Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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January 15, 1999 - Anguilla is holding an exciting fund-raising auction on Friday, February 5th, 1999. . . . You Can Bid for Auction Items By Email! There will be a "silent auction" for desireable items like a cruise to Prickly Pear Cay on the trimaran picture above, followed by a live auction for even more spectacular items, including the mahogany art screen . The festivities will be moderated by the entertaining and well-known duo Teacher- Art and Mello- Sello. The purpose of the auction is to raise funds for the restoration of Wallblake House . The theme is To Save Wallblake House for the Nation. Money raised last year has already been spent in restoring the outbuildings, but much more is needed to repair the sadly neglected main building whose roof threatens a total collapse during each tropical storm! The cocktail buffet party and Silent Auction start at 6pm sharp, at the House of Chandeliers (in the Inter Island Hotel in South Hill). Entry is free, there is a cash bar and a complimentary food buffet. The main auction, including the special art screen, starts at 7:30pm. Naturally, you want to jump on an airplane so that you can be here for February 5th, but if that is not possible, do not despair. You can bid by Email for ten select items from the auction. If yours is the highest bid, you will be notified by email and can arrange payment. This is the first Internet auction in Anguilla, perhaps in the Caribbean. Lots Available for Bid By Internet Email For each of the 10 items there is an estimated value listed below, but feel free to bid more! It is for a good cause. You may email your bids to Marj Morani at firstname.lastname@example.org -- be sure to indicate the Lot # you are interested in. Bids will be accepted until Midnight Eastern Time on Thursday night, Feb 4th. If your browser is configured for "email links", click the BID NOW icon beneath the picture of the item you desire. Attend the live auction for many more items! Lot #1. Wallblake Art Screen . $ 10,000 BID NOW Lot #2 One day cruise on a Trimaran (pictured above) for eight persons to Prickly Pear Island. Trip includes lunch at Richardson's Prickly Pear Restaurant. $1000 BID NOW Lot #3. Holiday Weekend: Cap Juluca Hotel , Weekend for two persons; Room and Breakfast plus Dinner on one night with a bottle of house wine. Available mid-April to end November. $1200 BID NOW Lot #4. One week at Chinaberry Villa , subject to availability during period of April 1 to December 1. One bedroom villa overlooking Rendezvous Bay. Inclusive of taxes and service charges. $950 BID NOW Lot #5. Dinner for two at the award-winning Blanchard's Restaurant , with gourmet delights on Meads Bay. $150 BID NOW Lot # 6. Five hours of tennis lessons with Shawn Romney (he is the pro at Cap Juluca and one of the coaches at the Children's Tennis Bootcamp each summer). $250 BID NOW Lot # 7. Deep Sea Fishing Trip with Normand Tremblay for two. $800 BID NOW Lot #8. One week car rental (after Feb 28,1999) Island Car Rental . $275 BID NOW Lot #9. Scenic Flight in Beech Baron private plane for three persons around the island of Montserrat to view the volcano. $500 BID NOW Lot # 10 Historical Model of Anguilla Racing Boat , with the Story of the Anguilla Racing Boat, "Nuttin Bafflin". $245 BID NOW Directions to the House of Chandeliers: from the airport parking lot, take the only exit and turn left, then turn left again and drive past the airport entrance, straight through the roundabout, and follow the main road west to South Hill. Stay left/straight at the Sandy Ground roundabout and watch for the Inter-Island Hotel on the right in about 2 miles. At the hotel drive past the main entrance to the 2nd driveway. Park in the back by the door to the Chandeliers ball room. If you reach Anguilla Trading or the Loblolly Art Studio, you went 1/4 mile too far. Coming from West End hotels, follow the main road and watch carefully on the left after passing Loblolly Studio at South Hill Plaza. News Tidbits from Anguilla American Eagle Adding Third Flight. Starting January 19, 1999, American Eagle is adding a third daily San Juan-Anguilla flight to their schedule. Flight 5526 leaves San Juan at noon and returns at 1:21pm. This is normal each winter as the number of tourist bookings increases. Ferries Resume Service. The Anguilla ferries have resumed their suspended service between St. Martin and Blowing Point, Anguilla, allowing them to go back to their original schedule of a ferry every 30 minutes during the daylight hours. New Karaoke Bar. "Deja Vu" has opened in Sandy Ground, offering Karaoke every night except Wednesday, 8pm until 2am. Book Now for Millenium in Anguilla. Many places in Anguilla are already starting to book up for next New Years, since it is also the eve of a new millenium. If you want to be in Anguilla January 1, 2000, you should probably make a reservation now. African Beads , an exhibit with workshops, opened at the Devonish