Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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* New Rates for Five-Night Insider’s Jamaica Packages Start at $399* NEW YORK, NY, MARCH 2000 -- Whether gazing out at Negril’s famous seven-mile stretch of beach or perched in the scenic hills of Port Antonio, Jamaica’s small hotels and inns offer the kind of idyllic settings and relaxed ambience that make vacation memories linger happily for years. The Insider’s Jamaica -- the innovative program created by the Jamaica Tourist Board -- could make them last forever. Expressly designed for travelers yearning to wander off the beaten path and soak up local culture, The Insider’s Jamaica combines a five- night or longer stay at an intimate inn or hotel with the freedom to experience Jamaica’s richly diverse attractions. A total of 58 of Jamaica’s finest small properties, each with fewer than 100 rooms, are now a part of the Insider’s Jamaica, offering an endless variety of accommodations, from mountain hideaways and gracious old estates, to family-run beachside inns and tropical villas. Each has its own distinct character, but all are dedicated to offering guests a high degree of personal service and helpful tips on exploring the "real" Jamaica. Spring/Summer 2000 rates (per person, double occupancy) for Insider’s Jamaica packages begin as follows: a.. From New York / Newark, five-night packages begin at $499 + tax (April 15th-June 16th) b.. From Miami, five-night packages begin at $399 + tax (April 15th-June 16th) c.. From Los Angeles, six-night packages begin at $617 + tax (May 1st- June 9th) d.. From Philadelphia, five-night packages begin at $489 + tax (April 15th- June 16th) e.. From Baltimore/DC, five-night packages begin at $483 + tax (April 16th-June 16th) f.. From Atlanta, five-night packages begin at $498 + tax (April 15th- June 9th) g.. From New Orleans, five-night packages begin at $605 + tax (April 15th-June 9th) h.. From Memphis, five-night packages begin at $609 + tax (April 16th- June 14th) i.. From Phoenix, five-night packages begin at $759 + tax (June 15th-September 4th) Rates include a Jamaican House Party--with a Jamaican host, in a Jamaican home--where authentic island food, drink and music flow all night. Priority access to a Meet-the-People experience, where "Insiders" are matched with Jamaicans who share similar hobbies, occupations or special interests, is another highlight. On arrival at the airport, package holders are met by representatives of the Jamaica Tourist Board, assisted with customs and ground transportation, and given an Insider’s Jamaica Membership Card good for 25% off admission to historic plantation houses, art museums, river rafting and other attractions; 15% discounts at restaurants across the island; and a one-class upgrade at select car rental companies. At their hotels, guests are greeted by the owner or manager and provided with a personal orientation of the property, along with advice about experiencing Jamaica as an "Insider"--the best place to shop for local crafts, secret gardens that bloom with rare orchids or the closest secluded beach for snorkeling. Additional details about the Insider’s Jamaica program are available online at www.insidersjamaica.com, a Website that provides descriptions of the program’s participating hotels, attractions and restaurants, and is directly linked to the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Website at www.jamaicatravel.com. For reservations or more information, call your travel agent or 1-800- JAMAICA.
