Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 95
May 15, 1999

Last Update 10 May 1999 1700ET

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JAMAICA: PLANTATION INN, OCHO RIOS BY JOE MCLOUGHLIN

Trip 3/99

My  wife and I returned from Ocho Rios three weeks ago and I'd like to report 
on  what my impressions were. I found this message board useful, so I thought 
I'd  try  to  return the favor. This was our second trip to Jamaica. 1st time 
was  in '97 and we stayed at Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios and the Poinciana in 
Negril. This time we stayed at the Plantation Inn in Ocho Rios.

Travel  To:  We  flew Air Canada from Portland, OR to Kingston (via Vancouver 
and  Toronto:  Frequent flier mileage awards make you do strange things). Our 
arrival  and processing through customs was easy and quick (especially when I 
compared  it  to  the lines we encountered in MoBay the last trip). We caught 
up  with  our  taxi,  who  was  arranged  through the hotel. The trip through 
Kingston  during  rush hour was slow and made us realize we weren't in Kansas 
anymore.  We  passed  through Trenchtown and Spanish Town. We saw an accident 
near  the  Flat  bridge,  which  made  me glad that I had taken the advice of 
several  responders  on  this  board  when I asked if we should rent a car or 
hire a taxi. We got into Ocho Rios after dark (the trip took about 3 hours.)

Accommodations:  The Plantation Inn is a beautiful older building with a nice 
dark  wood  lobby. We had a room on the West Wing. All rooms overlook the sea 
and  have  a  nice  balcony. There are three floors, we were on the top floor 
(which  I  would  recommend).  If  you would like more seclusion, stay on the 
East  wing. We liked being closer to the central area because there were some 
nights  where  we would hang out in our room listening to the bands that were 
playing  outdoors  at  the  Restaurant. The rooms are clean, but not new. The 
sliding  doors  to  the balconies were wood with glass windows. The "windows" 
in  the  closet  (nice big closet) and the back wall were wooden louvers that 
could  be opened to let the breeze flow through. A ceiling fan helped to cool 
the  room  off,  as  well.  The  AC  was OK, but we only used it on the first 
night.  The  TV didn't work (thank you, God). The staff was friendly and very 
helpful.

Beach  and  Grounds: The land surrounding the Inn was a beautifully manicured 
garden  that  included  several  roaming  peacocks.  They have several tennis 
courts  that  appeared to be in great condition (they had a visiting pro that 
gave  free  lessons).  There  was a weight and exercise room which we saw but 
didn't  use.  The  equipment looked to be past its prime. The best part about 
the  PI  was  the beach(es). There are actually two sections (east and west). 
The  west  was  closer  to  most of the rooms and had a beach bar (hence more 
people)  and  all  of the water toys. The east side was more secluded and was 
very  private.  There were several days where we would be one of two or three 
couples  on  the  beach.  We  were  never hassled with people offering jetski 
rentals  or  parasailing  trips.  The beaches are both sides were daily raked 
and spotless; the sand was soft and clean. 

Water  Sports:  I  think  the PI is in a perfect location. We love to snorkel 
and  there  is  a  great  reef  about 100 yards off shore. We brought our own 
masks  and  snorkles  and  used the hotel's flippers. The first day we took a 
glass  bottom  boat  ride out to the reef west of the hotel and joined divers 
from   Sandals,   Ciboney   etc.  in  an  area  that  was  fairly  murky  and 
uninteresting   fishwise.  The  water  was  very  clear  and  the  reef  more 
interesting  directly  out  from the East beach. We swam out there and had no 
problems.  My  wife is a good swimmer, but we took along a life preserver for 
her  to  float  on which made her more confident of the swim out to the reef. 
The  water is 10 feet deep at most and there are enough sandy, shallow places 
to  stand  near  the reef if you get tired. We spent hours exploring the reef 
and  felt  like it was our own private aquarium. Saw many multicolored fishes 
and  several  small  stingrays.  The  north side of the reef was considerably 
deeper  and there were several scuba dive boats that visited during the week. 
I  didn't  sail,  but  they  have sunfish and sailboards available. The winds 
were  steady,  but not overpowering. If I had more time I would have accepted 
the  offer  of  Donovan (one of the several beach attendants) to teach me how 
to  sail the sunfish. Next time. I did take out one of the plastic sea kayaks 
and paddled down to the Shaw Park hotel beach, about a mile or so east. 

Food:  We  did  not  sign  up  for  the  all-inclusive  package at the hotel, 
preferring  to  explore  the  restaurants  available  in Ocho Rios. We bought 
fruit  (excellent  pineapples,  papayas,  watermelons,  and  bananas)  at the 
Friday  farmer's  market  and sweet rolls at the Ocho Rios Bakery in town and 
carried  those back to the hotel for breakfasts. Unfortunately the hotel room 
didn't  have  a  refrigerator,  but  they  did  have plenty of ice. We used a 
plastic  bucket  as  there were no coolers for sale in town (my guess is they 
are  too  light  and bulky to be profitably imported into the island). I also 
bought  a  supply of Heinekens (brewed in Kingston and very tasty) and Dragon 
Stouts  to enjoy at the hotel. Prices were about J$50 for each beer (J$35 per 
US$1).  For  lunches  we  either had home made sandwiches when we were at the 
hotel,  or  ate  at a jerk place in town. We had dinner at the Ocho Rios Jerk 
Centre   twice  and  loved  it.  They  have  little  sweet  dumplings  called 
"festivals"  that  tasted  good  with the spicy meats (we enjoyed the chicken 
and  ribs, the pork was too fatty and the fish was nothing special). We ate a 
lunch  or  two  at  another small sidewalk jerk center in town (right next to 
the  KFC)  and  enjoyed  that as well. Do you get the idea that we loved jerk 
food?  The  only  place  we  went  that  we  didn't like was the place called 
"BiBiBips"  on  the  old  road outside of Ocho Rios. The view was great and I 
enjoyed  the  music that they were playing, but the food was mediocre and the 
worst  part  was the surprise when the bill arrived. On top of the food bill, 
we  were  hit with a "service Tax" of 15% and hospitality charge of 10%. I am 
sure  that  the  local  Jamaicans,  of  whom  there  were  few  dining at the 
restaurant,  were not hit with such a tax. We were prepared to argue with the 
manager,  but  chalked  it  up  to  experience.  My new name for the place is 
"RiRiRips".  We  also had a dinner at the Plantation Inn on a night we didn't 
feel  like  going  out  to town. The food was outstanding, plentiful, and the 
service  was  quick.  They  serve  continental  cuisine  with  fresh Jamaican 
ingredients.  The  prices  aren't  cheap,  but  you get what you pay for. The 
bottom line is that we really enjoyed the flexibility of not being on an all-
inclusive  plan.  Next  time  we go to Jamaica, we will look for a place that 
has a small refrigerator included with the room, and possibly a kitchette. 