Art Gallery on Friday, January 8th with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Featured is the work of Joyce Griffths and Carrolle Devonish, as well as beadwork from various places in Africa. Click here for a picture from the opening. Upcoming Events in Anguilla The Anguilla Local News has an Calendar for the year showing events, holidays, and activities. February 6-7. First Annual Anguilla Flower and Garden Show. Ruthwill Auditorium in The Valley. January 30. Devonish Gallery Opening Reception for Virginia Hobart. Exhibit runs until February 19th. Other exhibits at the Devonish this season include: Peg Gregory. Saturday, February 20, Opening Reception, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. February 20 to March 5. Weme Caster. Saturday, March 6, Opening Reception, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. March 6 to March 19, Doug & Shari Erickson. Saturday, March 20, Opening Reception, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. March 20 to April 9. Carolyn Caldwell. Saturday, April 10, Opening Reception, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. April 10 to April 30. Malt's Plants Hidden away on Rey Hill, fifty yards off the road, is a jungle-like nursery of plants in all stages of growth. Malt's Plants raises tropical plants from seeds and cuttings: palms, oleanders, whatever is needed for landscaping. Malt only grows plants that thrive in Anguilla and specializes in palm trees. A very interesting place to visit, and to buy some plants for your garden. Directions: from the airport parking lot, take the only exit and turn left, continue straight past Island Car Rental, then take the next right up the Rey Hill. At the top of the hill, go full right and then take an immediate left. Follow the road past Paradise Apts and you should find the sign for Malt's on the left. Visitor Feedback Every day brings new email messages about Anguilla. Here is an interesting message that came in recently: Date: 1/6/99 4:25:00 PM Subject: Comments from recent trip Happy new year and keep up the good work. Reading your newsletters is like a minivisit to Anguilla. Today we awoke to 16 degrees in Washington and the high is 32. Now we know why you relocated to Anguilla. Maybe this only happens at the holiday season, but on several flights some passengers' luggage was left behind, to come on the next flight, which can be quite inconvenient if you are on the night flight and have no luggage until 3:30 the next afternoon. Please suggest to readers that they pack a bathing suit and change of clothing in their hand luggage. When we went to pick up our luggage at 10:30 p.m., a family of 5 was crestfallen that they had NO LUGGAGE and they were all wearing longsleeved shirts, long pants, and pullovers. In previous years American has offered "denied boarding" (ticket vouchers good for one year) if you'd take the night flight when they were overweight, but this year they aren't doing that. Instead they just aren't taking all the luggage. [editor: The problem is that Anguilla's runway is too short and not level enough, and doesn't have re-fueling facilities. This means that American Eagle can't carry a full load of people and luggage into Anguilla. We have had our luggage left behind in San Juan several times. I like your idea of a carryon backup - in fact you probably only need what is in the carryon anyway!} Please warn people to lock their doors and not rely on the screen door to keep out thieves at night. When we arrived 12/17/98 we learned that 2 of our Seafeathers neighbors had been robbed while they slept. Only cash ($1,000 US according to "The Light" newspaper) was taken and no one was hurt (they slept through it). [editor: Yes, unfortunately, petty theft is way up. Thieves have discovered that Anguilla is "easy pickins". Visitors are advised to take simple precautions .] Please give a plug to Mala's Caribbean Cottage and Roti Hut in George Hill, open from 10:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Her prices range from $4 US for a vegetarian Roti to $6 for a goat and vegetable or chicken curry and vegetable to $10 for shrimp and vegetable. She also had a conch and vegetable. They were light and delicious. THe cottage is quite cute and service was excellent. Excellent value for the price. [editor: We have an article about Mala's Cottage on our web site. Click here. ] Although we didn't visit it, we heard from another family with boys that the Landing Strip Restaurant (Chinese) next door (in a little mall) had large portions and good prices. [editor: we have the menu on our web site. Click here. ] Finally, as a librarian, I ask that you pass along this tip about the Library. For an $8 US deposit, they will allow you to check out unlimited titles. They have a wide selection of paperbacks and some hardbacks that make good "beach reading." Hours are 9:15 to 5 most weekdays (I think they close earlier on Wed.). Please suggest to people that they make their $8 deposit a contribution to the library when they return