Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 84
April 1, 1998

Last Update 28 30 Mar 98 1900ET

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JAMAICA: GRAND LIDO BRACO BY SARA SCHARPF

Grand Lido Braco (formerly Braco Village) Jamaica, March 3 - 9, 1998

My  husband  and  I have been to Grand Lido Negril a number of times. 
We  have  grown  to  love  Jamaica, but this trip we decided to try a 
different  location. So we planned to visit Grand Lido Sans Souci for 
six  nights,  and  then moved on to try Grand Lido Braco for the same 
amount of time. 

Because  there  is little information available about the property on 
the  boards  and  in  the trip report library, I decided to make this 
report  more  of  an  informational  "property  report"  rather  than 
informing readers of our day-to-day activities and happenings.

Traveling  west,  through  Ocho  Rios and into the country, along the 
north  coastal highway, the taxi ride from Grand Lido - Sans Souci to 
Grand  Lido  -  Braco  (GLB)  takes  about  40 minutes. The resort is 
nestled  on  the  ocean  in the Rio Bueno district (Trelawny Parish), 
just  West  of  the  Rio  Bueno,  where it is said Columbus found his 
first  fresh  drink  of  water  in  1492.  (About  40 minutes east of 
Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.)

We  were  given  a  brief history of the resort: The resort opened in 
May  1995 as "Braco Village". Modeled after a Jamaican settlement and 
loosely  emulating  Falmouth  (an  ocean-side  city to the west), the 
original  resort  has 180 gardenview, oceanview and beachfront rooms. 
The  property  upon  which  it  rests  was  owned by the same family, 
Parnell,  which  owns much of the land along the ocean from Rio Bueno 
to  Falmouth. One of the Parnells was once the mayor of Falmouth (see 
the  bronze bust outside of the resort's "Courthouse"). Additionally, 
GLB  property  now  includes  the  buildings of a never-opened family 
resort  (which  would have been known as Braco-Pebbles) that has been 
converted  to  an  au  natural section of the current GLB. SuperClubs 
took  over  the  management  of the entire property on June 15, 1997, 
and  its  official  grand opening as Grand Lido Braco was on December 
1,   1997.  The  au  natural  section  has  52  rooms,  which  needed 
renovation   from   family-style   to   two-person-per-room   maximum 
capacity.  The  resort  rests  on  86 acres and has over 2000 feet of 
beach.  The  architectural  style  is of 18th Century Jamaica, called 
Georgian & Gingerbread.

My  husband  and  I  entered  the front gate off of the main road and 
rode  through  the  9-hole  golf course, between the water reservoirs 
and  small  "lakes"  that are a part of GLB. Our taxi driver informed 
us  that  the  football (soccer) field at GLB has served as residence 
and  training  grounds  for  the  Jamaican  national team, the Reggae 
Boys,  who  are  destined  for  the  World Cup in France in June. The 
driver  dropped us off at the "Town Hall" to check in. The concierge, 
bellmen,  activity  directors  and  front  office are located in this 
building.  We  were  greeted  with  what  we  have come to call "Lido 
Treatment"  which  includes  the  traditional three forms (the credit 
card   imprint   form   for  incidental  charges,  the  in-room  safe 
information  card,  and  the return flight confirmation form) and the 
opportunity  for  a  beverage.  I  had  an  orange juice and Mike had 
Pepsi.  Before  we  could  finish,  we  were  on  our way through the 
"village"  to  our suite and were greeted by some friends we had made 
plans to meet up with at GLB. 

The  suite - we were pleasantly surprised by the size and feel of the 
suite  ...  the  largest room we have ever had in Jamaica. Located on 
the  au  natural  (west)  side of the resort, on the third floor, the 
"luxury  suite" has vaulted ceilings, and one and one-half bathrooms. 
The  Master  Bedroom  offers a large closet, a king-size bed with two 
nightstands,  three  lamps, a telephone, and a four-drawer dresser, a 
t.v.  stand, and television (CNN, ESPN, TNT, USA, TBS, NBC, CBS, HBO, 
Cinemax  and  Jamaican TV) with remote. The full bathroom is adjacent 
to  the  Master  BR, offering in-shower dispenser (of shampoo, shower 
gel  and lotion), plenty of towels, an on-wall hair dryer, and soaps. 
The  bathroom  is  very  plain,  but  immaculate  and  new ... with a 
shower/tub,  one  sink,  large vanity, large mirror and a toilet. The 
water  temperature  is difficult to control in the shower. The Master 
BR  is on the ocean (north) side of the building, with a huge balcony 
overlooking  the  shore,  offering a stunning beach view. The sitting 
area  of  the  luxury  suite offers a fold-out sofa (just in case you 
have  a  lovers'  quarrel?),  a  wet  bar  and  refrigerator (that is 
stocked  with  Pepsi,  Diet  Pepsi,  Ting,  7  up, and Red Stripe), a 
coffee/tea  maker,  a  kitchenette  table  with  chairs, a decorative 
corner  desk,  and  a four-drawer television stand complete with t.v. 
and  remote,  lamps,  and a another telephone. A closet (stocked with 
iron  and  ironing board) and a tiny half-bathroom are located on the 
sitting  room  side  of  the suite. Oddly enough, there are two stove 
hot  plates  above the small refrigerator ... remnants of Pebbles (we 
were told that these would be being eliminated over time). 

Rooms  are  spacious  and very clean. Light concealing curtains, tile 
floors,  plenty  of  lights,  two air conditioning units (one for the 
sitting  room  side, the other for the Master BR side), ceiling fans. 
The  color scheme is playful ... lavenders, yellows and subdued tones 
of   magenta  grace  the  fabrics,  and  a  pale  yellow  provides  a 
nondescript  backdrop.  (The  fabric  colors  in  the  rooms  on  the 
"normal"  side  are  more  dominant.) So many lights. But, we got the 
hang  of  light  and  ceiling  fan switch locations by the end of our 
stay.

There  is  an  in-hotel  television channel that outlines activities, 
times,  locations  and  reservation  requirements for everything that 
goes  on in GLB. There was also a folder that had room service menus, 
breakfast  "door hanger" menus and complementary dry cleaning/laundry 
information  and  forms.  I  inquired about the absence of an in-room 
directory  describing  ALL activities and amenities and was told that 
a  comprehensive  one  is  currently  in  development.  There is a TV 
channel  guide,  an  inter-resort  phone directory, and outgoing call 
information located in the room. 

The  Village  -  Our  tour  through the village began with a stop for 
pizza  with  our  friends at La Pasta. We sat down to absorb the pace 
and  feel of the "village," enjoying a Red Stripe and a Pepsi. Dining 
al  fresco,  we  took  in  the  view  of  blooming  foliage, a quaint 
fountain  at  the  center  of  the  turnaround (town square), and the 
"Jamaican  hustle"  of  employees  and  guests.  The  architecture is 
charming.  The  ambiance is relaxing. The "streets" are paved to look 
like  cobblestone,  and every so often a bicyclist passes through. La 
Pasta is on the west side of the turnaround.

Streets  approach  the fountain from four directions ... one from the 
north, south, east and west.

Continuing  on  -  clockwise.  A  fieldstone  staircase  leads to the 
entrance of Piacere, the French Nouvelle cuisine restaurant. 

In  the street rests a cart filled with iced sugar cane and coconuts. 
Servers  teach guests how to drink the coconut water and eat cane ... 
authentic  Jamaican treats! At night, a cart filled with roasted warm 
peanuts  is  parked here, too. Guests help themselves, tossing shells 
into  the  street.  Some of our Jamaican friends who came to visit us 
at  GLB  said  that  the  peanut  cart  was  truly a genuine Jamaican 
highlight.

If  one takes the road to the north, there is a "casino" to the left, 
consisting  of  a collection of slot machines. Beyond the entrance to 
the  casino  is  a  dimly  lit  disco, in the decor of Jamaican dance 
hall.  (One  of  our  Jamaican friends who came to visit told me that 
the  "disco"  is what made her fall in love with the verifiability of 
GLB.) 

Further  down  the street, to the left, is the Victorian Market which 
offers  breakfast  and  lunch  buffets  by day and is called "Diamond 
Room" restaurant at night.

Further  to  the  left,  as  if  you have passed through the Victoria 
Market,  is  the soon to open Japanese Restaurant that will be called 
Stir  Crazy.  Beyond  it,  on the ocean shore is the new gym. The spa 
(see  below),  adjacent to the new gym, is not yet open. We were told 
that  the  gym  would  have  an  aerobic  platform and superior Cybex 
training  equipment,  as  well  as free weights, treadmills and bikes 
that  will  be  moved  from  the  current exercise room. Although the 
exercise  area  will  be  open  air  for  a  time,  there  is talk of 
eventually  enclosing and air conditioning it. We were also told that 
both  of  these facilities are scheduled for completion by the end of 
March. 

Backing  up  to  the  entrance  of Victoria Market again, and looking 
further  down  the  road,  from  the north one will see the unusually 
shaped  main  pool  with  its  swim-up bar, oversized deck, cool pool 
bridge,  and beyond that the expansive beach. My opinion - GLB spared 
no  expense  on pools. At one end of the pool, there is a "cove" that 
allows  for  a  nearly  full-size  volleyball court set away from the 
rest  of  pool  activities.  During the day it seemed as if there was 
always  a  game  going on there. Plenty of chaises, chairs and towels 
were available poolside.

Crossing  the  street,  and  heading back toward the fountain, on the 
left  (across  the  street from Victoria Market) is the White Gaulin, 
the  main  bar.  A  plaque inside says the bar is named for the white 
birds  that  pick  the  ticks  off  of Jamaica's cattle. The main bar 
offers  inside  and  outside  seating,  as well as seating around the 
circular  bar.  I'm  not sure what times the bar is open, but I never 
walked  by  and  found  it  closed. The While Gaulin also has a piano 
inside, and "sing-a-long" is offered at 11:00 PM most nights. 