Things  to do besides the beach: We enjoyed being able to walk into town from 
the  hotel.  I found the town to be cleaner and much more prosperous than the 
last  time  we  were there. I think the influx of money from the cruise ships 
that  dock  several  times  a  week have helped the town. My wife enjoyed the 
shops,  particularly  the  fabric  stores  that  had  reasonable  prices  and 
interesting  prints.  The  Friday  market  was  a  hoot: quite a selection of 
locally  grown  produce  and  some interesting characters. The music that was 
for  sale  was all bootleg tapes and I didn't indulge. We also spent a day at 
Dunn's  River  Falls.  The  owners have really cleaned the place up. It was a 
spotless  tropical park. I didn't hire a guide and I climbed the Falls twice. 
That  is  probably  one  of  the  most  refreshing  and fun places that I can 
imagine.  We  went  to  the Falls (via taxi: J$400 roundtrip from hotel) on a 
Sunday  morning  that did not have any ships in port and we were able to miss 
most  of  the  crowds. Many locals spend the day at the beach which is at the 
bottom  of  the falls. We went to an art gallery several miles to the east of 
our  hotel called Harmony House. The paintings on display were beautiful, all 
done  by  professional  artists of Jamaican themes. Unfortunately, the prices 
were  too  steep for us. My wife shopped for a while in their gift shop and I 
had  a  couple  of Red Stripes at the bar. I met the owner (a transplant from 
Parma,  Italy)  of  a restaurant that was located next to the gallery. I also 
talked  to the bartender about cricket. He told me of a cricket oval, Content 
Garden,  which was near my hotel. I went out the next day to see if there was 
a  match,  but  no  luck. I have only seen cricket on TV during our last trip 
and  wanted to learn more about the game. The hotels sponsor employee cricket 
teams  that  vie for the league honors. The Jamaicans love football (soccer), 
as  well.  I  did  enjoy the walk through the Jamaican neighborhood that most 
tourists probably don't see.

Getting  Around:  We walked a lot. Our hotel was almost 2 miles from town (to 
the  east). We would typically walk into town on the new highway, which had a 
concrete  sidewalk. We did go into town on the old road, which has more shops 
and  activities,  but  smaller  spaces  for walking. Taking taxis was never a 
problem.  There was an area near the clocktower in town where we could always 
find  a  ride  back  to  our hotel. There aren't many formal taxis, most guys 
just  have  a  small  car and give rides for a fee. When asked how much, they 
would  always  ask  how  much we would be willing to spend. For the two of us 
and  all  the groceries and stuff that we would carry, we usually could get a 
ride  for  J$100. After getting to know the scene, we found out that we could 
pile  into a car headed the same direction we were going with other Jamaicans 
and  pay  J$50 for the two of us. I noticed the locals were paying about J$15 
each.  Those  rides  were quite an adventure. Even though we were squeezed in 
the   back   of  a  little  Japanese  sedan,  people  were  respectful  about 
maintaining  personal  space.  Thankfully  the  other  passengers  used their 
deodorants.  The people in general are friendly, but businesslike. There is a 
great  family  atmosphere in town. We were downtown on Saturday night and had 
a  great  time  in  the  midst  of the bustle. We were the only non-Jamaicans 
around,  it  seemed.  Everyone was dressed in their good clothes and were out 
to  have  a fun time. My wife and I felt very safe. My wife walked to town by 
herself on another occasion and had no difficulties. 

Travel  Home:  We left Ocho Rios with the driver that had picked us up at the 
airport  a week before. We had arranged to spend the day checking out some of 
the  sights  along  the  way  prior  to  our  4:00 flight home. We stopped in 
Spanish  Town  and  I  checked out the museum in the old town square while my 
wife  did  some  more  fabric  shopping.  We went to the Bob Marley museum in 
Kingston  and  got the tour. We thought it to be overpriced for what you get. 
The  woman  who  gave the tour gave the impression that she'd rather be doing 
anything  but  guiding  the  tour  through the old home. The best part of the 
"museum"  was  the film that they show at the end in their little theater. We 
made  it to the airport with no problems, had a late lunch and flew back home 
via  Toronto/Calgary/Vancouver.  Air  Canada  deserves  praise  because  they 
didn't  lose  any of our 5 bags, they had reasonably good food, and their in-
flight  personnel  had  good  attitudes.  I  wish  I could say the same about 
United. We're now planning our next trip back for Spring Break 2000.

JAMAICA: GRAND LIDO SANS SOUCI BY JUDITH RASTL

We  just  returned  from  our  first  Jamaica trip, a week at Grand Lido Sans 
Souci,  and  it  was the best vacation of our lives.  If you’re looking for a 
romantic  spot  where  you can relax, be pampered and forget about time, this 
is the place.

About  six months ago John and I started talking about going to Jamaica.   We 
had  heard  about  Sandals,  so  we got some brochures and read up on all the 
Sandals  resorts.   We knew we wanted to stay at an all-inclusive resort, but 
we  still  had  some  questions,  so  we  got  on the Internet and discovered 
SuperClubs.   So  many  choices!   We  called  SuperClubs,  and  they sent us 
brochures  and  a  video, but it was the Internet trip reports that convinced 
us  that  Grand Lido Sans Souci was the place for us.  Planning this trip was 
fun,  but  whoever  said  “getting  there is half the fun” didn’t have to fly 
from Tucson to Jamaica.

We  left  Tucson  Friday  afternoon,  April  16,  spent the night at a Dallas 
Airport  hotel, caught a 6:00 a.m. flight to Miami on Saturday and arrived in 
Montego  Bay  around  noon.   We were among the first in line and got through 
Immigration,  Baggage and Customs quickly.  A porter loaded our bags onto his 
cart  and  led  us  to the Air Jamaica Express counter in a different part of 
the  airport.   The  bags were heavy, and we didn’t know where we were going, 
so  it  was  well  worth  the  tip.   We  had  booked the flight to Ocho Rios 
(actually  Boscobel  Aerodrome)  in order to get to the resort sooner than we 
would  by  taking  the shuttle.  The flight was supposed to leave at 1:00 and 
arrive  at  1:30.   Due  to a maintenance problem, we didn’t leave till 2:00.  
When  we  arrived  in  Ocho Rios, we were told the driver from Sans Souci had 
already  come and gone, but they called him and he came back.  We got to Sans 
Souci  around  3:00  right  after the guests who took the shuttle.  Still, we 
have  no regrets.  It was a scenic flight along the coast, and we saw several 
resorts, including Sans Souci, from the air.

We  tipped  our  taxi  driver  (the  last  tip till the day we left) and were 
greeted  by Mark Lee with “Welcome home.”  He took us to the Front Desk where 
Nicole  met  us  and  asked  if  we’d like something to drink.  She brought a 
Mimosa  for  me  and a Red Stripe for John and gave us some forms to fill out 
and took our hotel voucher.

Our  room  wasn’t  ready so Nicole took us to the Spa and left us with Maggie 
to  schedule our spa appointments for the week.  On the way back to the Front 
Desk  we  stopped  by Charlie’s Grotto and were lucky to see Charlie, the sea 
turtle.  She is one big turtle!

