Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


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

Last Update 27 Feb 2001

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ST. LUCIA: MARIGOT BAY BY LES SUNERE

Trip 2/01

Having  just  returned  from  our vacation in Marigot Bay and reading 
the  replies  to  the noise problem in the Bay (Caribbean-on-line) it 
is  interesting how the manager of JJ's Paradise can suggest that the 
problem is under control and noise no longer is a problem.

After  having made the decision to spend our vacation in St. Lucia we 
searched  the  Net  for  any  comments  on  Marigot  Bay. We did find 
negative  comments  dating  back  to 1998, all dealing with JJ's Bar, 
but  the  most  recent ones seemed to indicate that the noise problem 
had  been  taken  care of. Even the hotel we stayed at confirmed that 
the  problem  is  under  control,  although  not  completely  solved. 
Believing  what  we read we came to Marigot Bay. During our stay from 
January  27  to  February 5, we had more than our share of loud music 
all coming from JJs Paradise.

On  Saturday,  the  day  of  our arrival, loud music started at about 
6:30  pm  and  lasted  for about an hour and started up again an hour 
later until about midnight.

On  Tuesday  evening,  we  had  to  endure  loud  music  and a lot of 
shouting coming from JJ's.

On  Friday  we  were  awakened  at  10 pm by loud music coming from a 
catamaran which had to collect people from JJ's.

On  Saturday,  the evening started out relatively quiet but the later 
the  evening,  the  louder  the music became, especially the bass. We 
had  the  worst  night  on  Sunday  (Feb 4) when a band tried to play 
(Hawaiian?!)  music.  One  cannot describe the sound of the vocalists 
other than "screaming". 

During  the other nights it was relatively quiet and acceptable. It's 
not  that we do not like music but having it forced upon us just goes 
too  far.  The  least  one  could  expect from the business people in 
Marigot  Bay  (or  anywhere  for  that  matter) is that no misleading 
information  is  published.  The manager of JJ's Paradise admits that 
they   have  entertainment  three  times  a  week  but  finish  at  a 
reasonable  time  (usual finishing time is around midnight) and noise 
is not a problem. Well, we beg to differ...

TURKS AND CAICOS: POINT GRACE BY LARA SOLONICKNE

My  husband  and  I  visited the Turks and Caicos islands in December 
2000.  We  stayed on Providenciales at Point Grace, a new condominium 
resort on Grace Bay beach.

We  won  a  five-night  "Romantic  Retreat"  through  an  auction  at 
LuxuryLink.com, and added on two more nights. 

Getting There and Checking In

We  flew United Airlines from Chicago to Miami, and American Airlines 
from  Miami  to  Providenciales.  A  representative  from Point Grace 
picked  us  up  at the airport, and the ride to the resort took about 
15 minutes.

We  were greeted with cold towels and rum punch in the reception area 
and were escorted to our room in no time.

We  asked  for  an  extra room key, and a key to the in-room safe. We 
did  not  receive either key during our weeklong stay, nor did anyone 
from  the  front  desk  call  to  follow  up.  This  exemplifies  the 
consistently  poor  service  we  received  from  the front desk staff 
throughout our trip (details to come).

The Property

Point  Grace  consists  of  40  or  so  suites (I am guessing) in six 
buildings.  These  suites  range  in  size  from 1,080 square feet to 
7,200  square  feet.  The  units  are for sale, but we were told that 
only five were purchased.

The  buildings  are clustered around a stunning infinity pool. Two of 
the  buildings front the beach and their suites have ocean views, and 
the  other  four buildings house the one-bedroom "cottage suites" and 
have  pool  views.  The  pool  area  is  beautiful,  with  plenty  of 
cushioned  chairs for lounging, a hot tub integrated into the pool by 
a little waterfall, and a rotunda that serves as the bar.

One  cottage  serves  as  Point Grace's reception area. Adjoining the 
reception  area  is  a TV lounge and a library with books, audio CD's 
and DVD's. There is also a computer with Internet access.

The  buildings at Point Grace are by far the most impressive on Grace 
Bay.  Guests  at  other  resorts  were often trying to sneak into the 
property to look.

The  landscaping  at  Point Grace is gorgeous. Lots of bougainvillea, 
cactus,  and  palms.  Check  out  the  photos on their web site for a 
better  idea.  The  property  is very compact, and we could walk from 
one end to the other in less than two minutes.

Point Grace also owns some villas a few miles off the property.

Rooms

We  reserved  the  one-bedroom  cottage suite as part of our package, 
and  we  were  unable to upgrade, as the one-bedroom oceanview suites 
were fully booked. 

