Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 96
July 15, 1999

Last Update 12 July 99 1900ET

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I  researched  the  Caribbean  for  almost  a month before deciding on 
Jamaica.  Then  the  search  continued  finding  the  perfect area and 
resort.  It  was  a  tough choice as I narrowed it down to Couples and 
Ciboney, in Ocho Rios.

I  finally  decided  on  Ciboney.   I was looking for an all-inclusive 
resort,  and  the  goal  was  to be in a garden environment, scattered 
villas  in  the bush...tropical and romantic. I wanted rolling acreage 
removed  from  the  rest of the world so I could feel like I was in my 
own  paradise.   Ciboney  was  all  that.  Couples seemed to be a good 
choice,  but   at  the time I chose Cibony I thought Couples was a bit 
more  pricey  and   quite  a  bit  more  active  in their programs.  I 
initially  wanted  a  more laid back resort, now that I've been there, 
I've  changed  my  perspective.  It  was  just  too  laid back for me.  
Ciboney  is  beautiful,  the  service is good, but I have to admit now 
that if I were to choose again, I would pick Couples.

Ciboney  was just too quiet.  They have a night club but not much else 
going  on  at  night.  The beach parties they had at night closed down 
early...just  when  I was ready to start partying. And I believe there 
was only one night party on the beach in the week I was there.

Another  factor,  the beach at Ciboney is almost non-existent, a roped 
off area almost too small to swim in at all. 

The  lack of activities, and the small beach were the only draw-backs, 
but  if  you're  into  a  lively  trip with beach play, this isn't the 
place  for you. I think it's hard to find a resort that has everything 
you  want.   This  is a luxurious and elegant resort, lots of acreage, 
lush  trees  and  gardens,  and  villas set in the foliage with plunge 
pools. Swim up bars...dining on the beach. Truly picturesque.

Next  trip to the Caribbean, I'm going to try to find a quality resort 
like  Ciboney,  but  with  a better beach, and more activity and night 
life. Then I will have found the ideal resort.

Another  note,  If  you're  into  water  sports like scuba diving, the 
waters weren't good for that. Too rough, not clear, rough bottoms.

 But if you want privacy and quiet...Ciboney will be perfect for you.


After  months  of reading trip reports, studying brochures and talking 
to  travel  agents  we  finally  chose Couples newest resort in Negril 
Jamaica.  We found many travel agents on the internet but none came as 
highly  recommended  as Lance at Goclassy Tours (, we 
quickly  discovered  that  their reputation was well deserved. We gave 
Lance  a  call and he promptly gave us the lowest rate we had received 
as  well  as  excellent advice about Jamaica in general. We booked and 
through  some  strange  combination of luck and fate ended up with the 
perfect travel agent and resort.

We  flew  from  Atlanta  Georgia  via Air Jamaica (first class -- well 
worth  the  extra  cost).  Our  flight left promptly at 8:45 AM and we 
arrived  at  Sangster  International  at  about 10:30 island time. The 
line  through  immigration  looked  bad,  but they opened several more 
lines  and  it  only  lasted  about 20 minutes. Then it was off to the 
Couples  Desk  ,  where  we  were  whisked over to the Jamaica Airlink 
offices  for  our  15  minute  flight over to Negril. Our wait for the 
flight  to  leave  was about 30 minutes. We would definitely recommend 
the  flight,  as  you get to the resort faster than by bus, and have a 
beautiful  flight  right down the coast line. We arrived at the resort 
at  about  12:00  Jamaica time and received champagne in the beautiful 
open-air   lobby  while  waiting  to  check-in.  Our  room  was  ready 
immediately  and  we  quickly  unpacked  and  began  our  adventure in 
paradise.  We  will  not  bore you with the day to day activities, but 
here is a brief synopsis of the average day:
We  would  get  up  about 7:00 and have room service about 7:30, after 
which  it  was time for a quick shower, and we would typically head on 
down  to  the  beach.  Then  we  would  grab  a  chair,  and  a float-
cushion(there  were  not  enough of these, so they were a good item to 
grab  early.) We would then either go on the snorkel trip, or go kayak 
around  Bloody  Bay.  After  we  finished our daily activity, we would 
grab  the  floats and go float in the ocean together till about noon.( 
This  activity  is  utterly  relaxing and should only be undertaken by 
those  of  strong  will, other wise you will stay in Jamaica forever). 
At  lunch  time  it  was  off to the beach grill for a quick bite, and 
then  back to the ocean for a continuation of the float, smile, laugh, 
drink  island drinks in the crystal clear Caribbean sea time. We would 
typically  stay in the water till about 4:30 or 5:00, then it was time 
to  find  one  of the many hammocks stretched between the trees on the 
beach.  Here  we  would  take  a little mini nap, and watch the sunset 
every  day.  Then  it  was  up  to  the room for a shower. Then off to 
dinner  and a couple of nice drinks, followed by a moonlit walk on the 
beach  at night. After all this it was back to the room at about 11:00 
for  some  champagne  on  the  balcony, and off to bed before midnight 
every  night. While others might find the need to see more of the real 
Jamaica,  and  check  out more side trips, we were more intent on just 
relaxing  and  having  a fantastic romantic week in paradise. The only 
major  break  from  this  plan  was  on  Monday the 26th, when we were 
married  in  the  natural area over by the ponds, and spa. Now we will 
break it down into different sections.

The rooms:
The  rooms  are all amply sized, furnished in local Jamaican art deco. 
They  included all the standard amenities: hair dryer, toiletries, TV, 
CD-Player,  remote controlled air conditioner, large balcony(excellent 
for  that  romantic  room service breakfast) . We were assigned a room 
on  the  3rd  floor of building 8, and had a great view of the wedding 
gazebo, natural pool, and ocean through the palm trees.

The Beach: 
The  beach  was long with white sand and crystal clear water. The sand 
was  soft  and  no  water  shoes were needed. The water was completely 
free  of  rocks and grass and from what we could tell was a lot better 
for  floating  than that at Grand Lido Negril to the South of Couples. 
On  the  north end of the beach there is no resort just deserted beach 
with  jungle next to it. I think it would be safe to say we spent most 
of  every  day  floating in that clear sea. The swimming area is roped 
off  and you need to stay inside it for safety reasons. Mostly because 
the  banana  boat,  ski boat, and Para-Sail boats ride up and down the 
edge  several  times a day, although they were never annoying. Usually 
just  a  simple would you like to was all they would ask. Once we said 
no,  they left us alone, and seemed to remember we were not interested 
after the first couple of days.

The Restaurants:

Room-Service:   Breakfast  was  available  from  room-service  with  a 
continental  type  breakfast.  You  had  your  choice  of coffee, tea, 
fruits  and  bread.  It  was  available  in  30  minute intervals. You 
ordered  with the standard card on the door knob the night before. The 
service  was  on  time,  courteous,  and  they  would even try to fill 
requests  not  on the menu. This was our preferred breakfast as it was 
romantic  to  sit  on the balcony and eat breakfast looking out at the 
ocean.  A  word  of warning: Do not leave your breakfast unattended as 
there  are  blackbirds  there who might mistake it for a gift. All you 
have to do is leave it outside the door after you finish. 

Cassava  Terrace:  This  is the main restaurant where breakfast, lunch 
and  dinner  were  all  served  in  an open-air setting. Breakfast and 
lunch  were  served  buffet  style  while the dinner was a seated menu 
type  dinner.  Service  was great as was the food. The only slow point 
was  getting the first bar drink and sometimes it was faster to get it 
yourself.(There  is  a  separate  drink wait person who is very busy). 
All  the  staff  were  extremely  friendly, and would remember you and 
your  significant  other's  name. Dinner was very good and the service 
was   still   consistently  excellent,  with  the  servers  constantly 
checking  on  you,  but again it is a good idea to go to dinner with a 
bar  drink  in hand. If you have one to start then you are fine, it is 
the  first one that was a bit slow. The temperature in here was always 
extremely  comfortable  and  the view of the pool was spectacular. For 
breakfast/lunch  beach  attire  was fine, need to wear a shirt though. 
And for dinner nice shorts, and casual attire.

Beach  Grill:  The  beach  grill was open from about 11:00Am till late 
afternoon,  serving  the  typical  grill  food, (hamburgers, hot dogs, 
ribs,  jerk  chicken,  and  Jamaican  beef patties). We ate lunch here 
every  day  and  I  would  say  the  food  was excellent, the service- 
excellent,  and  the  atmosphere was great. You could sit under a roof 
for  cover  from  the  sun, or you could sit a any number of tables on 
the  beach  bar  deck  in  front  and look at the beach. At night this 
becomes  the  pasta/ steak restaurant. We had great service for dinner 
as  well  and  think this was the most romantic place to eat as it was 
all  under  the  stars  dining  to  candlelight.  We ate here the last 
couple  of  nights,  but  ate at cassava mostly for dinner as we liked 
the  menu  better  as it was usually different than American food. One 
of  my  only  complaints about the resort has to do primarily with the 
grill  for  dinner,  and it was simply this: The ribeye steak they had 
every  night  was  a  horribly tough cut of meat, I spoke with several 
other  guests  who  had  it  and we all agreed. It tasted fine, it was 
just  very  hard to chew. Very minor, I eat enough steak in the states 
to  last me a lifetime. Beach attire is fine by day, and at night nice 
shorts and a golf shirt, and casual woman's attire.

