Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 115
May 15, 2001

Last Update 12 May 2001

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GRENADINES : SAILING IN PARADISE BY JO ENRIGHT

The Crew: - Skipper, Baz & Mate, Gill (chef/hostess)
Guests: Six of us
January 13 - 23, 2001

I'm  not going to make this a long story, because I don't want you to 
lose   interest.  This  was  one  of  the  greatest  adventures  I've 
experienced.  This was a 10-day trip starting from Dallas, TX, flying 
to  San  Juan and then on to Grenada. Good flights, but I suggest you 
take  a  bag  on board in case your luggage is delayed to Grenada. In 
Grenada  we  stayed for two days at the Tropicana Inn on Lagoon Road. 
Extremely  peaceful, comfortable, air conditioned and overlooking the 
GYS  Marina  and Grenada Yacht Club. Sit outside for meals, cocktails 
and watch the locals.

On  Monday,  we  took  the  Osprey Ferry from Grenada to Carriacou. A 
quick,  comfortable  and  cheap  trip  that only takes an hour and 15 
minutes.   We   spent   the  night  at  The  Sands  on  Main  St.  in 
Hillsborough.  Quite  comfortable, except for the rooster outside who 
had  his  nights and days confused. We had our meals at Callaloo's, a 
wonderful  restaurant on the beach about a block away from The Sands. 
Great food, wonderful environment and good prices.

On  Tuesday,  it  was time to get on our Catamaran and sail for seven 
days  in  the Grenadines, going from Carriacou and visiting/anchoring 
at  Union  Island,  Canouan, Tabago Cays, Bequia, Mayreau, Petite St. 
Vincent,  Sandy  Island  and  back to Carriacou. All of these islands 
were  unique  and  absolutely  breathtaking  in  their own way. White 
sand,  blue  waters  like  you've  never  seen.  Warm  breezes, great 
snorkeling  and  swimming.  We  had the pleasure of snorkeling in one 
area  where  we  spotted an octopus, and it was an awesome experience 
watching  this  creature  move  about.  We saw other marine life, too 
much to mention, along with the beautiful variations of live coral.

The  best  part  of  the  trip,  however,  was the "Nepenthe" and its 
gracious  crew. This was our home for seven days, operated by Baz and 
Gill.  The  boat  is  a 40-foot Norseman catamaran, with the comforts 
and  amenities  of  a  first class hotel. There was unbelievable deck 
space,  2  huge  trampolines forward, shaded cockpit seating, 3 roomy 
double  guest  cabins,  and  two  bathrooms  with  showers. The guest 
cabins  had  great  ventilation  with portholes and huge hatches over 
the  beds  where  you could stargaze at night. The boat does not lean 
while  sailing and cuts through waves and rough seas as if it were on 
an  ice-skating  rink! At night the boat does not roll at anchor, and 
makes for very comfortable dining and great sleeping.

The  anchorage  was  always  very  convenient via the dinghy into the 
beach,  and  with  a  wonderful  breeze in the evenings on board. The 
saloon  and  dining area are spacious and convenient to the deck area 
for  fixing  those numerous rum punches! The meals were wonderful. We 
always  had fresh tropical fruit with the meals. Fresh fish seemed to 
be  our  pick  most of the time, and it would be cooked on the grill, 
served  with fresh vegetables, homemade bread, always a great dessert 
and I gained five pounds!

Before  our  trip, we were sent a "Nepenthe Charter Preference Sheet" 
where  we  could pick our activities, meal preferences, food choices, 
beverage  choices  and  add  any likes, dislikes, special needs, etc. 
This  was  a  wonderful  opportunity to let Gill and Baz know what we 
would  prefer  to have on board for the seven days. It proved to be a 
valuable  tool. We had a couple of lunches/dinners ashore so we could 
enjoy  the  local  cuisine, but the best meals were cooked and served 
by Gill.

There  were no set itineraries. We could do as we pleased, whether it 
was  to  lay on the trampoline and read, go snorkeling, go ashore and 
get  acquainted  with  the  islands  or  sunbathe.  It  was extremely 
flexible  and  laid  back.  Baz  & Gill were extremely good hosts and 
more  importantly,  a  lot of fun for seven days! There were eight of 
us  on the Nepenthe. Six Texans and Gill and Baz, and it was as if we 
had   been   together   for   years.   Smooth  sailing,  great  food, 
comfortable,   extremely  reasonable  and  unforgettable  sights  and 
experiences.

