Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 86
July 15, 1998

Last Update 20 July 900 A.M. ET

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BARBADOS: ALMOND BEACH CLUB BY JIM HINSCH

Trip May 1998

Arrival.

Outside  the airport, cabs were not eager to transport us. We actually
had  to  wait  in  a  short line to get a cab as the dispatcher slowly
allocated  cabs  that  were  loaded  one  at  a time. It took about 30
minutes  by  taxi  to arrive at the resort. When we arrived, there was
no  lobby  or  reception desk. Just a tiny room with a handful of sofa
chairs  and  a  small table. Behind the small table a reception person
greeted  us,  took  our  name, informed us that our room was not ready
(2:15p),  took  a  credit  card imprint, and directed us to the bar to
wait  for  our room. While at the bar, I noticed food in the next door
attached  dining  area.  Since  I  was hungry, I asked what time lunch
ended  and was told that it ended in 5 minutes. So, I grabbed a plate,
filled  it  with  a  few items, and sat up at the bar to eat it. I was
immediately  told I could not eat at the bar so I had to carry it back
to  the dining room where I spent about 3 minutes eating what little I
had  on the plate. Our room was ready now so we went back to the small
reception  room  and  followed  the  bell  person to our room. We were
informed  that orientation would take place in the bar lounge near the
pool at 10:00am the next day. The Room.

Our  room  had  cost  us US$250 per person, per night (middle of May).
The  room  was as beach view room on the second floor. It was equipped
like  any  standard  hotel  room  with a couple exceptions. The TV was
about  12  inches,  quite  tiny for a hotel room. Two people could not
pass  between  the bed and any wall at the same time. The bathroom had
only  a shower and toilet and was so small that one could not shut the
door  unless  standing in the shower or sitting down on the toilet. It
was  quite  cramped. The single sink was outside the bathroom in front
of  a  large  wall  mirror  and  it had an automatic drip coffee maker
sitting  on  it.  The  bed was hard and the pillows were inconsistent.
One  was  lumpy  like it had been a feather pillow dipped in water and
then  allowed  to  dry  in  clumps while the other two were like cheap
foam  pillows.  The  air conditioner, even though it was on full blast
our  entire  stay,  never  cooled the room below 78.5 degrees, which I
knew  because  my  clock also contained a digital thermometer. The air
conditioner  also filled the balcony with warm air because the back of
it  hung  out  onto the balcony. The view from the room was nice as it
directly  overlooked  the  beach,  all  10  feet of it. The room had a
balcony  just  large  enough  to accommodate a resin table and chairs.
There  was  nowhere  in the room to keep drinks cold, no mini- bar, no
ice,  no  water  pitcher,  no snacks, or any other luxury amenity. The
Pool.  The pool was broken up into a 2 leaf clover design so that when
in  any  leaf, you were completely separated from the other leaves, so
you  might  as  well have been in a separate pool. To go from one leaf
to  the  other would require exiting the pool and walking around. Each
leaf  was  very  small. With about 8 people in the pool, it felt quite
crowded.  There  were  about  10  pool  floats  for  use by the resort
guests,  and  they  went quick, leaving everybody else, floatless. The
beach  chairs  around  the  pool went fast too. All pool furniture was
made  of  plastic  resin  and were hard to lay on. The chairs were the
same  kind  you  might buy for US$4 at the local K- Mart. There were 3
umbrellas  for  shade for the entire resort around the pools. The pool
was  about  3  1/2  feet  deep  and  the  entire  pool  area was sadly
inadequate. The Beach.

The  beach  consisted  of  an  area about 40 feet wide in front of the
dining  area  that  narrowed  to about 10 feet wide across the rest of
the  property. At the foot of the beach were huge rocks that separated
the  beach from the water so that you could not walk from the beach to
the  water  without  locating  one  of the 3 stair cases that took you
down   to   the   water.  The  sand  was  a  brownish  sand,  but  not
uncomfortable.  The swim area was pitifully small and filled with tiny
stones.  Outside  the  swim  area  were  more  huge boulders in random
locations  that came nearly to the surface in some areas but the water
shot  to  about 15 feet deep in the first 25 feet or so as one entered
the  water.  This  made  for  great snorkeling right off the beach but
poor  if you idea was to lounge around in the water or swim. There was
a  ship  wreck  about 100 yards out in about 30 feet of water that you
could  swim  to.  The water was mostly crystal clear and very warm. To
the  side  of  the  resort  and about 50 feet away was a wide open and
wonderful beach with a light surf breaking on it. Water Sports.

Water  sports  at  the Almond Beach Club were extremely limited. Water
skiing  was  awful because their boat was not powerful enough to bring
a  slalom  water  skier  up  to  speed,  even though they had a whaler
sporting  a  100hp  motor.  Also, even when the water is smooth, there
are  swells,  making decent skiing impossible. Never the less, I skied
all  3  days  we  were there. That in and of itself is a story. When I
asked  to  water ski, I was told that the boat was booked for the rest
of  the  day  (about  2:40p). So, I just shrugged and went back to the
pool.  But, I kept watch and nobody was taking the boat out. At 3:00p,
I  went  back  and  suggested  that  whoever  had  the boat booked had
apparently  not  shown  up, and asked if I could go water skiing. They
told  me  the  boat  was  "in  for the day". I asked why and said that
water  skiing is supposed to be available until 5:00. He just repeated
that  it  was  in  for  the day. So I got louder and asked my question
again.  He  did  not  answer  me. I got louder and madder and asked it
again.  I  was  drawing  attention and another staff member asked what
was  up.  He  told  the guy, "he wants to ski". So they took me skiing
for  15  minutes.  I found that throughout my stay, that same attitude
existed  in just about every staff member throughout the resort. On my
last  day,  I  had a reservation to ski at 3:45p. When I showed up for
my  reservation, it took a good 5 minutes of arguing. They claimed the
water  was  too rough. I has assured them that I was a good skier, had
learned  to ski in much rougher waters of Lake Erie, and that I had my
own  equipment. They made sarcastic comments but I eventually ended up
going  and without a fall, even though on the first pull they couldn't
even  get the boat going fast enough to pull me out of the water and I
still  had the handle in my hand when the boat stopped to see what was
wrong. Dining.

Our  first  night,  we tried to make reservations to eat at Enids, the
only  other  restaurant  on  the  property,  but it was booked. So, we
opted  to  eat  in  the main dining room. We arrived to find a line of
people.  They  did  not  have room for everybody and the bar next door
was  filled  with  people waiting for tables. We waited about 1/2 hour
for  a  table. Once seated, service was essentially non-existent after
our  initial  drink order. The food was fair at best and selection was
extremely  small.  It  was  also  very  hot  as it was outside and the
ceiling  fans  did  little to help. Our second night, we tried to make
reservations  to  eat  at  the  Italian restaurant at the Almond Beach
Village,  which  was  included,  but  we needed to travel to the other
resort.  It  was  completely booked so we opted to eat at Enids, which
serves  Bajan  cuisine  (the  local food of Barbados). We were able to
get  a  reservation  at  Enids for the second night. This was the only
other  dining  option  at the property. Again, on arrival, even though
we  had  a  reservation,  we  were  told to wait in the bar. We waited
about  10  minutes and then were seated. The food served the same tiny
stale  rolls  as  the  main dining room and the food was fair at best.
Service   was   better   than   in   the  main  dining  room  but  not
substantially.  It  was also hotter because it was in an enclosed room
without  air  conditioning.  The  other  dining options were to take a
shuttle  or  cab  to  the  Almond Beach Village. On our third and last
day,  I had attempted to make a reservation first thing in the morning
for  the  Italian restaurant at the Almond Beach Village, but the only
time  available was at 6:30p and I was told that the only shuttle that
could  get  me  there  in  time  left  at 5:00p. That would have meant
getting  ready  for  dinner  at  4:00p which was way too early. So, we
kept  the  reservation  and paid for a cab. Here, dinner was served in
an  air  conditioned  room.  The  food  was  excellent  and so was the
service.  While  at  the Almond Beach Village, we walked around a bit.
We  were pretty upset our travel agent hadn't booked us there after we
saw  the  place. It was huge. You could actually go for a walk at this
resort.  They  had  a massive beach, lots of huge free-form pools, and
it  seemed  quite  a  bit nicer. This was more what we had in mind for
our  vacation  but  since we didn't want to be around a bunch of kids,
and  the  Almond  Beach Club was adult only, we had been booked at the
club.  It  was a big mistake. Compared to the Village, the Club seemed
like  some  half-baked  after  thought  as to somehow make use of some
tiny  patch  of  waterfront  land.  What  we found out too was that at
least  one  of  the giant free-form pools at the Village was dedicated
adult  only.  If  we  ever  go  back, we'd stay at the Village. I must
comment  that  the  temperature  and  humidity  was  unbearable at the
Village  the  night  we  at there (about 95F) and was about 10 degrees
hotter  than  the  Club, which we immediately felt some relief when we
arrived  back  at the Club. This was strange because the Club was only
about  4  miles  down the road. I attributed it to all the concrete at
the  Village  emitting all the heat stored from the day, combined with
the  fact that it had just rained at the Village while the Club didn't
get  any  rain  that  night.  Note that when we left our dinner at the
Italian  restaurant  at  the club, there was a line of about 40 people
waiting  to  be  seated  in the main dining room of the Village. Night
life.

There  was  none. All the bars except the piano bar closed at 11:00pm.
For  an  all-adult place, this was not good. We went to the piano bar,
which  was  tiny.  It  could  hold about 20 people, and with 30 people
inside,  it  was elbow to elbow, standing room only, and very cramped.
So uncomfortable that my girlfriend asked to leave immediately.

