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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JAMAICA: BREEZES GOLF AT RUNAWAY BAY BY TERRY LONG

Trip 5/98

Just  returned from Jamaica May 16th. did not want to come back to the
states.  3  couples  from  Arkansas and Tennessee. Had been planning a
trip  for  a  few  years  when  we  decided to go to an all-inclusive.
Thought  about  a cruise but my travel agent, also a good friend, said
we'd  go broke buying alcohol on a cruise suggested the all-inclusive.
Glad  we  did!  From  the  plane  ride  on  Air  Jamaica to the resort
everything  was  great.  Met  a  lot of great people from all over. My
husband  and  two  cousins  went  to  3 weddings! Had the honeymooners
hanging out with us for the rest of the week.

Breezes  has  a  lot  to  offer. The entertainment crew was excellent.
Made  a lot of friends with the kids that worked there. Enjoyed all of
the  activities  (even  won  a  few  of  the  beach  games  and the pj
party!!!)  as  40  year old kids ourselves could not have had a better
crew  to entertain us! Plan to go back next year but may try Negril as
we  are  all  beach  bums at heart. If you are planning a trip anytime
soon  we  highly  recommend breezes!!!! Tell them Terry and Rocky sent
you!!!

JAMAICA: LIDO "SUPER" SAMPLER BY ROBIN AND FRANCIS NIEMAN

Trip (5/98)

Making Vacation Arrangements

We  first  heard  of  the  fabulous  vacation opportunities in Jamaica
through  a  business  associate.  Since  we  have only taken vacations
centered  around  visits  to  family members over the years - with one
exception  to  the  East  Coast  - we thought it would be wonderful to
take  a  real  nice  vacation to an all-inclusive setting. Having been
surfing  the net for about a year, this vacation idea offered a chance
to  explore the possibilities offered on the net. We found quite a bit
of  information.  Especially valuable were the vacation reviews. Since
they  helped us so much, we want to be of assistance to others who may
find some of this information of value.

SuperClubs'  Grand  Lido properties looked to fit our vacation desires
best.  Since they recently upgraded San Souci Lido to be a Grand Lido,
and  with  the  acquisition of the Braco property and its upgrade to a
Grand  Lido,  we  thought  that  it would be very interesting to pay a
quick  visit  to all three. We could thereby get a feel for the unique
qualities  of each, and be able to make a decision about future visits
-  with  the  assumption that we would stay longer at only one of them
on  our next trip(s). (It seems like an awful lot of people can't stay
away  from  Jamaica  for  too  long).  Therefore,  we  decided to take
advantage  of  SuperClubs' "Lido Sampler" (where they provide free air
travel  between Grand Lido San Souci and Grand Lido Negril) and extend
the  package  to  include  Grand  Lido  Braco. Hence, we called it the
"Lido  Super  Sampler". Maybe SuperClubs will create a special package
along these lines.

There  are  quite  a  few travel agencies that specialize in Caribbean
locations.  We  contacted  about  10  on  them  to  get  some  general
information  and  to  get  a  feel for what they had to offer and what
kind  of people they seemed to be if we were to do business with them.
The  Jamaican  experience  is  such that one would like to have a real
good,  long  term relationship with an agency with whom one feels very
comfortable.  If you spend some time on the net, you will see a couple
of  agencies  mentioned  quite  often.  We talked with them, too. They
were  pleasant  and  informative,  but either had significantly higher
prices  than  the  average or only offered room selections that we did
not  particularly  want.  We  would suggest shopping around to find an
agency  that  most  closely  matches your desires. Be careful of those
who  offer  more than can be delivered. If in January they promise you
the  sun  and  the moon during a Valentine's Day visit, it is probably
too  good  to  be  true  -  try  somewhere  else;  use common sense in
evaluating  what to expect (e.g., Hedo significantly overbooks on peak
weeks,  meaning  .  .  .).  We  finally chose Tom Bukaty to handle our
vacation  arrangements.  We like his business philosophy and his price
was  7-12%  less than all other agencies contacted with one exception.
He  gave  us what we wanted at a good price. Give his a shot at 1-800-
536-3866.

The Trip

We   find  the  lengthy  exposes  about  getting  to  the  destination
extraordinarily  boring,  so  we will only say that we skipped the bus
rides  (except where necessary back and forth to Braco from MoBay) and
took  the  charter  flights.  Since  we  took the sound advise to pack
light,  we  only  had  carry-on luggage. After clearing Customs we met
with  the  Air  Negril  steward.  Despite  their  claims  to  have you
airborne  within  30  minutes, we were told that a flight could not be
scheduled  for  4  hours. We took Tim Air (who had a plane immediately
available),  but it cost 50% more than Air Negril would have cost. (We
found  out later from a SuperClubs executive that Air Negril is having
"domestic  problems".  We  only saw one Air Negril plane in all of our
travels).  We  figure  the  flight  from  MoBay to Ocho Rios (actually
Boscobel)  saved  us  at  least  2  hours  over ground transportation.
Hence,  we  enjoyed  the  buffet  lunch (which we would have otherwise
missed),  made  various  arrangements at check-in, got situated in our
room  and  hit the beach for a while before the bus arrived from MoBay
with our fellow incoming flight members.

For  the  last  leg of the trip, since Braco does not have an airstrip
in  the vicinity, we flew from Negril to MoBay, then took the bus from
Sangster  Airport  to  Braco. Again, this would have saved us about an
hour  and  a  half,  and  made  it possible to stay a little longer at
Negril  and  arrive  a little earlier at Braco. If for no other reason
than  the view, you should take at least one flight. If you don't mind
the  small  planes  (like a Cessna), the trip is beautiful. SuperClubs
booked  us  with  Aero Express for this flight, but Aero Express had a
scheduling  mixup  and was 45 minutes late to pick us up, so we didn't
save  as  much  time  as  we  had hoped. Because of the delay we had a
chance  to  speak with a mature couple that visited Hedo. Their report
piqued our interest in a visit there.

Vacation Philosophy

A  3 or 4 day visit to a resort does not do justice to the experience,
and  is  entirely  contrary to the pace of life in Jamaica. It was our
primary  desire,  though,  to sample the Lido properties, and a 10 day
visit  was  pushing  our  capabilities  for  vacation time. With these
drawbacks  in  mind,  we  decided  to start the vacation at San Souci.
Because  it  has the spa treatments (included in the price) we thought
it  would  get us in the vacation mode the fastest of the 3 locations.
This  was  the perfect way to transition from the hectic pace to which
we  are  accustomed to a world of having no cares except to show up on
time  for  the  spa  treatments. We gave ourselves 4 days here to take
advantage  of  these special features. We spent only 3 days at each of
the other 2 locations.

To  take  advantage of the "Lido Sampler" flight, the next destination
was  Negril.  There  are significantly more people at Negril, but also
more   activities,   facilities  and  food  options.  They  were  just
completing  the  installation of their sauna and steamroom. One of its
unique  features  is  the MY Zein. If for no other reason than to take
the  yacht  excursion,  this  is something that one should do at least
once.

The  last leg of the vacation was to Braco. It is new and built around
a  village  concept.  The  property  is quite large, but the number of
guests  is  less  than Negril so it does not seem as crowded. Overall,
there  are  about  as  many activities at Braco as Negril, but it is a
different  mix.  The  atmosphere  seems to be a little more "Jamaican"
than the other 2 locations.

Here   are   some   specifics   about  each  location  (minus  lengthy
explanations  of  the  bedspread  designs  -  since  we  did not go to
Jamaica for the room decor):

San Souci

This  location  attracts  a  greater  mix  of people from all over the
world.  It  is very pleasurable to meet and talk with people from many
countries.  Language  does  not seem to be too much of a problem. Most
people  are  willing  to  engage in conversation, but this is the most
conservative  of  the  3  locations.  The staff is the most attentive,
friendly  and  outgoing  here. There are quite a few honeymoon couples
and their families. This is the smallest of the 3 Lidos.

The  grounds  are  beautiful  and  romantic  with lush vegetation. The
older  sections  are  built  on  a  cliff. There are a lot of stairs -
lower  legs beware! The food is outstanding and every facet of service
is  impeccable.  As  other  reviews  warned,  you need to get your spa
treatment  reservations  made  as soon as you arrive. Extra treatments
are  possible because of an occasional cancellation, but the staff has
recently  begun  scheduling  extra  treatments  after  normal business
hours  (for  an  extra cost). One can, therefore, schedule a series of
progressive,  therapeutic massages, for example, to extend through the
entire  stay.  You  must  also  make your reservation(s) to the formal
dining  room  when  you  arrive.  The formal dining room (Casanova) is
sometimes  fully  booked  2 days in advance. The beaches are adequate,
but not as expansive as the other locations.

We  like to have a tentative schedule for activities before going to a
location.  I  got  some  information  about  the  excursions and daily
activities  ahead  of  time  so  that  we  could  definitely  schedule
activities  that  had  a  high priority. There were some minor changes
from  the  information  we  had in hand before we left, but we feel we
got   to   do   pretty   much   what   we  wanted  while  there.  Some
excursions/activities  are only done once or twice a week or take most
of  one day, so you might try to get this information ahead of time so
you  don't  miss  out on something you really want to do but cannot do
because  of  lack  of  information. (Hint: Your travel agent should be
able  to  offer  some  assistance if they are earning their money). We
went  to  Dunn's  River  Falls. It was great fun. Bring your own water
shoes  (NOT  sandals).  One  of  the guides takes everyone's camera to
take  pictures along the 1 hour hike up the falls. A tour escort takes
video.  The  next  morning  you can buy a copy of the video. The guide
said it is less crowded at the beginning of the week.

Friday  is the Gala Night. It is held on the huge lawn near the beach.
It  is  a  wonderful  setting and the entertainment is outstanding. We
were  party  to  some  special  entertainment  because  SuperClubs was
hosting  their annual JAPEX gathering of travel agents that night. The
Gala  hosted  650  people  as opposed to the usual 220 guests. Most of
the  weekend  was  spent  by  exploring  the  grounds, relaxing on the
beach, in the hot tubs, mineral pool and sauna.