I've  kept  in touch with Gill and Baz since my return to Dallas, and 
they  are  continuing  to  please groups from all over the world with 
their  hospitality  and  great  sailing skills. We're going back next 
year!  Next  year  we'll probably start off in St. Vincent's and sail 
southward,   visiting   the   same  islands  and  enjoying  the  same 
pleasures.  A trip on the "Nepenthe" with Baz and Gill is something I 
would  recommend  to  anyone  who truly enjoys relaxing, experiencing 
great  hospitality  and  fabulous  meals!  These wonderful people and 
their    superb    services    can   be   contacted   by   email   at 
nepenthe@caribsurf.com   or   nepenthe_cat@usa.net.   They  are  also 
building   a   glorious   website,   which   can  soon  be  found  at 
www.sailnepenthe.com.

JAMAICA: COUPLES OCHO RIOS AND COUPLES NEGRIL BY LYNN SUTHERLAND

Trip: Match 23-31, 2001

When  we  arrived  at  the  resort  and  got  out of the van and were 
greeted  with  big  smiles.  They  asked us to go sit down in the big 
open-air  lobby and that they would bring us more papers to fill out. 
We  were  each  given a cool damp towel and a glass of champagne. One 
thing  I  hadn't  read  on the boards was that they hold your tourist 
card at the desk during your stay.

It  didn't  take  very  long to finish the paperwork and then we were 
off  to  our room. They said our bags would be brought up shortly. We 
had  booked  an  ocean  view deluxe room. Our room 556 was at the far 
end  of  the building on the 5th floor. They do have elevators, which 
made it nice.

As  soon  as we opened the door to the room I knew I was in paradise. 
We  had  a  view  of the Caribbean looking out over Tower Island, the 
dock  and  beyond. The room was just like all the pictures I had seen 
on  the net with the 2 swan towels on the bed. The bags arrived a few 
moments  later.  Since  it  was  about 6pm we decided to take a quick 
walk around the resort before it got dark.

We  decided  to  toast  being  in Jamaica when we got to the bar. The 
bartenders  were  fabulous.  We  had  our  drink  and then before our 
glasses  were  empty  Wayne came over to see what he could do for us. 
The  service is the best I've ever seen. We met several people at the 
bar  and  ended  up having dinner with them. They had already been at 
the  resort  for a day so they helped fill us in on what there was to 
do  and  where things were. The next day we arranged for our romantic 
dinner  at Le Gourmet for the following evening. We spent most of the 
day  relaxing  on the beach and wandering the grounds. On the grounds 
we  saw  the  basket  swings  for 2, the 2 Jacuzzis for 2, the basket 
swing  in  the jungle, the nearby aviary as well as the gift shop. We 
had  dinner  that  night  at  the  International  Buffet  held at the 
Calabash Restaurant (a.k.a. the patio restaurant).

I  get  up  very  early  ever  day  so I watched the sunrise from our 
balcony.  They  have  a  coffeepot in the room with packets of coffee 
and  tea. I was able to enjoy my coffee as the sun came up into view. 
Around  8  we  headed  to  the  patio  for  the breakfast buffet. The 
choices  are  many. The fruit is beautiful and they will make you any 
kind  of  omelet  you  want.  Plus  they have all the usual breakfast 
choice as well as some local dishes.

At  1  PM  we  went  on our snorkel trip. The reef is about 2 minutes 
from  the  resort. If you look at my photo of the resort from the air 
the  reef is to the left of Tower Island. We had a wonderful time. We 
even  got  to see a lobster that was hiding as well as a small squid. 
Plus of course lots of tropical fish.

Dinner  at Le Gourmet was very tasty. I'm not really into French food 
but  we  both  enjoyed  the meal and the atmosphere. The piano player 
was  very  good as well. Then we went over to the bar and listened to 
the  band  that was playing that night. Afterwards we decided to take 
a  romantic stroll on the beach. The next day was horseback riding in 
the  morning.  They  have  both  western  and  English saddles at the 
stables.  We  didn't  get to choose which type we got. I was given an 
English saddle and Joe got a western one.