Bars.

Bar  service  was  uniformly  under staffed, usually with a single bar
tender.  It  was  frequently  difficult  to  get a drink as 20 or more
people  were  simultaneously leaning over the bar waiting to ask for a
drink  at  a  single bar tender. The bar tenders did move fast though.
The  resort  did  not  have  any  of the makings of a tropical resort.
There  were  very few palm trees and none of the typical island fruits
available   like  mango,  papaya,  etc.  Just  watermelon,  pineapple,
cantaloupe, and banana. Breakfast.

The  wait  at breakfast for a table was not as bad but there still was
a  wait.  Breakfast  was  a  buffet that I found similar to most other
Caribbean  resorts  only  on  a  much  smaller  scale  and  with fewer
selections.  The  orange juice was from concentrate and tasted old. It
tasted  bad  enough  that  we  chose  not  to drink it after our first
sampling. Snorkeling.

I  did  some of the better snorkeling I've done in the Caribbean right
off  the  shores  of  the  hotel.  The water was very clear and a huge
abundance  of  fish  in  the  12  -  18  inch  range.  At  one  point,
immediately  after  some  guy  had been throwing food in the water and
then  left,  I  was  the  only  swimmer  left  out  there and I was so
surrounded  by  fish,  I couldn't see. The fish were looking to me for
more  food  and  I  didn't  have any. They formed a solid wall of fish
about  30 feet thick in all directions. It was incredible. I kicked at
them  to  try  to  get some space but they just followed me around for
about  the  next  5  minutes. I dove down to the wreck with my snorkel
(about  30  feet  down)  but  the  wreck could be seen easily from the
surface.  On  the bad advice from some other hotel guests, I had taken
a  cab one morning to a place called FolkStone, where I was supposedly
going  to  be  able  to  snorkel amongst much larger fish. I went, and
when  I arrived, I asked the lifeguard there where the good snorkeling
was.  I  swam out and basically snorkeled the entire area. While there
was  plenty  of  reef but the fish were no better than in front of the
hotel  and I got all stung up as the place was loaded with jelly fish.
Ultimately,  as  I  was  walking  along  the beach, a local asked if I
wanted  to  go  do some REAL good snorkeling. He took me on a jet ski,
and  guess  where?  Right  in  front of the hotel where I was staying!
Departure.

Checkout  was  uneventful and speedy. Our flight departed at 2:30p and
they  wanted  us  in  the departure area of the hotel at 11:15a to get
the  hotel  provided transportation to the airport. We thought that to
be  much  too early so we decided to arrange our own ride. We left the
hotel  at  12:45  and  ended  up  getting  a very slow cab back to the
airport.  It  took  about  45 minutes. Our driver refused to drive any
faster  even  after  I  asked  him  to.  Instead,  he stopped for gas.
Traffic  was  terrible.  It  seems  that  during  the day, there is an
endless  stream of traffic that passes along the road behind the hotel
and  since  it is only one lane in each direction, a single car making
a  turn  across  traffic  brings  huge lines of traffic to a halt. The
airport departure was fine and uneventful. Summary.

Overall,  we  were  very  disappointed in the resort and will never go
back  or  recommend  it.  If  they  had  been charging about US$85 per
person  per  night,  it  would  have been reasonable. The other places
that  I  have  been in the Caribbean such as Jamaica and the Dominican
Republic  were clearly superior to this place. It was a horrible value
and  far from paradise. Perhaps we would have enjoyed the Almond Beach
Village  but  since all we had was a brief tour, I can't say for sure.
The  resort  was  small,  crowded,  offered  poor  service, unfriendly
staff,  limited  facilities,  closed  early, few dining options, basic
food,  cheap furniture, tiny rooms, and just wasn't what I'd expect in
a US$500 a night Caribbean resort.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: EDEN BAY RESORT UPDATE FROM TOM FERNSTROM

(Received 17 July 98 at the CTR.)

Below  are  the  last  two  formal  updates I have provided interested
guests.  We  have  about 350 interested guests on our mailing list and
the  numbers  continue to grow. Regretfully we are experiencing what I
would call a "Dominican Standoff". Neither side is giving an inch.

As  I  indicate  below, the Eden Bay Homeowners' Association has given
the  Association  Board  three  directives  -  one  which specifically
forbids  any  further  dealings  with  Jim  Robinson,  the other which
demands  the Resort be nude/clothing-optional throughout and the third
that  it  be  a  mutually profitable venture for both the Resort & the
unit owners.

I  just  got  off the phone with our Board Chairman, Bill Coakley, who
verified  that  so  far every deal that Jim Robinson has negotiated to
try  to  get  the  Resort  open as a textile Resort has failed (mostly
because  of the debt and high costs associated with re-opening). There
is  only one party out there who is interested and has the cash to buy
out  the  General  and  re-open  the  Resort, but the General has been
convinced  by  Robinson that his property is worth much more than what
the interested party has offered.

Eventually  we  feel that this party will succeed and his plans are to
improve  the  property  adding  a Health Spa, adding more hotel rooms,
marketing  packages  that  include  golf  at  the  nearby golf course,
marketing  to  his  horse riding aficionados (he raises pasafinos) and
allowing  some  nudity. This last point is where I and my friends come
in.

Our  thought  is that during the time this party expands the facility,
he  would  be  silly  to  turn  away  paying  customers  and  if those
customers  were  nudist/clothing-optional guests, he would be somewhat
forced  to  expand  the areas where nudity is permitted to accommodate
them.  As  I  mentioned  earlier,  my  compadres & I have a network of
sympathetic  nudists  that  could  be  rallied  to  the  call and make
reservations,  spread  the  word  about  the re-opening and in essence
comparitively flood the Resort with guests who want to get naked.

There  may  be  a  break in the "standoff" by August. Wish us luck and
thanks for the publicity.

Tom Fernstrom
Eden Bay Homeowners' Association

Notice sent out April 21, 1998

Dear Interested Party,

Well,  it's  hard  to believe that the last real update I submitted on Eden Bay
Resort  in  the  Dominican  Republic  was sent last December. How time flies when
your getting jacked around.

If   you   will  recall  from  my  last  update,  we  the  Homeowners' Association, had
hoped  to  have  a better handle on the Resort re-opening potential by the middle
of  February  or  the end of March at the latest. At that time Mr. Jim Robinson
(JR)  was  to have surrendered control of the Resort back to the other two
partner  entities,  Mr.  Jim  Beirnes  (JB)  and  Evergreen  (LLC) - a consortium of
unit  owner  investors. If that were to have occurred, it was presumed the
partners  JB  & LLC might then be able to dictate terms and conditions for the
re-opening  of  the  Resort  and  secure  financing  from an number of "friendly"
investors  that  we  had  been courting. The financing we were seeking would have
been  sufficient  to  purchase  the holdings of the Resort's landlord, General
Beauschamp,   liquidate   the   Resort's   past   debts,   cover   the infrastructure
expenses of re-opening and fund proper management & marketing . 

That  having been said, you should have been able to guess by now that JR has
instead  partnered  with  the  General in a new venture to operate the Resort as a
textiled  "turismo  de  masa".  (That's  when  the tour operators, the hotels, and
the  department  of  Tourism, spend all their efforts to attract great quantities
of   tourists  who  spend  little  compared  with  the  more  affluent individual
tourists.)  We,  the Association, know all too well that our 126 units cannot
be marketed profitably in this fashion.

What  does  JR  hope  to  accomplish  by  this  tactic?  No  amount of speculation can
explain.

We,  the  Association currently have a list of over 325 e-mail & snail mail
addresses  from  interested  parties who have expressed an interest in being kept
abreast  of  the  Resort developments. I have received 77 responses so far to a
request  for  input  message  I sent out asking for statements I could share with
the  "powers  that  be"  with  regards to the preference of the Resort staying
nudist/clothing-optional.  All  77  had indicated that they would have no desire
to  visit  the  Resort  if  it  were  not so. There are too many other destinations
and  Resorts  that  are  available  for  the  textile  market. I still continue to
receive,  on  the average, one new request a day for information about the
Resort's  location,  rates,  availability,  etc. To me this is amazing since
people  must  be  desperate enough to find alternatives to Club Orient or the
Jamaican Resorts to hunt down my e-mail address.

Well, you might ask, what are we going to do?

The  Association  is  calling  a  General  Assembly  Meeting in May to address a
number  of  issues and obligations that the Resort has with us that is mandated
by  our  Association  Rules.  It  is hoped that some strategy might be developed
prior  to  or  at that meeting to address the situation and resolve it to the
liking of our owners and potential guests.

While  all  this  has been occurring, the Association has continued to proceed
with  the  plans  to isolate our condo units from the utilities of the Resort by
planning  and  purchasing  our  own  facilities. This was and still is perceived
to  be  a  necessity so that our owners can once again use their units and it
also  serves  as  a  bargaining  chip  in future negotiations with the Resort
entity.  We  have  also  been maintaining the condo properties through our
Association  dues such that we will be ready with rental units as soon as there
is a Resort entity in place. In fact I created a homepage at:

http://members.aol.com/tfernstrom/main.html

(since  the  Association's  WebSite  has been closed) so I could share trip
reports  and  pictures  of  the Resort's grounds with my other owners. Feel free
to  visit  the  site  and  if you haven't had a chance to send me your opinion
about  how  you would like the Resort to re-open, please address me an e-mail
and do so.

Keep your fingers crossed for us and we will try to have a wonderful
destination  available  for  your  next vacation. I also want to thank you all
for  the many encouraging e-mails I have received and I have been able to share
a number of them with my fellow owners to bolster their spirits.

