Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 72
February 1, 1997

Last updated 29 Jan 97 1700ET

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CAYMAN: LITTLE CAYMAN BY JOEL MANERS

This review was written after a trip we took in the summer of 1995.

Accommodations  were at Paradise Villas and diving was with Paradise 
Divers.  Weather was great for most of the week but the last day was 
windy due to T.S. Allison. 

We  flew  in  to Little Cayman on June 27 on the afternoon flight on 
Island  Air.  It  was  a  33  minute flight on a 18 passenger plane. 
After  landing  on the grass air strip we were met at the "terminal" 
by  Kathy  Carter.  She and her husband Ken own Paradise Villas. She 
loaded  our  gear  onto  a golf cart and took us to the Villas which 
are right near the airport. 

Paradise  Villas  consists  of  six buildings which house two living 
quarters  each.  There  is  a  front porch which opens up toward the 
airport  and  a  sand  yard. The dive offices and the Paradise Villa 
offices  are  in  a  large  building  near the road. There is a back 
porch  which  opens up to the ocean.  Hammocks are strung to several 
of  the trees between the water and the villas and are very relaxing 
in the afternoon.  

The  beach  is  a  rocky  shore  and you can't enter the water there 
without  tearing  your  feet up. There is a small beach a short walk 
east  of  the  villas but not worth the effort in my opinion. If you 
do  walk  around make sure to watch out for the Sand Burrs. They are 
like  the  Cockle Burrs that we have here in the states but they are 
much  sharper and are quite painful if you step on one.  By the way, 
that  is one thing that you learn quickly on Little Cayman, to watch 
where  you step. You're constantly seeing lizards, iguanas and crabs 
running  around.  All  the  critters are really interesting once you 
get  used  to  their  presence.  There  is a boardwalk that meanders 
around  the  front  of  each  villa  connecting them with the Hungry 
Iguana restaurant and a small decked pool.

The  villas are really comfortable on the inside. About one third of 
the  space  is  taken  up  with  the king size bed. There is another 
smaller  area  which  contains  a  small couch that can be converted 
into  a  bed.  Two couples that were staying there doubled up in one 
of  the villas. I wouldn't recommend that you try that unless you're 
really  strapped  for  cash.  The  kitchen  is really a kitchenette. 
There  you'll  find  a  small refrigerator, oven, range, and a small 
sink. 

The  facilities  are really nice except for the dishes. I'm not sure 
why  but  they  have  Teflon  pots  and pans with metal utensils. We 
found  many of the pans peeling the Teflon and decided to throw away 
one  of  them because it was clearly a health hazard. The dishes too 
were  cheap  which  doesn't  necessarily  bother us but many of them 
were  cracked  and  broken. Other than that,  the kitchen was useful 
in  saving  money  on meals and it was nice having your own place to 
fix  something to eat on vacation. If you go I'd suggest bringing as 
much  of  your  own  food  as  possible because the one store on the 
island  can  get  very  expensive.  We met one couple at the airport 
that  brought  their  own  cooler  full  of food from the states. No 
problem  getting  it  through customs. The bathroom in the villa was 
nice but also small. 

They  do  give  you  plenty of towels but if you want clean ones you 
must  leave  the  dirty  ones  in the hamper and put it outside your 
door  in  the  morning.  Same  goes for your bed linens. You have to 
strip  the  bed yourself and leave the sheets outside in the hamper. 
This  is  a  bit  of  an  inconvenience but not too much of a bother 
since you have to get up early for the diving anyway.

Diving  with  Paradise  Divers  was  great.  We  had heard many good 
things   about   Tom   and  Laurie  on  the  Net  and  we  were  not 
disappointed.  Tom  runs  a  tight ship and makes sure that everyone 
dives  a  safe  profile.  He  is  quite stern though with people who 
break the rules of safe diving (and he needs to be). 

The  boat is nice and spacious with lots of places to put your gear. 
It  only  starts to get crowded when you get more than 7 or 8 people 
on  the  boat.  It can take 16 divers but it's very difficult to get 
around  when  there  are  that many people trying to don gear at the 
same  time.  There  is a nice deck on the back of the boat where you 
put  your  fins on and jump in. Two ladders make sure that there are 
no "traffic jams" at the end of the dives.

Laurie  drove  up  to  the villas each morning at 8:30 to pick us up 
and  take  us  to  the dock. The nice thing is that you only have to 
carry  your  gear  down  to the boat on the first day. You can leave 
your gear on the boat for the rest of the week. 

That  brings  us  to my only complaint with Paradise Divers, they do 
not  rinse  off  any  of your gear at the end of the day. There is a 
small  vat  on  the  back of the boat for rinsing off fins and masks 
but  no  real  place  to rinse your BC. We took our gear back to the 
villa  to  clean it about halfway through the week. They really need 
a rinse tank on the dock so you can really clean your gear off. 

The  diving  on  Little  Cayman is wonderful. Many of the sites were 
very  pristine  and untouched. We saw several turtles and stingrays, 
an  Eagle  Ray  and  a  Nurse Shark. On the reefs you'll see lots of 
beautiful   Parrot  fish  and  Angel  fish.  The  coral  and  sponge 
formations  there  were  simply amazing. Some of the best sites were 
Paradise  Plunge,  Sarah's  Set,  Marilyn's Cup of Tea, and Cumber's 
Caves.  The  one  disappointment  we  had  was  Randy's  Gazebo  and 
Marilyn's  Cut. This site was almost entirely dead. They really need 
to  pull up the mooring there and give the site a chance to recover. 


There  are  a  few  other things you can do on Little Cayman. One of 
the  best  trips  is  our  to  Point  O'  Sand.  This  is one of the 
prettiest  beaches in the Caymans and the snorkeling there is great. 
There  are several patch reefs that you can snorkel to. The best way 
to  get  there is to rent a Bronco at McLaughlins and split the cost 
among six people. Ends up costing about $30 US per couple. 

Other  than  eating  at  the  Hungry  Iguana,  you'll want to make a 
reservation  and  go eat at Pirate's Point one night. It costs about 
$35  US  per  person  but  it's  well worth it. Gladys Howard is the 
proprietor  and  she  prepares  some  of  the  best meals you'll eat 
anywhere.  Stick  around  afterwards  and  you'll  hear  some  great 
stories about the Cayman Islands.

Overall  Little  Cayman  is a very relaxing place and very beautiful 
if  you  like  to dive. Bring your mask fins snorkel and a good book 
and you'll have a great time.

JAMAICA: ENCHANTED GARDEN, OCHO RIOS BY DEBBIE HOFFREN

Ed Note: The following is a report from Debbie Hoffren about a trip to Enchanted Garden, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The trip was made December 18-24, 1996 and was her ninth to Jamaica since September, 1992. You are invited to view her www page at: http://members.aol.com/DebbieH103/private/travel/debbiewb.htm


Getting There 

We  left  Houston  Intercontinental  on  an  unusually cold morning, 
around  33 degrees F, on December 18, 1996, making it cold for us to 
wait  for  the bus from the parking lot, as we did not want to bring 
a  coat  to  Jamaica. The American Airlines line was incredibly long 
and  full of people shipping very large trunks. After a short while, 
they  took  the  Miami  passengers  to the front of the line, as has 
happened  in  the  past. We had to check those golf clubs. We got on 
board  just  as  the final boarding call was made. Our 7 a.m. flight 
left  Houston  &  arrived  in  Miami on time. We sat on the plane in 
Miami  while  they  fixed  the  latch  on one of the baggage storage 
areas.  We left Miami at 1:10 p.m. when we should have been arriving 
in  Montego  Bay.  We  arrived  at  Sangster at 2:40. While the last 
three  trips  have  required  birth  certificate,  or  affidavit  of 
citizenship  if  name  not  same  as birth certificate, to leave the 
U.S.,  a  voter's  registration  still  works  once  you  arrive  in 
Jamaica.  While  "Nothing  to  Declare"  lines were very short, they 
were  randomly  searching  bags,  upsetting  those  who  had tightly 
packed  their suitcases. After going through customs, we went to the 
Enchanted  Garden desk. A very friendly staff member had us fill out 
a  form used as part of the check-in. It was an activities waiver of 
liability.  We  got on a bus about 3:15 with a couple who were going 
to  Couples  in  Ocho  Rios.  We  arrived at the Enchanted Garden at 
about  5  p.m.  The driver stopped once on the way. We encountered a 
lot  of  traffic  in  Falmouth due to the weekly flea market held on 
Wednesdays. 