Rates Start as low as $35 Night, EP Jamaica’s Best Value of the Season NEW YORK, NY, APRIL 2000 – Jamaica’s “capital of casual” Negril, known for its famed seven-mile stretch of white sand beach, dramatic cliffs, and bath-warm azure sea, is making a spring, summer and fall vacation extremely affordable with four special promotions: “Negril Carnival”, “Honeymooners in Negril”, “Negril Summer Madness” and “Families in Negril”. “With these added-value packages to Negril, now is the best time to book a Jamaican vacation,” said Mr. Noel Mignott, Deputy Director, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). “The destination offers something for everyone.” “There has never been a program in Negril quite like this one, since it includes the participation of so many hotels and travel businesses,” said Ms. Carolyn Wright, Chairperson, Negril Chapter Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA). “There is simply no better deal for anyone looking for world renowned beaches, breath taking cliffs, exciting nightlife, and the Reggae vibe at a value never offered before.” Negril, located on the west coast of Jamaica about two hours from Montego Bay, is known for its significant number of small, value- priced and boutique hotels that offer a personalized B&B-style experience with the amenities of traditional resorts, such as fresh water pools, water sports, on-site restaurants, bars, and tour desks. The area was initially “discovered” by American counter- culture in the early 70’s, who found the laid-back, out-in-the- country, unpretentious and friendly lifestyle appealing. While no longer a quaint fishing village, development has been controlled to keep buildings no taller than a palm tree – still giving today’s travelers a sense of remoteness, but one that offers yet a myriad of entertainment and shopping opportunities. Hotels line both sides of the main avenue, Norman Manley Boulevard, and also dot the sea-splashed cliff tops in the “West-End” section of town. In the evening, vacationers use the beach as their highway, strolling to restaurants and bars offering live music. During the day, there is a “casualness” in the air that reflects European influenced beach- going traditions. The four promotional packages are: NEGRIL CARNIVAL, April 14-16: The famous Byron Lee and the Dragonaires will be bringing Jamaica Carnival to Negril with special performances, including Leon Caldero as well as a costumed Carnival Road March. Special rates apply to three, four and seven-night packages booked in conjunction with April 14-16th Carnival dates. HONEYMOONERS IN NEGRIL, May 1-June 30 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31: Participating hotels are offering the sixth night free with any five- night stay booked with standard published (rack) rates. NEGRIL SUMMER MADNESS, May 15-June 15: Offers heavily discounted rates as low as US$35 per night, EP (European Plan; single or double occupancy) for one and two-star properties and US$50 per night, EP, for three and four-star properties. Minimum stay is three nights. FAMILIES IN NEGRIL, July 15-August 31: Families will receive one complimentary dinner for four persons at their host hotel with a minimum three-night stay. Sponsored by the JHTA’s Negril Chapter, participating hotels and businesses include: Beachcomber, Charela Inn, Chuckles Resort, Devine Destiny, Drumville Cove, Falcon Cottages, Footeprints, Hedonism II, Hilltop Villas & Apartments, Kuyaba Negril, La Mar Resort, Mariners Resorts, Negril Gardens, Negril Tree House, Our Pastime, Point Village, Rock Cliff Hotel, Rondel Village, Sandals Negril, Sandi San Beach Hotel, Sea Splash Resort, Thrills Hotel, Villa La Cage, White Sands, Xtabi, Risky Business, Margueritaville and DeBuss. Participating properties with all-inclusive packages are also offering specially reduced rates. Prices do not include air, airport ground transfers, or Jamaican departure tax of US$27 per person. Tax and service charges are not included in some packages. Rates cannot be combined with any other promotion. Participating hotels may vary per promotion and blackout dates and restrictions apply. For more information, contact your travel agent or call GPW at 1-800-752-6824 or JRS Tours at 1-800- JAMAICA.