Our   cottage   suite   was   huge   (1,080  square  feet),  and  the 
accommodations  were the best I have ever seen in the Caribbean. This 
is  not  the  average condominium. We were astonished that we had the 
lowest  category  room!  The  suite consists of a living room, dining 
room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. 

The   décor   is  colonial  West  Indian.  The  suite  is  fully  air 
conditioned  and has four ceiling fans. The windows and sliding doors 
have screens so we could leave them open at night.

The  floors in the living room and kitchen are marble, and the floors 
in  the  bedroom  and  bathroom are hardwood. The ceilings are peaked 
with wood beams.

The  living  room  has  teak furniture. The centerpiece of the living 
room  is  a  huge television with stereo and DVD player. The speakers 
are  wall  mounted.  Surprisingly,  our neighbors said they could not 
hear  anything even when we had the stereo up at a moderate level. We 
heard nothing at all from our neighbors during our stay. 

The  kitchen  is  loaded  with the latest stainless steel appliances. 
There  is  a  garbage  disposal  and  a breakfast bar with an Italian 
granite  countertop. There is also a washer/dryer combo complete with 
detergent  and fabric softener. The refrigerator comes stocked with a 
bottle  of  decent  champagne,  Evian,  and  a platter of candies and 
fruit.  The  kitchen  has  plenty of pots, glassware, silverware, and 
Villeroy & Boch china.

The  bedroom has a four poster king bed draped with mosquito netting. 
There  is  a huge walk-in closet with two robes. There are only three 
hangers,  however, so bring your own from home. Also in the closet is 
an  individual  water  heater  for  the  room,  so  there  is never a 
shortage of hot water.

The  bathroom  has  a separate tub and glass-walled shower. There are 
two  sinks.  The  one  complaint  I  had that I heard echoed by other 
guests  is  the  lack  of  counter  space in the bathroom. There is a 
medicine  cabinet,  but there is no place for ladies to lay out their 
cosmetics  and  hair  products.  Point  Grace supplies high-end Edneé 
bath amenities, Frette (Turkish) towels, and a blow dryer.

The  terrace  is  huge  and overlooks the pool. It has several lounge 
chairs, a table, and a sofa.

The New York Times facsimile was delivered each morning.

Housekeeping  came  twice  daily.  Every  other night they would turn 
down  linens,  light  a  bedside  oil  lamp,  and  leave  candies. We 
wondered why that was not done every night. 

We  met  two guests who stayed in both the cottage suite and the one- 
bedroom  oceanview  suite  and  asked them which was preferable. Both 
people  replied that the accommodations were "different" and that the 
ocean  view  was  nice  during  the day, but they did not necessarily 
prefer  the oceanview suites to the cottage suites. Therefore, we did 
not feel too badly about being unable to upgrade.

The  top  room at Point Grace is a four-bedroom, two-story penthouse. 
We  were  told Donatella Versace was staying there over the Christmas 
holidays and it rents out for $3,500 per night.

Beach

Point  Grace  is  located  on the twelve-mile beach of Grace Bay. The 
beach  was  uncrowded, often deserted. No one was ever sitting within 
50  yards  of  us.  Occasionally  there would be people strolling by. 
There  are  no  hotels on either side of Point Grace, so it is a very 
quiet stretch of beach.

In  terms  of  the  expanse  of  the  beach, Point Grace has the best 
location of all the resorts, except for Club Med Turkoise. 

The  water is a pleasing blue and the sand is powder white. Grace Bay 
is  beautiful. It does not surpass the spectacular beach/water on San 
Salvador, Bahamas, but it ranks right up there.

There is no drink service on the beach, but the bar is nearby. 

The  big ritual at Point Grace is the serving of homemade fresh fruit 
sorbets on the beach every afternoon at 2.30.

Dining and Drinks

Point  Grace  provides  a  complimentary  Continental  breakfast each 
morning.  They  offer  juice, milk, coffee (espresso and cappuccino), 
teas,  cereals,  fruit,  and a variety of breads (bagels, croissants, 
muffins).

The  resort  also  serves  casual lunches by the pool (sandwiches and 
salads).  The  menu  is  very limited and very pricey. A cheeseburger 
and  fries were $19.50! For most lunches, we walked five minutes down 
the  beach  to  The  Sands beachfront restaurant--Hemingways, where a 
cheeseburger  and  fries  are  a  much more palatable $7.95. (More on 
Hemingways  below.)  To  go to another restaurant for lunch, it would 
be at least a 15-minute walk.