Behind  the  bar  is a staircase that leads up to the current fitness 
center  and  the  "games  room,"  which has tabletop games, darts and 
pool  tables.  Further behind the bar is a sitting room that features 
Karaoke on some nights.

If  one  continues  on,  behind  the  bar,  Nanny's  Jerk  Pit offers 
authentic  Jamaican cuisine ... from 11 AM to 6 PM. Thatched roof and 
woven  place  mats  are just the beginning of the list of things that 
gives  the restaurant atmosphere credibility as authentic Jamaican. A 
road  leads  from here to the east, taking guests to the first row of 
rooms on the normal/textile side.

Backing  up  to  the  road  and  continuing toward the water fountain 
again,  the  White  Gaulin  takes  up  the entire "block" back to the 
center  of  town.  Back at the circle, and continuing on in clockwise 
fashion  is  the  Courthouse. This building serves as special meeting 
and  function  space.  The steps of the Courthouse serve as the stage 
for the Friday night street dance.

Moving  along,  a road leads off to the east on the other side of the 
Courthouse separating it from the Town Hall.

If  one were to go east on this road or the road in front of Nanny's, 
they  would  end  up  in  the "main residential" area of the village. 
Here  lie  the  180  units  that  comprise the sleeping rooms for the 
original  Braco  Village  resort. Cleverly painted in pale colors and 
carrying  out  the  theme  of Georgian & Gingerbread, these twelve to 
twenty-four  unit  blocks are purely charming ... with white trim and 
unpredictable  architectural  elevations,  they  are  inviting to the 
eye.  The  units are situated in two rows, one adjacent to the length 
of  beach  to  the  east, and the other row of units running parallel 
behind  the oceanfront buildings. A Clubhouse, with full bar and fast 
food-type  service is on the eastern most end of the property, beyond 
the  sleeping  unit  complexes.  The Clubhouse also offers a hot tub. 
Beyond it lies vacant beach and fields.

Again,  the  Town  Hall  is  where  all  "business" occurs in GLB ... 
Concierge  Celene  is  extremely  friendly  and  helpful.  All of the 
people  who  work  at the front desk are busy but very kind. Bell men 
are  located  to  the  south  of  the  Town  Hall.  If  a guest needs 
anything,  they  should either call or stop by this building and most 
likely  they  will  find  help.  Chelsea Galleries has a very limited 
collection of artwork located in the Town Hall and Courthouse.

Crossing  to  the  west  side  of  the southbound street, a string of 
village  shops  on  two  levels  offer  almost  anything  one  needs: 
toiletries,   souvenirs   of  all  kinds,  cigars,  coffee,  Jamaican 
cassettes  and  CDs, duty free shopping, logo embellished items, lots 
of   "Irie"  and  "No  Problem"  gizmos,  clothing,  swimsuits,  etc. 
Caution:  BYOB  (book)  ...  one should not count on finding any good 
reading   materials   here.  Additional  shopping  can  be  found  on 
Wednesday  and  Saturday  throughout  the  Village  in  a traditional 
Jamaican  craft-market-type  setup.  The  only thing missing from the 
real-Jamaican-market-experience  on  Wed. and Sat., is the feeling of 
being  chased  down to haggle a price on something you don't care for 
... very pleasant!

Before  finishing  the  walk  around  the  circle and returning to La 
Pasta, there is one more street, which runs to the west. On the left-
hand  side,  when one's back is to the fountain, there is a dive shop 
with  swimsuits and water/diving paraphernalia. The next door down is 
the  nurse's  station and medical center. Upstairs, there is a beauty 
salon  that  offers  full-services  (Miss Betty's Beauty Shoppe), and 
one  that  offers the complementary pedicure and manicure featured in 
the  brochures.  I  believe  the complimentary mani/pedicures will be 
moved  to  the  new  spa once it is complete. I took the time to have 
both  the  complementary pedicure and manicure. One should book these 
as  soon  as  they arrive because it may take a few days to get in; I 
had  to book three days out. The end-result of the mani/pedicures was 
beautiful,  but  I  experienced what I have experienced so many times 
in  the  beauty  shops  on  these vacations ... unfriendly staff. Oh, 
after  a  while the mani/pedicurist warmed up, but I don't understand 
why  I should have to work hard to get her to be pleasant. Everywhere 
else  on  the  property, the staff is pleasant ... even enjoyable and 
fun.

If  one  continues on to the west, they will arrive at the au natural 
beach/pool/sleeping  unit  complex.  The  sleeping units separate the 
pool  area  on  the  southern  side  from the beach on northern side. 
Touted  as the largest pool in Jamaica, the au natural pool area will 
certainly  give  any  other  pool a run for its money. It is vast and 
uniquely  shaped,  with  a swim-up bar, a beach-sloped entry, stepped 
entry,  many  floats (flats and recliners), a bridge, and more. There 
are  two  whirlpools,  one  seems to be enough to seat 30 - 40 people 
comfortably,  and  the  other  is  about a six-person hot tub removed 
from  the  main pool area and separated by plantings. There are many, 
many  chairs,  tables  and chaises all around the pool, maybe 80. The 
unique  setup  offers shade as well as direct sunlight. While we were 
there,  the  au  natural  sleeping rooms were filled to capacity yet, 
because  of  the  size  of  the  complex,  the beach and pools seemed 
nearly  vacant.  It  seems  as though there is enough beach/pool room 
for  five  times  the  number  of  occupied sleeping rooms on the c/o 
side.

The  sleeping  unit  complex runs parallel to the beach and separates 
the  beach  from  the  pool area. On the ocean, or northern, side are 
spacious  private  balconies.  Open-air  hallways  connect  rooms for 
entry on the pool, or southern, side of the building. 

There  are 80 chaises and chairs (our friend counted) on the beach in 
front  of  the  au  natural side. A man-made breakwater of huge rocks 
keeps  the  surf  breaking at a distance off shore. It prevents beach 
destruction,  creating  a  natural  barrier  for  safe  swimming  and 
floating.  It  is  really  quite  beautiful  to the eyes and ears, as 
well.

It  is very important to note that there may be guests who prefer the 
textile  beach  but  who  have been placed in the au natural sleeping 
units.  For this reason, the hotel policy is for au natural guests to 
wear cover-ups to and from their room. 

Also,  we  asked  a  few questions of the resident manager during our 
stay  and  found  that  inappropriate/explicit  behavior  will not be 
tolerated.  It  will  take  a  while  for  the GLB staff to learn the 
ropes,  however  the  au  natural  security  and bar staffs have been 
educated  to  be  conspicuously  present  and  to  deal with explicit 
and/or  inappropriate  behavior  on  an  individual basis. If a guest 
experiences  or observes this type of behavior, it should be reported 
to security (or better yet, the manager on duty).

There  is  a tennis court and Clubhouse (with a fast-food restaurant, 
beverages,  ping-pong)  located on this side, too. A pool table is on 
order for the Clubhouse.
 
Before   I   even   begin   breaking  the  dining  descriptions  into 
restaurants  and  times, I am compelled to note that the presentation 
of  the plated foods and the buffets is tremendous. I just don't know 
how  they  can  feed  so  many, keeping the hot food hot and the cold 
food  cold,  and  still  presenting  it  all  so beautifully. I truly 
enjoyed  watching  the workers set-up the buffet on Friday Night (see 
below).  There  was  so  much  activity. And the food artists created 
displays  right  before  our  eyes.  Further, I recommend that guests 
take  time  to chat with their food and beverage waiters a bit to get 
not  only  a  taste  of  dinner,  but  a  taste of the real beauty of 
Jamaica, as well.

Dining Options: 
7:30 - 10:30 AM Victoria Market Breakfast Buffet: No reservations.
The  servers  along  the hot buffet are outgoing-ly friendly and will 
explain  what  is  in  certain  dishes,  to the extent that they even 
walked  along side me and explained hot entrees. More or less the hot 
buffet  line is beautifully-displayed, but straight forward breakfast 
food  like  waffles,  pancakes,  French toast, scrambled eggs or eggs 
Benedict,  omelets  made  to  order,  sausages  and  bacon, breakfast 
potatoes,  and  Jamaican  breakfast foods. The bread display includes 
many  types  of  sweet breads, breakfast rolls and muffins. Bread and 
bagels  for toasting are available along with appropriate condiments. 
Also  available are lots of fresh fruits, breakfast cereals and milk, 
hot  breakfast  cereal.  Coffee,  tea,  and  juice  are served at the 
table. I did not see a breakfast menu for plated meals.

12:30 - 3:00 PM Victoria Market Lunch Buffet:
Different  every day, but the buffet always included an extensive hot 
food  line  (Chinese,  Jamaican,  German,  Mexican,  etc.) The buffet 
included  many  types  of  salads  (green,  pasta,  vegetable, etc.), 
sandwich   ingredients   (cold   cuts,   cheeses,   vegetables   with 
condiments),  a  plentiful fruit and vegetable display, soup du jour, 
a  huge  bread  display,  and  most importantly, a phenomenal dessert 
table.  There  seemed to be so many tempting desserts to choose from, 
I  found  it  impossible to finish a meal without indulging. The food 
presentation  was  a  treat for the eyes first, and the palate later. 
Coffee, tea, wine, juices and full bar service offered at the table.