Thanks again,

Tom Fernstrom
Tfernstrom@aol.com
Eden Bay Homeowners' Association

***********************
Notice sent out May 18, 1998

Dear Interested Parties,

As  I  indicated  in my last Status Update distributed in April, There
was  a  formal  Eden  Bay Homeowner’s Association Assembly held on May
16,  1998.  There  were  86  owners  represented either by proxy or in
person.

In  a  nutshell  a  motion  was  made  to  begin  foreclosure  against
delinquent  owners.  (25  unsold  units  and 8 delinquent individually
owned units). The motion passed unanimously with no nay votes.

After  the  formal  meeting  agenda  was  accomplished,  Chairman Bill
Coakley  advised  of  a  verbal  rental  arrangement offer that he had
received  from  the  General’s son offering $8 per night to owners. As
previously  stated,  this  rental arrangement was being offered in the
hopes of re-opening the Resort as a textile Resort with possibly part-
nude/part-prude  areas  and  marketed  as the large Resorts do through
heavily  discounted  tour  operator  arrangements  and  extremely thin
profit margins. (The Tourismo de Masa way)

A  straw  vote  at  the  Town Hall portion of the meeting rejected the
offer unanimously. A mandate was then reaffirmed:

The individual unit owners will only accept:
1. Total nudity
2. No dealings with Mr. Robinson
and
3. That any offer must be financially viable

This  message  will  be  conveyed  back  to  the  General’s son by our
Chairman  and  we,  the Association, will continue to dig our heels in
and  go forward with providing our condo units with independent power,
water  and sewage. It is our collected opinion that this will convince
the  General  that  the business arrangement that he was pursuing with
Mr.  Robinson  will fail before it even gets off the ground. It should
also  impress  him  that  a standing purchase offer that has been made
for  his  interests is really his best bet for realizing a decent rate
of return.

I  must say the solidarity of the meeting participants and the proxies
they  represented  was  again  amazing. I want to thank all of you who
have  responded  to  my request for input and indicated that you would
have  no  interest  at  all  in  visiting  a Resort that was not fully
nude/clothing-optional.  This  made  the owners’ decision to hold fast
all  the  easier knowing that what we owners wanted has the support of
our potential guests.

In  conclusion, all necessary steps have been taken by the Association
and  the  ball  is  back in our opponent’s court. What they do with it
will determine our next direction.

Please   continue  to  support  our  efforts  because  video  evidence
provided  by our Association’s Secretary from a recent visit indicates
our  units  are  ready  to  be  rented  and  that  barring  any  major
unforeseen  amenity  infrastructure  problem,  whomever  re-opens  the
Resort should be able to do so in a relatively quick manner.

Also  please be assured that any attempt to re-open the Resort will be
under  the  Association’s  scrutiny. Many of our owners have indicated
that  they should be the "guinea pigs" to test the Resort’s ability to
deliver a quality vacation experience. I for one would insist on it!!

Tom Fernstrom
Eden Bay Homeowner’s Association

GRENADINES AND BARBADOS BY SANDRA O'HARA

This  year  was  our  fifteenth trip into the Caribbean. Just when you
think  it  could  get  no  better,  surprise  it  does!  We  spent ten
wonderful  days.  Seven  on our favorite Isle Petit St. Vincent in the
Grenadines and three on the Island of Barbados.

We  had  planned  and  booked  this trip for just about a year. We had
originally  planned  a  nine  day trip but thanks to American Airlines
the  trip  became  ten.  Our  travel  plans  normally start in Orlando
however  due to schedule changes on American the connections no longer
worked.  After  motoring to Miami, we caught an early afternoon flight
on  BWIA  to Barbados. Talk about service! The BWIA service was superb
from  start  to  finish.  At  check  in  the  attendant talked us into
checking  bags that we would normally carry. She stated, "do not worry
they  will go Priority Baggage." She then went on to give us a pass to
a  first  class  lounge.  We  spent  our  time  waiting for the flight
sipping  free  drinks  and nibbling several different kinds of snacks.
The  lounge  was  appointed  very nicely. It had phone service, desks,
TV's,  conference  room, and superb rest rooms. Once in flight, we had
a  gourmet  meal. Yes, it was truly gourmet. Upon arrival we found out
about  Priority  Baggage.  All  the Priority Baggage was the first off
the plane. This is what we call service!

We   spent   one  night  on  Barbados  before  continuing  on  to  the
Grenadines.  We  chose  Glitter  Bay  because  it was part of American
Express  Rewards Program. Why not, we said, it's Free!! Watch, we have
been  on  the  phone with American Express on numerous occasion trying
to  get  a  $235.00  room  charge  removed  from our bill. We also had
several  minor  problems  before leaving with Princess Hotels. It took
two  calls to Barbados to book the room. New York reservations stated,
that  the only accommodations available were suites. Odd, for mid May!
Barbados  reservations,  said they had many deluxe rooms available. We
finally  secured  a  deluxe  room. We faxed to reconfirm and never did
hear  from the hotel. We had to call again, this time they told us the
person  in  charge on reservation was very busy. The accommodations at
Glitter  Bay  were  very  lovely  and  the  staff  was  very  warm and
friendly.  Our  deluxe  room was very well appointed. We had a balcony
overlooking  the  sea. The room's configurations are tight and if they
would  have  been full we could see where noise and privacy could be a
problem.  You  can  see  from  one balcony to another. The grounds are
lovely  with  great  facilities  for  children. They have a children's
pool,  and  playground.  There  were  many  families  on  holiday  The
restaurant  at  Glitter Bay is very informal. We choose to have dinner
at  the  Palm  Terrace in the Royal Pavilion. We had a nice dinner but
it  was  not  outstanding.  While  we  did not see the interior of the
rooms  at the Royal Pavillon, we were very disappointed in its outside
appearance.  From  the sea side, it looks like a mid rise hotel with a
balcony  off  the  room. The building appears to be in need of repair.
The  beach  is virtually non existent directly in back of resort. Just
for  information,  Sandy  Lane  is indeed closed. We were told the new
owners  are  putting  mega  dollars into the resort. It is supposed to
reopen late '98 or early '99 as a super luxury hotel.

At  noon the next day, we left for the second leg of our journey. Back
at  the  airport  we  boarded  our shared charter on Mustique Airlines
proceeding  onward  to  the Grenadines and Petit St. Vincent (PSV). We
arrived  on  PSV  at  5:00PM. They met us and two other couples at the
dock  with  our  rum punch. We were immediately whisked off to Cottage
#18.(our  favorite)  Afternoon  tea,  chilled  champagne and wonderful
chocolates  plus  bathrobes,  awaited  our  arrival. This trip was our
third  trip  to  PSV and next year we hope will be our fourth. We have
often  thought  about spending a week at another resort, but we do not
know   how   you   could   ever   replace  this  bit  of  heaven.  The
accommodations  are  wonderful,  the privacy is great and the food was
better  than  ever.  You never have to worry about safety or where the
room  key  is  located.  There are no keys! The beach is beautiful and
isolated.  We  spent each morning this year at the west end beach with
faithful  dog  Hera. PSV thinks of it all, how about free cold bottles
of  water awaiting your arrival at the beach. It never ceases to amaze
us  just  when  you  think that PSV has thought of everything Haze and
Lynn  Richardson  find something to add to make your stay even better.
The  staff  are  always warm and friendly and make sure you get all of
your  wants  and  wishes fulfilled. We spent our days on the beach, on
the  deck,  reading, walking, swimming, snorkeling, and just relaxing.
In  the  evening,  going up the hill to the dining room is a treat. We
never  have  dinner  in  our cottage only breakfast and afternoon tea,
but  you  can have all your meals in your home away from home. We love
cottage  #18  many  asked  why? We can see the sunrise, the sunset, we
can  go  down  the  steps  to  the beach and sea, and we can watch the
activities  in  the  bay.  We can do all of this without losing any of
our  privacy. All the cottages our wonderful. They truly look like the
brochure.  If  we  could not get #18, we would probably select #10, or
#4.  Seven  nights  just  seem  to fly by. We always have tears in our
eyes  when  it  is time to leave. We must say it is not for every one-
you  must  be  content  with each other and want to just get away from
the hectic world. PSV is just special!!!!!!!!

After  leaving PSV, we headed back to Barbados for the last two nights
of  our  vacation.  This time we headed to the North end of the island
near  Speighstown.  We had chosen to end our vacation at Cobblers Cove
in  the  Colleton  Suite. What a finale this was! It was fabulous. Our
mouths  dropped  wide  open when they opened the door of this fabulous
suite.  It  is  difficult  to  find  words  to  describe  this  superb
accommodation.  It  must  be  at  least  1000sq ft. All the floors are
marble.  The furnishing and window covering are awesome. The bath room
sports  his and her sinks and shower, bidet and Jacuzzi tub. How about
a  dressing  room  with  his  and  her  closets complete with electric
valet!  The  French  doors  of  the living room open to a hugh terrace
with  it  own  4ft  plunge  pool.  Talk about never wanting to leave a
room.  We hated that we had made dinner reservations. However, once we
got  to  the  dining room, we were happy we went. The food and service
were  wonderful,  and  served in an enchanting sea side atmosphere. We
chose  the  modified  American  plan.  They  do  offer  a  dine around
privilege  but  we  were content and happy to stay on the property for
all  of  our meals. Afternoon tea was at 4:00 each day with sweets and
tea  sandwiches.  The  manager  Hamish Watson welcomed us upon arrival
and  bid  us farewell. This was a very nice touch. Even if you can not
stay  in  one  of  the  two special suites at Cobblers Cove, the other
accommodations  are lovely. All the accommodations are suites with air
conditioning  in  the  bedrooms.  We would choose the rooms closest to
the  sea  and  on the second floor. The rooms in the back have no view
but   they   do   have  lovely  tropical  landscaping.  This  tropical
landscaping  affords the ground floor accommodation's privacy. We were
lucky  enough  to  see  the Camelot Suite. It is also wonderful but we
prefer  the  Colleton.  The  hotel  grounds  truly  emulate a tropical
garden.  There  is  very little beach in front of the hotel but on the
North  side  is  a very lovely beach area. We had such a great time at
Cobblers  Cove  in  the  Colleton  Suite  that  we  want to repeat our
itinary next year plus hopefully add one more day.

