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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PUERTO RICO BY JASON TANEY

I  didn't  go  out of my way to do a lot of research about hotels etc. 
before  I went to Puerto Rico. The idea was a short trip with a couple 
of  days  in  the  city and a couple of days in the countryside. I did 
realize  that  we didn't have alot of time, so we couldn't get to far. 
I  read  a  couple  of travel guides, picked a few places that sounded 
nice,  and  called to make reservations. This was in October, which is 
the  low  season,  and  although  I only made reservations a few weeks 
prior  to leaving, some places were already booked and some weren't so 
that's how we decided where to go and what to do. 

We  arrived  at 1:00 in the afternoon on a Thursday and took a taxi to 
our  hotel  in  Old  San  Juan. I'm not a huge beach fan and I was not 
looking  for a resort vacation so I chose "La Galleria" or The Gallery 
Inn.  The  hotel  is gorgeous. It sits on a hill near the old fort and 
has  spectacular  views  of the ocean and fort from the roof deck. The 
hotel  itself  is  two conjoined mansions which contain only ten guest 
rooms  but  have  many  public  rooms available for guests. There is a 
music  room with a grand piano and harp, a doll house room filled with 
antiques  and  a  wine  cellar  with  a  wooden  table  and chairs and 
gargoyle  statues,  to  name  just  a  few.  There  are  also  several 
courtyards  filled  with  flowers, parrots, sculptures and palm trees. 
The  owner  is  an  artist  and  his studio is on site. There are many 
young  apprentices  around  at  all  times  working  on  sculpture and 
painting  as  well  as general upkeep of the property, and everyone is 
just beautiful and friendly. 

We  were  greeted  warmly  and  very  casually  upon  arrival  by  the 
receptionist.  We were told that our room was not yet ready and did we 
mind  and would we care for something to drink. We were also told that 
we  were being upgraded to a nicer room. She didn't say why nor did we 
ask,  but we were more than happy to just relax in the courtyard until 
it  was  ready.  We were then told that in a moment, she would show us 
around  the  property. The young woman showed us several of the public 
rooms  (  all  of  which  were amazing ) and then told that there were 
many  more  rooms  for  us  to  discover  at our leisure. If a door is 
unlocked,  we  were  told,  you can go in. We did spend time searching 
throughout  the  hotel  as we were told that they like to operate on a 
trust  system. The bar is self serve, you can pour yourself a cocktail 
or  have  a  beer  then just fill out a slip and they would charge you 
for  it  later.  I  never felt at any time that I was being watched to 
make  sure  I  filled  out  a  slip,  they  were all very casual about 
everything  which  was  a  little  odd for me coming from New York and 
considering  the beauty and opulence of the property. I was so relaxed 
after  being  there  for  20  minutes  because of the surroundings and 
general vibe of the place. 

After  a  short wait, we were lead to our room, The Jonathon, which is 
located  at the top of a private spiral staircase. We had requested an 
double  room  for $100.00 u.s. a night but we given a suite. There was 
a  double  bed  in  one room with wooden shutters that looked into the 
main  courtyard,  and  another  room  which had a comfortable sofa and 
chair  with  lamps and tables. Happily, there was no television in our 
room,  or  for  that  matter anywhere in the hotel. Beyond the sitting 
area  in  our  room,  there were large wooden doors that opened onto a 
huge  private  patio. Half or the patio was covered by an awning which 
had  a hammock and a table and chairs, the other part was open and had 
chaise  lounges.  Rather than an ocean view, our patio looked out into 
the  streets of Old San Juan which is charming and quiet. The bathroom 
was  simple  and  clean  but  there is only hot water at certain times 
during the day and not at all in the night. 

We  spent  that day just strolling aimlessly around Old San Juan which 
has  plenty  to  see. The architecture is beautiful, there are several 
plazas,  and many boutiques and art galleries plus McDonalds and other 
such   annoying   chains  which  unfortunately  break  up  the  scenic 
continuity. None the less, it was all very beautiful. 

We  happened  upon  a little bar/restaurant called Marias which turned 
out  to  be  a  blast. We ended up hanging out there for quite a while 
because  all  of  the  staff  and  customers were so friendly we found 
ourselves  involved  in  conversations  which  we  could not tear away 
from.  Everyone spoke English which was good because neither my friend 
nor  I speak Spanish. On that particular afternoon I made friends with 
some people with whom I am still in contact with today. 

Later  that  evening,  we  decided, after walking around a lot with no 
specific  place  to  go,  to  have dinner at a place called Amadeus. I 
think  we  were  the  only Americans in there and although no one went 
out  of  there  way to treat us as guests, the food was very good. The 
ambiance  is  very Old San Juan and somewhat upscale. Many people wore 
suits  and ties and we were dressed much more casually which is why, I 
think, we might not have been treated so well. 

After  dinner  we  decided  to  go to a club called The Abbey which is 
right  in  Old  San Juan. When we got there we were forced to remember 
that  it  was  the  night  before Halloween and everyone except us was 
dressed  in costume. We stuck out like two sore thumbs. People weren't 
rude  to  us, they just ignored us which was a little depressing since 
we had had a really nice day and met some nice people. 

We  returned  to our hotel, signed for a bottle of wine and relaxed on 
our beautiful patio. 

Although  it  is  quite  hot  in  Puerto  Rico,  the evenings are very 
pleasant  with  cool ocean breezes and the sound of the waves crashing 
up  against  the  rocks at La Fortaleza. We fell asleep with the patio 
doors  opened  and were awakened at some time during the night because 
a  major  thunderstorm  was  upon  us and a lot of rain was coming in. 
After  we  forced  the  doors closed against the wind, I went for some 
towels  to  dry  the  water,  but  when  I  got  back  it  was  mostly 
evaporated. I then realizes why no one in Puerto Rico has windows. 

