Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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(The following is a letter sent to the members of the Eden Bay Homeowners' Association.)
1/99 Happy New Year! I haven't written an update to the situation at Eden Bay Resort in the Dominican Republic since before our Association's October General Meeting so I decided to use the New Year as an incentive. A proposal to re-open the Resort as a "mixed use" resort (part clothed/part nudist) was presented at the General Meeting and received a majority vote to go forward with negotiations. At the meeting it was forecasted that there might be a re-opening as early as Mid December and progress made to install all the proposed nudist area amenities by May. Obviously all parties forecasting neglected to apply those dates to "Dominican" time. Since that time, commitments have been made and negotiations have progressed to the point that the Association Chairman feels comfortable with stating there is a possibility of a June opening. Regretfully that also pushes out the time frame of when what I would call comfortably pleasant areas for nude use to be available until the end of summer at the earliest. What does this mean to considering the Resort as a potential vacation destination? Well, I have put together a few of the pluses and minuses below for your consideration: 1) Many of the Homeowners have expressed disappointment at the "mixed use" decision. The Association Chairman pointed out however, that the alternative would be to "mothball" the Resort. His comparison of the resort degrading to a state similar to the "Mayan Ruins" hit home to those of us who were there to see the difference between the condo properties (which we have continued to maintain) and the Resort properties. 2) What does "mixed use" mean and how will it be applied & marketed? a) Well, initially, the Resort Management Company (Gestur) will market the Resort to the European market that they are marketing their other Resorts to - through European Tour Operators. Their brochure will only make slight reference to nudity options via the placement of the FKK emblem (meaningful to German nudists) on the brochure. It was mentioned that they would be interested in leaving the marketing of the Resort to the rest of the world to yours truly and possibly one of our other owners who has worked with me in the past. b) "Mixed use" will require a definite separation of clothed and nude areas. For those of you who have been to the Resort and are familiar with the geography, you can envision how difficult this will be to accomplish. The whole Resort was perfect for full nude use. From the walled entrance to the high cliffs secluding the oceanfront from adjoining properties, the layout could not have been more conducive. To separate areas for clothed & nude use assuming that the clothed use will be more predominant will be difficult but not impossible. c) Initially, the beach that is at the far west end of the property will be improved, partitioned with landscaping and devoted to nude use. Later separate amenities such as pools & hot tubs, etc will be added to that area. Other areas scattered throughout the Resort including hotel rooftop sunbathing areas are also being considered for future nude use. Once these separate amenities are in place, it will definitely be easier to market the Resort to the clothing- optional/nudist community. I am convinced that over time there will be proof of which marketing incentives will drive the predominant use of the Resort. If we keep Gestur to their word of catering equally to both clientele and providing ample amenities to each even if the pendulum swings to a more predominant nude use, I think we can envision a future where nude use will prevail. d) We must keep in mind that Eden Bay is a small Resort (126 units) and that surrounding Resorts catering to the clothed trade have much more to offer the established "clothed" market. I feel Gestur will succeed initially in enticing their established clientele to the Resort. But once the reduced rates usually offered during a new opening are no longer deemed appropriate, the draw for clientele will need to focus more and more on the uniqueness of clothing- optional availability to support the higher rates. e) Gestur boasts to be able to book the Resort at 50%+ the first season. They intend to do this by overbooking their other Resorts and then offering to "upgrade" their clients to Eden Bay. This strategy will work for a short period of time and may attract repeat customers once they see the beauty and tranquillity of the Resort and its setting. However, longevity will only come from those customers willing to pay the higher rates and we (the homeowners) know that clientele that are appreciative of clothing-optional/nudist accommodations are the ones more willing to support premium pricing for that luxury. 3) What about other plans for the Resort? a) The Restaurant will be run similar to the way Gestur runs their other Resort Restaurants. Meals will be buffet style, but with a wide variety of entries and menus that are geared to the tastes of clientele. b) The utilities (electric, water and sewer) will be owned by the Homeowners' Association and operated by Gestur. This will prevent the situation we were held hostage to when our utilities were cut off. c) There may be unit expansion plans on the horizon and plans to open a luxurious SPA and non- affiliated restaurants and shops lining the entrance road that will be available to the Resort's clientele and to the public. d) In order to raise the definition of the Resort to a 4 star Resort, TVs and air conditioning will be added to all units. I will try to keep you all informed as to the progress we make towards re- opening. The Resort name may be changed to "The Golden Dolphin" so if you see reference to that fact in any other publication, please let me know. Please keep your fingers crossed that we can get this thing going in the right direction. As I sit here in the Chicago area feeling the effects of below "0" degree weather, the prospect of being able to enjoy our Resort sounds quite attractive. Tom Fernstrom Eden Bay Homeowners' Association
