Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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Trip 2/01 My husband and I and another couple just returned from 9 days at Pineapple Beach Club in Antigua. Booked through American Airline Vacations had an early flight from Philadelphia with a change to American Eagle in San Juan. Amazingly, flights in both directions were on time! After clearing immigration in Antigua (which was a slow process), a skycap retrieved our bags and we were whisked through customs. We had prepaid transportation to the hotel and the four of us were immediately put in a cab and off we went. PBC is about a 25-minute ride from the airport. Upon arrival at the hotel, we were greeted with a cold rum punch and immediately given the keys to our rooms. We had booked waterside rooms and inquired about upgrading to beachfront. The women at the front desk advised me to look at our rooms first before we decided to upgrade. Upon arrival at the room, we decided to stay put we had a gorgeous view looking out over the ocean. Room was very nice and comfortable king size bed, TV, coffee maker, safe. Balcony with 2 chairs and small table with hooks for hanging up wet clothes. We were all starving by this time and the beach grill was still open (until 5:00 p.m.). Good menu with burgers, hot dogs, steak sandwiches, salads, cold sandwiches, etc. Guys went to the bar to get drinks just about anything you wanted with frozen mudslides being the drink of the day. Everyone opted for beer (choice of Red Stripe or Wadadli which is a local beer). Since we arrived too late to make any dinner reservations, we went to the Topaz Room which is the main restaurant. Nice selection for dinner with 2 soups, 2 appetizers, 2 salads, 5 entrees (usually chicken, fish, beef, pasta and vegetarian) and 3 desserts. Since we had all been up since 4:00 a.m. it was a quick after-dinner drink and off to bed. Next morning breakfast at Topaz Room buffet which included just about anything you could want all the usual along with eggs or waffles cooked to order. We spent the remainder of the day relaxing on the beach and exploring the grounds of PBC. Very nice, long beach with lots of shade. Never any problem getting chairs. There are 3 different pools with a bridge connecting two of them. As a matter of fact, that bridge is on their webcam so you can make arrangements for friends at home to check out the website at a particular time and see you waving from the bridge. Saw quite a few couples doing that (including one wedding party from England). Dinner that evening was again at the Topaz Room since it was a buffet and all other restaurants were closed. Food again was very good. Decided to tour the island rented a cab for 5 hours ($100 for the 4 of us). He took us to Nelsons Dockyard, Shirley Heights (great for picture taking), and a couple of other places around the island. Never saw so many goats in my life! When then ended up in St. Johns for some shopping. It wasn't too crowded (only 1 cruise ship in port), and we wandered the various shops duty free but didn't purchase anything this time. The guys wanted to try their luck at the casino so we went to Kings Casino. Guys didn't have much luck so they went to the bar. I decided to play $20 on the dollar slots on the 2nd pull I won $100. Immediately cashed out and went to the bar. I then decided to try one more time before leaving went to another machine on the first pull won $800. That was the end of my gambling. I took the money and left. Had reservations that evening for Pineapple Grill (which was advertised as Caribbean cuisine). Menu never changes (they do have specials) and the food is Mexican. Good dinner there. There are 2 other restaurants at PBC one is the Chefs Table which is a five course gourmet dinner (menu posted daily). Since there were 4 of us and someone always didn't like something on the menu we never went there. For lunch, there is the Outhouse which is a climb up the hill for barbecue. The view is spectacular. There is entertainment nightly at the hotel bands, limbo dancers, karioke, etc. But everything seems to die down around 11:00 p.m. The crowd at PBC seems to be a little older than some other resorts not too many people are into late night partying. The guests were a mix of Americans, English and South Americans. During the day, the hotel offers boat tours, fishing trips, a shopping trip into town (cost of $5.00), water sports, etc. You could spend all your time at the resort and not leave. There are tennis courts, a fitness center, game room and activities planned throughout the day (like reggae dance lessons, water aerobics, beach volleyball, etc.). Also, there are vendors located at the far end of the beach selling jewelry, t-shirts, cover-ups, etc. A few walk up the beach but are very nice and don't bother you if you say you're not interested. After 9 wonderful days the trip was over and we returned home again with all flights on time! I would definitely recommend Pineapple Beach Club for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation
For some people, learning a sport or improving a skill among a group of intelligent, active and outgoing women is a holistic experience. This environment brought 28 sailors or soon-to-be captains to the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda for the third annual National Women's Sailing Association gathering. The variety of heights, fitness levels and formality was easily balanced by the unifying desire to become better sailors, or sailors at all. In the way that women do, we began to make room in ourselves to welcome any and all as fellow adventurers. Our first congregation was filled with friendly introductions, quick humor, mild libations and lots of BEYC excellent cuisine. Somewhere between extremely excited, vaguely unnerved and thoroughly tired we looked forward to six days of sailing instruction on Gorda Bay. But for that moment, we had each had at least two plane rides to get here, and our beautiful hillside cottages beckoned. A typical glorious Caribbean morning greeted us on our first day, and an impressive Bitter End Yacht Club breakfast buffet. From there we went to the open air meeting space to learn how the week would proceed. We formed loose associations of racers, cruisers and beginners. Instructors were formally introduced, an overview of the program and its history was given, and we were sent out in small groups for evaluation of our existing skills. Evaluation of any kind is a curious thing taking us back to the feelings ten minutes before a high school exam. While you know that the intention is for the instructors to get a baseline understanding of your ability level, there is still this vague sense that you might actually fail at something. In small groups we were asked to go out in a boat which was closest to one we were familiar with and just sail around. There is a large spectrum of boats available to guests of BEYC and in my case the nearest boat was a Rhodes 19. Four strangers got dropped off on this relatively simple boat. As the dinghy left I hoped that one among us knew what to do because I was sure I did not. I describe myself as an "rail meat" meaning that I have been out sailing on many occasions and am experienced enough orders. I have never been out sailing without someone giving orders. This turned out to be the same story as many of the women who came here. Fortunately one among us on that small boat stepped into the vacuum of captaincy. We got the sails up properly and the boat off the mooring and we headed out into Gorda Bay. Instructors moved among this unpredictable fleet of uncertain sailors assessing our individual skills in order to determine which course of training would benefit each of us the most. In truth we did fine. At lunch we talked about what we had learned. The lesson of this morning for me was that sailing is a complex arrangement of simple principles, and that I actually had more working understanding of how a sailboat pulls through the water than I had previously understood. After lunch, we were assigned small groups by the instructors, and sent out into the bay again. As the dinghy left this new group alone on the Rhodes 19 I said "Well, who wants to be captain?" expecting the usual wise cracks after such a question. When confronted with round-eyed stares I realized that neither of the other two women aboard had ever been sailing except as passengers going for a ride. "Girls we are in very deep weeds." To earn myself some time to think we looked at every line, every fitting and cleat. We prowled every inch of that small Rhodes. We got the sails up and with great temerity I took the tiller and we let go of the mooring ball. I had never been on a boat of any sort without a captain, but I figured that the instructors would not let us get into irredeemable trouble. Gorda Bay is a very protected area, and we sailed back and forth in our simple boat with both sails up. I had to bring forth virtually everything that I had ever heard about sailing, and it proved to be enough. Nobody drowned, the boat did not sink and we even managed to reconnect with the mooring ball. I considered it luck, but felt a tiny twinge of pride at bringing my crew home safely for the first time in my life. The evening sun set over a perfectly blended BEYC Margarita as I arrived at the important realization that the instructors had actually assessed me properly. I was capable of managing a small boat in a protected environment, especially given that the instructors were all running around in dinghies and checking in with us. They just needed to put me into a spot where I would discover that for myself. I discovered that out of the group of 28 five other women had learned the same thing. The feeling of faking it was slowly fading and it was only day one. The next day's adventure was in a larger boat. A group of us took out in a J24, which is longer, heavier, has winches, and is generally more sophisticated than the Rhodes 19. We did have an instructor aboard as we practiced the moves necessary to navigate around the bay. We each had an extended turn at the helm, jib sheets, foredeck and main. Those of us with some