It  was  tough  going back to the real world after spending ten nights
in  heaven.  Reality  hit  us  very  quickly.  We  took American Eagle
service  from  Barbados  to San Juan. We have to tell you, we will not
do  this  again  if  possible. The plane was noisy, dirty and had lost
its  navigational  equipment.  We flew visual. It was a long flight to
San  Juan. When we got to San Juan at 4:00pm, we were soon to discover
that  American  had  problems  with  our plane. We were delayed in San
Juan  for  over  three  hours.  The  terminal  was  freezing  cold and
everyone  was complaining. They finally brought some blankets. After a
time,  we were given a food voucher of $7.50 each. The $15.00 bought a
bowl  of soup, one piece of chicken, pint of milk, and two packages of
cold  French  fires.  None  of  which  we  would  give  our dog. Great
services  for  passengers  like  us  who  were  flying  on  full price
business   class  tickets!!!  We  finally  arrived  in  Orlando  after
midnight.  Oh  well!  We  made it home safely. What a sad way to end a
fabulous  vacation. We will definitely try to take BWIA or Air Jamaica
next  year  both  directions.  At  least if we are delayed, we will be
delayed in style.

We  can't  wait to return to Paradise in 1999. Seven nights in Cottage
#18  at PSV and three in the Colleton Suite at Cobblers Cove. We don't
know how it could get any better!

Two very special places in paradise.

JAMAICA: SWEPT AWAY BY LISA PARKER

May 3-10, 1998

In  preparing  for  our  vacation to celebrate our 5th anniversary, my
husband  and  I  did  a  lot  of  research, mostly on the Internet, to
select  just  the  right  place  for us. The trip reports on Caribbean
Travel  Roundup  were extremely helpful, so I thought it only right to
return  the  favor to potential future travelers. I am happy to report
that  all  of our research paid off in spades-- Swept Away, located in
Negril,  Jamaica,  was  exactly  what  we were looking for and more. I
have  arranged the trip report by topics: travel, food, entertainment,
etc.,  rather  than give a complete "play-by-play" of our entire trip.
It  was  easier  to write and hopefully is more informative and easier
to read.

Travel  Starting  from  the  beginning,  we  left our home in Northern
Virginia  (Washington,  DC  suburbs)  at about 5:45 in the morning. We
drove  to  BWI  airport and caught Air Jamaica's daily non-stop flight
to  Jamaica  that  left  at  8:30  am. I am pleased to report that the
flight  was  great. We had heard some scary stories about Air Jamaica,
but  all went well. The flight was just half full, so we had plenty of
room  to stretch out on the A-320 plane and watch the movie, enjoy the
meal,  and  begin getting into relaxation mode. We actually arrived in
Montego  Bay  15  minutes  ahead of schedule at 10:45 (we lost an hour
due  to  the  time  change).  We  got  through immigration and customs
fairly  quickly  and  (with some difficulty due to lack of signs) made
our  way  to the Air Jamaica Express counter for our connecting flight
to  Negril (we were taking advantage of Swept Away's special promotion
that  pays  for  the  airfare  between  Mo  Bay  and Negril for guests
staying  6  nights  or  more).  This  is  where we first ran into some
problems.  We  had  a  ticket  for a 1:20 flight, but the clerk at the
desk  couldn't  confirm  whether  or  not  that  flight would actually
occur.  She  told  us to just wait (on some very uncomfortable plastic
chairs)  until  the  flight to Negril was called. Because there didn't
seem  to  be  any schedule to the flights, we were a little worried to
even  step  away  to use the restroom. However, about 11:45 the Negril
flight  was  called  and  we  went  out  and  got in the very small (8
seater)  plane.  I  was  able to look in the back of the plane and was
dismayed  to  see  that  our 3 pieces of luggage were not aboard. Both
the  pilot  and luggage guy looked dismayed when we told them that our
luggage  had  been  checked  through  to  Negril  by  the  Air Jamaica
representative  in  Baltimore.  They  told  us that this was a mistake
(one  apparently  made  often in Baltimore) and that we had 2 options:
(1)  stay  on  the  plane,  give  them the keys to our luggage in case
customs  wanted  to  check  them,  and they would send them on a later
flight  or  (2)  go  back  and  claim! the luggage, go through customs
again,  and  take  the  next  flight  a  couple hours later. The pilot
recommended  the  latter  option,  so  we  did  that.  We went back to
luggage  claim,  found  our bags, went through customs again, and then
waited   for  the  next  flight.  Those  plastic  seat  really  became
uncomfortable!  We finally got on the plane at around 2:30. The flight
was  scenic,  but  just  as we got to Negril a thunderstorm rolled in.
The  pilot  circled the air strip about 5 times before landing because
he  couldn't  see the ground, let alone the air strip. It was a little
scary,  but  the  pilot didn't seem worried, so we tried to take it in
stride.  When  we  landed there was a couple of inches of water on the
air  strip--it  was almost like landing a hydro-plane! Anyway, we were
soon  off  to  Swept Away. The Air Jamaica representative told us that
Swept  Away was sending a van for us, as well as another couple on our
flight,  and  in  just a few minutes it arrived. By the time we got to
Swept  Away,  the  rain  had  stopped and the sun was shining! We were
greeted with OJ and champagne upon our arrival.

Going  home  a  week  later,  we took advantage of Air Jamaica's hotel
check-in  program,  as  suggested by Swept Away. We left the resort at
2:15  for  a 2:45 flight to Montego Bay. The flight to Mo Bay was very
quick  (15  minutes)  and  scenic.  Once  in  Mo  Bay,  we went to Air
Jamaica's  hotel  check-in  line. It was in this line that we paid the
$15.00  per person departure tax. We waited just about 10 minutes--not
too  bad. Unfortunately this is where our vacation ended. Once we went
to  the  gate,  it was hot and there was very little seating. It seems
that  all  of Air Jamaica's flights to the US leave within a half hour
of  each  other,  so the people are all packed in like sardines into a
very  small  waiting  area.  To  top it off, our flight was delayed by
about  an  hour  because  the  plane  was having trouble. I guess they
finally  decided  to  pull  in  a charter to take us and we boarded an
incredibly  old 727 Pan-Am plane that was most recently charted to the
Miami  Heat  basketball  team.  In  comparison to the flight out, this
just  wasn't  as  nice. The seating was cramped, there wasn't a movie,
and  only half the crew was from Air Jamaica. The rest worked for Pan-
Am.  In addition, we both had serious worries about this old plane and
we  are  seasoned  flyers. In any case, we made it home safely--it was
raining  and  55  degrees  when  we  landed.  Apparently it rained the
entire  week  we  were  gone,  so  we  picked  a  great  week to be in
paradise!

Rooms  For  the  first time, the rooms actually looked like they do in
the  fancy  brochures!  We were placed in room 1219 (an upstairs room,
as  we  had  requested  a  week  before our trip). We went to bed real
early  (9:30)  the  first  night  and  were  soon woken up by the band
playing  in  the  nearby  dining  room.  It was extremely loud and not
conducive  to sleep or romance. In addition, the songs, Billie Jean by
Michael  Jackson  as  an  example,  were terrible. We called the front
desk  and  asked  for  the  manager.  It took awhile, but we were soon
connected  to the manager who didn't sound too surprised to be getting
such  a  complaint.  He  said  he would put us down to be moved in the
morning,  but  the  music  would  continue  to  11:00 or 11:30. It did
eventually  stop,  after  which  we  could hear the crickets! They are
pretty  loud,  but  we  found  them  to  be  very soothing. Swept Away
happily  moved  us  the  next  day  to  room  2224.  The  room  looked
identical,  but  it was more to the center of the property and we even
had  a view of the beach, even though we were still in an atrium room!
In  this new room we could still hear the band somewhat, but it was so
faint  it  never  bothered  us. In fact, many nights we were out until
after  the  band  finished  playing  so  we  just  fell  asleep to the
crickets.

As  far  as  the  rooms  themselves, there is a tile floor and a king-
sized  bed.  The  room  is  all open with just screens for windows (no
glass,  except  on  the  French doors going to the balcony/patio). For
privacy,  the  louvers  have  to be closed. We rarely heard noise from
other  rooms  or outside and what we did hear didn't bother us or keep
us  up.  When  you  close  all the louvers at night it gets quite cold
with  the  air  conditioning  and  ceiling  fan  running, so we had no
trouble  sleeping.  In  fact, we slept great all week (except for that
first  night  of  course)!  There  are  no  dressers,  but  there  was
sufficient  shelving  in  the closets for all our non-hanging clothes.
The  lighting wasn't the best, but we didn't spend to much time in the
room,  so  it  didn't  really  matter.  No problems with hot water and
there  is  a hair dryer mounted in the bathroom. If you bring your own
hair  dryer or a curling iron or something, you have to get an adapter
from  the  front  desk. The balcony/patio was the best thing about the
room  by  far.  It  was very private and had plenty of room for two to
stretch  out  and  read.  It was fairly cool when you keep the ceiling
fan  running. In addition, we had our room service delivered breakfast
out there most mornings.