The  next  morning  we  had muffins and coffee in the Plaza Colon, the 
main  square,  and  then  toured  the  city wall and the fort. We also 
toured  the  main  cathedral which was beautiful, then returned to our 
hotel  and  found  ourselves  in  the middle of an afternoon Halloween 
party  which  we  had been invited to but forgot about. We met most of 
the  staff all of who were very friendly and fun. We made friends with 
three  of  the  hotel  workers who invited us to go out with them that 
night to a club which we hoped would be more fun than The Abbey. 

Later  in the afternoon we decided to go to the Condado which is where 
the  big hotels and resorts are; its the main tourist/beach area. When 
we  got  there, we were so happy that we were lodging in Old San Juan. 
Its  clean  and  sort  of sterile with nothing very interesting to see 
other  than  the  beaches  which  are  very  clean. We shopped in some 
stores  where  we  again  met  people who invited us to a club, but we 
told  them  we  already  had plans and hoped to see them there. We had 
drinks  at  a beachfront bar which was quiet and relaxing before going 
to dinner back in Old San Juan. 

We  were  recommended  The Parrot Club which we knew was upscale so we 
decided  to dress a bit nicer than we had before. Once again, the food 
was  very  good  and  this  time  our  server  was  super friendly and 
welcoming.  She later invited us to go out to a club with her and some 
friends but we had to decline. 

We  met  up  with  our  friends  from  La Galleria and drove to a club 
called  Eros  which  is  in  the  Santurce  area  of San Juan. When we 
arrived,  there  was  a  huge line of people waiting to get in, but it 
didn't  matter  because the street was its own party. The sidewalk was 
a  huge  strip  of  people parading in their costumes plus there was a 
little  bodega  selling  El  Presidente beer. We ended up just hanging 
out  on the streets all night and met many fun and friendly people. We 
had a blast that night. If you want to party, San Juan knows how. 

The next day we were set to leave for the countryside so we said good-
bye  to our friends, exchanged addresses and numbers and headed to our 
car  rental.  We  had  a  basic small car and a map. We decided to get 
some  food  and supplies in case we got lost and at worst had to sleep 
in  the  car  for the night (which did not happen). There was a bit of 
trouble  getting  out  of  metropolitan  San Juan, but once we hit the 
highway  it was easy driving. The highway was in fact quite dull so we 
decided  to follow an alternate route which may or may not have been a 
good  idea.  As  soon  as  we  exited,  we found ourselves on roads so 
narrow  and  treacherous  we  were at first very afraid. The roads are 
endless  stretches  of  curves  spiraling  up  and  down mountains and 
valleys.  It  was  absolutely beautiful, but it took some getting used 
to. 

After  about  three  hours we were starting to wonder if we would ever 
get  to  our  hotel because there are no road signs or markings in the 
islands  interior.  We  weren't  even  sure if we were going the right 
direction.  As  soon  as  you were sure you were lost, you would see a 
sign  leading  you  to  believe  that you were going the right way. We 
never  passed  through any towns along the way, so there was no one to 
ask, just miles of narrow road and scenery. 

When   we   finally  did  arrive  in  the  town  of  Jayuya,  we  were 
unimpressed.  As  we  passed through several times trying to locate La 
Hacienda  Gripinas, all we saw were some run down buildings and a town 
plaza  which  was  uninviting.  Jayuya  is  in  a  very  small  valley 
surrounded  by  coffee  fields  which  is  not unattractive, but I was 
surprised that such a secluded area did have garbage by the roadway. 

Our  hotel  was  on a slope of one of the mountains and it was equally 
unimpressive.  It  sounded  nice in the brochure, but it was described 
better  than  it  actually  was. The main house was a large plantation 
home  with  a  big  wrap  around  porch  and was pleasant but sparsely 
furnished,  but  our room was dingy and a bit dank, not somewhere that 
I  wanted  to  do  anything  other than sleep in. There was absolutely 
nothing  to  do  at the hotel so we decided to get back in the car and 
try  to see some sites. We noticed a town called Utuado was nearby and 
according  to  the map seemed to be large enough to possibly have some 
authentic  restaurants and shops. We were hoping to find some culture. 
By  now  we had the driving thing down, and although it took us longer 
to  get  to  Utuado than we had thought, we had no trouble finding it. 
Again,  it  was  unimpressive  mostly  dirty, and even though it was a 
Saturday  evening, there was nothing open other than a few shacks that 
advertised  pizza.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't horrible to be there 
or  anything,  I  think  I had been spoiled by La Galleria. Anyway, we 
decided  to  go  into  one  of the pizza places which turned out to be 
charming  in its own way. They also serve typical Puerto Rican food in 
those  places,  and although there are never then a few people hanging 
around  watching TV, it is somehow pleasant. We walked around the town 
then,  but  there just wasn't really anything to do, no where to go to 
talk to and meet locals. 