By  the  time  we returned to the Front Desk our room was ready.  Karoline (I 
think  she  is one of the Assistant Managers) showed us to our room.  We were 
happy to learn we had an upgrade to a Jacuzzi Suite on the second floor in B-
Block.   We  had  a balcony that looked down on the lawn where the Grand Gala 
would  be  held  on  Friday  night and beyond that, a view of the ocean.  All 
week  we enjoyed having our morning coffee on the balcony and watching people 
stroll by on their way to breakfast at Palazinna nearby.

After  Karoline  left,  I  called  Room  Service and ordered a Tropical Fruit 
Plate  and  Fiesta El Macho—nacho chips with onion, tomato, jalapeno peppers, 
cheese,  sour cream, guacamole & salsa (really good) and Margaritas.  We also 
asked  for  a  couple of champagne glasses for later to go with the champagne 
that was in our mini-bar.  

Our  bags  arrived  and we changed into shorts and T-shirts and unpacked.  We 
put  our tickets, passports and John’s wallet in the wall safe.  John enjoyed 
not  having  to  carry  his wallet all week.  The only time we took money out 
was  to buy stamps for a postcard and to pay for pictures of us taken both at 
Casanova  (the  formal restaurant) and at the Grand Gala.  Karoline called to 
ask  if  our  bags  had  arrived  and  if  we received the extra towels I had 
requested.   Yes  on both.  We were impressed with her follow-up.  Sans Souci 
must  have an excellent training program and a knack for hiring bright people 
who are suited to the hospitality industry.  

Before  going  out  to  explore,  we  took  the  advice from some of the trip 
reports  we’d  read  and called to make dinner reservations for the week.  We 
were  able  to  get  into  Casanova Sunday at 9:00 and Wednesday at 7:30.  We 
wanted  to go to Seafood Night at La Terrazza and had to settle for 9:30.  We 
were  told a large group (70+ people) was staying at the hotel, and they were 
having a reception and dinner at La Terrazza that night.

We  felt  like the Beach Bar was calling us, so we went on down and ordered a 
Yellow  Bird  and  a Jamaican Delight and congratulated ourselves on arriving 
in  Paradise.   This  place  is  beautiful—the  clean  sandy beach, the clear 
water,   huge   trees  with  blossoms,  lush  foliage  and  tropical  flowers 
everywhere.
  
We  took  a  walk and climbed some of the many steps we kept reading about in 
other  trip  reports.   We actually liked the steps.  With all the eating and 
drinking  we’d  be  doing  all  week,  we  welcomed the exercise.  We found a 
hammock  near  the  Hummingbird Garden and were swinging and debating whether 
we  were  going  to be hungry enough for any dinner that night after the late 
Room  Service  lunch,  when  Lorna  walked  by and stopped to say hello.  (We 
later  learned  Lorna worked at the Balloon Bar and the Beach Bar.)  She told 
us  about  Bella  Vista  and  Café Lido, two restaurants where we didn’t need 
reservations  and  could get something light.  Lorna asked our names, and for 
the rest of the week she called us J & J.

We  went back to our room to freshen up and then went to Bella Vista where we 
had  salad, bread, wine and dessert.  We skipped the entrée.  Then we checked 
out  the  Balloon  Bar  and met George, a popular and talented bartender.  He 
and Ralston were outstanding.

On  Sunday,  our  first  full  day,  we  had  coffee  on the balcony and then 
breakfast  on  the  terrace  at  Palazzina.  The buffet had both hot and cold 
selections.   That  first  day,  we  just  had  fruit,  smoked  fish, cheese, 
croissants and coffee and juice and then headed for the beach.

This  is  a  small  private beach, not like the one at Grand Lido Negril.  We 
talked  to some people who had just spent a week at Negril and they preferred 
the  bigger  beach  there.   We  liked the seclusion of this beach.  The only 
people  on  it  were  the  Sans  Souci  guests  and  staff.   We’re  not  sun 
worshipers;  living in Arizona gives one respect for the power of the sun and 
the  damage  it  can  do.   That said, I just loved this beach.  We both wore 
hats  and sunscreen and found lounge chairs in the shade.  We got towels from 
the  guys  at  the  Watersports  Hut.  They were always helpful and friendly.  
The  lounge  chairs  had  yellow rubber pads that you could remove and use to 
float  on  in  the ocean.  I’m not a swimmer, but the water isn’t deep, and I 
enjoyed  paddling  around.   The  water was clear and you could see some fish 
without snorkeling equipment.

If  you want to try out snorkeling before going out on the boat with a group, 
you  can  check out equipment and swim out to the ropes and a flag that marks 
where  the coral is.  John did this and saw some small colorful fish.  You’ll 
see  a  lot more fish and coral, as well as a shipwreck, if you go out on the 
boat.   At other times the same boat is used for glass-bottom boat rides.  We 
did  the  latter.   We also went kayaking one day, and John went sailing on a 
Sunfish.   He  had windsurfed in the Bahamas a few years ago and was going to 
try  that,  but never got around to it.  I guess we’ll have to go back.  Most 
of  the  time  we  just  relaxed  on the beach and read our books and watched 
people.  A Jacuzzi was close-by, as well as the swim-up bar at the new pool.

Sometimes  a waiter would come around and take drink orders or we’d go to the 
Beach  Bar  and  get  them  ourselves.  You can consume lots of those drinks.  
There’s  not  much  alcohol  in them.  They just taste good.  The Beach Grill 
was  always  packed at lunchtime.  We learned the best time to order was when 
Gilbert  was  working.   He  was  fast  and always had a smile and a song and 
worked great under pressure.

While  we  were lying on the beach, we saw Karoline with some new guests near 
the  Pool  Bar.   I called hello to her and she came over.  She said, “Judith 
and  John,  how  is  everything?”   I  was  surprised that she remembered our 
names.   She  asked  if were able to get all of our dinner reservations made.  
I  told  her  we were only able to get 9:30 reservations for seafood night at 
La  Terrazza  and  would  have  to  miss the entertainment on the Balloon Bar 
Terrace  that  was  scheduled  at  the  same time.  She said she’d try to get 
something  earlier  for  us and would leave us a voice-mail message.  When we 
went  back  to  our  room later, there was a message from Karoline saying our 
reservations  were  changed  to  8:30.  We were pleased and impressed.  At so 
many  places,  the  answer  to any request or complaint would be “Sorry.”  At 
Sans  Souci  it’s  “No  problem.”   The  staff  here goes out of their way to 
please you.

Sunday  night  we  got  dressed up and went to Casanova.  We liked the formal 
atmosphere,  and  the  service  was  good.  When  we mentioned to our waiter, 
Frank,  that  we  would be coming back Wednesday night, he told us to ask for 
him.   The dinner was very good, but the Pumpkin Orange Soup was exceptional, 
and  the  desserts were to die for.  I had something called Earl Grey, a rich 
chocolate  tart  with  slices of bananas on top and surrounded with a praline 
wafer.  We both had coffee and then went down to the Balloon Bar.  

Outside  the  Balloon  Bar is a stage where the band plays and a terrace with 
small  tables  all  around  and  where  you  can dance.  We didn’t sit at the 
tables.    We  sat  or stood at the bar, which opened out to the terrace.  We 
did  go outside to dance.  Did I say this place is romantic?  Imagine dancing 
under  the  stars  and  looking  up  at tall trees filled with big bright red 
flowers.