Trip: 4/98 My first impression of Jamaica will stay with me for ever. After leaving the aircraft and entering the terminal building, we were greeted by a group of singers who were singing "Welcome to Jamaica". It brought a tear to my eye. After a long drive from Montego bay airport we were greeted in the hotel lobby by the most pleasant staff and given a long cool rum punch which I must say went down extremely well and helped with the registration process. ACCOMMODATION The accommodation was really good and the location of the apartments has been well thought out. It's a short stroll out of the apartment and straight on to the deserted beach if you like a morning swim before breakfast. The sea is only about 15 yards from the entrance and the beach is patrolled by security day and night. FOOD The meals are more like feasts, with so many choices of Caribbean food and lots of local fruit, usually taken on the verandah. If you wanted to go out for the day on a trip,"No Problem", the Chef would do you a packed lunch to take with you. No. I couldn't fault the food. WATER SPORTS Almost everything you can think of including "The glass bottom boat" was available most of it covered by the all inclusive price. BARS There were two bars, one on the verandah and one inside the main building, but if you were lazing on the beach, the staff came around taking orders which I loved. And, because it was an all inclusive holiday. No need to carry money. AMENITIES The admin staff were very helpful and it was no problem for them. They let me use one of the pc's in the office to download pictures from my digital camera. Thanks, Stephanie and Winsome. Taxi's were available almost instantly. That's Jamaican "Instantly" <g> A really friendly bunch all belonging to the JUTA so they were OK. Shaw park is only a short drive from Ocho Rios and the driver will usually take you there and then Pick you up again at a pre-arranged time. That's all for now. We are going to the travel agent tomorrow to book another all inclusive vacation at Shaw park and I don't think it will be the last.
Trip: December, 1998 My husband and I recently returned from 9 nights at the Grand Lido, Negril. This was our 6th visit to Jamaica, and our third trip to the GL-Negril. The Grand Lido is one of three Grand Lido-brand resorts owned by the Superclubs chain; other G.L. brand resorts (with similar high quality) are the G.L.Sans Souci in Ocho Rios and the G.L. Braco at Discovery Bay. All food/drinks/water sports etc. are included in the price -- my husband and I spent a nominal amount of money for duty free liquor & perfume, souvenir tee shirts & hats, & similar stuff, mostly on the day of our departure from Jamaica. Dec. 1. Uneventful flight to Montego Bay via Charlotte NC on USAirways. Northwest via Tampa is a better connection spot, although connecting via Miami on American Airlines is worse. Picked up at airport by driver in car since my husband and I were the only check-ins scheduled that Tuesday. ( We had been taken to previous vacation destinations in a 20 passenger midi-bus since our arrivals were generally on Saturdays -- busy arrival/departure day.) Easy check- in, smooooothed out by the complimentary mimosa beverage. Our bags arrived in our room within a half hour of check-in. We didn't care, however, we were already walking the property to see what had changed since our previous visit. Our room was on the upper level, overlooking the main beach. There is a new service station directly across the street from the Beach House bar. Also, the airport seems busier (all those CompuServe people using Jamaica Jim's TimAir discounts, we guess!). Highway traffic noise is up a bit, although scarcely disturbing; there is very little late night traffic that far out from Negril Center. Also, the new Couples is open next door. This means more people walking the beach, and more activity in the bay (water skiing, parasailing, etc.) GL seems a little less secluded than on earlier visits, when it had the bay virtually to itself. Blew off the orientation meeting -- we were familiar with the restaurants, bars, beaches, hot tubs, etc. Dinner inside at the Cafe Lido, whose menu has been upgraded considerably since last visit with the addition of more Jamaican food, fish entrees, etc. The wine is now mostly Chilean and disappointing . (more about wine later) Entrees that night: Jerk tuna & Jamaican red snapper in a tomato sauce (reminiscent of huanchananga Veracruz). "Appeteaser": spread of pigeon peas, tamarind, & guava with a texture like hummus. Dec. 2. Breakfast at the buffet. Typical Jamaican breakfast entrees included: ackee and salt cod, salt fish fritters, escavich, curried goat, beef stew, braised oxtails, steamed callalou, steamed pop choy, roast yams, fried plaintain, porridges, Also available: standard American entrees like made-to- order omelets, waffles & French toast; bagels/lox, abundant fresh fruit. Beach time on main beach; didn't visit clothing optional beach. Server walked the beach taking orders and delivering both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks from the Beach Bar. Beach Bar was a short walk from our lounges and hammocks when we wanted the exercise. 50 foot deep beach was lined with trees, providing shade to those who wanted it. Most folks put their lounge chair under a convenient coconut palm, slathered on the sun screen and vegged. Sunset cruise on the M.V. Zein. Water was choppy that afternoon. Captain Jones stayed way off the coast to smooth out the ride. This was our third cruise on the Zein -- it had never been that rough before. Caribbean dinner buffet. We picked mostly Jamaican food (like roast pig) and Jerk chicken and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of everything. Great looking desserts. My husband and I usually AVOID buffets when possible. The G.L. food buffets were UNIFORMLY GOOD. Dec. 3. Breakfast, beach, lunch at the Stone House Bar. Ordered lamb chops (from the room service menu), then back to beach. Dinner inside at the Cafe Lido. Entrees: scallops & swordfish. Dec. 4. Breakfast in our room (bread basket, fresh juices, coffee). Returning guest dinner (lobster tail & steak). Very impressive. 