Special  mention  must  be  made about the spa treatments. Included in
the  price  are  the  mani-/pedicure,  massage, facial, body scrub and
reflexology.  They  will  try to schedule all treatments, but the more
days  you  allow  them,  the  easier  it  will  be to accommodate your
schedule.  Some of the treatments are done in the huts near the water.
You  must  specially  request  these  locations,  otherwise, they will
schedule  you  for a "regular" treatment room. The huts are especially
enjoyable.  Even  for  a man, the manicure and pedicure are rewarding.
The  massage  is  of  the  limbs  and  back.  They  should  provide  a
wheelbarrow  to  cart  you back to your room when finished because you
will  be so relaxed. Francis fell asleep during all of the treatments.
What  can you say about a facial. We felt 20 years younger. If you are
offended  by  exposing  your  buttocks, you may not be too keen on the
body  scrub.  (I  guess  you can request it be modified, and they will
comply,  but  .  .  .).  It is ordinarily done all over the body (sans
clothing)  except for a discreetly placed towel when on your back. The
body  scrub  is  with  oil  and cornmeal, followed by aloe vera with a
shower  after  each  procedure.  It  was an invigorating, yet soothing
treatment.  If your prude side dominates, you will be missing out on a
fine  experience. The reflexology treatment was intensely soothing. It
involves  the  feet  and  lower  legs.  If you want to be pampered and
routinely  melted  into oblivion, spend a week here and get at least 2
rounds  of  treatments.  The  manicures and pedicures were the best at
San Souci compared with the other locations.

Negril

The  beaches  are  wonderful.  It was quite windy while we were there,
but  being warmer than normal, the wind was welcomed. We hit the beach
right  after  the  lunch  buffet. The food selection is the largest of
the  3  locations,  but  this  is  likely due to the greater number of
guests.  They must have recently changed the dress code for the buffet
because  there  was  no  mention  of  coverups in the room information
packets  and  bikinis were routine attire. Wednesday night is Carnival
Night.  They  have  a  greater  variety of Jamaican and Caribbean food
than  usual.  The  entertainment  came  in  from Montego Bay and was a
troupe   performing  customary  Jamaican  dances.  They  involved  the
audience,  too.  Just before dinner we took the MY Zein cruise. It was
very  pleasurable,  relaxing  and  interesting. Be sure to sign up for
the  MY  Zein  as  soon  as  you  get in. Thursday night we ate at the
formal  dining  room (Piacere). All of the reviews praising the eatery
are  true,  but  their sorbet maker was broken. SuperClubs was filming
for  a  new promotional video. We were often in "competition" with the
film  crew,  meaning  that  we  sometimes had to wait for their staged
shoots before we could use an area or engage in an activity.

We  took  a  trip to the local 'flea market' and a mini-mall of small,
air-conditioned  shops.  It  is enjoyable and interesting. Apparently,
most  of  the  items  available  at the flea markets and roadside huts
come  from  several 'wholesalers' (you do see the same things over and
over  again),  so  it  comes  down  to  dickering with a merchant that
appeals  to  you. You may find some slight variations in articles from
shop  to  shop,  but you need to look carefully. The flea market has a
lot  of  wooden  articles.  The  shops at the mini-mall have some good
prices  for  T-shirts  and  some shops have a good selection of Raggae
music.

There  are  many more activities available than time to fit them in. A
lot  of  relaxation  was high on our priority list, though. Because we
took  the  flight  to MoBay on our way to Braco, we were able to spend
most  of  the  morning  on our departure day taking in some sun before
preparing  to  leave. Bags are placed outside the door to be picked up
1 hour before scheduled departure.

Braco

The  bus  ride  from  Sangster  to  Braco is pretty tame, but cruising
through  several villages is interesting. Because of our flight delay,
we  missed the lunch buffet, but the small Italian eatery just opened,
and  they  have  very good pizzas. We thought we might have missed the
daily,  pool  volleyball game, but they were still going after we ate,
so  our  late  arrival did not spoil the afternoon. Everything is much
more  spread  out  at  Braco  than at the other locations. Despite the
newness  of  the  resort,  the  vegetation is extensive (the botanical
tour  is  very  informative)  and  quite  well established. In certain
respects,  it  is  better  foliated  than  Negril.  The pools are huge
(largest  in  Jamaica)  and  attractively designed. The beaches are so
large  that you can be isolated if you want to be. The site also has a
9-hole  "executive"  golf  course  that  is free of charge (unless you
need  clubs).  The  buildings  for  the rooms are brightly colored and
very  pleasing.  Also,  because  of  the  manner  of  the  staff, this
location has the most 'Jamaican' feel of the 3 locations.

Small  pizzas,  ice cream and pastries are available all afternoon and
evening  in  the  'village' (center of the complex). We saw the peanut
cart  only  once when going to the formal restaurant (Piacere), but we
must  have  been  doing  other  things when it was out at other times.
There  are  several  merchandise  shops and some street vendors in the
village  area.  The  initial  asking price for items at Braco was more
than  the  vendors  at  San Souci or in Negril shops, but they met our
prices when we told them about the other vendors.

Friday  is  their Gala Street Party. A great variety of food is served
at  the  village square, including, among other things, octopus. After
dinner,  the  activities  director  solicits  guest  participation  in
several  Jamaican dances (some of which are risque) and offer T-shirts
and other trinkets as prizes. About 30% of the guests participate.

Comparisons

We  were  a  little  surprised  of  the  average  age at San Souci. We
expected  about  an  equal  mix  of  20's  - 35, 35-50 and over 50. It
appeared  that  the lack of over 45's was made up for by the less than
30ish.  It  may  be a seasonal thing because the ambiance of San Souci
is  toward  the older set (except for the stairs) and newlyweds. There
were  also  fewer  Orientals  and Europeans than expected (say 20% vs.
50%  -  expected).  Overall  the  clientele was very friendly, but the
most  reserved.  Negril  had  many  Europeans and South Americans. The
people  seemed  much more cosmopolitan and there was more of an air of
artificiality.  One  had  to work harder at striking up a conversation
than  elsewhere.  Small  groups tended to be clique-ish. Two-thirds of
the  guests  were  in  the 30's with the remainder being split between
younger  and  older. Braco had some Europeans and South Americans, but
was mainly North American. Surprisingly, the largest age group was 30-
45,  slightly  older than Negril. The guests were the most friendly of
the 3 locations.

All  of  the  rooms  we  stayed  in were very nice and comfortable. We
figured  that since we would not be spending much non-sleeping time in
the  rooms,  why get something fancy (or with a Jacuzzi since hot tubs
are  in  abundance).  San  Souci has an old section (Blocks C-G) and a
new  section  (Blocks  A-B).  Blocks  A  and  B  are  on the beach. We
initially  requested  a  Verandah  Suite, but received an upgrade from
our  travel  agent. The upgrade was not available for the first night,
so  we were able to compare the rooms. The Verandah in E Block (older)
has  a  large  patio  with a lounge chair, plus a table with 2 chairs.
The  room  is  quite  large and nicely situated. The bathroom, though,
has  no  electrical outlets. The upgrade room in B Block has a Jacuzzi
tub  with  separate  shower stall, and a small sitting room off of the
bedroom.  The patio is just big enough for a small table and 2 chairs.
We  did  not like the arrangement, but did use the Jacuzzi once. It is
too  shallow  to  be  real effective (compared with other Jacuzzi tubs
used).  The  shower  stall  is  nicely  sized,  but  the  controls are
Neanderthal  -  changes  took  30  seconds  to become effective, then,
every  2  minutes,  it would randomly and suddenly change to hot, cold
or  as  set.  We prefer the Verandah except that you must do stairs to
go  anywhere.  A  and B Blocks are on the beach and next to the buffet
restaurant.  (Also,  the "au natural" area is nearest to the A Block).
We  got  a  Beachfront  Jr.  room  at Negril. The room is compact, but
adequate,  and  has  virtually no patio. No problems (mon) except that
the  couch  is  terribly uncomfortable and the louvered slats leak hot
air  like  a  sieve, so the a/c has a hard time keeping up. This room,
apparently,  does  not  have a mini-bar (small refrigerator), like the
rooms  have at the other locations. We asked for a Beachfront Jr. room
at  Braco.  We  were placed in a One Bedroom Suite. It was a very nice
room  with a kitchenette and sitting room on the entrance side and the
bedroom  on the beach side. It has 2 CD's, 2 TV's, 2 a/c's , 2 closets
and  1  1/2  baths. The patio has more than enough space for the small
table  and  2  large  chairs. Low water pressure was the only fault we
found.  The  only  insect  problem encountered was a Braco. Mosquitoes
must  enter  the  new rooms through the wooden slats that cannot fully
sealed  when  closed.  The  maid gave us a can of Raid and that solved
the problems. The mosquitoes do not bite, though.

All  3  locations have real fine resident bands and pianists (no piano
at  Braco Piacere, though). San Souci also has a guitarist and flutist
that play for the weddings and, at times, with the resident band.

The  food is very similar at all 3 locations. Some variations exist in
the  buffets,  like waffles only at Braco and Negril has slightly more
offerings.  The  formal  French  restaurants have quite similar menus,
but  the menus must change occasionally, because some of the offerings
mentioned in other reviews are not on the menus we saw.

Service  was  very  attentive  at  San Souci, nearly as good at Braco,
with  a  significant  decline  at Negril. For example, one could never
empty  their  glass  of  orange  juice  (at  breakfast)  without being
offered  a  refill  at San Souci; Braco would offer more juice shortly
after  you emptied the glass; one has to request more juice at Negril.
This  level of service seems to be reflected in most areas of service.
Another  example  would be laundry: San Souci picked up on request (in
the  morning)  and delivered it on request several hours later; didn't
try  Braco;  Negril  would only commit to 48 hour return and came by 4
hours  after  the published time to pick it up(we ended up washing the
clothes  ourselves).  The 24 hour room service was prompt at San Souci
(we  love  their  calamari  - only available here), OK at Negril (only
tried once), and spotty at Braco.

Hot  tubs  appear  to be a lingering problem. One hot tub at San Souci
and  Braco were being repaired. One other at San Souci was way too hot
some  of  the  time.  The  only  one we tried at Negril was OK, but we
never  saw  anyone  in  the  one  near the main pool. One at Braco was
either  almost  uncomfortably  hot or just plain uncomfortably hot. We
heard  that  the other one (we don't know if there are 3 or 4 hot tubs
at  Braco) was way too cold. As an owner of a large hot tub, it is not
that difficult to establish a stable, comfortable temperature.