Check-In 

We  left  our  bags  with the bellman and went to the front desk for 
check-in.  They asked for our hotel voucher. I indicated that we had 
not  received  one  but  did  have  a confirmation letter. They took 
that.  We  were  asked whether we wanted a lock for the safe deposit 
box  in  the  room and signed a form promising to pay and 100 USD if 
the  key  was not returned. One room key was issued, but I requested 
a  second,  and  it  was  given  right then. We were asked to make a 
dinner  reservation  and  given  four menus from which to choose. We 
chose  Temples,  the  Thai  restaurant.  We  were given a map of the 
property.  We  were  driven,  along  with  our bags, in a van to our 
room.  We  were  given a tour of the room and shown the notice about 
the towel policy.

The Room 

The  room  was a one bedroom suite with plunge pool. We were in room 
804.  The  room  was located across from an area for ducks and geese 
and  near  the  aviary.  For  this type of room, I recommend the 600 
block,  as  it  is  less  of  a  walk  to  the  jacuzzi,  pools, and 
restaurants.  Walking  in the door, the bedroom was on the left. The 
room  contained  a  dressing table with chair and light but no plug-
in.  The  bed  was  queen-sized with a nightstand and lamp on either 
side.  There was no clock. There was a very small desk and a dresser 
with  several  drawers.  The  top drawer contained a hair dryer. The 
closet  contained  the  hot  water heater, a shelf for clothes and a 
shelf  for  shoes.  The safe deposit box, hangers, and extra pillows 
were  also  in  this  closet.  The  bathroom contained a bath/shower 
combo.  Conditioning shampoo, soap, and aloe vera gel were provided. 
The  legs  on the bed were sharp, and the walking space was tight. A 
notice  indicated  that  towels were inventoried and that room bills 
would  be  debited  for  any  missing  towels.  Several times, maids 
arrived late in the day with washcloths.

Out  the  bedroom door was the hallway and hall closet It was narrow 
but housed several shelves and was welcome added storage.

The  kitchenette  contained  a  stove  and  oven, cabinets with some 
glasses,  a  refrigerator  with regular and diet sodas (7 UP & Pepsi 
in  regular and diet, ginger ale, ginger beer (similar to root beer, 
I  guess),  and  Red  Stripe.  There  were some chilled wine glasses 
there,  as  well. The counter contained two coffee cups and tea bags 
& instant coffee to be used with the tea kettle.

Down  four  steps  was the living room. There was a glass table with 
four  chairs  and a large plant, a ceiling fan, two chairs, a couch, 
an  ottoman,  and a TV with remote. The TV received ABC, CBS, NBC, a 
Jamaican  station,  HBO, Cinemax, CNN, MOR music, ESPN, and a couple 
of other "basic cable" type stations.

Outside  the  sliding glass doors was an 8 X 10 ft. plunge pool with 
built-in  benches. There was also a nice wrought-iron table with two 
chairs.  The  glass  on  the sliding doors was tinted dark. We never 
got  in  the  pool,  as  the sun did not shine on our patio even one 
time.  I  believe  it  would  have  been possible to get used to the 
temperature.  I  did  hear of one couple using theirs, but they were 
in  a  room  with the pool on the second floor (another type of pool 
suite  with  no bathtub) and used it only when running from the high 
steps.  The  weather  was  unusually  cool  on  our  visit, and I do 
believe  the  pool would have been nice had it been warmer, as it is 
a hike around dealing with all the steps on the property.

The Property 

The  property  is  overwhelming  at  first, especially if you arrive 
around  dark, as we did. However, it was easy to learn shortcuts for 
walking  and get acclimated in the daylight. Guests are given a map. 
Restaurant  and  bar hours stick somewhat to the schedule printed on 
the  back  of  the  map,  but  the restaurants take room numbers and 
close  early  if  all the guests have eaten. Use the map provided at 
check-in  to  get  acquainted  with  the layout. Exploring is a must 
because  there  is  so  much  to  discover  all over the property. I 
counted  161  steps  from  our  room up to the Aah Falls. It was 111 
steps  up to three of the restaurants and the nightclub/disco. There 
are  a  few ramps, but I think they are to help the staff bring food 
between  the  levels. A lot of people eat their wedding night dinner 
in  front  of one of the falls. It is understandable why people like 
to  get married here. I can't think of a more romantic setting for a 
wedding.

I  can't imagine bringing anyone who can't climb stairs. If you want 
to  explore  the  gardens, you will walk a lot of stairs to do that, 
also.  The first two days, my calves hurt. I explored a lot. Soon, I 
was  galloping up and down the steps. Bringing a camera and/or video 
camera  is  a  must. I spent two hours one day filming the property. 
Everywhere  you  go,  there  is a new waterfall, rapid, garden, fish 
pond,  or  duck  pond to discover. There are even two massage tables 
by  one of the falls where a massage can be arranged. It is somewhat 
secluded  there,  but  someone  could  see if walking by. There is a 
hammock  garden by the falls, also. There are large goldfish to feed 
in  a  pond  and at L'Eau Mirage and many ducks, geese, and mallards 
to feed around the property. 

Tennis  &  basketballs  are available, and there is a tennis pro who 
holds  tournaments.  Showing  up  practically guarantees a bottle of 
rum  All  equipment is available. Four bars are scattered around the 
property. 

The Pool & the Towel Policy 

The  main  pool is at the center of the property. It is quite large. 
There  are  a  lot  of padded lounge chairs around the pool. When we 
were  there, people kept moving following the little bit of sun that 
peeked  through one or two days. A few die-hards got a tan, but they 
were  out about nine hours the days it didn't rain. There is a swim-
up  pool bar with the regular bar being on the other side. Suggested 
drinks  and  their  ingredients  are shown on large signs around the 
bar.  There  are tables in which to sit by the bar. Towels await you 
on  your bed upon arrival. These can be exchanged with the main pool 
lifeguards  any  time they are on duty. Before checkout, you must go 
turn  them  in  to  a lifeguard and get a receipt. There is a second 
pool  used  for  activities  occasionally but is always available to 
guests for swimming or sunbathing.

The Aviary 

The  aviary  is a half acre haven for many birds. There are turkeys, 
canaries,  parrots, mallards, ducks, chickens, crown cranes, just to 
name  a few. The aviary is encased with a very tall netting. Twice a 
day,  at  10:30 and 4:30, anyone who shows up can feed birds or just 
walk  through.  A  video  camera is sure to capture some interesting 
footage.  If  you put the birdseed in your hands, the birds will fly 
into  it.  Some  birds  will land on your head, shoulders, back, and 
even  your  camera! You must watch your step, because there are many 
varieties  of  birds, large and small, roaming around on the ground. 
Walk  down  the path to see the bird houses and a duck pond. You can 
ask  for  more  seed  and stay in the aviary somewhere between 15-35 
minutes.  We  really  enjoyed  this and went anytime we did not have 
something else planned at those times. 

The  Gardens  The  property  is  truly  lush  with gardens. There is 
vegetation  or  falls  everywhere.  The resort has a spice garden, a 
plant  house,  an  orchid  garden,  a  fruit orchard, a lily pond, a 
bromelia  garden,  a  cactus garden, and an anthurium garden. Leaves 
fall  often  in the pools and jacuzzis and on the grounds. There are 
gardeners  everywhere  tending everything. Every direction you could 
walk involves a breathtaking scene.

The  Seaquarium  The  seaquarium  is  a unique area for activity. It 
contained  a  sitting  area  for  conversation,  bathrooms,  a small 
library,  a  pool  table,  a  ping pong table, four slot machines, a 
full  service  bar,  popcorn  machine, tables and chairs for eating, 
and  three  areas  with  seating  surrounded  by  5 large fish tanks 
containing  a large variety of small and large tropical fish. Guests 
could eat lunch while viewing the fish.

Lunch  is served at the seaquarium from 12:30-3 p.m. and is followed 
by  afternoon tea from 3-5 p.m. Snacks are available after tea until 
8 p.m.