SOMERSET, NJ – (April 11, 2000) – It's time to start packing for a trip to a Caribbean island! Thanks to Marriott and Renaissance Offshore Resorts, the ideal tropical vacation that always seemed too expensive has just become affordable with exciting new "All-Inclusive Value Vacations." Providing the convenience of an all-inclusive getaway and the renowned service of Marriott and Renaissance for one great price, the "All-Inclusive Value Vacations" package is available at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino, the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort, and the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort located on St. Thomas. Now through December 20, 2000, rates for the "All-Inclusive Value Vacations" package start as low as $339 per room, per night (or $170 per person, per night) and are based on double occupancy. Not only does the package include room service (not typically part of all- inclusive offerings), it also provides guests with deluxe accommodations; all food & beverages at select restaurants, including unlimited house-brand cocktails and wine and beer by the glass; complimentary use of the tennis courts and health club (the Renaissance Jamaica Grande and Renaissance Grand Beach resorts also include complimentary non-motorized water sports); and any applicable room taxes and gratuities, all while earning valuable Marriott Rewards points. In addition, up to two children under 12 stay and eat free when sharing a room with a parent. A minimum five-night stay is required and rates are subject to availability. The "All-Inclusive Value Vacations" package rates (quoted per couple, per night) are as follows: At the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino: $380 -- From April 23 through December 20, 2000. At the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino: $339 -- From April 23 through December 20, 2000. At the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort on St. Thomas: $435 -- From April 2 through May 31, 2000 $345 -- From June 1 to December 20, 2000. At the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort: $260 for an oceanview room or $340 for a beachfront room – From April 24 through December 20, 2000. Located on the famed Palm Beach area of the island, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino offers 413 spacious guestrooms including 20 suites, each with a private balcony. In addition, the resort features: a freeform pool with waterfalls and a swim-up bar; several restaurants; a variety of water sports activities; a health club with sauna and whirlpool; two lighted tennis courts; nearby golf and a special children's program. Island attractions range from horseback riding to scuba diving to touring Arikok National Park. The Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino is on the southwest coast of the island adjacent to the World Trade Center Curaçao. The resort features: 247 guest rooms and suites, each with a private balcony or terrace; four restaurants; a freeform oceanfront pool with swim-up bar; two oceanfront whirlpools; several water sports; nearby golf; two lighted tennis courts; health club with steam room, sauna and massage services; and a children's program. While staying in Curaçao, guests can visit the Curaçao Seaquarium, tour historic Willemstad or take a canoe safari. The Renaissance Grand Beach Resort on St. Thomas is roughly nine miles from Cyril E. King Airport and seven miles from Charlotte Amalie. The resort features 290 guestrooms and suites; a variety of restaurants; fitness center; water sports including on-site SCUBA diving; six lighted tennis courts; spa treatments; children's program; and nearby golf facilities. Situated on a beautiful sandy beach, the resort's beachfront Grand pool is the perfect vantage point for viewing the sea. Located within walking distance of bustling, historic Ocho Rios, the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort features 720 guestrooms and suites, all with private balconies and ocean views. The resort boasts five restaurants; a fantasy swimming pool complex with 26-foot high waterfalls, a swim-up bar, swim-through grottos and a walk-over swing bridge; sandy beach; various water sports; lighted tennis courts; fitness center; casino and the Jamaic'N Me Crazy nightclub. The Marriott and Renaissance Offshore Resorts group brings together several Marriott and Renaissance properties in the Caribbean and Mexico including: the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort, the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort in St. Thomas and the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort. When it opens later this year, the JW Marriott Resort Cancun will also join the group. For additional information or reservations, contact your travel agent or call the Marriott Resort Desk at 800-223-6388. Visit us on the web at www.offshoreresorts.com.