Musical  note: There was the most beautiful string quintet playing at 
lunch  every day except Sunday (on which day they played for dinner). 
The  ensemble, called "Fantasia" was from Cuba and was only there for 
a  few  weeks,  at  which  time they will move on t, I believe, Grand 
Lido  -  Sans  Souci.  Comprised of three violins, a cello and a bass 
(with  one  of  the  violinists trading in his strings for a clarinet 
occasionally),  the  music  was  impeccably  performed  -- classical, 
jazz,  and  contemporary  favorites.  The most perfect backdrop for a 
romantic lunch or dinner.

Note:  Victoria  Market  becomes  the Diamond Room in the evening. No 
matter  what  the  restaurant  is being called, there is a no smoking 
section  in  this restaurant. Seats are available for groups of 2, 4, 
and  for  larger  groups.  During  the  day the dress is very casual, 
shorts  and/or appropriate cover-ups are required, shoes and tops are 
required  of  all.  In  the  evening,  the "Diamond Room" is a little 
dressier  ...  I'd  classify  attire  as sporty casual. Men seemed to 
wear  dressy  shorts  and  casual  pants.  Women  were wearing casual 
dresses/skirts  and  dressy  shorts  with  dressy t-shirts and casual 
blouses.

7 - 10 PM a la cart dining in the Diamond Room: No reservations.
Menus  change  nightly but include appetizers, soups, salads, entrees 
and  desserts each night. A sampling of menu items is listed below (I 
permanently  borrowed  menus  to  be  able to print this section, but 
have only listed half of the items).

Appetizers  -  Shellfish  and  smoked  salmon  terrene  on  a  bed of 
marinated  vegetable  fettuccini  with chunky avocado salsa; Pork and 
shrimp  spring  roll  with  Asian  slaw  and  orange plum sauce; Open 
ravioli  with  a  shrimp  and mussel ragout served on a chunky tomato 
sauce;  Pinwheel of smoked salmon and marlin in flour tortilla served 
with  salsa  picante  and  sweet corn relish; Crab and vegetable taco 
with  tomato  and  black  bean  salsa;  Homemade  country  pate  with 
pistachios,  served  with  a zesty island Cumberland sauce; Antipasto 
selection  of  prosciutto,  shrimp,  grilled vegetables, jerk sausage 
and  mixed  olives;  Mushroom  and  escargot  vol-au vent in a creamy 
garlic  sauce;  Spicy  Texas  chicken empanadas presented with chili, 
bean and avocado chutney; And many, many more.

Soups  -  Garlic  and  potato  soup  with  frizzled  leeks  and  herb 
croutons;  Smooth pumpkin cream with flakes of smoked capon and high-
fiber  croutons;  Cucumber and dill soup, served icy cold; Multi-bean 
soup  with  mesquite  smoked chicken; Jamaican bouillabaisse flavored 
with  star  anise  and garnished with an assortment of local seafood; 
Jamaican  pepperpot  soup  flavored with callalloo and garnished with 
local  seafood;  French  onion  soup with Swiss cheese croutons; And, 
many, many more.

Salad  --  Always a Victoria Market assortment of garden fresh leaves 
with  tomatoes  and  cucumbers on the side and a choice of dressings. 
(My favorite was blue cheese.)

Entrees  -  Nightly menus include many of the following, all prepared 
in  unique, unpronounceable ways ...lamb, sole, turkey, gray snapper, 
New  York  sirloin,  pork  loin,  brook  trout, chicken, shrimp, beef 
tournedos, tenderloin, marlin, grouper.

Piacere  with dinner seating from 6:30 - 9:30 nightly, except Friday: 
Reservations  are  required,  reserve  with  the concierge. Currently 
proper  attire is semi-formal (no jackets were required, however long 
pants  and  leather  non-sneaker  shoes were for men ... dresses were 
appropriate  for  women)  ...  However,  when the Japanese restaurant 
opens  they  will  be  switching  to formal attire for men and women. 
This means leather shoes (no sneakers), jackets and collars for men -
- dresses and dress shoes for women.

The  décor  is  of  a sparse "islandy" floral and dim ...very pretty. 
Our  waiter  "Shorty"  was  just  great,  and  friendly.  A seasoned, 
talented  harpist plays in the corner throughout dinner (phenomenal). 
Separate  waiters  carry out separate service functions: water, wine, 
cocktail,  and  food. White gloves are worn, and service is elegantly 
formal  and  impeccable.  The menu was the same both nights, with the 
addition  of  a  page  of  Chef's  nightly  features. We ran into the 
Executive  Chef  (during setup for the Friday night street party) and 
he  said  the  menu  is  soon  to  be  changed in the Piacere, so our 
information  will  not be of much value. However, we do know that the 
menu  will  change every few nights and it will continue to include a 
selection  of  appetizers,  soups,  salads,  sorbet  palate cleanser, 
entrée  and  dessert.  Both  evenings  we enjoyed dinner with another 
couple,  and  both evenings we over-indulged in good tastes. The only 
thing  we missed was a super-chocolate dessert (although we were able 
to  satisfy  our chocolate hankering by stopping at the bakery on our 
way  back  to the rooms). There is no smoking allowed in the Piacere, 
although  people  did  step onto the balcony to have a between-course 
puff.

Stir  Crazy:  Soon  to  open  ... Japanese cuisine restaurant. Spiffy 
casual  attire will be required, meaning no ties, no jackets ... that 
is  all I know for now. I believe that reservations will be required, 
but  the  resort  seems to be working on all of those details at this 
time. The restaurant is scheduled to open in April.

Nanny's  Jerk  Pit  offers authentic Jamaican cuisine from 11 AM to 6 
PM  daily:  No  reservations.  Authentic  Jamaican  atmosphere.  Menu 
includes:  cocobread,  rice  and peas, jerked pork and chicken, yams, 
and  other  Jamaican standards. I did not eat in this restaurant, but 
I  was  aware  that  attire  is  very  casual  (cover  ups  and shoes 
required).  I walked by during the day at several different times and 
it  seemed  as though this was, with exception of the clubhouses, the 
most casual of atmospheres at the resort.

La Pasta, noon until 2:00 AM, pizza and pasta: No reservations.
Attire  is casual during the daylight, switching to a nighttime blend 
of  casual  and sporty casual based on the mood of the dining guests. 
The  menu:  Soup  is  offered  each  day,  along  with  the  Jamaican 
specialty   fish   tea   (soup).  Salad  is  served  from  the  small 
antipasto/salad  bar.  Garlic  bread  was  served  in a basket at the 
table.  Pizzas,  made-to-order  with  an  assortment  of  toppings to 
select  from,  take  about  15 minutes to arrive to the table. Pastas 
were  made-to-order  as  well.  Guests select a pasta type and select 
from  a  choice  of  six sauces that include combinations of seafood, 
meats  and/or  vegetables.  Dessert could be personally selected from 
the  Bakery showcase (right next door) which included an array of ice 
creams, desserts and coffee/tea/espresso.

Service  at  La  Pasta  was  normally excellent or very good (waiters 
friendly,  eager  to  please  and  efficient), but we did hit one off 
night  on  which the service was not good ...an example of how GLB is 
still in its polishing stages.

Room  service  was  consistent  and took only 10 minutes for a pot of 
coffee.  We  never ordered anything else, although the menu is listed 
below:

Breakfast  Menu  (hang  on your door before bed and room service will 
deliver  at  the  time  you  specify).  Items include: Cereal, toast, 
bakery  basket,  yogurt,  fresh  fruit  plate,  coffee, decaffeinated 
coffee,  tea,  mango  nectar, V-8, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, 
apple juice, tomato juice, clamato juice, orange juice and milk.

Standard Room Service Menu:
Snacks:  Nachos,  Stuffed Potato Skins, and BBQ Buffalo Chicken wings 
with blue cheese dressing and crunch vegetables.
Soup of the Day.
Two Salads.
Sandwiches: Braco Clubhouse, Build your own.
Main  Courses:  Hamburger, Marinated Lamb Chops, and Grilled Boneless 
Chicken  with  cocobread.  Each  main  course  is  served with French 
fries, tomato and pickles.
Note:  I hear that the lamb chops are incredible. Also, note that the 
hamburgers  have  the  weird spices that all Jamaican hamburgers seem 
to have on them.
Desserts:  Tropical  fresh  fruit  salad  with toasted coconut curls, 
banana   bread   and   yogurt,  mint  dip;  Vanilla  ice  cream  with 
caramelized  pineapple and banana, chocolate sauce and whipped cream; 
Chocolate brownie.

Clubhouses:  There  are  two,  one  located  at  either  end  of  the 
property;   one  is  au  natural  and  one  is  textile/normal.  Both 
clubhouses   have   bars,  serve  the  room  service  menu,  and  are 
distribution  points  for  room  service.  Each  is  offers  open-air 
service. 

Friday  Night  Jamaica  Street  Dance  Dinner (7 PM) / Jamaica Street 
Dance  (9  PM):  This  was one of the most unique evening events I've 
ever  witnessed  or  been  a  part of. And, good food was everywhere. 
Food  carts  and  food  tables  were  set up all around the center of 
town.  The  streets  were  filled  with dining tables, set for two or 
four.  Buffet  lines began serving without fanfare or announcement at 
7  PM.  I  had  three  grilled  lobster tails and to-die-for dessert. 
There  was a special feeling to sitting in the street and dining with 
our  friends.  And,  the  wine  didn't  hurt anything, either. We had 
heard  that  the  Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson, would be 
in  attendance  that evening. Little did we know that we selected the 
table  right  next  to  his.  So, my friend and I flirted with P.J.'s 
bodyguards  enough  to  persuade them to ask the Prime Minister for a 
photo  with  him.  He  obliged  ... what a hoot! And the photo turned 
out, too.