The  Spa  The  spa  was  underneath  the  seaquarium and next to the 
fitness  center.  Next  to the fitness center was the Turkish baths. 
The  spa  was open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. The last appointment was 
at  5  p.m.  I  recommend  booking  any  spa  treatments you wish to 
schedule  for  the  day of your arrival and, possibly the day after, 
before  you  leave  home.  You can call the 800 number listed on the 
brochure  and  explain  what you wish to do. The representative will 
give  you information needed to call the resort direct without toll. 
I  called the resort in advance to talk with the spa and asked a lot 
of  questions  but  did  not book in advance because they said their 
schedule  was  pretty  open.  We arrived at the resort around 5 p.m. 
and  went  to the spa before they closed. We were not able to get an 
appointment  for  the  next  day,  but  I  did not call to check for 
cancellations.   We   didn't   have   any  further  trouble  getting 
appointments.  You  can  book  in person or call from your room. The 
list  of  treatments  are  listed on the resort's web site, and your 
travel  agent  should be able to get a list from the resort. Be sure 
to  check at the spa for posted specials. They had several very good 
specials offered during our stay.

The  spa  was  very  good. Appointments ran very much on schedule. I 
recommend  arriving  about  5  minutes before your appointment. They 
have  many good magazines to keep you busy while you wait. Since you 
may  be at lunch or somewhere on the property, allow walking time to 
get  to  your  appointment.  I  did find that it was possible to get 
pretty  far across the property in just a few minutes when speed was 
important.

All  services at the spa are a la carte. The posted fee includes the 
gratuity,  and you may pay cash or charge to your room, provided you 
left  an  imprint  of the card at the front desk. The spa and beauty 
salon  have  an extensive menu and were a big part of the reason for 
us  visiting  the  resort.  The  spa did not disappoint. In general, 
services  are  just below or just above a dollar a minute, depending 
on  whether  there is a special and how many different processes and 
solutions are involved.

I  had  the  intensive  cellulite  treatment,  which was a 90-minute 
treatment  combining  an aggressive massage, a body scrub, a seaweed 
wrap,  and  the Turkish bath. This was a very good way to sample the 
services.  Sylvia  was  the  attendant  for  this and several of the 
other  treatments.  The  Turkish  bath  was  a new experience. I was 
placed  in  there  after  the  scrub  and told to shower off and sit 
awhile.  The room houses several seats. Steam abounded and was quite 
warm,  but  the  shower  was  ice  cold.  This  was  an invigorating 
combination. After the wrap, she finished me with a lotion.

Todd  had  a neck and back massage, which was to be 30 minutes. This 
focused  on  the  neck,  shoulder,  and lower back. She cut it a bit 
short, at 25 minutes, but he enjoyed it otherwise. 

One  day,  I  scheduled a deluxe 50 minute facial. I don't believe I 
remembered   to  mention  I  wanted  the  anti-stress  facial.  They 
scheduled  me  for  the  deep pore cleansing facial. Some cleansers, 
exfoliants,  mask,  and  lotion,  and steam were applied to my face. 
While  the  mask  set, she massaged my feet. She did some face, head 
and  neck massage. This treatment lasted nearly an hour and was very 
nice.

Todd  and  I  both  had a Swedish massage. We won these playing cash 
bingo.  Although  the  massage was 30-35 minutes, it was a full body 
massage.

Another  time,  I  scheduled  the deluxe foot therapy. This combines 
reflexology,  a warm foot bath, and paraffin dip. This process lasts 
an hour. This treatment was on special.

After  a three-hour trail ride, I had the Shiatsu massage (Todd also 
had  his Swedish massage at this time). The therapist laid out three 
cushions  and sheets on the floor. I was told to remove my shoes and 
leave  on  my  clothes.  This  massage  involved  some  hands  on to 
stimulate  pressure points. In addition, the therapist used her feet 
to  walk  on  me  and  massage  in some effective but almost painful 
strokes.  This  massage  was  very effective, and I ended up with no 
pain from the trail ride.

Fitness Center 

The  instructor  took a power walk daily, if attended by any guests, 
down  the  hill  from the resort and across town. I did this one day 
alone  with  the  instructor. You might want to bring a water bottle 
for this activity and a very good pair of tennis shoes.

The  instructor  does  aquacize  at  8:30  a.m.  any  day  there are 
participants.  The  fitness center has some hand weights which go up 
to  20  lbs. There is a treadmill and a few bikes. There is a weight 
machine  with a few stations. There are step platforms and mats. The 
instructor   has  weight  instruction  scheduled  periodically,  and 
weekdays  he  holds  aerobics  in  the  afternoon  at 4:30. This was 
generally  attended by a handful of people. There was bottled spring 
water and cups at the fitness center. 

Bars

There  were  four  bars  around the property, and the snack shack at 
the beach served Red Stripe, rum punch, and fruit sodas.

The hours of operation were as follows during our stay:

Seaquarium  Bar  11:00  a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Pool Bar 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 
p.m.  Piano  Bar 6:30 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. Annabella's 8:30 p.m. - 2:00 
a.m. 

The  pool  bar  is at the center of the property. It is conveniently 
located  to  the  jacuzzi.  It has a swim-up bar off the back. It is 
also  near  Amore's  and  the  activity  pool.  Beer  and  wine  are 
sometimes  served  in  glass,  other  times  in  plastic cups. Mixed 
drinks  are  served  in  plastic  cups. The bar has many specialties 
posted on signs. Try the Pool Baby.

The  seaquarium  bar  is  convenient for getting a drink after a spa 
treatment,  a  workout,  or a game of pool or ping pong. When we ate 
there  for  the  International  Buffet  lunch, the waitress took our 
drink  order  and promptly served us. The slot lady, bartenders, and 
entertainment  desk  staff sometimes play pool when the place is not 
crowded,  but  we  received prompt service by walking up to the bar. 
The bar has a popcorn machine.

The  piano  bar  is  a good place to go just before dinner, as it is 
located  near  three of the restaurants. We had a lot of fun talking 
to  James,  one of the bartenders. During our stay, we asked him one 
night  if  we  could take a bottle of wine to our room. He indicated 
that  it  was  not  allowed  but that he would take care of us if we 
came  back  later  (we  came  on the buffet night when the place was 
crowded).  He told us he would give us a bottle each night before we 
were  ready  to go to bed. We took him up on it three nights. Others 
I  met  said  other  waiters  told  them it was not allowed but they 
would  give them a bottle for a tip. Price requested was and 2-5. No 
one  ever  asked us for money. Ask James for his James Bond special. 
Those  seated  in  the  piano  bar at the piano or seated around the 
room  received waitress service. Those drinking wine had their glass 
kept full.

The  bar  in  the disco opened before the action really got going in 
there.  At  that  point,  it  was  walk-up  service.  The  disco  is 
convenient  to  the  slots,  restaurants,  and  restrooms.  Once the 
entertainment begins, there is waitress service available.

Restaurants

Each  day,  the  menus  for  all  restaurants  are  available at the 
concierge  desk from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Other hours, the front desk 
has  the menus. We found it was easy to get in any restaurant at any 
time   of   our  choice.  One  night,  we  liked  the  menu  at  two 
restaurants.  We  reserved  at one, ate a couple of courses and then 
went  to  other restaurant. We indicated that we had no reservation, 
were  told  "No problem" and promptly seated. We ordered a couple of 
courses there.

All  restaurants  except  Amore's  and the seaquarium are located up 
the stairs.

L'Eau  Mirage  serves  somewhat as the main dining room and was very 
popular.  The  dinner  menu seemed to change nightly here. Breakfast 
is  served  in the morning. Dinner is served from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. 
A  la  carte  items are available. French food is served in courses. 
The  restaurant  closes  on  buffet nights. Guests can dine near the 
falls  and  large  tropical fish. A smoking preference is available. 
Red  or  white  Jamaican  wine was served. Wine service was slow and 
quantity was almost rationed.

Temples  serves  Thai  and other Far Eastern specialties. Guests may 
dine  at  regular  tables  and  chairs on at sunken tables. We tried 
both  options. The restaurant serves dinner only from 7:00 p.m. - 10 
p.m.  Items  are served a la carte in courses. The restaurant closes 
on  buffet  night. Bar orders were taken. Wine or other refills were 
offered. The menu rotated but was repeated during our stay.