The  attitude of the staff at each location is interesting. The entire
San  Souci  staff seems genuinely interested in pleasing each guest. A
higher  percentage  of  them  speak  a  very clear King's English than
elsewhere  while  being  predominantly Jamaican. At all organizational
levels,  they  will engage you in some conversation or go out of their
way  to  greet  you.  The  words,  "no  problem"  and  "my  lady"  are
constantly  heard.  The  Negril staff appears to be less predominantly
Jamaican  and  somewhat  younger.  Very few would initiate a greeting,
let  alone  conversation.  We  got  the  feeling that they were merely
'doing  a  job'.  We  don't  recall  ever  hearing "no problem" when a
service  could  not  be  immediately  rendered.  The  Braco  staff lay
between  San Souci and Negril, leaning a little more toward San Souci.
There  were  more  that  spoke  with  some  dialect  so  as  not to be
immediately   understandable.   Many   would  greet  you  or  initiate
conversation.  We  didn't really hear "no problem", but they indicated
that  they  would attempt to meet a request. An example: We like Ting,
the  Jamaican  carbonated  grapefruit juice. Often, it was hard to get
because  they  didn't  have  enough  on hand. After trying a couple of
bars  at San Souci, we asked the mini-bar restocker about it. He said,
"No  problem,  mon."  15  minutes  later  we had 4 bottles of Ting. At
Negril,  the  reply  was either, "We have no Ting" (period) or "I will
make  something  close  to  it for you." (Since we didn't have a mini-
bar,  we didn't need to obtain a supply of it). At Braco, we asked for
some  extra  bottles at the 24 hour room service location and they had
it delivered about 30 minutes later.

A Word About "Au Natural"

San  Souci  and  Braco  have  designated  "au  natural"  areas (nudity
expected).  Negril  has  a  "clothing optional" area (nudity allowed).
This  aspect  has just been added to San Souci and takes the form of a
small  beach,  pool  with  grotto,  hot tub, bar and grill on the back
side  of  the  property  facing  a  different bay (at the mouth of the
White  River) than the main facilities. There were not a lot of people
in  that  area,  but there were fewer non-North Americans at San Souci
than  we  expected.  In  stark contrast to this, Braco is specifically
designed  to  cater to the au natural (AN) crowd. About a third of the
property  is  devoted  to  those desiring to shed their clothes. It is
possible  to  spend  your entire visit at Braco, and not wear a stitch
of  clothing except at check-in and -out. One would miss out on all of
the  restaurants,  the  gala  nights,  disco, etc., but the resort was
designed  with  the AN clients in mind. 40 of the 180 rooms are in the
AN  section.  The  only  eating  facilities there are the pool bar and
grill,  and  the  24  hour  room service kitchen and bar. Negril has a
"clothing  optional"  area including a beach, hot tub, small pool, bar
and  grill.  One  complaint is that a lot of "textiles" wander through
to  have a look (who are the real "perverted" ones?), and, because the
wedding  gazebo  is  at  the far end of this area, the wedding parties
are  sometimes  paraded  through this area with naked people on lounge
chairs  by  their  rooms  on  one  side  and the beach with many naked
people  on  the other. Just because these facilities exist at the Lido
locations,  it does not mean that the vacationers will be bothered (or
embarrassed)  by  the AN group. If you don't want to see it, it is not
forced  on  you  (with  a couple of exceptions mentioned here). By the
same  token, the AN people take offense to the "prudes" wandering over
to  the  AN  areas  to  gawk.  We  think  that the staff at Negril are
callous  to  the  feeling  of  all  involved by taking wedding parties
through  the  "clothing  optional"  area.  Also, there appears to be a
problem  at  Braco  in  that  either  the  AN  section is consistently
underbooked,  or  that  they  consistently  overbook textiles, forcing
them  to  stay  in  the  AN  area. We are aware, too, that some travel
agents  book people into AN rooms without explaining the implications.
We   noticed   some   people  in  newly-arriving  groups  that  looked
uncomfortable  about  having  to go through an AN area to get to their
rooms.  Likewise,  we  were aware of a couple that could not get an AN
room even though they spent most of their time in the AN area.

We  were  considered  first-timers  to  AN.  We  universally found the
people  in  the  AN areas to be very accepting of us and allowed us to
mix  in  at  our own pace, as long as it was evident that we wanted to
mix  and  not  gawk. Everyone seems to be accepted as a person and not
by  their physical characteristics. Guys do not flock around a shapely
'babe',  nor  are flabby people shunned. Any initial, awkward feelings
are  quickly replaced by "this seems natural" (pun intended). We found
the  people  in  the  AN  areas  to  be  much  more conversational and
genuine.  We  met  some  incredibly  interesting  people.  If  you are
nervous  about  being "out of shape", you can just about be guaranteed
of  finding  others that are further along the road to "blimpdom" than
you.  We  are  in the 90th percentile as far as being overweight goes,
so  we  just had to overcome our OWN self-image problems. We never had
a  hint  from  anyone  that  we  were not accepted because of an extra
'love  handle'  here  and  there.  Unless you've got some real serious
hangups,  "Try  it;  you'll  like  it!" Remember, though, sunscreen is
your FRIEND!

Conclusion

Very  different  characteristics  at  each location. It really depends
upon  what  you are individually looking for as to which location will
please  you  most.  We  talked  with people who had been to 2 of the 3
locations  and  they  liked  different  ones for different reasons. We
didn't  come  across anyone who had been to all three, especially in a
single,  "first  time"  trip  like  ours. We have tried to be somewhat
objective  in  our  observations. There are good points and bad points
associated  with  each location. Hopefully our comments will give some
insights  if  you  are  considering  going  to  one (or more) of these
locations, particularly if you are undecided. Good luck; have fun!

JAMAICA: COUPLES OCHO RIOS BY BONNIE EDLBECK

My  husband  Dale  and  I  traveled  to  Couples  Resort in Ocho Rios;
Jamaica  from  May  14 - 22 1998. We had gone to Couples in October of
1993  for  4  days  and  talked  about returning to celebrate our 25th
wedding   anniversary  this  May.  After  extensive  research  on  the
Internet,  looking  to  see  if  we  could  find  someplace better, we
decided  to  return  there  and  we  are  very happy we did. We really
enjoyed  our first trip and were afraid that any other place would not
have  been  as  good as Couples. We also received some "perks" because
we were a returning couple.

We  left  at 6:10 AM out of Green Bay on Northwest Airlines. We needed
to  transfer  in  Detroit  and  Tampa,  and were kind of nervous about
making  both  connections,  but  everything worked out fine. We were a
little  late  getting  into  Tampa  but  had  no  problem  because the
Northwest  gates  are  close  together;  we  basically  walked off one
airplane  and  onto  the  other.  By  1:30  PM we were in Montego Bay.
Jamaica  does not have daylight savings time, so they were on the same
time as we were.

The  airport  has  tamed  down quite a bit from five years ago. Either
that  or  we hit it on a slow day. Immigration and customs went fairly
good  and  by  2  PM  we were done. Then the part I had been dreading,
everyone  in  your  face  as you tried to figure out where to go next.
Actually  we  found  a  Northwest Worldperks tour representative right
away.  She  directed us to the correct desk. The woman at the desk had
someone  bring  us to the bus, he of course required a tip, but it was
relatively  easy.  We  were  to ride to Couples with two other couples
who were already waiting in the van.

The  drive  to the resort did not really bother us last time. They had
provided  us  with beer and soda and jokingly said we had to finish it
before  we  got to the resort. This time there was no beer or soda. We
visited  with  the  other couples and enjoyed looking out the windows.
We  decided  we didn't need to stop, and arrived at the resort about 4
PM.

Check  in  went  fine.  They  gave  us  a  glass  of  champagne and we
completed  some  paperwork.  We were given a safe key and room key and
someone  brought  us to the room. Our bags arrived shortly afterwards.
We  were  assigned  room  250, in the west wing. It was an ocean view,
which  we  had requested, down towards the end of the resort. The view
was  great, and the room seemed fine. There was a large closet, a wall
safe,  two-door  chest  and  king size bed. They had added TV's and CD
players  since  our  last  visit.  Our  room had a small patio and two
chairs,  which  we  enjoy.  There  was  also  a  desk and small couch.
Apparently  some of the older rooms are not quite as big. The room had
a  slight  musty  odor.  I attributed this to a large, wooden building
with years of high humidity. After a day or so, I got used to it.

Orientation  was  at  6  PM.  We  changed  clothes and checked out the
resort.  Not  too much had changed in the last 5 years. They had built
a  new  wing of rooms, which they called South Wing. The jungle, pool,
beach,  and  restaurants  looked  pretty  much  the  same. Orientation
lasted  about  1/2 hour. Even though we we'd been there before we felt
that  the orientation was worth while. They reminded us that channel 6
on  the  TV  also had a list of events for each day, or we could check
with  the desk if we forgot something. I noticed that they had a small
area  by  the  game  room that had about eight slot machines. I didn't
remember  them  from  last  time. Many of the tours were done the same
days as they were last time.

Food:

We  thought  the  food  was  exceptional. There were four restaurants,
Bayside,  was  Italian  and  open  air,  Le  Gourmet,  was  the French
restaurant.  This was the only one that required a reservation and had
a  strict  dress  code.  They  expected men to be in long pants, shirt
with  a  collar  and  shoes and socks. No jeans and no tennis shoes. A
jacket  and tie were optional; I didn't see anyone wearing either. The
Verandah  restaurant  was  International.  Breakfast  and  lunch  were
served  buffet  style  on  the open-air patio, in the evening this was
the  Jamaican restaurant. The only room service that was available was
a  continental breakfast. The buffet has several tables of food at all
meals,  one with fruit/salads, the main entrees, and desserts. I never
saw  a  shortage  of  food,  although  the earlier you ate, the better
selection  there  was.  In addition they had a beach grill that served
hamburgers,  fries,  pizza,  hot  dogs,  etc.  most  of  the  day.  On
Wednesday  they  closed  the restaurants and had a buffet on the beach
and  a  steel  drum  band. On Saturday only the gourmet restaurant was
open,  they  had  another buffet at the poolside. I did not notice any
shortage  of  food,  but if you waited to eat, there was a shortage of
tables,  especially  if  you wanted to sit right by the beach or pool.
In  addition  to  all  of this on Mondays, they have a Manager's Party
with  a  band.  We  went down and expected that there would be drinks,
but  they  also  had  huge tables of appetizers. I had some jackfruit,
which  I  didn't  see any other time. It was quite good. We especially
enjoyed  the  fresh  fruit  at  breakfast, mangos, papayas, pineapple,
watermelon,  cantaloupe,  etc.  The  banana  bread was also very good.
They  always  had  eggs  any style, waffles, French toast, and made to
order  omelets  along with some Jamaican specialties every morning for
breakfast.  Of  course  everyone  will  like  different things, but we
can't imagine anyone not getting enough to eat.