Otaheite:  This  is  the  fine  dining  restaurant and the only one on 
property  where  reservations were required. This is also the only air 
conditioned  restaurant on the resort. It is richly furnished and very 
pretty.  The  cuisine  was Jamaican. Seating for couples is on small 2 
person  wide  sofas,  there  is also seating for larger parties in the 
center.  The  food  was  fabulous, I had the Medallions of beef and it 
was  the  most  tender  piece of meat I have ever put in my mouth. The 
presentation  and  service  was  absolutely  out  of this world, and I 
would  definitely  recommend  you  go  here one night for dinner. Long 
Pants  required  for  men,  and no shorts for women. They said no open 
toed  shoes  for  women,  but  I  never saw a woman wear anything else 

Water  Sports: The water sports area is located right next to the nude 
beach,  and  makes  for some interesting viewing on equipment returns. 
The  staff  were  all  very very nice and all went out of their way to 
make   sure   you  were  comfortable.  They  had  the  standard  items 
including:  Scuba  trips,  Snorkel  trips,  Glass  bottom  boat rides, 
Snorkel  equipment  check  out,  Kayaks,  Sunfish  sailboats, Hobiecat 
sailboats,  and  water  bikes.  There never seemed to be a wait to get 
any  equipment  and  you could keep it for as long as you want to. One 
of  our  acquaintances  we  met  there  got snorkel equipment that fit 
perfect  and  he  kept  it  for several days. You will need to sign up 
early  for  scuba and snorkel trips as they seemed to be very popular. 
The  equipment  seemed to be in good shape and you returned everything 
into a big barrel filled with some cleaning agent.

Wedding:  The  wedding  coordinators  were  fabulous.  This was a very 
stress  free wedding and was absolutely perfect. We had colours Negril 
do  the  photography  and video, and they are as good as any you could 
get  in  the  US.  I  think  our  total cost for video and pictures(36 
photos)  was  under  $500.  The  only thing you have to decide is what 
area  you  want  to  get married in. The most popular were: 1) Wedding 
Gazebo,  2) Beach, 3) Natural pond areas on North end of property. You 
make  the  choice  the  day  after  you arrive as well as what kind of 
cake,  what  flowers you like and music. If you want any special music 
in  the  video  bring  the  Cds and Colours will put it on for you. We 
cannot  tell  you  how  romantic or wonderful the ceremony was for us. 
They   are   professionals  and  the  ceremony  was  flawless.  HIGHLY 
RECOMMENDED.  They thought of everything and even some things we never 
did. It was truly an experience for a lifetime.

Shops:  There  were  several on site shops of which I can remember the 
names.  They  had  a  news  stand  which  sold,  sun tan lotion, film, 
batteries,  papers,  magazines,  postcards,  etc.  I  would  recommend 
brining  a  waterproof  camera  from home as they were out all week we 
were  there.  They  also have a general shop which has spices, sauces, 
shirts,  and  most  touristy  type keepsakes. The third shop is a more 
generalized  clothing  store,  a  good  place to buy long pants if you 
forget  them  guys.  The  styles  appeared to be Jamaican, but I never 
went  in  and  looked  at  them.  The staff at the shops were all very 
nice,   except   the  news  stand  had  one  lady  who  seemed,  well, 
indifferent.  A  good  thing  to go check out if you have an afternoon 

Main  Building:  This is where the second floor open air lobby is that 
you  enter the resort at. The view is breathtaking and the cool breeze 
a  welcome  break.  All the shops are located in this building as well 
as  Cassava  Terrace.  Directly over Cassava Terrace is a Sunset swing 
porch  which  is  also  the  area  where  you  sign  up  for  the many 
activities Couples includes. 

Gym:  The  only  time  we  went in the gym was for the couples massage 
class,  which  we wished we hadn't missed any of. The equipment is all 
virtually  brand  new  and the room was spotless. But give us a break, 
we were on vacation.

Spa:  As honeymooners we got a free half hour massage. The massage was 
great  and  relaxing, and I was rubber man when we came out, again the 
staff  was  fantastic. Susan got a manicure/pedicure and loved it, she 
also  thought  that  all  the  many,  many  services they offered were 
priced very low compared to here in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Bars:  There  were 3 bars that I was aware of, and we used them all of 
course  as  they  were  not  open  all  at the same time. The pool bar 
opened  earliest  and adjacent to the lower part of the pool where the 
swim  up  bar  was.  The bartenders were all very nice, and this was a 
very  busy  bar.  The quality of the drinks was great, and there was a 
pina  colada,  and  a  strawberry daiquiri machine with a conveniently 
located  bottle  of  rum for those frozen drink do it yourselfers. The 
Beach  grill  bar  opened at some point mid morning and was a lot less 
busy.  The bar was a lot bigger and they had a lot more staff. The bar 
staff  here  was  incredible and included the soon to be famous Craig, 
who  was  one  of  our  friends there. He was one of those people that 
somehow  manage  to  stand out in a group of awesome people as somehow 
going  a  little further. He was always CAN DO, and friendly. This bar 
was  open  all  afternoon, even after the pool bar closed during early 
evening.  Cassava  Terrace  also  had a bar that was open during lunch 
times  and  then for dinner and on through the night. There was also a 
great bartender, whose name was 

Not  to  be  missed:  Sunset  Catamaran  Cruise,  Snorkeling, Kayaking 
around  Bloody Bay, We did not go to Rick's Café, or the shopping trip 
as  we  were  lazy. The best dinners in my opinion were Saturday night 
farewell buffet, and Monday night Caribbean Buffet. 

Staff:  The entire staff had an attitude of will do. I am sure it will 
only  get  better  as  the resort is open longer too. I believe I only 
saw  2  people  the  whole  week  were  there that didn't have a great 
attitude,  and  they  were  just  kind  of  indifferent,  but this was 
definitely  the  exception  and  not  the  rule.  We met so many great 
people  that  I  hope  to  see again next year when we go back for our 
anniversary.  We  are going to name some names and I assure you that I 
forgot  far  more  than  I  remembered  and apologize to anyone who we 
forget to mention. 

Craig, Nikki, Donovan - Bartenders
 -Room Service
Nickola, David, Dexter, Charlene? - Entertainment Coordinators
Wayne - Water sports
Naomi - Wedding coordinator
Caroline Cousins - Sales
Wando, Doreen - Spa

Jamaica:  We  can't  stress  enough  that  you  are  on Island time in 
Jamaica  and  you  need  to  relax.  Please  remember  that you are on 
vacation  and it will get done. I didn't wear my watch the whole trip. 
Jamaicans  are  really very very nice people, if you take a second and 
make  conversation  or  recognize  them,  they will really open up and 
give  you  a  chance  to  see what beautiful people they are, and they 
WILL  remember  your  name,  and  your spouses name. You can make your 
vacation  as  good  or as bad as you want. Go to have a great time and 
don't  sweat anything. You will enjoy it more. And please take my word 
and   the   words   of   a   lot   of  internet  shoppers  and  go  to,  Lance and Kay will really take care of you and help 
you  with  anything you may need to know. We will now be customers for 
life. We hope to see you next year in late April.

Until Then,



Trip May 1999. 

First,  a  Word  about  All-Inclusive  Resorts:  My husband and I have 
enjoyed  many  trips to  these "everything is included" resorts in the 
past.  Without a doubt, we find these resort  vacations to be the most 
relaxing  of  any  type  of  trip. And. we know that there are no free  
lunches  ...  we  know  we've  paid for these amenities up front. But, 
once  we land, we don't  worry about travel, be it taxi or rental car. 
Everything  is  in  walking  distance  in the resort - - the pool, the 
ocean,  entertainment,  activities,  the  spa and gym, bars, disco and  
restaurants,  too.  My  husband  says it is nice to not have to dig in 
his  pocket for his wallet  every time we want a drink or a meal, this 
benefit  that really enables him to relax--and  when he is happy, I am 
happy.  I  find the pre-paid aspect of vacation quite nice because  we 
tend  to dine rather than simply eat ... when in doubt of our appetite 
we  simply  walk  to   the restaurants and check out menus, instead of 
driving  around  looking  for  a place that  looks O.K. to both of us, 
then  finally  deciding on Arby's or McDonalds because at least  those 
are  reliable names. And price is never an issue, no need to wonder if 
one  should   risk  the  $75 per plate charge at a restaurant that one 
knows  nothing  about.  Also, I find  that room service coffee in most 
hotels   is   outrageously   priced.   Being   a  coffee  addict,  I'm  
appreciative  of  inclusive  room  service, where all one has to do in 
order  to wake in the  morning is to place a call and in 10 minutes or 
so  a  piping  hot  carafe  of the hot stuff  arrives. An instant eye-
opener  included in the deal! My husband doesn't even have to  walk to 
the lobby to seek out the complementary pot of coffee for me.