experience came away with growing confidence in our ability make the dozens of judgment calls required to sail a more complex boat. Those among us who came with no experience were gaining quickly in understanding of terms, maneuvers and the reasons for them. Every day was filled with elective sailing elements punctuated by wonderful and abundant meals provided by the Bitter End chefs. We each established our individual level of immersion into this course of learning. For some it was up at 6:45 for the Fitness Afloat course taught by Sandy Hayes. Then after breakfast, out in the boats for a particular drill in racing, cruising or entry level sailing. The luscious buffet lunch was the time we used for chatter based on the morning exercises and anticipation of other drills in the afternoon. The seated dinner was usually followed by a seminar: racing tactics by Betsy Allison, Living Aboard with Karen Neri, or Navigation with Mary Jane Burns from Coastal Cruising Magazine. In this fashion each of us was able to participate in areas of our interest and practice the skills that we came here to learn. Universally we tried not to think about the fact that the end of the week meant leaving. The last day there were match races. The two Freedom 30's captained by instructors and crewed by students raced around a triangular course. The timing, teamwork and boat handling skills we demonstrated in the rush to perform made it clear how much we had learned. We were in fact members of a team, not a perfect team but practically unrecognizable to ourselves in only six days of guided learning. We came to this place as a group of women with the desire to learn to sail, and finished the week as friends, sailors and budding captains. -----------------Sidebar-------------------------------- National Women's Sailing Association 16731 McGregor Blvd. Ft. Myers, FL 33908 800-566-NWSA (6972) email@example.com http://www.sailnet.com/nwsa Bitter End Yacht Club Bitter End, Virgin Gorda Binfo@beyc.com http://www.beyc.com How to get to Bitter End Yacht Club: American Airlines flies into Beef Island, Tortola daily. From there the ferry will take you right to the dock at BEYC. -- Brooke Cunningham-Destination Charter Features brooke@HOWS.com 802.496.4353 MAGAZINES: USA Boat Boat International Mer & Bateaux Meer & Yachten ONLINE PUBLICATIONS: iWaterways.com ~ http://www.iwaterways.com Caribbean Travel Roundup ~ http://caribtravelnews.com East-West News Bureau ~ http://www.east-west-news.com PROFILE: http://www.bluewatergallery.com/Sailingphotos/brooke.htm WEBSITE: Richleigh Luxury Charter Yacht Vacations http://www.richleighyachts.com
I have included my original trip report from April 99 and returned May 22nd, 2000 from our 2nd trip to Swept Away. I will give details regarding positive changes at the resort. This time we stayed in room 2218. Same building as last time, just the opposite room. I still prefer upstairs (22 rooms) and mid property so you don't hear the entertainment as much in the evening. They have 2 new chefs. I found the food to be even better, although the size of the appetizer courses at dinner is still tiny. No problem mon, as you can order as much as you want and they do serve 5-6 course meals. Nice addition was strolling people on the beach distributing cool towels and cold fruit kabobs. Also they now provide his and her waffle cotton robes in the room which are nice for sitting on the verandah. I can't believe I didn't mention Ultimate in last year's trip report. He is the Piano Man upstairs in the main dining room 6:30 - 7:30 most nights. What a talent. He can play anything, in any key and is a great entertainer. The sing along is great fun. I like to say I'm not a professional singer, but I play one on vacation. He is very gracious and responsible for people all over the property recognizing me throughout the week for my vocal renditions. This is a blast for me as I seldom get to sing with such a talented accompanist. Non and shower singers, do not be discouraged. Songbooks are provided with the words and all comers are encouraged to participate. It's a great time and always a highlight of our trips. Went on the party catamaran to the West End Cliffs this time on Friday. What a happy hour. Left at 3 back around 6:30. $40 pp, but a lot of fun. We observed braver souls jump the cliffs and snorkeled. The guides are great fun and keep you fully entertained. They have a wet net and a relaxation net on the catamaran for hanging out. They also have Red Stripe on tap and make your own rum drinks. We had a blast, especially the reggae session on the way back during sunset. Learn to dance or just play a bongo and cool out. Great fun! Although you pay extra for this trip (as well as other off property tours) we found it worth it to get to see the cliffs and have a change of pace - we also love boating! One other point to be noted, SA offers a full top shelf bar. If you have a favorite brand it will be on display and feel free to call your liquor. I like the Absolute ( or Stolies) and Ting (grapefruity, spritish soda). They really have any top shelf you might