We  returned to the hotel and had drinks on the porch that night which 
was  really  nice and relaxing, but again there was no one to meet. We 
lingered  on  the  porch for as long as would could keep our eyes open 
before  hesitantly  returning  to  our  mildewy room. The next morning 
over  breakfast  in the hotel restaurant (which was pleasant with high 
back  wooden chairs and ceiling fans) we decided to return to San Juan 
instead  of  staying  in  Jayuya. I would return to those little towns 
again,  but only passing through from place to place on a longer trip, 
but  we  thought  that if we stayed another night, it would take hours 
to  get  back  to  San  Juan  the  next day for our flight and that we 
wouldn't  have  had  a very nice last day in Puerto Rico. We discussed 
driving  to  another town on the coast but decided that we didn't want 
to  spend  the  day  looking for a hotel and possibly being stuck in a 
Holiday  Inn  motel on some highway. So we called La Galleria and they 
told us they could accommodate us. 

We  drove through the countryside which we were now quite used to, and 
stopped  in  little  towns  along the way all of which seemed the same 
with  few  stores,  main plazas, and small churches. Back in Utuado we 
encountered  a  small  fiesta  in  the  town  square, there was a band 
playing  music  and children were dancing but no one seemed to want to 
talk  to  us  so  we  moved on. We arrived back at La Galleria and our 
friends  were there to check us in. This time we were in a room called 
Secret  B  which  you had to enter by going up a hidden staircase, and 
then   back  down  another.  The  room  looked  like  a  library  with 
comfortable  chairs  and  lots  of books. We never left the hotel that 
night nor did we want to. 

All  in all, Puerto Rico a beautiful place with a lot to do and see. I 
would  however,  recommend traveling into the islands interior only if 
you have at least a week to tour. 

ST. BARTS BY ANDY ARDEN

Trip Report April 30th to May 6th - 7 night stay - 

St. Barts - Carl Gustaf Hotel, beaches and places to eat by Andy

This  was our 1st over night trip to St. Barts; we went for a day trip 
and enjoyed the Island so much that we decided to spend a week on it.

Our  Flight  out  from  Anguilla  to St. Barts via St. Martin was with 
Winair.  The  flights  were  reasonable  on  time and were without any 
problems.  Upon  leaving  customs  we  were  met at the airport by the 
hotel's
private van. 

Upon  arrival  at  the  hotel  we  were  greeted at the front desk and 
offered  something  to  drink.  Our  Villa was a 2BR Suite with a nice 
private  open  air,  with a beautiful view of the harbour of Gustavia, 
living room area, nice size plunge pool and sun lounging area. 

Our  bedroom  was  a separate enclosed area with a King-size bed and a 
bathroom - with separate shower, toilet area and dual sinks. 

We  had  lunch and dinner at their Restaurant and it was very good but 
expensive  $100.00  for  2  lunch,  dinner  varies.  Desert  GET THEIR 
CHOCHOLATE PLATE. GREAT.

Continental  Breakfast  was  served  every  morning  on  time from our 
patio.  IN-Room refrig is well stocked with water, soda, beer etc. for 
a fee.

The  Hotel  was Great and the service was excellent. Hit the Manager's 
party, we met some nice people from the Washington, DC area. 

Rented  a  car  via  the  hotel from Avis nice 4WD automatic Jeep type 
with electric windows etc. @ $ 62/day. 

Saturday,  May 1st was their Labor Day holiday plus Sunday so a lot of 
restaurants  and  businesses  were  closed so we could not hit all the 
places mentioned from the I-Net.

We ate at the following restaurants: 

Notes:  tip is included at all restaurants - suggested 5% or 10% extra 
tip depending on service.

All  restaurants  charge extra for bottled water. You will be asked if 
you want a bottle. plain or with fizz.

L'Ocean - Gustavia - 
Great  place  with  excellent  service  to  eat both lunch and dinner. 
Price for lunch for 2 $ 240 ff had their mixed fish dish excellent. 

Price  for  Dinner  for 2 $ 670 ff about $ 115. US with wine and fixed 
price  inclusive  menu.  Sea  Bass  was  excellent, steak was ok Great 
outside deck, most people eat out there.

Maya's  -  Public - As mentioned by people in previous posts - still a 
Great  place  to  eat.  Excellent  Service.  Had Mahi, Mahi and shrimp 
dishes.  fixed  price  inclusive  menu.  Dinner for 2 $ 750 ff about $ 
150. US with
wine.

Le  Patio  - St. Jean. Excellent place to eat. Great Sauce. Dinner for 
2  with  wine  and  desert  -  ala carte menu $ 550 ff about $ 90. US. 
Excellent Calamari and Shrimp dishes.

La  Creperie  -  Gustavia. Great lunch, breakfast and ice cream place. 
Lunch - 2 huge sandwiches with sodas $ 16. US. Crepes looked great.

Chez Domi - Gustavia. Great place to eat. 
Stuffed crab - Great. Good fish and ribs. Lunch $ 235 ff or $ 43. US.

L'Escale - Gustavia. Good pizza place.
If  you  are  not  very hungry suggest you share a pizza and salad. We 
each had a pizza and soda. $ 249 ff or $ 50. US.

Vincent Adam - St. Jean. Food was ok.
Continuous crowd on a Sunday night up to 10 p.m.
Dinner  fixed  price  menu  $  195. ff each. extras tea/coffee $ 30 ff 
each  refill, Souffli $ 30 ff very good. escargot excellent, chocolate 
tart
with coconut milk GREAT. Total $ 135. US.

Francois  Plantation  - Colombier. MUST GO. One of the greatest places 
to  eat. FOOD & SERVICE WAS EXCELLENT. Cigar Bar. Sea Bass & Duck were 
great. ala carte menu. Dinners for 2 with wine no desert. $ 1140 ff.
almost $ 200. US. They also have a nice hotel with reasonable rates.

Beaches - 

Shell  Beach  -  Gustavia,  just  down the street from the hotel. Very 
nice beach. Lots and lots of shells.