Before  we went to bed on Sunday night, we put out the Room Service breakfast 
tag,  so  we  could start Monday with the Ocho Rios Eye Opener--Blue Mountain 
coffee,  juice and a pastry basket.  We ate breakfast on the balcony and then 
spent  the  day at the beach.  We went back to our room in time to shower and 
change  and  make  our  6:00 p.m. appointment for reflexology.  While we were 
changing,  Room  Service  called and asked if they could bring up a fruit and 
cheese  plate  and  a  bottle of champagne from the manager.  Of course.  The 
champagne  was  in  a bucket of ice, and we managed to fit the plate into the 
mini-bar so we could have it after our reflexology.

This  was the perfect time for our reflexology treatments, which were done on 
the  terrace near the giant chess set.  We hadn’t scheduled them at this time 
on  purpose,  but we will on our next trip.  It’s cooler at that time of day, 
and  the  view  of  the  sunset was beautiful.  We faced the water, and as we 
watched  the  sun  set,  the  pressure points on our feet were massaged.  The 
written  description  they  give  you  on  reflexology ends with “leaving the 
client with a total feeling of well being.”  Boy, they got that right.

We  went  back  to  our room and opened the champagne and had a little bit of 
the  cheese  and  fruit.  Couldn’t eat too much ‘cause we knew we’d be having 
seafood  at La Terrazza in a couple of hours.  I had brought along some corks 
that  we  could  put in champagne bottles, since there’s no way you can fit a 
champagne  cork back in.  We put the leftover champagne in the mini-bar.  The 
next  day  we  asked one of the waitresses at Palazzina if we could have some 
orange  juice  to  go.   She  brought  us a covered pitcher of juice that fit 
nicely in the mini-bar, and we were able to make our own Mimosas.

Seafood  Night  at  La  Terrazza  didn’t  include lobster, since it wasn’t in 
season.   The highlights of our dinner were the crabcake appetizer for me and 
the  ceviche  for  John.   We  finished  dinner  in  time  to  make  the 9:30 
entertainment  outside the Balloon Bar—the Fashion Show.  This was fun.  Some 
of  the  models  were  guests we had seen at the beach and around the resort, 
and  the  fashions  were  from  the  resort  shops.  There was music with the 
Fashion  Show,  and  the  band played afterwards.  Every night at the Balloon 
Bar when the entertainment outside ended, the piano player started inside.

On  Tuesday  we  had  our massage appointments.  We had requested the massage 
huts.   I had mine in the Hideaway and John had his in the Restaway.  We both 
thought  our massages were wonderful, but agreed the Hideaway is probably the 
best  hut.   You  can  hear the ocean from both, but you can feel the breezes 
better in the Hideaway, which has windows open facing the ocean.

Tuesday  night  was  the  torch-lit beach party.  That afternoon I called the 
Front  Desk  and  asked  what  the  dress was for the beach party.  The young 
woman  I  talked  to  said, “Oh, very casual.  You can wear shorts or bathing 
suits.”   Then  she laughed and said, “You can come naked if you want.”  When 
we  got there almost everyone I saw wore shorts.  There was a huge buffet—hot 
and  cold  food,  seafood,  meats, chicken, Jamaican specialties and loads of 
desserts.   We  filled  our plates and found a table.  A newlywed couple from 
Germany,  Christian  and Kerstin joined us.  We enjoyed their company and sat 
with them again at the Grand Gala on Friday night.

The  entertainment at the beach party included Reggae music and dancers.  The 
dancers  were  staff  members  and  guests,  including  many  of the newlywed 
couples.   They  all  wore  colorful  costumes  and  makeup and put on a wild 
show.  

On  Wednesday  we  had  an  early Room Service breakfast and then went to the 
beach  for  awhile before our manicures and pedicures, which we both enjoyed.  
We  went  back  to  our  room and ordered a Four-Cheese Pizza and a bottle of 
Chilean  cabernet  sauvignon.  Later in the afternoon John had his body scrub 
appointment.   I  chickened  out and canceled mine.  We had dinner at 7:30 at 
Casanova.   John  had  the  Rack of Lamb and raved about it.  I tasted it and 
wished  I  had ordered the same.  I had the special, beef stir-fry, which was 
just  okay.   Our waiter, Frank again, recommended the berry ice cream sundae 
for  dessert.   John  had  it  and  said it was great, more like an elaborate 
banana  split.   Being  a  chocoholic,  I ordered the same dessert I’d had on 
Sunday  night,  the  Earl Grey.  After coffee, we went to the Balloon Bar and 
danced  under  the  stars  some  more  and  sampled  more Jamaican drinks and 
visited with other guests.  

We  spent  most  of  Thursday at the beach and later had dinner at Café Lido, 
the  restaurant  that  is  on  the terrace right outside the lobby.  We had a 
candlelight  dinner  under  the  stars  at  a  table  that looked down on the 
entertainment  outside  the  Balloon  Bar.   It  was a beautiful night. Did I 
mention  that this place is romantic?  We finished the evening at the Balloon 
Bar.   Like  on  the TV show, Cheers, it’s a place where everybody knows your 
name.   We  met  so  many nice people from all over the U.S. and from Canada, 
Japan and Germany.  We even exchanged e-mail addresses with some of them.  

On  Friday,  our  last  full day, we had breakfast at Pallazina.  This time I 
had  French  toast  along  with  my fruit and cheese, and John had a made-to-
order   omelet.   We  went  to  the lobby to buy some stamps and then had our 
facials—so  relaxing.   We  spent  the  afternoon  at  the beach, where after 
trying some more Pina Coladas, voted them our favorite drink of the week.  

Friday  night  at  7:30  was the Grand Gala.  Tables were set up all over the 
lawn  in front of our building.  There was an elaborate buffet.  The food was 
wonderful.   The  setting  was  elegant.   Waiters came around and filled our 
water  and wine glasses, and a band played on the stage.  We sat with our new 
friends  from  Germany and Bill and Carmen, a nice couple from Canada.  After 
dinner  I  went back to the room and got the camera and took some pictures at 
our  table  and  at the Beach Bar where we said good-bye to Rob and Erin from 
Ohio  and  Tim  and  Audrey  from South Carolina and then went to our room to 
pack.

A few things I failed to mention in my daily commentary:

-The  Weather.   The  temperature  was  about  85  degrees all week.  Walking 
around  in  the  sun,  that  felt  hot,  but  on the beach there was always a 
breeze,  and  we  were comfortable.  Sometimes the sky turned cloudy, but the 
only  rain  we  had  was  once during the night.  It was humid, a nice change 
from Tucson’s dry heat.

-Frogs,  Bugs  &  Lizards.   Our  first  night we were standing under a tree, 
looking  up,  trying  to  see  what kind of bird was making the loud chirping 
sound.   An  employee came by, and we asked him.  He said, “Not a bird.  It’s 
a  bug.”  Later we saw two tiny frogs on the side of a building and suspected 
they  might  be  part  of  the night music.  We never saw a mosquito.  We saw 
lots of cute lizards.