their last set of books. [editor: Good Tip for all our avid vacation readers.] Updates and Feedback Feedback on Groceries article. In our story on buying groceries in Anguilla, we forgot to mention two important points: - Credit cards are accepted at Fairplay IGA, Albert Lakes, and Vista. - If you are a gourmet, you might want to do some grocery shopping in St. Martin, especially on the French side. They have a well-stocked "Le March" supermarket with Parisian delicacies flown in every week. This is located in Marigot, a short taxi ride from the ferry or a longish walk. Update on Sombrero Article: Jason Butterworth has posted an article on Sombrero Island, originally published in "Anguilla Life" magazine, at this web site: www.sombrero.ai/island.htm Young Artist Aims High Teresa Harrigan of Island Harbour is a promising young art student. Teresa already has her work on the $1EC Anguilla stamp, has created her own web page, and, having graduated from high school, is off to continue her studies at college. She is also looking for part-time work in the New York area. If you have any ideas, you can email her. Web Page: web.ai/art Email: email@example.com Web Sites About Anguilla Personal Struggle. Lourance Stevens recently created a web page about her experiences with a sudden and bewildering epileptic attack during high school: web.ai/vanilla Mainstay Villa has a new domain name for their web page: mainstayvilla.com Haddalli Villa in Blowing Point now has a web page . Rainbow Reef Villas in Seafeathers have a nice web page . Bankie Bank Has His Own Site at bankiebanx.com , where you can order his CDs. Terra Firma Villa is For Sale , and you can see it on the web at terrafirma.ai Windsong Villa is also for sale, as indicated by this web site . C.E.G. Ltd , a company incorporation and management firm in South Hill Anguilla, has a web page at ceg.ai Counsel Ltd. , offering accounting and company management services in Anguilla, has a web page at counsel.ai Rendezvous Bay Hotel is described on this web page . La Petite Maison D'Amour is described on this web page . Harney Westwood & Riegels , a law firm from the British Virgin Islands, has opened an office in Anguilla and has a web page at www.hwr.org Recipe for Johnny Cakes What are "johnny cakes"? Johnny Cakes are bagel-sized biscuits, usually fried, that are made all over the Caribbean. Legend has it that the name derives from "journey cake", meaning a bread that could be cooked ahead when going out to work or on a journey. In any case, there are as many recipes for Johnny Cake as there are cooks in Anguilla, ranging in style from something like hard-tack to something more like a donut. If you eat at local places in Anguilla, you will have Johnny Cakes eventually. Here is the recipe for the "johnny cakes" that Ethne and Nat Richardson serve at the Palm Grove Bar and Grill at Junks Hole Bay . Johnny Cakes 3 Cups Flour 1/4 Cup Cornmeal 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder 1 Tablespoon Salt 3 Tablespoons Sugar 1 Tablespoon Margarine 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil 1-1/2 Cups Water 1/3 Cup Frying Oil for Cooking Sift together flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Mix together with salt, sugar and margarine. Make a well in the flour mixture and add vegetable oil. Add water slowly. Mix carefully until mixture is not sticky. Knead into a ball until smooth. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Roll dough into a long strip and cut into small pieces. Knead each piece into a small ball. On a floured surface, flatten each ball with a rolling pin or your finger tips and palms. Add about 1/3 frying oil into a frying pan or enough oil to cover bottom of pan. When oil is hot, add flattened cakes. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, turn and continue with other side until both sides are golden brown. Servings: 1-1/2 dozen
Oceanview Cottage, located on Dominica's northeast coast, is beautifully situated on a wooded ridge overlooking the sheltered, palm-fringed beach of Hodges Bay. The balcony affords an equally spectacular view of mountainous tropical rainforest where the Hodges River has its source. Our cottage guests have the best of both worlds; a swim in the warm Caribbean waters followed by a freshwater dip in the shallow sandy-bottomed mouth of the river. Fruit trees, flowering shrubs and roses add additional touches to the landscape. Swimming, snorkelling, birdwatching and hiking are among the local activities our guests have enjoyed. Dominica's tourist attractions - Emerald Pool, the Indian River, Cabrits National Park -are all within an easy day trip by car. The interior of Oceanview Cottage features a large living room with cathedral ceiling. Double French doors open onto a spacious balcony with dining area overlooking the bay below. Amenities include a large, fully-equipped kitchen with an eat-in counter, a three piece bathroom with hot water shower, and three bedrooms. Oceanview sleeps five people comfortably - a large master bedroom