140 returning guests have dinner together (that's 70 rooms' worth out of 200!). Prize raffle, including return trips (we didn't win) Dec. 5. Cooking demonstration, mass, dinner outside at the Cafe Lido with entertainment by Rastaman Ralphie . Entrees: Jamaican-style curried vegetables & Jamaican-style conch/octopus Dec. 6. Breakfast in our room again. Beach time, gala 9th Anniversary Bash. This big party happens each year. We also attended the 6th bash in 1995. We received G.L. logo golf shirts, embroidered with "9th Anniversary 1998." An abundant raw bar (oysters, mussels, stone crab) and many Jamaican specialties; at least six dozen dessert choices. Dec. 7. Dinner at Piacere, the fancy French restaurant. White glove service. Entrees: grouper & chicken. We chose Stilton pillows for dessert instead of the sweeter, more glamourous items. Dec. 8. Dinner at the Cafe Lido again, this time with a custom dinner prepared by Patrick. Dec. 9. Caribbean buffet just like Dec. 2. We had a long chat with Chef Denis regarding the menus; he is doing an excellent job and wants to keep improving. Among our food observations were: (1) Greater availability of Jamaican food at all meals -- good! (2) Limited selection of mediocre wines -- not good! Red Stripe, rum punch, and champagne make up for some of the deficiency, but there is a definite problem with wine imports to Jamaica (border clearances, taxes, condition of the product). Perhaps Canadian wine (whose quality in the last decade is significantly improved) would add variety to the Chilean. (3) Excellent grilled meats (beef, lamb, chicken) and seafood, and good lineup of vegetables. Fresh fruits and salads are restricted by the seasons. Chef D is working to improve local growers. We would love to get a copy of some of the recipes used at GL Negril! Dec. 10. Coffee & juices in our room. RAIN (the first of our entire time in Negril) began around 7:30 as we began packing. Breakfast buffet, checkout, trip to Montego Bay airport via midi bus. Entertainment was good, although more in the direction of Atlantic City than we would have wished (although other guests liked it, we would have liked more reggae, mento, etc.) Check-in on USAirways about 2 hour prior to flight. Toured duty frees & shopped. Got paged by name and rerouted via Northwest Airlines since inbound flight was late and our connection through Charlotte could no longer be made. Overall, this trip exceeded our expectations. The weather was perfect, the staff was delightful, and the food was outstanding. The spa is a pleasant addition. We expected the facility to show some wear and tear after ten years of heavy usage, and indeed the plumbing is showing its age; we understand rehab of plumbing, A/C, and wiring is in the near future. I expect the Issa family to keep the GL Negril as the "Jewel in the Crown" for many years to come.
December 16-27, 1998 -- Grand Lido Negril P.O. Box 88 Negril, Jamaica, West Indies PHONE (876) 957-5010-8 FAX (876) 957-5517 Grand Lido Negril (GLN), a vacation jewel, is carefully tucked between dense green foliage and emerald Caribbean waves, nestled on the shore of Bloody Bay, which is located northeast of Negril's world-famous seven-mile beach. After arriving Jamaica via Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport, GLN is a one and a-half hour drive west, on a pothole-laden, bump-infused, winding road. Or, if daylight is on your side, you can arrange for a 15-minute flight to the unlit single-strip Negril Aerodrome located directly across the street from the resort. We have been to GLN many times, the first time in February of 1995. However, it had been more than a year since our last visit and we were eager to return for many reasons: 1. We love Jamaica ... in addition to the weather and the beaches we have grown to love the kind nature of our many Jamaican acquaintances and friends who reside in the Negril area. 2. We enjoy the varied beauty of the landscape at GLN. The grounds are meticulously manicured, open, airy, and the spirit of the resort is as warm as the people who work there. 3. Although elegant, something about the way the resort is situated, its public areas and private rooms, is comfortable, more so than any other resort we have visited. 4. We wanted an easy holiday escape with which we were familiar and at ease. ABOUT GLN FACILITIES: The resort is home to 200 sleeping rooms and a few deluxe executive suites, as well as one grandiose Presidential Suite. All beachfront and ocean view room blocks are built two levels high, with open-air covered walkways connecting the backside, and paved paths connecting the oceanfront side of each room. The suites are located on the main beach between the water sports building and the first room block. The main building is in the center of the resort. The resort's two separate beaches, one a textile and the other a clothing optional beach, are arguably the most beautiful on that side of the island. The C/O beach offers areas of crashing waves on a rocky shore and plenty of sand, too. More sand beach has been created since our last visit. The "textile" or main beach is wide clean and wide with white sand ... very few rocks and shells wash onto the beach, which is groomed daily. The main beach continues on to the northeast, separated by only a guard's post, where a new Couples resort recently opened, and where, further along, a Breezes will soon be under construction. The junior suite, the standard room type is divided into two areas: the raised bedroom and a sunken lounge area. Both sections of the rooms are tiled, as is the bathroom. The upholstered furniture and fabric window treatments are tasteful and in good condition. The lounge area includes a love seat, floor lamp, a coffee table, a cushioned chair, a TV stand complete with (satellite) television, a CD/cassette/radio boom box, and a table lamp. There are no screens or glass on the two small windows that face the ocean, only lockable louvers which allow the ocean and tree frog sounds in at night. In-between the two small windows is a patio door; upstairs rooms have a tiny balcony, downstairs rooms have a beachside patio (if it is a beachfront or ocean-view room). The ceiling fan and air conditioner are located on the lounge side of the suite. The sleeping area of the room includes a bed with bedside lamps and a telephone. Across from the bed is an attached wood vanity with