One  of  the  features  of most all-inclusive resorts is that they are 
enclosed  ...  So,  if  one  does not take the effort to get off-site, 
they  may  not  experience the authentic feel of the  country they are 
visiting.  If  this  is  a  concern,  Grand Lido Braco is an excellent 
choice.   Modeled  after  a  Jamaican settlement and loosely emulating 
Falmouth,  an  ocean-side   city  to  the  west,  Grand  Lido Braco is 
designed  to give the feel of Jamaica within the  spacious resort. The 
village  set-up  is  so  convincing, we found ourselves saying, "let's  
walk  'downtown'  to  see  what  is going on." With street vendors, an 
authentic  Jamaican   restaurant,  a  typical Jamaican dance hall, the 
beautiful  water  fountain  in  the 'town  square,' Jamaican musicians 
and  even  a  fruit  lady  who  offers Caribbean fruits, the  downtown 
feels  Jamaican-ly  charming.  A  Jamaican entree is even available at 
most   every  restaurant  each day. Of course, the bars offer uniquely 
Jamaican beverages, as  well as Caribbean and 'standard' beverages.

My  Trip  Report  is  a  Facility  Report:  I  have decided to give an 
updated  version  of  the   resort  itself,  not a play by play of our 
daily  activities  ...  although  I  will  share  some  of the  unique 
amenities which we enjoyed.

So  You  Know  What  to  Expect,  From  the Plane to the Resort: After 
arriving  at  of  Sangster   International  Airport  in  Montego  Bay, 
immigrating  and clearing customs, we were  directed to the SuperClubs 
desk  in  the  arrivals  lobby.  We  were  pleasantly greeted and  our 
reservation  confirmed.  Baggage handlers watched our luggage while we 
waited   outside for 15 minutes for our minibus to depart. Comfortably 
traveling  east  along the  north coast of Jamaica, we rode an hour to 
arrive  at  Grand  Lido  Braco.  The road going  east is not nearly as 
pothole-infested  as  the  one  going  west,  toward Negril, and it is  
straighter,  too!  There  were two other couples in the minibus headed 
for Grand Lido  Braco. 

The  resort  is  nestled  on  the  ocean  in the Rio Bueno district in 
Trelawny  Parish,  just  West   of  the  Rio  Bueno,  where it is said 
Columbus found his first drink of fresh water in 1492. 

Grand  Lido's  front  gate  is just off of the major road between Ocho 
Rios  and  Montego   Bay.  After passing through the security gate, we 
rode  through  the  9-hole  golf course,  between the water reservoirs 
and  small  "lakes" that are a part of the property. On the  east side 
of  the  main  entrance  road is the soccer field, which has served as 
training   grounds  for  the  Jamaican national team, the Reggae Boyz. 
Our  minibus  stopped  in  front   of  the  Town Hall where a friendly 
bellman,  Mike,  helped  us  off  the  bus  and gathered our  bags. He 
walked  us  to  the  Town  Hall desk for registration and check-in. We 
were   greeted  with what we have come to call "the Lido Welcome Home" 
which  includes  the  traditional three forms (the credit card imprint 
form  for  incidental charges, the in-room  safe information card, and 
the  return flight confirmation form). We were offered a  beverage and 
a  cool  cloth  for wiping remnants of travel off our faces and hands. 
The   Town  Hall  is  home to the concierge, bellmen, and check-in/out 
and other administration  functions for the resort.

FYI,  a  Bit  about  the  Resort:  My  husband and I have enjoyed this 
property  ... this was our  third trip to Grand Lido Braco in a little 
over  a  year.  While  most observations are new, I  am sure that this 
report  will  reflect  some  of  the  information  gathered on the two 
previous    trips.   One   thing  is  for  sure,  we  enjoy  the  many 
personalities  of  Braco: lovely tropical  paradise, light-hearted and 
playful,  grand,  erotic, gala, and even secluded or peaceful ...  one 
can  just  pass  from  place  to  place  and  let  the ambiance of the 
surroundings and  one's desires guide the spirit.

The  resort  itself  opened  originally in May 1995 as "Braco Village" 
with  180  gardenview,   oceanview and beachfront rooms. Additionally, 
Grand  Lido  Braco  property includes the  buildings of a never-opened 
family  resort  (which  would  have been known as Braco- Pebbles). The 
family  resort  has  been  converted  to  an Au Natural section of the 
current   Grand Lido Braco. SuperClubs took over the management of the 
entire  property  on June  15, 1997, and its official grand opening as 
Grand  Lido Braco was on December 1, 1997.  The Au Natural section has 
52  rooms,  each  of  which  needed  renovation  from family- style to 
luxury  suite.  The resort rests on 86 acres and has over 2000 feet of 
beach.  The   architectural  style  is  18th  Century Jamaican, called 
Georgian and Gingerbread.

The  Suite:  We  were  escorted to our suite, room 3027, a lower level 
deluxe  suite  on  the   Au  Natural side of the resort. The suite was 
roomy  with  a  decor of pastel yellows and  purples and sandy-colored 
tile  throughout. We entered into a large 'living room' with a  lovely 
view  of  the  beach,  through  the glass French doors is a patio with 
wooden  beach   chairs  and  a table. Amenities within the living room 
include  a  fold-out  couch,  a  wet  bar  and refrigerator completely 
stocked  with  Pepsi,  Diet  Pepsi,  Ting,  7  Up,  and  Red Stripe, a  
coffee/tea  maker  with  all  the  makings,  a  kitchenette table with 
chairs,  a  decorative  corner   desk,  and  a  four-drawer television 
stand,  TV,  remote  control, lamps, and a telephone.  This portion of 
the  accommodations has a small closet with iron and ironing board and 
a  full bathroom. 

The  bedroom  portion  of the suite offers a large closet, a king-size 
bed  with  two   nightstands,  three  lamps,  a telephone, and a four-
drawer  dresser,  a  TV  stand,  and  television (CNN, ESPN, TNT, USA, 
TBS,  NBC,  CBS,  HBO,  Cinemax and Jamaican TV)  with remote. Another 
full bathroom is adjacent to the master bedroom. 

Both  bathrooms  are  plain,  but  immaculate and new with one sink, a 
large  vanity  and   mirror,  tile  floors  and walls, and a toilet, a 
shower/tub  unit  which  includes  in-shower   dispensers  of shampoo, 
shower  gel  and  lotion. There are plenty of towels, an on-wall  hair 
dryer, and soaps available in each bathroom. 

Both  rooms  are  extremely  spacious  and  very  clean with plenty of 
windows  adorned with  light concealing curtains. Other features worth 
mentioning  are  the tile floors, plenty of  lights, two independently 
controlled  air  conditioning units and two ceiling fans, one of  each 
in  the living room side and for the bedroom portion of the suite. The 
flowering   foliage  outside  of  each  window  is  lush  and  full of 
tropical  color  ...  a  colorful  Caribbean   view from every window. 
Overall, the room is cheerful, spacious and comfortable.

In-Room  Information: Upon arrival, each couple is given a copy of the 
daily  activity   sheet,  which includes a resort map, and the list of 
dining  options.  The  in-room  literature   is a folder that has room 
service  menus,  breakfast  "door  hanger" room service menus, a  fact 
sheet  describing  most  of the amenities offered at Grand Lido Braco, 
plus  the  complementary dry cleaning/laundry information and forms. A 
TV  channel  guide is  located by each TV remote control. Inter-resort 
phone  directory  and  outgoing call  directions are located on a card 
by each phone. 

When  additional  information or assistance was required, we found the 
operator and front  desk associates to be very helpful.

The  Center  of  Town,  Where  the Action is: As previously mentioned, 
Grand  Lido  Braco   mirrors a Jamaican seaside village. The center of 
'town'  is  a  beautifully landscaped  water fountain circle, with the 
architecturally  authentic  Jamaican  restaurants, bars and  shops all 
in  a  close  proximity  to  each  other.  Guests  and workers use the 
"streets"   around   the  fountain  and  throughout  the  downtown  as 
oversized  hallways, which are paved in a  pseudo cobblestone. Streets 
approach  the  fountain  from  four  directions … one from the  north, 
south, east and west.

Let's  take  a Tour: If we were to guide someone through the town that 
is  Grand  Lido   Braco,  we  would  start  with  LaPasta,  an Italian 
restaurant  at  the  west  side  of the circle.  LaPasta is an Italian 
open-air   restaurant  with  a  full  pasta  and  pizza  menu  and  an  
antipasto  bar  inside. While dining, the view of the fountain is warm 
and  friendly.  The   ambience  is  casual  and  guests are seated and 
served on a first-come, first-served basis.

Next  door, a bit north of due west, is the Bakery. All day long sweet 
treats,  small   sandwiches,  beverages and coffee are available here. 
If  one  chooses to enjoy their  sweet treat al fresco, they may do so 
on  the  open-air patio shared with LaPasta. Or, one  may grab a snack 
and go.

The  tour would continue in a clockwise fashion, headed further toward 
north,  a  staircase   leads up to the entrance of Piacere, Grand Lido 
Braco's French restaurant. 

If  one  were  to  take  the  'road'  north,  they  will almost always 
encounter  an  authentic   Jamaican  pastime right on the 'street': by 
day,   street   vendors  show  their  carvings,   bamboo  instruments, 
jewelry;  in  the  evening  there may be musical entertainment or guys  
playing dominoes (a favorite Jamaican game). 