Bar:

As  far  as we could tell all drinks were made with name brand liquor.
For  example  the  Margarita's  were made with Jose Cuervo tequila and
cointreau.  They  had  Pina Colada's and strawberry Daiquiri's already
mixed  in  large  blenders.  There  were  several rum drinks that were
popular.  The  bartenders  would mix up anything you wanted. This time
they  had  Heineken and Coors light as well as the Jamaican Red Stripe
beer. There was either red or white wine available with dinner.

Water Sports:

We  got  to  know  several  of the guys who worked in water sports and
they  seemed  anxious  to  make sure we had a good time. Dale took the
resort  scuba  course  on the first day we were there. It started at 9
AM  and  was done about 11:30 AM. They made him take a test; he had to
swim  the length of the pool 4 times wearing a 6-pound weight belt. He
was  able  to  go on 3 dives while we were there. Apparently, he found
out  later  that  you  could  get  PADI certification if you went on 4
dives  and  took  the written test. The cost of certification would be
cheaper  than  in  the  US. In the beginning of the vacation he didn't
think  he  would  have  the  time to fit in that many dives, something
that  he might consider at a later date. You needed to sign up for the
dives  on  the previous day and they lasted about 1 hour. Each one was
different.  They  also  had  snorkeling  trips,  which lasted about 40
minutes.  We  went  on  2, the first one was a much better spot, there
were  more  fish  and coral, the water was much rougher for the second
one  and  we  didn't  see as many fish. It only takes a few minutes to
get  to  the  reef  and  back;  all you really need to bring with is a
towel.  Snorkeling  classes  are  also  available  if  you  have never
snorkeled  before  and  would  like  to  practice wearing the mask and
snorkel.  We  went  on  2 Hobie Cat rides. They were a lot of fun, you
got  very  wet,  but the guys were really good at steering. They would
also  teach  people  how to sail small sailboats or the Hobie Cats, or
wind  surf.  They  also had glass bottom boat rides, kayaks, and water
skiing.

We   also   went   on   the   sunset   cruise,   which  is  offered  3
afternoons/week.  You  need  to  sign  up the day before. We came over
dressed  for  this  thinking of the last sunset cruise we went on, but
we  quickly  returned  to  our  room  and changed into swimsuits. They
leave  around  4  PM  and return about 6 PM. They offer you rum punch,
soda  or  water and stop for awhile for those who wish to go swimming.
The  sun  set  much  earlier  there,  I  guess  because  of  the  time
difference.

Staff:

We  actually  got to know a few of the staff, they seemed to encourage
them  to  mingle will the guests. They would occasionally sit down and
eat  with  you  or just visit. I noticed the entertainment staff would
join  right  in dancing, etc. Actually, we found this to be enjoyable;
it  was  a  good opportunity to learn about their country. The General
manager  introduced  himself at the manager's party and talked to us a
little  bit  about the history of the resort. Most of the staff seemed
to  be  genuinely friendly. Of course there were a few exceptions, the
arts  and crafts person made us wait for a half-hour before he had the
palm  ready  for  us  to  weave. He didn't even acknowledge a group of
about  8 of us. Another staff person who knew me actually brought me a
chair.  But this indifference was the exception, not the rule. The one
difference  we did notice is that the last time we were at Couples, in
1993  there  seemed to be more of an emphasis on no tipping. I did see
it  in  one  of  the  brochures,  but  it was not mentioned during our
orientation  and in fact when we were on the sunset cruise there was a
sign  posted  "tips  appreciated".  Every  time we left the resort the
drivers  seemed  to  expect a tip. We did tip in a couple cases and it
was  never  refused.  I  feel  that  in some cases if the service were
exceptional  it would be o.k. to tip, but one of the nice things about
Couples  was  that  you could just put your money away and not have to
worry about it, that seemed to be not as much the case this time.

Service:

I  have  read  good  and  bad  about  the  service,  actually  we  had
exceptional  service  from  everyone.  The wait staff was always there
refilling  our  glasses,  asking if we wanted a drink from the bar, or
taking  empty  plates  away.  While sitting on the beach, many times I
was  approached  by  someone asking if they could get me anything from
the  bar.  When  the light burned out in our bathroom I reported it to
the  front  desk  and  the  next  time we returned to our room, it was
fixed.

Pool & Hot Tubs:

They  have  one  large fresh water pool with a diving board. We didn't
even  go  in  it,  except  Dale  had to take a swim test for the scuba
class.  We  did  use the hot tubs a few times. They have two 2 seaters
and  3  large  ones.  Every time we used them we were the only ones in
them.  The  temperature varied, one time it was too hot. The beach was
small, but adequate, not crowded at all.

Renewing Vows:

We  renewed  our  vows  on  our  Anniversary. We had arranged for this
ahead  of  time. We e-mailed Couples and they told us we would have to
call  and  reserve  the  time  and day. When we arrived we asked about
what  we  had to do to make the arrangements for renewing our vows and
they  said  they would let us know. After a couple days we asked again
and  they  said they would talk to us the day before. We were not real
concerned  because  we  knew  it wouldn't take a great deal of time to
set  things  up.  On Monday, we received a note under our door at 9:30
AM  to meet with the sales office at 10:20 AM. Dale was out on a scuba
dive  at  the time. I met him at the boat and we were about 10 minutes
late  for  the  meeting.  There  was  another  couple  talking to them
anyway.  It  did  only  take  us  about  10  minutes  to  complete our
arrangements, but they seemed to be very unorganized in that office.

Our  actual  renewal  went  great. We weren't nervous like most people
getting  married,  so  of  course  that helps, but it was a very nice,
religious,  and  meaningful  ceremony.  They  supplied everything. The
gazebo  was  decorated  beautifully,  with  fresh  tropical flowers. I
received  a  bouquet  of  flowers and Dale got a boutonniere to match.
After  the  ceremony  we had cake and champagne. We opted to have them
take  some  pictures.  They  would  also  have  done a video if we had
wanted  it.  The  pictures  were  $150  for  24  5X7's  with  an album
included.  They  were  very  well  done.  We  noticed  that they had a
wedding  just  about  every hour from 9 AM until 4 PM every day except
Sunday.

Returning Couples:

After  we  renewed our vows we asked about getting free tee shirts and
a  free  massage  as  they  have  advertised. They gave us the massage
coupon,  but  at first did not want to give us the tee shirts. When we
mentioned  we  had  been  there  before  then we were given tee shirts
right  away.  That  same  day we found another set of tee shirts and a
luncheon  invitation  on  our door. Again, I think the sales office is
not  real  organized.  Because we were a returning couple they invited
us  out  to  lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Ocho Rios. We met in the
lobby  and 2 staff went with, there were 4 other returning couples who
chose  to go. They told us to order anything on the menu. The food was
very  good, I noticed the service wasn't as good as at Couples. We met
some  other  very  nice  couples,  and  enjoyed the experience. It was
interesting to hear everyone's story.

Massage/Beauty Shop

On  the day we renewed our vows I also had my hair done. She opened at
8:30  AM  for me and did a really good job. The charge for having your
hair  done  was  between  $35-$45.  While I was there someone inquired
about  having  her hair braided. She said it cost $45 and took about 1
1/2  hours,  or  if you only wanted a few braids, it was $3/braid. The
beautician  was not connected to the resort; you could not charge this
to  your room. She, or course, expected a tip. We also received a free
1/2  hour  massage.  I  thought  it  really  felt  good, and was quite
professionally  done.  They  did  both  of us at the same time, in the
same  room, but a curtain separated it. A man did mine and a woman did
Dale's.  They  made us sign a release and would not give you a massage
if you were sunburned.

Entertainment:

We  weren't  able to stay up for the entertainment every night, but we
did  manage  to  see some of them. The talent show on Friday night and
the  Reggae  band  on  Sunday  night  were  especially  good. They had
singers  on 2 other nights; Wednesday night after the beach party they
had  a  fire-eater, etc. We couldn't manage to stay up that night. The
entertainment  usually  started  at 9:15 with the house band, and from
10:00  to  11:30  the  featured  act  would come out. After 11:30 they
would  have a sing-a-long or karaoke in the piano bar. They also had a
saxophone  player one evening, and a band playing during the manager's
party.  They  had roving violin, or guitar players in the restaurants.
Someone played the grand piano in the French restaurant.

Tours:

Again  we  didn't  do all the included tours. Last time we went on the
Dunn's  River  Falls trip, which everyone should see at least once. We
had  also  gone  on  the  plantation  tour last time. We did go on the
shopping  tour and we went horseback riding. We rode through the woods
and  I  enjoyed  hearing  about  the  flowers  and  trees  so that was
enjoyable for me.

Church:

Since  we  were  there over Sunday, I inquired at the desk if it would
be  possible for us to go to church. I wasn't even sure if there was a
Roman  Catholic  Church  in  the area. They knew what time the service
was  and  arranged for someone to bring us to Ocho Rios and pick us up
after  the  service.  This  was  not included the driver collected the
money when we got back, and of course expected a tip.

Weather:

The  weather could not have been better. During the whole time we were
there  it  only  rained  once,  and  that  was  during  the night. The
temperatures  were  in  the  80's during the day and 70's at night. We
used the air conditioner all the time and had no problems with it.