want. This is different from other all inclusive I have been to where more "local" liquors have been featured. If you pick a drink from the wonderful "menu" call your brands if you are particular or they will use the well brands. Another nice change this year was an upgrade on the wines served. All were eminently drinkable French pay d'oc wines. They also offer unlimited French Champagne at lunch and in the evenings. They did not do this last year and as a Champagne lover it was a great addition for me!! May was Spa Month - WOW. For $99 (a $200 value) I received a manicure, a 1 hour spa facial patterned on some fancy-smancy place in California. It was like a facial massage, very relaxing; a 1 hour aromatherapy massage and a 1 hour seaweed wrap where they slather you and wrap you in saran and blankets before rinsing you off and finishing with a body massage. Beyond this package my hubby and I also shared a hydrotherapy aromatherapy bath for 2 - very relaxing it was $35. I would highly recommend SA, we plan to make it a yearly event as many of the couples we met plan to do as well. There was one couple who were on their 9th trip to SA. Whatever you choose enjoy Negril it is truly one of the most spectacular places on earth. ---------------------- Trip Report - April 1999 We loved Swept Away. We stayed in an Atrium Room 2217 (upstairs by the fish pond and wedding chapel.) We could see the garden rooms which were adjacent, but closer to the road. The rooms appears to be identical, but the garden verandahs were slightly smaller and didn't have the same furnishings the atrium had. Beach front had even larger verandahs (we think some were two story) and furnishings, but you really can't go wrong with any room here they are beautiful and very relaxing. As far as the road is concerned it is really not an issue - from time to time (mostly in the morning) you would hear a car go by or a horn honk but it never disturbed my rest. At night it was nice and quiet with just the tree frogs. We were in the middle of the property. I would think the rooms very close to the main restaurant would have more night noise from the live entertainment, but it wraps up around 11:30 and switches to much quieter recorded music until 1:30 when the bar closes. That is if anyone is left. On our least night we made it to a little past midnight, the rest of the time we were asleep far earlier. At first it seemed strange to leave the entertainment and go to bed at 10 or 10:30, but it seemed to be the relaxed rhythm my body put itself into. I would rise very early in the morning, at 6 or 6:30 to my continental breakfast on the verandah (choice of 5 juices /coffee /toast /danish /croissant /banana bread/4 or 5 cereals/fruit plate, there may have been more, I don't remember). To order you leave the hang tag located in your room on your outside doorknob by 1 a.m. (I think, like I said I was always asleep by then!). The upstairs rooms are very nice with high wood ceilings which are seen all over the property (main restaurant and lobby are good examples). The one advantage (small) to getting a downstairs room is they just leave b'fast on the table and knock so you don't have to get out of bed to answer the door. I really enjoyed powerwalking the beach (off the property) in the early morning as the sun came up. It was cool and none of the higglers were out yet. I saw lots of joggers and some early morning beach bums or staffs raking sand. It was quiet and peaceful. My husband and I brought walkmans and this was a good time to listen to Irie FM and hear some great reggae and Jamaican classics. I particularly enjoyed Bob Marley Friday. The walkmans came in handy in providing private entertainment whether an early morning on the verandah or on the beach in a hammock. There are no TV's or radios at Swept Away so it was nice to enjoy our tapes from home without disturbing the peace and quiet of the other guests. One warning Walkmans of anysort are hard to come by and expensive in Jamaica. If you don't mind parting with yours and buying a new one when you get home the staff would love to buy it from you - you name the price they were receptive to paying full price. We had to pass up Lawrence in the dining room because he was too late to ask, so if you want to sell one, ask for him. The guys in watersports are also interested. Food: I've already covered continental (but generous) room (i.e. Verandah) service. We would often follow our early morning power walk or swim with brunch buffet in the dining room (7:30-10). Expect Caribbean full brunch. Made to order omelets; french toast; specialty egg dish (eggs Benedict etc.); specialty potatoes (roasted, O'Brian etc.); all the items from verandah service; assorted cheeses (goat; gouda; swiss etc.); specialty Caribbean items (ackee and cod; bammies; steamed green bananas etc.); carved meat (ham bone); made to order waffles; bagels with cream cheese. It was very complete and varied daily. Lunch was buffet also (12:30-2:30). Very complete and delicious. There would usually be some kind of made to order item (Caesar salad with chicken, soft