with a queensize bed, a second bedroom with two twinsize beds, and a smaller third bedroom with a single bed. To accomodate the demand for larger families or for three couples who wish to vacation together, The Suite was completed in 1998. Built on the terraced slope tucked beneath the main cottage, The Suite, although part of the original structure is very private with its own stair and entranceway. Included is: a queensize bed in a spacious room containing a bar fridge and counter with sink and a three piece bathroom with hot water shower. The Suite may be rented separately or in conjunction with the main cottage. Rates High Season (Nov - April) Low Season (May - October) 3 bedroom cottage $125 US per night $100 US per night $750 US per week $600 US per week The Suite $50 US per night $300 US per week 3 bedroom cottage $165 US per night $150 US per night and The Suite $1,000 US per week $900 US per week All rates are subject to a 5% government hotel tax. No service charges. For further information and reservations: Contact: Elizabeth Klinck Telephone: (519) 669 2661 Fax: (519) 669 4636 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.delphis.dm/oceanview
St. Martin 1999 Heineken Regatta The 19th Annual St. Maarten/St. Martin Heineken Regatta is just a few weeks away (March 5, 6, 7, 1999). The St. Maarten/St. Martin Heineken Regatta is about tight racing and great party fun - hence the slogan "Serious Fun". Picture this --- Three days of serious racing in an incredible climate, around an island providing any amenity to make the experience a totally satisfying one. Close racing in a wide variety of classes allowing maximum competitive possibilities for nearly every type of sailing yacht. Competitive classes carefully selected by an experienced team of experts. A sponsoring organization that is technically focused on making the regatta hassle-free and participant-friendly via an information system that gives a complete, ongoing picture of events through internet access at http://www.heinekenregatta.com Support by sponsors in a myriad of ways. A strong press corps in attendance. All on an exciting island with fabulous weather, incredible restaurants, great beaches, groovin' Caribbean bands and out-of-sight parties. Visit the Official St. Maarten/St. Martin Heineken Regatta Website at http://www.heinekenregatta.com See you there!
Trip: December 12-19th 1998 Departed Toronto, Ontario 11:30 a.m. Saturday December 12th via Air Canada. Flight time direct to Antigua was just over 4 hours, gate to gate plus a 1 hour time zone change so we deplaned at VC Bird Airport in Antigua at 4:45 p.m. local time. Antigua Immigration was well prepared for our flight, and were processed through within approximately 40 minutes. We then proceeded to the luggage carousel for the wait until our checked bags appeared. There were Red Caps everywhere at the airport arrival area, who actually go so far as to ‘adopt’ a tourist waiting for their luggage. For the few bucks it cost as a tip, it was well worth the entertainment watching these chaps literally balance and juggle 10-20 heavy suitcases on a 2 wheel trolley through an overcrowded maze of an airport ! The local customs officers appeared to check quite a lot of incoming luggage prior to allowing the new arrivals to pass through to the transfer area to their hotel buses etc. These checks were random and very thorough from what we saw. They were also quite plentiful. Met the Bo Tours Representative (this company represents a lot of airlines and tour operators on the island) outside, she provided us with our ‘information kit” (contains details for orientation at the property the next day and her name & phone number in case of emergency) and saw that we were safely on a bus to Sandals before she called it a day. Entire process through the airport to the bus took about 90 minutes. Transfer to the hotel was in relatively comfortable, newer van and provided us with a pleasant 15 minute trip across the island to the Dickinson Bay area. Since it was now dusk, we really did not see much of the island, but the roads seemed to be in good shape and our driver was talkative so the trip was a pleasant one. We arrived at Sandals about 6:20 p.m. and piled out of the bus into the lobby. There were only two couples on this bus and once our luggage was off loaded, we were met in the lobby area by the night manager, sat down and welcomed. We were provided with forms to fill out for the hotel and asked for a credit card imprint in case of purchases, phone calls etc. to be charged to our room. Despite the fact that both couples were expected, the check in process seemed very unorganized and took at least 20 minutes. We actually had to ask the night manager for our cold face cloths and glass of champagne – this was just one of many ‘little things’ with which Sandals Antigua came up ‘short’. Since the Guest Services desk was closed for the evening, the night manager made dinner arrangements for us at the OK Corral restaurant for 7:45 p.m. (We had anticipated