-Weddings.   We  saw several wedding parties walking across the lawn on their 
way  to  the  Wedding Gazebo.  Most of the brides wore beautiful white gowns.  
One  day  we  saw a wedding on the beach.  The bride and groom wore swimsuits 
and coverups.

-Hair  Braiding.  Many of the female guests had their hair braided and beaded 
either  on  the  beach  or in the salon.  Some had all of their hair braided.  
Others  had only one or two braids.  I don’t know how much this service cost, 
but it seemed to be popular.  

-Candles.   I  heard  one  guest  complain  that there were no candles in the 
room,  that  there  were  always candles on previous visits.  Our room didn’t 
have candles, but we brought our own.

-TV/CD.   When  we  were  in  the room, changing, getting ready to go out, we 
would  sometimes watch CNN.  Even in Paradise, it’s nice to know what’s going 
on  in the world.  Besides, satellite TV, all the rooms have radios with tape 
and CD players.  We brought along some of our favorite CD’s.

-Laundry.   We used the laundry service once, and it came back in 24 hours as 
promised.   Didn’t  try  the  dry  cleaning,  which takes 48 hours.  Both are 
included  at Sans Souci.  We liked having the clothesline in the bathroom for 
hanging our swimsuits.

-Tours.   There is a tour desk in the lobby where you can arrange trips.   We 
talked  to  people  who  enjoyed  trips to Dunn’s River Falls and shopping in 
Ocho Rios.  We never left the resort.

-The  Mineral  Pool.   It  was closed for renovation.  We didn’t miss it, but 
will check it out on our next visit.

-Fitness  Center.   Occasionally  we  stopped  in  the  well-equipped fitness 
center  on  our  way  to  or  from our spa appointments.  We used weights and 
treadmills  a  couple  of  times,  but  got  most of our exercise walking and 
climbing steps around the property.

-Negative  Comments.   Not many.  One was that we had to keep calling for in-
room  coffee  supplies  and  washcloths.   And  when we used the tag for Room 
Service  breakfast, it was never replaced.  We started out with two, and when 
they  were  gone,  we  had to call for more.  On the other hand, the room was 
always  spotless, and the turndown service was good.  One night the maid even 
left bougainvillea petals on the sheets.  Nice touch.

The  only other complaint is that you can’t see the food you’re eating at the 
Grand  Gala.  Each table for six had only one votive candle in a glass holder 
in  the center of the table.  In the brochures there’s a picture of the Grand 
Gala  that  shows  every  table  with  several tall candles.   I’ll bet those 
folks  could  see  their  food.   After I whined about this, one of the staff 
brought three more candles for our table.

-The Staff.  I can’t emphasize enough how good the staff is at Sans Souci.  
One  night  at the Balloon Bar, Xavian, one of the Activities Directors, came 
in  and  asked  us  why we weren’t dancing.  I told him we were waiting for a 
slow  song.   He  said,  “I  can  take care of that.”  He soon had one of the 
guests  up  and  singing slow songs with the band.  Someone had gotten her to 
sing  the  night  before  and  she  was  good.   John  and I went outside and 
danced.  Thank you, Xavian.

And  then there was Nando, another Activities Director.  We ran into Nando on 
the  walkway  coming  back from the beach one day.  He introduced himself and 
said,  “If  I forget your name, I will have to drink three shots of tequila.”  
I  doubt if he drank much tequila.  He was great with names.  Two days later, 
I  was  having coffee on our balcony and saw him on the lawn.  I called, “Hi, 
Nando.”   He  looked  up  and  said,  “Hi, Judith.”  Other guests I talked to 
shared   similar  experiences.   One  of  them  told  me  Nando  speaks  five 
languages.  Thank you, Sans Souci, for people like Nando.

Saturday,  time  to go home.  We had 6:30 Room Service breakfast and finished 
packing.   The  night before, a note was left in our room telling us that our 
flight  was confirmed and that we needed to have our bags outside the room by 
8:00  and  be  in the lobby by 8:45 to check out and leave on a 9:00 shuttle.  
All  of this went smoothly.  There were sixteen of us leaving.  We identified 
our  bags,  they  were loaded on the bus, and we took our seats.  As we drove 
out  of  Sans  Souci,  the security guard at the entrance waved goodbye.  The 
bus  was  air-conditioned  and  had seat belts.  I’ve been told all buses are 
not  equal.   One  couple  said the bus they arrived on was small and the air 
conditioning  didn’t  work  well.   This bus was comfortable, and for much of 
the  l  hour  45  minute  ride  to Montego Bay I dozed while listening to the 
Reggae music that was playing.

When  we  arrived  at the airport, the driver unloaded our bags, and a porter 
began  loading  them  on a cart.  I never saw so many bags on one cart.  John 
tipped  the  driver,  and  then  we and several other passengers followed the 
porter  inside.   He  put  all of the bags down at the end of a long line for 
American  Airlines  and  told  us to get in line.  I found the Business-Class 
line  and  told  the  porter that’s where we needed to go.  He sorted out our 
bags and carried them over, and John tipped him.

We  flew  home via Miami and Dallas and arrived in Tucson just after midnight 
Jamaica-time--a  long  day.   We definitely want to go back to Sans Souci and 
add more memories to the ones we have of a perfect vacation.  

JAMAICA: GRAND LIDO SANS SOUCI TRIP REPORT BY TRACEY SOUTH

April 25 – May 2 1999

Overall:  My  husband  and I had a wonderful trip. We loved Sans Souci’s lush 
gardens  and  we  loved  the  bar  staff  and water sports staff. We made new 
friends  and  laughed for a whole week straight. I would definitely recommend 
this resort to anyone.

My  husband  and  I had booked the Lido Lottery through Signature Tours/Royal 
Airlines.  The  Lido Lottery is available only in Canada and is between Grand 
Lido  Negril,  Braco  and  Sans  Souci.  You  find out one week prior to your 
vacation  where  you  will  be  going.  This  is  very  exciting.  All  three 
properties looked good and it didn’t matter where we ended up.

Our  trip  started  a little rough though. Our TA called and informed us that 
we  will  be  going  to  Sans Souci but there was a problem in Jamaica due to 
government  imposed  taxes  on  gas.  Several  riots  have  been reported. We 
decided  that since the trip was a week away, we’ll wait and see. Sure enough 
everything settled down and we were on our way to Jamaica.

We  arrived  into Sangster Airport, Montego Bay at about 7:30 pm. By the time 
we  went  through  customs, fished out our luggage, waited for the SuperClubs 
bus  and  did  the  two  hour  drive  to Ocho Rios it was 10:45. Everyone was 
tired.  No  champagne,  no  towels,  and  nowhere to eat dinner. Everyone was 
thrown  their  registration forms. It took another 30 minutes to check in and 
find someone to take us to our room.