The  Sultan's  Table  serves  Middle Eastern specialties. Guests can 
dine  surrounded  by cushions or in table and chair set-ups. A mizzo 
bar  and various other courses are available. The restaurant is open 
from  7:00  p.m.  until  10  p.m.  Bar  orders  were taken. The menu 
rotated but was repeated during our stay.

Amore's  serves  lunch  from  12:00  p.m.  until 6:00 p.m. Dinner is 
served  from  7:00  p.m.  until  11:00  p.m. Desserts & pastries are 
available  in the evening for dinner guests or walk-by guests. A bar 
waiter  serves  guests  at  lunch and dinner. Pasta and grill orders 
are  taken  at  lunch.  The menu rotated but was repeated during our 
stay. Lunch and dinner here were very popular.

Breakfast  Continental  breakfast  was served from 7 a.m. until 7:30 
in  L'Eau  Mirage,  followed  by  a  full breakfast buffet from 7:30 
until  anywhere  from  9:30-11  a.m.  whenever the staff decides the 
guests  are  finished needing the service. Realistically, this meant 
that  the  buffet  was  all  set, except for bacon & sausage, french 
toast,  potatoes,  and  a couple of Jamaican specialties. Henry, the 
cook  who  made eggs & omelets to order and generally served when he 
finished  setting  up  by  7:10  or  so.  Some  days, he had out the 
Belgian  waffle  maker and would make them, if someone ordered them. 
However,  on  Sunday, his day off, his replacement didn't get around 
to  things  until  about  7:45. Most items on the buffet were always 
the  same,  except for the Jamaican specialties (examples were ackee 
and  saltfish,  fried  fish,  rice  &  peas-which  were like our red 
beans,  and  fried  plantains)  and the buffet was not large, but it 
helped  us  eat  less.  Papaya, grapefruit, oranges, cantaloupe, and 
watermelon  were  served everyday and generally very ripe and tasty. 
Hot  and  cold  cereal  were  available,  but I do not recall seeing 
dried  fruit  to accompany it. A variety of pastries were available. 
Thinly  sliced bread was available for toasting. Sliced cheese and a 
variety of juices was also available.

There  was  no  breakfast  room  service  available  as  I have seen 
mentioned  in  reports  from  one  or two years ago. Perhaps this is 
offered when the resort is full.

The  resort map indicates that continental breakfast is available at 
the  pasta bar & grill (Amore's) from 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., but I 
did not verify this.

Lunch

We  really  enjoyed the lunches. Other guests made similar comments. 
They  are  a  bit  different here than at some of the other Jamaican 
all-inclusives.

Seaquarium  -  served  from 12:30 until 3 p.m. The seaquarium served 
cold  sandwiches,  salads,  and pastries on Monday thru Saturday. On 
Sunday,  an  International  buffet was served. Items served included 
quiche,  kingfish, pumpkin soup (not hot enough), light pasta salad, 
other  salads,  bbq chicken, potatoes, fruit, pastries, a much wider 
variety  than  at other lunches, carved roast beef, stir-fried green 
beans,  rice  and  peas,  curried  goat,  a  variety of cheeses, and 
various other dishes.

Amore  Pasta  Bar  &  Grill - served from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Amore 
offered  jerk chicken, choice of white or dark, burgers (always well 
done)  with  homemade  buns, pizza, meat & vegetable pockets, French 
fries,  pasta  to order, and daily specials. Waitress took grill and 
pasta  orders,  or  got  our own. Serve yourself specials. Available 
items  were  posted on a neon sign. Bar waiter service available, or 
get  your  own.  The  best  special was the lasagna. Very good. Most 
days,  there  was  rice  and  stir-fried vegetables. Sample specials 
include  baked  ziti,  curried  goat, sautied chicken. Various green 
and  pasta  salads were available. The vinaigrette dressing was very 
good. Cheese was real and fresh. 

Pasta  to  order  was  a  choice  of tri-color pasta, fettucini, and 
ziti,  usually.  Ingredient  choices included nine ingredients a day 
such  as green pepper, mushrooms, sausage, chicken zucchini, onions. 
There  was  a choice of cream or tomato sauce. Waitress would ask if 
you wanted grated cheese and bring to the table. 

It  was not unusual to be greeted by a duck or cat at Amore's lunch. 
View of the falls was nice.

Dinner  A  la  carte  menus  at the restaurants generally showed 3-4 
options per course. 

Amore  -  Italian 7-11 p.m. when no buffet. Meals are in courses. We 
enjoyed  the  Caesar salad and several of the soups (such as seafood 
and  vegetable  bisque).  The  meals  came  with  a pasta and entree 
course  served  side-by-side.  Several  guests  ordered  the seafood 
fettucini  expecting  an  alfredo  sauce and got a Jamaican-flavored 
brown  sauce.  A  generous  helping  of shrimp and other seafood was 
included.  The  cheese ravioli was similar to chain restaurants here 
in  the  states. Chicken marsala was not as good as The Hill area in 
St.  Louis  or even Macaroni grill chain. The steaks were good. Fish 
dishes  were  pretty  good.  Chicken  piccata  was  similar  to jerk 
chicken  and  had  very  little  piccata  sauce.  Dessert was serve-
yourself  cakes,  pastries,  and pies. Bar service available. Pepper 
grinder  on  table. Various Italian breads were served, and all were 
very good. This was a popular spot.

L'Eau  Mirage  -  French  7-10 p.m., generally on non-buffet nights, 
but  the  Jamaica  night buffet was served here on Friday night. The 
night  we  ate there, we enjoyed the salad, prime rib, a cheese puff 
pastry  appetizer,  and  lobster  and  crab  chowder.  Prime rib was 
cooked  the  same,  no matter how ordered. Bread was served. We also 
ate  the  fruit mousse, which was very good. A grilled fish in a spa 
sauce  was  always  served, and the sauce was different every night. 
Vegetarian  meals  could  be  arranged,  and the fish served with no 
sauce, if guests called ahead.

The  Sultan's  Table  - Middle Eastern. A mizzo bar with around 6-10 
items  was available. The pita bread was good. Main courses included 
items  such  as  chicken  with  dried  fruit, fish, and various lamb 
dishes. Dessert included baklava, ice creams, and various pastries.

Temples  -  Thai  &  Other Far Eastern. Open 7-10 p.m. on non-buffet 
nights.  We  ate here twice. We went back the second time to get the 
same  menu  as  the first & ate a couple of courses and then went to 
L'Eau  Mirage. The appetizers we ate were Thai spring rolls and some 
beef  &  chicken  skewers  (don't remember the name). We ate chicken 
and  rice  soup.  The  mixed  vegetables  were a salad with a peanut 
dressing.  I  really enjoyed it. The main course we chose was shrimp 
fried  rice  with 9-12 medium shrimp. Chicken, pork, and beef dishes 
were  available, and most courses/dishes were in a coconut or peanut 
sauce  of  some sort. A coconut ice cream or sorbet and two or three 
other choices were available for dessert.

Jamaica  Night  -  held on Friday night. Conch chowder was the soup. 
Various  salads  were served. A variety of fruit was served, similar 
to  breakfast,  and  lime  was  served  with the papaya. Grilled bbq 
chicken  and  pork  ribs  were served. The chicken was good, but the 
smoke  from  the  grill  was  intrusive  to  guests seated nearby. A 
sample  of  Jamaican  specialties  included  oxtails,  curried goat, 
ackee  and  saltfish,  and  local  fish.  Stir-fried vegetables were 
served.  Cheeses  and  cold  meats  were  served. Desserts were more 
lavish  than at any other meal. A hostess assisted guests in slicing 
desserts.  Smaller  servings  were  available  on  request or serve-
yourself  basis.  I  enjoyed  the  fruit  tart.  We both enjoyed the 
pineapple  upside down cake. Todd tried a creme puff but didn't care 
for  it.  The restaurant was crowded because no where else was open. 
The  wine  service  was  almost  non-existent.  We rushed dinner and 
headed to the nightclub.