Other:

There  were  many other activities available: racquetball, volleyball,
arts  and  crafts,  board  games, beach Olympics, bingo, shuffleboard,
big  screen  TV  room,  video games, trivia contests, etc. There was a
gift  shop with many souvenirs although the prices were more expensive
than  in  Ocho  Rios. You could also sample several different rums and
liquors  for  sale  that  we sampled. I could go on and on. They had a
board  with  the  daily  activities  listed.  We  spent some time just
sitting  on  the beach relaxing or talking to other people. There were
plenty of lounge chairs to go around, and several 2-person hammocks.

Trip Home:

We  were told to have our suitcases outside our door 1-hour before the
van  left.  That  morning  we  were  asked  to  complete a survey, and
someone  also  called  to  ask us how our vacation went, if we had any
problems,  etc.  We  had  time  to  eat breakfast and have 1 last pina
colada.  The  van  left  at  10:15, we were the only couple going back
that  morning,  so  we  had  the  whole bus to ourselves. They stopped
about  half  way  to  the  airport. We bought a few thing, the rum was
cheaper  here than at the resort. They also sold it at the airport and
had  special  boxes  there.  We got to the airport about 12:15 and our
flight  didn't  leave  until  2:15  so  we  had plenty of time. We had
connections  at  Tampa and Minneapolis on the way back, which made for
a long day. We got into Green Bay at 11:30 PM.

Returning:

We  really  enjoyed  this  vacation,  probably  more  than  any other.
Couples  has  just  the right atmosphere for us. One of the highlights
of  our  vacation  was  something  you couldn't plan. We were asked to
witness  a  wedding,  something  that  took us totally by surprise. It
also  helped  to  make it a very special vacation and we made some new
friends.  We  are talking about returning sometime. We heard that when
the  new  Couples opens in Negril, they will be offering to fly guests
between  the  two  resorts.  You  could spend part of your vacation at
each place. Something we will check into in the next few years.

JAMAICA: BOSCOBEL BEACH REPORT FRED LANDRY

Trip June 1998

My  wife,  13  and  8  year-old sons and I just returned from Boscobel
where  we  had  a  great  vacation. We were scheduled to leave at 8:45
Saturday  morning  from Atlanta. The plane was about an hour late. The
flight  itself  was pretty nice. The food (a cheese omelet) was better
than  I  expected  and the complimentary champagne was appreciated. We
arrived  around  noon  and  after  clearing  customs, found the ground
transportation  to  Boscobel.  It  was a small bus with about 12 of us
aboard.  Winston,  our  driver, was very friendly and described points
of  interests  throughout the 2 hour ride. It was kind of like a mini-
tour.  He  showed  us  the  homes  of  celebrities and pointed out the
birthplace  of Marcus Garvey. We did stop halfway at a roadside “cafe”
for  a  Red  Stripe  (not  cold  enough)  and  a  Ting  (which my kids
enjoyed).  We finally arrived around 3:30 at Boscabel. We were greeted
at  the  front  desk by the Boscabel Bear (some poor soul dressed in a
bear  costume  and  forced  to  dance and wave in the 95 degree heat).
Check in was quite painless.

We  proceeded  to  our  room.  Now I was a bit apprehensive about this
particular  part  due  to  some  of  the other reports and posts I had
read.  I  was quite please with our particular Jr. Suite, however. The
main  room  was  spacious  se was the bathroom. The smaller “room” had
bunk  beds, a couch and the television which worked out well, for they
were  really  the  only  ones  to  watch any TV at all. The rooms were
clean  with  tile  floors.  We  did not have a balcony, but did have a
limited  view  of  the  ocean (partially obstructed by the roof of the
pavilion  restaurant).  Now  I  had  heard  stories  of inadequate air
conditioning,  and through the week, met other couples that complained
of  the heat, but in our room, you could have hung meat! It really got
too  cold  a  couple  of  times  and we had to turn it down (or up - I
never have figured that out).

My  youngest  son  and I set off to explore, leaving my wife and older
son  to  wait  for the bags to arrive. We easily found our way through
neatly  kept gardens to the terrace. This is where the main action is.
The  main meal buffets are held here and it is right next to the large
family  pool.  The main bar is also located here. I quickly snagged an
adult  beverage  of  some  sort  while  my  son  grabbed a coke and we
continued  our  adventure.  We  found  the steps to the beach area and
checked  out  the boardwalk. The steps and elevator are located midway
along  the  boardwalk  so we turned left. Well, it took about a minute
and  a  half for my 8 year-old to find the arcade. This quickly became
his  second home. After letting him play a game, we continued past the
beach  bazarre (local crafts) and one of the 50 or so people who would
tell  me  that they were “the one” to see if I needed “anything”. Past
there  we  found  the  beach bar and grill (ah, just in time). That is
about  as  far  to  the  left (west) as you can go, so we retraced our
steps   and   continued  east  from  the  stairs.  We  came  upon  the
watersports  area  where  you  can  sign  up  for snorkeling and scuba
diving.  This  is the end of the property to the east and the boatdock
serves  as  a boundary. Right bast the dock locals hang around selling
crafts  and  braiding  hair (quite popular - lots of kids with braided
hair).  After  this  quick tour, we ventured back to the room to fetch
the rest of my clan for an early dinner.

Food
All  in  all, the food was very good. I had read several reports which
were  not  very  kind  about  the  terrace  buffet,  but  we  found it
surprisingly  good, especially when you discovered the area where they
put  together  custom  dishes  (usually  different  seafood  pastas or
grilled  meats depending upon the theme). There is plenty of wine (the
quality  of  which  seemed fine for us non-connoisseurs) and plenty of
food  choices  for  kids.  Very relaxed atmosphere with lots of people
still  in bathing suits. The pavilion restaurant requires reservations
and  allows  kids.  I wish we had done this a couple of extra times as
the  food  was  a  bit  better  and  it  was nice to have waiters. The
Allegro  is  the  adults  only  restaurant and requires long pants for
men.  Quite  a  dress  code, eh? Anyway, the food was quite good - the
anti  pasto  salad  bar  had some interesting marinated vegetables and
the  entrees  were  truly delicious. My wife and I ate here twice. For
lunch,  I  would recommend the Beach Grill which serves up some pretty
tasty  jerked  pork and chicken as well as hot dogs and cheeseburgers.
All  in  all,  the  food  was  tasty and plentiful. I learned quite by
accident  one  night  that they even had a midnight buffet of sandwich
stuff for those with a late night craving.

Activities
Plenty  of  stuff  to  do  here! The kids seemed like they were always
gone,  although  they  did not do a whole lot of the structured stuff.
The  staff  is very friendly and laid back. My kids were old enough so
the  staff  would  just  ask,  “Can  they leave on their own?” We felt
comfortable  that  the  kids  couldn’t  get in too much trouble - they
can’t  get  off  the  grounds - so we let them do pretty much whatever
they  wanted.  Usually  swimming or arcade action. My wife, my 13 year
old,  and myself are certified in scuba and went on several dives. The
dive  masters  were  friendly  and  proficient.  The diving was fun, a
different  reef  every  day,  but  all very close to the resort. There
weren’t  a  whole lot of different wildlife to see, but enough to make
it  interesting.  Of  course the beautiful waters of the Caribbean are
so  clear  and  warm,  it  is hard not to enjoy yourself. We went on a
couple  of snorkel trips. They were fun and easy. My youngest who does
not  swim  well  went  near  the  end  of  the  week, and he had a few
problems  with  his  mask  and snorkel, so I am afraid he didn’t enjoy
that  a  whole  lot.  We  didn’t  ride  the  hobie  cat or the sunfish
sailboats,  but  we did ride the banana boat several times. It was fun
and  quite  a hit with the kids. Our kids spent a lot of time swimming
in  the  pool.  The reports of the beach area were pretty accurate. It
is  pretty small and there was a lot of seaweed. My sons said that the
seaweed  was  so  soft,  it felt like wool. So we joked all week about
the  “Sea  Sheep”  and  had “sea sheep wars”, throwing handfuls at one
another.  Just  outside  the  roped  off  swimming  area, local “craft
artisans”  paddled  out  on  surfboards  selling  shells,  among other
things  (let’s  see - there was “The Farmer” and “Smokin’ Joe” - hmmmm
wonder  what else they were peddling....). My wife and I got to put in
a  fair amount of tan time either at the beach or the adult pool. Now,
the  adult  pool  is  the  place  to go to find some real quiet. Never
crowded,  but  I  did notice a few faces that were always glued to the
same  seats  at  the bar at the adult pool. Actually this proved to be
one  of the more fun bars - always friendly bartenders that would make
sure  your drink was filled. We met several different couples here and
would  usually  have a good time. We would usually go here around 5 or
so.  It  was  supposed  to close at 5:30, but if you had 4 or 5 people
talking,  the  bartender  would keep pouring - sometimes until 6:30 or
later.  After  dinner,  we  would  sometimes  go to the Piano bar. You
never  knew  what  you would find there. Some nights it was very quiet
and  sedate,  other nights it would get raucous. I went a few times to
the  disco  and the same thing here - it could be jamming or dead. The
NBA  finals were on a few nights and the large Chicago contingent made
itself  known.  There  was  usually  some entertainment in the Terrace
area  after  dinner,  but  we  didn't see much of it. We did catch the
welcoming  party  on  Monday at the Beach Grill which featured a steel
band  and  an  hors  d'oeuvre buffet plus specialty fruit drink bar. I
even  had a drink with an umbrella in it - I felt like Steve Martin in
"The  Jerk". That was fun. My wife and I heard a reggae band from afar
one  evening.  It  seemed most people were worn out at night and 10 or
11  was  about  the  time I usually ended although I did stay up until
about 12:30 one night.

I  am  sure  I  have left out some pertinent details somewhere, and if
you  have  any specific questions, I will be happy to respond to them.
All  in  all, it was a great time. If you expect the Ritz Carlton, you
will  be  disappointed.  If  you  expect friendly staff and a place to
make your own fun, you will have a blast.