La  Saline  Beach  - Saline. This was also a nice beach. Check out the 
can Ashtrays.

Gouverneur  - Great Beach, please park as requested. One of the nicest 
beaches. 

Colombeir  -  15  to  20  min walk from parking. We went via sailboat. 
Nice beach.


Scuba  Diving - Booked trip via OceanMust in the harbor of Gustavia. I 
did  a Great dive with Fred of La Bulle - next to OceanMust. $ 50. US. 
Saw  a  wreck  and  a reef. It was just Fred and I on the dive. Say hi 
for me to Christian AUDEBERT of OceanMust and to Fred.

Sailboat  Day  Trip  - Booked trip via Wendy KRONENBERG of Nautica FWI 
in  downtown Gustavia. George and Tilly own and live on-board their 48 
ft  Catamaran  TTOKO-TTOKO.  They  do  a full day trip to Fourchue and 
Colombeir  Beaches  and  they  serve  a  GREAT lunch. They do half-day 
trips  to  either  beach  depending  on  their  schedule. They are off 
Island  during  Hurricane  season - June to September/October. Private 
Charter  available.  George  and  Tilly  are great hosts. They made us 
feel right at
home.  Nice  snorkeling  off their boat. Tell them Andy & Margaret say 
hi.  Please  respect  their sailboat. Price for 2 with lunch including 
all beverages $ 500 ff/pp. Half Day $ 290 ff/pp no lunch.

This  Island  has  great,  very  friendly people and they are all very 
helpful  with answering a question. Almost every one speaks English or 
knows  enough English to help you out. The beaches and restaurants are 
great.  You may want to learn some basic French to be polite. The wine 
and  deserts were also excellent. We will be back but for 10 days next 
time.

ST. LUCIA: JALOUSIE HILTON BY ANDY ARDEN

Trip April 1999 

Our  Flight  out  from  NY  to San Juan was OK, however American Eagle 
held  our  flight in San Juan on a maintenance hold for several hours. 
We  did  get  into St. Lucia until 11:30 p.m. It takes about 1.5 hours 
from the airport to the hotel and $ 80.00.

Note:  Unless  the hotel staff or taxi is pre-arranged to greet you at 
the  airport  when  you come out of customs, taxis will be waiting and 
someone  will ask you where you are going and a taxi will be contacted 
to take you to the hotel.

Our  Room was a 1BR Villa Suite with a huge Bedroom, and nice bathroom 
-  tub/shower  combo  and  separate  shower - toilet and bidet, single 
sink.  There  was  also  a separate sitting area with pull out bed and 
TV. A coffee machine is in the room.

We  had  a  nice  size  plunge  pool  with  a  wet  bar and an outdoor 
refrigerator. 

The  public  pool  was  large  size  and very nice, with padded lounge 
chairs. The beach was clean and a nice size.

Verandah Restaurant

Breakfast  is  served here cost about $ 16.00/pp for buffet with eggs. 
Food was ok and selection was good. Custom eggs and waffles..

Bayside Restaurant - Pool

Lunch  here  cost  about  $  45.  for  2  sodas, "wrap" - Chicken Pita 
sandwiches  and side onion rings which were excellent. Bottle of Water 
or drinks at pool about $ 5.00 ea.

Pier Restaurant - Dinner - DO NOT BOTHER EATING HERE

When  I  told  Ali  Khan the GM that the service and food quality here 
was poor, he told me "he knew, but could not do anything about it".

Plantation Restaurant - Dinner

The  food  quality  and  service here was much better, menu and desert 
selection  was good but limited. Reservations are required and ask for 
a  window  seat.  Price  for  2  with  appetizers, wine and desert was 
approx. $ 115.00. 

Notes:  Service  Charge  of  10%  is  included. Do not take their meal 
plan, you can do better or equal without it.

Nightlife  -  Their  night  club had various entertainment, however we 
were too tired to check it out.

Spa  -  Their  spa  was  very  good and their services were great. Spa 
lunch - great.

NOTES:  Remember  you  are  in  the  Caribbean  and  the pace is slow. 
Service was OK but is at their pace. 

Ali  Khan is the General Manager, you will see him every where - pool, 
Restaurants  etc.  He will greet you, however he does not care to hear 
any  complaints  or  problems. Manager's party is Monday. FREE drinks, 
some munches and Ali will greet you.

The  property  is large, depending on where your room is, you can walk 
to  the  pool/beach.  Their  shuttle  service is OK, remember it is at 
their pace.

St.  Lucia  Helicopters  - NOTE YOUR FLIGHT CAN BE CANCELLED. THEY HAD 
MAINTENANCE  PROBLEMS  AND WERE OUT OF SERVICE FOR A FEW DAYS. A movie 
company  chartered  them  on  the  day  we  had a reservation, so they 
cancelled our flight to the airport. POOR SERVICE.

Overall,  we had a good time, do not expect anything service wise from 
the  General  Manager.  Make  sure  YOU or your Travel Agent reconfirm 
EVERYTHING  and  then Double-check it. We never got our "welcome back" 
basket for being return guests.

If  you  are looking for a place to relax, enjoy their spa or hang out 
at  the  beach  or pool, then this is the place for you but remember - 
services  are  at  their  pace. Guests were mixed - United Kingdom and 
USA. kids were of various ages.

ST. LUCIA: MARIGOT BAY BY JAMES GEBBIA

Trip 5/99

We  have  recently returned from a vacation in the Marigot Bay area of 
the  island  and  want  to  relate to others, the dissatisfaction with 
noise in the area during this visit.