dining at the Bayside restaurant (general restaurant), but were told that it was closed for a private party that evening for one of the island businesses.) Our luggage was loaded onto a trolley and a resort Bell Captain led us to our room. We did receive a complimentary room upgrade from Deluxe to a Grand-Lux room. The Bell Captain brought our luggage into the room, showed us how to operate the television and air conditioning and left without literally saying a word. We then began the task of unpacking and quickly freshened up for our 7:45 dinner reservation. The room was very nice. Four poster bed, bright linen, bed covering and curtains. The room appeared to have a fresh coat of paint, clean terra cotta tile floor and several table and floor lamps. We were on the first floor of a two story building and had a private patio with two patio chairs, patio table and chaise lounge. The bath and toilet was in a separate area with a door for privacy and there was a separate sink with mirror as well. The one consistent complaint that we have had with Sandals over the years was prevalent at Sandals Antigua as well – little closet and cupboard space for your clothes. We had access to a closet rod approximately 4 feet long with 10 hangers – good thing we always bring about 20 of our own with us! Hidden in this closet area was our in room safe, which is always a nice amenity – a locked place for our airline tickets, passports, wallet and jewelry that’s just one less thing to worry about ! Back to the issue about space for clothes, there were 4 drawers to be shared between the two of us as well, which barely provides enough room for your t- shirts, socks, shorts, undies etc. Not much choice though, so we made do! The room was decked out with an overhead ceiling fan, air conditioning unit, television set, clock radio, hair dryer and coffee maker as promised. Lots of large pillows and a comfortable mattress made the king size bed a nice treat as well. Restaurants: Sandals Antigua has four restaurants on the property along with a snack bar. Restaurant reservations must be made at the guest services desk, one day before you wish to dine. We thought that this was another inane shortcoming on Sandals behalf – why on earth would they want their guests to return to the lobby area every day to make dinner reservations for the next day ? At every other Sandals property which we have visited, the guests are encouraged to arrange their dinner reservations for the entire week at one time, typically the morning after your arrival at the resort. In this way the resort knows when staff are required and the guests are provided with a card on which is written the weeks reservations, restaurants and times. Another ‘different’ occurrence here seemed to be the fact select restaurants were closed on select evenings. The evening that we arrived, as an example, the Bayshore Restaurant was closed for a private party – should paying guests not come first ? When the brochures advertise the availability of four fine restaurants for Sandals guests, the guests expect to be able to eat at them whenever it is convenient for us, however this was not the case and we were made to change our schedules to accommodate the restaurant closings on certain evenings. It was the Christmas season, and the resort was only about 35 % full, but perception is reality and our perception was that we would have ‘free run’ of this properties amenities during our stay there – we were wrong ! OK Corral – situated above the main bar in the courtyard area, overlooking the beach on three sides and the courtyard on the other side. This is an open air restaurant that can sit between 30 and 40 people at one sitting, at tables for 2 or 4 persons. Menu offered appetizers, salad or soup as well as a nice salad bar for those wanting their fill of fresh ‘greens’. This is almost a theme restaurant in a Southwestern style, offering a variety of grilled entrees including BBQ Back ribs, Steaks, BBQ pork, beef, chicken or pork Fajitas, grilled Marlin and grilled shrimp kabobs. Side dishes offered were fresh grilled veggies, rice, potato skins or baked potato. The wait staff were very accommodating and brought drinks to the table for us. The wine list offered an acceptable choice of U.S. and Chilean whites, reds and blushes. Dessert menu offered a choice of raisin pecan pie, mudpie, vanilla and white chocolate cake, chocolate mousse or ice cream, but then who had room for dessert anyway ? All of the food was literally prepared in front of us and was properly cooked as ordered. My Sirloin was one of the best steaks that I’ve ever had in an island setting. Kimonos - Situated in front of the main lobby area, at the foot of a hill near the driveway into the resort. Kimonos is a Japanese tepanyaki-style restaurant very similar to what we might know as a Benihanas. The restaurant is air conditioned and upon arrival the guests are welcomed into a small bar area and offered a welcome drink – Kimonos rum punch. After 5 couples have arrived, they are