Take care

No Problem Mon

JAMAICA HEDONISM BY GAIL JAMESON

My  biggest complaint about most trip reports is that they read like a
fifth  grader's mandatory 500 word essay, "What I did during my summer
vacation".  They  go  like  this:  Day One: Was hot, met John and Jane
Doe,  hung  out  on  the  beach, drank Purple Rains and Dirty Bananas,
rained  in the afternoon. Like no kidding Sherlock. To begin with your
reader  has  no  idea  who  John  and Jane Doe are, nor do they really
care.  And  guess  what  else, you're in the tropics and it is usually
hot  and  it  does  usually rain in that afternoons. Spare us, we just
want  the  facts, what's new, what's changed, what's improved and what
was  unusually bad or good. We don't want to read five pages about the
antics  of John and Jane Doe, VUBS (Very Unimportant Beach Slugs). And
BTW it's not rain it's liquid sunshine.

OK  now  I  got  that  cleared up, so before the facts, if you want to
read  about  the Reunion skip to almost the end. Now here's the facts.
This  of  course  is  from  our point of view and comparisons are made
from  yearly  May  only  visits. Other experiences may vary check with
the  manufacturer,  whoops  wait  that  was the vibrator instructions.
Seriously  though everyone has an opinion and yours may differ, but we
do  know of many folks we met who did feel the same this trip. Oh yeah
our  trip  ran  from  May  20th  through  May 30th and we did have the
pleasure of traveling down and back with Jamaica Jim.

General:  There are drought conditions throughout Jamaica caused by El
Nino.  The  usually  lush  tropical vegetation including the grass was
dry  and  visually  suffering. Someone said it hadn't rained in Negril
for  6  weeks  before  our  arrival.  The  air  conditioning at Mo Bay
airport  seemed  to  work  much  better than prior years. They've also
finished  some  of  the interior work on the terminal. The walk seemed
much  shorter  and  cooler,  yeah!  We  noticed  there  are a lot more
flights  going  into  Negril  airport, guess fewer visitors want to do
the bus ride from hell.

Hedonism  II  General: Check in is at Mo Bay airport. If you're taking
the  bus  they  have  you fill in your paperwork there, then board the
bus.  If  your  taking  TimAir  as  we  did,  then  they hand you your
paperwork  to  fill  in on the plane, so you're out even faster if you
fly  to Negril. Just make sure you tell the desk people in the airport
before  they  grab  your  luggage  and  throw  it on the bus. Once you
arrive  at  the front desk they just hand you the keys to the room and
away  you  go.  The  drought  has  also  affected much of the resort's
vegetation,  but  it  is  still beautiful. The staff in general during
this visit were more friendly and service much improved.

Rooms:  New CD/radios were added to all rooms. The hair dryer, ironing
board,  shampoo,  shower  gel  ,etc. are still present. Water pressure
and  temperature was the same either too low and/or too hot or cold. A
promise  was  made at the returnees' party that it was currently being
worked  on  and  was  to  be  corrected  by the end of the month. Yeah
right!  For  the  last  couple  of  years they've said the same thing,
"It'll  be  fixed  by..."  What  a crock of s..t. Even on Jamaica time
it's  way past due, stop jerking our chain, we can live with the water
situation  much  better than the BS they give us about when it will be
corrected. Oh yeah they did not specify which month, or year.

Beach  Area:  We  don't  usually  go  over  to the prude side so these
comments  are only about the nude side (actually didn't even touch the
prude  sand  this trip). The beach was constantly being serviced. Used
cups  collected  often  and  leaves, seaweed and general debris in the
sand  were  always  raked  up. Unfortunately, it appears more sand has
eroded  away. Ice and cups were always available in the coolers at the
soda  machines  on  the nude beach (by the old beach bar and hot tub).
This  is  a vast and much needed and appreciated improvement. In years
past  the  coolers  were  often  empty or the ice was melted and there
were no cups.

Water:  The  little  mini-bay  area  by  the  jetty did not seem to be
filled  with  as  much seaweed and yuck as last May. Unfortunately, we
don't  know  the  staff  member's  name  who was cleaning seaweed, sea
urchins,  etc.  out of the water, but he did a great job. We asked one
staff  member  for his name and they couldn't remember past, "the tall
guy",  oh  yeah  that's  helpful.  He  deserves  applause though so if
anyone  goes  down pass along the kind words to him and management. It
was  cleaner  than  we  ever  remembered.  I  was not as worried about
stepping  on something. Did not see many cups in the water either. Sea
Urchin  population  is  definitely down, don't know why. Did see a lot
more  little jelly fish (scooped out 18 of 'em in an hour one morning)
than  in  past  visits,  know  of at least one guest that got a pretty
nasty  sting  from  one. Field treatment for a sting is Vodka, you dab
it  on  the  sting,  though  I  suppose drinking it wouldn't hurt, but
you'll  have  to  drink  lots of it <G>. When in doubt just ask Delroy
he'll  set  you  right  up.  Also  noted  a  pleasant  increase in the
variety,  quantity  and  size  of the fish life, this has to be a good
sign.  Some years gone by there was almost no life it's good to see it
coming  back.  Pete  the Pelican, err Penguin was up to his usual dive
bombing tactics.

Television  Room:  One  of  the  shops  was  converted to a television
viewing  room.  Sofas  and a large screen TV were installed. I usually
feel  news  deprived  and  enjoyed going in to get a quick CNN update.
The room was keep nice and cool.

Nude  Pool/Hot Tub Area: A new soda dispenser was added by the hot tub
it  serves Red Stripe as well as sodas and was kept stocked. The pools
and  jacuzzis  were cleaner than previously remembered. Unfortunately,
the  hot  tub  was  kept way too hot. This was probably due in part to
the  servicing and cleanliness, but it could have and should have been
cooler.  Service at the nude beach bar and grill were great. The grill
serves jerked chicken at around 6 p.m.

Food:  Food with the exception of Robert's beach grill, was a real big
disappointment  this  trip.  No let's be specific the food sucked this
trip,  we've  never  seen  it  so  bad. I felt that the selections and
quality/style  were  made  to  please the preferences of the staff and
not   the   guests.   Island   fare/cooking   style  is  nice  to  try
occasionally,   but  not  consistently  as  the  daily  main  entries.
Everyone  agreed  that the steak served was terrible, chewy, tasteless
and  impossible  to cut with a knife. Deserts every night consisted of
little  cakes  (tortes)  most  were  very good, but the lack of desert
variety  as  in  the  past  got  real  boring.  I  missed  the  little
chocolates  filled  with  cream.  A little desert cooler was installed
near  the  soup  kettles  to  hold ice cream. The ice cream was always
nice   and  cold  where  in  prior  years  would  be  usually  melted.
Unfortunately,  if  you  don't  like  rum raisin or vanilla with grape
nuts,  as  I don't, you were out of luck. Again no variety, past years
at  least  had  chocolate  or  plain  vanilla and fudge sauce. Another
disappointment  that I don't remember from prior visits was the number
of  leftovers  served  the  next  day. My husband was so desperate the
night  after  Chinese  food  he  actually resorted to eating leftover,
cold  Chinese  food. That's bad! There's nothing worse than filling up
on  bad  food for a meal, it's kinda like really bad sex, sure you got
something  but...  Pastafari  food was a little disappointing too, not
the  same  quality as in past visits. They offered the same deserts as
the  dining  room. I thought that the menu changed weekly, but did not
during  this  visit. Getting reservations was often difficult, another
indication  that dining room food was bad. In the past you could get a
reservation  as  late  as 2 or 3 p.m., this trip you'd better have one
by  10  a.m. or forget it. I know going to Hedo is not like being on a
cruise  where the food is expected to be outstanding, but more variety
and  better  quality  would  be appreciated. We've never bragged about
the  food,  but  it was generally good and some nights were great, but
this  stuff  was simply awful. We did hear that a new chief was in the
process of being hired, so hopefully it will improve.

Dinning  Room: Service, including Pastafari, was much better than some
past  visits.  Music  as in all past visits continues to be played way
too  loud  during  dinner  time.  It  is  expected to be at that level
during  show  times,  but  guests would like to talk while dinning. It
was  difficult  to  hear the person sitting next to you and impossible
to  hear someone across the table. A number of return guests said they
have  commented  on  this  in  the  past  to  no avail. We're not at a
concert  hall  we're  eating  dinner  for god's sake give it a rest. I
guess  the  music  was  too loud for management to hear guest comments
and requests.

Returnees  Party  (A.K.A.  Repeat  Offenders Party): A change has been
made  to  the  free  week given away to the guest who has returned the
most  trips.  In the past, guests could only win once. Now once you've
won  you start counting with visit one again and work back up. I heard
from  some  returnees who have never won and complained that it wasn't
fair  to change the rules. Even though we've never won, we feel that's
a  nice  way  to  honor  those  guests  who keep coming back 20 and 30
times.  Hedonism can afford to give two trips though, one to those who
have  won  before  and one to those who haven't. With the new rules it
will  be  difficult  for  some  folks to win, ever. I was disappointed
with  the cocktail party food. In the past, peeled cold steamed shrimp
with  cocktail  sauce  was  served.  This  time they served a lukewarm
spiced  shrimp  with  the tails on. Not only was it not that good, but
it's  difficult  to  manage  pulling  off the tails while standing and
holding a plate and possibly a drink too.