We  have  been  to the island before and wanted to spend time again in 
Marigot  Bay  because  of  the  peaceful setting and lush environment. 
Although  we  expect  to  have  some music and partying from the local 
restaurants,  the  total disregard to the tranquillity of the setting, 
even past midnight, by 
the  new  comer  on  the block(JJ's) seemed totally out of place.If we 
want  loud  music  and a lot of noise, we'll go to New York or Chicago 
for  the  next  vacation.   This recent encounter has demonstrated, to 
us,  the  total  lack of regard for guests to your Island paradise and 
we  will  not  be  revisiting  or  recommend  St. Lucia to our friends 
again.

SAINT LUCIA BY MARIANNE MOREAU

Trip 6/99

My  boyfriend  and  I  visited  Saint  Lucia from June 6th to 15th. We 
chose  Marigot Bay as it was away from the touristic area in the north 
and  promised a quiet, secluded and uncrowded atmosphere, with no cars 
on our side of the bay. 

We  stayed  at  a  beautiful  and  lush B & B called The Seahorse Inn. 
Unfortunately,  on  the  day of our arrival (Sunday), we had to endure 
very  loud  music coming from one of the bars across the bay. This was 
a  very  unpleasant  surprise  and  although  we had traveled 15 hours 
(from Ireland) and were exhausted, it took us hours to go to sleep. 

After  two  days  of  peace,  we had to lie in bed sleepless and angry 
again  on  Wednesday.  And it went on every following night: Thursday, 
Friday, Saturday...and on Sunday, it lasted all day! 

Have  you  ever  tried  to sleep to the sound of somebody yelling in a 
microphone  'Are you having fun?'. Well, it's far from being fun. Like 
all  the  other  guests,  we complained to our hosts, who told us that 
the  sound  of  the  music/live  band came from a restaurant called JJ 
which  opened  a  few  months  ago.  Everybody at the bay is trying to 
negotiate  with  JJ  so that he will lower the volume and frequency of 
the music there. 

After  all, the restaurant is open air and the sounds echo through the 
bay. 

During  the  day,  we  had a great time, and Marigot Bay is a haven of 
serenity  when  JJ  is  quiet. The people are usually very nice. I can 
understand  that  some  people  enjoy  very  loud  music, but then the 
tourism  authorities should warn tourists of this instead of promoting 
the  concerned  areas. They should decide whether this is worth losing 
a lot of business in the area through bad publicity. 

We  certainly  would  have gone somewhere else had we known that there 
was  no  respect  for  visitors  who  want to sleep in order to get up 
early  and  discover  this  beautiful  island instead of partying late 
every night. 

Editor's Note: In January, 2001 we received the following message from Jim Kany of the Seahorse Inn. We think it is fair to hear his side of the story and are pleased to note that things in Marigot Bay have changed for the better:

Date:   1/7/01 11:17:42 Eastern Standard Time
From:   seahorse@candw.lc (Seahorse Inn)
To:     editor@caribtravelnews.com

Dear Sir:
This might be a highly unusual request but we would greatly appreciate if you
could help us out: In a travel report 7/99 entitled "Marigot Bay by Marianne
Moreau" the author describes her experience while staying with us.
Unfortunately, she mentions the name of our B&B (SeaHorse Inn") which gives
the impression that only our establishment is disturbed by the music from the
local bars (in particular JJ's). However, all establishments in Marigot Bay
were (and still are) affected. Ms. Moreau's article indeed has cost us a lot
of business and even now people still are referring to it. We therefore would
like to ask you to remove the name of our B&B from the article. This indeed
would be a great help!
JJ's Bar has quieted down considerably, especially since we took them to
court for the disturbances they created. It still is not perfect but the
owner of JJ's is under a great deal of pressure to further curb his noisy
activities. Besides they are building bungalows which they will market
internationally and therefore the owner of JJ's indeed must watch what kind
of entertainment he will be providing.
The service you are providing indeed is invaluable to tourists who wish to
travel to the Caribbean and also helps small businesses like ours to battle
the "bad" guys as the articles are evidence that guests dislike loud music
etc. when they try to sleep.
Please let us know if you are able to help us out.
Thank you and regards.
Jim Kany
SeaHorse Inn, Marigot Bay
Saint Lucia, West Indies
www.seahorse-inn.com/

ST. LUCIA BY MELISSA FERRARO

Trip 6/99

My  Husband  and  I went to St. Lucia June 14-22 on our honeymoon. The 
island  is  just  like  they call it, "Simply Beautiful." We stayed at 
the  Rex  St.  Lucian for 4 nights, and then went to the Ladera Resort 
the  last  4  nights.  The Rex St. Lucian was on a nice beach, but the 
rooms  need  updated. I wouldn't go back to the Rex. The Ladera Resort 
was  very nice. We had a 2 bedroom suite that overlooked the Caribbean 
sea  and  the  two  pitons,  it  was breathtaking! The room only has 3 
walls,  the  rest  to  open.  People  that  do not want to sleep under 
mosquito  netting  should  think about this resort. I enjoyed the view 
so  much,  the openness did not bother me. It was the best room I have 
every  stayed in. Waking up to the beautiful view right in front of me 
was  great!  The  only restaurant at the Ladera is called the Dashene, 
and  it  is  an  award-winning  restaurant.  The food was excellent. I 
would  definitely  go  back  to the Ladera Resort. St. Lucia is a very 
nice  island,  with  lots  if  sights  to  see.   I highly recommend a 
vacation to St. Lucia.