International  Buffet  Night  -  Monday  - was canceled due to staff 
Christmas  party.  Regular  restaurant dinner menus were offered. We 
were glad, as we are not buffet people.

Staff  The staff was very cordial. Many would go out of their way to 
stop  by and ask people if they were enjoying their stay and if they 
needed  anything.  The  activities  coordinators  worked  many hours 
arranging  activities from early morning on into the wee hours. They 
were  always doing something with guests, even eating. The bar staff 
would  keep  your  glass  full without asking if you were sitting in 
the  nightclub.  Lifeguards  were on duty very early in the morning. 
For  problems, everyone was willing to take care of the problem, but 
the  best results were achieved by calling or visiting the concierge 
or  front desk. Many of the staff handle one function. I do not know 
the  staff  to  guest  ratio,  but  the  resort was about half full. 
Service  Bar  service was outstanding. Service was good at breakfast 
if  you  waited  until  after 7:40 a.m. Before that, the tea service 
was  a  bit  slow  if  you  needed  to leave for a tour. We had some 
trouble  keeping  our  refrigerator  stocked in our room, and called 
several  times  about  it.  With  calling  several  times  a day, we 
managed  to  get it filled about every other day. A note left in the 
fridge got it filled with what we preferred.

Guests

Guests  were  truly a mix of many ages and nationalities. There were 
mostly  couples,  but  there  were  a  few  exceptions. One Canadian 
couple  in  their 30s brought her mother and grandmother to see them 
married.  I  am  fairly sure the grandmother was in her 80s. Another 
family  arrived  mid-week  during  our  visit.  The  couple  had two 
teenage  sons.  One was only 15, below the resort's requirement. The 
other  boy  was  17.  They  participated  in  everything  and  drank 
whatever  they  wanted.  The  staff and their parents didn't seem to 
mind.  A  few  Canadian newlyweds I met at the Jacuzzi one afternoon 
indicated  that  they  saw the woman topless at the pool laying next 
to  her  sons. There were a couple of singles there. The resort is a 
good  place  for  singles to go for a retreat to enjoy the spa, some 
tours,  and the gardens but not to meet a bunch of other singles and 
have a wild party.

There  were  120  guests during our stay. About 10 percent were from 
Holland. About one third were from Canada.

Activities

Activity  schedules  are  located at the concierge desk. The current 
day's,  and sometimes the next day's, schedule was always available. 
The  schedule indicates the time and location of the activity. A few 
things were not held due to lack of interest or some other reason. 

  Supervised exercise activities are always scheduled at 7:30 and/or 
8:30  a.m.  Sometimes, a supervised work-out is scheduled at 10 a.m. 
Aerobics  are  scheduled  week  days  a  week  at 4:30 p.m. This was 
generally  attended  by  5-7  guests,  which is the maximum the room 
could accommodate.

Tennis  with  the  pro was available every day but Sunday. Nine a.m. 
was  tennis  with  the pro. The afternoon session held at 4 p.m. was 
sometimes  a  singles  or doubles tournament. Attending was almost a 
guarantee to win a bottle of Jamaican rum.

The  free  bus  for the shopping tour at Tajmahal, a large two-story 
strip  center,  was  taken  out  every  day but Sunday at 10 a.m. It 
returned  at  12:30 p.m. The trip down the hill was about a 5-minute 
walk.  Discount  coupons  for  the  Royal shop were available at the 
concierge  desk.  From  the strip center, it was a short walk to the 
main  strip  downtown  where  other  shops  were  available. Western 
Union,  money  changers,  and  a  bank  with  an ATM were available. 
Restaurants  of  interest  were  the  Lobster  Pot  and  the  Ruins. 
Familiar spots, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, dot the street.

Activities  supervised  by the coordinators were scheduled every day 
but  Sunday  at  10  a.m.  and/or 11 a.m. A sampling included Take a 
Chance,  drink  mixology, Olympics, and garden tour. Activities held 
other  days  at  scheduled  times  between  12:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. 
included  the  following  and  more:  Jamaican  dialect class, fruit 
tasting,   seaquarium   tour,   reggae  dance  class,  garden  tour, 
scavenger  hunt,  cash bingo, various pool games, Pictionary & other 
board  games, falls climbing, reggae dance class (and Macarena), tai 
chi,  yoga,  and  obstacle course. Although scuba through the resort 
costs  extra,  a free demonstration is available week days at 1 p.m. 
Most  activities  were  attended  by  a handful of guests. There was 
never  any  pressure  to  participate, and people enjoyed playing or 
watching.

Various  ping  pong  and  pool  tournaments  were  scheduled  in the 
seaquarium.

One  day,  we  attended a basketball clinic at 4 p.m. This was a lot 
of work and fun. 

Cash  bingo  was very profitable. Cards were and 2 each. We bought 5 
one  day  and won two massages, a bottle of Meyer's rum, and leather 
money  holder.  Not  bad  for  and 10. Another guy bought one or two 
cards and won just about every game that we didn't. 

  The Beach The beach at Enchanted Garden is not on the property. It 
is  a  bus  ride  away  and  just  down the beach from Sandals Dunns 
River.  The beach is small and narrow. It seemed full with 20 people 
on   my  two  visits.  It  has  clean  restrooms  and  showers.  The 
snorkeling  boat heads out twice a day at 10:30 and 1:30. The bus to 
the  beach  runs  every  half  hour  beginning  at 9 a.m. The driver 
brings  people back from the beach at 12:15 and stops to pick up the 
people  on  the  shopping  tour.  He  then  takes  a lunch break and 
resumes  at  1:30.  Therefore, you must be on the 12 p.m. or earlier 
bus  to make the 1:30 snorkeling. We did not go, as the water wasn't 
warm,  and  the  weather  wasn't spectacular for a Houstonian. There 
are snorkeling lessons weekdays at 10 a.m.

We  opted  for  the  glass  bottom boat but only saw a few fish. The 
boat  had  several  scheduled  departures most days. Let the guys at 
the scuba hut know you are interested.

The  beach  houses  a  few  kayaks  and  has  windsurfing equipment. 
Lessons  are  given  every  day  but  Sunday  at  11 a.m. There is a 
volleyball court where games are scheduled periodically.

The  snack  hut  will  ask you for your room number, as the beach is 
shared  with  a  few  private  villas  near  the entrance. Enchanted 
Garden  guests  pay nothing for any food they consume from the snack 
hut.  There  is  a sign which states that if you choose to give food 
or   drink   to  the  craft  vendors,  that  you  will  be  charged. 
Refreshments  available  include  hot dogs & hamburgers, fruit punch 
with or without rum, fruit sodas, and Red Stripe.

You  must  bring  your  towels  from  the  resort,  as  they are not 
available  here. Keep in mind that you must get a towel receipt from 
the  lifeguard  upon  departure for your towels, so don't leave them 
here, or you will be charged.

Craft  vendors hang at both edges of the beach, as do hair braiders. 
They  will hawk at you if you get near the edges. It is a short walk 
across  the  beach,  so  stay  in  the  middle  and  you will not be 
bothered at all. 

The  beach  is  not  the  best feature of Enchanted Garden. However, 
guests  should know this when booking. The pools at Enchanted Garden 
are  surrounded  by  beauty. It is easy to just ignore the beach and 
enjoy the amenities on the property.

The Falls

The  fourteen  or  more falls are located around the property. It is 
difficult  to  find  a  location where the sounds are unheard. Falls 
range  in  size  from  small  rapids  to  the  impressive Aah falls. 
Exploring  is  necessary to ensure seeing all of the falls. A formal 
climb  was  scheduled  twice  during our stay, but I climbed several 
falls  on  my  own,  as  did  other  guests. Some falls were chilly. 
Others  seemed  room-temperature.  I climbed barefoot, even though I 
brought  aqua  socks,  because getting in was always an irresistibly 
spontaneous  event.  If you want to climb past the second plateau of 
the  Aah Falls, I would highly recommend aqua socks. Still, digital, 
or video cameras are a must. 

