. The best 
dinner  I had was at La Palazzina/La Terraza. The food at Buena Vista 
was  not  much  to  speak  of, but the view is lovely, sitting on the 
beach,  under  a  gorgeous  tree,  dripping romantically with Italian 
lights.  The  food  at  Cassanova was not as delicious at La Terraza. 
Most  surprising  was  the  tiny size of the appetizers. I felt a bit 
cheated,  having  to  dress  up  in  special attire, and my companion 
wearing  a  hot  jacket,  to  then  be  served average food in a warm 
restaurant.   My   companion   was   very   uncomfortable   with  the 
temperature. 

The  desserts  at  SS,  which were supposed to be so impressive, were 
just  okay. They don't seem to make chocolate desserts, and when they 
do,  it  isn't so good. The brownies-- oh the brownies-- would make a 
chocolate  lover cry in anguish. (And I did! <g>) They taste like you 
are  licking  plain dry cocoa powder. Horrors. I had decent chocolate 
cakes  tainted with disgusting white chocolate. And some chocolate in 
the  form  of cheesecake which I hate. (I know, I know: I am probably 
the  only  one  in the whole world who hates cheesecake.) It would be 
nice  if  SS  could  offer  some  standard  chocolate  dessert,  like 
brownies, only that taste GOOD. <g> 

Activities 

I  didn't  attend  many  activities.  And from what I could tell, the 
typical  beach  activities (Jamaica trivia pursuit, beach volleyball) 
had  low  attendance.  I  think  SS  is  for  couples  who  want time 
together,  enjoying  each  other  without  much  interruption.  Not a 
recommended place for partiers or singles. 

As  mentioned  under  "service", I tried to scuba dive. I did not get 
resort  certified,  but  it would not have mattered anyway. The water 
was  so choppy that we couldn't scuba dive or ride the glass-bottomed 
boat  the entire week we were there (December 4-11, 1999). My partner 
also  felt  the water was too choppy and silty for snorkeling, though 
Junior thought it was okay. 

I  missed  the  Jamaica  night (Tuesday) due to feeling ill. The Gala 
Event  on  Friday  night was pleasant. I enjoyed the food and sitting 
outside   on  the  lawn.  The  entertainment,  though,  which  I  had 
expecteded  would be romantic was instead some other kind of music. I 
found  it  disappointing.  Here  we are with Italian lights and white 
canopies   romantically   draped   in   sheer  material,  carved  ice 
sculptures,  dressed  up,  and  we  are  listening  to  pop  music. I 
expected  more  along  the  lines  of  harp or violin. What were they 
thinking? 

I  took one excursion. It was to Dunns River Falls. This activity was 
pleasant,  but  rushed.  I  was  not  impressed  that they hustled us 
quickly  past  the  vendors outside, so that they could get us to pay 
for  an  additional  excursion  into  town  to go shopping. Tsk, tsk. 
Tacky,  that. (I bought some coffee, anyway, and managed it for about 
$4  less  than  the  gift  shop  at SS, plus a lovely string of beads 
thrown in.) 

The  game  room  was  nice  and  provided  some entertainment, as did 
shuffleboard.  I  like  the  fact  that they bring local artisans and 
crafts  onto  the  resort  for  sales.  It was a nicer atmosphere for 
shopping  than  the  public  beach across from the nude beach. I went 
there  for  some  local  culture  and  to  get braids. One vendor was 
selling  conch  shells  which go for $10 in the US, and he was asking 
$20,  and  would  not  haggle  with  me.  On  this  same  beach I was 
approached  by  a  Rastafarian  for  the  sale of marijuana. After he 
departed  a  police  officer  came  up  to  me. Im not sure if he was 
looking  to arrest people for a drug deal, or if he wanted some money 
(bribe  money)  to  look  away... One thing about shopping in Jamaica 
is:  its  a  lot  of  being harassed and cajoled. Money seems to rule 
people's  minds  there.  I  have  been  pretty well traveled (Europe, 
Greece,  Denmark  and  Mexico)  and have even walked alone as a woman 
all  over  those  parts day or night, but I have never before felt so 
much  like a walking target as in Jamaica. And this was day or night, 
and  even  with  two  male  companions,  one of whom was Jamaican. My 
companion  and  I  made  a private excursion into Ocho Rios to absorb 
local  culture  and  eat up some local authentic food. It was a short 
trip.  Because  we  stuck  out like sore thumbs (was it only our skin 
color  or  something  more?),  we  seemed  very  much  to  be drawing 
attention  that  was  unpleasant. Though some people were friendly (a 
guy  in the billiard room offered us tips on our game), others on the 
street  gave  us threatening stares. We left early. This is a country 
where  I  did  not  feel  safe mixing with the locals. That was quite 
disappointing to me. 

Facilities other than Room 

I  gave this a separate category because it deserved some mention and 
a  grade  of  its  own. It got a B- because so many things were being 
repaired  or  closed down during our very short stay. I was extremely 
surprised  by  the  inconvenience  of  it all. Especially at the nude 
beach. 

During  the  last few days of our stay, the hot tub at the nude beach 
was  broken. It not only had two inches of sand on the bottom, but it 
also  was  cold.  Every  time  we  told staff about the problem, they 
claimed  it  was  getting  fixed.  It never got fixed. We are talking 
several days and nights of missed hot tubbing. 

During  half a day, the bar at the nude beach was closed. Tiling that 
was  supposed  to  be  done during the night was not finished. It was 
unfortunate  that  this was one of the few mornings with real sun, so 
the  demand  on  the bar was great. The poor staff were taking orders 
and  running  over  to  the  other beach, getting drinks and carrying 
them  back. It was a good walk away and inconvenient for all involved 
(including the bartenders at the other beach, I imagine). 

Also,  the  mineral pool hot tub was constantly filled with seeds and 
leaves  from  the  overhanging foliage. I understand this must happen 
often,  but  it  seemed  that  the  tub  was  never  cleaned out. The 
bathroom  at La Palazzina was out of order, and smelled pretty badly. 


What was going on? Was SS falling apart? 

Otherwise,  the  facilities were very nice. The resort is nicely laid 
out,  but  be prepared to groan at the idea of going up to Cassanova, 
the  Balloon  Bar, the gift shops, or the lobby. Its a serious uphill 
climb.   This   is   from  someone  who  was  doing  the  stairmaster 
religiously  for  months  before  the vacation. I was used to stairs, 
and still found the upward journey to be a hike. 

Summary 

Overall,   it   was   a  pleasant  vacation.  We  were  in  beautiful 
surroundings  with  nice  facilities.  We did encounter more than our 
share  of  disappointments  and  misfortunes  including:  a tumble at 
Breezes  during  the  van ride up, where I seriously injured my elbow 
and  couldn't  use  my arm for several days, choppy waters preventing 
all  water sports except swimming, cloudy and overcast days that were 
bad  for  tanning,  and  one day that was so windy I was shivering on 
the beach, as well as catching a nasal infection. 

I  was  disappointed  that the surrounding environs beyond our pearly 
gates  were  not  tourist-friendly places. It made me feel that while 
on  vacation  in  SS,  I  was  literally a bird within a gilded cage. 
Because  of  this,  my companion and I felt that another island might 
be more to our liking. 

Nonetheless,  we  found  the staff so exceptional and the scenery and 
accommodations   so   pleasant,   we  can  definitely  see  ourselves 
returning to Sans Souci another time. 

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