ST. LUCIA: ANSE CHASTANET BY BONNIE EDLBECK

I  have  decided to take the time to write a trip report because other 
reports  have  helped  me  so  much.  The information on the Caribbean 
Travel  Roundup,  even  though subjective, seems to me to be among the 
best on the Internet.

After  many  hours  of  research,  mostly  on  the  Internet, but also 
reading  travel  magazines  and  guidebooks  we narrowed our Caribbean 
vacation  down  to  St.  Lucia,  and  further decided on Anse Chatanet 
which  is  near  the  town  of  Soufriere  in  the more southern, less 
developed  part  of  the  island.  The  main reason we decided on this 
hotel  was  because  of  the scuba facilities and great snorkeling. My 
husband  Dale wanted to get his scuba certification and Anse Chastanet 
seemed to be the best choice.

We  decided to go with Apple Vacations for several reasons. If we used 
a  charter  airline  we  would  fly  into  the Hewanorra International 
Airport  in  Vieau  Fort. This airport is much closer to the hotel and 
we  wouldn’t  have  to switch planes in Puerto Rico and take a smaller 
plane  to St. Lucia. Also, the flight would be direct from Chicago and 
we  would  get  to  St.  Lucia in the afternoon. So we booked a 1-week 
package  in  September of 1998 and eagerly waited for 9 months. We had 
decided  to  go  from  May  17-24, the rates are a little lower and we 
thought  it  would  be nice to go during our Anniversary week. We also 
planned  to  stay overnight in Chicago as we were scheduled to fly out 
at 7 AM.

About  2  weeks before we were scheduled to leave we received a notice 
from  our  travel  agent saying that the flight times were changed. We 
would  be  getting to St. Lucia 1 hour later than originally scheduled 
because  they  needed to re-fuel in Puerto Rico. This was no big deal, 
but  they  also  changed  the departure times. We would be leaving St. 
Lucia  1  hour later, stopping in Aruba, which was originally planned, 
but  also  stopping  in Charleston, South Carolina for re-fueling. Now 
we  were  to  arrive  into  Chicago  at  12:15 AM rather than 9:30 PM. 
Because  we  had  at  least  an  additional 4 hours to drive home from 
Chicago  we  were not too happy about this. We had taken the following 
day off, but now we would need to spend it sleeping.

Anyway,  we  left  on  time  and  arrived in St. Lucia on schedule. We 
cleared  immigration quickly and the Apple representative found us and 
had  the  taxi  to  the  hotel  waiting.  The  drive to the hotel took 
approximately  1 hour and 10 minutes. When they say the roads are bad, 
they  really  mean  it.  The  taxi  driver was very nice, pointing out 
villages and different sights along the way.

  It  was  about  4  PM  when we got to the hotel. Reception went very 
smoothly,  we  were  given  a drink and a room key. We were shown to a 
beachside  deluxe room, which meant we were actually upgraded 2 levels 
from  a  standard  room.  The  room  was  HUGE  and beautiful. We were 
prepared  for  the  louvered  walls and lack of air conditioning. Many 
things  I  had  packed weren’t needed because of the upgrade. The room 
had  an  ironing  board  and iron, umbrella, mosquito coils and an. AC 
adapter.  There  was  also  a stocked refrigerator and a fruit basket. 
The  room was also decorated with beautiful tropical flowers. The room 
also  had  a  large  porch  and it was close to the beach so we didn’t 
have  to  climb  the 100+ steps as much as we thought! We unpacked and 
headed out to the beach.

Dale  found  the  dive shop at the south end of the beach and was told 
he   should  report  there  at  10  AM  the  next  day  to  begin  his 
instruction.  That was also the orientation time so we decided I would 
go  to  orientation.  We  walked  around  the beach and eventually got 
ready  for  dinner.  There  was a manager’s cocktail party at 6:30 and 
dinner  was  at  7:30. Many of the managers were on hand to speak with 
the  guests and they had drinks and hors d’oeuves. I noticed that most 
of  the  women  dressed in sundresses, or long skirts for dinner. Some 
wore  dress  shorts.  Men  wore  either pants or shorts with a regular 
shirt or polo shirt. Not many tee shirts.

The  next morning orientation was held in the main bar area. It lasted 
about  1  hour.  We  heard  from  the  manager  of  the  mini-spa, the 
assistant manager and the social director.

FOOD

There  are  2  restaurants  at  Anse Chastanet. The main restaurant is 
where  breakfast  and  most  dinners  are served. The beach restaurant 
serves  lunch  and a buffet on Tuesday and Friday nights. We had opted 
for  the  MAP  meal  plan,  which  was  all  breakfasts,  dinners  and 
afternoon  tea  included.  I feel that for us this was the only way to 
go.  The  hotel  is  very  secluded and it would have been a hassle to 
arrange  transportation  to  different  restaurants every evening. The 
walk  to  town  was  a  good 2 miles and I wasn’t ready to tackle that 
every  night  either.  Besides that the cost of breakfast to those who 
choose  the European Plan is from $15-18/person and the cost of dinner 
was  from  $45/person  not  including wine or drinks. The dinners were 
events  with  appetizers,  soup  or  salad, sorbet, entree and finally 
dessert,  coffee  and  tea  if  you  could  manage. There were several 
selections  for  each  course  but  we  noticed that sometimes it took 
quite  awhile  between  course,  but  what else did we have to do? The 
Tuesday  and  Friday  buffets  at the beach restaurant were especially 
good.  Dinner didn’t take as long on those nights because a buffet was 
set  up  and  you  didn’t have to wait between each course. I ate many 
meals  of  fish, which I especially enjoy. Some meals were better than 
others,  but  on  the  whole, the food was very good. Some of the main 
courses  had  more  food than others. They always had a buffet of many 
kinds  of  fresh tropical fruit at breakfast. You could opt to eat the 
buffet  or  order  off the menu or both. Each afternoon from 3:30-5:30 
they  set  out  small  sandwiches, cookies, pastries coffee and tea in 
each  of  the  bars.  This  would  tide  you over until dinner. Before 
dinner  they  also set out an assortment of hors d’oeuvres in the bar. 
Lunch  was not included on most guests’ plans, but it was available in 
the  beach  restaurant.  We  had  lunch a couple times and it was very 
good, the food was similar to the Tuesday and Friday buffets.