I  guess  I must have been the most experienced rider in the group as 
they  had  me take the lead. The ride took us past people's homes and 
through  the  woods. We traveled up into the mountains to a spot with 
a  great  view of the ocean. Along the way they pointed out different 
plants and talked about the area. We had a fun time.

After  lunch it was time for parasailing. Neither of us had done this 
before.  It  was not the best day to parasail. It was very cloudy and 
the  sky looked threatening. They took us out to the edge of the bay. 
Joe  went  up  first; he really enjoyed his ride. By the time he came 
back  down  it  was starting to rain. Since I had already paid for my 
ride  I  decide to go up anyway. I was a bit worried about my camera, 
but  I  took  it  with me anyway. What a thrill! It was raining quite 
hard  and  I had to cover the camera most of the time. You can see in 
one  of  the  photo that the camera did get a bit wet. My ride wasn't 
very  long,  as  shortly  after  I  went  up  it  started to thunder. 
Although  I  was enjoying my time up in the air, I didn't really want 
to be a lighting rod.

That  evening  we  had a lovely dinner at the Bayside restaurant with 
people I had met on the Internet before our trip.

The  next  day  was  our  Dunn's River Falls trip. We had really been 
looking  forward  to  it. Somehow the guides don't get wet. One guide 
in  each  group  will  carry your cameras for you. They take pictures 
along  the  way  in set spots and do a nice job. Be sure and tip them 
well  at  the  end  of the climb. If you watch the person in front of 
you  and  where  they  put  their feet and hands it really isn't that 
hard.  We  climbed  the  right-hand  side  of the falls it's the more 
difficult  route.  There is one spot where you literally go up blind. 
You  feel for the hand holds on the wall and the sort of steps in the 
falls.  The  water  is  pouring  over  your  head. It was a thrilling 
experience.  Climbing  the falls takes about an hour. After the climb 
Couples  puts  on  a beach party. Then you head back up the steps and 
through  the  vendors  to  get back to your bus. Be sure and remember 
your  bus  number  and the driver's name. There are so many busses in 
the  parking  lot it can be confusing. After we got back we had lunch 
at  the  Patio  buffet.  After lunch I swallowed hard (not because of 
the  food  ha, ha), and said to Joe "let's go to the island". In case 
you  don't  know the island is "au natural" only. We went down to the 
dock  for  the  boat to take us over. We got to the island and walked 
past  the tower and found a basket swing for 2 where we undressed. We 
then  went up the tower so I could take my pictures of the resort. We 
only  stayed  a  brief time on the island since we had to get back to 
the  mainland for our snorkel trip at 3. I had to drop off my digital 
camera  and  getting  our  snorkel gear. Couples does provide all the 
equipment,  however  we both have prescription snorkel masks since we 
both wear glasses.

Dinner  that  night  was the pool buffet. Joe said he ate more things 
he  didn't  recognize  his trip than ever before and he loved most of 
it.  At  a place like this if you don't like something, don't eat it. 
Go  try  something  else. We were doing the "double take" so the next 
morning  we  were headed for Negril. We put our bags outside our door 
at  8:20  for our trip over to Negril. I really didn't want to leave. 
We  had  such  a great time at this resort. We went down to the patio 
for  our  breakfast buffet. Then on to the lobby to catch the shuttle 
to the airport at 9:15.

Before  I go any further let me say we did love the Negril resort. It 
has  a  lot  to  offer. I'm am trying to give my honest opinion about 
what  it  was like. If we hadn't been to the resort at Ocho Rios, I'm 
sure  I wouldn't have noticed the little things as much. The majority 
of  the  staff  did  a  fine job, better than typical resort staff in 
most  cases, just not to the same level as the other resort. Also the 
resort  being  right  between 2 other resorts gives less privacy. The 
new  Rui  resort  even  allows  children so you do see them sometimes 
walking on the beach.

Went  to the front desk and were asked to take a seat to fill out the 
paper  work.  It  was a wait before they brought us the forms to fill 
out.  . I have to say I was a bit disappointed we didn't get the cool 
towel  or  the  champagne.  It  wasn't until the bellhop came over to 
take  us to our room that it was offered. He seemed surprised that it 
hadn't been offered.