ushered upstairs to their dining room, where they all sit and await the evenings food and entertainment. The center part of the table is actually a cooking grill and that is where the food is prepared, right in front of your eyes. Dinner menu consists of your choice of appetizer such as spring rolls, sushi, stuffed shrimp roll, soup and a small vinaigrette salad. White or red wine is served and if anyone at the table is brave enough, saki is available! Each couple shares a large bowl of steamed rice and for those travelers unable to use chopsticks, forks are made available as needed. Main course consists of fresh grilled vegetables, Marlin, Shrimp, Scallops, Chicken, Sirloin and pork tenderloin, all individually prepared and cooked on the table by very entertaining chef. Dessert offered a small piece of vanilla cake topped with fresh fruit and fruit sherbet, but after eating all that food, who had room for dessert ? The beauty of Kimonos restaurant was the excellent mix of entertainment and food – the chef who cooked tableside had the 10 of us in stitches for the entire 2 hours that we were there, and made the time fly. The food here was very well presented and prepared and the portions were generous. We ate at this restaurant twice during the week, and would have no hesitancy suggesting that it be on any guests must visit list. Il Palio – Located off the main courtyard at the rear of the lobby area overlooking the beach. This is an Italian restaurant with a seating capacity of approximately 50 to 60. It has a beautifully decorated feeling to it, helped along by the sounds of the surf 30 feet from your table ! The same wine list is offered here as is available at the OK Corral. The food however, was quite a nice surprise. Appetizers included Caesar Salad, Waldorf Salad, fresh garden salad, cold pasta salad or small shrimp cocktail. Small loaves of bread and/or garlic bread were brought to the table, each nicely lit by candlelight. Entrees included seafood and bow tie pasta in a cream sauce, roast lamb, shrimp and scallops in cream sauce, pizza, beef tenderloin, spaghetti, and a variety of pasta and fresh seafood dishes. Vegetable accompaniments were served in small bowls brought to the table separately and included broccoli, potatoes, onions, carrots, beans and garlic – most everything available seemed to have garlic in it somewhere, but nevertheless the food was very tasty and the service was very good. Dessert menu included a variety of tarts, pastries and ice cream, cakes and pies all freshly prepared in the kitchen and drizzled in white chocolate, dark chocolate and/or fruit syrup, providing a beautiful presentation, but then again, who had room for dessert ? We enjoyed the coffee at all of the restaurants – fresh ground and not as strong as the Jamaican coffee found at most other Sandals properties, but we have yet to find any Sandals that offers cream with your coffee, just milk. Powdered creamer is available, but if you’re like us, it just isn’t the same without fresh cream. If you prefer hot tea, a selection of tea bags are presented to you from which you make your selection. Bayside Restaurant – this is the property’s ‘international restaurant’ which is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style meals. Tables can be overlooking the beach or indoors under ceiling fans with a great view of the beach anyway. Breakfast buffets are excellent at the Bayside. There is a large table full of fresh fruit, watermelons, mangos, honeydew, cantaloupe, orange, grapefruit, grapes, apples, pears etc. Another table offers an array of cold cereals, each in individual serving boxes, hot cereal (in a tureen) and cold cuts. There is an egg station, where a chef will prepare your eggs any way you like them, poached, boiled, scrambled, fried or prepare an omelet with your choice of cheeses, peppers, onions, ham etc. There is a bread station, offering a choice of sweet rolls, toast, multi grain breads, rolls, English muffins, bagels, melba toasts etc. with accompaniments such as jam, jelly, peanut butter, butter, cream cheese, honey etc. Another part of the buffet offers traditional hot dishes such as pancakes, waffles, crepes, bacon, hash browns, fried banana, eggs benedict as well as some traditional island breakfast foods for those daring guests with steel plated gastrointestinal tracks! Fresh juices are available as is tea and coffee. Lunch is another buffet style meal in the same area as breakfast, but with a major number of choices. There is a similar fresh fruit table set up as well as a table offering a plethora of fresh cold salads, Caesar salad, green salad, bean salad, cucumber salad, waldorf salad, cole slaw, carrot salad as well as a few seafood-based soup selections. There is a complete sandwich station, where a chef will prepare the sandwich of your choice from fresh ingredients and on a variety of breads for you. There is a hot buffet area which always features one main ‘carveable’ entrée, such as roast turkey, hip of beef, roast pork, jerk pork