Below  the  Piacere,  but  entering  through a door in the street that 
runs  due  north  of  the   fountain,  is  a  small collection of slot 
machines.   Just   to   the  right  of  the  casino  (north)  is   the 
Entertainment  Office.  The  Entertainment  manager  and her troupe of 
Activity   Directors  are based here. So, guests should either call or 
stop by this office with  questions or concerns.

Passing  further,  through  the  casino,  a door leads to an authentic 
Jamaican  dance  hall,  creatively named 'the Disco.' It is dimly lit, 
dark,  painted with Jamaican colors, the bar  has a thatched roof over 
the top of it, and the music is loud. 

Backing  up  to  the  street  and  further  north, one can either walk 
directly  into  the  main pool  (straight ahead), or turn left to find 
the  Victorian  Market.  Let's  go  left.  An open-air  walkway brings 
guest  to  the Victorian Market, the central dining room for breakfast 
and   lunch  buffets as well as fine a la carte dining in the evening. 
No  reservations  are  ever   required  to  eat  here,  and there is a 
smoking  and  a non-smoking seating section. For the  most part, seats 
are  configured  in  groups  of two or four, although there were a few  
tables  with  seating  for  eight. The staff seemed happy to help with 
special  group  seating  arrangements. The feel is that of a pavilion, 
with  high  wooden  vaulted ceilings, ceiling  fans, crashing waves in 
full  view  and  a  stage and dance floor in the center, the Victorian  
Market is a pretty place to dine. 

Passing  through  the  Victorian  Market,  walking  directly  west and 
taking  a few steps  outside, one approaches the entrance to MunaHana, 
the  resort's  new  Japanese  restaurant. MunaHana offers a variety of 
sushi and Japanese menu items. 

Just  beyond the MunaHana entrance is the open-air gym overlooking the 
ocean  shore.   Fully  equipped  with free weights, professional Cybex 
training   equipment,   steps,    treadmills,  bikes,  and  more,  the 
equipment  in this gym makes my health club's look like  toys. Ceiling 
fans,  a  grand  view of the Caribbean and piped-in tunes give the gym 
the   required  surroundings  for  sweat.  A  steam  and sauna room is 
available.  We had heard  that the gym might soon be enclosed and air-

Passing  through  the  gym,  guests find the Spa Office, which is also 
accessible  via  the   road  running  due west of the fountain at city 
center.  The  Spa  offers  a  host  of  services,   here is a summary: 
Swedish  massage,  aromatherapy  massage,  back  and neck  massage and 
reflexology--Seaweed,  essential  oil,  pure  aloe  and  paraffin body 
wraps--  Aroma  salt, seaweed, louffa and tropical body polishes--Many 
types  of  facials,  body   waxing,  manicures and pedicures, paraffin 
treatments  for  the  feet  and  hands--A  full   range  of  hair care 
services  is  offered,  including:  Trim, Styling, Cut, Shampoo & Set,  
Shampoo & Blow Style, Deep Conditioning, Hair Relaxing, and Braiding--
Packages  are   available,  too.  For  a  complete  menu of spa items, 
please          visit         our         web         site         at:

Back  to  the  Tour!   Backing  up  to  the main pool (just before the 
entrance  of Victoria  Market) again ... No other word but "Wow" comes 
to  mind.  Facing north, with the Victoria  Market to the left and the 
fountain  directly  behind,  one sees the immense main pool  facility. 
With  an  oversized,  covered  swim-up bar in the center, an oversized 
deck  with   plenty  of  seating,  a nearly full-size water volleyball 
court,  a  bridge from the beach-most  section of the Victoria Market, 
the  pool  rivals  any  seen  at water parks domestically.  Beyond the 
main  pool  lies  the  sandy  beach. In addition to seating, there are 
plenty  of   towels available poolside. This is the center of activity 
during  the  day  with music,  vendors, fun and games; it certainly is 
where the action is.

Now,  looking  to the right (east), one will see a cobblestone walkway 
that   runs   adjacent   to   the  pool  deck,  perpendicular  to  the 
north/south  road.  This  road  leads  first to the White  Gaulin, the 
main  bar, on the corner the walkway and the (north/south) 'road.' The 
White   Gaulin  is named for the white 'cow birds' seen throughout the 
countryside  of  Jamaica.  A  large bar inside services the inside and 
outside  tables, as well as the piano bar and  lounge (adjacent to the 
bar  on  the  side closest to the fountain in the center of town). The  
piano  keys  are usually being tickled around 11:00 each evening for a 
sing-along  ...  an   extremely  popular  place  to be at that time of 

Continuing  down  the  cobblestone walkway, just beyond the large main 
bar is a lounge,  featuring Karaoke on some nights.

During  the  day  the cobblestone walkway has Jamaican vendors selling 
woodcarvings,  Jamaican dolls, paintings and jewelry.

Finally,  just  before the walkway veers down to the sand beach around 
the  eastern  side  of the pool deck, and off to the guest suites, one 
finds  Nanny's Jerk Pit -- boasting some  of the best Jamaican cuisine 
on  the island. The restaurant is covered, but open air and  the decor 
is  authentically Jamaican, right down to the chalk board menu hanging 
on a  bamboo post. Nanny's is open from 11 AM to 6 PM. 

To  continue the tour, let's go back to the city center, the fountain. 
We've  already  gone   nearly half way around (clockwise), starting in 
the  west  with LaPasta ... around to the  northeast to the piano bar. 
Now,  directly  east  of  the  fountain  stands  the  Courthouse. This  
building  serves  as  special meeting and function space. The steps of 
the Courthouse  serve as the stage for the Friday night street dance.

A  road  leads  off  to  the  east on the south side of the Courthouse 
separating   it   from   the   Town  Hall.  That  road  leads  to  the 
"residential  part  of  town," the blocks of guest suites ...  More on 
that later.

Again,  the  Town  Hall, southeast of the fountain, is where all guest 
services  and   transactions  take place. The concierge and front desk 
manager,  along  with the bellmen,  handle requests and questions with 
ease.  Chelsea  Galleries,  a  Kingston-based  art  gallery has a very 
limited collection of artwork for sale here and at the Courthouse.

The  main  entrance  to  the village called Grand Lido Braco is on the 
Southernmost  end of  the 'street'. Here, there are bellman waiting to 
assist  guests,  and  there is a second  entrance to the Town Hall for 
arriving guests.

Leaving  the  Town  Hall  and  crossing  the 'street' that runs to the 
south  of  the  fountain, a  two-level string of shops offer duty-free 
shopping,  souvenirs  and  toiletries.  Here  is  what   you'll  find: 
toiletries  and health & beauty aides; souvenirs of all kinds, cigars, 
coffee,    Jamaican  cassettes  and  CDs,  duty  free  shopping,  logo 
embellished  items,  lots  of  "Bob   Marley"  “Irie” and “No Problem” 
gizmos;  emergency  clothing  and  swimsuits for the 'lost  suitcase'; 
lots of jewelry and fine collectibles in the duty-free shop. 

Before  finishing  the  walk  around  the  fountain  and  returning to 
LaPasta,  there  is  one   more street running to the west of the city 
center.  Taking  a  left down that road, to the  west, one will find a 
dive  shop  with  swimsuits and water/diving paraphernalia. Further to  
the  west  is  the  Nurse's  Station  and  medical center available to 
guests  at  no  charge.  The  resident nurse is very helpful. We had a 
friend  who  was having a bit of trouble with his  ear. The nurse came 
at  all  hours  to  administer  required  medications  for  him over a  
period  of  three days. The Nurse's Station is not excessively stocked 
with  medications,  so   if one has a medical condition or a recurring 
problem,  plan  for  it  and pack appropriate  pharmaceuticals. I have 
heard  that, when required, a doctor will be called to assist  guests, 
although there is a charge for this service.

Above  the Dive Shop and Nurse's Station, is the Spa Salon. Accessible 
by  an  outside   stairway,  it  is  at  the  Salon that complementary 
pedicures  and  manicures are performed,  although appointments are to 
be  made  at  the  Spa  Office.  Also available for a fee are  special 
paraffin  and  seaweed  treatments  for  the  hands and feet, and hair 
braiding  and   styling.  I  took  the  time to have the complementary 
pedicure  and  manicure.  The Spa  Salon is one of many areas that has 
dramatically  improved  over  the  course of the last  year. The staff 
here  is  very  friendly,  outgoing  and well trained. One should book 
their   complementary  appointments  a  few days ahead of time because 
many  men  and  women   opt to take advantage of these services so, at 
times,  the  schedule  books  up. My toes  and fingers never looked so 

If  one  continues  on the 'road' west, they will pass the Spa and Gym 
Offices,   to   the   right.    Further   down   is   the  Au  Natural 
beach/pool/sleeping unit complex. 