I  had  brought  a copy of a map of the resort layout with me. When I 
asked  the  lady  would came over with our room key she really didn't 
know  where  the  room  was  nor  was  she willing to find out. After 
having  just  come  from  the  other  resort  where  everyone  was so 
friendly  this  was  not  what  I would have expected. Here again the 
bellhop  was  more than helpful. He immediately pointed out where the 
room  was  and  offered  to  stop  at  the  bar so we could have some 
champagne  if  we  wanted.  Why  the  bell  staff  was nicer and more 
accommodating  than  the  front  desk staff is beyond me. They should 
improve how the front desk staff handles guests.

We  went  up  to  our  room and it was very different from the one at 
Ocho  Rios. I think the room number was 6305 but I can't remember for 
sure.  The  location of our room was on the third floor (no elevators 
here).  We were in the first building just to the side of the Terrace 
Restaurant  (a.k.a.  Casaba Restaurant) and also faces the pool. This 
is  definitely  a  more up to date resort in appearance. The room had 
bright  colors  and  even  a  light  over  the bed that looked like a 
camera  shining  down  on the tapestry. The one exception to being up 
to  date  was the television that didn't have a way for me to hook my 
camera  to  it.  When  I  asked about it at the front desk later that 
day,  I  was  basically  given  the brush off. ) As a side note I had 
emailed  both  resorts  about this same thing. Ocho Rios responded, I 
never heard back from Negril).

After  checking  out  the room and balcony we wanted lunch. We headed 
over  to  the  beach grill. They had even more choices than the beach 
grill  at  Ocho  Rios. Plus to Joe's delight they had self serve soft 
ice  cream.  After  satisfying  our hunger we wandered the resort. At 
water  sports  we signed up for the catamaran cruise for the next day 
as  well  as for a snorkel trip on Friday. They don't have snorkeling 
on  Thursdays at Negril. We continued walking the grounds and saw the 
lovely gardens they have.

Then  we  headed  back  to  the  room  to  relax.  At  5PM we went to 
orientation.  They gave a full walking tour of the grounds and talked 
about  the  activities  and off site trips that are available. If you 
haven't  been  to  this  resort before do the orientation. Afterwards 
Joe  headed  back  to  the  room and I went to the swim-up bar in the 
pool.  I  ran  into a friend I had met in Ocho Rios we sat, drank and 
chatted.  It  had started to rain so we stayed under the cover of the 
bar's  thatch  while sitting in the pool watching the sun go down. At 
8  we went to meet a couple we had arranged to meet over the internet 
before  the  trip at the Casaba bar. They had gone to dinner there at 
7  and  still  didn't  have  their  meals. We checked with the person 
seating  people  and  he said it would be no problem to join them for 
dinner.  It  was  nice  to  be able to put a face to the people I had 
chatted  with  on  line.  Dinner  took  a very long time to come. The 
other  couple was eating their desserts before we had even gotten our 
meals.  By  then the band had started. We were sitting right in front 
of them.

The  next  day we went on the Catamaran cruise also know as the booze 
cruise.  They  go down the coast past all the resorts on 7 Mile Beach 
and  continue  on by the cliffs until they get to the Pickled Parrot. 
The  boat has no place to dock there. You need to get off the boat by 
jumping  in  or  going  down  the stairs. You then swim to the cliffs 
climb  up a ladder and then take the stairs the rest of the way up. I 
understand  that  sometimes  this can be a long swim. The day we went 
it  wasn't very far. At the Pickled Parrot they have a water slide, a 
rope  swing  as  well  as cliff diving. If you want anything to drink 
while  on  shore  you  will  have to pay for it. When your time is up 
there  they  blow a whistle to let you know to come back to the boat. 
They  swim  back is much hard since now you are fighting the current. 
If  you  don't trust your swimming skills they do offer life vests to 
help  keep you afloat. If you prefer you can stay on the boat. On the 
way back they did hold a limbo contest.

We  had  lunch  at  the buffet and then relaxed by the pool. Later we 
watched  the  sunset  from  our  balcony before heading to dinner. We 
chose  to  eat  at  the  beach restaurant. It was so beautiful eating 
under  the stars. The food was great as well. After dinner we grabbed 
drinks  and  walked  the  beach.  We  then headed back to the room to 
relax.  By  then the band had started playing. You could hear it loud 
and  clear  in the room. What made it worse was there also was a band 
that  night  over  at  the  Grande Lido next door. We could hear them 
quite clearly also.