tacos, sandwich bar etc.); full salad bar; soup; cheeses like at b'fast; hot items (lasagna, seafood poached in chardonney over rice etc.). Other lunch option was the veggie bar & grill where from 11 - 6:00 (when it became Sea Grapes Cafe for dinner) they served fruit, middle eastern platters (taboulli, hummus, pitta and mediterrain olives); sweet potato chips with very good guacamole, salads, pita pocket sandwiches, and all sort of healthy shakes. The grill had grilled chicken and fish sandwiches which made a great between meal snack. Wednesday is eat on the beach day (which was rained out for us) with traditional US BBQ items along with jerk pork (which wasn't very spicy). Other snack options were to be had at the Sports Complex Bar across the street where made to order pizzas, chicken wings; egg rolls, etc., were available 3-10. Dinner was offered with 3 options: My favorite was the main dining room on non-special nights there was a menu with 4 appetizers; 2-3 soups; 5-6 entree choices; dessert buffet. The b'fast, lunch buffet area was transformed into a made to order pasta bar and salad bar in case you wanted them in addition to, or instead of a menu item. Samples of things we had: Appetizers: Smoked marlin in tomato cups; eggplant terrine; roasted vegetable napoleon; chicken veloute with toasted almonds; escargot on filo; crawfish consomme; chocho & pumpkin ravioli. Entrees: yellowtail fish poached with spinach; NY strip steak (very good and done as requested (rare)); Mahi Mahi (a spa selection); Lobster (tail three medallions) Desserts of note: Mango mouse cake; fruit tart We did not eat at Sea Grapes Cafe but it offered Jamaican specialties under the stars. We ate twice at Feathers. We consider ourselves food snobs. We live in Philadelphia and eat out often at top notch restaurants. I was not that impressed by Feathers. The service was top notch, the setting (on the sports complex side) was very nice. One time they had a sax player in the adjacent garden. It's just I wasn't that impressed with the food. All over the property they had problems with very dry rice. The gaspacho we had tasted like tomato sauce; the plum tomatoes with feta cheese had no taste (like cardboard tomatoes), peppered veal (ok); crawfish with roux (there was no roux or sauce of any type and again that dry rice); trio of creme brulee didn't quite fill the ramekins and the crisp toppings was non existent in places. Don't get me wrong it was nice, the food "looked" beautiful, it just didn't taste as gourmet as it looked. Despite my comments about Feathers - I can't wait to get back and am planning trip 3 for the near future!
We are very sad today because our Jamaica trip is over. We both had the best time that we have ever had. We fell in love with Negril and Sandals Negril was the best. We want to go back one day. The trip started out not too good. Us leaving from Sacramento. When we got to LAX we had 3 hours to wait. I had planned it that way because you just never know what could happen when you travel internationally. We tried to check out luggage in. 4 BIG suitcases, 2 carry-ons. We were told the flight on Air Jamaica had been canceled and we would have to be re-rooted. We all freaked out. There was no explanation and they also said this was very rare. So after calling and figuring and waiting in line we were booked on a Delta flight to Atlanta, Georgia then we would catch Air Jamaica to Jamaica BUT we had to wait 3 hours till our flight left!! So that puts us in the LA Airport for 7 hours! Luckily, our friends (Zane and Roxanne who traveled with us) had friends in LA. They agreed to meet us and we all went to dinner. Also, they kept our luggage in their car because Delta would not check it in yet!! Grrr! So their friends picked us all up and stuffed all our luggage (8 pieces combined and 4 carry-ons). It was crazy! The guys had to walk to the restaurant and us girls rode on laps to get there. We had a nice dinner but ended up paying over $100 for it!! (LA Airport $$$$$$$$$$) Then we had to go back to Delta and check in our luggage and hang around for another 2 hours! We went back to the restaurant and sat at the bar. Zane and Roxanne's friends were great and a life- saver! Finally we got on Delta. It was a 4 hour flight. By now it is midnight! We had the worst seats. Right in the middle and could not lean against a window, only one another. IT WAS HORRIBLE. By now we all were feeling sick. We got to Atlanta at 8 am in the morning there! Than we had another 3 hours on Air Jamaica! By the time we got to Montego Bay, Jamaica we were zombies. We had to go through customs and the airport was so different to us. You get right off the plane onto the ground and you are "herded" into customs. It was crazy and HOT, HOT, HOT! We were all in jeans. So Roxanne and I went in a bathroom and switched to shorts and then on to find our luggage and hope it was there. Total chaos! Luggage everywhere...hundreds of people, hot, stuffy.... Finally we found our luggage! Yahoo! Then we had to make our way to find our bus to Negril... Finally got it all settled and on the bus. The