Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 107
September 1, 2000

Last Update 31 Aug 2000

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1/ PRESS RELEASES

A/ CURAÇAO :CURAÇAO MARRIOTT BEACH RESORT and EMERALD CASINO INTRODUCES DIVE PACKAGE

CURAÇAO–  Combining  the  comfort of a stay at a prime resort with the 
underwater  marvels  of one of the world's top dive sites, the Curaçao 
Marriott  Beach  Resort  &  Emerald Casino is now offering a brand new 
package for 2000 created especially for scuba diving enthusiasts. 

Available  now  through  December  18,  2000,  rates  for  the Curaçao 
Marriott's  dive  package  range from $202 per night to $365 per night 
and  include:  deluxe  resort  view  accommodations;  two  tank  dives 
including  tank  rental  and weight belt; welcome cocktail; invitation 
to  the  general manager's cocktail party; complimentary use of health 
facilities and unlimited use of the tennis courts. 

>From  now  through  December  18,  2000, the dive package is priced at 
$202  and  $255  per  night  (based  on  single  and double occupancy, 
respectively).  Prices  are subject to availability and the last night 
of  any  stay  must  be at a rate other than the dive package rate. No 
minimum  stay  is  required,  but  at  least  a  three  night  stay is 
recommended  due  to diving regulations that require guests to refrain 
from  diving  on  either  their  arrival and departure dates. The dive 
operator  is  Caribbean  Sea  Sports, a PADI 5-star Golden Palm Resort 
facility  conveniently  located on the grounds of the Curaçao Marriott 
Beach  Resort  &  Emerald  Casino. PADI training and certification are 
offered for inexperienced divers.

The  island  of  Curaçao has been rated by Rodale's Magazine as one of 
the  world's  top  15  favorite  dive  destinations and features water 
temperatures  between  75  and 81 degrees year-round. Its reef is home 
to  over  57  species  of  coral  and  more  than 500 species of fish. 
Numerous  dive  sites present divers with beautiful underwater gardens 
flaunting  delicate  coral  and  brightly  colored  tropical  fish  or 
sometimes  reveal massive coral formations that extend into the depths 
of  the  Caribbean.  Among  the  most  popular  sites are the Mushroom 
Forest  and  Hell's  Corner,  both  located  in  Curaçao's spectacular 
"Underwater Park." 

The  Curaçao  Marriott  Beach  Resort  & Emerald Casino enjoys a prime 
beachfront  location on the southwest coast of the island in Piscadera 
Bay.  The  resort features 247 guestrooms and 10 suites, each with its 
own  private  terrace  or balcony. When not diving, guests are welcome 
to  lounge by the resort's free-form oceanfront pool with swim-up bar, 
play  tennis  on the resort's two lighted courts or sample the cuisine 
at  one  of the resort's several restaurants. The resort also features 
a  fitness  center,  massage  services,  children's program, two large 
whirlpools,  variety  of  water  sports  and 5,000 square foot Emerald 
Casino.  Guests  may  also  play  golf  at the Curaçao Golf and Squash 
Club,  visit  the  Curaçao  Seaquarium,  experience the Senior Curaçao 
Liqueur   Factory  or  tour  historic  Willemstad,  an  UNESCO  "World 
Heritage" site.

The   Curaçao  Marriott  Beach  Resort  is  a  member  of  Marriott  & 
Renaissance   Offshore   Resorts.   For   additional   information  or 
reservations, call your travel agent 

or  dial  the  Marriott Resort Desk at 1-800-223-6388. Visit us on the 
web at www.offshoreresorts.com. 

B/ JAMAICA: HOTEL MOCKING BIRD HILL AWARDED THE MOST ENVIRONMENTAL

Hotel  Mocking  Bird  Hill  has been recognized for the second year as 
the  most environmentally friendly small hotel in the Caribbean. Hotel 
Mocking  Bird  Hill  opened  seven  years  ago in Jamaica committed to 
operate as an environmental and community oriented operation.

Hotel  Mocking  Bird  Hill is the benchmark of environmental standards 
for  intimate  resorts. "Bigger is not always best " claim the hotel's 
managers  and  their  guests.  Guests  rave about this boutique hotel, 
their personal service and outstanding restaurant "Mille Fleurs".

Aside  from  the  cost  saving  benefits of running a hotel that saves 
resources,  their  guests  select  the hotel because they support this 
"green"  philosophy.  Fresh  produce, handmade recycled paper and body 
care  products  made  from  natural ingredients are some of the things 
that are enjoyed during a stay at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill.

Barbara   and  Shireen,  the  hotel's  managers  believe  "that  every 
enterprise  has  an obligation to protect the environment and to offer 
tangible  benefit  to  the  community.  Business  can add value to the 
economy   and  make  a  positive  contribution".  Their  environmental 
management  philosophy  is  incorporated  into  every  aspect  of  the 
hotel's   operations.   This  philosophy  ranges  from  protection  of 
forests,  flora  and  fauna within their environs, to purchasing their 
supplies  from  local  suppliers, and to offering items that are fresh 
and  seasonal.  Other  efforts  focus  on water conservation and waste 
reduction.  In addition, the hotel supports a local school , partially 
through the contributions of their guests.

A  second  Green  Globe Certification and the Green Globe Commendation 
Award  is  an  international  recognition  of  their  contribution and 
excellence.  "It  is  important  to  us to demonstrate how tourism can 
contribute  not  only  to  the  economy of the island but to also be a 
leader  in environmental conservation and community involvement. Every 
effort,   however  small,  makes  a  significant  contribution.  Small 
businesses  enjoy  the advantage that they do not place a large burden 
on the environment."

Information   is   available  at:  http://www.hotelmockingbirdhill.com 
<http://www.hotelmockingbirdhill.com/>       or       via      E-mail: 
mockbrd@cwjamaica.com  <mailto:mockbrd@cwjamaica.com> or by calling 1-(876) 993-7267. 

C/ OFFBEAT CANCUN WEBSITE FEATURES CROCODILES, CANDID REVIEWS

CANCUN--You'll  find  lots  of unusual information and candid opinions 
about  Cancun  at http://www.cafecancun.com, home of the Cancun User's 
Guide.  It's  filled with honest reviews, recommendations, advice, and 
fascinating  cultural  background  by  an  American  family living and 
working in Cancun since 1983.