Mixed  drink  prices  at  the Point Grace bar ran about $6.50. Colin, 
the  regular bartender, knew his stuff. On the down side, the bar did 
not  open  until  11 a.m., and on Colins day off, the other bartender 
did  not  show up for work. Therefore, we needed to go to the 7-11 to 
buy  sodas,  bottled  water,  and  beer so we could have something to 
drink whenever the bar was unmanned.

A  nice  aspect  of Point Grace is the complimentary Happy Hour every 
night  beginning  at 5.30 p.m. They have a variety of wines, beer and 
hors  d'oeuvres.  Most  of  the  guests did not show up for the Happy 
Hour  (see  "Clientele"  below),  but we ended up making friends with 
the  ones  who  did.  It  is  one of the few opportunities one has at 
Point Grace to meet the other guests.

At  the time of our visit, Point Grace was about to unveil its dinner 
restaurant  called  Graces Cottage. But since it was not yet open, as 
part  of  our  package,  Point  Grace  included  three meals at local 
restaurants  and a private dinner in our room prepared by a chef. The 
private  dinner  was  a  special  experience. The chef, Paul, and his 
assistant,  Ahmet, set up a table on our terrace and served us shrimp 
bisque,  salad, sashimi tuna, and coconut ice cream for dessert. Paul 
told  us  that  after  Graces Cottage opens, a private meal like that 
will  cost  about  $300 per couple, so we were glad we had the chance 
to do it.

Point  Grace offers a free shuttle to Grace Bay area restaurants, and 
it is very convenient not to have to deal with taxis.

Following  are  brief  comments on the restaurants we dined at during 
our stay:

Anacaona--Exotic  oceanfront  dining  at the Grace Bay Club. Anacaona 
is  a  five-star  restaurant,  long  considered  the  best  on Provo. 
Candlelit  tables  are under open-air palapas, and we heard the waves 
hitting  the  beach.  We  went on Sunday, "Indonesian Night", but the 
restaurant  has  different  specials  each  night.  They  serve Euro-
Caribbean  cuisine,  particularly seafood. My husband is still raving 
about  the  lamb  he had there. An elegant place, Anacaona requires a 
collared  shirt  and  pants for men and appropriate attire for women. 
Cool looking tiki bar adjacent to the restaurant. 

Banana  Boat--We  went  here  for drinks after dinner. The restaurant 
fronts  the  Turtle  Cove  Marina and is part of the Turtle Cove Inn. 
Very  casual,  local  hangout.  Drink prices are exorbitant--a three-
ounce mixed drink was $6!

Bickels  Jamaican Cuisine--Local Jamaican restaurant located downtown 
on Airport Road. Very limited menu (four entrees), reasonably priced-
-dinner  for  two  was $28 including soup and couple Red Stripes. The 
place  has  three tables and a small bar. Decent Jamaican food, but I 
would not go out of my way to dine here again.

Caicos  Café--French  cuisine  across  the  street  from  the Allegro 
Resort.  Very  cute  place  with  festive colored lights and open-air 
dining.  Caicos  Café  is fun, casual, and upbeat with great service. 
Extensive  menu  (that  changes  daily)  has  something for everyone. 
Their  conch  chowder is dynamite. We had a 10- ounce grilled lobster 
tail  for $27--quite a deal. We went here for dinner twice during our 
stay.

Coyaba  Restaurant--The  newest  hot  restaurant  on Provo is Coyaba, 
part  of  the Coral Gardens Beach Resort. This was my favorite place; 
I  would  rank  it just above Anacaona. Very romantic atmosphere in a 
gazebo  surrounded by gardens and fountains. Extensive menu featuring 
eclectic  Caribbean/European  fusion  cuisine.  The  guests  at Point 
Grace  were  all raving about the artistic presentations of the food. 
Ample  wine  list.  Added bonus: Coyaba serves Blue Mountain coffee--
the  only  place  we  found  on  Provo  that does! Very professional, 
competent service. Cost was about $140 for two, including wine.

Hemingways   on   the   Beach--Hemingways  is  a  pleasant  beachside 
restaurant,  located at The Sands at Grace Bay. Tables are outside on 
a  wooden  deck,  about  five  steps from the sand. We dined here for 
lunch  three  days,  and  had  a great time each day. Service is very 
friendly, and the standard lunch fare is reasonably priced.

The  Terrace--The  Terrace  is  located  on  an upstairs patio at the 
Turtle  Cove  Inn.  The  restaurant  has  fresh  fish  every  day and 
specializes  in  seafood and conch dishes. We went on Saturday night, 
when  The  Terrace  features  the popular sushi and sashimi platters. 
They  have  excellent  sashimi  wahoo,  conch,  tuna and a variety of 
rolls.  The food is affordable, and many Point Grace guests said this 
was their favorite restaurant.