etc. as well as a choice of vegetables, and other pre-prepared options such as chicken, stroganoffs, pasta dishes, choice of taters- baked, cheese, roasted etc. Fresh juices were available as was bar service, since this restaurant is next door to the main bar. Waitresses were all accommodating at keeping your drinks full throughout your meal. Lunch buffets also had a decadent dessert table, offering a choice of pies, cakes, tarts, fresh pastries, cream pastries, fresh fruit salads, lots of chocolate- covered goodies etc., but after all that lunch, who had room for dessert ? Dinner at the Bayside is very pleasant as well. Their menu offers table service with a variety of choices from seafood dishes, beef, poultry, lamb, and even a vegetarian option. Appetizers included choice of salads, cold cuts, olive and/or pickle tray and the desserts were fabulous as well…’nuff said! Snack Bar – open for lunch and late evening snacks. Limited menu offering hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken burgers, hot dogs, french fries and a few cold salads. Convenient eating place if you don’t want to be bothered to go back to your room to change for lunch elsewhere ! Basic fast food, smiling, pleasant service, but nowhere near as good as the other options available if you’re prepared to dress somewhat ! Overall, we both felt that the food, selection and presentation of food at each meal and at each restaurant was the best overall eating experience at any of the Sandals that we had visited to date ( St. Lucia, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Royal Jamaican, Dunns River) and must admit that we were very pleasantly surprised. Grounds – by far the most ‘physically’ beautiful Sandals that we have seen. Very tropical grounds, tall palm trees, green bushes and trees everywhere and every tree and bush had a flower of a different colour on it. It was very hard to believe that Hurricane Georges had visited this place just 6 weeks prior to our stay. Pools were clean and plentiful; there were 5 freshwater pools and at least 5 jacuzzis. Jacuzzis were kept at a comfortable 98 degrees, have stayed elsewhere where the 110 degree jacuzzi is way too hot. All of the exterior facades of the buildings had been treated to a fresh coat of paint since the hurricane and they were either a putty pink shade, light blue, white, light green or light yellow. Outside the lobby someone had commissioned a talented artist to paint a beautiful 2 story mural depicting a tropical forest , foliage and fauna. One could easily walk the property every day and admire how lush and beautiful it was – the type of beauty that must take lots of hard work to create for the guests. Beach – Sandals Antigua is located on Dickinson Bay on Antigua’s north-west coast. There are 365 beaches on the island, and Dickinson Bay boasts a beauty. There are four resort properties sharing the bay, Sandals, the Rex Halcyon Cove, a Resort Condominiums International property, and Siboney resort. The beach is composed of soft white sand and varies in width from 20 feet to 20 yards in places. At a good pace, it takes about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Since the beaches are all public ones, security guards police the hotel entrances for ‘trespassers’, but how they know who to stop is not apparent at all ! There are beach vendors hocking their wares as well, from t shirts and cover ups to beaded jewelry to hair braiding and beading to carved mahogany statues to the occasional painting. Since watersports are popular, there is also a water sports rental outlet on the beach offering sailing, waterskiing, parasailing and seadoo rides. Overall, the beach at Sandals Antigua rates as one of the best we’ve seen at any Sandals property to date. Sports – Included in the Sandals offering for guests are tennis, sailboats, snorkeling, scuba diving and training for those non-certified divers, kayaking, giant water tricycles, And water-skiing. The playmakers (organized activity for guests ) offer beach and pool volleyball, mixology, karaoke, and a host of silly games designed to create a stress-proof way to allow the guests to meet each other in a causal and not-really-competitive environment. Golf is available (at a cost) nearby as is horseback riding at a cost as well. We found that we got more than our share of exercise walking from our beach chairs to the bar and carrying all those heavy exotic drinks. Staff - Difficult topic to be totally subjective about. Granted, the Antiguans are a laid back, polite, pleasant, somewhat introverted people and the resort staff and surrounding peoples that we met in town or on the beach were all very pleasant and nice to these obvious tourists ! The beach vendors were not aggressive and certainly not pushy or rude in any way. The resort staff were all quite polite as well and certainly made our stay a comfortable and enjoyable one. We did find however, with two exceptions, that this resort was virtually without a personality. The management all stood together at the general