upholstered vanity chair and a lamp, and a full-length mirror. Hotel information is available in the folder found on the vanity, including laundry information, room service menu, spa 'menu', in-house phone numbers, etc. There are more than enough pillows, which are comfy, too. Near the entrance of each room is a built- in armoire (housing a mini safe), a built-in dresser, three shelves with vanity top, a light and mirror. There is a coffee/tea maker on the vanity next to the electrical outlet. A dispenser in the bathroom tub/shower has shampoo, bath gel and lotion. Towels abound! A hair dryer hangs on the wall in the bathroom, next to the sink and mirror- these hair dryers are great for short hair, but forget it if your hair is long. Louvered-glass windows are available to help circulate air. Daily maid service includes full cleaning in the morning and turndown service in the evening. The main building, which includes the Terazza, Main Bar, Lobby and Lounge, Main Desk, Piacere, LaPasta, Café Lido, Amici, Games Room, Atlantis Disco, Video Theater, Library, Salon Delores, Boutique/Duty-free Shop and Gift Shop. (All are described below) The Terazza - (Sometimes called the Gran Terazza) Main gathering spot for buffets, as well as lunchtime and evening entertainment. Games Room - Offering backgammon, board games, cards, dominoes, pool tables, Ping-Pong, and a small collection of slot machines. Video Theater - Open 24-hours a day, offers a big screen satellite television and use of a VCR (tapes available from concierge). Library - Books, magazines, newspapers - limited quantity and selection (guests seem to "forget" to return items). Boutique/Duty-free Shop and Gift Shop - toiletries and munchies are expensive, but when in need, one can buy! Lobby-Home to a collection of art available for sale from Chelsea Gallery. This is also where afternoon tea is served. Eight Bars - the main bar on the Terazza, the Amici Piano Bar, Atlantis Disco, three clubhouse bars, main beach bar, C/O beach bar. Club Houses - Stone, Timber and Beach House - each offers a light menu, a bar, whirlpool and terrace. Fitness Center - Newly air-conditioned, includes treadmills, Stairmasters, stationary bikes, with free-weights and resistance training equipment. The equipment is excellent and Patrick, the instructor, seemed very knowledgeable. There were a few pieces of equipment in the aerobic section that were not operational, which was only a problem when it rained in the morning and people were remembering to get to the gym. Aerobic classes and power walks are available. The aerobics deck, which is adjacent to the main pool yet out of view of the Terazza, is an appreciated addition. Now, the health-conscious may sweat comfortably and with a beautiful background. Spa Area - The newly constructed spa area is peaceful and beautiful. Facilities include a plunging pool, steam room and sauna. It is professionally run, but not ostentatious. Daily spa hours are 9 AM - 6 PM. The former assistant spa manager from Grand Lido Sans Souci, Millicent, came to GLN to run the spa. My husband enjoyed two massages and was not disappointed. I had a body scrub and a reflexology ...spoiled rotten! I also took advantage of the complementary manicure and pedicure that are offered via the spa and thought they did a great job. Spa services are charged to the room, no tipping is allowed. A list of services and $U.S. prices follows: * Complementary Manicure, shaping, cuticle removal and massage followed by polish. * Complementary Pedicure, shaping, cuticle removal, exfoliation and massage followed by polish. (French treatments additional $10; polish change only for hands $10, and feet $15.) * Full Set Tips, add extensions of acrylic, linen or silk for $50, fills $25. * Grand Supreme Facial, steaming, through in-depth revitalizing massage for deep relaxation, $60. * Cleansing Facial, half hour skin care facial includes cleansing, scrub, mask and moisturizer, $30. * Paraffin Treatment, excellent moisturizer rejuvenates skin, feet $25, hands $20, elbows $15. * Waxing, gently and effectively removes unwanted hair, legs $50, half legs $30, bikini $20, under arms $15, $10 eyebrows, upper lip $8. * Personal Training - weight loss, private 60 minute instructional session, $75; weight loss, training and toning for those who have lost weight and would like to tone and learn some cardiovascular tips, $75; Toning for those who wish to firm and shape, $75; Basic body building, introduction to the way you can change your physique, $75. * Fitness Assessments - Body Composition Analysis comprises a detailed measurement of the body, body fat ratio and blood pressure tests, $30; Flexibility and Strength assessment, helps gain a knowledge of these two indicators of wellness, $50. * Chiropractic Services available through the spa by appointment. * The Grand Massage - includes Swiss and Shiatsu techniques. 60 minutes, $60; 30 minutes, $30; add aromatherapy for $10. * Seaweed Body Treatment allows the nutrients of the sea to balance troubled skin and detoxifying the system, $70. * Body Scrub - total body exfoliation beautifies skin, $45. * Reflexology -Oriental customs utilizes accupressure techniques on the feet to detoxify and clear pathways, 30 min $30. * Three massage huts - each overlooking the ocean. My husband had a massage in one of these, instead of a massage room in the spa area. He found it breezy but pleasant. Four Tennis Courts - two are lit for evening play. Golf - is available at Negril Hills, see the concierge. Large pool/whirlpool area - Adjacent to the Terazza and directly on the ocean this pretty pool area is newly tiled, kept neat and clean with plenty of towels and chaises and foam cushions. C/O whirlpool and pool area-The beach bar and grill on the C/O side of the resort is much nicer than it once was. In fact, the grill was added in the past year and offers a variety of unique foods, plus a great made-to-order pizza. The deck around the pool has been expanded to make room for additional chaises. Water Sports - housed on the main beach - includes wind surfing, sailing (sunfish and (NEW) catamaran sailboats), water skiing, kayaking, snorkeling, water tricycles, water "bicycles," glass-bottom boat rides. Instruction for each water sport is