Among the off-beat stories on this provocative travel resource are:

"Swim  With  the  Crocodiles" All you ever hear is "Save the turtles!" 
But  crocodiles  deserve  some love, too. Despite all the development, 
Cancun's  tiny  tribe  of  crocodiles  manages  to survive against all 
odds.

"Why  Buy  a  Cow  If  Milk Is Free?" When you get to Cancun, the free 
information  is everywhere. You'll receive full color magazines, maps, 
really  great  guides,  on the plane coming here and in the airport as 
you leave the baggage area. But how free is this information, really?

"Special  Report  on  Local  Ruins" Two new major archaeological sites 
opened  15 minutes from Cancun Hotel Zone. Complete details on museums 
and ruins you can visit in Cancun area.

Book  Excerpt--"Shopping  in  a  Mexican  Supermarket"  Whether you're 
staying  in  one  of those fully equipped Cancun luxury condos or just 
want  to  make  a  picnic  lunch, you'll find these tips from longtime 
resident  Anita  Brown a life-saver for those times when restaurant or 
dining room food just won't do!

The  Cancun User's Guide is the work of celebrated author Jules Siegel 
(Playboy,  Rolling  Stone,  Best  American  Short Stories). There's no 
charge  for  looking  through  all  these  insider's  tips. The Cancun 
User's  Guide can be purchased as a printed book or ebook on the site. 
The  book  is  not available in stores, so there's no worry that these 
local secrets will be discovered by the masses! 

D/ THE CARIBBEAN JOBFAIR GOES ISLAND-HOPPING TO ST. LUCIA

(www.caribbeanjobfair.com)

  SIMPSON  BAY,  St.  Maarten  -  The  Caribbean  Jobfair, an Internet 
website  matching  labour  demand  and  supply  in  the Caribbean, has 
launched  its  second  Island Hopping program with St. Lucia being the 
next  country  in  line  out  of  35  island-nations/countries  to  be 
targeted  for the year 2000 campaign. Primary focus is on key economic 
sectors  and  will  include  Information  Technology  (IT), Hotels and 
Airlines. 

To  ensure  duly  attention  for  each island or nation, the Caribbean 
Jobfair  will highlight a particular island over a four-week period in 
the  months  to  come.  A  comprehensive  promotion  campaign for each 
island/country  will accompany the campaign. The intention is to cover 
over 35 islands/nations by the end of this year. 

The   campaign  will  address  public  and  private  institutions  and 
associations   as   well  as  individual  employers  in  the  targeted 
strategic  sectors.  This  will be carried out by combining efforts of 
public  relations and promotion. Personal letters, linkages to related 
island  websites  and  news  flashes,  will complement press releases, 
interviews and advertisements. 

The  emphasis  of  the  campaign  will  be  on  the  contribution  the 
Caribbean  Jobfair  is  able  to  offer  to alleviate shortages in the 
quantity  and quality of the manpower force, often caused by migration 
of students and other well-qualified nationals. 

It  goes  without  saying that during the campaign period, all islands 
will  be  serviced  in  the  usual way by the team of Qualitivity (St. 
Maarten,  Dutch  West  Indies)  that  is  responsible  for  the smooth 
operation of the Jobfair. 

QUALITIVITY, THE PROFESSIONAL MATCHMAKERS 

FOR  FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR PR OFFICER RODDY HEYLIGER 
AT  TEL.:  599-544-3064  CELL: 599-592720, VOICE MAIL: 599-564217 FAX: 
599-544-3319 E-MAIL:medprocomm@email.com 

NOTE:  Could  you  let  us  know if you would use the release and when 
this  would  take  place.  Roddy  Heyliger Communications Consultant - 
Caribbean Information Provider 

Email:  medprocomm@email.com  Tel.  (00 599) 544-3064, 544-3829, Cell: 
(00  599)  592720,  Voice  Mail:  564217  Fax:  (00  599) 544-3319 St. 
Maarten,   Dutch   West  Indies  Visit  St.  Maarten/Saba  Web  Sites: 
www.mrstm.com For Caribbean Vacancies visit: www.caribbeanjobfair.com

E/ RENAISSANCE GRAND BEACH RESORT INTRODUCES 'ESCAPE TO ROMANCE' PACKAGE

St.  Thomas,  U.S.V.I  (August 24, 2000) – The Renaissance Grand Beach 
Resort  in  St.  Thomas  invites  couples  to  run  away together to a 
Caribbean paradise with the new "Escape to Romance" package.

Available  now  through  December  15,  2000,  the "Escape to Romance" 
package  is  priced  at  $170  per night and includes: a deluxe island 
view  room  with  its  own private balcony or terrace; daily breakfast 
for  two  in  Baywinds  restaurant or served privately in-room by room 
service;  complimentary  champagne  upon  arrival  with  commemorative 
Renaissance  Grand  Beach  2000  champagne  glasses  to  take  home as 
souvenirs;  and  the  choice  of either a romantic sunset sail or half 
day  snorkel sail. Also included are a free introductory SCUBA lesson, 
complimentary  snorkel  gear,  and  all  non-motorized water sports as 
well  as  use  of  the  resort's six lighted tennis courts and fitness 
center  (including  steam  room, sauna and exercise classes). A three-
night minimum stay is required and rates are subject to availability.

The  Renaissance  Grand  Beach  Resort  on St. Thomas is nestled in 34 
acres  of lush tropical hills that meet the turquoise Caribbean Sea at 
its  own  white  sand  beach.  The resort's 290 guest rooms include 36 
suites,  all  featuring  their own private balcony or terrace, perfect 
for  quietly watching the sunset together. Lined with brightly colored 
tropical   blooms  and  lush  greenery,  the  resort's  winding  paths 
encourage  romantic hand-in-hand strolls, especially to the top of the 
hillside,  which offers a scenic view of the ocean. Along the resort's 
beach,  couples can find comfortable hammocks swaying between the palm 
trees that are big enough for two to lounge the day away. 

When  not  spending  time alone together, couples will enjoy the range 
of  facilities and activities the resort offers. The Renaissance Grand 
Beach  Resort  boasts  three  restaurants  and bars with special theme 
nights,  large oceanfront swimming pool and smaller secluded pool, on-
site  dive center, various water sports and six lighted tennis courts. 
In  addition, the resort's fitness center features a steam room, sauna 
and  Lifecycle  equipment  along  with  a  selection  of luxurious spa 
treatments  that  can be administered either in the massage room or on 
the  beach.  Wedding  services  are  also  available  at this romantic 
retreat,  varying  from  a  simple  ceremony  to  extravagant packages 
complete with all embellishments.