Our  waiters  were  outgoing  and  friendly. We egged them on to be a 
little  less  formal.  The  entertainment  was a street dance. Nearly 
everyone  got  up  to  dance to the sounds of Soca (specifically, the 
Dollar  Dance)  and  a  bunch  of  other  line  dances.  All  of  the 
entertainment  was  centered  on the Courthouse steps (stage) and the 
street  in  front  of  it. Great entertainment! If one goes to Braco, 
they surely should not miss this evening event.

Bars:  There  are  nine  bars  on the grounds, each serving top-shelf 
alcohol.  Two  clubhouses, the main "White Gaulin" bar, the main pool 
and  the  au natural pool bars, the disco bar, the Italian restaurant 
has  a  bar,  as does Victoria Market, and (when it opens) Stir Crazy 
will,  too.  Note:  one  must  specify top-shelf brand names, or call 
brand  liquor will be served in blended/mixed drinks. My thrill: Diet 
Pepsi  is  now available in the bars. My husband's thrill: Pepsi that 
tastes decent is now served, too.

Golf:  GLB offers a nine-hole executive golf course, par three. Green 
fees  are  complimentary,  but  there  is  a rental fee for clubs. To 
golf, simply walk out to the clubhouse. 

More  golf: Also, GLB provides complimentary transportation and green 
fees  at  Breezes  Runaway Golf & Beach Hotel. It is an eighteen-hole 
world-class  course  about twenty minutes east of GLB. Guests pay for 
caddy  and  equipment  rental.  Reservations  are  made  through  the 
concierge's desk.

Fishing:  GLB  has  two ponds on property for fishing, one named "Fun 
Fishing,"  and  the  other  "Fishing  at  Sea."  Sticks and baits are 
available  by  contacting  the  social directors' desk. Fish that are 
caught  will  be  prepared  for  guests  at  Nanny's Jerk Pit, unless 
fishers  wish  to  practice  catch-and-release  or give the fish to a 
favorite employee.

Spa:  Scheduled  for  completion  by  the  end of March 1998, the spa 
facilities  will  offer  complimentary  manicure  and pedicure, steam 
room,  sauna.  Massages  and  body treatments will be available for a 
fee.

Wines:  The  wines are good. I am the type of wine drinker that likes 
a  wine  simply  for  its taste and I had no problem finding pleasant 
ones  to  drink  at GLB. GLB's wines are Chilean, French and Italian. 
If  one  is  going  to GLB expecting a huge selection of vintners and 
vintages,  their  expectations  will  disappoint.  If  one  is a wine 
connoisseur,  expecting  the  best  or most expensive of wines, bring 
your  own. Because of the import duty and tax structure in Jamaica, a 
$20  bottle  of  wine  in  the  US  becomes  a $50 bottle in Jamaica. 
Mathematically  and  logically,  it  would  be  impossible  to  offer 
expensive  complementary  bottles  to  guests. We asked why the hotel 
does  not  stock better wines for sale, the answer was the same, "who 
will  pay  $50  for  a  bottle of wine they can get at home for $20?" 
Hint:  if  a  wine is unfavorable, request a replacement. The waiters 
are  eager  to  please  and  offer  tasting  prior to pouring even an 
individual glass.

Foliage:  The  plantings  at  GLB au natural side are young, although 
they  are full and lush on the older normal side. In a few years, the 
au natural grounds will be breathtaking.

Grounds:  The  grounds  are  kept immaculately. I'm sure the youth of 
the  property  contributes to its ultra clean/tidy appearance. But, I 
know  that  it  is  also  due  to diligent efforts by maintenance and 
grounds crews ... and they were working everywhere during the day.

Weddings:  We were told GLB averages three weddings per day. We saw a 
bunch  one  day,  and  few  thereafter.  While the resort does have a 
wedding  gazebo,  we  were  informed  that  many  of the weddings are 
performed  among  the  flower gardens and on the lavish lawns of GLB. 
We  were  informed  that  they plan to upgrade the grounds around the 
existing  gazebo  in  the  near  future. GLB, as with all SuperClubs, 
offers complementary wedding arrangements.

Activities: 
Orientations at 10 AM and 5 PM each day 
Aerobics and power walks each AM except Sat./Sun.
Sat. personal training
Sun. Nature Hike
Aquacise each AM except Sun.
Additional physical training every afternoon
Tennis and Golf lessons each AM and PM
Beach and pool volleyball
Golf
Tennis
Golf and Tennis Tournaments
Fishing

Misc.:  Music  Trivia,  Scavenger Hunt, Drink Mixology, International 
Trivia,  Pool  Olympics,  Jamaican  Cooking  Class,  Pool Tournament, 
Jamaican   History   Class,   Jamaican   Trivia  Quiz,  Table  Tennis 
Tournament, Domino Tournament, Treasure Hunt.

Truly  Unique  Activities:  TeaLeaf  Reading,  Fortune  Reading, Crab 
Racing.

Nightly  entertainment:  Special  nights  are  Friday (Jamaica Street 
Dance  Celebration)  and  Wednesday  (Beach  Party  Show  and Fun and 
Games).

Lunch Entertainment each day, with "Lunchtime Funtime" at 2 PM.

10 PM nightly DanceHall Disco opens
Karaoke and Sing-a-longs every night at 11
Pajama Party at 11:30 PM Thurs.

Water Sports:
Complementary  SCUBA  diving,  wind  surfing, sailing, snorkeling and 
water-skiing.  Free  lessons  are provided for beginner SCUBA diving. 
And, PADI Certification is provided at additional cost. 

Notes: 
Once  I  am there, I tend to forget why we keep returning to the all-
inclusive  type  of resort. I forget, that is, until we arrive at the 
airport  on  our  way  home  and  we have to pay more than a buck for 
stale  coffee.  We're  no  dummies,  we  know we pay up-front, but we 
enjoy  the feeling of not paying for stuff every time we turn around. 
Locking  our  money  in  the  safe  is  relaxing.  Consequently, all-
inclusive  is  the way to go on vacation for us (or, my husband would 
have  us  eating  at  Burger King on a nightly basis). The no tipping 
policy  simplifies  things,  too  (although my husband and I do bring 
along candy bars to give away).

Why  is  it the coffee always tastes better in Jamaica? I don't know, 
but  it  sure  is the truth. Even Blue Mountain coffee brewed at home 
is not the same.

The beach rivals the beauty of any I've ever seen.

We  did  not notice any mosquitoes at GLB. While we were there it was 
very  windy,  so  that  may  have  factored  into  the  mosquito-less 
visit...?  Other  than  wind, we had great weather, with drizzly rain 
on  our arrival day only. And, I never needed a sweater or sleeves at 
night.

Our  friend  told  us  the  ocean floor is quite rocky, so aqua socks 
might help if one is planning on swimming.

Housekeeping  --  is timely, complete, and the gals seem pleasant. We 
had  beautiful  towel  sculptures  on our beds after housekeeping and 
after turndown service.

Pack  lightly  --use  laundry and dry cleaning services you have paid 
for.

There   seemed   to  be  an  abundance  of  beach  towels  and  beach 
chairs/chaises  everywhere.  Those  who normally get up early to mark 
their chair and grab a towel may sleep in at GLB.

Chocolate  --  For  me,  the  equation is Chocolate + Sun = Vacation. 
Everyone  has  their  own  tastes,  but  I  think  there  is a slight 
shortage  of  the  stuff  on dessert menus. Although, trust me and my 
bathroom   scale,   there  were  plenty  of  other  awesome  desserts 
available!

Massage  --  my  husband signed up for a massage through Miss Betty's 
Beauty  Shop.  It  was  the one service we paid for during our visit. 
The  cost for one hour and fifteen minutes was $80. He looked like he 
had  melted  afterward, saying he had never had a better massage (and 
the man has had plenty).

The  Fruit  Lady  -  A  middle-aged  Jamaican  woman walks around the 
property  in an 18th Century peasant dress and her Nikes. She carries 
a  basket  of  fruit.  I  had fresh coconut and it was awesome. I was 
told  she  serenades  guests,  too,  although  I did not hear her for 
myself. She is a memorable addition to the feel of the place.

Remember,  Jamaicans  have  their own pace... a Jamaican hustle is in 
slow  motion.  Perhaps it comes from the heat. If you don't slow down 
and  enjoy  your  vacation, all you will get is upset that things are 
not  moving at rush hour pace. Relax, settle into the Jamaican timing 
and enjoy.

Jewel  in  the  rough -- It is evident that GLB is diligently working 
at  the  polishing  stages  of  resort infancy. From discussions with 
various  managers  during  our  visit,  we  found  that the resort is 
pursuing  a  diligent  training  schedule  in  all areas. The service 
shortcomings  are  rarely  noticeable  here and there, but so are the 
giant  efforts  of the employees ... They really are trying! My guess 
is  that  by mid-summer or early fall the service at GLB will compete 
with  the best any resort anywhere has to offer. Service with a smile 
-  as  I  said, any service shortcoming is nearly excuse-able because 
of the efforts and pleasantries of the servers.

Bottom line, I plan on returning!

JAMAICA: GRAND LIDO SANS SOUCI UPDATE BY SARA SCHARPF

Feb. 25 - March 3, 1998

Because  I  recently filed a trip report (Jan. 8 - 14 trip dates) for 
Grand  Lido  Sans  Souci  --  posted  in the February 1998 "Caribbean 
Travel  Roundup" -- I will merely note any changes, improvements that 
were  observed  on  this trip.  Also, I will include the observations 
of  my  husband,  who  was  a  first-timer  to  GLSS (Grand Lido Sans 
Souci).