included. Not offered by the resort, para-sailing is available for a charge by letting a water sports staff person know, who will then call over an area para-sail boat. SCUBA - daily dives are offered for beginners and PADI certified divers. A resort course is available. International PADI certification is available for an additional cost. Resident Yacht - 147-foot motorized yacht Zein was originally given as a gift from Aristotle Onasis to Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier of Monaco ... a wedding gift. Now owned by Super Clubs, the yacht offers a daily sunset cruise, weather permitting. Reservations with concierge are required for the pleasant cocktail cruise that takes all aboard past Rick's Café and the Negril Light House on the West End. It includes entertainment and light appetizers. If the Zein is in dry dock or out for maintenance, another boat is contracted by the hotel to provide a sunset cruise. The yacht must go in for maintenance annually, so if this is an important aspect of your vacation have your travel agent check to see if it will be at GLN at the time of your trip. While we were at GLN, we had the good fortune of seeing the M/Y Zein in the Bay every day, except the first two, which were windy. Salon Delores - offers hairdressing for a fee. Staysie, the beach walking hair- braider works for Salon Delores and offers authentic Jamaican hair braiding to guests right on the beach if so desired! Many brides use Salon Delores to have their hair done for their "big day." Services are not part of the all-inclusive deal and must be paid for at the time they are received. Laundry and Dry Cleaning - available at no charge by pressing the speed dial button on the in-room phone before 10:30 AM. A worker then picks up the bag of your soiled clothing, which may be left just inside your door with appropriate paperwork, your valet order is returned to your closet within two days. Make sure to allow 48 hours for return of clean clothing. We had great luck this trip. Nothing lost, nothing wrecked, everything returned in great shape and clean. DINING INFORMATION GLN has added "heart healthy" signage throughout the buffet line, and the same type of notations are made on most menus to guests in making wise choices (if they choose to!). BREAKFAST AND LUNCH BUFFETS, on the Terazza: Breakfast 8:00 - 10:30 AM; Lunch 12:30 - 3:00 PM. Attire: casual, cover-ups must be worn over swimsuits. Breakfast Buffet Menu: Hot items like sausages, bacon, eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs, breakfast fish, corned beef hash, French toast and pancakes; Bagels, muffins, English muffins, banana bread, whole wheat bread, multi-grain bread and white bread. Toaster and condiments like marmalade, jam, jelly, butter, cream cheese, locks, etc. Made-to-order omelets. Fresh fruit. My favorite, "groovy grains" Jamaican mini granola bars. Cheese display. Yogurt. Sweet rolls. Juices, coffee, tea, soda, mimosa (etc.) served at the table. Lunch Buffet Menu: Hot items differ from day to day, usually ethnic cuisine is featured (Mexican, Jamaican, Italian, and Oriental). Hot soup. Bread display Build-your-own sandwich. Cold salads. A salad bar. Desserts are incredible ... a full dessert display and limited ice cream sundae bar is offered. Wine, coffee, tea, soda, juices and bar drinks are served at the table. STONE HOUSE, TIMBER HOUSE AND BEACH HOUSE serve casual fare 24 hours a day. Menu: Tossed salad, soup du jour, club sandwich with fries, grilled baby lamb chops with peppered jelly, pan fried snapper sandwich, "build your own" sandwich on a torpedo roll, Mexican potato skins, hamburger with fries, chef's salad, vegetarian garden burger with fries, hot dog with fries, ice cream, seasonal fresh fruit plate, chocolate brownie, ice cream with bananas foster and whipped cream. Also available, popcorn. Casual dress. 24-HOUR ROOM SERVICE. I am a coffee addict, so I ordered room service two to three times a day ... coffee. Each time I ordered service arrived within 5 to 10 minutes, with only one exception ... Extremely speedy. The room service menu is the same as listed above for the various 'houses', plus continental breakfast. Guests need only to hang the order card on the door before 2:00 a.m. to order from a limited continental breakfast menu that will be delivered at the time you request (between 6:00 and 10:00 AM) Breakfast menu includes: cereal, toast, bakery basket, assorted yogurt, fresh fruit plate, cottage cheese, Blue Mountain coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, mango nectar, a large variety of juices, and milk. LA PASTA: Fine Italian Cuisine. This is my favorite of the restaurants because of its casual nature, guests may dine inside or out, and the food quality is tremendous. The menu at LaPasta formerly changed every four or five days. While we were there this visit, it did not change at all and we were disappointed. After inquiring with a few managers, we found that plans were in the works to begin rotating the menu again. Casual Dress. 3:00 PM - 2:00 AM daily. Menu: Appetizers, salads and soups to start. There are four or five sauces offered, along with four or five pastas to choose from. Each of the sauces is different, ranging from traditional red beef sauce, to seafood in a cream sauce, to vegetables in a red sauce, etc. If you don't see just what will settle your palate, ask for a deviation from the menu (i.e. a plain red sauce or "no mushrooms"). LaPasta's staff tries to accommodate special requests. Three or four desserts are displayed on a cart near the front of the restaurant. CAFÉ LIDO: Continental Dining. Smart Casual Dress, no shorts. The service and food here is just as fine as the French restaurant, with the exemption of a sorbet palate cleanser and white gloves. I like this place because my husband doesn't have to wear a coat to dinner and we still are treated like royalty. Seating 6:30 - 10:00 PM daily, except Friday. No reservations. Menu: Three or four appetizers, two or three soups, two or three salads, and six or seven entrees are offered. The meal is accompanied by a basket of bread. Full wine service. Dessert is listed on the menu and includes a selection of five or six tantalizing items. If you're a Plane-Jane eater, go ahead