-- Special Packages, “Healthy Lunches” and Mature Adult Programs Available -- BONAIRE, DUTCH CARIBBEAN – February 4, 2000 – Harbour Village, the first-class luxury resort of Bonaire, is offering the islands’ first Wellness Program from September 3 – 30. The Wellness Program is complimentary to all guests of Harbour Village during the month of September and many of the classes will be offered through the resort’s full-service spa and fitness center. This program is designed for individuals of all ages, including a special program targeted to mature adults with bone building exercises, non-impact water aerobics, and special stretching techniques, as well as special nutritional courses on anti-aging, osteoporosis and arthritis prevention. Mariangel Gonzalez, Harbour Village’s Director of Marketing and Business Development, defines the month-long program as “a world- class program led by internationally renowned instructors who will guide guests towards optimal health and well being through a series of workshops and lectures in weight management, stress reduction, the latest in exercise and New Age fitness, and an innovative new wellness program in diving known as Mind, Body and Spirit Scuba (MBS Scuba).” The following programs will be offered during Wellness Month: Daily (AM/PM) Mind, Body and Spirit Scuba courses that include the latest in pre-dive stretching and breathing techniques to give you the ultimate diving experience. This course is PADI certified and includes techniques adapted from champion breath-hold divers, sports medicine, martial arts programs, and meditation and spiritual disciplines. Stress Management workshops that will guide you to emotional cleansing by expunging negative energies. The goal of the workshops is to teach you to heal yourself by purposefully moving your energy vibrations toward greater wellness at all times. Wellness Month/Harbour Village Beach Resort Weight Management workshops composed of nutrition and exercise that will maximize results through behavior modification, not ‘fad- dieting’. The course recognizes the busy schedule and lifestyle of today’s society and will teach you how to incorporate healthy convenience foods into your diet. September 17-30, a special mature adult component featuring bone building exercises, anti-aging nutrition techniques, and osteoporosis and arthritis prevention will be included. New Age Fitness classes offered daily: stretching, aqua strength, circuit challenge, power walks, body sculpting, step, and yoga/pilates. Four renowned international instructors will lead guests on their path to wellness. The weight management workshops will be taught by Julie Feldman MPH, RD, CPT, who has been a health and fitness professional for the past 13 years. The stress reduction courses will be led by Condessa Maui de Espinosa, M. Ed, LPC, BSN, an energy coach who has spent the past 10 years in “energy studies,” the study of the aura around and within us. MBS Scuba will be taught by creator Steve Schultz, who has 26 years of diving experience, and Dot Fundock, a PADI OWSI and Underwater Naturalist Specialty Instructor with 17 years of diving experience. During Wellness Month, Harbour Village will offer “Healthy Lunches” as an add-on to the resort’s seven-night packages (Spa, Dive, Tennis, and Summer Escapade packages). Healthy lunches include the Chef’s daily special soup and all you can eat healthy salads. Nestled in fragrant, tropical gardens, Harbour Village Beach Resort fronts a quarter-mile stretch of white sand beach. There are 64 elegantly appointed rooms and suites housed in charming, Dutch Caribbean-style villas. The resort’s amenities include a full- service spa and fitness center, freshwater pools, a 5-star PADI Gold Palm IDC & NAUI certified dive operation, a 64-slip marina, a mega yacht dock, a tennis facility (with night lighting) managed by Peter Burwash International, and a variety of excellent dining options and retail shops. Harbour Village, the finest resort on the island, is just a short stroll away from Kralendijk, the island’s capital, and only a 10-minute drive from the airport. For reservations and more information, contact First Class Resorts at One Alhambra Plaza, Suite 1150, Coral Gables, Florida 33134; call (305) 567-9509 or call toll-free (800) 424-0004 (U.S. and Canada); fax (305) 567-9659. Visit our website http://www.harbourvillage.com http://www.harbourvillage.com or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
