Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 123
March 1, 2002

Last Update March 2, 2002

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |


MEXICO: MAYAN RIVIERA COPACABANA BEACH RESORT BY D. COLLINS

This  trip to the Copacabana is our fourth to Mexico and twentieth in 
the  Caribbean  area. We traveled on December 1 and this is our first 
trip during this time of year. The price is certainly attractive.

Grounds  –  This  resort  has  a  unique  concept  as  the  buildings 
containing  the  rooms  are  at  the  edges  of  this narrow but deep 
property.  The  central part of the property remains jungle and has a 
meandering  path from the front lobby/buffet area to the beach. Lunch 
is  held  in  the beach buffet area. Be aware there is lot of walking 
required.

Reception  –  the  staff  are  very  friendly  and  attentive. We had 
requested  a  king  size  bed  but none were available until the next 
day.  Our bags were taken to our room very quickly and we settled in. 

Room  –  Our  room was on the ground floor right next to the entrance 
to  the  building.  The  room  was large and spacious. There were two 
very  firm  double beds, and armoire containing the television, mini-
bar  and  free  use  safe. There were also three drawers for clothes. 
The   bathroom  was  huge  with  a  walk-in,  stand  up  shower  with 
removable,  positionable  showerhead. A sink and toilet completed the 
bathroom. 

We  noticed  a strange smell in the room and reported it to the front 
desk.  They  explained  that  it  was  from  the  bathroom drains and 
offered  another room. We went and saw a room – same smell. The smell 
was  coming  from  the air conditioner and this was reported as well. 
Due  to  the  fact that we were on the ground floor and surrounded by 
trees  we did not need the air conditioning running and therefore the 
smell  decreased. The rooms were cleaned each day. Make sure you hang 
out  the  do not disturb sign before going to bed or the maid will be 
knocking  and  trying  to  enter  any time after 7:30 in the morning. 
Complained about the noise and early intrusions.
The  towels  are  of  very  poor quality and need changing every day. 
Linens are nice and you don't really need a change every day.

Beach  _  There is a lovely beach at this resort and lots of distance 
to  walk.  To  the  north  is  Xpu  Ha Palace and to the south is the 
Robinson  Club.  There  are some shops and restaurants on either side 
of  the  hotel. Locals were not a bother but rather were pleasant and 
fun  to  associate with. The beach and water allow for a gentle entry 
and  there  are  no surprises. Take a bun into the water and feed the 
Permit  fish  for  some  fun. There is great snorkeling right off the 
beach  either  on  the  left side at the property end or on the right 
side,  walk  down  to  the red bouy marker or the catamaran. There is 
not  a great water sports center as they only have sailboats and some 
kayaks.  You  can  also get snorkel gear for free. There is plenty of 
shade  available. Some topless was evident although it is not allowed 
in Mexico.

Pool  area  –  There is a huge pool area with many palapas(umbrellas) 
and  therefore  lots  of  shade.  There are plenty of lounges and the 
usual  extra stuff at the pool. They have a great kid's play area and 
care  center.  The  pool social staff is very pleasant and more quiet 
that  usual.  Carlos,  the  director  is a great guy and runs a tight 
ship  with  his  staff.  We  had lunch with him one day and very much 
enjoyed  his  company.  The  music had good variety and not too loud. 
Lots of activities are offered but no pressure to participate.

It  is  near  the  pool  that  the  lunch buffet is served.There is a 
decent  pool  bar although the mixed drinks were not as good as those 
at  the  lobby  or  theatre  bars. There must be a way to have a Pina 
Colada taste the same everywhere. Try a Cancun Maya or two. 

There  is  also  a massage center, covered sports area, three Jacuzzi 
tubs and a craft center.
This  is a safe resort for all ages. There were several families with 
very small children. Lots of fun stuff for all to do.

Food  –  There  was not the variety we had hoped for from a five star 
resort.  The  food  was tasty and wholesome. Sometimes certain dishes 
could  be  warm,  not  hot.  We did not go hungry mind you, but there 
could  have been more. The salads were fresh and a good variety here. 
Fruit  was fresh and tasty. Pasta was okay if not a little too watery 
a sauce. The desserts again were okay but not 5 *****.