"Welcome  Home,"  was  the warm salutation we received from Mr. Smith 
and  Mark  Lee  upon  our  arrival through the gate.  Indeed, it felt 
like  I  was  "coming  home"  after  just leaving five weeks earlier.  
Initially  there  were  no  noticeable  changes  ... the same upscale 
attention  at check-in, the same three forms to fill out (credit card 
imprint  for phone calls, return flight information, and in-room safe 
form).   We  were  offered  beverages, which arrived in just moments.  
And, friendly familiar faces came to greet me and meet my husband.  

We  were  shown  to  our  room,  a beautiful suite in the D block ... 
There  were  quite  a  few stairs between the lobby and our room.  My 
husband  pointed  out that he now understands why so many guests talk 
about  all  of  the  steps  at  GLSS.  Noticeable immediately was the 
charm  and  greenery of the resort. I thought we were extremely lucky 
to  have  such  a  great  view  of  the main beach and ocean from our 
suite.

Immediately  after  unpacking  we  began to walk around, first up the 
main  beach to the new (au natural) beach.  (All of this is described 
in  detail  in  the  earlier  trip  report).  With landscaping nearly 
complete,  I  noted  that  the workers had made great progress in the 
plantings.   Along the main beach there is an area that is all rocks, 
sand  and cactus.  There are huge areas of tropical plantings between 
the  new  beach  and  the  "A"  (new)  room  block.   And, all of the 
plantings  immediately  surrounding  the  "A"  room block and the new 
pool  are  complete  and beginning to flourish.  No expense or effort 
has been spared with the landscaping around the new areas.

Good  news  for  c/o-ers,  there  were people at the au natural beach 
(there  were  very few in January).  The beach was 100% complete: the 
swim  up  bar  was working, the pools were done, the waterfall at the 
center  of  the  swim  pool  was  operating,  towels  were available, 
bathrooms  were  functioning.   The only thing not up-and-running was 
the  beach  grill  (although the structure is finished) ... one could 
call  and  order room service for delivery.  Truly, this new beach is 
lovely.   All  of  the  plantings  are complete.  There are plenty of 
chaises.   One  thing I had not noticed before was that chaises could 
be  placed  right  in the shallow end of the pool with the water just 
kissing  the  bottom  of the lounger.  Many guests were enjoying this 
pool  feature.   Also,  one  could swim underneath the water fountain 
into  a  "cave"  that  has shelves for relaxing, and water jets, too.  
GLSS's  biggest  challenge will be getting the beach to become known.  
In  an  effort  to  keep  the  c/o  beach  au natural, and to prevent 
textile  sun-seekers  from  adopting this beach an extension of their 
own,  we  were  told  the resort plans to put up tactful signs.  They 
will  say  something like, "this is a clothing optional beach, please 
exercise the option or use the main beach area."  

As  we continued our walk of the property, we discovered a few hidden 
areas  that  I  had not found on my earlier trip.  There are a couple 
of  short  stairways  that  go nowhere ... remnants of old amenities.  
There  are  two  entrances  to  the  aviary,  not  just  one as I had 
thought.

Incidentally: Charlie, the resident turtle, is a girl.

I  believe  GLSS  is  one of the most beautiful resorts in the world.  
My  husband  concurs on its beauty.  We meandered through the grounds 
for  quite  a  while  on  several  days,  just taking in the resort's 
gracefulness and charm. 

The  service  is  nearly impeccable, and consistently so.  I am still 
trying  to  convince  my husband that he should call me "My Lady," as 
do all of the waiters and waitresses at GLSS.

Once  again,  I  enjoyed  the spa treatments (I indulged in all four: 
body  scrub,  reflexology, massage and facial).  My husband took in a 
massage  and reflexology, and was able to book a second massage later 
in  the  week.   Although  he  loved all of the treatments, he wished 
that  the  massages  could  be  an  hour long, instead of a half-hour 
(even  if  it  meant  paying for it).  I offered to transfer my half-
hour  massage  to  him,  but  it  is  against  spa policy to transfer 
treatments  between  guests  or to book for more that one of the same 
type   of   treatment  at  a  time.   Also,  additional  or  extended 
treatments cannot be purchased in the spa area.  

Yoga  is a unique amenity, and I found it to be one of the highlights 
of  the  trip  (again!).   The  morning workouts were enjoyable, at a 
challenging pace, but not designed to overdo.

Laundry  service was so quick ... same day turnaround for laundry and 
48-hour turnaround for dry cleaning.  Everything came back intact.

Point  of  interest:  we  were there for the 80% eclipse.  To prevent 
eye  injury,  a  note  was slipped under our door the night before to 
inform us of the times we would need to be cautious.   

Other  notes  were  also  slipped under our door during the course of 
the  week.   Notes  included a greeting, dining options and departure 
information.

One  change in services included dining options, with the addition of 
Bella  Vista  (Exhibition  Cooking) and Café Lido (A La Carte Dining) 
on  high  occupancy nights.  Dinner was served in both locations from 
7  -  9:30  PM.   No  reservations were required and dress was spiffy 
casual.   Bella  Vista  was  located  on  the  level  below the lobby 
terrace,  and  Café  Lido  was  offered  outside  of  the  lobby.  We 
indulged in both on different nights and found the food and service -
- as well as the open-air dining-- to be very pleasant.

My  husband is less than an adventuresome eater, unlike myself.  Some 
days  he  had  luck finding simple lunch at Ristorante Palazzina, and 
on  others  he  did  not.  We agreed that the food looks fresh and is 
displayed  beautifully,  and  I  always  found  plenty  of  taste-bud 
pleasers.  On the days in which the food was more ethnic or exotic in 
the  Ristorante Palazzina, we ate at the beach grill.  Lunch there is 
good,  and  includes pork, chicken, fish, French fries, hot dogs, and 
hamburgers  with  or  without  cheese...  jerk sauce is available.  A 
Jamaican  specialty  called "nun bread" is served at the beach grill, 
too.   It  is bread that has been baked around a spiced sausage, yum!  
Another  lunch  option  includes  ordering  off  of  the room service 
menu.   There  certainly  is  no  shortage  of great tasting food for 
lunch at GLSS.

My  husband  likes  his  steaks,  etc.  without  sauces and vegetable 
toppings  ... he learned that, at GLSS, one can order a steak without 
sauces  in  many  cases,  which makes him very happy.  In some cases, 
the  meat  is  marinated,  in  which  case  they try to please him by 
replacing  the  steak  with another cut that has not been marinating.  
The  restaurant  staff  was  very  pleasant  and accommodating to his 
special requests.  

We  were  asked  by  "the  Sans  Souci  family"  to be a guest at the 
Manager's  Cocktail  Party  and  to  be seated for Friday's gala at a 
reserved  table  for repeaters. Repeat guest were acknowledged and we 
were  given  a  gold  Grand  Lido  Sans  Souci  pin with the image of 
Charlie the turtle on it.  Very nice treatment.

A  note  about  dining: Reservations are required for Casanova and La 
Terazza.   Bella  Vista  and  Café Lido are not open every night.  To 
avoid  awkward  dinner  arrangements,  dial  6 or 7 early in the day, 
check  the  ethnic  dining feature for the evening at La Terazza, and 
make  reservations  if  you  so  choose.   If  you  have  a reason to 
celebrate  on  a  specific day, make your reservations as soon as you 
arrive  to  be  sure seating in the restaurant of your choice at your 
desired time.

Dress  requirements:  During  the daytime, guests wore nice cover-ups 
and  shorts  outfits  all  over  property  (except on the beach where 
swimsuits  ruled).   In  the  evening,  the  only  place where formal 
attire  is  required  is Casanova, which requests jackets and leather 
shoes  (no  tennis  shoes)  for men, and dresses for women.  The Café 
Lido,  Bella  Vista,  and  La Terazza were all spiffy casual to semi-
formal.   At  ShowTime, guests were wearing everything from casual to 
formal.

RE  Stairs:  Make sure to pack comfortable non-skid shoes for walking 
the  many  stairs  throughout  the  property.  The stairs add so much 
charm and personality to the resort, but one must be careful.

The  greenery  is  so  lavish,  it  is  the perfect mosquito breeding 
ground ... pack mosquito repellent and use it in the evenings.

While   we  were  there,  GLSS  was  filled  to  capacity.   Yet,  we 
experienced  A-1  service  and  were  amazed  at how "un-crowded" the 
resort  felt.   I  guess  there  are just so many dining options, and 
pools, and nooks and crannies for guests to choose from.

It  seemed to me, the resort caters to spoiling the guest, and making 
for  each guest a vacation that is most carefree.  As always, the way 
I  measure  the  service,  facilities and amenities of a resort is by 
answering  the  question,  "will  we  return?".  The answer, for GLSS 
from both my husband and me is, "most definitely."

MARTINIQUE - PART 2, MORE OF THE CARIBBEAN SIDE & HOTEL BAKOUA BY TOM CARROLL

(Ed Note: Part 1 of Tom Carroll's Martinique trip appeared in the February 1998 CTR. More will follow in the May 15h edition)

On  our  return from the southern Windwards we anchored in La Baie de 
Fort-de-France  at  Anse Mitan across from Ft de F near the same spot 
we  had departed from three weeks before.  The bay is over four miles 
wide  here,  making  the view something like staying in Sausalito and 
looking   at   San   Francisco   across   the  water,   a  comparison 
exaggerating  F de F's size but not its picturesque appearance.  

Our  anchorage sheltered us from the prevailing winds in about 15' of 
water  with  "good  holding",  a term referring to the superiority of 
certain  sea  beds  over others in clenching the anchor.  What's good 
for  the anchor is even better for the skipper.  Good holding means a 
sound  night's  sleep  either on board or, in our case,  ashore while 
the  boat  is  left  unattended at anchor.  Leaving the boat this way 
may  risk  mishap, since the anchor can unexpectedly drag if the wind 
picks  up  or shifts in direction, but continued calm conditions were 
forecast  here  for  the  next  48  hours  so we decided to spend two 
nights ashore.   