The  Renaissance  Grand  Beach  Resort  is  just  seven miles from the 
capital  city  of Charlotte Amalie, which offers world-class duty free 
shopping.  Other  popular  pastimes  on  the  island  include  sailing 
excursions  to  St.  John  or  the  British Virgin Islands, helicopter 
sightseeing  tours,  horseback  riding  and  deep sea fishing. Golf is 
also  available at the Mahogany Run Golf Course, just three miles from 
the resort.

The  Renaissance  Grand  Beach  Resort  is  a  member  of  Marriott  & 
Renaissance  Offshore  Resorts.  For additional information or to make 
reservations,  call  the Marriott Resort Desk at 1-800-223-6388. Visit 
us on the web at www.offshoreresorts.com.

2/ JOURNEYS FOR SEPTEMBER 2000

BARBADOS: CLUB ROCKLEY BY TERESA BRODERICK

My  husband, teenage daughter and myself spent 14 extremely happy days 
at  Club  Rockley, Barbados. We stayed in the Orange Hill rooms, which 
were  bright  and  spacious.  The  whole  of  the properties were well 
maintained  as  were  the  extensive  golfing  grounds.  There  were 4 
restaurants  to  choose  from,  one  in  the  golf house, which served 
similar  to pub grub, one self service restaurant which was excellent, 
the  menus were extensive, and 2 a la cartes, one at the main area and 
one  at  the  beach, both of which you had to book in advance for. The 
food  was  really  excellent.  The  staff were extremely attentive and 
polite.

I  can  recommend the catamaran trips, to swim with the turtles, the 4 
x  4  safari  adventure,  Harrisons Caves, the Rum factory, we hired a 
car  to  take  us  round the island and found many places of interest. 
Bridgetown  itself  has wonderful jewelry shops, the perfume seemed to 
be  cheaper  than  at  the  airport on the way out, which may be worth 
remembering.

The  beach  is lovely, you can walk there, but we took the shuttle bus 
which  takes  about  5 - 10 minutes to get there. There is a beach bar 
and  restaurant  for your lunch. There are plenty of water sports with 
people  to teach you or to take you on Hobby-Cat rides, or you can lay 
under  the  palm  trees and watch the sea. There are plenty of fish in 
the sea, so worth snorkeling.

I would certainly recommend Club Rockley.

BELIZE: CAYE CAULKER BY RANDY FAULK

I  spent  12  days  on Caye Caulker in early June 2000, staying at the 
Iguana  Reef  Inn.  This  inn  is  undoubtedly the nicest place on the 
island,  and  the  owner, Mario, was quite nice and helpful throughout 
my  stay.  His  girlfriend,  however,  was  different.  She  obviously 
disliked  Americans  (although  she  had never visited the USA) and it 
showed  in  her  attitude  and  behavior.  She was the only unfriendly 
person  I  met  on  the  whole  island.  Rooms  were  VERY  nice,  air 
conditioned,  and quite well decorated/furnished, but I felt the price 
was  a  bit  high  in  comparison  to  other  lodging available on the 
island.

The  food  on  this  island  was quite good, with the Sand Box Bar and 
Restaurant,  which  seemed  to be the favorite of the locals, standing 
out  in  particular.  The  food was always good, but the service was a 
bit  lacking. Other restaurants were also good, such as the Oceanside, 
the  Happy  Lobster,  Syd's,  and  a  little Italian place on the main 
street  (operated  by  a little Italian lady who was SO nice! Food was 
quite  excellent!).  Restaurants  that  were  not good were: Sobre Las 
Olas  (meager  portions,  TERRIBLE  service),  Popeye's (food was VERY 
bad,  so  was  service).  Food was mostly inexpensive by US standards, 
with  a  person  being able to eat quite well (3 meals) on a budget of 
$20-$25 US per day.

Bars:  The  Sand  Box  was again my favorite, The Lazy Lizard my least 
favorite    (the    bartender   was   constantly   trying   to   cheat 
you/shortchange  or overcharge). You had better like rum, or acquire a 
taste  for  it  when  there,  as  the  selection  of  alcohol is a bit 
limited. The local beer, Belikin, was pretty good.

The  island  itself, is a bit "impoverished", bordering on third world 
status,  IMHO.  Living  conditions  for  most  of the residents looked 
pretty "grim".

The  residents  of  this island were quite friendly and laid back. The 
"Rastas"  were  not  much of a bother, and pretty much left you alone, 
except  for  the occasional panhandler or dirtweed dealer, looking for 
a  handout  or  a  sale.  Crime  is  definitely  NOT a problem on this 
island.  You  were  able  to  walk the streets freely at night without 
worry.  The night life was not bad for such a small island either, but 
not much action for singles. Definitely a destination for couples.

The  SCUBA  diving was nothing less than AWESOME there, and well worth 
the  trip  just  for  that alone. The reef was very well protected and 
preserved,  visibility  was excellent underwater, with an abundance of 
sea  life.  We used Frenchies Dive Service while there, and were quite 
happy  with  them.  Alex,  Abel and Carl (their divemasters) were very 
good  and  worthy  of a big fat tip at the end of the day, IMHO!. Alex 
was our favorite-super nice guy, great guide!

Getting  there: After landing in Belize City, I recommend you take the 
flights  on  Tropic  Air  to the islands, avoiding the taxicab ride to 
the  water  taxi  port, and Belize City altogether. I did NOT care for 
Belize  City  at  all,  and  felt quite uneasy while there. Very scary 
place, IMHO!

All  in  all,  I  would  recommend  a  1  week  stay  on  this island, 
especially  if  you  are  a  diver.  That  seems to be about the right 
length  of  time  to  see  and  do  most everything this island has to 
offer.  Be  sure to bring plenty of mosquito repellent! BTW, there are 
no  good  beaches  on  this  island,  just  a  strip  of sand near the 
"split". If you are looking for a beach, this is NOT the place.

Using  a  5  star  rating  system,  I  rate this island 2 1/2 out of 5 
stars. Good diving, but not much else to offer.