ISLAND OUTPOST'S BLUE MOUNTAIN BLISS IRISH TOWN, Jamaica (April 19, 2000) -- Strawberry Hill, Island Outpost's serene hideaway in Jamaica's Blue Mountains, is offering spa packages ranging from a three-night getaway to a week-long escape. This intimate resort is the perfect place to indulge in total rejuvenation of the body and soul.The Aveda Concept Spa at Strawberry Hill is the only full-service Aveda Spa in the Caribbean and is the perfect complement to the property's lush botanical gardens, winding trails and breathtaking vistas. Guests can choose from Strawberry Hill's three, five and seven-night Spa Packages available now through December 14, 2000. All packages offer single or double occupancy rates and include: accommodations in a mountainside studio cottage; a variety of treatments according to package; daily continental breakfast; airport transfers from Kingston; tax and service charges and full use of the spa facilities -- dry sauna, plunge pool and state-of-the-art fitness equipment. Guided walks and bike riding are available upon request. Details and rates follow: The THREE NIGHT RETREAT offers a brief escape from the everyday! Guests spend three nights and are pampered with seven spa treatments: a sensory journey to determine their personal aroma identity, a full body massage, body elixir, eye zone treatment, AVEDA®'s signature Purescriptionsä treatment, manicure and pedicure. $1,630 (double occupancy) / $1,366 (single occupancy) The FIVE NIGHT GETAWAY offers guests five nights of complete bliss and absolute relaxation with the seven spa treatments in the Three Night Retreat, plus three additional treatments: an essential back treatment, self-renewal face & body treatment, and signature sauna ritual. $2,727 (double occupancy) / $2262 (single occupancy) The SEVEN NIGHTS OF REJUVENATION features a revitalizing week of seven nights in the Blue Mountains immersed in a variety of spa treatments. Guests enjoy all the spa treatments in the Five Night Getaway plus one additional full body massage per person. $3,581 (double occupancy) / $3037 (single occupancy) Strawberry Hill is perched 3,100 feet in the Blue Mountains and provides guests with spectacular vistas of Kingston and the surrounding valleys. Twelve 19th-century, Georgian-style wooden cottages are tucked within the property's 26 acres. All feature louvered windows, mahogany furniture made by local craftsmen, white Irish linens and private verandahs. The property also houses an executive conference room, library, restaurant featuring fine "New Jamaican Cuisine" and spa cuisine by Chef James Palmer, and a 60-foot negative edge pool overlooking the city lights below. Opened in 1997, The Aveda Concept Spa has five treatment rooms, a plunge pool, sauna, a hydrotherapy room, hair and nail treatment center, and a sun deck where guests can relax before treatments while sipping tea and fresh fruit juices. Strawberry Hill's Spa Packages are commissionable to travel agents at 10 percent. For more information, call 800-OUTPOST (from USA and Canada) or (305) 531-8800 (from all other countries), or visit Island Outpost on the Internet at: www.islandoutpost.com In addition to Strawberry Hill, Island Outpost's collection of 13 boutique hotels include The Caves, Jake's, Goldeneye and Bolt House in Jamaica; Pink Sands and Compass Point in The Bahamas; and Casa Grande, The Tides, Marlin, Leslie, Cavalier, and Kent in South Beach. Additional information is available on the Island Outpost website, www.islandoutpost.com
MUSTIQUE, WEST INDIES (May 2, 2000) – The mystique of Mustique can be within your reach this summer and fall with more than 50 villas available for rental at up to 30% off the peak season rate. Now through November 14, 2000, rates start at only $3,000 per week for a two-bedroom villa (Blue Waters). With two- to seven-bedroom residences available (each with a personal household staff), Mustique Villa Rentals are popular with honeymooners, friends and families. Select villas, including Sea Star, Grasshopper, Frangipani and Moongate, are especially family-friendly, with children's bedrooms and nursery rooms. (Baby-sitting services are also available.) In addition, four new villas have been added to the rental group this year: Serenity Bay, Hibiscus, Sleeping Dragon and Heron Bay. Located in secluded spots throughout the 1,400-acre private island, each villa reflects the individual homeowners' 15 different nationalities and personal decorating styles, from French Provençal, Japanese, Italian and Balinese, to British Colonial to Caribbean. Each new villa has a pool, landscaped grounds and beach access, as well as an open verandah for outdoor dining. The Mustique Company will customize a villa holiday that suits your personal taste, requirements and price range. An expansive landscape provides the ultimate in privacy, and all villas have panoramic views of the Caribbean or Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding hillside. Most villas also have a swimming pool. Villa rentals include a vehicle and are fully staffed by its