TROIS ILETS

The  anchorage was in a cove between the dock at Hotel Le Bakoua  and 
the  town  of  Anse Mitan.  This location is centrally located in the 
district  known as Trois Ilets which is made up of the areas known as 
Anse  a l'Ane,  Anse Mitan,  Pointe du Bont (the peninsula section of 
Anse  Mitan),   and  the  town of Trois Ilets itself.   Combined with 
nearby  Diamant,  this  is  the  island's  main tourist area with its 
highest concentration of hotels, restaurants and nightspots.   

From   the   water  Bakoua  presents  almost  a  terraced  effect  by 
meandering  horizontally  over  a  bayfront  hillside.  Its next door 
neighbor,  Le  Meridien  Trois-Islets,  proceeds vertically in a high 
rise  testimonial  to  its  architect's lack of panache.  Fairness to 
the  architect  and  his  creation  dictates a disclosure: crew and I 
were  unceremoniously  barred  from  that joint's casino due to wrong 
attire  (no  shorts  allowed)  and  no ID.  Had the ID been for age I 
would  have  been  in  a  forgiving mood.  But they invoked a bizarre 
rule  that  obliges  casinos  in  Martinique  to  see  picture ID for 
everybody.   How  would  Atlantic  City  gamblers possibly anticipate 
such  a  rule, accustomed as we are to anonymity?  The crew suspected 
selective  enforcement  -  -  maybe from our nautical appearance they 
took  us  for  card  sharks.   Anyway,  I will stick with the opinion 
expressed  earlier - - although this hotel is known for its disco and 
shows,  it  still  looks  like  it's  meant  for  a  convention,  not 
Caribbean  holiday.    Short  walking  distances away and likewise on 
the  bay  are the three star Novotel Carayou and PLM Azur La Pagerie, 
both  of which I inspected on my rounds and found very pleasant, very 
French and very reasonably priced. 

The  Trois Islets district has many fine shops and boutiques of mixed 
price  ranges.   Most are centered at the Pointe du Bout Marina about 
a  mile  from  a  smaller  marina  at  Bakoua.  I assume that in high 
season  this  particular  area  really  hops but now things were only 
moderately  busy.  I  bought  a small mahogany carving and a piece of 
local  pottery  as  gifts, passing up the colorful Madras print cloth 
and  coral jewelry which are local favorites.  Overlooking the marina 
are  several  attractive  open-air  restaurants,   not of gastronomic 
quality  but good places for lunch, light dinner or just to have some 
refreshment  while watching the marina scene.   Naturally, the nearby 
hotels also have their own restaurants. 

There's  certainly  not  much  chance  of  going  hungry around here.  
There  is  yet  another  restaurant  district in Anse Mitan proper, a 
mile  or  so  to  the  south,  with numerous places centered near the 
dock,  along  the  beach  and farther inland.  Regal de la Mer and La 
Villa  Creole,  both  a little pricey, are not far from the beach and 
both   looked  fine.   We  opted  one  night  for  their  competitor,  
L'Langouste,  located at a breezier location on the water' s edge  at 
the  foot  of  the  dock.   Food  and  service  were ok,  the bayside 
atmosphere was better. 

Early  one  morning  I walked around Anse Mitan for a little exercise 
and  passed  more  restaurants a 1/4 mile inland, Le Poisson d'Or and 
two  casual places,  Fannys and Creperie, as well as a Spanish place, 
El  Patio,  all located on the road to Pointe du Bout.  After a while 
I  reversed direction and headed west on the same road towards Anse a 
l'Ane.   I hadn't walked far when I was hassled by some unleashed and 
unfriendly  dogs.   From  past  Caribbean  walks  I should have known 
better  than  to have walked stickless in this semi-rural, unfamiliar 
area.   Dogs untutored in geniality towards tourists sometimes bother 
back  road  walkers,   especially  at  an odd hour like 6:30 a.m.  My 
retreat  nipped  both the dogs' plans and my own, the latter being to  
survey  the  three  star  Frantour  hotel  and  the  small restaurant 
section  of  Anse  a  l'Ane.   We  did  see  the town from the water, 
however,  since  the Anse Mitan ferry stops here.  It looked inviting 
and less developed than other parts of Trois Islets. 

The  restaurants of the Trois Islets district might remind a traveler 
of  St.  Martin's  Marigot  or  maybe  even  Grand  Case.  St. Martin 
restaurants  generally  serve  traditional French cuisine rather than 
the  creole  style  served  here.  Price ranges are pretty close, St. 
Martin   may   be  a  little  higher.     Setting  and  ambience  are 
comparable  though  there's  no  fun  like  menu-strolling  along the 
restaurant  row  in  Grand  Case, with so many fine restaurants right 
along  the beach, and there's no  good-priced outdoor bar-b-ques here 
like  found  in  GC.    Overall,  I'd give the edge to St. Martin for 
restaurants, but it's close.     

There's  nightlife  activity  around  here  but  part of our crew was 
underage  and  the  sea  air  was  knocking  out their seniors pretty 
early.  To  get  the  latest  on  nightlife and what's happening here 
generally,  look  for  a  free  publication  known  as "Choubouloute" 
available at the hotels and many restaurants.    

FORT DE FRANCE

The  way  to  beat the traffic congestion for a trip to Ft de F is to 
go  dock to dock via one of the  high speed harbor ferries from Trois 
Islets.    The  Pointe  du  Bout  ferry  runs from the marina of same 
name.   We took the nearby Anse Mitan ferry which originates from the 
Langouste  Dock and as noted also stops at Anse a L'Ane. The fare was 
nominal  for  this  20  minute ride, the sea air familiar.  I believe 
there's  a third ferry, this one from the town of Trois Islets but we 
did not get over there to check it out. 

At  first  blush  Ft  de F would make you think you were in any other 
Caribbean  cruise  ship  port  -  - noisy, congested and wall-to-wall 
with  shops.  But Ft de F is a cut above most by being notably clean, 
comparatively   orderly   and   big  enough  to  have  something  for 
everybody.   There's  a  good attractive tourist info center near the 
ferry  dock. The shopping area is one of  the largest and most varied 
I've  seen  in  the  Caribbean.  We browsed around with no particular 
shopping  objective in mind, maybe missing bargains on French imports 
known to those who researched an attack plan in advance.  

The   guidebooks   say   that  the  city  and  its  environs  contain 
interesting  museums,  galleries, gardens and restaurants but I can't 
vouch  for  this  since on our walking tour we stayed pretty close to 
the  waterfront.   Our  second visit was via rental car when we drove 
along  Boulevard  du General de Gaulle en route to the airport giving 
us  a  sense  of  the  city's  impressive  scale and overall positive 
character.  We  were  dismayed,  though, to discover that some of the 
hilly   backdrop  that  we  admired  from  across  the  bay  actually 
contained  areas of conspicuous poverty and shacks. These sights were 
a  counterpoint  to  Martinique's generally prosperous appearance but 
did  not  change  my  opinion  that Paris pampers and subsidizes this 
island  big  time.   However,   the  shacks served as a reminder that 
this  is  the Caribbean, not France.  Over 90% of the population here 
are  descended  from slaves.  Only a small  - albeit very influential  
-    minority   are   "beke"  or  descendants  of  the  elite  French 
planters.    

Afoot,  we saw the scandalously elaborate La Bibliotheque Schoelcher, 
the  town's  public library.   Constructed during the l9th century in 
Paris  to  be  transported  here  in  pieces,  its  style  is  called 
Romanesque-Byzantine,  an eye popping blend of the most outrageous of 
both  cultures.  It sets a stylish tone for the city, parts of  which 
reminded  me  of New Orleans with narrow streets and ornate iron work 
balconies.   A  good  example  is  the  section around the Cathedrale 
Saint-  Louis  a  few  blocks  from  the library.  Likewise afoot, we 
learned  a  paramount  lesson  for  touring  the city:  F de F is too 
large  to walk around, especially in the summer heat -  hire a cab if 
you want more than just a sampling. 

I  walked  into  the  city's  central  park,  La Savane,  the size of 
several   Rittenhouse  Squares  in  Philadelphia,   looking  for  the 
statute   of    Josephine,    Napoleon   Bonaparte's  empress  and  a 
Martiniquais  by  birth.   The  statute  was  beheaded a while ago in 
protest  of  her pro-slavery views.  Instead, I ended up watching les 
flics  flourish  their  batons  as they rousted marijuana smokers - -  
rasta  and  otherwise.   The  round-up deprived the herbalists of the 
high-minded  shadiness  they  sought  under the towering palms famous 
here.   

The  crew  decided  to tour nearby Fort St. Louis but they found that 
an   advance   request   was   necessary   for  full  access  to  its 
embattlements  and secret tunnels.  Our rendezvous was at the outdoor 
cafe  on  Boulevard  Alfassa  to  sip  aperitifs  before catching the 
ferry, or vedette as it's known here, back to Anse Mitan.   