Beach

Soon  after arriving at Swept Away, we hit the beach and spent most of
our  vacation  there.  We were really looking for a relaxing vacation,
so  we  did  a  lot  of  just  bumming  around, snoozing, and reading.
Interestingly,  Swept  Away  is really a place where you can "veg out"
or  be very active. No one pressures you either way--it's up to you to
set  the  schedule  and  activity  level.  The beach is very clean. We
never  had  any  problem  getting a chaise lounge, or even the hammock
(there  are two on the beach) for those lazy afternoons. Competing for
the  two  shady  "huts"  on the beach (my husband got burnt pretty bad
the  first  day,  so  he  spent  most  of the time in the shade) was a
little  harder,  but we prevailed on at least 3 days. We did hear that
the  resort  was  just 60% occupied, which contributed to no lines, no
waiting,  and  no  crowds for the entire week. Anyway, when we got hot
we  just  pulled  the  pads  off  the chaise lounges and went into the
water  (they  had  a  dual-use and could also be used as a "floatie").
The  water  was warm, but still very refreshing, incredibly clean, and
a  beautiful  shade  of  blue. The beach bar, where Geoffrey works his
magic,  was  always  close  by  for drinks, as well as the veggie bar.
There  is no "cocktail waitress" service on the beach, although on two
occasions  over  the  course  of  the  week,  a cocktail waitress came
around  with  pre-poured,  non-alcoholic drinks, such as water, juice,
and  soda.  About  20 percent of the women went topless, but most kept
their tops on (including myself).

As  far  as  water  sports,  we took advantage of the snorkeling trip,
offered  twice daily. It was just an hour trip and offered a nice boat
trip  away  from the resort. There were a lot of fish to see, but they
weren't  particularly  colorful  or unusual. We did see a stingray (we
were  the  only  ones  on  the boat to see it), which was exciting. We
also  took  the Hobie Cat out twice. They taught us how to sail it and
it  was  quite easy to manage. It was nice to be out on the water with
no  motor  going and just under the power of the wind. My husband also
rented  a  jet-ski off the resort (just to the south by 200 yards). It
cost  $35  for  a  half  hour on weekdays and $40 on weekends. We also
went   tandem  parasailing.  Swept  Away's  tour  desk  took  care  of
everything  (Deanna  was extremely helpful) and the "Air Time" shuttle
boat  picked  us  up right on the beach to take us to the bigger boat.
It  was  a  short  trip--just 10 minutes in the air--but fun and worth
the  expense  (we  used our Swept Away dollars) of $60 per couple. The
one  thing we didn't participate in was the "booze cruise", which is a
3-hour  catamaran  cruise  on Wednesdays and Fridays to see the sights
of  Negril,  drink,  dance,  and get crazy. Those who did go said they
had  a  good  time,  but  they  weren't convinced it was the "must do"
event  that  the  Swept  Away  tour  desk  billed  it as. We didn't go
because  it  was  $80.00  per couple, which seemed a little steep, and
heck we already had free booze and entertainment at the resort!

Finally,  we  were  also  invited to go for a sail on the owner's (Lee
Issa)  catamaran sailboat which was anchored next to the swimming area
all  week.  There  is  a  fellow  named  Austin (a real Rastafarian by
looking  at  him) who lives on it and takes folks out on rides when he
is  asked  or  when  he  feels  like  putting  together an outing. Our
"neighbors"  went  on  a  three  hour  trip with him and found it very
relaxing.  We didn't go because we had reservations for dinner over at
Feathers  that night and didn't know if we would make it back in time.


One  area  of complaints from a variety of guests we talked to was the
water  sports hut. It is here that you have to exchange your two beach
towels  for new ones as you need them. There is a rather stern note in
your  room  about  keeping  track  of  your towels and getting a towel
receipt  at  the  end of the week when you turn in your towels for the
last  time.  Apparently  without  the receipt, you will be charged $15
per  towel  at check out. The first day we were there, I asked for two
additional  towels  because  one towel each only covers about half the
chaise  lounge  you are laying on. I got a little hassle from the guy,
but  he  gave  me  two  more. However, after that we had to be careful
because  apparently having more than one towel per person is some sort
of  crime  at Swept Away. When I went back to exchange my 4 towels the
next  day, the guy said something to the effect of "that better be for
two  couples"  to  which I replied "yes, it is" not wanting to have my
two  extra  towels  confiscated.  After  that  I only exchanged 2 at a
time.  We  heard  worse  stories  from others. One guest had her towel
taken  by  another  guest,  accidentally  she  presumed, from the pool
area.  The  water  sports  hut  guys gave her a big hassle and started
yelling  at  her  and  telling  her  she  needed  to pay $15.00 to get
another  towel.  It  was eventually resolved in her favor, but it sure
left  a  bad  taste in her mouth. We heard similar stories from others
as  well.  By the end of the week we were joking that Swept Away would
feed  you  all you can eat, give you a whole bottle of booze if that's
what  you  wanted,  but  don't  you  dare ask for another towel! Thank
goodness  this  was  the  only  area all week in which we got a hassle
about  wanting  something. I suspect the problem is more rooted in the
employees  at  the  water  sports  hut  than  an overall policy of the
resort.  Of all the employees at the resort, the water sports hut guys
were  the least friendly and least helpful of all. They did their job,
but  begrudgingly,  and without a smile. This was in sharp contrast to
the  vast  majority  of  all  the  other employees, who were friendly,
warm, and went out of their way to please you.

Weather

The  weather  was in the low 90's all week. It was somewhat humid, but
it  wasn't terrible. Just about every afternoon, a rainstorm rolled in
for  15  minutes or so. After it rained it was cooler and sunny again.
The  rain  never  interfered  with  our vacation and in fact, it was a
nice  change  of pace from the blazing sun. The rain did result in the
cancellation  (actually  the  moving  indoors  of) the two "eat on the
beach"  events--the Monday night Caribbean-style luau and an American-
style  BBQ  lunch  later in the week. While it would have been nice to
eat on the beach, this wasn't really a big deal for us.

Sports Complex/Massage

Unfortunately  all  of  the  sports complex facilities I wanted to use
(the  aerobics  studio, the cardio equipment, and the weights) are not
air  conditioned.  I  only  used  the sports complex facilities on one
occasion  and  found  it too unbearably hot, so I didn't go back. I am
used  to  working  out  in  an  air  conditioned  gym,  so  90+ degree
temperatures  were a little bit of a shock and I actually got a little
queasy  despite  the  fact I was drinking lots of water. I should note
that  the racquetball and squash courts were air conditioned, but that
was  it!  I  think  this is real downside to the resort and one I hope
that they rectify soon.

We  did  partake  in  the  massage--had  to spend those 200 Swept Away
dollars  somehow. The massage huts are also not air conditioned, so we
made  appointments  late in the day (4:00 or 5:00) after the afternoon
rains  had  cooled  things off a bit and it was perfectly comfortable.
The  massages were well done and the (all female) masseuses were well-
trained  and friendly. It was $50 for an hour and I'm not sure what it
was  for  a half hour ($25 perhaps). Honeymooners got a free half hour
massage as part of their package.

Food

The  food  was  overall  very  good. Most of the time there were a few
"healthy"  selections  available,  so  it  was  possible  to eat well.
Despite  this  fact,  we  still  put  on a few pounds over our week at
Swept  Away! For breakfast, you could either get room service or go to
the  buffet  in  the main dining room. We did both and found both very
good,  although  the  made  to order omelettes in the main dining room
were  swimming in oil. For lunch, you could either snack at the Veggie
Bar  (the  sweet  potato chips and guacamole were awesome), eat at the
Beach  Grill  (grilled chicken or red snapper sandwiches everyday), or
go  to  the  buffet  in  the  main  dining  room (always an incredible
spread).  For dinner, you could either dine in the main dining room or
across  the  street  at  Feathers,  the  fancy  restaurant.  You  need
reservations  for  Feathers and it is worth the trouble. We went twice
and  really  enjoyed  our meal and the attentive service. Just a quick
note  on  attire for Feathers--Swept Away suggests that it be somewhat
dressy  (no  shorts  or  t-shirts,  etc.), but we saw people dressed a
little  too  casually by Swept Away's standards and they got served. I
wore  a  sleeveless  dress and my husband more chinos and a polo shirt
and  that  was  fancy  enough.  Swept  Away is particularly good about
having  a  great  spread of fresh fruit at every meal and the bread is
always  fresh  baked.  The  dessert  spreads  at lunch and dinner were
incredible.  As  far  as  drinks, I really became a fan of "mudslides"
and   "dirty   bananas"--both   were   the   equivalent  of  alcoholic
milkshakes!  Be sure to meet Devon, who is the dining room supervisor.
He  has  been  at  Swept  Away since the beginning and was a fantastic
host, as well as storyteller.

Activities/Entertainment

The  entertainment,  mostly  in  the evenings after dinner, was pretty
good.  Sometimes  it  was  a  little  too  Americanized (like the very
talented  steel  drum band playing 1980's American pop tunes), but all
in  all,  it  was  good.  At least there was something different every
night,  including  some  very  good  local  dancers  one  night  and a
contortionist  another  night. The piano bar sing- along, which we did
on two occasions, was also fun.