town of Mo Bay looked dirty and ugly. When we flew in I could see the shoreline and the water was unreal. Beautiful turquoise and you could see deep into it. Breathtaking. And I could see Sandals Montego Bay and it looked very nice. But driving through the town was very busy and crowded. They drive on the opposite side of the roads than us....and the steering wheel was on that side also....so that was hard to get used too. It took along time to get through the traffic...no rules there. Everyone just does what they want...it was unbelievable. Finally we started heading out of town. We had a 2 hour drive in front of us. The driver was a speedster. He was flying...the twisting roads that were sometimes paved with big potholes everywhere and sometimes dirt only...he flew.....he would pass other vehicles and swerve to miss some. It was so scary! We were going right along the coast line. Sometimes the water was so close you could have reached out and touched it! We swerved and sped through tiny towns and jungle areas. It was quite interesting. There would be one stretch of road that was unbelievable beautiful. Tropical floral everywhere...and than all of a sudden you would see trash along the roads and so much poverty. Lots of shacks and farm lands. Locals sitting outside of them watching our bus speed by swerving to not hit the many goats tied on the side of the road. Cows were loose everywhere also! Mangy dogs walking around... The ride was long and scary and we all were wiped out. No one was happy. All of a sudden a rain storm hit. It was raining sooooo hard. Very hot still. The bus driver NEVER SLOWED DOWN! Amazing. I finally buried my head and hoped for the best. We arrived at our resort with the rain falling hard. We were soooo relieved to be there. We were greeted by the staff with such enthusiasm and welcoming smiles. We walked into the main lobby which was beautiful and you look beyond that and see panoramic ocean. Unreal. People were walking around in bathing suits and cover-ups and laughing and we looked and saw the first pool with a swim up bar and the rain was coming down so hard and people were in the pool and around the bar laughing and jumping up and down with glee! All of us felt so out of place and sick and could not wait to be feeling what they were feeling. We were escorted immediately up to the Concierge office. We had paid for the best. We got VIP treatment. We took care of any paper work and were escorted to our suites. The resort was amazing. Absolutely beautiful. Tropical gardens everywhere....white sandy beach that stretched forever...It was EXACTLY as in the brochure pictures. We were in the Sundowner Block which is at a far end of the resort. Our room was great. A honeymoon suite that had a big balcony that over looked the beach and ocean. We were in awe. Beautifully decorated just as the pictures showed. Fully stocked bar, 24 hour room service. Robes for us hanging in the closet. In room safe. That night we went to dinner at the Sundowner restaurant. We were so tired. I wasn't very hungry and just had a salad. My husband, Nick had a fish dish that he said was so good. When we were done we sat there for a while (waiting for bill) and than started laughing because there would not be one. Had to get used to that! We turned in early that night because we were totally wiped out and my headache that started when we left LA was still with me. We woke up to the sound of birds. They have these black birds there that sound like dolphins! You know the sound "Flipper" makes? It was cool. We stood on our balcony and breathed in the sweet smell of Jamaica. Negril is so beautiful. And there is this smell in the air. I can't quite describe it but now all our clothes smell of it and it reminds us. We had 24 hour room service in our room so every morning we would order our breakfast so we could eat on our balcony alone together. We got hooked on this porridge they made. That with brown Jamaican sugar..yum. That day we hung out at the resort all day. We still were recouping from our traveling. We laid on the beach for hours. The less crowded and quiet beaches are the one in front of the Sundowner Block and the one at the opposite end of the resort. We took long walks and played in the pools. We ate lunch in the main dining room at the buffet. Sandals goes way out on their buffets. So much food and displayed beautifully. We drank yummy tropical drinks all day. I had heard rumor before that Sandals "waters down" the alcohol. NOWAY....the drinks are 100% strong! We loved the RumRunners and Hummingbirds. I was hooked on the coconut rum and tried to find a drink that was not too sweet. A bartender named Marlon at the Piano Bar kept experimenting making just the right drink for me. Finally he got it and we named the drink "The Marlyn" after Marlon and me, Lynn. :) So if you run into Marlon....ask for a "Marlyn" drink and tell him I said hello! That evening we ate dinner in the main dining room. Awesome food and they had a live show going on. One thing that did disappoint us a bit about the resort was that their was not much going