Jacuzzi, Sauna, Needle Showers 

The  resort  boasts  only one jacuzzi outside the spa (the one there 
is  used  for  treatments  but  did  have  a champagne stand sitting 
there).  However,  the  jacuzzi  is quite nice. It can fit 15 around 
the  edges  and  has a second seat below the first that could handle 
overflow.  The  jacuzzi  is open 24 hours a day, which is very nice. 
The  temperature  is  usually  nice.  If  it  wasn't perfect, it was 
possible  to  go  behind  the gate by the sauna and move the dial on 
it.  The  view from the jacuzzi is the Brains Falls off the front, a 
small  fall off the back, and Amore restaurant down the hill off the 
side  (easy  access  to  the pool bar). There was usually 0-4 people 
(including  myself) in the jacuzzi, but one afternoon/evening, there 
was  12  right  after the honeymoon games let out. You could talk to 
others  or  cuddle  with your mate or sit alone. It was nice to walk 
into  the  falls  to cool off and then get back in the jacuzzi. Some 
used  the  needle  showers for this, but that was a bit cold for me. 
Those  who  like  hot  and  cold  pools  will enjoy these changes in 
effect.  The  sauna  has  7  levels  and  is  a welcome change if an 
occasional  shower  comes or to help dry off. You can set your stuff 
in  there  when it rains. If you are in the 600-800 block rooms, you 
will walk some steps, perhaps about 20, to get to the jacuzzi area.

Nightlife

Generally,  nightlife  happens  high up the hill. The nightclub is a 
place  to  hang  out  and  talk  with  new or old friends, talk with 
James,  one  of  the bartenders (ask for his James Bond special), or 
sing  along with the pianist. The pianist has a book with many tunes 
and  he  know  others. We had a wonderful time one night singing old 
favorites  and  Christmas  tunes with another couple. They were from 
Holland and sang us a tune in Dutch. The resort has 8 slot machines-
4  at  the Seaquarium for use from around 12:30 to around 8:30 or 9. 
After  that,  the  cashier  heads  up the steps to the nightclub and 
mans  those slots. One couple told us that they made 50 bucks profit 
every  night  playing  10  bucks  each  at  the  disco.  We  did the 
seaquarium  and  made  money  on  the  Midas  Touch  until the thing 
tilted.  Switched  machines  &  lost it all. So much for that twenty 
dollars.

The  resident  band  was  slated  to  begin  at  different  times on 
different  nights.  One  night,  we listened to them warm up at 8:00 
when  they  were  to  begin  playing  at 7 p.m. They didn't actually 
perform   until  10:30  when  the  staff/guest  talent  show  began. 
Unfortunately,  we picked that night to sample the entertainment and 
ended  up  spending  a  long time just talking to the bartender. The 
talent  show  featured  singing by a guest from Holland who had been 
there  for  quite  a  while  and singing by the staff. We left after 
that.  Friday night, the Jamaican show with limbo, fire-eaters, etc. 
was  to  be  held by the pool after the buffet. All was held inside, 
due  to  once  a  year Christmas party for staff held off-site. Show 
was very good.

Annabella's  disco had sultanesque areas in the corners. There was a 
bar  in  one  corner,  and a waitress came around to take orders. It 
was  a nice place but didn't get going until 10:30 or 11, usually. I 
did  hear of guests hanging out there until 2 a.m., but we only make 
it  until  about  11:30 a couple of nights and never made it up late 
enough to see it hopping on other nights.

Weather  The  weather was very breezy and generally 70s and low 80s. 
Five  of  the seven days were overcast, two were sunny (one of those 
was  our  departure day). It rained or drizzled one to several times 
on  four  of  the  days, and it came a brief downpour twice. Once, I 
was  in  the jacuzzi and just hopped in the sauna for a few minutes. 
The  other  time,  we just went to the room until it was over. There 
seemed to just be a cloud over Ocho Rios.

Ocho Rios 

Although  we  have  stayed in Ocho Rios on two other occasions and I 
had  taken  a  trip  to  Dunn's River Falls on another visit, we had 
never  walked  around downtown on the streets before. I did this one 
day  with  the aerobics instructor. We walked down (and up) the hill 
from  Enchanted  Gardens  and all across the main strip in town. Two 
other  times,  Todd  and  I  walked  down  there to the bank and the 
grocery  store  with  a Jamaican we met. His name was Robert Bailey, 
and  he  was  a carver at the resort who had sent himself to college 
for  three  years.  He made an elephant for us and was our reference 
when  opening  a bank account. He knew the manager and took us right 
up  there.  On the first visit, the bank was closed but he got us an 
appointment  for  Christmas  Eve. We opened an account with and 5000 
Jamaican  (around  and  148  USD)  to which we will add. When we met 
Robert  on  Christmas  Eve to go to the appointment, he brought us a 
carved  dolphin  similar  to  one  Todd had admired. Later, we had a 
drink  together, and he wanted our phone numbers at home to call. We 
gave him a business card. We spent several hours speaking with him.

We  saw  some  guys  washing a Mercedes. Robert told us the story of 
the  owner  and  mentioned  that  Butch  Stewart  drives  the  other 
Mercedes  (he  called  them  Benz)  around. Said the other guy was a 
drug dealer. Not sure how much of it was true.

Purchases 

The  resort  had  two gift shops. One was a logo shop with T-shirts, 
swim-suits,  etc.  The  other had more items and was the place to go 
if  you  needed  toiletries  or something like that. T-shirts at the 
logo  shop  were  on  special and sold for and 12-16 USD. The resort 
takes  guests  in  a  van  down  the  hill  from  the  resort to the 
Tajmahal,  free-of-charge.  This  is  walkable  if you don't want to 
stay  the  2.5  hours.  In the afternoon, they take people for and 3 
per  person.  The  Tajmahal  sold  coffee  at  rates  similar to the 
airport.  We  were  able to beat the prices at the resort and coffee 
shop  at  the  local grocery store. The jerk sauce was half the cost 
of  the  resort.  However,  change at the grocery store was given in 
Jamaican.  Ground  coffee  at  the grocery was about 420J for ground 
(16  oz)  and  447J  for 12 oz of the beans in the same sized bag as 
the 16 oz ground.

Horseback Riding 

The  tour  desk  at  the  resort will arrange riding at Chukka Cove, 
beach  rides, or trail rides at Hooves up in the mountains. We opted 
for  the 2 hour trail ride(took 5 1/2 hours of our time). The day we 
went,  we  got  a  call  from  the  tour  desk when we were to leave 
telling  us  that  they  would  be 20 minutes late due to picking up 
guests  in  Runaway  Bay.  This  was  a  little upsetting, as we had 
choked  down  breakfast and had eaten too early to get anything hot. 
The  ride  cost  and 100 USD per couple. I don't know if it is worth 
it,  but  I  really didn't analyze the issue when booking or riding. 
We  were  bused  with  six other people up into the hills to an area 
called  Beecher Town. We could see the White River below us. The van 
ride  took  us through Fern Gully, a sight we had not seen. The road 
was  very rough and not big enough for two cars. We made it from our 
hotel  to  the  horse  farm  in  about 70 minutes. We stopped to get 
guests  at  Ciboney  and  San  Souci  Lido. Enjoyed seeing San Souci 
again  and  still looked as beautiful as ever and still had a lot of 
Japanese  guests. Ciboney was a bit different than I pictured, and I 
don't know if I would choose the resort or not.

Hooves  had  us  sign  a  waiver. They offered us the restroom and a 
helmet  (which you must indicate that you decline, if you do, on the 
form).  They  split  us  into  two groups of four and sent two staff 
members  with  each  group, one at the front and one at the rear. My 
horse  was  named  Defender.  We  were  instructed to stay in order. 
Todd's  horse really didn't want to be behind my horse, and my horse 
wouldn't  let  his pass. The guides had us smell many leaves such as 
lemon,  lime,  allspice,  etc. We viewed breadfruit, oranges, ackee, 
and  other  trees  and  plants.  Several  times,  they  stopped  for 
pictures.  We  had  to stop under some trees to put on rain ponchos, 
but it stopped raining almost as soon as we got covered.

Eventually,  Todd's  horse  bit  mine,  after  an  hour or two of me 
trotting  mine  up  and  him pulling his back. Mine kicked up at his 
but  didn't knock me off. On the ride back to the airport, we met an 
English  couple  who  had  been two days earlier. He was on my horse 
and  in  a  cast  from  a similar incident. They had another week to 
stay  on  the island (took bus to meet friends), so they were facing 
a  week  with  him  hobbling.  Hooves had taken them to the hospital 
where  they  spent  four  hours  getting fixed. Hooves picked up the 
entire expense and said it was the first time it ever happened.