The  only  other  activity  we did that I haven't mentioned previously
was  the  bicycle trip into town. Every morning at 8:00 am, one of the
entertainment  types  leads a bike tour into Negril. It is a very easy
ride  aerobically,  but  is  very  challenging mentally as you have to
dodge  rather large pot holes, while crazed drivers are honking at you
and  whizzing  by  at  top  speeds. We rode single file and no one got
hit,  but  it  was close a couple times. We rode to Xtabi (a hotel and
restaurant  on  the cliffs of Negril), took a break to enjoy the view,
and  then  we  rode back to two stores where we did a little shopping.
Anything  we bought (coffee and rum) was delivered later to the resort
and  the  prices  were comparable to what we saw in the duty-free shop
at  the  airport.  We  would  recommend this trip, especially if Maria
leads  it--she  was  lots  of  fun. It was a great way to see at least
some  Negril and get some shopping done without paying for a taxi into
town (which could run $20 on up per person, round trip).

Other Guests

Just  a  bit  on the other guests. We are in our early 30's and seemed
that  most  of  the  clientele  were  in the same age bracket (25-40).
There  were  quite  a  few  honeymooners  and I can't imagine a better
place  to  honeymoon.  In  addition  to  Americans,  there  were  some
Canadians,  Italians,  and  Germans.  There were some older folks, but
not  many. There seemed to be quite a few weddings at Swept Away while
we  were there. Considering the lush and tropical grounds, it would be
a  great  place  to  get  married.  Because everyone was paired off in
couples,  there wasn't a great deal of socializing. However, it seemed
that  most  couples  found a few other couples they got along with and
ate  lunch  or  dinner  together  a  few times. We hit it off with our
"neighbors",  Kirby  and  Susan  from Atlanta, in 2223. This was their
second  trip  to  Swept  Away  and  it was heartening to hear that the
place  was still as good as the first time they visited 2 years prior.


Lessons  Learned  Considering  what a great vacation we had, we really
had just a few "lessons learned" for future travelers. They are:

LESSON  #1--Do  not  allow  Air  Jamaica to check your bags through to
Negril,  or any other location. You must claim them in Montego Bay, go
through customs, and then re-check them for your connecting flight.

LESSON  #2--Upon  check-in,  or  before, request a room beginning with
22.  This  will  guarantee you an upstairs room away from the noise of
the  dining  room.  Also, if you are staying in the atrium section, we
would  suggest  rooms  2223,  2224, 2225, or 2226. They are central to
the  property, so you are buffered from noise from (1) the dining room
and (2) the resorts to the south.

LESSON  #3--Bring  a  large,  insulated sipper bottle. We learned this
one  from our "neighbors" Kirby and Susan. The bartenders will fill it
with  whatever  you  want  so you don't have to worry about constantly
getting up to get a new drink.

LESSON  #4--Bring all your American money in small denominations--1's,
5's,  and  10's.  We actually did this, because we heard it from other
Jamaican  travelers  on  the  Internet. We heard from others that they
wished  they  had  done the same. It worked out great. You can pay for
everything,  including  the  $15.00 per person departure tax, in exact
change  using  U.S.  dollars  so  you never have the hassle of getting
change  back in Jamaican dollars or have to change currencies. We took
$350 in small bills and came back with about $100.

JAMAICA: GRAND LIDO BRACO BY DOUG AND SIDNEY MUIR

Trip 5/98

The  following  is our report on the Grand Lido Braco resort, which we
visited from May 3 through May 10, 1998.


Getting there

We  took  Delta to Atlanta and connected with Air Jamaica, arriving in
Montego  Bay  about  10:30  a.m.  Immigration and customs took awhile,
since  at  least  three  flights arrived at MoBay about the same time.
After  clearing  customs,  Superclubs  was on the ball and had us in a
bus  and  on  our way quickly. The bus trip to Braco isn’t bad - about
an  hour  and  20  minutes,  including a 25 minute beer stop along the
way.  On  the return, we made it from Braco to the airport in under an
hour.

For  those  of  you  who  are  used to TimAir or Air Negril going from
MoBay  to  Negril, there’s no corresponding service to the Braco area,
unless  you  plan  on  using  a parachute. With the bus ride time, you
don’t need it anyway.

Air  Jamaica  was fine, arriving and departing on time in all material
respects  on  both  ends of the trip. The aircraft were relatively new
Airbus  A310s. Service and cleanliness of the aircraft were as good as
most of the domestic U.S. airlines.


Check-in

Since  we  arrived well before the 3:00 check-in time, our room wasn’t
ready.  This  wasn’t  a  problem;  we  just  went down to the clothing
optional  pool  and  found  the two other couples we were meeting, and
hung  out at the pool. Take along a duffel bag with any essentials and
you’ll   be   able   to   deal   with  a  late  check-in  without  any
inconvenience.


Resort overview

The  main  Braco  complex  is  a  replica of an island village, with a
number  of  one  and  two  story  buildings  fronting on a main street
running  perpendicular  to the ocean, which is bisected by two shorter
streets,  all  of  which  are  of  pressed  concrete  resembling brick
pavers.  The  various  buildings  house  shops, the main lobby, disco,
piano  bar  and  most  of  the restaurants. At the intersection of the
streets  is  a fountain, and at the far end of main street is the main
“textile  side”  pool. Facing the ocean from the textile side pool, to
the  right  are  first  the building housing the piano bar and Nanny’s
Jerk  Pit  and  then  a  number  of buildings housing the textile side
rooms  (some  ocean  front,  some  not).  To the left are the Victoria
Market  and  Stir  Crazy  restaurants,  the workout facilities and the
clothing  optional  section  of  the  resort.  The  c/o section of the
resort  is  separated  from  the rest of the property by a kind of “no
man’s  land;”  once  past  this Maginot Line, clothing optional is the
rule in all areas of the c/o side.

On  the  textile  side,  only  about a third of the rooms (at a guess)
front  the  ocean;  the  rest are what would probably be called garden
view.  On  the  c/o  side, the buildings housing the rooms are between
the ocean and the c/o pool, and all rooms are oceanfront.

Unlike  Grand  Lido Negril, where “c/o” begins at the buildings facing
the  ocean, at Braco the whole west side of the resort is c/o, and one
does not have to suit up when leaving the beach area.

The  landscaping  throughout  the resort is really outstanding, though
on  the  c/o  side  a  good  bit  of  the  plantings are rather young,
particularly the palms between the buildings and the beach.

Like  GL  Negril, there’s a small army of landscaping folks working on
things  just about all the time. There are a number of hammocks strung
up  between  trees  in  the shade throughout the resort for those late
afternoon naps.

We’d  guess  the  average  age  of guests at Braco is somewhat younger
than  at  GL Negril. Not too many in their twenties, but lots and lots
of  thirty-  and  forty-somethings. And not an insignificant number of
fifties and sixties.

Like  GL Negril, we found that the c/o side tended to attract the more
outgoing,  gregarious  crowd.  There  was  just a lot more interaction
among  guests  who  didn’t know each other on the c/o side than on the
textile  side,  where it seemed people kept more to themselves. We met
the  two  other  couples  with  whom  we visited Braco at GL Negril in
November 1997, and have kept in touch.

Brief  words  about the c/o side for those who’ve never been to a nude
beach:  try it, you’ll like it. No one will stare or gawk at you; more
than  likely,  someone  will  offer to bring you a drink from the bar.
Ladies,  if you want to keep your bathing suit bottom on, that’s fine.
No  one  cares.  Expecting  a crowd of hardbodies? You’ll maybe find a
few,  but  most  folks  look  just  like the rest of us. Again, nobody
cares.


Rooms

The  rooms  are  similar in many respect to Grand Lido Negril, in that
they  feature  twin  double beds or king beds, tile floors, reasonably
large  baths,  and  sofas.  CD  players, satellite TV, ironing boards,
irons,  refrigerator  (stocked  with  Red  Stripe and soft drinks, but
bring   your  own  opener)  and  small  wall  safe  (good  for  travel
documents,  wallets,  jewelry,  a  small camera and such, but not much
more)  are standard. The rooms, at least on the c/o side, were in good
repair  and  comfortable.  On  the c/o side, the downstairs rooms have
French  doors  which open onto the beach, much like Grand Lido Negril.
Unlike  GL Negril, the upstairs rooms have balconies large enough that
one  can  open  the  French  doors  without  bumping  into the balcony
furniture.

On  the  c/o side, there are at least two configurations of rooms: one
arrangement  which has just a single large room with a sofa, chair and
coffee  table  nearest  the  French doors opening onto the beach, much
like  GL  Negril;  and  a second configuration that is like an Embassy
Suites,  with a room away from the beach housing a sofa, chair, TV, CD
player  and  refrigerator,  with  the  bedroom  (with TV and CD player
duplicated)  on  the  beach  side. The latter configuration also has a
half  bath  in  addition  to  the  full  bath. We preferred the former
configuration  because  the sofa and chair were situated such that one
can view the beach and ocean.


Restaurants

Cafe  Piacere is the French restaurant, and the only one at which long
pants  and  jacket are required. Very nicely done, and should be taken
in  while  at  Braco. Make reservations at the beginning of your stay.
Dinner only.

Victoria  Market  is the main dining room, and is open air overlooking
the  main  pool.  The arrangement is much better than GL Negril, where
the  comparable  area  is  sort of down in a hole and further from the
beach.  Breakfast  and  lunch are served buffet style, and dinner is a
la  carte  from  the  menu,  which  we  thought had more than adequate
variety.  Victoria  Market  is  closed  some evenings when there is an
“event”  dinner  being  held,  notably  the Friday night street party.
Dress is casual, meaning a minimum of bathing suit with cover up or t-
shirt at breakfast and lunch, and shorts and polo shirt at night.

Stir  Crazy,  the  Japanese  restaurant  (with  tables  for  six, each
attended  by  a  chef  cooking on hot grill built into the table, just
like  Stateside),  had  recently  opened  (dinner  only). The Japanese
executive  chef  was  imported  from  his  most  recent  engagement in
Toronto,  and  seemed  to  be  getting  things under control. Food was
okay, but it has a way to go just to match typical U.S. chain fare.