owner with a cook, maid and a gardener (some with additional household staff). An initial supply of food is charged to a personal account at the local grocery store. A variety of amenities make guests feel at home, such as a video rental library, CD players, cable television and phones with fax/modem capabilities. Private spa and beauty services are also available for guests in their villas. Upon arrival in Mustique, guests are welcomed at the airport by a Mustique Company representative and escorted to their villa for an introductory tour. Visitors are also given an island welcome directory outlining popular places, recreational and social activities. The Mustique Company can arrange for recreational activities including tennis lessons with the resident pro, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, water sports, sunset cruises, and sailing yachts to the nearby Grenadine Islands. The Mustique Equestrian Center offers horseback riding (and instruction) on trails throughout the island. The Cotton House, a luxury hotel and restaurant, is open to all island guests for lunch and dinner and is the local gathering spot for a weekly Tuesday night cocktail party, hosted by the Mustique Company. The Cotton House has recently introduced a new chef, who has taken the cuisine in a new direction by fusing French and Caribbean flavors, and a European mini-spa located on the beach. Rates at the Cotton House through December 19, 2000 start at $590 (MAP) per night, double occupancy. Mustique is a private island hideaway known for its casual elegance. The temperature fluctuates ever so slightly throughout the year, averaging 80ºF, making Mustique an ideal destination for the summer and fall. There is only one hotel (Cotton House), one guest house (Firefly), as well as 50 luxury villa rentals available on the island. In addition, visitors will find Basil's Bar and Restaurant overlooking Britannia Bay, a selection of shops and boutiques in Britannia Bay Waterfront, and a bamboo church. Even when Mustique has high occupancy, the unspoiled landscape and nine white-sand beaches are never crowded. Mustique, one of the Northern Grenadines, can be accessed through Barbados or St. Vincent. Rates are exclusive of a 5% government tax and an 8% administrative fee. For Mustique Villa Rental reservations call Resorts Management, Inc., toll-free at 800-225-4255 from the U.S. and Canada. Or, call The Mustique Company, Ltd. directly at 784-458-4621; fax to 784-456- 4565. Visit the Mustique Company on the internet at: www.mustique- island.com.
MUSTIQUE, WEST INDIES (May 11, 2000) – Now is the ideal time for vacationers to indulge in a week-long escape to the Cotton House, Mustique's elegant private retreat. The Cotton House has introduced a special "7 for 6" package, where guests who book six nights get a seventh night free. The Cotton House's "7 for 6" package is available now through December 19, 2000* and is priced at $3,050 for two people. The package includes a 7-night stay in a Grenadine Cottage or a Messel Room and two consecutive days of mule (jeep) rental. (A 7% government tax and 10% service charge is additional.) Rates at the Cotton House are MAP and include à la carte breakfast and dinners, traditional afternoon tea, and cocktail parties. Extra days are available on MAP basis for $492 for two people. (*The Cotton House's annual closing is August 31 to October 13, 2000.) Other complimentary resort amenities include select water sports, mini-fridge stocked with soft drinks, an extensive "pillow menu" and unpacking and pressing of clothing upon arrival. The Cotton House is an elegant, West Indian-style plantation estate with 20 luxurious guest rooms, suites and cottages. Rising above L'Ansecoy Bay on a rolling green Mustique hillside, with panoramic views of the Caribbean, the Cotton House prides itself on personal service and features one of the Caribbean's finest restaurants and a European mini-spa (E'SPA). In addition to the pool and beaches at the Cotton House, Mustique has nine white-sand beaches for guests to enjoy. The temperature fluctuates ever so slightly throughout the year, averaging 80ºF, making the Cotton House an ideal destination for the summer and fall. Recreational activities on the island include tennis, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving and sailing trips to the nearby Grenadine Islands. The Mustique Equestrian Center offers horseback riding (and instruction) on trails throughout the island. The Cotton House, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is managed by GLA International. For reservations, see your travel agent or call the Cotton House toll-free (in the U.S. and Canada) at 1-877-240-9945 or visit the Cotton House on the web at www.cottonhouse.net.