on at night. They would have nightly entertainment but it would start early and end early and than there wasn't much too do but sit in the Piano Bar and drink. Also, not much reggae playing throughout the resort. One day it was all Celine Dion! I don't want to hear Celine! I am in Jamaica and I want to hear Reggae!! Today we did the beach and pool thing again and than at 3pm went on a cruise on the Jolly Mermaid. Had a reggae music playing and open bar. Below was like a submarine. You could go down there and sit on benches and see all under water. So cool. They stopped and anyone that wanted to could snorkel. Nick went in. We went below and watched him. The fishes were so beautiful. All colors. Up on top we saw a flying fish flying above the water. Also, on this cruise they offer foot massages. Part of the price. If you want one...you get one. It was sorta cool. The cruise was supposed to take us to "Rick's Cafe" but the seas were too rough that day and we ended up at a place called "The Pickled Parrot". They anchored and started taking people over on a small boat. You could hardly get down into the boat because of the rough seas. Some people dived in and swam. (Nick and Zane included) Roxanne and myself weren't sure about getting on the boat but finally did. They would get us up to this rock ledge and a couple of people could get out and then the small boat would have to back up because of the seas....it was so scary!!! I finally got out! We watched lots of people dive. Nick was having a blast. The water was so clear and beautiful. They had a big rope swing. You would grab it and swing out above the ocean and drop in. Also, a waterslide into the ocean. Nick and Zane did it all. Roxanne and I watched. Than it was back on the small boat...ahhhh...scary.....and than the big boat. When we got back the reggae music was on again and we headed back. People were dancing and having fun. There was a limbo contest. It was great. We got back around 7ish. We all than got ready for dinner. We went to dinner at Kimonos Restaurant. Only restaurant in the resort where you need a reservation. It was fun to have the chef cooking in front of us. We all had a good time and the chefs there put on a show. The food was stir fry...veggies, beef, chicken, seafood. Very good. And after you are done...they have you go sit in their dessert room...oh my! Unreal the amount of yummy deserts they had! After dinner we called a taxi and ventured out of the resort. We went to this bar on the beach called, "Alfred's". I had heard they had a live reggae band. Well, they did. It was unbelievable! Right on the beach! The band was awesome and we danced all night. There were tourist there and local people. It was fun and very interesting. The next day we hung at the resort all day. That morning we went out snorkeling. Sandals took us out to this great place by this island. We snorkeled a lot. We saw a puffer fish and lots of rock fish and a small octopus and an eel. The eel was a light yellow and looked like a snake. It was so cool. After that the rest of the day Nick and I hung at the resort and we did every water sport they offered. It was great!! Try the Banana Boat! So much fun and if Max is driving the boat pulling the banana he will give you quiet the ride!!! We had dinner at "The Four C's" restaurant. It is very nice. Sits close to the water. You put any veggies, seafood, meat and pick your pasta and they take it away and bring back a pasta dish that is so tasty. They cook right in the middle and you can watch. It is a very romantic restaurant. In Negril when you call a taxi. You ask the price BEFORE you get in. Usually 20 a couple. You tell that taxi driver what time you wanna be picked up and you pay him after he drops you off. He comes back! Every single time! The one taxi driver that took us to Alfred's came back and waited another 1.5 hours while we danced! He just stood and listened to the music.! It was amazing. Good Reliable Taxi drivers: Hero, Irving and Bob. Ask for one of them when you venture out. Usually $14US to $20US a couple (roundtrip) Our suite was at one end of the resort. There was no fence to mark the property line but always a security guard on duty. When we would pass "the border" (as we called it) we would have to give the guard our name and room number and when we came back we would have to check in. It was a safety thing and we liked it. On the other side of "the border" was just miles of beach. A few other resorts (including Beaches Inn which we had privileges too) and lots of local people with there little stands to sell things. I ended up meeting this family and the woman, Sofia would braid my hair. First I started off with just two braids underneath and than I would go back for two more....than two more....ended up with six! Roxanne got her whole head done! It was fun. The next day Nick and I took a taxi and got dropped of at a bar on the beach called "Margaritaville" and told our taxi driver Irving to pick us up in two hours. (He did) We then walked and walked. It was soooo much fun. We saw a lot of the culture there and visited with locals. We saw lots of dreadlocks and neat small bars with LIVE reggae bands playing. We sat at this little place that was just a BBQ and a couple of tables. The man made us a plate of Jerk Chicken. On the plate was several pieces of Jerk Chicken and a salad and bread. We each had a Red Stripe and the total bill was $7US. Can't beat that!! We would sit and listen and people watch and when we would get hot we would jump into the turquoise sea! It was so beautiful and like a dream. Lots of vendors and we bought neat souvenirs. Note: The Jerk Chicken was good BUT the Jerk Chicken at the Beach Grill at Sandals is better!