The next morning I was up early again. I could here people doing set-
up  at breakfast buffet, glasses clinking, carts being rolled around. 
It  was  no  where near as quiet as in Ocho Rios. Again I headed down 
to  the pool to read for awhile before Joe got up. This morning I had 
also  decided  to  take my camera with me. I was very glad I did. The 
resorts  peacock  was  courting  the  peahen.  He kept walking around 
displaying his feathers.

This  was  our  last full day in Jamaica. We went on the 9:30 snorkel 
trip.  It  was windy that morning so the water was choppy. I found it 
too  much  work  to fight the waves so I just hung out near the boat. 
Once  back  at  the  resort  we hung out by the pool. We chatted with 
several  other  couples.  Later  as the sun started going down I knew 
this  was  going  to be the best of the sunsets. Joe went back to our 
room to grab my camera. It was beautiful!

That  night  we  went back to the beach restaurant. We had enjoyed it 
so  much the night before. Friday is lobster night (when it's not the 
wrong  season).  Joe  enjoyed the lobster and I enjoyed a steak. They 
had  musicians  playing  during  dinner. It was very romantic. At the 
end  of  the  meal  we  ordered 2 coffees and a shot of rum cream. We 
both really enjoyed adding the rum cream to our coffees.

In  the  morning  we  went to the breakfast buffet. They have so many 
choices.  Both  of  us opted for the made to order omelets. Of course 
we  also  sampled  many  other  things.  I  really  loved some of the 
different  mixed  tropical  juices.  They  also  offer  made to order 
smoothies.  We  put  our bags outside the door at 11:30. We headed to 
the  lobby about 12:15 and checked out. There was a bus waiting. When 
asked  where  our bags were hey said they had already put them on the 
bus.  Joe  checked  and  found none of our bags. The front desk staff 
insisted  they were there. (See my earlier comments about service.) I 
insisted  they  go  and  check  to  see if the bags had actually been 
picked  up. It took another 5-10 minutes to get someone to do that. I 
felt  sorry  for  the  people  already  on  the  bus.  Being seasoned 
travelers  we  weren't  about  to  leave without our luggage. Finally 
they  sent someone to our room. When they came back they had our bags 
in  a  cart.  They told us to get on the bus and they would load them 
on.  I  said  no, not until the bags are on it. Finally they took our 
bags off the cart and put them onto the bus and we were on our way.

JAMAICA: ENCHANTED GARDEN, OCHOS RIO BY T.J. MCMILLAN

  Let  me  start  by saying that the "Enchanted Garden" in Ochos Rio, 
Jamaica  was all that I had thought it would be and a whole lot more. 
Prior   to  our  vacation  (me  and  my  boyfriend's  first  vacation 
together),  I would read any review I could get my hands on regarding 
the  "Enchanted  Garden".  The majority of them were quite favorable, 
so I really wasn't expecting anything 
bad.

But  just  let's  say that what I got far exceeded my wildest dreams. 
The  resort located high atop a mountain in Jamaica was beautiful!!!! 
The  architect  of  this  place  incorporated  the  natural beauty of 
Jamaica....the  lush  plant  life  and the exotic waterfalls into the 
design  of  the resort. So, everywhere you looked there literally was 
something  wonderful  to  see......it  was like being in a "Garden of 
Eden". The perfect place for couples to 
unwind, relax and to cultivate their relationship.

We  were  so,  so,  so,  pleased. Everything from the scenery, to the 
food  (which  was  nothing  less  than gourmet), the staff, the other 
vacationers  was  awesome.  Throughout  the trip, all we could do was 
comment  on  how lovely the grounds were and what a good time we were 
having.....  I  know  my  boyfriend's favorite spot on the resort was 
this  little  hidden  area near a small waterfall (engulfed by pretty 
flowers  and  plant  life,  vines and ferns, etc.) where two hammocks 
hung  between  at  least  4-5 story trees. We would just lie there at 
night  and  talk  under  a star-filled night. That was awesome and it 
just made 
you appreciated life and God's wonderful creation.

Our  room  was  nice....except  for the fact that the bathroom had no 
electrical  outlets....so  for  you girls who have to use the curlers 
everyday like me, 
then  you'll  need  to  be prepared to do that in another area of the 
room. 