and order most any item without sauces, herbs, seasonings, etc. You may dine inside or out. PIACERE: Exquisite French Fare. Reservations required. Formal attire required, no athletic shoes, jackets required. Limited Seating. Contact the Concierge to make reservations. Open daily 6:30 - 9:30 PM. Menu: Three or four appetizers, two or three soups, two or three salads, and six or seven entrees are offered. Again, full wine service and a basket of breads accompany your meal. The service is impeccable and white-gloved. Although the staff is prepared to be as formal as one would ever desire, the staff will warm to you if you encourage conversation. Because of that, the service doesn't have to be "stuffy", but can be entertaining. The menu here is as good or better than we've ever experienced anywhere in the United States. WEDNESDAY NIGHT - ISLAND BUFFET, 7:30 PM Menu: Hot items include regional favorites like curried goat, rice and peas, white fish cakes. Also included on the hot food line: vegetables, potatoes, fish, beef, chicken, pork and shell fish. Salad chef. Bread bar. Fresh fruit galore. Sushi. Crudite of fresh vegetables and dips. Cheese display. And more. Desserts are abundant ... cakes, pastries, brule, tiramisu, biscottis, cookies, pies, cream cakes, and more. Wine, bar and coffee service is available at the table. Attire: spiffy causal to semi-formal FRIDAY NIGHT - GRAND GALA BUFFET, 7:45 PM Menu: Everything that is listed above ... and way more! Usually more seafood (lobster or langouste, prawns) and red meats. Lobster lovers note: SuperClubs respects the Jamaican regulations for lobster trapping and shows support for the season by not serving lobster, even imported or fresh-frozen lobster, when the season is closed. I don't recall when it is in- or out-of-season. However, SuperClubs serves other seafood and shellfish, like shrimp, scallops and crab, when the lobster season is closed. Wine, bar and coffee service is available at the table. Attire: spiffy causal to semi-formal DAILY ACTIVITIES - see the daily activity sheet available through the concierge or at the front desk for activities while you are there ... the ones listed below were the newly released "daily standard" while we were there, but by no means include all activities Sunday Serenade 10:30am Beach Volleyball-Main\Nude Beach 11:00am Nature Walk-Meet at Timber House 11:30am A Patois Dat (Ya mon! Learn Jamaican) --Library 2:30pm Grand Bingo Party-Gran Terazza 3:30pm Mixology-Main Bar 4:00pm Beach Soccer-Main Beach 5:00pm Interlude of Music-Timber House Dress Code: Semi-Formal: 8:30pm Resident Band Performs and at 9:30pm Lover's Ball-Gran Terazza 10:30pm Laser Karaoke -Amici Monday Beach Bash! 7:30am Power Walk-Meet at Gym 8:30am Low Impact Aerobics-Aerobics Deck 10:30am Beach Volleyball-Main & Nude Beaches 11:00am Aquacize-Main Pool 11:00am Sand Sculpting-Main Beach 12:30pm Ike In Concert-Gran Terazza 2:30pm Treasure Hunt-Gran Terazza 3:00pm Toning & Stretch Classes-Gym 3:00pm Dart Tournament-Games Room 4:30pm Aerobics Classes-Exercise Deck 5:00pm Body Painting-Nude Beach 6:00pm Body Conditioning-Gym Dress Code: Beach Attire 7:30pm Steel Band in Concert-Main Beach Dress Code: swimwear 10:30pm Bikini Party-Atlantis Disco 10:30pm Sing Along with Ike-Amici Tuesday: Memories 8:30am Aerobics-Exercise Deck 11:00am Aquacise-Nude Pool 2:30pm Name that Old Hit-Gran Terazza 3:00pm Body Sculpting-Gym 4:30pm Step Aerobics-Exercise Deck 6:00pm Toning Classes-Gym 6:30pm Honeymooners' Party-Atlantis 8:30pm Cigar Night-Timber House Dress Code: 50s& 60s clothing 9:30pm 50& 60s Rock & Roll Showcase-Gran Terazza 10:30pm Resident Pianist in Amici 10:30pm Old Hits Dance Party-Atlantis Wednesday: Caribbean Carnival 7:30am Power Walk-Meet at Gym 8:30am Aerobics Circuit Training-Exercise Deck 11:00am Aquacise-Nude Pool 2:30pm Soca Dance Class-Gran Terazza 3:00pm Basic bodybuilding-Gym 3:30pm Table Tennis Championships-Games Room 4:00pm Aerobics Intervals-Exercise Deck 6:00pm Weight Loss Class-Gym Dress: Flowery and Bright 9:00pm Caribbean Carnival Showcase-Gran Terazza 10:30pm Laser Karaoke-Amici Thursday: Wicked, wild and WOW! 8:30am Aerobics-Exercise Deck 10:30am Clothing Optional Cruise-Call the Concierge 10:30am Beach Volleyball-Main Beach 11:00am Aquacise-Nude Pool 2:30pm Games-Gran Terazza 3:00pm Thighs, Abs, Butt & Stretch-Gym 4:30pm Step Aerobics-Exercise Deck 6:00pm Body Sculpting-Gym Dress Code: Snazzy & Sexy 9:30pm Cabaret - Gran Terazza 10:30pm Sing Along with Ike-Amici 11:00pm Pajama Party-Atlantis (Only those wearing pajamas will be admitted into The Atlantis between 10:30pm and 12:15am) (Thank God its) Friday 7:30am Power Walk - meet at gym 8:30am Circuit Training-Gym 10:30am Beach Volleyball -Main Beach 11:00am Aquacise-Nude Pool 2:30pm Name That Tune-Gran Terazza 3:00pm Tone & Stretch Class-Gym 4:30pm Power Walk -meet at Gym 4:30pm Singles Tennis Tournament 6:00pm Body Conditioning-Gym 6:30pm Resident Pianist Plays -Amici Dress: Semi-formal 7:30pm Gala Buffet photo opportunity 7:35pm Gala Buffet presentation 8:30pm Fashion Show and 9:30pm Cabaret-Gran Terazza 10:30pm Sing Along With Ike -Amici 10:30pm TGIF Party -Atlantis Disco Saturday: Reggae Explosion 8:00am Stretch Classes-Gym 10:30am Beach Volleyball -Main Beach 11:00am Aquacise-Nude Pool 2:30pm Reggae Dance Class-Gran Terazza 4:00pm Cooking Demo-Terazza Buffet Grill 4:00pm Personal Training -Gym 5:00pm Roman Catholic Mass-Conference Room Dress Code: Reggae Wear 9:30pm "One Love" Concert 10:30pm Bashment Party -Atlantis Disco 10:30pm Sing Along With Ike A wide variety of daytime outings and tours are available by contacting the concierge and are offered at an additional charge. WITHOUT BORING THE AVERAGE READER, I'D LIKE TO NOTE SOME OF OUR TRIP'S ESCAPADES AND HAPPENINGS: We arrived to GLN late in the evening. Because we had landed at Sangster International Airport just before dusk, we were not able to charter a TimAir flight to Negril. We took Grand Lido supplied ground transportation. The road between Negril and Montego Bay had gotten worse since our last visit. Apparently the government is focusing on the construction of a new straighter road. In the mean time, the old road is rapidly deteriorating. The heavy rains associated with hurricane Mitch helped to