The  regular  coffee  is very good, but for decaf you get the Nescafe 
bottle.  Good  selection  of teas. Beer on tap. Red and white wine on 
tap as well. The red wine tasted a bit musty.
This   is   the   one   location  where  this  hotel  fails  to  meet 
expectations.

Specialty  restaurants  –  We  much preferred the Italian experience. 
The  food  was  very  good  and  the  service  excellent. The Spanish 
restaurant  just  didn't  have  it for us. Our opinion only. The cafι 
flambι is great.

Entertainment  – Every night you can play Bingo for prizes. They have 
some  professional  entertainment  – don't miss the Mayan Night. Most 
nights  it  is fun and worth a laugh as they really do try to get the 
guests  involved in some fun activities. It all starts about 8:00 and 
wraps up about 10:15.
Check  out  -  If  you  have  one  of those early morning up and outs 
gather  a  little care package from the dining room the night before. 
They  serve  coffee  at  about  6:00 and a few rolls are tossed in as 
well.
Sunquest  Rep.  –  We  had  dealings with Roger only one time to book 
tickets  for  Xel-Ha  but  after  that  he was not evident. New rep., 
Rafael  was  assigned  but  never  saw  him.  Glad we didn't have any 
trouble.

Tours  –  We  can  highly recommend Xel-Ha and Xcariet for day trips. 
These  are  terrific  places  for all ages. Great snorkeling and many 
activities   for   all  ages.  Tulum  was  a  disappointment  –  over 
subscribed  and  poorly  guided.  A  waste  of money after seeing the 
inland ruins of Mexico and those on Cozumel.

A  call to the front desk after 5:00 a.m. gets your luggage picked up 
very quickly and delivered to the lobby.

Airport  –  Getting  out of Mexico this time was the most challenging 
yet.  Security checked through all out carry on luggage twice and did 
some  body  checks.  There was a greater presence of armed personnel. 
Cancun  Airport  is  very  pleasant. Some newly constructed areas and 
lots of shops, food and drink.

Flight  -  Skyservice  is  okay.  The  meals were terrible and simply 
should  be  left  out  if  that is the way they choose to treat their 
customers. Bring a care package.
General  Comments - All in all we had a great vacation. Very relaxing 
and  pleasant.  BUT  this hotel is definitely not a FIVE STAR resort. 
Copacabana Beach Resort should be reclassified as FOUR STAR.

ST. CROIX BY PETER ESHELMAN

My  wife  and  I vacationed in St. Croix from January 24 thru January 
29,
2002.  We  had a ball! Yes we did do some research, including reading 
trip  reports  on  the  site,  hence my return here to talk about our 
adventure.  Airfares  are  very low right now--RT Philadelphia to St. 
Croix  was  $343  pp, we also got discounted hotel rooms. Many hotels 
are  offering  "buy  3  get one night free" We stayed at The Waves At 
Cane  Bay,  and  we  loved  it.  Very  friendly  and  helpful owners. 
Restaurant  onsite  is  good  but very pricey. Right next door is Off 
The  Wall, open for breakfast lunch and dinner, live music 6 nights a 
week,   great   island   food   at  reasonable  prices,  nice  beachy 
atmosphere.  Great  location,  out of town away from urban hustle and 
bustle,  yet  a  short  drive  into town for restaurants, shopping or 
siteseeing.  Cane  Bay  is  a nice area, more lush than the East End, 
nice  beach  with  good diving and snorkeling right from the shore---
tradewinds  were  blowing the week we were there, we tried to snorkel 
(Waves  At  Cane  Bay  offers  free  gear)  but  the  winds  made  it 
difficult.  We  took a boat trip to Buck Island, VERY good snorkeling 
there.  Rented  a  car and explored the whole island: the rainforest, 
Fredericksted,  Whim  Plantation  Museum, St. George Botanical Garden 
(awesome),  Christiansted  Fort, shops in Christiansted, Point Udall, 
we  never  made  it  to  Columbus  Landing. Also never went horseback 
riding,  we  talked about it, but never got around to it---best meal: 
KIM'S  on  Strand St. in Christiansted. Curry Conch w/seasoned rice & 
fried  plantains,  small  salad. EXCELLENT! we went back twice it was 
so  good.  People  of  St. Croix are very nice, they have a beautiful 
island, we'll be back someday soon I hope. 