BONAIRE BY LARRY OBERLANDER

The Plan

We  have visited Bonaire many times. Yet, no previous trip had been as 
anticipated  as  this  one. Planning began back in 1996 and by October 
1997  we  held  reservations  for a group of ten family members at the 
Sand  Dollar.  This was no ordinary dive trip and everyone was psyched 
to celebrate Christmas and New Years 2000 in the Caribbean.

Every  detail of our trip was carefully planned; from the limo ride to 
the  airport  to  what  foods  we  would bring and who would carry the 
Christmas  presents  and  artificial  Christmas  tree. Even ALM's best 
efforts to lose our reservations could not deter us.

Millie  and  I, along with our three children (Aileen 17, Emma 12, and 
Robert  9,)  Ralph  Sr,  and  our nephew Michael departed in the early 
morning  hours  from  Boston's Logan Airport on Delta. We were to meet 
up  with  Millie's sister MJ and MJ's son and daughter-in-law (William 
and  Leslie)  in Atlanta for the ALM non-stop to Bonaire. Despite some 
confusion  about  where  to  check-in  at Atlanta and a somewhat minor 
delay by ALM standards we were on our way to Bonaire.

The  one thing that we hadn't planned on was a nasty interloper by the 
name of Hurricane Lenny. 
Hurricane Lenny

Just  as  our  anticipation  was  at a peak we started to hear reports 
about hurricane Lenny over the Internet.

Sand  Dollar called about a week before our departure and offered us a 
refund.  But  that was too late to stop the momentum of our group. Our 
bags  were packed and the wheels had been set in motion. So we decided 
to make the best of whatever awaited us.

When  we  set  down  at  Flamingo  Airport we were greeted by the warm 
night  air.  The  sights,  the sounds, the smells: all said Bonaire as 
usual.  The  damage wasn't evident until we checked in and walked down 
to the waters edge.
 
Lenny,  although  the  storm  itself  never reached Bonaire, created a 
storm  surge and wave action that hit Bonaire from the northwest. On a 
calm  and  clear  day in November huge waves battered Bonaire's shore-
front  structures  and  shallow coral reefs. When it was all over much 
of Bonaire's shoreline was in a shambles.

Many  reefs  that  were protected either by the northwest point of the 
island  or Klein Bonaire were undamaged. At other sites the damage was 
nearly  complete. The remains of reefs were thrown up on the shore and 
at  the  Sand Dollar little remained of the dive shop and Green Parrot 
restaurant  except shattered concrete and splintered wood. The shallow 
portion  of  Bari  Reef,  in front of the Sand Dollar, was a desert of 
white  sand  and  coral rubble. A new beach was formed to the right of 
the former dive shop.

Sand Dollar/ Den Laman

Our  group  was assigned to side by side units. We had a three bedroom 
unit  (E1)  that was the most nicely furnished unit we have stayed in. 
This pleased everyone.

Despite  assurances  by the Sand Dollar office that food service and a 
bar  was  in  operation at the pool area this was not the case at all. 
The  staff  at  the  Sand  Dollar seemed to be in a state of shock and 
little was offered in the way of activities.

This  is where the staff of the Den Laman restaurant really stepped in 
and  saved  our  vacation.  They  allowed  us to run a tab for the two 
weeks  that  we  stayed  on  Bonaire  and  really made us feel welcome 
despite  being  under-staffed. The youmg folks in our group could come 
and  go  as  they  pleased for meals, snacks, etc. We even had our own 
designated table. Thanks, Den Laman.

Diving

  During our first week we did shore dives and got our tanks from Sand 
Dollar  who  were operating from a tent set up in front of the remains 
of  the old dive shop. We dove the undamaged sites north of Andrea I & 
II.  Old  favorites  such as Thousands Steps and Ol' Blue were much as 
we  remembered them. The big difference now being that these sites are 
crowded with many divers and snorkelers.

Because  Sand  Dollar  was  transporting  divers  to the marina beside 
Harbor  Village  for  their boat dives we decided to give a relatively 
new  operation  a try. Photo Tours Divers is located on the premise of 
the  Caribbean  Court  Condos  which  is on the canal behind the Plaza 
Resort.  The  office is run by Dos Winkle and his family. Dos, who has 
published  several  photo  books  on  Bonaire, spends much of his time 
teaching  U/W photography courses. They employ several divemasters who 
run the boat dives. A very friendly group.

They  use a center-console outboard that can quickly access dive sites 
off  of  Klien  Bonaire. Normally we had 8-10 divers but they probably 
have  more  at  times.  Because they were called Photo Tour Divers and 
advertised   photography   as  their  specialty  I  assumed  that  the 
divemasters  would  point out hard to find and unusual photo subjects. 
They  did  not. That and the fact that the dive ladder on the boat was 
hard  to  negotiate  were  the  only  negatives. Everything else about 
their operation was great.

We  dove  sites  on the south side of Klien that were undamaged. Sites 
like  Bonaventure,  Capt. Don's Reef, and Rockpile were in good shape. 
But  again,  competition for these remaining spots was fierce. Most of 
the  time  we  were  forced  to  pick  an  alternate  site because the 
intended site was already occupied.

Fish  life  was  more  abundant  than usual, or at least it seemed so. 
Even  octopus  roamed  in  the  open  during  the  day. In my personal 
opinion  this  is  due to the fact that much of their habitat has been 
destroyed.  Large  horse-eyed jacks cruised close to the reef ready to 
grab an easy meal. Lots of nervous fish.

Restaurants etc.

Restaurants   that   were   our   favorites  on  previous  trips  were 
disappointing.  Richard  was  among  the  missing  (reported  to be in 
Montana)  and  the  restaurant  that  bares  his  name  has  suffered. 
Suprisingly,  The  Rum  Runner at the Habitat was one of the best that 
we  ate  at.  Mosquitos  were a problem throughout our trip and insect 
repellent was difficult to find, even at ten dollars U.S. a can.

We  chartered  the Samur for a day of snorkeling, eating, drinking and 
sailing.  Everyone  had  a  great time although Lenny was to interfere 
again.  The Samur used to take it's passengers to the shallow acropora 
reefs  on  the  west  side of Klein. Those corals are now bleaching on 
the shore, sadly.

New  Years  Eve  on Bonaire brought lots of partying and fireworks. It 
was  quite  a  sight  to see fireworks going off all along the western 
shore  of  the  island  while  we  enjoyed drinks at Buddy's. The next 
morning  we  left  for the airport early. The streets of the town were 
painted  red  from  the expended fireworks and revelers were stumbling 
home in the morning light. A fine time was had by all. 