expedite its decline. Once at the resort, I felt as though we had returned to our own private (albeit large) beach house ... we both felt immediately right at home. A few employees recognized us right away and came to say hello. After arranging our paperwork and being shown to our room, we had a couple of drinks in the piano bar, Amici, and moved along to a late dinner in LaPasta. We were very pleased with the meal and our chocolate-lover's dessert. We started each day with room service coffee and Pepsi. We hardly ever made it to breakfast, mostly because we were sleeping in but also because we have learned we cannot go to eat three meals a day at GLN and plan on fitting into our jeans to return home! Our daily regiment included walking the expanse of beach, off property to the northeast until we can walk no further because jungle meets the ocean. We truly enjoy stopping to talk with the many Jamaicans along the way. My husband would keep busy walking and talking throughout the resort while I read a book in the sun, slept in the sun, or just sat poolside. Also, I enjoyed a few aerobics classes and the use of the gym - Patrick is a challenging instructor. The weather was great. It was very warm, but there was not one day that we wanted to drop over from heat stroke. It seemed breezy most of the trip, and the first two and a half days were rainy. After that, not a drop came from the sky and we had puffy white clouds speckling the azure sky. Evening temperatures warranted a light sweater for me, although none for him. We went off property for three big excursions, once to go to Lucea and surrounding districts for a day; once to go to dinner at Cosmos up the road (great if you like traditional Jamaican food); and on Christmas Day we went with friends to the Tree House for drinks. Christmas in Jamaica is not nearly as commercial as in the US, a welcome deviation. Jamaicans put up lights and Christmas trees, artificial mostly. But at the resort, entertainment manager Fleurette had decorated with real trees harvested from inland Jamaica. GLN was decorated eloquently and festively. Wreaths decked the doors, garland the banisters, and there was a tree in nearly every public area of the resort. Beautiful. On Christmas Day a traditional Jamaican Junkanoo parade/festival was conducted during lunch. The story of Christmas followed. Entertainment at Grand Lido was colorful and of good quality for the duration of our stay. There are some fabulous local talents that keep guests' eyes peeled for the duration of each show. Ike, in the piano bar, is always a favorite. He tickles the ivories very well, and we found ourselves being entertained by his music almost every night. We took full advantage of the spa. I enjoyed the complementary pedicure and manicure. The service is much better now that it is being run out of the new spa rather than the Salon Delores. We also paid for massages, a body scrub and a reflexology session. Money well spent and greatly enjoyed. We were able to fly back to Montego Bay on TimAir, making our reservations through the concierge. However, for anyone wishing to make TimAir reservations, the phone number is 876/952-2516. THERE HAVE BEEN MANY CHANGES TO THE RESORT SINCE OUR LAST VISIT. MOST WERE ADDITIONS TO THE LIST OF SERVICES OR FACILITY UPGRADES. NOTE-ABLE GLN CHANGES INCLUDE... Computer and reservations systems: SuperClubs recently implemented a new computer system to facilitate instant communications between Travel Agents and the various SuperClubs resorts. While we were at GLN, training was being completed and kinks were being worked out of the new system. More efficient and completely reliable reports will make the reservations process simpler for customers and reservations workers. Spa: (see complete details regarding the all-new spa above) Improved fitness area and added aerobics deck: (described above) Menu changes: (detailed above) Tile in public areas: Attractive hues of terracotta and slate complement the off-white tiles throughout the public areas of the resort. The entire main pool deck is tiled, as are walkways inside the main facility, and the whole Gran Terazza and main bar, which were formerly a dull gray tile. The new tile is much prettier, much cleaner in appearance. C/O pool and bar area: (beach bar and grill has been modified, its pool deck enlarged, and the C/O beach now has more sand ...all changes are depicted above) Main beach bar: Formerly known as the yellow-top, the main beach bar has been nearly rebuilt. The concrete slab has been enlarged and there is now twice as much roof protection as there was before. Landscaping around the bar has been updated, and the yellow roof has been replaced with a wood shake. The bar itself has been replaced too. But the drinks haven't changed; they are still just as tasty as ever. Sleeping room air conditioning: A/C units are being replaced in each room throughout the resort. Sleeping room floors: are now void of any carpet, which has been replaced with tile (the carpets were a "mold problem-in-waiting" with the incessant humidity). Simply for maintenance reasons bathrooms are all being re-tiled with the same type of white tile that was formerly there. But, the work is noticeably worth it. We were in the same room last trip, and the bathroom looked 100% nicer just because of the new floor. Terazza workstations - One noticeable improvement for those who prefer to dine on the Terazza is the addition of lattice screen workstations, removing dirty dishes and glasses from view of diners. A small improvement but very much appreciated. Also, the hot and cold food line, which has been operational for over a year, is one of the greatest additions to the hotel. Hot food is hotter, cold food is colder, and the food is presented more beautifully than before. In addition to the positive changes, there were a few things we noticed that were a bit less than impeccable. Mr. Marsten Winkles, the new general manager for GLN approached us at the return guest cocktail party asking how we were enjoying our stay and the resort. We told him we had noticed few declines but also that we were quite pleased with some of the resort's positive changes that had taken place in the past 14 months. Because he is new and would like input