The  Au  Natural Section: Two large buildings housing the guest suites 
separate  the  pool   area, to the south, from the beach to the north. 
Said  to  be Jamaica's largest swimming  pool, this is a virtual water 
playground.  Its  unique  layout  features  a  covered swim-up bar,  a 
beach-sloped  entry,  stepped  entries,  a  bridge,  a covered 'island 
pavilion,'  and a vast  pool deck. There are two whirlpools, one seems 
to  be  enough  to  seat 30 – 40 people  comfortably, and the other is 
about  a  six-person  hot  tub  removed  from  the main pool  area and 
separated  by  plantings.  There  are  many,  many  chairs, tables and 
chaises   all   around  the  pool  and  there  are  more  than  enough 
floats/cushions  and  towels  to go  around. It seemed as though there 
was  water  volleyball  being  played  all  afternoon  long  here. The 
unique  pool  and  pool  deck  setup  offers  shade  as well as direct 
sunlight  while   in  the  water or sitting poolside. Around 1:30 each 
day  there  is  a  planned  activity  on  near   the pool. Information 
regarding  Au  Natural  and  general  daily  activities is posted on a  
chalkboard near the pool bar each morning. 

In  addition to the swim-up section of the Au Natural pool bar, guests 
may  enjoy   beverages and short order lunches at the covered pool bar 
pavilion.  This,  of course, is a  gathering point on this side of the 
resort. The bartenders and cooks are outgoing,  friendly and helpful -
- even entertaining.

The  sleeping  unit  complex  runs parallel to the beach and separates 
the  beach  from  the  pool area. On the ocean or north side there are 
spacious  private  balconies.  Open-air   hallways  connect  rooms for 
entry on the pool side (south) of the building. 

Many available chaises and chairs speckle the Au Natural beach. A man-
made   breakwater  of  boulders  keeps the surf breaking at a distance 
off  shore.  While  beautiful,  it  creates a natural barrier for safe 
swimming  and  floating.  The  crashing waves are a site  to behold. I 
found  it  difficult  to  walk on the beach, the sand is so soft one's 
feet dig in; So,  walking the beach made for a great workout.

Regarding   behavior  on  the  Au  Natural  side  of  the  resort:  No 
photography  is  allowed   here.  In  addition,  we  were told by many 
managers  that  inappropriate/explicit  behavior  is   not  tolerated. 
Guests  who  partake inappropriate/explicit behaviors will be asked to 
'take   it  to  their room.' If behavior happens again, guests will be 
driven  to  the  airport  or   relocated  to  a different resort -- no 
refunds.  To quote one top manager, "What happens  in the public areas 
of  the  resort  affects  other  guests  so  it  is  my business, what 
happens  in the guest suites is the guests' business."

Also  available  on  the Au Natural side of the resort is a lit tennis 

On  the  western most point of the Au Natural side is a pleasant, open 
Clubhouse  offering  the room service menu, a bar, ping pong, pool and 
open-air dining. 

The  Main Suites Room Block: Backing up to the downtown area again ... 
The  road   between  the  Town Hall and the Courthouse, as well as one 
continuing  east  from  Nanny's, paves the way to the Main Suites Room 
Block.  Here there are 180 units that  comprise the sleeping rooms for 
the  original  Braco  Village resort. Cleverly painted in  pale colors 
and  carrying  an  architectural  theme called Georgian & Gingerbread, 
these   twelve  to  twenty-four unit blocks are nearly as beautiful as 
the  lavish  foliage  that   surrounds  them. With their unpredictable 
architectural  elevations,  the  units  are situated  in two rows, one 
adjacent  to  the  length of beach, and the other row of units running  
parallel  tot  he  beach  but  on  the  south  side  of the oceanfront 
buildings.   Garden  view   rooms  have  a  spectacular  view  --  the 
gardener's  handiwork and Mother Nature's glory.  Beachfront and ocean 
view  rooms  have a superior view of the ocean, with beachfront  rooms 
being  accessible  to  the beach by a set of patio doors and a pair of 
sandals.   Available  on  this  side  of  the  resort  are  two tennis 
courses;  one  is  lit.   The Main Beach: The Main Beach lies directly 
north  of  the  Main  Pool  area  and is  spacious and clean. It spans 
(about)  a  quarter  mile  east  until  it  hits  the Clubhouse at the  
property  line.  Waves  crash  against  the manmade breakwater about a 
hundred  yards   from  the  sandy  shore. This breakwater creates more 
than  a  safe  place to swim, but also  a harbor for the safety of the 
watersports  equipment.  The  sand  is  coarse  and colored  pale rosy 
white.  Plenty  of  cozy  beach  chaises,  floating cushions and shade 
umbrellas   are  situated neatly on the clean sand. A volleyball court 
seemed  to  be  in use all the time  with random games going on, and a 
few  scheduled ones with activity directors leading  the teams in fun. 
A  Clubhouse,  with  full  bar  and  full  room service menu is on the 
eastern   most end of the property. Situated on the beach, east of any 
building  including  the   furthest  of the guest suite complexes, the 
Clubhouse  offers  a  hot  tub.  It is airy, tidy and  the service was 
great  --  a  nice  place  to  drink  in the Caribbean sunlight, and a 
beverage  of course.

Water  Sports:  Complementary  SCUBA  diving,  wind  surfing, sailing, 
snorkeling  and   water-skiing. Free lessons are provided for beginner 
SCUBA  diving. PADI Certification is  provided at additional cost. The 
water  sports  headquarters  is  a thatch-roofed pavilion on  the main 
beach. The watersports guys are friendly, laid back and helpful.

Activities:  If  guests  want  to be busy, they sure may ... A partial 
list  of  activities  follows:   Morning  Power  Walk, Tennis and Golf 
Lessons,   Aquacise,   Pool   Volleyball,   Scavenger    Hunt,   Beach 
Volleyball,  Pool  Tournament,  Reggae  Aerobics  and Abs Gym, Fortune  
Reading  -  US  $10  & US $20, Sing-a-long, Music Trivia, Reggae Dance 
Class,  Soccer,  Aerobics, Pianist entertains, Crab Racing - US $3 per 
bet,   Botanical   Tour,   Pool    Olympics,   Exotic  Fruit  Tasting, 
International  Trivia  Pool  Side, Jamaican Cooking,  Fishing, Karaoke 
Drink  Mixology,  Soca  Aerobics,  "Dare  T  Be  Bare"  Pajama  Party,  
Jamaican   History   Class,   Jamaican   Trivia   Quiz,  Table  Tennis 
Tournament,  Weight   Training,  Domino Tournament, Nature Hike Lobby, 
Craft  Class,  Pool  Tournament,  Chat   Jamaican  Class .... and more   
Dining  Options:  The  Victorian  Market. Dress for this restaurant is 
very  casual  by  day, as  many come in from the beach or pool deck to 
have  a light meal. Shorts and/or  appropriate cover-ups are required; 
shoes  and  tops  are  required  of  all.  The buffet lines  have cold 
tables  and  hot tables, keeping food at appropriate food temperatures 
for  safe   eating. The buffet lines are cheerfully colored in ceramic 

7:30  -  10:30  AM  Victoria Market Breakfast Buffet: No reservations. 
Hot  buffet  line  offers:  waffles, pancakes, French toast, scrambled 
eggs  or  eggs  Benedict,  omelets made to  order, sausages and bacon, 
breakfast  potatoes,  and Jamaican breakfast foods. The  bread display 
includes:  sweet  breads,  breakfast  rolls,  muffins,  and toast-able 
breads  and   bagels.  Also available: fresh fruits, yogurt, breakfast 
cereals  and  milk,  hot breakfast  cereal. Coffee, tea, and juice are 
served  at  the  table.  Appropriate  condiments  are   available  for 

12:30  - 3:00 PM Victoria Market Lunch Buffet: No reservations. Buffet 
menu  is  different   every  day, but always includes an extensive hot 
food  line  (Chinese,  Jamaican,  German,   Mexican,  etc.) The buffet 
includes:  many types of salads: green, pasta, seafood and  vegetable; 
sandwich   ingredients   like  cold  cuts,  cheeses,  vegetables  with 
condiments;   fruit  and  vegetable  display; soup du jour; a Jamaican 
food  item or two; a huge bread  display; and the most awesome dessert 
display  ever. Coffee, tea, wine, juices and full  bar service offered 
at  the  table.  Appropriate  condiments  are available for everything  

Musical  Note:  Two  out  of  three  trips, we got lucky! An extremely 
gifted  traveling  quintet  of Cuban string players performed each day 
at  lunch  every  day  and  Saturday  at dinner.  The ensemble, called 
"Fantasia,"  consists  of  three violins, a cello and a bass, with one 
of   the violinists trading in his strings for a clarinet occasionally 
-- breathtaking  performances.