The   food   was   excellent.  The  "Enchanted  Garden"  has  4  main 
restaurants  and  a  pasta bar. In each location, everything was well 
prepared  and  tasty.  The  atmosphere  also  helped to enhanced your 
dining  experience  because  at  each  restaurant a certain theme was 
represented  and  the  decor  was  superb:  (1)  One restaurant had a 
middle  eastern  them  and  it  gave  the illusion as though you were 
sitting  in  some  Shek's  harem, (2) One restaurant served Thai food 
and  there  you  sat  on  the  floor  at wooden tables (we especially 
enjoyed  that)  and  (3)  the main restaurant had an actual waterfall 
that  ran  smack  in  the  middle of it. I basically thought I was in 
heaven.  The  Seaquariam  also  served lunch and it was as elegant as 
any  of  the  finer  restaurants  in  the  States.  They say a lot of 
weddings   occur   at   "The   Enchanted   Garden"   and  I  can  see 
why......Jamaica  on  beautiful grounds with beautiful facilities who 
would want for more. 

Well,  I  still recuperating from the trip....perhaps I'll write more 
about  this  fantasy-like  resort  later.  If  you  are considering a 
visit, take my advice, you won't be disappointed.

MEXICO: IBEROSTAR TUCAN BY STEVE P HOOKER

My  family  and I stayed the week after Easter at the Iberostar Tucan 
.  We  were  completely  impressed and would recommend this resort to 
anyone.  The  few negatives we encountered were far outweighed by the 
positives.

The  Pools: Positives: Amazing! The pool was beautiful and very large 
with  several  fountains  throughout. Each morning it was in pristine 
condition  as  cleaning  and  upkeep  was  performed every night. The 
water  was  a perfect temperature and was very comfortable. There are 
also  3  other  pools.  One  for children, which was very shallow, an 
adult  pool,  and  a recreational pool equipped with fixed basketball 
hoops  and  removable  volleyball  net.  Negatives: Most of the large 
pool  is  4-1/2'  to 5' deep making it difficult for children who are 
inexperienced  swimmers  to  enjoy.  No swim up bar, but the bars are 
only  a few feet away. You had to be up by 6AM to get lounges. By 8AM 
all lounges were gone for the entire day.

The  Beach: Positives: The erosion issue was not an issue for me. The 
terraced  beach  actually  offered  good  views  of the people in the 
water.  Plenty  of  lounges  but would still fill up early in the AM. 
Numerous  palapas  kept  you  in the shade if needed. Also, umbrellas 
were  issued  for  those  that  did  not get a palapa. Negatives: Not 
many. The bars are a little walk from some areas of the beach.

The  Grounds:  A  very  unique  jungle  setting  is wonderful. We saw 
numerous  creatures  throughout  our  stay.  We saw the spider monkey 
family  at  least  3  times  (twice  at the main pool and once at the 
Tucan  side  buffet  climbing on the roof!). If your room is near the 
lobby  you  have  a  good  walk to the beach and pool and quick trips 
back  and  forth  to  the  room will be difficult. Shoot for rooms in 
buildings 11, 12, 13.

The  Food:  Positives:  There  was  a  big  variety  at  the buffets, 
especially  at  dinner.  Breakfast was mostly the same every day. The 
quality  of  the  buffet food was good. I would rate it a 7 on a 1-10 
scale.  The  Italian  restaurant was good but not great. Negatives: I 
thought  the  Mexican  restaurant was horrible. There was 4 of us and 
not  one  of  us  finished our plates. I would definitely bypass this 
place  (we  chose  the Mexican because many at this board talked down 
the steak house. Trust me...try the steak house).

The  Drinks:  It  was all good. They make them as strong as you want. 
The  central  bar  does  not open till 5PM but they have good quality 
drinks.  We  brought  24 ounce insulated mugs and they were great for 
our days at the beach.

Overall: Loved the place. Very unique setting. Very, very clean.

Extra:  The 1 hour snorkeling trip offered by Dressel Divers in front 
of  the  hotel  was  great. Also - YOU MUST GO TO "HIDDEN WORLDS" AND 
SNORKEL THE CENOTES. UNBELIEVABLE EXPERIENCE. 