from guests that have been coming to the resort long before he had even heard of it, Winkles asked if we would mind spending a bit of time with him going over some of the things we had noticed. My husband spent nearly two hours with Winkles going over these items. Of course, Winkles has only been able to know nuances of the resort since his arrival. He said he hopes, in addition to maintaining the positive aspects of the resort, to take service and amenities to an even higher level. Someone who had not been to GLN previously might not have noticed some of the things that were discussed, positive and negative. The list of things that needed work was as follows: Where we formerly had never seen any blemishes in the horticultural upkeep of the resort, there were occasional flaws. For example, leaves had accumulated in areas where formerly they would have been raked. Some of the beach chaises and their cushions were not bright. It also seemed as though the food on the Terazza at noon was not as varied as former trips. In addition, we noted a slight decline in the quality of the food in the Piacere. For example, my husband's strip steak was 'alright' not amazing. To our pleasant surprise, during our stay, changes could be noted almost immediately. For example, the sandwich bar at noon had been beefed up, and the groundskeepers were attending to a few items we had pointed out. A FEW MORE TIDBITS ABOUT THE RESORT Well, we simply would not return time after time if we did not love the resort. Grand Lido is a wonderful slice of heaven on Earth. More than anything, we have come to adore many of the people who work at GLN, too. Yet, we admit some of our favorite things to do while vacationing at Grand Lido are done off property. We love to walk the expanse of beach that curls around Bloody Bay. While I hated to see the 'virgin jungle' along the beach give way to the new resort, walking the beach is just as enjoyable as ever. Try as we might, it is a challenge to completely forget that the entire word around us exists. To check in, we are thankful for satellite television at the resort, especially CNN. We have had a lot of fun getting to know friends who live in Lucea and the area in the hills above the city. Our vacations are never complete without enjoying a full day or two off property, experiencing real Jamaica: Jamaican hospitality, Jamaican patience, food, culture, entertainment, Jamaican restaurants. Volumes of our favorite memories have been created off property. The first few times we stayed at Grand Lido, we both felt an uncomfortable disparity: Here we are, living luxury ... and those serving us at every turn might live in one of the small homes dotting the road to Negril. But, we learned to think more wisely. First of all, Grand Lido employees are paid well by Jamaican standards. Plus, a certain percentage of the hotel's income is allotted for gratuity that is spread out from housekeeping and grounds to wait staff and laundry. We have been told by many that the gratuity is, many months out of the year, greater than their salary. In addition, after voicing this unsettling ironic feeling, several Jamaicans told us the same thing (in different words, but more-or-less the same), "Don't feel that way, because if you don't come back to our island, our livelihood will go away." Which brings about the theory that one should go on vacation to bolster less-fortunate economies .... But I won't go there, even if it sounds like a great excuse for a holiday! Via email, we are often asked about tipping at the all-inclusives. At GLN, everything is included ... that means tips, too, as described above. Employees are instructed not to accept tips. Giving an employee a tip can lead to their immediate dismissal. The friendly words 'please' and 'thank you' are the only gratuity one need give ... and a smile is nice, too. One of my favorite Jamaican amenities is the island's coffee ... Blue Mountain, High Mountain ... it makes little difference. The coffee is great, and it tastes even better there than it does at home. Why? I need to know the secret. Jamaican rum is heavy-duty. A little goes a long way and the bartenders don't pour drinks lightly. So, if you want your drink light, just let your bartender know. After ordering a couple times, you may not even have to remind them. Not to worry, there is no problem with the quality of water at the resort, it is clean and actually tastes fine, too. While on the subject of liquid refreshment, oenophiles beware ... wine at Grand Lido is fine or good, but not awesome. There are several Chilean wines that are good. French table wines have character and are enjoyable. But the Jamaican wines leave much to be desired. Pepsi and Coke are not quite the same as at home, but it is much better than wen we first stayed in Jamaica. Diet Pepsi is now available on tap, too. Of course, nowhere is there a beverage like Red Stripe, so indulge. The service was better than ever. The fact that the resort was not very full over Christmas had to help. But one cannot dispute the reality that employees are very well trained, and guests are the beneficiaries. IMPORTANT TERMINOLOGY: No Problem ... that doesn't always mean that there is no problem. Sometimes it means "absolutely." Sometimes it means: "glad to help." And, sometimes it means: "I'm listening, I hear you, but there really is not much I can do, so I'm going to tell you no problem to make you happy." Take it in context. Soon ... In Jamaica "soon" doesn't always mean "soon." Sometimes it means five minutes, sometimes it means next week ...take it in context. If someone says "No problem, mon, your lost luggage be 'ere soon." What they are really saying is, "I realize that your luggage is lost. But, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, so relax because there is nothing you can do about it either. It will arrive when it gets here, and hopefully that will be before you leave to go home." CLOSING ADVICE: CHILL OUT. Go on vacation to do just that and you will have 'no problem' with the pace of Jamaica. Everything moves more slowly in Jamaica. If you come with a "vacation attitude" and let the vibes of the island slow you down, you can't help but enjoy the pace.
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