ST. KITTS BY NADINE HUBERT

St.  Kitts  is  an  island  that  offers frequent air charter service 
from   Toronto,  Canada. This past February, my husband and I decided 
to  book  a   place not offered by the tour operators and this worked 
out  very  well.  After  a good flight on Air Transat (which actually 
arrived  early)  we  were  greeted  with the low-key charm of the St. 
Kitts  people.  We found that the people of  St. Kitts were friendly, 
helpful  and  genuine. This impression stayed with us  throughout our 
one-week stay.

Thanks  to  a  special  internet  deal,  we  took advantage of a good 
package  from  Ottley's Plantation Inn. Both the hotel and the island 
were terrific. (I  will describe my impressions of both separately.)

The island

St.  Kitts  is  a  lush,  volcanic island in the Leeward Antilles. As 
such  it  is   geographically very stunning, with mountains and hills 
running   through   the   centre  of  the  island.  It  has  a  long, 
interesting  history  (basically  fought   over by the French and the 
British).  Sugar cane harvesting is still very  predominant here. The 
main  town,  Basse-Terre  is  small and quiet at night.  It's easy to 
get  around  by  rental  car. There are several sightseeing spots  to 
visit  (Brimstone  Hill,  Romney  Manor  etc.).  For  those who enjoy 
hiking,   there  are  several trips available into the rainforest and 
to  the  volcano.  As   a beach destination, St. Kitts does not offer 
the  manicured,  sugar-white   beaches  that  many  people  would  be 
looking  for  in  a  Caribbean destination.  Instead, the beaches are 
concentrated  in  the southern peninsula of the  island, and do offer 
peace and seclusion. The Atlantic side is rough.

There  are  good  restaurants  and  lunch  spots to choose from (e.g. 
Fisherman's  Wharf, Balliahoos, Turtle Beach Grill). 

There  is  also  regular ferry service to the sister island of Nevis, 
which  is   smaller  than St. Kitts and is equally as charming. There 
is  a lot less to  see on Nevis, however, there are quite a number of 
upscale  inns  and  small  hotels. It would make for a good day trip. 
The  main  resort  area  is  the   Frigate  Bay  area, located in the 
southern  part of the island, just before  the peninsula. There are a 
number  of resorts, condos and villas to choose  from. Generally, the 
hotels  are small with the Allegro Jack Tar being the  largest resort 
on  the  island.  The  Marriott  is  currently  constructing  a large  
resort  scheduled to open in October of this year. For golfers, there 
is  one   golf  course  on the island (the Royal St. Kitts), there is 
also  a  golf  course  on Nevis at the Four Seasons. Renting a car is 
the  best  way  to get around  the island, as the roads are generally 
good and it's hard to get lost. It's  also a relatively safe island.

The  Resort:  Ottley's Plantation Inn is located on the north side of 
the  island  in  the   foothills.  It was an original plantation over 
three  hundred years ago. The  family who owns the hotel restored the 
Great  House  and  added  cottage  suites   to  the  grounds. It is a 
beautiful  establishment,  with  lovely  landscaping,  a  view of the 
Atlantic,  its  own rainforest trail and a daily shuttle to town  and 
to  the  beach.  The  restaurant  -  the  Royal Palm - offers gourmet 
cuisine   in  an  outdoor setting by the hotel's pool. As we ate most 
of  our  meals here,  we were never disappointed. The hosts and staff 
of  Ottley's  are  great  and  although it is an upscale place, it is 
not  pretentious  and  we found a good  mix of travelers from Canada, 
United  States  and  England. The accommodations  range from standard 
rooms  in  the  Great House to larger rooms in the  cottages. All are 
comfortable,  nicely  decorated  and  have great views. It is  almost 
like a step back in time (but with modern conveniences).

Conclusion:   St.  Kitts  is a beautiful island with friendly people. 
It  offers  a  different  kind of charm. However, if you are the type 
of  person  who  likes  to roll out  of bed onto a beach, you may not 
find  that it's the place for you. I would  definitely go back, as it 
is still less developed and unspoiled.

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   USA   :Home   (Voice   or   Fax)   978-470-1971.   E-mail   via 
editor@caribtravelnews.com or CTREDITOR@aol.com

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