Golf 

Golf  can  be  arranged  at the tour desk at either Sandals Upton or 
Breezes  Runaway  Bay.  Todd  has  played  many times at Breezes and 
opted  for  Sandals  since  the tour desk representative didn't know 
the  cost  of the Breezes tour and Sandals was much closer. Todd had 
never  played the Sandals course and said it was nicer than Breezes. 
Todd  played the course twice. The tour was billed as costing and 65 
for  green  fees  and transportation. Todd had his own clubs. He had 
to  pay  cart  &  caddy.  Green fees alone cost and 50 at Upton. The 
second  time  Todd played, they called up and told him he would have 
to  pay  and  80  because  no one else was going and that the driver 
would  not take him for and 15. He wanted to cancel, but I insisted. 
The  first  round, he played with several Canadians. The second day, 
he  played  alone.  The first day, he paid and 95 total (shared some 
expenses).  The  Canadians  rented  clubs & shoes and paid more than 
Todd.  The second time, Todd spent and 137 total, and he was able to 
fit  in about 27 holes. Craft Vendors The craft vendors set up every 
day  all  day at the resort in the parking lot. They leave you alone 
unless  you go there, but once you do, prepare to buy something from 
each  if  you  buy from one or be very firm. On Tuesday, the vendors 
set  up  near  the  pool  bar.  We  had  two  different guys make an 
elephant  for us for my father-in-law. Neither turned out exactly as 
we  had  in  mind.  Of  course,  we  bought them both anyway. We met 
Robert,  a  carver,  and  got  acquainted.  He had been in the hotel 
business and got sick of working 21 hour days.

Getting Back Home

The  day we left, Christmas Eve, was very hectic. We ate breakfast & 
began  packing.  Todd rested while I took a last jacuzzi run. We had 
agreed  to  meet  Robert to go to our bank appointment. We opened an 
account  and  went to the grocery store to buy Blue Mountain coffee. 
He  put us in a cab, driven by his friend for and 100J (much cheaper 
than  any rate we were charged!) back to the resort to save us a few 
minutes. 

We  were  to  have  our  bags outside at 11:30. It was 11:10, and we 
were  only  half  packed.  Panic!  We crammed everything back in the 
suitcases  and  called  the  front  desk  at 11:25. When the bellman 
came,  we were still finishing the next bag as he loaded each bag in 
the  van.  He  took  us by for our towel receipt & drove us to check 
out.  Todd  settled  all  of our charges by Visa while I went to the 
grill  at Amore. It was 11:55. They open at noon, when we were to be 
on  the  bus.  I  begged the cook to make two burgers. I went to the 
bar  to  order  wine for us while the burgers cooked. They were out, 
and  one  of the bartenders ran all the way up and down the steps to 
the  piano bar for more. Guests we had met who knew we were to leave 
at  noon  were  watching  their  watch  and  clapping  at how much I 
managed to do right before noon. 

I  rushed  for  nothing,  as  the bus was 25 minutes late. Todd went 
back  for  more  drinks  and  was not there when the bus arrived but 
came   back   shortly   thereafter.  The  bus  was  packed  with  18 
passengers,  including  us,  on a big bus that barely held all of us 
and  our  bags. The driver stopped once and had us at the airport in 
under  2 hours. The driver didn't seem to be expecting a tip, and no 
one  gave  him  one.  We  tipped the red cap who got our bags to the 
line. 

The  departure  tax  was and 500J or and 15 U.S. per person. We paid 
that  and  checked our bags. Went to Jamaican Farewell for the usual 
rum  samples  and  wine  &  rum  purchases. Both of our flights went 
smoothly  and  arrived  early.  Since  it  was  Christmas  Eve, free 
champagne,  wine,  and  mixed drinks were available to any inquiring 
passenger  on  both flights. Both flights had about 25 people on the 
plane.

We  made it to our house about 10 p.m. and arrived to weather around 
60  degrees.  Within  one  or  two  days,  it was nicer here than in 
Jamaica.

JAMAICA: SANDALS NEGRIL BY GAIL OXTON

Getting  There:  We  flew  American  to  Montego  Bay  via Miami the 
Saturday  before  Thanksgiving.  The Miami/Montego Bay flight was so 
overbooked  that  the  voluntary bump incentive climbed to $1500 per 
person  before  enough  people accepted the first Sunday flight. The 
drive  from Montego Bay to Negril was not as bad as we expected, but 
it  helps  to  look  at  the scenery instead of out the front of the 
bus!!  The  total time from landing at Mo Bay to arriving at Sandals 
was 2.5 hours.

Room:  We  booked  and  received  a  Grande  Luxe  Beachfront  room, 
Sundowner  6112. The room was average, nothing great but no problems 
either.  The  Sundowner  block  location  is good, right next to the 
Piano  Bar which makes drink runs from the room quick. We could walk 
directly  from  our  patio to the beach, but we couldn't get back in 
through  the  patio  door  because  it was a different lock. 2 beach 
towels   are   provided  at  the  start  of  your  trip,  and  fresh 
replacements are available 9am-4pm daily. 

Dining:  None of the 4 restaurants stand out as particularly good or 
bad.  The  4Cs  is popular because of the "design your own stir fry" 
format,  and  the  Coconut Cove (main dining room) popular on buffet 
nights.  Tuesday's  lobster  night  in  the  CC  was  canceled so we 
switched  to  the  Sundowner  which is good but doesn't have a large 
selection.  Early  reservations  at  Kimonos  are easy to get, later 
ones  you  should  plan a day in advance. Only Sundowner has a dress 
code  which  is  basically  not  athletic wear, but dress shorts and 
decent shirt are okay.

Beach:  Fabulous!!  We  will  return  to Sandals Negril just for the 
beach  and  the  watersports.  The soft white sand beach extends the 
entire  length  of  the property, so even though it is narrow (about 
30  feet),  you  have  plenty of room and palm trees to yourself. We 
had  no  problems  finding  chaises  even  with a 92% occupancy rate 
Thanksgiving week.

Water  Sports:  1.  Snorkeling--There  are 4 1-hour snorkeling trips 
per  day,  2  in  the  morning and 2 in the afternoon. The water was 
very  clear  and  the  snorkeling good, especially in the cannon and 
anchor  area.  The  second  morning trip is usually the best because 
they  learn  from  the  first  where  not to go, and the wind hasn't 
picked up yet to rough up the surf.

2.  Scuba--My  husband took the resort course and then dove the next 
2  days. Sign up early for the class and the dives because they fill 
up quick (he would have gone out more).

3.  Sailing--By  far  our  favorite  activity.  We  sailed  the  13' 
Hobiecat  Wave  several  times  and took full advantage of the stiff 
afternoon   breezes.   The  16'  Hobiecat  must  be  piloted  by  an 
instructor  with  sporadic  availability  between noon and 4pm only, 
but  worth  it  if  you can catch him. Farther up the beach were the 
dozen+  Sunfish which are popular, but watch out for the sudden wind 
gusts which would tip over at least 25% of those out.

4.  Water-skiingWe  didn't  water  ski, but the line never grew more 
than 4 or 5 people during prime time, usually only 2 people.

5.  Windsurfing--Lots of boards, lots of instructors, lots of people 
falling  but  having  a  wonderful  time.  Lessons  are available at 
either  the specified time or at off times if the instructors aren't 
too busy.

6.  Paddleboats  etc.--Take out the SeaCycle which moves much faster 
and  easier  than  the  Aqua Trikes or the Paddle boats. If you take 
out  the  Surf  Bike,  trust  us, do NOT stop pedaling until you are 
back to shore.

Activities:  Activities  are continuously available, especially near 
the  main  pool, but there's not a lot of pressure by the Playmakers 
to  get  you  to  participate.  There  are  lots  of  2 player games 
scattered  about  including pool, shuffleboard, bocce ball, croquet, 
darts,  lawn  chess,  regular  chess,  and  board games. The evening 
entertainment  ranges  from fair to good, with the beach party being 
our  favorite.  Warning  to honeymooners: do not volunteer when they 
ask  specifically  for  honeymooners  at  the beach party unless you 
want  to  pop  a balloon in your "favorite position" in front of the 
entire resort. 