ST. KITTS: JACK TARR VILLAGE BY LARRY LAROCHELLE

My  wife  and  I  traveled to Jack Tarr Village on St. Kitts on March 
26, 2001.

We  arranged  our  trip  through TNT Vacations, took a charter out of 
Boston  that  flew  to  the  D.R.  to  drop  off  passengers, pick up 
returning  travelers  from  the  previous  week,  and  then on to St. 
Kitts.

We  had a marvelous, relaxing week. Sunny every day, temps in the 80s 
with  a  nice breeze much of the time. A couple of showers but mostly 
at night. Nice scenery and pretty palm trees.

Jack  Tarr  is  an  all-inclusive resort, about a 10-minute ride from 
the  airport.  It  is also only 10 minutes or so to the central town, 
Basseterre,  but  since  all  of our meals were included and the food 
was excellent, we didn't venture out often to eat.

Cleanliness  is  outstanding on this island, and all foods (cooked or 
uncooked)  were  safe  to  eat  as well as water, which we even drank 
straight  from  the  tap. The food at Jack Tarr was plentiful, varied 
and  very  tasty.  A  couple  of steps down from the "gourmet" dining 
which  we  do  enjoy,  but we ate well and a lot! Roast meat at every 
lunch  and dinner, several entree choices, always fish, pasta, stews, 
a  variety  of cooked vegetables and a very good salad bar. Very good 
ice  cream  in  the  evening and a nice selection of desserts. Drinks 
were  free all day long (nice Pina Coladas!) and there were two other 
food  courts  open  during  the  day  where  you  could get hot dogs, 
nachos,  fries,  etc.  The resort also has an Italian restaurant that 
is  open  most nights, which you have to make reservations for during 
the  day.  As  Italian  food  goes,  this  was good, though basically 
average,  but  the  ambiance  of  being  served  by candelight in the 
outdoor  setting  was very nice indeed. Wines available by the bottle 
at  extra  cost  at  the  Italian  Restaurant.  Musical entertainment 
provided onsite was provided each evening.

Two  swimming pools, one "quiet" for sunbathing and swimming, and the 
other  "active"  for  various water sports organized by the staff. We 
spent  our  time  by the quiet pool, but people seemed to be enjoying 
the  activities as well. Two beaches nearby, within walking distance, 
bicycle  or  shuttle  ride,  one  on  the  Atlantic  and  one  on the 
Caribbean.  The  Atlantic  Beach, though closer, was quite windy most 
of  the time and had much more wave action. A nice reef just offshore 
might  have  been  nice snorkeling. The Caribbean beach is sheltered, 
nice  sand,  with free access for Jack Tarr residents to nonmotorized 
water  sports  equipment:  snorkeling and kayaking particularly. Good 
beach  to  swim  and sun. We also took a 20-minute cab ride to Turtle 
Beach,  which  has  a  nice restaurant and a beautiful view of Nevis, 
the  sister  island  of  St. Kitts. Good snorkeling here, and we were 
able  to  pick  up  the  free  gear  at the Caribbean beach to use at 
Turtle Beach.

We  took  an  island  tour  with  our  guide  "Merritt",  an  elegant 
gentleman  who  was  very informative and helpful. We would recommend 
the  tour  (and  Merritt!) to get your bearings and decide what other 
things  you  might want to do. Included is a visit to Brimstone Hill, 
the  fortress citadel with cannons and a nice view, and a trip to the 
Batik  factory at Romney Manor, where you can see how the clothing is 
dyed  and  purchase  some  if you want. Other tours available (all at 
extra  cost,  around  $50  US) included catamaran snorkeling trips, a 
RainForest  Hike,  a hike to the top of the volcano (dormant!), and a 
trip/tour  to  Nevis.  We  went  to  Nevis  on our own one afternoon, 
taking  the boat ferry out of the harbor for $8 each roundtrip. Spent 
a  nice  afternoon  in  the  town,  eating and watching the locals go 
through   their  paces.  Nevis  is  a  beautiful  island,  much  less 
touristed  than  St. Kitts, though you certainly don't find St. Kitts 
overrun at all.