Summary

We  were  saddened  to  see  that  many  of  our  favorite  reefs were 
destroyed.  We  liked  Photo Tours Divers but were disappointed in the 
Sand  Dollars  and there seeming lack of effort to provide service for 
their quests.

Is  there  still  good  diving on Bonaire? Yes. Will the damaged reefs 
recover?  Probably, but not in my lifetime. Will we return to Bonaire? 
Yes, absolutely. 

BVI: ANEGADA BY TOM CARROLL

Trip: 7/00

  It  must be understood that the crew and I, that is to say Nancy and 
I,  greatly  enjoy  our  Caribbean  sailing  vacations.  We  both like 
sailing,  traveling, vacationing and the Caribbean. It's just that our 
cadence   is   slightly   different.   The   crew  finds  our  travels 
satisfactorily  long  on  Caribbean,  long  on  traveling  and long on 
sailing.  It's  shortness  on vacationing that silently vexes her and, 
for  reasons  that  will  appear,  alarms  me.  Surely, this is not an 
uncommon  condition.  The  terms  sailing and vacationing are far from 
synonymous,  just  like the terms travel and vacationing are sometimes 
almost in opposition. 

There's  no  denying that the best salt airs and the finest oceanfront 
views  are among sailing's special virtues. But there are choppy seas, 
minuscule  bathrooms,  stingy  hot showers and clammy bed sheets, too. 
When  we  sail, our fun quotient's always high, in fact, it maxed this 
year  as  six of us, all good friends, shared our rented boat, but the 
privacy  index  teetered, too. Then there's the issue of the skipper's 
shipboard  behavior.  On  land and under no stress, trifling character 
flaws  go  undetected  but aboard and underway, especially when things 
go  awry,  the  very worst of Bligh's soul becomes incarnate, reigning 
and raving in its eighteenth century way. 

These  things  coalesce to a horror: what if the crew didn't reup next 
year?  Without  crew, a wannabee sea captain would sail the courses of 
his bathtub, that'd be it. 

So  a  smart  course's  been  set, a course to enhance the vacationing 
part.  On  charter,  we  do all the stuff charterers usually do but we 
also  stop  midway to take a room with a bed that never pitches, rolls 
nor  yaws  and  a  head  that  minds its manners. On this year's 7 day 
British  Virgin Islands charter our choice was the comfortable Anegada 
Reef  Hotel.  When charter's over, we remain for a few days at a super 
duper  resort,  or  maybe  two,  the  posher  the better. This year we 
picked  world  class places. First, The Ritz-Carlton, reached by ferry 
to  St  Thomas,  and thereafter onward by seaplane to St Croix and The 
Buccaneer. 

Somebody  might say, "Now, there goes a real chump. Redundant lodgings 
while  the  boat's  meter runs! Ravished by rack rates and interisland 
transportation  charges!  He's  ‘right off the boat' in more ways than 
one."  My answer: never underestimate the kindness extended to chumps. 


Our  story's  like  our  strategy - in three parts: Anegada, St Thomas 
and St Croix. 

ANEGADA.  To  date, there's been no CTR articles about Anegada, second 
largest  of  the  British  Virgin  Islands. Out of sight, out of mind, 
perhaps.  Anegada  stands  alone  nearly  20  miles  northeast  of the 
principal   archipelago.  That's  not  the  only  distance  separating 
Anegada  from  her  sisters,  stunning  beauties  courted  by tourists 
struck   with   their  desirable  mountain  topography.  By  contrast, 
Anegada's  lucky  to  get  a  date, her landscape is so flat and rough 
complected.  There's  been  no previous CTR report because nobody goes 
there. 

That's  one  explanation,  here's  another. People go to Anegada, they 
love  it.  They  love  its  many  miles of undeveloped, wide, pristine 
beaches.  They  love  its  broad  fringing reefs and beach snorkeling. 
They  love  eating lobsters grilled on the beach and watching nature's 
splendor  in  the  evening  skies.  But  what  they  love  the most is 
Anegada's   charm,  the  rare  charm  of  a  Caribbean  place  remote, 
underdeveloped  and,  best  of  all, blessed with low tourist density. 
Visitors  vow  secrecy  about  Anegada,  committed  to  a  covenant of 
silence lest widebodies learn of the place. 

The  truth  is  somewhere  between  the two. In fact, few people visit 
Anegada.  Some  like  it,  others don't. But one thing's for sure, the 
island  is  definitely outside the vacation destination loop. Visitors 
are  mostly  daytrippers,  usually  boaters  and  vacationers  staying 
elsewhere  in  the Virgins. They've come over to experience the fabled 
northside   beaches,   snorkeling  and  nifty  beach  bars.  Why  only 
daytrippers? 

Maybe  people  don't  like Anegada's stubby, scrubby desert looks. But 
if  looks  like  this  killed  destination  tourism, Anguilla would be 
confined  to  St. Martin's day trade, and that's not the case. Lack of 
hospitality?  Doesn't  cut  it,  the 200 or so resident Anegadians are 
especially  cordial  to  visitors.  There's no all-weather, deep water 
harbor,  but  air  travel's  the  thing and has been for decades. It's 
none  of  the above, the answer's more obvious: Anegada doesn't have a 
single  resort,  not one. There's just nowhere to stay overnight, save 
the  handful  of  villas  and cottages or the only hotel, the pleasant 
but small Anegada Reef Hotel. 

How  is  it  that  time has passed this island by? The answer requires 
comment  from  somebody  versed  in  the history, culture and economic 
development  aims  of  the place. I'm not. I'll stick with its visible 
effect.  If  the  benefits  of  development  are  what  you like - the 
resorts  themselves, the variety of fine restaurants, shops, boutiques 
and  structured  playtime  activities  -  give  it a pass. Desperately 
needy  you'd find it, a quirky doldrums. On the other hand, if a risen 
Bogie  seeks  your  counsel  about  a  joint to replace his now condo-
covered  Key  Largo,  suggest  Anegada.  The  West  Indian  elan here, 
bottled in a time warp, might be what he'd be looking for. 