Evening  dining,  a  la carte in the Victorian Market: In the evening, 
Victorian  Market  is  a   little  dressier, perhaps considered sporty 
casual.  Men  seemed  to  wear  dressy  shorts  or   casual  pants and 
collared  shirts.  Women were wearing casual dresses, skirts or dressy  
shorts  with  dress  tops  or  casual blouses. The food is beautifully 
presented  and there is a  great variety of appetizers, soups, salads, 
entrees  and desserts. For a complete menu  listing, readers may visit 
our             travel             web             site            at:

Piacere:  Dinner  seating  is from 6:30 - 9:30 nightly, except Friday. 
Reservations  are   required,  reserve  with  the  concierge. Required 
attire  is  a  semi-formal jacket, long pants  and leather non-sneaker 
shoes  for men … dresses are appropriate for the ladies. The  décor is 
an  elegant, dim Caribbean floral. Separate waiters carry out separate 
service   functions:  water,  wine,  cocktail,  and food. White-gloved 
service  is  elegant  and   impeccable.  We  heard  nothing but raving 
reviews  by  the  guests  we  spoke to about the  food quality and the 
level  of  service  provided in the French restaurant. Menu includes a  
selection  of  appetizers,  soups,  salads,  sorbet  palate  cleanser, 
entrée  and  dessert.  There   is  no  smoking allowed in the Piacere, 
although  guests  may  have  a  between-course   smoke  on the terrace 
overlooking  the  city  center. The diverse menu includes, appetizers,  
soups,  salads,  homemade  sorbet or granite, entree, and last but not 
least  dessert.  For  a   complete menu listing, readers may visit our 
travel                  web                  site                  at:

MunaHana:  The  Japanese  cuisine  restaurant  is open nightly, except 
Friday   and    Wednesday.   As  far  as  attire,  upscale  casual  is 
appropriate,  meaning neither ties nor  jackets are required. Required 
reservations  may  be  made  with  the  concierge.  Dining  guests are 
entertained  as  they  watch  their table's chef preparing and cooking 
selected   menu  items  at  the  table. Portions are small, quality is 
excellent.   The  menu  includes  an   assortment of nigiri and rolled 
sushi,  salad,  soup,  and  an  entree  followed  by  dessert.  For  a 
complete  menu  listing,  readers  may  visit  our travel web site at:

Nanny's  Jerk Pit offers authentic Jamaican cuisine from 11 AM to 6 PM 
daily:  No   reservations.  Authentic  Jamaican  atmosphere. Attire is 
very  casual  (cover  ups and  shoes required). I walked by during the 
day  at  several  different  times  and it seemed as  though this was, 
with  exception  of  the clubhouses, the most casual dining atmosphere  
among  the  resort restaurants. The jerk is great! The jerk burger may 
require  a  fire   extinguisher!   A  typical  day at Nanny's features 
pumpkin  soup; many specials like stew  beef with rice, jerk chicken & 
pork,  jerk  burger,  cocoabread,  vegetable  loaf; and grilled  beef, 
chicken  and  vegetable.  Also  regularly  on  the menu are roast yam, 
breadfruit,  sweet  potatoes. For a complete menu listing, readers may 
visit          our         travel         web         site         at:

LaPasta,  noon  until  2:00 AM: No reservations. During the day casual 
attire  is  the norm  with a switch to dressy casual in the evening. A 
wide  selection  of  antipasti  and  salads  is   displayed inside the 
restaurant.  Diners  receive  freshly  roasted  garlic bread and their  
choice  of  soup,  pasta, and pizza. Dessert is offered at the Bakery, 
next  door,  and diners  may personally select the most appealing from 
among  a  display  of goodies in the  showcase. Ice cream, coffee, tea 
and  espresso is also available. For a complete menu  listing, readers 
may        visit       our       travel       web       site       at:

Room  service:  We  found  room  service  to  be consistent and quick, 
taking  only  10   minutes  for  a pot of coffee and a half hour for a 
meal.   Room  Service  Continental  "Door   Hanger" selections include 
basket  of  oven-fresh  croissants to full breakfasts and plenty  of a 
la  carte  items  from  which  guests may select.  Clubhouses and main 
room  service   menu  includes things like snacks: BBQ buffalo chicken 
wings;  nacho  chips; stuffed  potato skins. Also on the menu are soup 
of  the  day,  salads,  several hot and cold  sandwiches, entrees like 
Grand  Lido-famous  lamb  chops,  and quite a few lovely looking  (and 
tasting)  desserts. For a complete menu listing, readers may visit our 
travel                  web                  site                  at:

Friday  Night  Jamaica  Street  Dance  Dinner  (7 PM) / Jamaica Street 
Dance  (9  PM):  This   is the biggest event of the week at Grand Lido 
Braco.   Cross  your  fingers  to keep the  rain away, and be prepared 
for  an  all-out  party.  The street is decked out with bistro  tables 
covered  in  linen.   Trees  are  lit.  Food is served from everywhere 
around  the   fountain  in  the  city center.  After one has dined and 
dined  and  dessert-ed,  the  partying  of   a  Jamaican  street dance 
begins.  Try not to miss this event because it is beautiful,  charming 
and a great time, too!

Wednesday  Night Beach Party (7 PM): This is another excellent evening 
event  and   offers  the  most  outstanding  entertainment of the week 
right  on  the main beach.  An  island buffet is set up along the rosy 
sand,  tables  seem  to outnumber shells on the  beach, and then there 
is  the  show  ...  contortionists, fire eater, singers, folk dancers, 
and  more.  The ceiling of stars is one you'll never see at home.

Bars:  There  are  eight  bars  to choose from ... Two clubhouses; the 
main  "White  Gaulin"   bar;  two  pool  bars; the Disco bar; Victoria 
Market;  and MunaHana. Each bar serves top- shelf alcohol, however the 
guest  must  specify top-shelf brand names, or call brand liquor  will 
be  served.  Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Ting, 7 Up and Diet 7 Up are available 
in  the bars, too.  Although Red Stripe is the authentic Jamaican beer 
that  is normally served at the resort,  domestic beer is available at 
times -- we saw Miller Lite.

Golf:  Grand  Lido Braco offers a nine-hole executive golf course, par 
three.  Green  fees   are complimentary, but there is a rental fee for 
clubs.  To  golf,  simply walk out to the  clubhouse. Also, Grand Lido 
Braco   provides  complimentary  transportation  and  green   fees  at 
Breezes  Runaway  Golf  &  Beach  Hotel. It is an eighteen-hole world-
class  course   about  twenty minutes east of Grand Lido Braco. Guests 
pay  for  caddy  and  equipment  rental. Reservations are made through 
the concierge’s desk.

Fishing:  Grand  Lido Braco has two ponds on property for fishing, one 
named  ”Fun   Fishing,”  and  the  other  “Fishing at Sea.” Sticks and 
baits  are  available  by  contacting  the  entertainment office. Fish 
that  are  caught  will  be  prepared  for guests at Nanny’s Jerk Pit,  
unless  fishers wish to practice catch-and-release or give the fish to 
a favorite employee.

Cynthia,  the  Fruit  Lady:  Singin'  and  sharing fruit, that is this 
woman's  job  description.  A  kind Jamaican woman menders the grounds 
in  her  peasant  costume  (and  20th Century  Nikes) with a basket of 
fruit  for  the  sampling.  I enjoyed Jamaican Jackfruit for the first  
time  ever,  what a great, unique flavor. I also I indulged in lots of 
fresh  coconut.  She  sings   folk  music in a smooth, robust voice at 
your request.

The  Strolling  Trio:  Three elderly gentlemen, calling themselves the 
"Golden  Airs  Mento   Band," stroll and play Jamaican folk tunes on a 
guitar,  a  banjo and a very unique  instrument that provides the bass 
for  the  ensemble. We enjoyed renditions of "Yellow  Bird" "Shame and 
Scandal"  "Big  Bamboo"  as well as others. Their costumes are bright,  
their   music   has   a   great   beat,  and  their  dispositions  are 
heartwarming. They have a tape  for sale for $US 10.00, fun keepsake.

Weddings:  There  are  a  couple  of  weddings  each day at Grand Lido 
Braco.  Most  couples   are married either among the gardens or in the 
wedding  gazebo  that  is gracefully  positioned on a rocky walkway to 
the  beach  breakwater.  Grand  Lido  Braco,  as with all  SuperClubs, 
offers  complementary  wedding  arrangements. The weddings include the  
presiding  minister,  flowers  for  the  bride  and  groom, a cake and 
champagne.  Photos  are   available  at  an  extra charge. For further 
information,  because  my  information  is truly  limited, contact the 
Wedding Coordinator at the resort.

My random thoughts about the resort: 

Wines:  If  one  is a connoisseur of fine wines, don't be disappointed 
when  $US  80  or  $US  100 bottles are not being served (do the math; 
the  economics  just  is  not  there).  The  wines that are served are 
acceptable,  not  raving.  So,  if that aspect of vacation is critical  
to  your  happiness,  pack  a  bottle  of  the  stuff in your luggage. 
Otherwise,  try  a  few   different wines until you find one you like, 
and  then  remember  the name of your favorite.  I could always find a 
wine  that  was  more  than suitable and had no complaints.  Remember, 
top shelf cognacs are available, too. 

Healthy  Menu  Items:  Grand Lido Braco has gone through the rigors of 
noting  healthier   food  choices on its menus, items lower in fat and 
calories.  There are usually a few menu  items from which to select. I 
was  happy  to  choose  from  those items, occasionally, so I  did not 
feel  quite  as  guilty  about  having  dessert with every single meal 
while on  vacations.

Spa:  The  spa  is  simply  an  excellent  addition  the list of guest 
services.  I  am  happy  to pay  a little additional money to assure a 
superior  treatment.  If  a  massage  is what is needed  to relax your 
body,  indulge!  I  enjoyed  the  indulgence  package  and  my husband 
enjoyed   four  1  1/2  hour-long massages.  The women who work in the 
spa  are  very  professional   and respect your modesty. I recommend a 
treatment or two.