Jack  Tarr  also has the only casino on St. Kitts, where those with a 
penchant  for  giving away their money can indulge. It was never very 
busy  while  we were there. The blackjack tables were $5 minimum, too 
rich  for  my  blood  not  being  much of a gambler (though they were 
fairly  busy  most  evenings),  but I played the quarter machines and 
had  a lot of fun. In fact, I watched a gambler play Keno for a while 
one  evening,  when  he  up  and  left  with  .25 credit still on the 
machine.  After  waiting  for a while to see if he would come back, I 
pressed  the  button  and  won  $150! on his numbers and his quarter. 
Definitely  a  once-in-a-lifetime  chance.  I  played a while longer, 
cashed out $145 and took my winnings happily off into the night....

We  had  a  fantastic  time  here,  got  a  chance  to  recharge  the 
batteries,  get away from the nasty winter weather and get a start on 
a  nice  tan.  Swimming  was  nice, food was very good, the islanders 
friendly.  Good  staff  at  the resort. This is not a destination for 
those  looking  for  a  wild  nightlife,  but we'd definitely go back 
again and highly recommend it.

TOBAGO BY HERR LENI

I  wrote about a trip to Tobago in Jan. of 2000. I am now updating my 
travels  to  Tobago  with  another  look at the island after a second 
visit with my husband in Nov. 2000.

In  Jan.  2000,  on  a trip with 2 friends, we stayed in the southern 
part  of  the  island in a very nice villa with neighbors all around. 
Most  of  our  time  was  spent in the area, where it was crowded and 
expensive.  Many  nights  we  cooked  in  the  villa which saved some 
money. It was a nice trip and we loved the island.

I  can  say now that I love it even more. In Nov. 2000, I traveled to 
Tobago  with  my  husband  and  two girlfriends of ours. This time we 
stayed   near  Englishman's  Bay  in  Parrot  Estate  Villa,  in  the 
northwest  end  of  the  island. Unlike the first villa in Jan. 2000, 
this  villa  was  surrounded  by gorgeous gardens on the property and 
jungle  everywhere  else!  The  only  other  house  in  site was on a 
mountaintop across a small valley. 

The  whole  area  was  just what we wanted: peace, quiet, few people, 
and  the  beauty of the island around us. The gardener came every day 
and  kept  us supplied with fresh bananas and limes from the trees on 
the  property.  Other  times  of  the  year  there  are  avocados and 
mangoes.

Each  day  we watched the parrots fly back and forth, up and down the 
valley.  At  night  the bats came out and fed on the old bananas that 
we  put  in the bird feeder. We could sit in the gazebo and watch the 
birds  and  bats,  and  also  look out on the amazing gardens. It was 
like we were in a resort!

The  villa was great, There were 14 sets of double doors, with a view 
to  the  ocean  from  half of them. In the 2 bedrooms were comfy beds 
with  mosquito  netting!  It  was  so  nice  going to sleep at night, 
knowing the bugs wouldn't be after you.

The  northern  end  of  the  island  is beautiful, full of mountains, 
jungle,  birds,  and  few  people. It was here that we found the even 
more  wonderful  people of the island! Each day we would drive the 10 
minutes  south  to  the  fishing  village  of Castara, where we could 
either  have dinner for $20-$24 for all four of us including a drink, 
or  buy  a  fish  for  $4, big enough to feed 8 people! It was mighty 
tasty cooked on the grill back at the villa!

Ten  minutes  north  was  the  beautiful  Englishman's Bay, where the 
waves  washed up on a gorgeous beach surrounded by palm trees. To get 
to  the  beach you have to drive down a short dirt road and through a 
grove  of  giant  bamboo.  There  is  a  nice little food stand and a 
couple  vendors  selling  bamboo  birdfeeders  and  planters. We have 
heard  rumors  that  a resort will be built on the site! What a shame 
if that is true.

We  did  drive around the island and saw all the other sites, but our 
favorite  times  were  spent  at  Englishman's  Bay and Parrot Estate 
Villa. They are why Tobago has become my favorite Caribbean island!

The  official  The  Caribbean  Travel  Roundup  World Wide Web site is 
http://caribtravelnews.com.  The  CTR  is  also  available  on America 
Online.  Contact:  Paul  Graveline, 9 Stirling St., Andover, MA 01810-
1408   USA   :Home   (Voice   or   Fax)   978-470-1971.   E-mail   via 
editor@caribtravelnews.com or CTREDITOR@aol.com

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