Elan's  nice,  but  it  trailed at the bottom of our wish list when we 
checked  into  the  Anegada  Reef Hotel ("ARH"). What we wanted was an 
attractive,   clean,   well   maintained   place  with  spacious,  air 
conditioned  rooms.  Our  bunch  likes  the  outdoors  but nobody's in 
denial,  so  we  wanted  comfiness  in  ultimate  proximity, meaning a 
little  pampering  and  a room practically on the beach - not near the 
beach,  just  about  on  the  beach.  We wanted our service prompt and 
friendly,  not  glacial  and begrudging. We also wanted pleasant beach 
companions,  like  an  open  air  restaurant  and  convivial  bar.  We 
especially  wanted  a  menu of finger lickin', lip smackin', homestyle 
Caribbean  cooking. After all, given the obligatory full American plan 
at  ARH  we'd  be  in bondage to the hotel kitchen. Submission without 
regret was our aim. 

We  got  just  about  all we wanted, plus a good measure of elan. But, 
first, the trip. 

For   boaters   like   us,  getting  there's  an  adventure,  even  if 
melodramatized  in  the  lore  of  bareboat  chartering. In the age of 
sail,  some  300 vessels were lost on the surrounding reefs. The reefs 
still  demand  respect but today with a GPS the danger is considerably 
lessened,  to  the  point where it's comparatively easy. Beam onto the 
sea  buoy  marking  the  pass  through  the  reefs  and from there the 
channel,   albeit   not   a   deep  one,  is  laterally  defined  with 
reds/greens,  just  like at home. Without a GPS, it's not much harder. 
A  compass,  chart,  bearings  off  Gorda  Peak and binoculars to spot 
Anegada's  palms  and pines are really all you need. No weekend sailor 
with  basic  piloting  skills  and  ordinary  prudence should have the 
slightest  hesitancy,  the  ghosts  of 300 navigators notwithstanding. 
Each  year the principal anchorage, Setting Point, grows a little more 
crowded, indicating more charterers are making the trip. 

No  boat,  but  you'd  still like to arrive by sea? Going to take some 
resourcefulness.  There's  no  ferry  service  here.  Trip's too long, 
passengers  are  too  few,  I suppose. For you, it's either the weekly 
headboat   trip   from   Bitter   End  Yacht  Club's  dock  [currently 
Wednesdays]  or  one  of the entrepreneurs out of Virgin Gorda's North 
Sound/Yacht  Harbor or Tortola's Roadtown, mostly catamaran operators. 
The cats sail irregular schedules, so current info is needed. 

Air  is  the  more  reliable,  less  exciting  way, trusting of course 
you're  not  spooked  by little planes. Clair Aero flies little planes 
four  days  a  week  out  of  Tortola,  several  flights a day, $59 pp 
roundtrip.  Also, there are air charters from Tortola and Virgin Gorda 
that  offer  discounted  deals  on airfare, lunch, snorkeling gear and 
transportation  to  the northside beaches. One was priced at $110, pp. 
The  airport itself is a smilin' jack affair, located in the middle of 
the  nowhere  that's everywhere in Anegada, consisting of an air sock, 
runway   and   a   few   buildings,   including   customs/immigration. 
Transportation to the beaches is easily arranged. 

For  boat  arrivals,  there's  no public dock, landings are at the ARH 
dock  or  at its neighbor, Neptune's Treasure Restaurant. You could, I 
suppose,  stop  here  and go no further. There are, after all, beaches 
right  here.  But  you'd miss the best ones. The northside beaches are 
wider,   whiter   and   prettier   with  reefs  accessible  for  beach 
snorkeling.  Around  Christmastime,  though,  I'm  told that northerly 
winds  raise Atlantic swells, resulting in the southside beaches being 
the  more  desirable, at least for swimming. Snorkeling is inferior on 
the  southside  no  matter  what  the  season.  Regardless,  the  best 
southside  beaches  are  not  at AHR or even close by, they're distant 
from  the  anchorage, out near the isolated Pomato Point where there's 
a  nice  restaurant. But one way or the other, most daytrippers end up 
using island transportation to get to the beach. 

Are  you  a  city  type  given to elbowing neighbors out of the way to 
grab  the  first cab? Give it a rest in Anegada. Besides, why on earth 
would  you  want  the  first  cab?  You'll  want  to  linger  at ARH's 
beachside  gazebo  bar.  There, you'll be initiated into the friendly, 
casual  way  things  are done around here. Off hours, this is an honor 
bar  where  you  fix  your own drinks, calling for a barkeeper only if 
slaking  your  particular thirst requires a special mix. Call for one. 
Here,  there's  no  fakin'.  You're  gonna  get  an  ecstacy  slakin'. 
Detained  in  walls  of  glass  but  eagerly  awaiting  liberation  in 
quenching's  noble  cause  is  the house drink, the pure liquid velvet 
known as rum smoothies, pronounced "smoodies". 

Your  companions  say  it's  too  early  for  a  smoothie?  Don't like 
drinking  alone?  No  problem.  Look up Charlie, the hotel's pet goat. 
Never  met  a  smoothie he didn't like, never met a bar bill he didn't 
duck,  Charlie  will  happily  hoof  on  over to join you for a round, 
assuming  you're  buying.  Charlie knows all the cabbies but you won't 
need  an  edge.  The  cab loading zone here is practically adjacent to 
the  bar.  Choose a leeward side stool and you'll leap right into one. 
Smoodie empowerment. 

Anegada's  generally  treeless,  there's  little natural shade. You'll 
know  of  what  I  speak if your cab is an open, safari type - a truck 
with  benches  mounted  in  the bed but without surrey top. It's a fun 
ride  under glorious tropical skies, but there's no mitigation of that 
relentless  sun.  So  if  you're  UV conscious, bring not only lots of 
sunscreen,  but wrap-ups too. Consider wide brimmed hats and even long 
sleeved  shirts. This year, I gifted my skin-sensitive pal, Bill, with 
a  French  Legionnaire's  hat, extra long peak with a flap that covers 
the  back  and  sides  of  the neck. Good thing to have, as is a large 
water bottle for sipping. 

Anegada  Reef  Hotel's  for  romantics.  So  pretend  if you like that 
you've  arrived by pumpkin carriage, but then get a grip - there'll be 
no  footman  here to greet you. Check-in's efficient but as unassuming 
and  laid  back  as  the  place  itself. In our case, it was conducted 
outdoors  using  a  little table that was moved around into the shade. 
We'd  arrived  by  favorable tide and on the wind, easterly tradewinds 
forward  of the beam. Nature's accelerants, notoriously indifferent to 
check-in  times, caused us to be earlier than expected, a circumstance 
inviting   a   real  attitude.  But  what  attitude?  An  attitude  to 
accommodate  the guest, or to accommodate the staff's routine? We were 
accommodated. 