DRINKS

The  resort  had  2  bars,  one  at  the  beach  and one near the main 
restaurant.  They  always  had  a  special  tropical drink of the day. 
Piton  beer  was  $3.00  and  mixed drinks were $5.50. There were many 
different  wines offered nightly. One night we ordered a $32 bottle of 
wine,  but there were many different kinds with different prices. Also 
included  in  our  package  was $200 credit towards our drinks. At the 
end  of the trip I figured out how much we spent on drinks and it came 
out  to  $220.  We  had  a drink when we wanted one, so this seemed to 
work  good  for  us.  Our refrigerator was always stocked with bottled 
drinking  water,  which came in handy. Because of the climate we drank 
lots of water.

MINI SPA

Anse  Chastanet  has  a  mini spa, which offers a variety of massages, 
facials,  manicures,  pedicures, etc. When we checked in we received a 
½  off  coupon  to be used during the first 3 days of our stay for any 
one  treatment. I had the Aromatherapy the day after we arrived and it 
was  wonderful.  It  was  a  full  body massage that lasted at least 1 
hour.  The  massage  cost  $35; full price would be $70. Incidentally, 
the spa was the only air-conditioned room I saw at the resort.

SCUBA

Dale  started  his  certification  the  day  after  we  arrived.  They 
assigned  him  an  instructor who spent the day with him. She was very 
good  and  easy to work with. She arranged her schedule to accommodate 
him,  which  was very nice. He had called the resort ahead of time and 
they  sent him a video, book and workbook. It really helped because he 
was able to

complete  most  of the bookwork before we got there. It took most of 1 
day  and  two half days and he had his certification. He was also able 
to  go on two more dives, to help reinforce what he learned. The scuba 
center  was  a  first class operation all the way. They were very busy 
the  week we were there because they had a scuba club there also. They 
offered  2  dives  daily  and night dives on Tuesday and Thursday. Our 
package included 6 dives/person, equipment was available for rent.

SNORKELING

This  was  the first place I have been where we could snorkel from the 
shore  and  see so much. It was nice to be able to go whenever we felt 
like  it.  There  were  2  snorkeling  areas,  the Marine Preserve was 
especially  good,  and we went snorkeling several times, and it seemed 
like  every  time  we  went  I  saw something different. They had boat 
snorkeling trips, which cost $15/person, but we didn’t go on any.

TOURS

We  took  a  tour  to  Anse Mamin, which is part of the Anse Chastanet 
grounds.  This  tour  was  included  for  all guests and was scheduled 
every  afternoon.  We  took  a short water taxi ride and toured an old 
sugar  plantation.  Meno,  our  guide,  pointed  out several different 
fruit trees.

We  also  took a tour of the rainforest for $45/person. This tour left 
at  9  AM  and  returned about 1:30, the cost included a picnic lunch. 
Besides  the  guide,  one other couple signed up for this tour. It was 
quite  interesting  to  visit  a  real  rainforest.  It was noticeably 
cooler  and wetter in the rainforest. It rained a couple times, but it 
was  a  light  rain and lasted only several minutes. The guide pointed 
out  some St. Lucian parrots. We also saw several gardens and farms as 
part  of this tour. It’s amazing how steep the hillsides are and still 
the farmers are able to plant and harvest their crops.

We  also  went  on a sunset cruise for $15/person. Three other couples 
signed  up  for  the  cruise, which lasted from 4:30-6:30. They served 
free  rum  punch,  beer  and  soft  drinks.  It  was very relaxing and 
enjoyable.

There  were  many  other tours, which were offered. Some others were a 
shopping  trip to Castries, a tour of the northern part of the island, 
waterfall  tour,  volcano  and  botanical gardens tour. An explanation 
and  price list of the tours is given on a bulletin board close to the 
lobby.

ENTERTAINMENT

I  thought  the  entertainment  was  perfect.  We  got  up  early most 
mornings  because Dale had a dive class or we were going someplace, so 
we  didn’t stay up very late. My guess is that most of the guests also 
went  to  bed  early.  They  had  different entertainment every night, 
usually  a  singing  group,  but  there  was  a  variety. I especially 
enjoyed  the 6-man steel drum band. (They really make all those sounds 
from  steel  drums.)  Most  of the entertainers were very “Caribbean”. 
One  of  the  entertainers had a CD for sale in the gift shop. I enjoy 
island  music,  so  I bought it. I really enjoy it; he sings a song on 
the CD about Anse Chastanet.

PAYMENT

Because  not  everyone  who  stays  at  Anse  Chastanet is on the same 
package,  you  have  to  sign for everything you order. They figure it 
all  out  and  at  the  end  of  your  stay  they show you the bill. I 
recommend  looking  at it closely. We realized they didn’t give us the 
$200  credit  towards  drinks.  After  we pointed this out to them and 
they  removed  $200. I did hear one of the employees say that they are 
planning  to  get computerized in the near future which will eliminate 
some of the bookwork.

