Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 113
March 1, 2001

Last Update 27 Feb 2001

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |


JOURNEYS FOR MARCH 2001

ANTIGUA: PINEAPPLE BEACH CLUB BY JO-ANN DUNN

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

BVI: BITTER END YACHT CLUB ON VIRGIN GORDA THIRD ANNUAL NATIONAL WOMEN'S SAILING ASSOCIATION GATHERING BY BROOKE CUNNINGHAM

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)
wsf@womensailing.org
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

JAMAICA: SWEPT AWAY TRIP REPORTS BY ANNA CASETTA

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!

JAMAICA: SANDALS NEGRIL BY LYNN MILLER

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

| CTR Home | << Back | ToC | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Next >> | Search |