Our  ‘first’  room  was  in G block – one of the oldest blocks. It is located 
right  outside  the  lobby  and  close  to  the  Salon  and Spa. We loved the 
location  although  if  you  are at the beach and forget something – you will 
probably  opt  to  do  without it because the walk is way to far to return to 
your  room!  We  had  been  given a one bedroom suite which included a living 
room,  bathroom  and  bed  room. There were two air conditioning units (which 
were  the  best  I  have  ever  seen  in the Carribean), two fans, one TV (in 
living  room),  CD  player,  mini-bar,  dining  room  set and a large private 
balcony.  We  were  overlooking the nightly entertainment at the Balloon Bar. 
We  were disappointed in our room. It was old, the floor mats were dirty, the 
room  needed  to  be  swept,  the  bathroom was ancient and had no electrical 
outlets,  the  tub  had  a  window (?), the furniture looked like it had been 
salvaged  from a garage sale and there was a real musty smell about the room. 
Not like the brochure at all.

We  immediately  headed  back  to  the lobby and asked for another room. They 
looked  at  us strangely and said – ‘Tonight?’ We said ‘Yes’. They told us it 
was  impossible  and  we  were  to  come  back  tomorrow morning at 9:30 when 
reservations was open.

We  proceeded  to  check  out  the  grounds.  They were breathtaking! I can’t 
describe  how  beautiful  this  resort  is.  We found our way down to the Spa 
area.  Everything was beautiful. We loved the life size chess pieces. All the 
Spa  treatments  are  done  in little huts overlooking the ocean and with the 
windows  open  to  take  advantage of the breeze. This is known as the ‘Quiet 
Area’.  Here  you will find a small Spa Bar, Charlie’s Grotto and the Mineral 
Pool.

To  much  dismay,  the Mineral Pool was under construction. Apparently it had 
developed  a  leak  and they had to re-cement the entire pool. All we saw was 
big construction boards all over the place.

We  decided  to  check  out  the  beach  area.  On  the  way, hubby found two 
hammocks.  There  are  hammocks  and  hot tubs hidden all over the resort! He 
climbed  in the first one and it ripped to pieces – Hubby is only 160 pounds! 
He  climbed  into  the  second  one  and  it  started to rip as well. We were 
beginning to wonder if everything in this resort was falling apart.

After  a  brief  walk  around the grounds, we decided we were too tired to do 
anything  else  and  headed  back  to  the  room. The entertainment was still 
wailing away. Sleep was not a problem though!

The  next  morning, we trekked over to the lobby and requested a room change, 
again.  We  asked if we could be moved to a new block. This was going to cost 
$160/night  American  which  was  equal to about $1500 Canadian for the week. 
That  was  not  going  to  happen! They offered to show us rooms that were of 
equivalent  value.  All  rooms  were  still in the G block. The next room was 
exactly  the  same  except  that it had two bathrooms, smelled better and was 
cleaner.  We  still weren’t satisfied. It is not that we are picky. We paid a 
lot  of  money  for  this vacation, we only get one vacation like this a year 
and  we  wanted  it  to be comfortable. We feel the room makes or breaks your 
vacation.

We  asked  if  there  was  anything  else  available.  They  told us we could 
downgrade  and  move  to  a Verandah Suite. We asked to take a look at it. We 
loved  it  immediately.  It  was  one  big room with the bed and sitting area 
altogether.  We  could  then  watch TV from bed (which is a vacation luxury – 
believe  it  or not!), the furniture was in good shape, we had a huge walk in 
closet  with  tons  of  shelf  space  so  we  could put all our suitcases and 
clothes  away easily, the bathroom had no window, the bathroom had electrical 
outlets  and  the  Verandah  was HUGE! It had a full wrought iron dining room 
set  and  a  love  seat.  The view was breathtaking – we were overlooking the 
wedding  gazebo and spa area. Nice and quiet. When we told the frontdesk that 
we  loved  it  and wanted that room, they looked at us like we were crazy for 
downgrading but ‘No problem, mon!’

Now that that was settled, it was on with our vacation.

Clientele:  We  were  shocked.  Most of the guests were between 25 and 40. It 
was  perfect  for  our  age  group.  Tons  of  Canadians and Americans. A few 
English,  German  and  Asian. Most people we had talked to had done the Super 
Surprise  or  Lido  Lottery.  That probably accounts for the young age group. 
Those  who  had booked the resort did so because they were planning a wedding 
there.  We  must have seen 20 weddings take place that week. Because everyone 
was  so  young  and  everyone  was in couples not groups, it was very easy to 
meet  people  and  become  friends. We hope we can keep in touch with some of 
the people we had met. We had a good time with everyone.

The  crowd  that  had moved in the next week was considerably older. Everyone 
noticed the swing in the age brackets.

Grounds:

Awesome.  Grounds crew was constantly raking, painting, clipping or sweeping. 
The  area  was  very  lush and tropical. Hubby spotted wild parrots in one of 
the  trees. Tons of geckos everywhere. The whole resort is set on the side of 
a  hill/cliff  so  there are a lot of stairs – don’t underestimate the amount 
of  leg  work  required  here!  But  this adds to the beauty and charm of the 
resort.  Hammocks,  mineral  pools and hot tubs are hidden around the resort. 
Down  by  the beach, there is a croquet lawn. The newer rooms face onto this. 
It is absolutely gorgeous.

Beaches:

The  main  beach  is  in  a  protected  cove.  It  is golden sand and is well 
maintained  by  the staff. It is raked daily. There are plenty of lounges and 
water  floats  for  everyone.  If  you  were stuck without a chair, the staff 
would  go  grab  one  from  it’s reserve for you. No worry! There is a lot of 
shade for those of us who burn like crazy.

The  water  is crystal clear. The waterfront has a little bit of seaweed here 
and there but for the most part is clean. No watersocks required.

Several  times  we  saw  a  roaming  beach  waiter. He would serve drinks and 
collect empties. Ahh, the luxury!

Vendors  setup  on  the  beach  in  a  designated  spot and do not hassle the 
guests.  This was nice as I liked looking at their goods without the pressure 
to  buy.  Hubby did buy a hat for a friend back home and did manage to haggle 
successfully.

The  clothing  optional beach is still very much a work in progress. We found 
it  very  rocky with a lot of shells. Fishermen pass right by on their way to 
and  from  work.  The resort uses this bay to waterski so boats are frequent. 
The  shoreline was rocky and because a river empties into the ocean here, the 
water  is  a  lot  cooler  than the main beach. This beach does have a better 
view  of  Ocho  Rios,  is very quiet and soothing and is a good spot to catch 
sunsets.

Pools:

The  main  pool  is  a large freeform pool and is home to many games of water 
volleyball.  It has a large swim up bar and the bartenders are always willing 
to  try  a  new  drink on you. Lots of floats and pool chairs were available. 
The  best  part  was  the  pool  was located close to the beach. That way you 
didn’t  have  to  relocate  yourself if you decided to move from the ocean to 
the pool.

The mineral pool was under construction.

The  freshwater  quiet  pool  was too quiet. It was closed the first two days 
for  water  treatment.  After  that, I only say one person in it. It is up by 
the  lobby  and  far away from most of the day activities. At night it served 
as  a  mood  setter  for entertainment outside the Balloon Bar. The waterfall 
section wasn’t working.