Nanny’s  Jerk  Pit  is open from about 10:00 to about 6:00, and offers
jerk chicken, pork and beef. It’s very good.

La  Pasta  is open from midday to about 2:00 a.m. Offers mix and match
pasta  and  sauce  dishes  (including chicken and escargot) as well as
some  really  great  pizza, made to order with your choice of toppings
and  cheese. Also features an antipasto bar, and a visit to the bakery
next door will fix you up for dessert.


Room  service  is similar to GL Negril, and offered from 11:00 a.m. to
6:00  a.m.,  according  to  th

posted  hours, a continental breakfast can be ordered the night before
for  delivery  to  your  room in the morning. Some sources reported 24
hour  room  service,  and it may well be available 24 hours but, other
than  ordering  up  the  continental breakfast every morning, we never
tried  between  6:00 and 11:00 a.m. The room service menu is much more
extensive  than  GL  Negril; for GL Negril fans, Braco *does* have the
lamb chops and potato skins on the room service menu.

Room  service  is  also available served at the pool bars if you don’t
care  to  head down to Victoria Market. Also available at the pool bar
on  the  c/o  side is jerk chicken cooked on a grill in the bar, which
is  a nice change from a buffet lunch and the same jerk chicken served
at Nanny’s Jerk Pit.

Food  quality  was  generally  very  good.  Only  one lunch buffet was
unremarkable,  and  we solved that problem by hopping down to La Pasta
for a pizza.

On  balance,  we  thought  the  food  at  Braco  was better than at GL
Negril,  and  that’s  saying  something  in  light  of  the  generally
legendary reputation of GL Negril.

Liquor  is  abundant  as always, with most top shelf brands available.
Remember  to  ask  for  what you want though: “gin and tonic” will get
you  some  rotgut stuff, while “Tanqueray and tonic” will get you just
that.  To  our surprise, Heineken was available in bottles in addition
to  the  Red  Stripe  on  tap  or in bottles that is the mainstay most
everywhere  in Jamaica. We like Red Stripe, but it was nice to have an
alternative  now  and then. Wine quality was truly abominable. Believe
it  or  not,  we  longed for the Concha y Toro they often served at GL
Negril!  About  all  one  can  say for most of the Braco wines is that
they were French.

At  all restaurants, tables for six are available; it would be wise to
call  ahead  if  there are more than six in your party so they can set
up a table.

In  addition  to the restaurants, there is room service available from
two,  what I think they call “club houses,” on the property, much like
the  “houses”  at  GL Negril. Each of the houses has a seating area if
you  want  to eat there instead of in your room or at the pool. Unlike
GL  Negril, there are no hot tubs adjoining the houses. In addition to
food service, the club houses have 24 hour a day bar service.


Beaches and pools

The  c/o  side beach is, in our opinion, better than Negril. While the
resort  faces  the  Caribbean  Sea  (unlike  Negril, whose beach is on
Bloody  Bay),  management  has  constructed  a  man-made reef around a
swimming  area  on both the c/o and textile side of the resort. Unlike
GL  Negril,  the  water  off the c/o beach is clear Caribbean Sea, not
filled  with  plants.  While the beach and ocean bottom at Braco are a
bit  rockier  than  Negril,  we  didn’t  find that a problem and never
broke out our surf shoes.

The  c/o  side  beach  is  much  better than the textile beach. On the
textile  side  there are many more large rocks on the ocean floor than
on  the c/o side, so if you stay on the textile side, those surf shoes
might be a good idea.

The  main textile pool is large and features a swim up bar. On the c/o
side  is  the  largest pool we’ve ever encountered, also equipped with
swim  up bar and, at one end, a sloping entrance to the pool much like
a  concrete  beach. Both pools featured lots of tables and chairs with
umbrellas, especially on the c/o side.

Both  beaches  and  pools  feature  many new lounge chairs of aluminum
frame  and  webbed  fabric  construction:  much  more comfortable than
those  heavy  white  plastic lounges at GL Negril, and no need to have
one  of  those  fancy  pool/ocean  floats  in  the  chair  to use as a
cushion.   One   failure  at  Braco  is  the  insufficient  number  of
pool/ocean  floats.  Even  the  floats  they  have  date from the pre-
Superclubs days and are badly in need of replacement.

There  have been a number of posts and reports on the ‘Net and various
proprietary  service providers like AOL that the windy conditions make
Braco undesirable.

Braco  is  on the north coast of the island, unlike Negril on the west
end,  and there is definitely more wind at Braco than Negril. A couple
of  day  during  our  trip  the wind might have made sailing a Sunfish
problematic  for  the uninitiated, but the wind was never a problem on
the   beach,   in  our  opinion.  In  fact,  the  breeze  kept  things
comfortable  when  temperatures  rose to the high 80s and low 90s, and
it  would have been very uncomfortable with the generally still air of
Negril.  The  breeze  also  seemed  to  keep  the  humidity lower than
Negril.


Service.

On  balance, we thought the food service staff was pretty good, but it
ranged  from  indifferent  to  outstanding. In fairness, the good jobs
far  outnumbered  the poor. One thing Braco really needs to work on is
getting  good  cocktail service to the restaurant tables, particularly
at  dinner.  Often, it took awhile to get in a cocktail order, and the
cocktail  waitresses  had  to  be  flagged  down  for  another  round.
Management  needs  to work on training the staff to keep an eye on the
tables,  but  this problem was more acute with the cocktail staff than
the wait staff.

Service at the “club house” on the c/o side was good to excellent.

Bar  service,  except  as  noted  regarding cocktail service at dinner
above, was great everywhere, from the piano bar to the pool bars.

The  resort  offers  48  hour  laundry  and dry cleaning service at no
extra  charge.  Learning  from  our experience at GL Negril, we packed
light and still didn’t have reason to use it.

The  pool  guys  did a great job keeping the hot tubs and pool in good
shape  throughout our visit. The large c/o side hot tub was unbearably
hot one night, but that seemed to be an aberration.


Activities and Nightlife

Daytime  activities  (organized  by  the  social  directors  or  other
“specialists,”  such  as  aerobics  instructors)  include  things like
nature  walks,  water  aerobics, reggae dancing lessons, trivia games,
volleyball  (in  the  pool  or  on  the  beach),  tennis lessons, beer
drinking  contests,  etc.  The  resort has a nine hole (I think) par 3
type  golf  course and at least four tennis courts (one of which is on
the  c/o  side, where tennis *was* played on an *optional* basis). The
tennis  courts  are  hard  courts,  in very good condition. Regulation
golf  is  available off site at, I think, Breezes Runaway Bay, without
additional  charge.  I  think  it’s  about a 45 minute bus ride to the
course.

Watersports  are abundant, including water skiing, windsurfing, kayaks
and  Sunfish  sailing.  There’s  also  extensive scuba diving offered,
included  in  the  “all  inclusive”  rate  except  for night diving. A
couple  we  traveled  with reported that the scuba diving was at least
as  good as at GL Negril, and that they felt more comfortable with the
dive masters at Braco than at GL Negril.

There’s  also  a  new workout area adjacent to Victoria Market, facing
the  ocean.  New  Cybex  equipment  and four very nice treadmills were
being installed during our visit.

Most  of  the  “organized”  daytime  social activities centered on the
textile  side, in our around the main pool. There were also activities
scheduled  on  the  c/o  side, but they were fewer in number since the
c/o  side has only about one-fourth of the rooms at Braco, and I guess
the  management feel (probably correctly) that it’s easier for the c/o
guests  to  be  comfortable  going  over to the textile side than vice
versa (and this also avoids having the textiles on the c/o side).

Activities  outside  the  resort  (but  which  can be arranged through
Braco)  included  horseback  riding  (reported  as  a  lot of fun by a
couple we met) as well as a trip to Dunns River Falls.

While  not an official “activity,” we quickly found out that, at least
in  May,  the  sun sets over the water when viewed from the c/o beach.
This  was  truly  spectacular,  and  was attended most afternoons by a
considerable number of folks, c/o and textile alike.

Nightlife at Braco is rather thin.

There’s  a  disco  that  opens most nights about 10:00 or 10:30, which
attracted  some  folks,  but  not  what I’d call a crowd. The Thursday
night  pajama party was very well attended, though, and the attire was
considerably  more  revealing  than  at  GL Negril. Lots of thongs, g-
strings,  etc.,  but  with  a  mix of people in more traditional garb.
Everybody  got  along fine, despite the disparity in dress. The Friday
night  street  party,  for  which  the  resort sets up a pretty lavish
buffet  in  the  streets,  together with tables, was the best attended
event  during  our  visit.  There  was reggae dancing for at least two
hours  for those who had the stamina; most people took a turn here and
there, then made way for others.

On  most  nights things pick up in the Piano Bar about 10:30 or so for
the  non-disco  crowd.  At  least  a few nights there were some people
(local  to  Jamaica)  jamming  in,  so  to  speak,  with  the official
pianist. All of them were more than slightly talented, we thought.

The  hot tub on the c/o side, as expected, attracted a good crowd most
every  night, and sometimes late into the night. Late night activities
weren’t  the  bother  for people in their rooms trying to sleep since,
unlike  GL  Negril,  the hot tub is considerably farther (on the other
side  of  the pool) from the buildings than at Negril. The c/o hot tub
adjoining  the  pool  is  about  four  times as large as the one at GL
Negril,  and  there’s  a  second,  smaller hot tub set back among some
trees not too far away.