HOTEL LE BAKOUA

Outward  bound,  our  first  crew had overnighted on the boat. But on 
the  return  visit with new crew we left the boat at anchor to take a 
room  at  the  top-rated  Bakoua  for two nights.  As travelers under 
sail,  we  were  outlaws,  acting in violation of the immigration and 
customs  laws.   We  had  "cleared  out"  of Martinique several weeks 
before  and  were  now   required  to "clear in" which we had not yet 
done.   We  rationalized that schlepping across the bay a second time 
to  Fort  de  France,  the  nearest port of entry, was unwarranted in 
Martinique's  national  interests,  and  certainly  ours.   Marin was 
only  days  away  and  we  could  clear in there when we returned the 
boat.   Besides,  all  this  pointed to downtime and delays.  Once we 
finally  found  the  right  office  we  would probably cool our heels 
while  the  inevitable  happened   -  -  the guy ahead of us would be 
there  to  clear  in  a Tibetan cruise ship whose passengers would be 
seeking  political  asylum.  Precise compliance with these rules  - -
     rules   formulated  by  tax  collectors  for  efficient  revenue 
raising,   not efficient use of travelers' vacation time  - -  can be 
a  recurring  nuisance  for  interisland  sailors.  But the fines are 
stiff  if  they  catch you.  Based on past experiences in Guadeloupe, 
St.  Bart's  and  St. Martin, I relied upon the French reputation for 
not  being  enforcement-obsessive,   at least for charter vacationers 
flying  a  French  flag  as  our  boat  did.  So we took our chances.  
There was no problem.

Most  island  visitors  begin their  hotel stays conventionally: they 
catch  a  cab  or  van  from airport or dock and show up at the front 
door  of  the  hotel, most often in snappy travel togs.  Orthodoxy of  
arrival  speaks  volumes  about  one's substance, sort of an implicit 
portfolio   of   credentials.    But   travelers  under  sail  arrive 
differently.    Refugees   may  be   too  strong  a  word  but  their 
appearance  and  circumstances  are  definitely  out of sync with the 
norm.   They  walk  up  with a briny, disheveled look, carrying their 
own  bags.   Their  mannerisms  may be normal but their eyes betray a 
felonious  disposition  -  -  after  all,  some  have  only  recently 
breached  the  frontier.   No  portfolio  of  credentials is evident.  
They've  probably  come  from  the  anchorage via the shortest means, 
which  may bring them into reception by something other than the main 
entry,  maybe  even  out  of breath and looking over their shoulders.  
In  some  Caribbean countries they must involuntarily romp and tumble 
with  guard  dogs that patrol remote parts of upscale establishments.  
It  speaks  well of the public order in Martinique that Bakoua has no 
dogs,  or  at  least  no alert dogs since we saw none.  Ditto for the 
alertness of their security guards. 

We  espied  Bakoua  from the sea, landed by stealth and after a short 
march took her without resistance.

As  is  our  practice,  we sought "walk-in" rates for our two nights.  
The  desk  clerk was indifferent to our pitch about the perishability 
of  unsold  room  space  and rejected our request.   I did not appeal 
the  point  to management because the room rate was pretty good as it 
was,  875ff.   At the current exchange rate, that worked out to about 
$150  per room for each night,  double occupancy including breakfast, 
less  than  I  expected.  With the dollar growing stronger I actually 
got  the  room  for $145 by the time it was posted to my credit card.  
Hey, 10 small is 10 small. 

Things  got  even  better when the following happened:  with the boat 
parked  outside and the meter running I always seek the lowest priced 
room  on  these  land forays.  But the room we got - remotely located 
and  decorated  ascetically  like  a budget monastery - was an insult 
even  to  a  lowballer.   At  least  at  Martinique's finest hotel it 
was.    Naturally,  we  took  umbrage,  interpreting this as a Gallic 
snub.   In  truth,  I  guess,  it  may  just  have  been  the clerk's 
revulsion  at  first  being  asked  for  walk-in  rates followed by a 
request  for   "the  cheapest  sleep  in the joint, s'il vous plait".  
Anyway,  we  complained and were promptly shown to a premium bayfront 
room  priced  at  1250  ff  ($211.) per night  that  - - how sweet it 
was  -  - we got for the same price as the first room. Hey, now we're 
talking l.32 large. 

Chutzpah  didn't  hurt,  but during slow season I suspect that Bakoua 
gets the posted room rate only from chumps.    

Hotel  Le  Bakoua is managed by the well regarded Sofitel group which 
contributes  to  its  high reputation.  The hotel consists of 138 air 
conditioned  rooms  and suites spread over multiple landscaped acres.  
Most  have  balcony or terrace providing views varying from garden to 
bay  and  Ft  de  F.   Our  room looked directly over the bay and was 
satisfactorily,   though   not   palatially,   appointed   -   marble 
bathroom,  safe/bar,  the  usual - but was surprisingly small by U.S. 
luxury  hotel  standards.  Actually,  it  was small by any standards.  
Oddly,  our  monastic room had been larger, a good bit larger, though 
with  an  undistinguished garden view.  The bayfront room had a nifty 
four  poster  bed  with  a  sleeping chamber effect created by what I 
believe   was  mosquito  netting  though  it  may  have  been  purely 
decorative. We saw no skeeters.

Bakoua  is,  of  course,  a  full  service  resort catering 

JAMAICA
French  vacationers.  The  concierge  spoke  perfect English but most 
other  staff  were  considerably  less  fluent,  though  not  to  the 
detriment   of   helping   us   with  routine  things.   The  on-site 
restaurants,  bar,  pool and beach area were high style and bustling, 
just  what  we  expected  from a place favored by those with European 
type  A  personalities.   The reception and other public areas had an 
international  elan,  a  function  of the animation exuded by Romance 
language  travelers.   It is no slight of  this very fine property to 
say  that  Bakoua's  world  class  bearing  is  due  as  much  to its 
fashionable clientele as its physical presence.      

As  might  be  expected,  with all this sea-time behind us we skipped 
the  swim-up  floating  bar  and  the beach.  The latter was a little 
crowded.   It  may  have  been equally available for use by non-guest 
weekend   beachgoers,    although   I'm   not   certain  about  that.  
Snorkeling  is  done  right  off the beach.  I meant to check out the 
dive  shop  since  crew  and  I were both PADI certified divers but I 
understood  that  FWI diver certification standards are different.  I 
never  got  around  to  it  since  we  ended  up  just lazing around,  
resisting anything requiring the expenditure of energy.

Freshwater  swimming  is  a  great  luxury if you've been a saltwater 
captive  so  we  spent a good bit of our leisure time at the swimming 
pool.  The  location  of  the  pool itself was stunning.  Set  on the 
very  brink  of  a  precipice  overlooking  the  bay,   it afforded a 
breathtaking  view  of  Ft  de  F  across  the  harbor  and  the tall 
mountains  beyond.     When  not in the pool we could be found behind 
our  sunglasses  checking  out  the  clientele  from  our spot at the 
fashionable  poolside  bar,  Le  Grommier,  and  sipping  ti-punches.    
"Ti",  by the way,  means "small" and refers to a diminutive drink of 
rum,  sugar  syrup  and  lime  served, at least here, with olives and 
nuts.   "Punch"  sort  of  depreciates  its  purity, it is just about 
straight  rum.   Of  course,  maybe "punch" refers to its effect, not 
ingredients.   In  that  sense  the  term  is  perfectly  accurate  -  
though in that case "ti" would then be depreciative.     
 
Speaking  of  checking  out the clientele and breathtaking views, the 
pool  and  beach  areas  were  optionally  topless.  That, along with 
occasional  clothing  optional  beaches,  should certainly come as no 
surprise  to  travelers  since  it's  a  well  known trademark of the 
French  West  Indies.   It  can  still  take-ur-breath-away.  We were 
lunching  at  La Sirene,  the hotel's beach bistro,  when I spotted a 
particularly  attractive  woman  with an oversized duffel bag sitting 
on  the  beach.  She  was selling two piece women's bathing and beach 
attire.  I  was  too  far away to hear voices but a shopper must have 
said  something  like, "I wonder how that would look when it's worn", 
or  words  like  that.   The next thing I knew this spectacular sales 
lady  was modeling suits on the beach without a changing room, if you 
get  my  drift.   It  was one of the finest lunch hours I've spent in 
the  Caribbean,  perhaps anywhere.  I had only one complaint  - - the 
duffel  bag  held  so  few  bathing  suits.   Anyway, selling bathing 
suits  this way could lead to a wholly different attitude about beach 
vending.
 
Dinner  was  in  the candlelit main dining room, Chateaubriand, fully 
open  on  three  sides  to  the  outdoors and furnished in the heavy, 
highly  polished  mahogany pieces favored in Martinique.  We received 
a  gift  of  the greatest and rarest order  - - an unsolicited superb 
table   -  -  offering an artist's view of the harbor and the distant 
capital's  twinkling  lights.  Attire was a little snazzier than many 
places,  the   women diners were all smartly dressed and the men were 
in  trousers  and dress shirts including some, though not myself,  in 
sports  jackets. The fine table appointments were in keeping with the 
high  style  of   the  prixe-fixe,  multi-course,  gastronomic  meal.  
French/Creole   haute   cuisine   in  every  respect,  the  menu  was 
complemented  by   -  -  what else   - - an impressive list of French 
wines.    Service  was  satisfactory  though I would have preferred a 
bit  of  groveling at these prices.  Dinner music for the 100+ diners 
was  provided  by  a  vocalist and 7-8 piece band which played mostly 
Latin.   The custom among the European and South American guests here 
is  to  dance  throughout  dinner,  promoting  both  festiveness  and 
fitness,  though some might find the practice a dining intrusion.  We 
did  not,  believing it to be a fine idea and pleasant diversion. The 
desserts  were  proximate  occasions to sin;  the after dinner drinks 
an intoxicating finale.

As  the  harbor lights twinkled, the music played and the wine flowed 
I  spoke  aside to my own memory.  "Memory, put before me an incident 
from  my  past  life  that  is  most reminiscent of tonight".  Memory 
faltered  but  in  the spirit of things conjured up an image based on 
the  pretense  that my life normally imitates art:  "It was in Cannes 
or  possibly  Cote  de  Azure   in the 60's; you had just driven down 
from  Le  Grand  Chateau de M. Carroll in your Porsche Spyder;   Cary 
Grant  and  Grace  Kelly  were  at  your table and both were laughing 
uproariously at your wit..." 