Restaurants:  Honestly,  the  day  we  departed I couldn't eat another 
bite  of  anything  if  I   tried.  The  food  quality  is  great. The 
selection  is  excellent.  I  enjoyed  the  meals at Grand  Lido Braco 

Foliage:  The  grounds  are  beautifully  kept.  Lavish  greenery  and 
perfumed  bursts of floral  brights dazzle the senses. The view of the 
ocean  from  one's  room  has  stiff competition in  the beauty of the 
manicured  island  vegetation.  Can't congratulate the grounds keeping  
staff  enough  ...  what  an  amazing  difference a year makes when it 
comes  to  growth  of   tropical  plantings.  From  May of 98 when the 
greenery,  especially  on  the west side of the  resort, was short and 
sparse,  to  now,  as  the  vegetation  has  flourished  and is hardy,  
lavish  and  dense. Beautiful! I watched grounds workers raking leaves 
out  of the  shrubbery surrounding the building we stayed in, each and 
every  day. In addition, the  grounds are kept clean. One can tell the 
workers  are  proud  of  their  resort  because there  is virtually no 
litter   anywhere,   not  even  brown  leaves  lying  on  the  ground. 
Salute!     Wonderful Weather: We were really fortunate with regard to 
weather.  Every  day the sun  shone brightly all morning. In the early 
afternoon  random  clouds  would  roll  in,   progressively thickening 
throughout  the  afternoon.  One two occasions we had showers  late in 
the afternoon, and then a quick switch to clear skies for evening. 

Floating  Fun:  My  favorite  aspect of this most recent trip to Grand 
Lido  Braco  was  simply   floating  on  a chaise cushion ... the pool 
water  temperature was perfect for spending hour  after hour floating, 
chatting and sipping blended fruit punch. Heaven on Earth!

Housekeeping:  Or  experience  is  that  maid  service and turndown is 
timely,  complete,  and   the  gals  seem  pleasant.  We  had hibiscus 
scattered  throughout  the room and beautiful  towel sculptures on our 
beds after turndown service.

Pack  Lightly:  I am finally getting smart and packing more lightly, I 
have  learned  to  use  laundry and dry cleaning services we have paid 
for with our room.

Seating  and  Towels:  There seemed to be an abundance of beach towels 
and  beach  chairs/chaises everywhere. No need to get up early to mark 
a chair with a towel or book  at this resort.

Return  Flight  Confirmation:  The  day before guests are scheduled to 
depart,  the resort  confirms the flight numbers you wrote down on the 
day  you  arrived  and  a  front  office  person slips a return flight 
confirmation  under  your  door.  This  note lets guests know  when to 
have  bags packed and outside of the suite door for bellmen to pick up 
(usually   three  hours  prior  to  flight  departure  time). Plus, it 
informs  guests  of the time their  taxi/minibus is scheduled to leave 
the  resort  (usually  two  hours  prior  to  flight departure  time). 
Reality  hits,  you  must return to work to earn the cash pay for your 
next trip ...  Bummer!

Don't  Forget  to  Relax:  While  the  pace  of  the island's music is 
upbeat,  the  pace  of  its   people  is  sometimes  slow.  One of the 
beautiful  aspects  of  the  island is its pace, however  any strength 
carried  to  an  extreme becomes a weakness. Jamaicans, at times, push 
that   limit.  However,  by  deciding  to enjoy the slower pace of the 
island,  and  by  making   'slowing  down'  an  integral  part  of the 
vacation  psyche,  the speed of anything should not  phase you. Relax, 
slow down, and enjoy.

One  Final  Note:  What  great  strides this resort has made in just a 
year's  time! Last year, I  had a few issues with the level of service 
provided,  and  I felt there was work that needed  to be done to bring 
Grand  Lido  Braco  up  to,  what I call, "Lido Standards." Now, Grand  
Lido  Braco  has  raised  the bar for all-inclusive resort service and 
amenities,  in  addition  to  offering far superior accommodations and 
activity  options.  I can't wait to get back there;  our ten days just 
flew by. Maybe we'll go for two weeks next time!


Trip 5/99

We  left  Atlanta  on May 27 at 9:00 a.m. It was an Air Jamaica direct 
flight.  The  trip  through immigration and customs was pure and total 
hell. It took us an hour and a half.

Our  trip  to  Couples  Negril  started with the bus ride. Air Jamaica 
tours  directed  us to the Couples tour desk which was actually a tour 
bus  desk  operated  by  a third party. Once on the bus we experienced 
what  we  had read about. The ride from hell. To say the roads are bad 
to  Negril  is  an  understatement. They are actually dirt for several 
miles  as  you  dodge the construction of new roads in during sections 
of  the drive. The bus was new and sat about twenty, it was about half 
full  of Couples going to Couples Negril and Swept Away. With the stop 
half  way  to  Negril  for drinks and a restroom at a little road side 
bar,  it took us one hour and fifty minutes. We arrived at Montego Bay 
at 10:40 a.m. and walked into the hotel lobby at 3:00 p.m.

The  hotel  lobby  was very nice. It is open air and very bright. They 
gave  us a glass of bubbly when we arrived. We waited in the piano bar 
for  a  few  minutes with another couple that was on the bus while our 
immigration  papers  were  taken by the hotel, then we were off to our 

The  room  had a king size bed, nice bright yellow and red designs and 
the  gardens  were  something  off  a post card. After changing to our 
suits we went to the pool grill to eat lunch, then to the beach.

There   are   three   restaurants.   The   fancy  restaurant  requires 
reservations  a  day  in  advance.  The  tables  for two go quickly so 
register  early  (9:00  a.m. just off the lobby). The breakfast bar is 
OK  at  the  main  restaurant  just  off the pool, this doubles as the 
nightly  entertainment  area.  The  pool grill serves hamburgers etc., 
and  then  is a pasta type restaurant at night. The food was OK, but a 
couple  of  nights it simply stunk. We were probably most disappointed 
by the food.

The  beach  was  very  nice,  the pool was great, and the bars and bar 
tenders  were  very good. The watersports guys were very good. Be sure 
to  Hobie Cat. I had never done it and had a good time. I thought they 
were  very  good  instructors. There is a nude beach that is used very 
little next to the water sports area.

The  excursions  include  the  Catamaran  Cruise,  Bus  to Ricks Cafe, 
Snorkling  Trip,  and  Glass  Bottom Boat Ride (which is the same boat 
they  take  you snorkling on). Diving (both beginning and advanced for 
Class  C  licensed  divers)  is  also  available as well as a shopping 
trip,  but  we did not do those. The Catamaran Cruise fills up fast so 
register  just  a  soon  as  you get to the hotel. The excursions were 
good, especially the catamaran cruise.

Nightlife  is  pretty dead. The best night was the talent show. We had 
a  lot  of  talented  people as guests. The main entertainment ends at 
11:00 p.m., and then moves up to the Piano Bar.

The  mix  was  half newlyweds on their honeymoons, one quarter persons 
dating   and   on  vacations,  and  one  quarter  married  couples  on 
anniversary trips or on vacation.

On  the  way back we got a private charter through the front desk. The 
airstrip  is  across  the  street.  We were picked up at 7:10 a.m. and 
were  air  borne  ten minutes later. The cost was $45 per person. Next 
time we will take the charter instead of enduring the bus ride.

Overall  I  must  say we were pleased with Couples Negril. We got what 
we thought we were going to get.

The  beaches  and  snorkeling  were not as nice as St. Thomas, nor was 
the food.

Our  trip  to Couples Negril was enjoyable. We had a good time, but we 
probably  will  not  go  back.  Not because of Couples, but because of 
Jamaica.  They  market  it big. But they don't deliver. Your first and 
last  impression  of  Jamaica  is customs and immigration. By the time 
you  go  through  that process and transfer to Negril, you have burned 
the  good  part  of your first and last day. The area was poor and the 
people  were  pushy.  Having  been  to other Caribbean destinations, I 
won't go back to Jamaica. 


Trip 5/99

My  wife  and  I just returned from a week-long stay at Sandals-Negril 
(May  23-30).  It was our first visit to Jamaica, our first experience 
at a Sandals Resort and our first "all-inclusive" experience. 