But  the  subject  was moot. Our plan was to begin island explorations 
without  delay, so we jumped into our reserved vehicle and roared off. 
It  was  a  mini-version  of an island safari cab, a small, open truck 
holding   two   in  the  cab  with  benches  behind  for  8  or,  more 
comfortably,  6.  It was Dick, I believe, who questioned our choice of 
land  transport,  declaring  we looked like migrant workers headed for 
the  fields,  which I took to be wholly insulting. To migrant workers, 
that  is,  given  our  briny,  disheveled  look. It's true the classes 
travel  differently but trading places on holiday was an enlightening, 
not to mention butt jarrin', thing. Those benches were hard. 

The  most desirable beaches extend about 15 continuous miles, a ribbon 
banding  the  island's  entire  northside,  west  end,  east  end  and 
portions   of   southside.   This  prime  mileage  is  virtually  100% 
undeveloped,  remote  and  accessible  by  foot. Typically, though not 
universally,  there's road access, too. Inspired by a determined will, 
pricked  by  a  spirit  of  adventure  and  helped by an accommodating 
cabbie,  you could go just about anywhere you darned well pleased. But 
most  people  prefer one of three northside beach locations, each with 
resident  beach  bar, restaurant and beach shade. We've visited all of 
them  during past trips, but confined ourselves this year to just one, 
plus an island tour with our first timer friends. 

Loblolly  Bay with its Big Bamboo Beach Bar is the default destination 
of  the cabs, 5 minutes from the airport, 20 from the dock. The others 
are  Flash  of  Beauty Beach Bar located on adjacent Loblolly Bay East 
and Cow Wreck Beach Bar, several miles west on a bay of same name. 

By  Anegadian standards, the beach at Big Bamboo is getting congested. 
Well,  maybe  that's  an  exaggeration.  Mac's  Campground  is so well 
tucked  behind  the dunes you're barely able to see it. But this year, 
Mac's  will  be joined by a house now under construction. In a similar 
vein,  at  Cow  Wreck  there's two small cottages, unobtrusive and set 
back  at  such  an  angle from the beach you'd have to climb up on the 
dunes  and  crane your neck to see them. But, still, they're there. So 
if  you  are a purist and only a wholly undeveloped area will do, then 
it's  Flash  of  Beauty  for  you.  Big Bamboo has a small, shaded bar 
conferring  a  beach view once ranked among the world's prettiest by a 
major  travel  magazine.  Seashore indentations here are called "bays" 
but  are  more  like  small coves. Typically, this one is protected by 
wide  reefs  that  break the incoming waves about ½ mile out. Dramatic 
surf  lines result, like the kind you'd associate with the South Seas. 
For  most  of  the  year,  the  lagoon inside the cove is a placid and 
refined snorkeling host. 

The  sea  bears  the color and clarity of gin, not unlike Bahamian out 
island  waters.  The  tropical  daytime  skies  are  normally  bright, 
beautiful  and  encouraging  of  the  indolence,  goofing  off and day 
dreaming  that should properly accompany a Caribbean holiday at a drop 
dead  magnificent  location  like  this. Later, those skies banish the 
frights  of  night  by retaining a measure of their brightness, ablaze 
with stars of every constellation. 

Lunch  and dinner are served on picnic tables under a pavilion located 
behind  diminutive  seagrape trees and other natural shrubbery, though 
the  beach  and  sea remain visible. Hammocks are strung in the trees, 
there  to  be  snagged  by  snoozers. But why snooze when lunches like 
this  are  available?  Grilled  fish, ribs and chicken are served with 
rice  and  Caribbean  veggies,  as  are alternative dishes for puerile 
tastes,  the  latter  served without age discrimination, just like the 
tastes  themselves.  But  the  speciality  is lobster, caught locally. 
You'll  find  them pricey but lobsters demand a visitor's attention in 
Anegada  the  way  Chesapeake  crabs  do  in  Annapolis  - they're the 
hometown  favorite,  and  for  good  reason. They're grilled here over 
driftwood  coals  giving the lobster meat an unfamiliar but remarkably 
tasty,  smoked  flavor.  The size and cost of lobster may be excessive 
for lunch, but dinner is another story. 

The  crew loves beaches. Loves to find ‘em, sit on ‘em, walk ‘em, swim 
off  ‘em  and  just look at ‘em. And when she's beachless she likes to 
think  about  ‘em.  Anegada is the crew's Brigadoon, and small wonder. 
Under  chartered  sail,  we've  visited  much  of  the Lesser Antilles 
during   the   past   decade.  To  our  knowledge,  there's  no  other 
uninterrupted  strand  of  this  length  and  character except perhaps 
leeward  Barbuda,  north  of Antigua. But we've never visited there so 
we know it only by reputation. 

Here  in  Anegada, the beaches are wide, serpentine, seemingly endless 
and  devoutly  spiritual,  offering  a  vision  so beatific the angels 
genuflect.  Anegada's  isolation helps keep the beaches generally free 
of  jetsam  and  washed up flotsam. The sand is soft and white, rising 
gently  to  form  picturesque  and  protective  dunes.  It's a type of 
pulverized  coral,  aptly  called  coral sand. It's as pretty as beach 
sand  gets, and cooler under foot than most. The sun's afire at midday 
but  the  sand is comfortably walkable. You won't see many footprints, 
though,  except  perhaps those of sea turtles and harmless iguanas. At 
the  beach bars, oversized umbrellas, framed in wood and thatched with 
fronds, keep the beach furniture and their occupants in ample shade. 

They  say  if you've never snorkeled Belize, Seychelles, Maldives, the 
Red  Sea  or  the Western Pacific, you're unqualified to comment about 
outstanding  snorkeling.  I  haven't,  but I'm going to anyway. What I 
like  about  Anegada  is  beach  snorkeling.  I'm not crazy about boat 
snorkeling.  The  setup here is suitable both for beginner and veteran 
snorkelers.  Beginners  will  enjoy the many good coral heads close in 
to  the  shore,  in  water  not  too  deep nor so shallow they'll fear 
scoring  their  stomachs  on  the  coral.  Within  reasonable swimming 
distance  are  splendid,  full  scale  reefs to be investigated by the 
more  experienced.  A  combo  like this may exist elsewhere, it's just 
we've  never  found it. The crew and I like to mosey in and out of the 
water  when the spirit moves us, grabbing a little snack or nap on the 
beach,  then  returning  for  more snorkeling when the spirit returns. 
That's  the  good  life,  a life not livable on the schedules required 
for boat snorkeling.