The  clothing  optional  pool was pretty cool. It had a waterfall built right 
into  it and was a perfect size for the guests that attended that side of the 
resort.  It,  too,  had  a  swim up bar, although on a smaller scale than the 
main pool.

Hot tubs:

I  was  disappointed  with  the hot tubs. We found three tubs. All three were 
very  small.  They  were all made of acrylic and looked worn. The temperature 
varied  in  them  incredibly.  One day it would be scalding hot, the next day 
luke  warm.  The tub at the clothing optional pool was actually cold. Because 
two  of  the  tubs  were  secluded  amongst  the trees, they often had debris 
floating  around them. During the whole trip, we didn’t see any real usage of 
the tubs.

Water Sports:

We  had  a lot of fun with the crew here. They would take us out on the speed 
boats  pretty  much whenever we wanted. We saw both sides of Ocho Rios thanks 
to  these  guys.  They  were  pretty  good guides. They showed us Brian Adams 
house,  Ian  Flemming’s beach, Prospect beach, Ocho Rios port (two ships were 
in  town!),  Sandals,  Couples,  Jamaica Grande and tons of other resorts and 
local watering holes. Awesome! Take advantage of these services.

We did the glass bottom boat ride to the shipwreck. That was kind of neat.

We  did  snorkeling  at  the  fishery. It was very clear and the fish were in 
abundance.  The  reef  wasn’t spectacular but we enjoyed ourselves immensely. 
One  note:  Bring  your  own  mask  and  snorkel. We didn’t see them make any 
attempt  to  clean  the  snorkels. The masks and snorkels were a bit worn and 
had become soft. We took a little water in our mouthpieces occasionally.

We  took  sea  kayaks out for a bit. I used this as an opportunity to work on 
my  tan  as  hubby  paddled.  We paddled around the bay a bit and then headed 
over to the other bay. Much fun!

The  hobie cat was getting a new sail while we were there and we didn’t get a 
chance to go out on it.

We  saw several people attempt sunfish sailing and windsurfing. They provided 
the beach entertainment.

The  deep  sea  fishing boat was well equipped but expensive - $300 per trip. 
You could divide that out amongst friends if you like.

We  saw  several dive classes and dive boats go out – everyone really enjoyed 
themselves.

No  jet  skis.  Sans  Souci has developed this policy for the environment and 
peace and quiet (and I am sure insurance reasons!)

Gym Facilities:

There  was  always an aerobic class or yoga going on. The instructors were on 
time  and  well  prepared. The gym was well equipped for an island resort and 
overlooked  a quiet bay area. There was a small sun bathing area out front of 
the gym as well.

Spa Facilities:

Hubby  and  I  both  took  advantage  of  the spa treatments. We both did the 
reflexology  (lower  leg  massage),  back  massage,  facials and body scrubs. 
Hubby  didn’t enjoy the body scrub because you are buck naked without a towel 
and  scrubbed  all  over.  He  lived through it. I also took advantage of the 
manicure but not the pedicure.

The  staff  was  warm  and  friendly.  I  didn’t seem like any of them really 
enjoyed  their  jobs though. When asked, everyone said that it was OK working 
there. No one said they loved it but wouldn’t say why.

Food:  Restaurants  were  slow and the food was only warm. No problem mon! We 
had  nowhere to go anyhow. The dinner portions were small but you had several 
courses  so  it  turned  out  just  right.  Order  all  the courses and enjoy 
yourself.  Try something new. The food was better than most of the resorts we 
had been to in the past.

We  did  find  that  the  latter  dinner  seating was more popular. Even when 
reservations  were  made,  tables  sat empty and under no circumstances would 
they  make  exceptions  and allow someone in without reservations. Bizarre. I 
guess  they  want  to  keep  the level of service up. We did find some of the 
waiters/waitresses  had  no  idea  what  they were serving and if you asked a 
question  about  something  they  would  stare at you blankly and give you an 
answer  that  was  totally  incorrect.  On  the  other  had, we also had some 
exceptional  service.  I  would take a sip of my water and it would be topped 
up  before  I knew it. This was dangerous when it happened with the wine. You 
think  you  only  consumed a glass or two but you forget that after every sip 
it was filled up again….

There were a few restaurants on site:

Cassanova’s  (Formal/French)  –  reservations  and  jackets  required. If you 
don’t  bring a jacket, they will provide you with one. The food here was very 
good  although they were out of some of the food items. Service is formal and 
slow. Relax and enjoy it.

Risterante  Palazzina/La  Terrazza  (Casual Buffet lunch and dinner, business 
casual  restaurant  table  service  in  the  evening.) The menu changed every 
evening.  We  enjoyed seafood night and Texamerican night. Food was good. The 
buffets  during  breakfast and lunch were pretty good and had plenty of items 
to  choose from. Breakfast was usually the same everyday but lunch always had 
new dishes to try.

Café  Lido  (Casual/Italian)  No  reservations were required. This was served 
under  the  stars  by the lobby and Balloon Bar. It was our favourite because 
of  the  ambiance.  Service  was  poor – didn’t get a drink or wine until the 
third  course.  Received cream and sugar – no coffee. We survived and enjoyed 
our dinner immensely. It was delicious.

Bella  Vista  (Casual/Jamaican?)  No  reservations required. We didn’t have a 
chance  to venture down there – not enough time. This is apparently al fresco 
dining.

Beach  Grills  (Main  Beach  and  Clothing  Optional  Beach)  We did a lot of 
lunches  and  snacks  here.  The burgers were good. The gyros were excellent. 
The  Jamaican pattys were good and spicy. The fries were greasy but good. The 
jerk special was always really good and the service was always entertaining.

Room Service:

We  found  the  service to be prompt and accurate. We ordered club sandwiches 
and pizza one afternoon and found everything tasty.

Two  mornings we ordered breakfast on the verandah. We selected the Executive 
breakfast  and were shocked at how much food actually arrived. Coffee, Juice, 
Milk,  Cereal,  Yogurt, Muffins, Danishes, Toast, Bagel with Cream Cheese and 
Smoked  Salmon  and  two  large  fruit plates. We felt really bad for wasting 
most  of  it.  The  fruit  in Jamaica is an experience all on it’s own. It is 
sweet,  firm  and  addicting!  Make sure you try the pineapple. We would have 
ordered  breakfast  everyday  but we couldn’t get the breakfast menu from the 
housekeeping  staff. They said they would be delivered but they never came. I 
cornered  one  of  the  staff members and they stole one out of another room. 
They apologized and told me they were short on them. Whatever!

Theme Nights:

There  are  two theme nights – Carnival and Gala Night. Carnival: What a good 
time.  Dinner  is  served  right  on  the beach. They setup chairs and tables 
right  in  the  sand and all the tables have candles and full table settings. 
Dinner  is  buffet  style  and  the  jerk pork/chicken is cooked right on the 
beach.  Fresh  roasted  peanuts  were in abundance and lots of seafood salads 
were  on  hand.  After dinner there is a contest with the guests to see which 
group  will  win  the  coveted  Carnival  title. It was a bit racy but funny. 
There  is then a King and Queen of the Carnival contest. Following that there 
is a fire dance and limbo contest. All fun.