Security   Guards/Security  Measures:  Additional  lighting/spotlights
were  added or at least directed into the hot tub area(1 from the back
door  of  the  grill,  1  from the bathrooms and 1 from the end of the
last  building).  It's intrusive and they shine directly in your face.
Security  can  be  accomplished without turning a spotlight on the hot
tub,  shielding  or redirecting the light could be done. We heard many
guests  complaining  about  the  lighting.  Not  to  mention the extra
security  and  lighting  give  the impression there is a crime problem
the  resort  is  trying  to  address, definitely not the message to be
sending  to  guests.  That's  one  of  the  messages we felt was being
delivered.  The  other  one  is  as  follows.  Don't  even think about
getting  a  little  intimate  or passionately kissing your significant
other  in the hot tub. The night security guards or as I hear they are
now  referred  to as "The Hot Tub Police or Hot Tub SS Guards" will be
all  over you in a heartbeat to break it up. We were only kissing when
I  looked  up to see the Hot Tub Gestapo standing over us and actually
shaking  his  finger  at me. Every one was watching us and him, I felt
like  I  got  caught necking in high school. We have heard rumors, but
cannot  verify,  that  the  general manager doesn't approve of the hot
tub  activities  and  security has been instructed to immediately stop
it.  Time  for my "soapbox", Management is wrong if they feel they are
protecting  those  who  are offended, or worse, if they are inflicting
their  own  moral  standards.  For  one, those guests who are offended
should  not  have  booked  a  vacation  at  Hedonism,  there are other
resorts  with  better food and showers that don't freeze or scald you.
Two,  if  guests  did not like what goes on then they would not return
to  Hedonism.  Since management pats themselves on the back and boasts
that  Hedonism  has the largest number of repeat guests, then it seems
obvious  guests  are  not  offended  and come back for something other
than  the  food  (God  it's  GOTTA  be something other than the food).
Management  should  not try to fix what is not broken or have security
impart  their  view of correct behavior. Management should concentrate
on  fixing what is really broken or substandard. I did not enjoy being
treated  like  a  criminal  while  kissing  my husband in the hot tub.
Hedonism  sells  itself  on freedom, no rules, "Be Wicked for a Week",
"The  Pleasure  comes  in  many  Forms".  Couple Hedonism to those and
other  sales pitches and what do you think your pushing, Bible school?
Hedonism  IS  the  people  (guests  and staff), the lack of rules, the
freedom,  the  sensuality,  the  all  day  cocktail party, the lack of
judgmental  people. Guests come because they want to get away from the
judgmental  types  elsewhere.  They don't want someone telling them oh
you  can't  do  that here, that's why they came, so they could do that
here!  Otherwise  why come, they can go elsewhere. If management isn't
careful  they run the very real risk of destroying Hedonism. After all
it's  been  this  way for almost 17 years now, if it ain't broke don't
fix it. Enough of my opinion on that.

Future  Plans:  As  mentioned  above the water temperature/pressure is
being  worked  on. There are plans to start building new suites on the
nude  side  near  the aviary. I also believe they said that a new pool
complex  is  planned  for  the open area on the prude side. Plans also
exist  to  expand the dinning room and disco. Hedonism III Runaway Bay
is  under  construction and an architect's model is on view in the pit
area  of  the  lobby.  The  primary  concern  we heard uttered by most
guests  was  the  loss or fear of loss of the intimacy of the tropical
grounds  on  the  nude side. The new lighting shining in your face was
bad,  the  drought  hasn't  helped  and  there were concerns expressed
about  the  proposed  new  rooms  near  the aviary. The worst possible
decision  management  can make would be to destroy the lushness of the
grounds  for  the  sake  of "progress". We escape that from the States
when  we  come here. If all there would be is lights, concrete and the
Gestapo Security, why bother to come?

Jamaica  Jim's  Vernar  Reunion!  -  Okay  that's  what it says on the
invite  to  the  cocktail party the resort threw for us. I still don't
know  what  a  Vernar  is. We do want to thank JJ and Hedonism for the
party.  We would also like to thank Kevin, Hedonism's General Manager,
for  the  lunch  at Cosmo's it was terrific as usual. We want to thank
Go  Classy  Tours  for  sponsoring the Jamaica Jim Vernal Reunion Tour
and  for  the  tee  shirts and gifts. Thanks to Lance at Go Classy for
dealing with us infidels.

Finally  a  special  thanks  to  the  one and only Jamaica Jim Jordan,
Chairman  of  the  Board  and  A Legend in His Own Mind, whose wit and
friendship have made all six of our trips great.

JAMAICA: BOSCOBEL BY ROY HALL

We  stayed  5  nights  at  BOSCOBEL  BEACH from May 21-26,1998 . Since
there  has  been  so  much  conflicting  info  about  Boscobel Beach I
decided to write my feelings about the place.

Be  warned!  I  do  not  expect  moderately  priced  all-inclusives in
Jamaica  to  be  fancy  accommodations  or  cuisine! I have run across
people  who  hated a resort due to sub-standard brands of French wines
being  served  there!  Everyone  expects something different, and what
might  be  a  minor  issue,  or no problem to me might be a huge issue
with others! I will be as objective as possible.


We  flew  Air  Jamaica from Baltimore to MoBay on Thursday morning (5-
21).  We  have  flown  Air  Jamaica  on each of our last three Jamaica
vacations  and have been perfectly happy with AirJam each time. Others
have  been  less  lucky  and  have  been  less  satisfied, but we will
continue  to  fly  with  them.  All  of our flights have been on time,
comfortable,  with  good food and friendly efficient service. The best
part  is we can fly non-stop without the obligatory stop in Atlanta or
Miami  that  is  part  of  the U.S. carriers flights to MoBay. Air Jam
also gets us into MoBay the earliest in the day.

Immigration  and  customs  was fairly quick, we had birth certificates
for  all  4 of us (make sure you have OFFICIAL birth certificates with
the  raised  state  seal, not a decorative hospital birth certificate!
In  addition  my  wife and I used our drivers licenses for our picture
ID’s.

We  went  to the SuperClubs desk and after a 15 minute wait we were on
our  way to the resort aboard small air-conditioned buses. The baggage
handlers  at  the  airport are not SuperClubs employees, and therefore
are working for their tips!

The  bus  ride  is  just under two hours, but takes longer if you stop
(and  you  probably  will)  for drinks and restrooms for 20 minutes or
so.
Our  kids  slept  the entire way, including through the rest stop. The
bus  was  mostly  families  with older kids. The ride was long but not
entirely unpleasant

CHECK-IN
We  were  met  at  the entrance to Boscobel Beach by a four piece band
playing  island  music.  My  wife  and  I  were each handed a glass of
champagne and the kids each a glass of juice. The
Boscobel  Beach  mascot, Bosco the Bear (a tall friendly guy in a bear
suit)  was  there  to  greet  the  kids. Our kids loved him and always
smiled when he appeared throughout the vacation.
Luggage  was brought from the bus to the check-in desk for us while we
checked  in.  We  were  on our way to Room 446 with a friendly bellhop
bringing our luggage on a cart within 10 minutes.

I  would  be surprised if check-in went this smoothly all the time. We
have  waited  up  to  2 hours at Hedonism II before as late check-outs
sometimes  make  it impossible for all the rooms to be clean and ready
for  the  folks  arriving.  I  have  had this same thing happen at the
Hyatt  Regency  at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, so don’t assume that
this  is  just some weakness of Caribbean All-Inclusives. It is a fact
of hotel life at times. I am sure they all do the best they can.

OUR ROOM (446)

Our  room  was a Junior Suite and we were very happy with it! Our room
was  clean,  very  large,  and the air-conditioner worked very well! I
will  ask  for  a  room  on the 430, 440's again next time (we will go
again!).  The bathroom was large with a large tiled tub/shower that is
sunken  into  the floor. The tub is quite large and the water pressure
and  amount  of  hot  water  seemed  great.  There were two sinks on a
counter  in  front  of  a long mirror. There was a medicine cabinet on
the  wall  that was nice to keep from having rows of little bottles of
stuff  we  travel  with  (advil,  etc...)  from  just  sitting  on the
counter.  There  was a hair dryer mounted on the wall. It did not work
but  before  we  could complain we found that a working hair dryer was
waiting for us in the closet.

Just  past the bathroom is a LARGE walk-in closet. If there had been a
mirror  in there it would have been large enough to be a dressing room
as  well!  Plenty  of space , a little sparse on the number of hangers
though.  The  closet  also  had  a  small safe, large enough to safely
house  travel  documents,  wallets, and money. The key to this safe is
on  the stretchy key ring with one of your room keys. Don’t lose it or
leave  it  laying  around!  Also  in  the  closet was an iron, ironing
board, and a place to hang up wet clothing.

After  the  closet  the  room widens out into the adult sleeping area.
This  part  of  the  room alone was about the same size as the room we
stayed  in  at  the  Holiday Inn on Wednesday night. It has a king bed
(firm  and nice) with two night tables and a dresser with mirror. A 3-
4  foot  high wall divides the adult sleeping area from the kids part.
This  wall  stops  at  one end to allow a walkway into the kid’s area.
The  kids  area  had  a  set of bunkbeds (my kids loved it had to take
turns  sleeping  on  top!) as well as a small sofa that pulls out into
an  additional  twin bed (we did not use it except as a sofa). In this
room  also  was  the  TV  which was set into a cabinet atop a chest of
drawers.  The  TV  was  a  20"  or  so  and gets a handful of channels
including HBO, ESPN, DISNEY, CNN, ABC,
NBC, CBS, and TNT. All reception was crystal clear.

Also  in this area was a small refrigerator which is kept stocked with
bottled  sodas  (called  Chubby’s)  which my kids enjoyed and drank in
the  evenings.  On  top  of  the  frige  was  a  coffee maker with all
necessary stuff to make coffee.
The  kids  area is somewhat secluded from the adult area to allow some
privacy  but  the  low  wall between and a set of nice wooden louvered
shutters  that  open  and close. These shutters run all the way to the
ceiling  and add a great deal of privacy to the adult area. It is like
a  separate  room  then  but with no door between the two. Not perfect
privacy, but better than being in the same room!

Every  day our room was cleaned very nicely and efficiently and it was
always   completely   done  before  lunch  every  day.  The  check-out
questionnaire  asked  for  us to specify one or more staff members who
made  our  stay nice. We wrote down our room attendant (Georgia Grant)
and
the  Scuba Divemaster (Anthony Paul). Though everyone we met there was
friendly  and  helpful  these  two  stood  out in their competence and
friendliness.

I  cannot  vouch  for other rooms (Lanai Rooms and One Bedroom Suites)
but  our  room  was  the nicest we have stayed in at an all-inclusive,
nicer  than  any room we had at a Club Med and nicer than the rooms at
Hedonism  II  (which  I have no problem with either!). I would request
(though  they  make no guarantees!) a room in the main building in the
430's  of 440's. I asked a dozen or so people we met about their rooms
and  all seemed satisfied at least. Remember it is not a luxury resort
though.  Some  rooms are being renovated as they continue to make-over
the  resort. We heard and saw no construction, but that may not be the
case  in  all rooms. If you are particularly sensitive to that sort of
thing  you  want  to  call  the  resort  and ask to be house away from
construction  areas  if possible. Again, they make no guarantees about
room location but seem willing to do what they can when they can.