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nick and I went on another cruise. This one was a catamaran. The WILD THING. It was so wonderful. Reggae music playing and we set sail. The waters were pretty rough and I am glad we took sea-sick pills. The wind was whipping. But is was warm and sunny and we saw such beauty along the coast line. Even saw a school of dolphins! They stopped and we snorkeled which was a bit hard because the water...but it was still cool. We got back on the catamaran and cruised to a cove called Half Moon Bay and there on the beach they had a full course lunch ready for us. (This was all included) It was so good. Fish and chicken and Jamaican dishes. We were in heaven!! We hung there for quite sometime and than cruise back. Nick and I made friends with the crew. Tony, Jean and Rasta Lion. We talked a lot with them. It was interesting learning their culture. They had so many questions for us also about America. We talked them into selling us the reggae tape they played. We brought it home it is so good. I highly recommend this cruise. You can sign up for it at the Guest Services area at Sandals. When we got back to the resort we went for a walk and walked across the "border" to Hedo II. That was very interesting! At Sandals you will see a lot of topless but over there...oh my! We started talking with a local in a little boat and asked him if he would us four a ride back to Sandals and he was happy too. We all piled into his worn-out little boat and started. The motor sounded as though it was ready to die....I looked back at the captain and noticed he had a bucket and was bailing water out of the boat as we putted along!!! I laughed....another adventure. We had such a wonderful time. I can't even begin to explain the feeling we had. The sunsets were unbelievable. We made it a point to sit and watch every sunset set. On the beach together. It was almost spiritual! It was so sad our last day. We fell in love with Negril and also with the resort. The staff there were all so very welcoming and friendly. We made lots of friends. The bartenders are so much fun! Marlon, Chris, Roy, Geoffrey, Randy. We all decided NOT to take that bus back and fly instead. So we made our reservations. We were shuttled over to a small airport in Negril. The plane they fly sits about 10 people. They over booked our flight and did not have room for all four of us. We told them we would not be separated so they had us go on this four seater little bitty plane!! It looked old and inside all the seats were worn and torn. A Jamaican was our pilot. We all said....ok....let's go for it. Another adventure....so we got on and we are so glad! It was awesome! We flew low and we went over the water the whole way. We could see it all....beautiful Jamaica. Roxanne had took flying lessons years ago and the pilot let her fly the plane for a bit! It was unbelievable! It was about a 15 min flight. Everything on the flight home went well. Sitting on that Air Jamaica flight as we lifted off away from Jamaica I looked back at the island and I truly got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye! We arrived in LA at around 9:30pm Wed night. We already made plans to spend the night there so we did in a hotel near the airport with free shuttle to and fro. We landed in Sacramento Thursday at around 1:30pm. Through this whole trip we flew on 6 planes! Our luggage made it each time but looked more and more beat up as the flights continued. We finally get all the way back to Sacramento and they lost one piece of luggage of Roxanne and Zanes! Unbelievable. Today both Nick and I are missing Negril and wondering whom is staying in our special room. :( We both are so tan....they almost didn't let us through customs! Thought we were Jamaicans. *laugh* I can't say enough about the service and the property at Sandals Negril. It was everything I had hoped it would be. You feel so relaxed and welcomed there. We called it our "cocoon". When we were out of the resort we always were glad to return to the safety of our cocoon. :) We were there 8 nights. Next time I want to stay longer. I would like to do more tours. Like see YS Falls and some of the other ones they listed on the board in Guest Services. Also, wanna spend more time enjoying the resort. When I hear of someone else leaving for Sandals Negril.....I get sorta jealous! I wanna go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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