Gala  Night didn’t go off quite as well. It had rained during the day and the 
crew  decided they didn’t have enough time to setup dinner. Three hours would 
have  been  ample  to  setup tables and chairs but remember we are in Jamaica 
and  nobody  rushes  for  anything.  They decided to move the program indoors 
into  La Terrazza. It was crowded, hot and the line for food was so long that 
people  were  going  without  dinner.  We fortunately met up with friends who 
already  had a table outside in the tea garden. The food was OK and seemed to 
be  the  same  stuff that was served at lunchtime. They did have a pasta bar, 
stir fry stand and a meat carving station. The lines were insane.

Entertainment:

We  are  a  late 20’s, early 30’s couple who likes to dance and party mildly. 
We  found  the  entertainment  horrible and rarely sat through a performance. 
Lionel  Ritchie must be a Jamaican icon because we heard three of four of his 
songs  every  night  –  reggae style. One night there was a fashion show from 
the  gift  shop.  That  was  tolerable  but  the  music afterwards was awful. 
Everything  is  done with a reggae twist so it makes dancing hard. We weren’t 
too  into the entertainment though. We would take romantic walks, sit quietly 
at  the  beach bar or just meet up with friends and dip our feet in the pool. 
Everyone  in  our ‘gang’ felt the same way about the entertainment so we knew 
we weren’t out of line for thinking this way.

Bars:

Balloon  Bar:  A  great  meeting  place  before and after dinner. This bar is 
quite pretty to look at and service is wonderful.

Beach Bars:

These  guys  make  the  trip memorable. They will always get you to try a new 
drink.  They  will  service  you  as quickly as possible (Remember, we are in 
Jamaica.)  Anything  you want, they will try and please you. On one occasion, 
I  was  sitting  at  the pool bar and asked to try one of the famous Jamaican 
Rum  Creams. The bartender explained that I was trying the banana flavour. It 
was  delicious. I went for a swim and came back to the bar. The bartender had 
gone  to  another  bar  and  brought  me  back  a  different  flavour to try. 
Excellent  service  Omar!  On another occasion, after the Carnival a bunch of 
us  were  enjoying  wine (and tequila) on the beach. We decided we would like 
champagne.  We  went  to  the  bar and got a bottle without a hassle. We went 
back  for another. We were told the bar was closed and we would have to go to 
the  bar  at  the  top  of the resort. We didn’t want it that bad and settled 
down  to  finish  the  open wine. Three minutes later, the bartender comes up 
with  three bottles of champagne. He had ran all the way up to the top of the 
resort for us and he wasn’t even on shift anymore. Excellent service, again!

Spa Bar:

Here  you  can  find  fruit juices, beer and limited selection of alcohol. It 
was  a favorite spot of ours. Especially when waiting for our spa treatments. 
Hubby  had  befriended  the bartender here and spent a lot of time talking to 
him.

Land Activities:

Volleyball  was  very  popular. Lots of participation. The tennis courts were 
always  busy.  Free  golf  cost our friend $70 US by the time he had rented a 
caddy  and  paid  for him to drink and eat all day. He said the course wasn’t 
anything  spectacular but it was good for the Caribbean. He did claim that is 
was disgustingly hot with no breeze but he would go again.

The  game room was in terrible shape. A lamp fell from the ceiling during the 
one  night  we were there. All of the games were missing pieces or broken. We 
did  have  a  game  of  Pictionary  after  being  creative and locating dice, 
tokens,  pens  and  paper.  It  was  a  hoot. There is a video game with free 
credits.

One  day we all met at the bar for a game of bingo. We all sat and waited but 
no  one  could  find  the playing cards. We settled on a dirty drinking game, 
instead.

There  were several races and contests throughout the week. The tour desk was 
very good and those who ventured out on the tours had excellent trips.

There  was  a photographer taking everyone’s picture all week – it was fun to 
look  at  the  carousal  of  pictures  at the end of the week. We, of course, 
bought two pictures of ourselves.

Staff:

Here  we found hot and cold staff members: Bar staff – Awesome, friendly, fun 
and would go out of their way to do anything for you.

Social  Directors  –  Incredible  –  One gentleman (Nando) made it a point to 
know  everyone’s  name. He would always greet you with your name. It made you 
feel  really  good.  The SD’s had endless energy and were always very visible 
amongst the guests. Especially the single, young, good looking guests! (LOL)

Housekeeping  –  Very  friendly  and  hard  working  –  room  was always well 
maintained.

Water  sports  staff  –  Very  fun group – not too motivated to keep everyone 
happy but still did their jobs well.

Waiters/Waitresses  –  Need  a little work here. Everyone needs to be trained 
on  the  menu  and  learn  how  to  become  a little more flexible. I got the 
impression  that  this  is  where  the employees start off and work their way 
into other positions.

Spa  staff  –  were very friendly and talkative but no one seemed happy about 
their job.

Reservations/Front  desk staff – Very unaccommodating, almost to the point of 
being  rude.  Their  favourite  answer is ‘Come back tomorrow’. We were there 
often  –  to  change our room, we lost our key and we wanted a late check out 
since  our  plane  didn’t  leave  until  7:40  pm.  None of our requests were 
accommodated  with  a  smile. They made us feel like a burden. The late check 
out  was  ‘Out  of the question’ and a hospitality suite was provided for all 
the late leaving guests.

Departing:  We didn’t have a flight until 7:40 (which was delayed until 8:30) 
and  had to leave the resort at 2:30 because ONE couple had a 5:30 flight. We 
found  this incredibly inconvenient and the whole bus (20 plus people) kicked 
up  a stink about it. We were told there would be no changes and this was the 
only  bus  going back to the airport. We spent several hours at the airport – 
luckily we had some new friends to kill the time with.

Tipping:  We were under the impression that tipping was forbidden. As soon as 
we  got  there, it was made very clear that tips are appreciated. In fact, we 
got  a  little tired of the solicitation. It was very subtle. They asked what 
day  we left on an and then asked us to remember them before we leave. We did 
tip  our  housekeeper  and two water sports guys who went out of their way to 
make the speedboat ride exciting.

Note  that  the guys at the airport do not work for SuperClubs and intimidate 
you  into  tips.  Hubby  went to give a porter a one-dollar bill for carrying 
our  luggage  (two  bags)  thirty  feet.  When he saw another one-dollar bill 
tucked  away  in  his hand, he grabbed that too without hesitation. Hubby was 
not  going  to  start  an incident because we had just seen one guy basically 
bullied  for more money before he could get his luggage. They were not as bad 
upon our return trip to the airport.

Overall:

Except  for  the  first day – everything was wonderful. Great location, great 
food,  great drinks and great friends. Would we return – yes! Do not hesitate 
to  go  to  any  of  the  Lido  resorts.  Just remember that you are going to 
Jamaica  –  you  have  to  ease right back and appreciate that time does slow 
down and nobody worries about the clock. No problem, mon! 

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