Summary

On  balance,  our  group  liked  Braco  better than GL Negril. The one
thing  GL  Negril  still  has  going  for  it is that Hedo II is right
across  the  street, and you can jump over there for an evening or two
of  more  lively entertainment than you’ll find at Braco or GL Negril.
The  service at Braco is not yet to GL Negril standards but is getting
there,  and  based on discussions with management at the cocktail hour
for  repeat  GL  guests,  we  think  management is committed to making
Braco the best resort in Jamaica.

We’ll  be  back to Braco, and would recommend it for people who want a
relaxed, classy vacation in Jamaica.

JAMAICA: COUPLES OCHO RIOS BY GREG PRUST

I'll  try to keep this short but it will be difficult to make clear to
you  who  read  this  post  how  my wife and I felt during our week at
"Couples   Resort"  in  Ocho  Rios  without  going  into  some  detail
regarding our treatment by the staff at "Couples" during our stay.

Let  me preface my comments with a bit of background about my wife and
myself.  We  are both 50 years old and overweight. I am a nudist and a
member  of  The  Naturist  Society  and  Naturist  Life International,
however,  my  wife is not a nudist. You may be asking yourself at this
point,  "what  does  this  have to do with "Couples Resort?" I hope by
the  time  I  am  done relating the events of our week at Couples that
it's relevance will become clear.

My  wife  and  I  thought  that  we  had done our best to research the
Resort  before  booking  the week of May 2 through May 9. We discussed
what  was important to us and what we expected from our choice. One of
our  compromises  that  we  came  up  with  was  that my wife would be
willing  to spend time in a nudist environment if we could find a non-
threatening  environment  were  it  wouldn't  be  mandatory for her to
sunbathe nude.

When  we  read  about  Couples we thought we had found exactly what we
were  looking  for.  All  of  the  resources that we were able to find
indicated  that  it  had  a wonderful island for au-natural sunbathing
but  there  seemed  to  be  some  question about whether or not it was
Clothing  Optional.  After  much  searching  we  did stumble across at
least  one  web page that declared that it was "clothing optional." We
still  weren't  convinced  until  our  travel agent gave us a brochure
from  the Jamaica Tourist Board which encouraged "Adventurous twosomes
sail  off to the resort's Tower Island, a turreted islet for colthing-
optional  sunbathing."  He  also  gave  us  a  video  tape produced by
Couples  for distribution to travel agents. The title of the tape was:


"Couples: A SuperClubs All-Inclusive Resort"

This  tape  clearly  referred  to "Tower Island" as Clothing Optional.
This  settled  it  for us. It sounded perfect so we spent three months
excitedly looking forward to our week in paradise.

We  flew  into  Ocho Rios on Saturday, May 2 and spent the day getting
acquainted  with  the layout of the resort and sat through orientation
at  which  nothing  was  said  about  nudity being mandatory on "Tower
Island."  Sunday  we  sat  for  about  an hour on the beach watching a
young  man  in  a  bright yellow bathing suit clearly visible from the
beach  enjoying  "Tower Island" with his female companion who I assume
was  nude  but there was really no way to tell. This convinced us that
we  could  go  ahead and spend some time on the island without my wife
being  pressured  to  immediately  doff  her  bathing  suit.  We spent
several  hours  Sunday  on  "Tower Island" and had a wonderful time. I
was  nude  my  wife  decided  to try going topless. We left the island
convinced that this was going to be a great vacation.

Our  next  excursion  to "Tower Island" was on Tuesday, May 5. My wife
and  I  climbed  into  the boat that shuttled us to the island and the
boatman  asked  "have  you  been to the island before?" We, of course,
both  replied  "yes."  We  climbed  out of the boat looking forward to
another  wonderful  day of sun and relaxation. We sought out an out of
the  way  location apart from the more active part of the island where
my  wife  found  a  hammock  and I found a lounge. She went topless, I
again  went  nude.  I walked to the bar and got a couple of drinks and
we  had  just  settled  down to enjoying the sun and reading our books
when  the man from the boat comes up to my wife and tells her that she
must  be  nude  or we'd have to leave. I looked into my wives face and
saw  this  look  of incredulity that really touched my heart. Here she
had  worked  up  the  courage  to  go  topless  and  now  this guy was
expecting  her  to  strip naked. I just couldn't expect her to do that
under  these  conditions  so  we  both  agreed  we'd leave rather than
comply  to  this  demand.  The embarrassment of being evicted from the
island  in front of other guests was intolerable. The boatman informed
us that "those were the rules."

Rules?  Some  will  maintain  that we have no complaint because, after
all,  "rules  are  rules." Well, if that's the case then shouldn't the
"rules" apply equally to everyone?

A couple other "rules" we were told about were as follows:

1.  Topless sunbathing by women was to be restricted to the end of the
pier.  (Compliance  with  this rule was nothing short of non-existent.
As  a  matter of observation, it was far easier for the young, topless
gals  to  get  their  drinks  on  the  beach  than it was for us older
overweight  folks.  At one point we waited over an hour for our drinks
only  to  be told that we were forgotten, which never seemed to be the
case if one was young and beautiful.)

2.  No  cameras  were  to be used on "Tower Island". (I had asked if I
could   take  a  panoramic  shot  of  the  resort  with  my  cardboard
disposable  camera  from  the  top  of the Tower and was told that I'd
have  to  take it from the boat and not from the island, however, that
same  day  as the Sunset Cruise got underway a man on the island stood
in  clear  view  of  everybody  with  his very large 35 mm SLR and was
shooting pictures of the catamaran "Cool Jazz" as it sailed by.)

3.  "Tower  Island"  was  considered  the  au-natural facility for the
resort  but  I sat on the beach and watched a group of couples playing
in  the  surf  on  the  beach  with the girls naked on their partner's
shoulders.

"Double  standards," you say? Well, if you don't I will, and it didn't
end there.

The  effect  this  incident had on our vacation is hard to explain. We
started  hearing hypocrisy and insincerity in nearly every "no problem
mon,"  and  "irie,"  that  the  staff  uttered.  Oh,  there  were some
exceptions  but we found many of the staff unwilling to return a smile
or  make  eye contact. The cook at the beach grill was very unfriendly
and the same goes for a certain gentleman desk clerk.

At  one  point  I decided I'd like to play a little volleyball only to
be  told  by  the  staff  member  overseeing  the game that I couldn't
because  I  didn't  have a partner (my wife has back problems) and I'd
make  the  sides  uneven.  This objection was not shared by the guests
who  were  playing  who all made me feel more than welcome to join in.
However,  the  girl  from  the staff continued to insist that I find a
partner.  Hello!  This  place is called "Couples." What did she expect
me to do, go up to somebody and ask "pardon me, are you here alone?"

Housekeeping  was  very  lax. Frequently we had to call for towels and
ask  for  our "complimentary" soap. The sheets were never changed once
for  the  whole  week that we were there and the floor in our room was
never vacuumed.

We  completely  missed  out  on  the  sunset cruise. The first time we
tried  to  sign  up  on  Tuesday we were to late and were told to come
back  early  Thursday.  I  went to the desk at 7:00 AM and was told to
come  back  at  8:00AM.  Of  course  by  this time the line to sign up
extended  half way down the verandah. We missed out again and this was
our  last  opportunity.  Don't  you  think  the  desk clerk could have
extended  some  courtesy  and  told  me  that  this might happen so we
wouldn't  miss  out? We felt as if he couldn't care less. We were just
another nuisance part of his job.

We   wondered,   could   the   treatment  we  received  have  made  us
oversensitive  or could it be that now we were able to see through the
fog  of  our  own naïve excitement over our dream vacation enabling us
to look into the real face of Jamaica.

Our  impression  of  "Couples"  is  that  they  prefer to cater to the
young. Us old folks aren't welcome at this resort "mon."

This  treatment  cast  a  shadow over our whole vacation and we say to
Couples, "Bad form. That's no way to treat a guest."

JAMAICA: COUPLES, OCHO RIOS BY JEFF AND JAIME MOORE

My  husband  and I were at Couples the first week of May, 1998. What a
great  time!!!! With the exception of the worst driver in the world on
the  way  to  the  resort,  it was truly fantastic!! For those who are
scweamish??  beware.. one of the drivers doesn't care who's in his way
and  desires  to make a quick trip to the resort. We were greeted with
champagne  and a damp towel, which was wonderful because we were a bit
dazed after the drive...

The  grounds  are  everything  you  would expect and the Jamaicans are
more..  Every  day  they  would be walking around the grounds singing,
and  they  all  have  beautiful voices. What a treat!! Our room had an
awesome  view  of  the  ocean AND the island. The food and drinks were
superb  and  plentiful.  A vacation is always what you make it and I'm
sure,  if  we  would've  decided  to get picky like one of the reviews
that  I  read,  we could've found something wrong, but we just had fun
instead...

There  are  so many water and land sports to do like skiing, kayaking,
snorkeling,  sailing(two  kinds),  horseback  riding, volleyball, huge
chess  game,  etc.  that I don't know how you can get bored. For those
that  desire  something  different,  there's  always  the island.. You
don't  necessarily  plan  to go there, but something lures you there..
The  next  thing  you  know  you're in the little boat saying "I can't
believe  I'm  doing this??!!" I have to tell you, that is where we had
the  most  fun!!  The  people  are  more  open  to  life!! No one pays
attention  to the lack of clothing, nobody cares. They are just a more
free spirited group of individuals..

We  highly  recommend  the  island experience.. If you dare.. Overall,
Couples,  Ocho  Rios was an awesome experience and we will go back. We
have  been  to  Hedonism ll 2 years ago and had a blast but Couples is
more  classy  and  savvy.  The food and grounds are definitely better.
The  atmosphere  is  more  romantic, there were always couples walking
around  holding  hands,  strolling along the beach and kissing. What a
way to spend our anniversary!!

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