Enjoy One of the Caribbean’s Most Luxurious and Romantic Family Friendly Resorts For Only $99 Per Night! ST. JOHN, U.S. Virgin Islands, April, 2000 – This summer the Westin Resort St. John is looking to exhaust your senses, not your savings. Thanks to the Westin St. John Sizzling Summer Sale, you can enjoy one of the most upscale and luxurious properties in all the Caribbean at unprecedented savings – with rates beginning as low as $99 per night (per room, based on double occupancy). This rate represents a remarkable 67% savings off the regular summer rate of $299 per night. The Westin St. John’s Sizzling Summer Sale is available for travel now through October 31, 2000. All rates are subject to availability. The Westin Resort St. John features: a.. A spectacular quarter-acre freshwater swimming pool, including kiddie pool and two adjacent jacuzzis; b.. Three fabulous restaurants, a New York style deli, and 24 hour room service; c.. Full service Westin Kids Club for children 3 years of age and up; d.. An oversized, state-of-the-art health club and full spa facility; e.. Six lighted turf tennis courts, operated by world renowned Peter Burwash International; f.. World-class snorkeling at nearby Trunk and Cinnamon Bays; g.. Hiking in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. Yet another enticement for summer family travelers is the Westin St. John’s "Kids Eat Free" deal. Now through December 22 at the Westin St. John, all kids 12-and-under eat free at the resort when accompanied by an adult. In addition, adults will receive a $100 food credit as well as receiving their sixth night free at the resort. The deal requires a four-night minimum stay. As always, children 18 and under stay for free with their parents, and families have the option of getting a second room for the kids at 50% off (this 50% off offer does not include a $100 food credit for adults). While many Caribbean resorts scale back their kids programs for the summer season, The Westin St. John takes theirs to another level with the third annual "Summer Jammers Camp." Running from mid-June through mid-August, 2000, the camp takes the popular Kids Club concept of "Smart Fun" and expands it even further. Featuring longer hours and brand new activities, the camp will include even more arts & crafts, treasure hunts, seaside hiking adventures in addition to special guest visits from local artisans and island "celebrities" as well as fascinating field trips. Rates for the Summer Jammers Camp are $50 per day, per child, including lunch. There is also a weekly rate of $200 available (some field trips may require an additional charge). The half-day rate is $40 per child with lunch and $30 without lunch. The rate for an evening session, including dinner, is $40. Parents are requested to register campers with the hotel concierge 24 hours in advance of the desired session. Tucked into the green hills of St. John’s southwest corner, The Westin Resort, St. John offers 285 guest rooms and suites decorated in soothing pastel colors spread out over 13 tastefully-designed low- rise buildings, surrounded by 47 acres of gardens and landscaped grounds. There are also an additional 67 fully equipped vacation villas, many with private swimming pools, available for rental as well. For information on the Westin St. John "Sizzling Summer Sale," contact your local travel agent. For further information and reservations call The Westin Resort, St. John at 1-800-808-5020 or Westin Hotels & Resorts at 1-800-WESTIN-1. Information is also available on the Westin Hotels & Resorts website at www.westin.com.