managers welcoming cocktail party, instead of mingling with the guests – the general manager did not attend! Two mid-line managers attended the returning guests dinner and spent the entire evening with 4 guests – they refused to mingle as well. These events are specifically designed to enable the management to take the pulse of the guests, and they would have learned quite a lot had they talked to more than 4 people. Very few of the guests that we met spoke highly of their stay at Sandals Antigua …not one stated that they would return. Perhaps that’s why there were only 18 people at the returning guests dinner. Of all of the staff members that we met, only two stood out as gregarious, outgoing and warm. If Sandals could transport the staff from any of it’s Jamaican properties to Sandals Antigua, we’d book a return trip there in a minute. There is no obvious love-of-life-effervescent-fun-loving-personality present at this resort. Don’t get us wrong, it is chock full of capable employees doing their jobs well, but we never really got the feeling that any of them were enjoying what they did for a living, an obvious difference to anyone who’s visited a Jamaica-based Sandals ! It doesn’t seem like much at the time, but this personality is very much missed at Sandals Antigua. Gift Shop – barely adequate, unless you were in dire need of immodium, film or cigarettes. They had a poor selection of souvenir Sandals wear, t shirts, golf shirts, bathing suits etc. They sold pop, beer and rum ( odd at an all inclusive, don’t you think?) an assortment of Made in China Souvenirs of Antigua, sunscreen, hats and a bit of jewelry. For a resort of this size, with a supposed affluent clientele, this gift shop is really an embarrassment. Tours & Excursions - All available for booking right at the resort. Tours include the Famous Jolly Roger Booze cruise, Circumnavigational boat tours of the island, Sunset cruises, Horseback rides, Reef cruises and snorkelling, Nelsons Dockyard Sightseeing tour, Plantation tours, Shirley Heights Party trip, Deep Sea Fishing rips, Yacht charters, Estate Safari Tours, ranging in price from a few dollars to a few hundred. Sandals has a resident palm reader ( $ 25.00 US) and all spa treatments are at an extra cost. Details of these trips and treatments are supposed to be in your room when you check in – ours were not so we had to ask at the guest services desk ! (OOPS!) Shopping - Shopping trips can be taken into town at any time of the day or night. If you plan on going into town after 6:00 p.m to go to the Casino, a voucher is available from the front desk which will get your cab fare reimbursed at the Casino ( $ 7.00US). You pay your own way home! If you go into town during the day, you pay both ways! Duty free shopping at Heritage Quay is OK and they have a much better selection than any of the airport stores, so do your shopping in town for all of your duty free goodies. There is a nice selection of boutique style shops as well offering artwork, batik fashions, brand name jewelry, perfumes, watches etc. The Kings Casino is attached to the Heritage Quay shopping complex and as little island casinos go, it was OK ! Gamblers get a free drink and there were plenty of slots, blackjack , poker tables and video poker machines. A word to the wise – Thursday is the day that several cruise ships dock at Heritage Quay – avoid downtown on Thursday if possible – get your shopping done before then to ensure that there will actually be some selection – several thousand bargain hungry cruise passengers literally take the place over for the entire day and do their level best to empty out the stores before they scurry back on board ship ! Overall Comments – overall, we had a very enjoyable, relaxing vacation. As Sandals properties go, however, this one definitely needs work on the ‘little things’ that are obvious to the guests simply by their absence. Disorganized check-in, Housekeeping oversights ( rationing bath towels – 2 per room per day ONLY ) – never replenished creamer, sugar and teas for the in-room coffee maker, No pen in the room made it difficult to fill out their complimentary postcards and guest appraisal form, personality-less staff all left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths…after all, if this is touted as one of the worlds best destinations, we expect nothing less, and frankly didn’t receive the best. To its credit, the resort’s physical beauty, amenities, pools, bars, restaurants etc. were A-one, the food was a very pleasant surprise and the beach was wonderful. We were glad that we went and saw it for ourselves, but are still pretty unanimous in our feeling that there’s “nowhere to be like Jamaica” for the service levels, personality and overall enjoyment factor for this type of vacation. If Sandals could staff this Antigua property with ex- patriot Sandals Jamaican employees, this may very well be one of the worlds best destinations, but as it is run today – not even close.
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