Activities and Water Sports

Point Grace does not have many activities on which to report!

As  far as the complimentary water sports go, Point Grace has a Hobie 
Cat,  two  kayaks,  snorkeling  equipment,  and floaties. With such a 
limited amount of equipment, it is interesting that they have a full-
time water sports instructor on staff, Allan. 

My  husband was very upset that there was not a windsurf board, since 
Point  Grace  promotes  itself  as  having  a  "full  range"  of non-
motorized  water  sports.  Allan went above the call of duty and took 
my  husband  over to Ocean Club so that he could windsurf using their 
equipment  (free  of  charge).  On  other  days,  my husband ended up 
walking  over  to the Allegro (10 minutes) and renting out boards for 
$20 per hour.

As  part  of  our  package,  we  were  entitled  to  two  in-room spa 
treatments.  My  husband  got  a  25-minute  massage, and I got a 25-
minute  mini-facial. The therapist was Terry, who worked at the Ocean 
Club.

Point  Grace  also offers golf at the Provo Country Club and bicycles 
to explore the island. 

Clientele

There  were people in their 70s on the high end, and couples in their 
mid- 20s on the low end. I would say the average age was early 40s. 

Some  children  and  infants  around. The children were well behaved, 
but  it  definitely  changes  the  atmosphere  of  a romantic, classy 
resort  when  there  are  kids playing on floaties in that remarkable 
pool. 

What  was  bizarre  was that there were very few guests at the beach, 
or  at  the  pool,  or  at  breakfast, although the resort was almost 
fully  booked. The place was like a ghost town. I suspect most people 
cooked  and  ate  in  their  rooms. Nevertheless, that still does not 
explain  why  the  guests chose to stay in their rooms during the day 
rather  than  enjoy  the  beach.  Maybe  it is a "condo mentality" to 
which I am not accustomed. 

Service

When  we  told people around the island that we were staying at Point 
Grace,  they kind of grinned and would make a comment like, "A little 
disorganized,  huh?"  The reputation of Point Graces inept front desk 
staff preceded them.

There  are only two competent people on the front desk staff: Simini, 
and  Pamela,  a  manager. Otherwise, if we had any request, no matter 
how  minor,  the  other staff would simply ignore it or say that they 
could  not handle it until Pamela was around. No one seemed empowered 
to do anything or have any knowledge of basic procedures.

We  had  several  special  activities  we  paid  for  as  part of our 
package,  and  scheduling  them  was  extraordinarily  difficult.  It 
required  two  or  three follow- ups per day. By the end of the week, 
we  started  booking our excursions and activities on our own because 
it was easier.

On   the   other  hand,  the  rest  of  the  staff  is  friendly  and 
accommodating.  A  special  thank you to Simini, Allan, Colin, Dennis 
(security),  Paul,  and  Ahmet  for  going the extra mile to make our 
stay at Point Grace a memorable one.

Excursions

As  part of our package, Point Grace offered us a castaway picnic for 
two  on  a  remote  beach.  This  was  otherwise  known as the Island 
Destination tour, offered by J&B Tours.

We  let  the front desk staff know when we planned to go, yet when we 
arrived  at  the dock, the J&B Tours representative told us that (not 
surprisingly)  no one from Point Grace had scheduled us and there was 
not  an extra lunch available. Luckily, J&B quickly assembled a lunch 
basket for us, and off we went. 

The  Island  Destination tour consisted of going out about 30 minutes 
on  a  speedboat  to  a deserted island. The driver dropped us off on 
Fort  George  island with an umbrella, two chairs, the aforementioned 
picnic  basket,  and  snorkel  equipment. We told him we wanted to be 
picked  up  in  three-and-a-  half  hours,  and that was perfect. The 
picnic  basket  contained  sandwiches,  fruit,  cookies,  wine, beer, 
water, and soft drinks.

ther  day we wanted to take the Beach Cruise, a three-hour boat tour. 
Again,  since  the Point Grace staff had proven that they were unable 
to  schedule  anything  for  us, we went over to the tour desk at The 
Sands.  Annie,  the  organizer  at  The Sands, was excellent. She had 
photos,  explained  everything to us, and even called us to follow up 
later  that  day  to  see  how  we  liked  the tour. The Beach Cruise 
started  with  a  trip  to Little Water Cay to see the National Park, 
home  to  hundreds of rare iguanas. Then we went out to open water to 
snorkle  at  an  offshore  reef.  Finally,  we went to Fort George to 
collect  shells and sand dollars. The unplanned highlight of the tour 
was  finding Jojo the dolphin and watching him swim about a foot from 
our boat. 