SOUFRIERE

We  went  to  the  small fishing village of Sourfriere a couple times. 
There  is  a free water taxi that runs a couple times a day. We walked 
around  the town and stopped to buy some rum and then went to a little 
restaurant  to  have  a drink. We noticed the prices were much cheaper 
than  those  at the resort. A 750-ml. bottle of rum was $5 in town. We 
also  noticed  that  we  were the only white people in the whole town, 
but  most  people  seemed  very friendly and some said “hello”. Others 
who  had visited St. Lucia and the resort staff warned us that several 
young  men  wait  at the dock and offer to guide you through the town. 
They  may  even follow you and try to get you to pay for their “guide” 
services.  We  did  have one guy approach us, but when we indicated we 
weren’t  interested, he left. We also made arrangements to take a taxi 
to  Soufriere  on  Sunday  to  attend  church.  It  was an interesting 
experience.  We had made arrangements for the taxi to pick us up after 
church  in  1  hour.  At the end of an hour church was only about half 
over,  so  we  didn’t  stay  for the whole service. On Sunday, we also 
decided  to  go  to an interesting restaurant called “The Bang”. Again 
we  made  arrangements  for  a water taxi to take us there and pick us 
up.  They  had  authentic  Caribbean food, and the helpings were huge. 
The taxi driver decided to stay and have lunch too.

THE FLOOD

When  we came back from the sugar plantation tour, we noticed that all 
our  shoes  were  set  out. Upon further investigation we also noticed 
that  they were wet and the floor mats, were rolled up outside. One of 
the  staff  came  to tell us that a pipe had broken and apparently our 
room  had  several  inches  of  water before anyone noticed. They were 
looking  all  over  for  us while we were on the plantation tour. They 
had  already scrubbed the floor, the maid showed up to remake our bed, 
and  we  were  told  to  go talk to the manager. She said the pipe had 
been  repaired  and asked if anything was wrecked. We had decided that 
there  was no harm done, shoes can dry, the only thing that really was 
wrecked  was  a paperback book that Dale had finished reading. We told 
them  everything  was  o.k.  A little while later we found a bottle of 
champagne  and  note  on  our  doorstep.  Since  this  happened on our 
Anniversary,   the   timing   was   good.  They  were  sorry  for  the 
inconvenience.  Incidentally we noticed the maid took the water logged 
paperback out of the garbage the next day! Hope they can use it!

STAFF

The  dive staff was all first rate, the waitresses and bartenders were 
very  friendly.  The  guys  driving  the  boats, managers, and the spa 
personnel  were  very  nice.  The  only  person  that  we  thought was 
unfriendly,  almost  downright  rude, was the social director! She was 
very  aloof,  and if you asked a question, she would just put you off. 
When  she  kept putting us off about making the arrangements to attend 
church,  we  finally  asked at the reception desk and Monica took care 
of it.

GUESTS

It  seemed as though most of the guests were from the US, but we spoke 
with  people  from  Switzerland,  the  UK,  and there were quite a few 
Germans  there. Many were on their honeymoon and there were 2 weddings 
that  week. There was also a dive group there with at least 6 couples. 
Most  of  the  clientele  were  couples, but not all. I didn’t see any 
children  until  the  weekend, and they weren’t staying at the resort. 
Guests  from  other  hotels  were  brought  over to use the beach, but 
there  weren’t  too  many  of  them.  Only  Anse Chastanet guests were 
allowed  to use the cabanas and the beach was never crowded. The hotel 
also  had  a  more  secluded beach at Anse Mamin. Guests could go back 
and forth by water taxi at designated times.

GENERAL

For  the most part the trip was terrific. They gave us a questionnaire 
to  complete  the day we left and we mentioned a few things that could 
be  improved.  Our room was great, there was a beautiful breeze during 
the  day,  but  because we had a beachfront room we didn’t get much if 
any  breeze  at  night. The ceiling fan didn’t seem to help either. We 
didn’t  notice any bugs but after the first night we used the mosquito 
net  as  I  had several little red bug bites. They weren’t itchy, just 
noticeable.  The net seemed to help; I still managed to get a few more 
bites. We also used the mosquito coils and I think that helped too.

It  was  also  noisy at times. We heard the workers every morning when 
they   came  to  work  and  as  they  were  preparing  breakfast.  The 
restaurant  was  just  up  the hill from our room. The rooms up on the 
hill  probably  didn’t  have  these problems. It was nice being on the 
beach  though,  we  didn’t have to climb steps every time we went back 
to our room and we spent quite a bit of time on the beach.

TRIP HOME

Apple  arranged  for a taxi to the airport, the trip back was not near 
as  exciting. The flight left on time and stopped in Aruba for 1 hour. 
We  were  told  to  get off the plane and we cleared US immigration in 
Aruba.  It  was  nice to have that part over. We stopped to re-fuel in 
Charleston  and got to Chicago about 11:30 PM, about 45 minutes early. 
By  the  time  we got our luggage, went through customs, got a shuttle 
to our car and drove the 4 hours home, it was 5 AM.

The Caribbean Travel Roundup is available worldwide via Compuserve and INTERNET and is distributed through the facilities of America Online. The official CTR World Wide Web site is http://caribtravelnews.com. Contact: Paul Graveline, 9 Stirling St., Andover, MA 01810-1408 USA :Home (Voice or Fax) 978-470-1971. E-mail via editor@caribtravelnews.com or CTREDITOR@aol.com : On Prodigy - MKWC51A


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