Summary:  In  our  opinion Sandals Negril is not as luxurious as the 
brochures claim, but it is a good vacation that we will do again. 

JAMAICA BY MICHAEL MOE

(Ed Note: Mike relates his trip taken druing August of 1996.)

                
Our  trip  started  out with an excellent champagne breakfast on Air 
Jamaica  and  a  wonderful  flight,  I  might  add. The shuttle from 
Montego  Bay was a wild ride, although once we got accustomed to the 
high  speed  on the winding roads it was exciting. Stopped along the 
way  for  Red  Stripes  and sensed immediately the wonderfully laid-
back  (yet infused with fun) atmosphere that makes Jamaica paradise. 
The trip to The Negril Tree House was about 2 hours. 

Soon  after  check-in  we  were  greeted  by  the very accommodating 
staff,  including  the  gregarious  and  funloving  beach  attendant 
Monica,  who  was  happy to fill us in on what to watch out for, how 
to  get  the  most for our money, and basically how to make the most 
of  our  stay  in  Negril. Monica warned us to shop around before we 
bought  anything,  as  first  timers to Jamaica are an easy mark for 
street  vendors.  In  fact,  in  most  cases you can pay half of the 
price  first quoted by a street vendor. And by street vendor, I mean 
anyone  selling  something  that  does  not have marked prices (this 
includes  taxi  rides). I saw a dime (US money) selling for $1 US! I 
suppose  if  you  aren't  familiar  with US currency one might think 
about  paying  ten  times  face  value.  Anyway...we ate a delicious 
dinner  at  the Tree House that night. Our room (we hadn't opted for 
an  efficiency  unit) was very nice, the air conditioner worked well 
and  it  was  clean.  It  was  actually quite wonderful waking up to 
hummingbirds  in the trees. And we adopted (for the week) a resident 
cat,  the  gentlest little mongrel we'd ever seen. Every morning was 
beautiful,  then it would rain around 2pm for a bit, then stop. Most 
folks  don't  seem  to be bothered by the rain. In fact, many people 
swam  in  the  pool,  the  ocean  and  played  volleyball  during  a 
lightning  storm!  No  problem  mon. That's how it is in Jamaica, no 
problem.  The  next day we had a buffet breakfast at the Tree House, 
the  beans with the whitefish mixed in was really good. On the beach 
we  ate mangos and bananas, let me tell you I've really come to love 
mangos.  I like to chill them on ice, WOW. A right turn up the beach 
that  night  brought us to Cosmo's for dinner. Moderately priced and 
mostly  local  people,  the grilled lobster for $15 US blew me away. 
Caribbean  lobster have no claws and a big juicy tail. Beth couldn't 
get  enough  of  the Lobster Thermador. Day 3 we met Henry (Bob) the 
rasta  man with the acoustic guitar. Henry roams the beach and plays 
reggae  music.  I'm  a  musician myself and Henry was really good. I 
mean,  what a voice! We sang along with the songs we knew and tipped 
him  well.  People  in  Jamaica who help you out really appreciate a 
tip.  A few dollars in Jamaica goes a long way. The average Jamaican 
worker  (nurse,  teacher,  etc.) makes the equivalent of $300 US per 
month.  Beth and I got a ride into town for 100 Jamaican dollars ($1 
US  =  about $35 J) and visited the outdoor vendors market. Only one 
bit  of  advice:  shop  around  and  do  haggle, they expect it. And 
never,  I  mean  never  tell  anyone  that  it  is  your 1st time to 
Jamaica.  Beth kept messing up. Tuesday went on a tour ($60 US each) 
arranged  by  Air Jamaica. The bus picked up three other couples and 
us  at  9 AM. Our tour guide (Patrice) and the driver were great. We 
really  learned much of the local people from Patrice. She'd do well 
in  the hotel industry just about anywhere. A 1 1/2 hour bus ride to 
the  black river, then a pontoon boat ride down the river. All along 
the  way  our  guides  would  feed, pet and play with the crocodiles 
they  called  by  name.  George  was  one.  After the river ride, we 
lunched on the balcony of a beautiful estate atop a hill. 

Then  on  to YS Falls. YS Falls is great! We swam in the cool water, 
under  the  falls  and  into small caves, jumped from 

and  enjoyed  a  natural  Jacuzzi  from the water swirling past some 
rocks.  On  the  trip back we stopped for beef patties in town. Only 
$15  J  each.  Also  bought  some  spiced shrimp from eager roadside 
vendors  for $100 J for a small bag. They weren't worth the price or 
the  trouble  of shelling them. Wednesday, coffee and fruit salad at 
the  Tree  House  beach bar. The coffee is really good in Jamaica (I 
like it strong and rich), especially at the Tree House. 

Rick's  Cafe: The pina colada was much too sweet and not enough rum, 
terrible.  The  sunset  bar  was swarming with bees. Didn't have any 
food  but  did note higher prices compared to other places we'd been 
in  Negril. Don't know what all the hype is, you can view the sunset 
from anywhere on the cliffs. 

Sam  Sara  was  wonderful.  The  food,  service and prices. I highly 
recommend it. 

Farmer  Pat,  a  local, took us to Whoopies. Whoopies is a cliffside 
bar  and place to stay. The rooms are really low priced and the view 
from  the cliffs is incredible. Great pina coladas! Pat took us down 
the  cliff  to  snorkel,  but  the water was too rough following the 
daily  thunderstorm. I got a little overconfident & almost got swept 
away.   I   did   crawl  through  a  cave,  though,  and  took  some 
photographs.  Thursday, coffee and mangos on our Tree House terrace. 
Took  a  taxi to Xtabi where we snorkeled at the cliffs and explored 
the  caves.  Then  taxied  over  to  Runaways on the beach for conch 
fritters,  Red  Stripe  and pina coladas. Friday, early breakfast at 
The  Inn  Thing,  a small 4-table homestyle restaurant on the beach, 
just  up  the  beach  from  our  Tree  House.  Took  an  Air Jamaica 
coordinated  sailboat  cruise  with  3 other couples. Plenty of free 
Red  Stripe,  punch and soda were offered on board. Cruised out to a 
coral  reef for snorkeling, then off to Booby Island for a sumptuous 
barbecue.  The  whole  trip  was  about  4  hours  long  aboard Cool 
Runnings. I'd recommend it.

Back  at  the  Tree  House  we met our neighbors, Rose and Glen from 
England.  They  were really nice and joined us for a trip to Roaring 
River.  While at a beach bar, the day before, I'd asked a local what 
he  liked  to  do on his day off. He said, "I go to Roaring River to 
relax  in the mineral springs in the cave." We got a ride from Clive 
who  hangs  out  near  the Tree House and will take you anywhere you 
want  to  go.  Clive is really cool and we recommend looking for him 
if  you're  in  Negril. So the four of us set out on a 1/2 hour ride 
that turned out to be a good hour. 

Roaring  River  is  a  cave leading into a mineral spring (a natural 
Jacuzzi!).  It  was  so  refreshing  and we had it all to ourselves. 
Another  point  of  interest  in  the cave is an oval shaped pool of 
water  about  18 ft. long and 10 ft. wide. We dove into this rumored 
bottomless  pool  of  spring  water  and  swam  around.  The pool is 
surrounded  by  the  cave  walls which are about 20 or 30 feet high. 
The  locals  say  that  a  diver was once sent down to determine the 
depth  and  reached  his  limit  at  160 ft. not hitting bottom. The 
visit  to Roaring River really made our trip complete. Saturday (our 
last  day)  we  breakfasted at Gambino's, just up the beach from our 
Tree  House.  The  buffet  was  excellent  and  the Roman design was 
beautiful.  We  really had a hard time facing the fact that this was 
our last few hours in Negril. 

It's  tough  to  explain  it  to someone who's never been there, but 
there's  really  a  magical  feeling  about  Negril!  We're  looking 
forward  to  our  next  trip back, possibly December. It's still the 
slow  and  inexpensive  season until December 15th. Hope you enjoyed 
our story.

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