Trip 7/99 Last summer we visited Aruba for the first time. We've been to other islands in the Caribbean but didn't know much about Aruba other than what we'd read. What a great place for a vacation! Accommodations: We chose to stay at the Hyatt Regency. Upon checking in, I was very upset to be told that the only rooms they had left contained two double beds. I was irate as this was our anniversary and I had specifically requested a room with a king size bed. The staff was not very friendly in dealing with this issue and pointed out some fine print on my trip voucher indicating that you are not guaranteed anything. After getting nowhere with the staff I had to step away from the desk as I became more and more agitated. They agreed to switch us to a room with a king and an ocean view the next night, but I still found this to be a poor resolution as I like to unpack and relax when I arrive - not live out of a suitcase the first night. This first room was also very disappointing - the window was like a basement window and we had no balcony - if we had been stuck in this room the entire trip there would have been trouble! We were more pleased with the room we were moved to but to call it an ocean view was a stretch (literally, you had to stretch to get the view!). Overall, the hotel was very well kept and the facilities were nice - food was overpriced as compared to other options on the island. I've stayed in many nice chain hotels in my business & vacation travel. While this hotel had a beautiful appearance, I felt the general attitude towards guests was far below par compared to similar chains (Westin, Marriott). I had the general feeling that the hotel staff gave off the air that guests were a burden - I have never felt this way at other hotels of similar caliber. Beach/Pool Area: The pool area was very nice - there are several tiered pools that lead into one another. We enjoyed the waterslide and really enjoyed the swim up pool bar. You can get lunch here (burgers, mahi mahi) as well as drinks and we were pleased with all that we ordered. The only downside of the pool area is that the majority of it is shaded, which is a problem if you like to spend the day lounging in the sun. The beach was wonderful. There are huts available to use at no cost for guests but you have to arrive early in the morning at the towel hut to get one. The sun is indeed hot but the breeze cools you off quite a bit, so you have to be careful not to over do it. Activities: We rented a car upon arrival and after a particularly reddening day on the beach decided to do some exploring. We had a great time, but be prepared to be lost - road signs are non-existent once you are removed from the touristy part of the island. We climbed some rock formations and the topography was interesting though very similar to the southwestern US. There were some caves I very much wanted to go in but there were vendors telling you that each person was required to pay $12 for a flashlight to enter. I knew this was a scam as I'd read warnings about these people in guide books as all caves are owned by the government and free. We offered to pay for just one flashlight but they refused - I was tempted just to run in & see if they chased me but I chose not to risk it. We left & found another cave w/another flashlight vendor guarding the entrance. I told her I knew there was no cost to enter and she agreed to let us by with just renting one flashlight. If you like caves and don't mind bats, this is a must. I've been caving before but it was always with a tour so this was really neat to explore on our own. We found a room completely filled with bats and stood in the middle as the flew around us - fascinating. We also signed up for a snorkeling trip which left from the dock outside the hotel. The boat was a catamaran and had a nice mix of people and a crew that was ready and willing to serve up snacks and some interesting beverage concoctions. We snorkeled a shipwreck which was great as I have snorkeled many times but never a wreck, so I enjoyed this. This was a great trip. Again the crew was very friendly, played lively music, and helped stir up conversation and create a festive atmosphere. The price was quite reasonable - thumbs up all the way around. Though I'd never been to a casino before, we did enjoy the one in our hotel on a few occasions after we returned from dinner. I was a little leery and stuck with the nickel slots - more playing time & you hardly spend any money - though you don't really make any either! I was disappointed some nights that these slots were filled by many people clearly not staying in our resort, but I guess there isn't much that can be done about that. The last night we decided to give blackjack a try - we each got a limited number of chips and expected our run to be over quickly; but there was a nice couple next to us from New Jersey who was experienced and gave us some pointers and our little sum continued to mount and we stuck with it well into the night and still managed to come out ahead. Dining: Where to start? We had some wonderful dining experiences all over the island and the food was reasonably priced. El Gaucho was our first visit to an Argentinean steak house and we loved it. I would highly recommend their signature cut the Gaucho but make sure you arrive with an empty stomach! The meat comes on a big wooden board with a ridge around the edge to catch the juices. They serve several condiments with it as well - I believe there were caramelized onions, some sort of garlic sauce, and a couple others - fun to try. Make sure you order your food more well done than in the states or else you may have to send it back. Our other favorite meals were at Boonoonoonoos and Chez Mathilde. Boonoonoonoos was very colorful and I tried some of the local favorites which I enjoyed. Chez Mathilde was very nice - more elegant and pricey but well worth it. The decor is lovely, the service impeccable, and the food delicious. Summary: We fully enjoyed our visit to Aruba and would highly recommend this island to anyone considering a Caribbean vacation. It was just as lovely as Grand Cayman but you didn't have to pay twice as much for everything like you do in the Caymans. The island was beautiful and the downtown area was nicely developed - not overly so but very nicely kept and you feel very safe here outside of your resort (unlike Jamaica). I would return to Aruba in a heartbeat, though I would seriously consider staying at the Marriott next time.
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