It  was just that kind of place, just that kind of night.

For  our  two  mornings  here  the  buffet  breakfast rounded out our 
dining  pleasures,  partially due to the setting but mainly due to an 
amazing  array  of  breakfast foods capable of satisfying the largest 
appetites  and  the  most demanding tastes.   From the breakfast area 
we  could see out towards Ilet  a Ramiers where boats were assembling 
for  a  yawling  regatta.   These are distinctive local boats, called 
yoles  rondes,  which sport huge, square, colorful sails.  It was our 
good  fortune  to  be on the island at the time of the Tour des Yoles 
Rondes, the annual regatta of these boats.          

PITT CLERY

On  Sunday  afternoons cockfights are held at rural "pitts".  I hired 
a  cab  for  the  afternoon to visit the one at "Pitt Clery".  I grew 
suspicious  that my cabbie was a humane society operative.  He quoted 
a  fare  so  whopping  that  he  must  have intended to deter me from 
aiding  and  abetting  cruelty  to  fowls.   I  negotiated  the price 
downwards  though  it  still would have been cheaper to have rented a 
car  and  dined  on  a  flock  of deluxe chicken dinners.  But with a 
rental  car  I would never have found this rural spot and whether for 
perversity  or  just  plain curiosity I wanted to see this.  We drove 
on  secondary roads through well tended farmlands and quaint interior 
villages  through the Ducos district to a location that I believe was 
in  the  Riviere  Pilote  district,   40  minutes  from  the hotel. I 
express   uncertainty  on  this  because  there  are  pitts  in  both 
districts  and  I  am  not  sure  where  Pitt Clery in particular was 
located.   

There  was a small admission charge to the pitt,  a boarded enclosure 
housing   an   indoor  circular  ring  surrounded  by  tiered  wooden 
bleachers.   The  bleachers,  by  the  way,  are  best  suited for an 
audience   of  acrobats,  access  requires  the  kind  of  unexpected 
dexterity  that would make U.S. personal injury lawyers rich.  It was 
a  hardscrabble kind of place.  There were a lot of weathered farmers 
milling  around  plus  50 or so tourists who were all French with the 
exception  of  two  guys  holding videocams  - - myself and one other 
American.   Two  cockfights  were  staged over the afternoon although 
the  matches themselves each lasted only about 5-l0 minutes. The rest 
of  the  time was devoted to taking bets and preparing the birds in a 
very  exacting  and exaggerated way.  One description of cockfighting 
I  read  after  returning  home claimed sharpened blades are attached 
between  the  bird's  talons.    It did not appear this was done here 
but  I can't say for sure.  The handlers preen and strut in emulation 
of  their roosters, or perhaps the converse.  I had understood losing 
roosters  next  appear  served  up  fried  but it did not happen that 
way.   Here, when things starting going badly the owners conceded and 
removed  their  defeated  birds from the ring,  pecked and bedraggled 
but  not  terminal,  though  this  may have been a concession equally 
directed to tourist sensibilities. 

The  same  cannot  be  said for the final attraction  - a snake vs. a 
mongoose,  held  elsewhere  on the grounds in an 8' by 8', low, glass 
enclosed   cage.    The  mongoose  dispatched  the  snake,  a  deadly 
poisonous  fer  de  lance.   Nobody intervened to help out the snake.   
There  was  no  betting  on that event and most of the farmers didn't 
even  drift  over with the tourists to watch.  It is actually sort of 
a  show  designed to improve the gate by offering a spectacle loosely 
symbolic  of   Martinique's  past.   There was an era here when these 
snakes  were a dreaded scourge and mongeese, their natural predators, 
were  imported  to eliminate them.  Today,  the snakes are much fewer 
in   numbers,   found   only  in  very  remote  areas.  Whatever  the 
background,   the furry little guy did credit to his heritage and was 
definitely the crowd favorite.    

My  advice:  unless  you're  the kind who likes to bet on anything or 
you  have  some  kind  of fetish for ruffled roosters or interspecies 
combat,  I'd  give  the  pitt  a pass.  There's lots more interesting 
things to do.   

STE. ANNE

We  motorsailed  from Anse Mitan southeast to Ste Anne, a distance of 
15-18  miles.   For  the  last  two-thirds  of  the trip the shortest 
course  put  us  directly into the wind.  We could have headed out to 
sea  and  taken  a  long tack back to land.  But a predicted tropical 
depression  (rain  and winds ranging up to 30 kts) was acting like it 
wanted  to  become  a tropical storm, a serious piece of weather that 
is  only  one  notch  below a hurricane. The weather was causing some 
damage  in Barbados and was forecast to be upon us by evening.  So we 
decided  to give ourselves a time cushion by use of the "iron sail" - 
-   the  auxiliary  diesel  engine   - -  and motored directly to our 
destination.   When  we got to Ste Anne I radioed our charter company 
for  a  weather  update.  They recommended we continue onward to base 
because  the conditions remained unsettled.  But a  recommendation in 
these  circumstances  is  short  of  a  "recall"  of  the  boat  -  -  
mandatory  return  to  base  -  -   so  we  decided to stick with our 
plans.   This  may  have been rash but we were loathe to end our trip 
early.    As   it  turned  out,  the  night  brought  wind  and  rain 
characteristic  of  a  mild  tropical  depression but we weathered it 
without complication.    

As  we  approached  the anchorage we caught a glimpse in the distance 
of   Martinique's  reputedly  best  beach  at Grande Anse des Salines 
almost  at  the  southern tip of the island.  Time limits confined us 
to  Ste  Anne  itself  so  we did not explore this district.   We had 
passed  nearer  to  Salines  during our earlier trip to St. Lucia and 
had   seen  this  remote  strand  is  white,  wide  and  picturesque, 
supposedly  great  for  a  day  at  the  beach  though  not  much for 
snorkeling.   Beyond  our view were beaches which continue around the 
eastern  side  where  it  is said there are seaside eateries.  A U.S. 
magazine  article  spoke  well  of  a  former plantation house around 
here,   Manoir  de  Beauregard,  recently  restored  after a fire and 
either   just   re-opened  or  about  to  re-open.   This  district's  
remoteness  is  underscored  in an April, l995 CTR article describing 
how  the  author  and  his wife got lost for several hours while on a 
walking  tour  from  Cap  Chevalier  over  the  low  hills  near  the 
southeast coast.       

Ste  Anne  is  a  pretty  little  seaside  town that has a half dozen 
decent  restaurants   and  one three star hotel, Anse Caritan.  Above 
the  town  is a sizable religious shrine clearly visible from the sea 
on  the  approach.  The anchorage here may not be fully protected but 
it  is nonetheless my favorite in Martinique, sheltered as it is from 
the  trades  and  wide with easy anchoring, excellent holding  and an 
accessible  dinghy  dock   -   a  place  well  suited to ride out the 
weather  we  experienced  on  our  last night.  It's a great spot for 
viewing  a  natural  light  show  at  dusk when the setting sun casts 
dramatic  light,  color  and  shadows  on  the  town and hills to the 
east.   We  visited  the  town  twice,  strolling  around its several 
blocks  and  eating  ashore  both nights.  We passed up the top rated 
Poi  et  Virginie  for the more casual Athanor and La Dunette both of 
which  were  relaxed places serving creole meals.  Prices and food at 
the  two  were  about  equivalent.  La  Dunette's outdoor dining room 
overlooks  the  sea  giving  it the edge for location but Athanor had 
live  musical  entertainment  including a waitress who wore two hats, 
with  credit  to  both. Mornings we made our usual trip into town for 
fresh  baked  goods.   We  successfully  followed the local advice to 
"let your nose be your guide".

La  Dunette  is  also  a  hotel,  rated  two star.  The author of the 
referenced   article   found   both  the  hotel  and  the  restaurant 
unsatisfactory  during  his  l995  visit.   The restaurant has either 
improved  or  maybe we are more tolerant. His commentary on the hotel 
might  be  useful  to anyone considering a two star place. The author 
points  to issues that came up like whether he would get clean towels 
each  day.   I  was game to try a two or one star spot for comparison 
purposes   -   always  game  for  a good deal  -  but found no way to 
obtain  reliable  advance  info  about  individual  places.  Few have 
stateside  representatives  and  we suspected quality probably varied 
considerably  from place to place.   Our travel circumstances favored 
reliance   on  more  dependable,  though  naturally  more  expensive,  
higher ranked places.

A  color  booklet  containing photos and short promotional narratives 
on  "Les  Relais Creoles", the smaller hotels (which can be 3-4 stars 
but  are  mainly  2  and  below)  is  available  from  the Martinique 
Promotion  Bureau, 444 Madison Ave., 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10022 
(800-39l-   4909  or  212-838-7800)  (http://www.nyo.com/martinique).  
The  narratives  are  puff  pieces  probably  composed  by the owners 
themselves  but  at  least  there  are  pictures  and  a  listing  of 
amenities  for  each  one.     MPB  also  has  available a comparable 
booklet on the larger hotels as well as general tourist info.

On   the   morning  of  the  thirty-first  day  we  attended  to  our 
customs/immigration  duties  and   relinquished  the  boat  that  had 
served  us  so  well.  Our mourning for fun's passage was offset by a 
little  brightness:   a  day and a half remained in Martinique by the 
providence  of our return reservations being for the next day.  So we 
rented  a  car and continued overland.  As it turned out, it was more 
that  just  a  little brightness  - -  there was much more good stuff  
to see and do.  

Next   month:  the  Atlantic  coast,  the  mountains  and  Habitation 
Lagrange. 

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