J&B  Tours  is  outstanding.  The staff was so helpful and we enjoyed 
our excursions. A special thanks to Henry and Kisnel.

One  day  we called Sun n Fun to reserve Sea-Doo jetskis for an hour. 
Nancy  from  Sun  n  Fun  picked  us up from Point Grace. We took the 
jetskis out by the conch farm. 

Weather

Weather  was  consistent  from  day  to  day.  Sunny in the mornings, 
cloudy  in  the  afternoons.  Constant winds the entire week of 25-30 
miles  per  hour. It was impossible to play tennis in conditions like 
these,  and  sometimes  it was difficult to keep a beach towel on the 
chair.  We had minor rainstorms one afternoon. Temperature was in the 
low 80s, so with the winds, we did not even sweat.

Checking Out and Going Home

Check  out  was  typical  of  our  dealings with the front desk staff 
throughout our stay.

I  called  the front desk to have our room charges printed so that we 
could  review  them,  and  a half-hour later, no one had printed them 
out or even noted the request.

We  requested  late  checkout  (which  Point  Grace  honored  with no 
problem),  and  at  our designated checkout time, the bellhop came to 
our room to retrieve the bags. 

I  went down to the front desk to check out and turn in the keys. The 
woman  at  the  desk  had  me  sign  the credit card slip, handed the 
receipt  to  me  and turned away without saying thank you or good bye 
or anything. An appropriate send off, I thought.

As  I  walked  out,  rather  irritated, Ahmet, Colin, and the general 
manager  Duncan  MacArthur came by to say good-bye. So that was nice, 
and  like  I  said,  the staff problems we encountered were only with 
the front desk staff.

The  Point  Grace  van  was  ready  for  us,  and  we set off for the 
airport.

Insider Tips

Point  Grace  does  not have a gift shop on property to buy sundries, 
so make sure you bring everything from home!

The  "island  hopper"  package  that  enabled guests to spend time at 
both  Point  Grace and Parrot Cay is no longer available. Apparently, 
management  had  a falling out with Parrot Cay. Based on the comments 
we  heard from guests who came from Parrot Cay, no big loss. Comments 
like,  "boring",  "lots  of  bugs", and "we were glad to get to Point 
Grace", did not make me want to rush out and make a reservation.

Renting  a  car  is  not  necessary.  There is not too much to see on 
Provo,  and  the  guests that did rent a car did not get much use out 
of  it. Between Point Graces shuttle service and taxis, you should be 
covered.

Mosquitoes  came out at sundown, stayed an hour, and left. It was the 
strangest  thing.  As  long  as  we  kept  the doors and windows shut 
before  dinner,  we were not bitten. However, it cannot hurt to bring 
bug spray anyway.

I  used  my  cellular  telephone  to  make  calls while in Provo. The 
operator  from  Cable  and  Wireless  did something to my phone while 
setting  me  up  with  temporary  service, and it took engineers back 
home  in  Chicago  an hour to figure out how to reinstate my service. 
They  said  they had never seen anything like it before! My advice is 
to rent a telephone when you are on site.

Future of Point Grace

As   I   stated  earlier,  Point  Grace  is  opening  Graces  Cottage 
restaurant December 2000.

We  were  also  told  that  Point Grace plans to construct more hotel 
rooms  across  the  road  near  Graces Cottage and to build a fitness 
center. 

Summary

Point  Grace  is  a small, stylish, elegant resort. The atmosphere is 
extremely  quiet  and  relaxing.  The  major  advantages  Point Grace 
offers  over  the  other  hotels  on  Provo are a terrific stretch of 
beach, and high-end, opulent accommodations.

Point  Grace  has  a  way  to  go before it can be classified as five 
stars,  and  I  hope the service/staff training issues will be worked 
out soon.

However,  Point Grace is not inexpensive, and there is very little to 
do  there.  Frankly,  I  was ready to leave after four days. There is 
only so much lounging and reading and quiet time I can stand.

Provo  in  general  seems to draw mainly families with young children 
and  senior  citizens. At one point, we had a man in his late 50s ask 
us,  "Why  would  a  couple  in  their 30s want to come here? Im just 
wondering--it  does  not  seem  like  there  is  much do here." I was 
asking myself the same question.

I  might  return  for  a  long weekend, but there are other Caribbean 
islands and 

The  official  The  Caribbean  Travel  Roundup  World Wide Web site is 
http://caribtravelnews.com.  The  CTR  is  also  available  on America 
Online.  Contact:  Paul  Graveline, 9 Stirling St., Andover, MA 01810-
1408   US