First,  I  should  mention that we put ourselves in our travel agent's 
hands.  We  went  to him and said we were looking for a nice, romantic 
and  laid-back  place  to  celebrate  our 20th wedding anniversary. He 
immediately  said  "Sandals  Negril."  Based  on his recommendation we 
booked  a  Grande  Luxe  Beachfront room (roughly in the middle of the 
Sandals  price  range)  for  the  week  of  May 23-30. We also started 
gleaning  the  internet  and bookstores for information about Jamaica, 
Negril  and  Sandals.  The  following  are  some of our observations:- 
Getting  there:  From  St.  Louis  we were booked on a Sun Country 727 
charter  direct  to  Montego Bay arriving shortly after 10 am Jamaican 
time.  Based  on  what  friends and people on the internet told us, we 
decided  to avoid the bus to Negril in favor of an Air Jamaica Express 
connection  (12  minutes  in the air vs. nearly two hours of harrowing 
Jamaican  highways).  The  price  for  the  AJE connection ranges from 
around  $44  to  $60 per person one way, but on a warm, humid Jamaican 
afternoon  it  seemed  well  worth  it  (note:  if you're scheduled to 
return  to  Mo  Bay  early  in  the morning after your stay in Negril, 
friends  tell  us  the  bus  trip  isn't  nearly  as bad in the cooler 
morning  hours).  Our  flight  to  Negril  took  us  directly over the 
Sandals  property  (the airstrip is only a few hundred yards away). We 
touched  down shortly after 11 am and took a taxi from the airstrip to 
Sandals  for  $6  US,  but  discovered when we checked in that Sandals 
would  have  picked  us  up  for  free.- First Impressions: Sandals is 
located  directly  on  Norman  Manley  Boulevard,  so  don't  expect a 
picturesque  drive  up  to  a resort that sits well back from the main 
drag.  Although  nicely manicured, the property looked a bit weathered 
compared   to  the  wonderfully-polished  appearance  in  the  Sandals 
brochures  (but  then,  you've  got to expect that the pictures in the 
brochures  have been touched up a bit). We were met at the entryway by 
one  of the "Playmakers" who served us champagne and walked us through 
the  registration  process.  After  a  few  minutes,  another employee 
escorted  us  to  room  5316 on the third floor of the Paradise Block, 
just  south  of  the  main  complex  and overlooking the beach. We had 
hoped  for  an upgrade, but learned later the resort was virtually 100 
percent  occupied,  making  any upgrades next to impossible. The beach 
itself  is long and somewhat narrow compared to the beaches at some of 
the  other  well-known  resorts  there  (i.e.,  Beaches,  Swept  Away, 
Hedonism  II, Grand Lido, etc.). Our room was fairly centrally located 
with  facilities  such  as  the spa, gym, water sports hut, piano bar, 
Sundowner  Restaurant and Kimono's Restaurant to the south and Coconut 
Cove  Restaurant, Four C's Restaurant, main pool/whirlpool, gift shop, 
grill  and  dive  shop to the north. The room itself was adequate, but 
not  spectacular. It was air conditioned, had a ceiling fan, TV, desk, 
king-size  bed,  safe, adequate drawer space, small sitting area and a 
balcony  with  a  table and two chairs. - The "Neighborhood": Once our 
bags  were  delivered,  we put our swimsuits on and decided to explore 
the  beach.  Sandals  is located near the north end of Negril's seven-
mile  beach.  Among  some of the major points of interest to the south 
are   Beaches  Resort  (a  more  family-oriented  resort  operated  by 
Sandals)  and  Swept Away Resort as well as points of interest such as 
Rick’s  American Café and the Pickled Parrot. Immediately to the north 
of  Sandals  is  Hedonism  II  (but  that’s  another  story  in and of 
itself!).  One thing we encountered almost immediately after we walked 
off  the  Sandals  property  along  the  beach to the south was locals 
offering  us  drugs (marijuana). Most of the time, a polite, but firm, 
"no"  was  enough to keep them from bothering us. Sandals has security 
personnel  on  both  ends  of  the property to keep the unsavory folks 

-  Orientation: It’s not a bad idea for anyone visiting the resort for 
the  first  time to take an orientation tour shortly after you arrive. 
It  not  only  can  help give you the "lay of the land" (or "beach" if 
you  will),  but  it also gives you a chance to meet some of the folks 
you’ll  be seeing throughout the week. (I don’t know if any of our new 
friends  will  happen  to  read this, but if they do, we’d like to say 
hello  to  Bobby,  Chris,  James,  Karen Ann, Mike, Sharon, Andy, Tom, 
Laura,  Steve,  Susan, Ron, Marcie, Scott, Jillian, Anna, Will, and on 
and on and on). 

-  Activities: There’s lots to do during the day, but the nightlife is 
a  bit  lacking  (we  think the staff tries to wear you out during the 
day  so everyone hits the hay early). For instance, you can sun, swim, 
float,  snorkel,  scuba  (regardless  of  whether  you’re  certified), 
canoe,  surf,  ski,  ride a banana, ride a water bike/trike, play pool 
games,  soak  in  a  whirlpool,  go  to  the gym, participate in water 
aerobics,  play  tennis,  squash or volleyball, learn to dance "island 
style,"  take  the  Jolly  Mermaid  to the Pickled Parrot, enroll in a 
"mixology"  class  (which is a fancy name for a drinking game) or just 
sleep  late and vegetate. Sandals has a nice spa, but it comes with an 
extra  charge.  You can also parasail or ride a jet ski, but those are 
provided  by  off-resort vendors at an additional charge (parasailing, 
for  instance,  runs  about  $50  for  a 10-15 minute ride). Nighttime 
activities  are supposed to include things like a Roman theme party, a 
60’s  party  and  a  pirate/wench  theme  night, but none of theme are 
promoted  very  well  and  sometimes  don’t happen at all (I must say, 
though,  that  the pirate/wench event did take place and my wife and I 
won  the  costume  competition). You can earn points for participating 
in  various  events.  The  points are exchanged for Sandals necklaces, 
keychains  and  t-shirts.  We also had "beach games" one evening and I 
discovered I’m not as young as I used to be.

-  Speaking  of  Age:  Of  the more than 200 couples at the resort, it 
seemed  as  if  most  of  them  were  in  their  mid-20s  and on their 
honeymoon.  Many  of them were married there at Sandals (there were at 
least  three or four weddings a day). We’re in our early 40s and there 
were probably only two or three dozen couples our age or older.

-  Weather:  Temperature-wise  it was very comfortable during the week 
with  the mercury ranging between the mid 70s and mid 80s. At night it 
probably  dipped  to  the low 70s. We had great weather every morning, 
but  by  each  afternoon  the clouds would begin building up and on at 
least  a  couple  of  days  we had some significant afternoon rain (in 
fact,  I’d  call  one  afternoon  storm  the  next  closest thing to a 
tropical  monsoon). By most evenings, though, the rain subsided and we 
enjoyed  several spectacular sunsets, both from at the resort and from 
other  locations  in  and  around  Negril  such as Rick’s, the Pickled 
Parrot and Beaches Resort.

-  The  Staff:  Without  exception,  the  staff  at  Sandals  was very 
accommodating  and  friendly.  If  you  go,  be  sure  to say hello to 
several  folks in the water sports area and dive shop including Boxer, 
Tiny,  Prince  and Rat. The dive shop staff will probably also be glad 
to  explain  the  rules of cricket to you, if you’re interested. Also, 
when  they  say "no tipping allowed" they mean it…at least officially. 
We  have  heard  that employees will accept a gratuity if they’re sure 
they  won’t be caught. They work long hours and aren’t paid well by US 
standards,  but  apparently  they’re very well compensated by Jamaican 

- Miscellaneous Notes: 

     a.. Spend an afternoon at Beaches, a nearby, family-friendly all-
inclusive  down  the  beach  which is also owned by Sandals. There’s a 
free  shuttle  that  runs  hourly between the two resorts and you have 
full exchange priveleges there. 

     a..  Don’t  overpack, but be sure to take sunscreen (at least SPF 
15)  and bug spray. If you go to Seville’s at Beaches (which we highly 
recommend)  you’ll  need  nice pants and a collared shirt for the guys 
(no  jeans)  and  a  dress  or  at  least  tailored  shorts  for gals. 
Otherwise,  you  can  spend the whole week in swimsuits, shorts and t-

     a.. We tried all the restaurants at Sandals with the exception of 
the  Four  C’s  on the beach which is stir fry. Kimono’s (the Japanese 
restaurant)  is  a  lot  of fun. When going there make sure you know a 
lot  of "sing-along" songs. Although the beach grill is supposed to be 
open  most of the day and night, it seemed as if it was closed most of 
the time.

     a..  If  you’re  so  inclined, you can buy a day or night pass to 
Hedonism  II  next  door.  The  most  popular nights appeared to be PJ 
night  on Tuesdays, Toga night (no sheet, no eat) on Thursdays and the 
beach  party on Friday nights. They also have a "nude cruise" which is 
pretty  eye-opening  (my  wife  and  I  were  on the Hobie Cat when it 
sailed  past  us.  If you’d rather just have a "little taste" of Hedo, 
you  can simply walk the beach. At least once a week there’s a Sandals 
vs.  Hedonism  volleyball  match  (shirts vs. skins?) which can become 
pretty competitive.

Of  course,  there are plenty of things we didn’t get around to doing. 
For  instance,  there  are  day  trips  to  various attractions in and 
around  Negril  as  well as shopping excursions in the area. The party 
boat  cruise  aboard  the Jolly Mermaid is fun (it goes to the Pickled 
Parrot  and  includes  a snorkeling stop and all the rum punch and Red 
Stripe  you  care  to  consume).  There’s a staff/guest talent show on 
Friday  nights  and  an  excellent singer named Gem Myers on Saturdays 
(at least that’s who sings there on Saturdays now).

That’s  my  rather  long-winded report. There’s a good chance we’ll go 
back  to  Sandals-Negril  someday  (or  at  least  to  another Sandals 
property such as Beaches with the kids).

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