FACILITIES

POOLS:
There  are  three  pools. The main pool is the heart of the resort. It
is also called the Family Pool.
It  is  large  and has a hoop for water basketball games and a net for
water  volleyball  games. This pool is surrounded by lounge chairs and
has a full service bar open all day. The Family Pool has
a  lifeguard on duty all day (from 9 AM) until early evening. There is
also  a  bin of nice lifejackets at the pool that allowed even my non-
swimming 4 year old to go all over the pool safely.

The  Kids  pool  is  really nothing more than a small wading pool near
the  Family  pool.  This  was  a  big hit with young toddlers as it is
shallow.

The  Adult  Pool  is  located in an area overlooking the beach and has
it’s  own  full  service bar as well. This pool is about the size of a
large home pool and is surrounded by lounge chairs as well.

All  three  pools  were kept very clean with twice daily treatment and
cleaning.  Considering  the traffic in and out of the Family Pool this
was a great accomplishment.

BEACH
The  beach  at Boscobel is nice, but small. IF you like to go for long
walks  on  the  beach passing from resort t resort along the waterline
you  will  find  this impossible at Boscobel. The Beach is enclosed at
both  ends.  To  me this was an extra measure of security that made me
comfortable  with my kids spending time on the beach without us. There
is  a  lifeguard  on  duty  all  day, beginning at 9 AM (I think). The
beach is divided into a watersports area and a swimming area.
Neither  is  very large, but the beach is wide enough to allow lots of
chairs and on the beach.
During  our stay there was some seaweed in the water at one end of the
beach.  This was not something that could be controlled by the resort,
only  the  tides. The staff raked the entire beach every day and moved
away  the  seaweed that accumulated on the beach. The Beach is not the
strong  point  at Boscobel. Compared to Negril’s 7 mile beach this one
does  not  stack  up well, but while not spectacular it is nice and my
kids loved it.

RESTAURANTS

The  food  at Boscobel is good (we thought) but not great. While it is
not  a  gourmet  experience  the selection of food at each meal was so
broad  that  we  were able to find something each of us liked at every
meal.

TERRACE:
The   Main  Dining  area  is  the  open  air  buffet  on  the  terrace
overlooking the family pool.
Tables  are  laid  out  from  tables  for  3 to large tables for large
groups.  Separate  areas are set aside for the kids clubs dinner which
begins  at  6PM  (this is if your child is signed into the club during
dinner  time). The food is buffet style with a wide variety of salads,
fresh  fruit  and  several  entrees at each meal. This area also has a
full  service  bar that is open from before dinner until the shows end
much later in the evening.
Breakfast  is  from  7:30  until 10:00 or 10:30. Made to order omelets
were  great but the line got kind of long some days. The Jamaican Blue
Mountain coffee is spectacular and available at all meals.

PAVILLION:
This  is  a sit-down restaurant for the whole family. You order from a
menu  and are served at your table (in case you grow tired of the main
buffet).  Reservations  and  long  pants are required. We did this one
night,  but  it  is not air-conditioned and while the food was good we
preferred  the  Terrace  with  the kids. My kids were not into a quiet
sit-down  restaurant  while  at Boscobel. After this they preferred to
eat  at the Terrace with their friends in the Kids Club. This freed us
up to eat at Allegro.

ALLEGRO:
This  is the adults only restaurant and it was a highlight of the trip
for my wife and I!
This  is  an  air-conditioned restaurant serving a five course Italian
dinner with a nice Antipasto Bar.
Drinks  and  wines are served with dinner. The food and atmosphere was
great  and made for a nice change from the noise of all the kids (ours
and  others!).  We  ate here our last two nights and wish we had begun
sooner  in  the  trip! Reservations, long pants, and collar shirts are
required.

BAR-B-QUE PARK:
This  is  where  the  kids  groups  have lunch most days. They serve a
variety  of burgers, hot-dogs, French fries, fruits, sodas, ice-cream,
jerk  chicken,  etc... Kids can get soft drinks, snacks, and ice-cream
all  day here. It sits adjacent to a nice playground with a variety of
swings,  slides,  and climbing equipment. There is also a petting zoo,
a small barn-like area with goats and things to see and pet.

BEACH

GRILL:
This  is  where  food and drinks are available at one end of the beach
all  day.  There  is  a  soda dispenser for getting all the drinks you
want  all day. There is also a beer tap (Red Stripe of course, and not
self-serve)  here.  The beach grill was my choice for lunch most days.
They  serve  excellent  Jerk  Chicken  and Pork as well as hamburgers,
cheeseburgers,  hot-dogs,  chicken  burgers,  Veggie burgers, Jamaican
Meat Patties, French Fries, and Ice-cream.

BARS:

You  can  get  a  drink (soft, mixed, alcohol, blender, beer, etc....)
>From  about  10:00am  until  the last guest leaves the Disco. Kids can
get  juice,  sodas,  or even non-alcohol daiquiris all day too. Drinks
are  not watered down and use mostly brand names of alcohol. The Beach
grill  has  only beer, juice and soft drinks (and really good slurpee-
like  slushy  drinks).  The  Piano  Bar  serves  booze  but no blender
drinks.  The  Terrace  Bar,  Pool  Bar,  Adult Bar, and the Bar in the
“Escape  Hatch”  (adult  entertainment/disco)  all  are  full service,
meaning any kind of drinks you want are available there.

ACTIVITIES: These the ones we did!

TENNIS:
Four  courts  in  good  shape. Group lesson every morning and the pros
(friendly  and competent) are available for more private lessons later
in the day.

SCUBA:
One  daily  dive  is  included.  Divemasters were great. Equipment was
safe and
up  to  date. The diving in Jamaica’s good, but not the quality of the
Caymans or Turks.
Water  was  warm and visibility was good. Decent amount of sealife and
reefs.  Resort certification is available for non-certified divers. If
you  are  really  interested in diving though I would get certified at
home first.

BANANA BOAT:
Most  of  the  day  on  the  beach  a five-seated “Banana Boat” pulled
behind  a  motor  boat  gives  rides  to anyone who wants it. Our kids
loved  this  and  we  rode  as  a  family  many times because the kids
enjoyed  it  so  much.  Life-Jackets are provided in all sizes. It’s a
lot of fun!
Rides  were  gentle  if  small  kids  were aboard and a bit wilder for
groups that were all older kids and adults. A real hit with all ages.

ARCADE:
Along  the  beach  boardwalk  is  an air-conditioned games arcade with
about  15 or so games that are rigged to play for free. Amazingly only
one  or  two  were  broken at a time. This is amazing because the kids
are  really rough on the machines. The game repair folks were in there
several  times fixing things. We enjoyed this as a family and the kids
club spent a half-hour or so in there on two different days.

KIDS CLUBS:
Our  kids  were  both  in the Boscobel Bears Club (ages 4-7) and loved
it. The supervisors
did  a  great  job of keeping the kids active and my kids enjoyed it a
great  deal. My daughter wanted to stay from 9 AM until 10 PM (and did
twice!).  There  is  a  mandatory  shower  break from 5PM until 5:50PM
every  day  for  the  kids  to  clean  up before dinner at 6PM. In and
around  the  many outdoor activities (tennis, beach, pool, lawn games,
etc...)  There  are  cool-down  periods built in. This included arcade
time, indoor games, arts & crafts, and tie-dyeing T-shirts
(a  favorite  of my kids! Take a clean white T-shirt for them to dye!)
This  allows  the  kids  to  wind down and cool down a bit in the air-
conditioned  kids areas. Every night after dinner is a different movie
(Disney  and Disney-like movies) at 6:45PM each night. After the movie
is  a  different party most nights. My kids’ favorites were the Reggae
Dance  Party  and the Backwards Party (amazing how much my son enjoyed
wearing all his clothes backwards!).

ENTERTAINMENT:
Every  day  is  a  variety of participation activities. Bingo, trivia,
and  so on. Kids and adults alike win tokens called “SuperCents” which
can be accumulated and traded for small prizes.
Every  evening  there  is an after-dinner show. This is not high level
entertainment,  but  can  be  amusing.  The  Resident Band is good and
plays every night. Limbo, dance groups, and fire-eaters
are particularly interesting to the kids.

OTHER STUFF AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
I  have  heard  people  complain  about  the  steps  and  elevators at
Boscobel  and  it  was  not  a  big  deal  to  us. If you had to use a
stroller  and the elevator was broken (it never stopped working during
our  stay) then it could be a problem though. The beach is about three
flights  of  stairs down from the Family pool and Terrace. There is an
elevator  (small,  old,  and hot) that goes up and down but it is just
as  quick  to  walk.  It was not a problem for us. If you hate any and
all  stairs  and  this would ruin your vacation then you should choose
somewhere else.

I  would  like  to see a full service bar down on the beach level. The
Beach  Grill serves softdrinks and beer but none of the blender drinks
I  crave  on  vacation  (Dirty  Banana,  Hummingbird,  and  Strawberry
Daiquiris for my wife).

The  Bus  Ride  from Sangster Airport in MoBay is a long one! The trip
was  no  problem  either  way  for us. Our kids both slept all the way
both  ways,  but  the potential for motion sickness and misbehavior is
there.

For  those who may have had a bad experience at Boscobel in years gone
by  I  can  only  say  that  either  things have gotten better or your
expectations  were different from mine. The best way for me to judge a
family  vacation is if everyone had a good time. We did and we will go
back.

The  longtime GM at Boscobel Beach (Richard Hall) left SuperClubs back
in  December.  I  remember  him from his days as GM at Hedonism II and
felt  he  did  a  good job there. The new GM (Name is Pierre Bagatelle
(?))  was  very  accessible  to  me  and  I  saw him about the grounds
several  times.  He  seemed  friendly and competent and devoted to the
idea  that  he  would do what he could to keep the guests coming back,
for  that  is how a business thrives and everyone at Boscobel seems to
believe that as well.

To  those  who  think  paying to take a vacation entitles you to order
the  staff  around  as  if  they  are  inferior  to you, that being on
vacation means leaving your manners at home ...let me just say this;
I  have  found  in  many trips to Jamaica that the people are friendly
and  helpful.  The employees at Boscobel, Hedonism, or where ever will
give  you  better service if you are polite and not rude to them. This
is true of most people anywhere as well as in Jamaica!

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