The  coral  itself is extensive, varied, healthy and vibrant though at 
Big  Bamboo there was bleaching close in. Fish were likewise plentiful 
and  varied,  even a few sea turtles. Currents were manageable, though 
Flash  of  Beauty's  are  strong enough to warrant alerting rookies of 
drifting  and  potential fatigue. One year, the crew had a near run-in 
with  a  large gray presence but scooted back to shore before making a 
positive  identification.  I  figured  it was a nurse shark, scary but 
harmless.  She  figured it was a shark, period. The crew and I haven't 
used  our  C  cards  for  years  but  no  matter since scuba diving is 
currently  banned.  The ban is intended to further environmental goals 
but  that's  a  vague,  dubious  justification  when the ban serves to 
protect the indigenous lobstering industry. 

Loblolly  Beach is every bit as breathtaking as it's cracked up to be. 
Flash  of  Beauty is comparably pretty and completely undeveloped. But 
our  preference  is Cow Wreck. Maybe because it took us several visits 
just  to  find  the  place.  Perhaps  it's the karma here of uncertain 
destinies,  perfectly  fitting  since Robinson Crusoe fretted over his 
in  a like setting. Whatever, it's our favorite. Of course, it doesn't 
hurt  that  the  snorkeling  and  dining are on a par with the others, 
maybe  even  a  tad  superior.  Hurricane  Lenny  ravaged  much of the 
Caribbean  but  it  brought  a positive change to Cow Wreck. There's a 
new  bar,  closer to the beach than the old one, offering unparalleled 
views  of  the  superb  beach  and  environs.  We  had  the  place  to 
ourselves,  not  another  soul around, other than the manager who made 
us  rum  drinks rivaling our pet one. Se spoke of the Anegadian school 
system,  her  daughter's attendance there and things like that, things 
of universal interest to parents everywhere. 

We  drove  to  Anegada's  sole town, more like a small village, called 
the  Settlement,  a  place  catering  almost exclusively to the locals 
with  only a few stores, presentable but undercapitalized in the third 
world  way.  The  action  spot  in  town  is the electrical generating 
plant.  We've  heard  a  town bar has local music some nights but have 
never  tried  it  out. Teeth of every ilk, especially sweet ones, were 
content  after  our  visit  to  Dotsie's  bakery.  Tourist shopping is 
confined  to  two  cottage  industry  pottery shops outside town and a 
well stocked gift shop at ARH. 

Other  than  desert  terrain,  domesticated goats, donkeys and cattle, 
there's  little  to  see on most of the island's roads. Structures are 
pretty   much  confined  to  the  Settlement,  its  environs  and  the 
anchorage  area.  There  are  few  pedestrians.  95%  of the roads are 
crushed  limestone  and  sand,  many  sections are in poor repair. The 
sole  paved  section  is  in  excellent  shape,  but  it  seems mainly 
intended  for  traveling  between  the  airport  and the Settlement, a 
phenomenon  that  may serve the locals, but less so the tourists. From 
the  airport, the latter are headed in the opposite direction, towards 
the  beaches.  Maybe  it's  less  a  road  than  a  concrete political 
statement, offering a clue about the absence of resorts. . 

The   balance   of  the  roads,  the  95%  previously  mentioned,  are 
maintained  by  crews of agoraphobes. These crews are committed to the 
abolition   of   outside   travel.   Rough-and-tumble   would  be  one 
description  of  the  roads, rough and barely ready for vehicles would 
be another. If the potholes don't get you, the soft sand will. 

But  there's  a silver lining to that cloud. Anegada offers the fun of 
off  road  driving,  but on the road. There are few vehicles, not many 
intersections,  zero  traffic  lights,  no  stop  signs  and generally 
straightaway  roads.  Other  than  driving  on the left, there are not 
many  traffic rules. The unposted speed limit, 30 mph or so I believe, 
is  largely  academic because on these roads the rental vehicles can't 
go  much  faster  anyway.  There are roads over the dunes, the road to 
Cow  Wreck  is one, that are nothing short of roller coaster rides. Up 
and  down  over  the  little hills of packed sand, hanging on for dear 
life.  One  year  we  rented  a  van,  battle  scarred  with  tropical 
corrosion.  Returning  from  the  beach over the dunes and near crazed 
with  smoodie  thirst, we yelled to our designated driver, "Floor it". 
He  replied,  "It's  floorless". He meant it. The floor was just about 
rusted out, explaining the draft. 

Floorless  or  not,  the  beauty  part of having your own vehicle is a 
chance  to cruise the rarely traveled northside road. It offers access 
to   secondary  roads  branching  out  to  the  more  remote  beaches, 
including  the  roller  coaster road to Cow Wreck. Eastbound, past the 
point  where  the  overhead  power  lines stop, you must start dodging 
patches  of  soft  sand. The auto rental agents make clear: if you get 
stuck,  it's  your  risk,  towing  is extra. We've never rented a four 
wheel  drive,  so we quit where the power lines do. I've read accounts 
of  travelers who've tackled this area with two wheel drive, including 
forays westbound from Loblolly Bay. Didn't make it. 

The  massive  interior  salt pond is best seen from the same northside 
road.  Where  we  view  it,  with power lines in sight, the hazards of 
soft  sand  don't  intrude.  The  pond, more a tidal, inland saltwater 
lake  really, is a naturalist's paradise, surrounded by a multitude of 
desert  flowers,  bushes  and plants. But the flocks of flamingoes are 
the  scene  stealer.  Shy  and elusive, the birds command patience and 
binoculars  as  the price to see them in the nooks and crannies of the 
pond's  craggy  shores.  This  year  we  missed them but they were out 
there  somewhere.  Tranquility's  afoot  when  these stately, graceful 
creatures  stand  so  very  still  in their own habitat. But it's more 
than  nature's  awe  that  pleasures  here. Add in the smug feeling of 
knowing  that  by  dint  of  vehicular  determination  you've made the 
flamingoes' habitat your own private wildlife preserve. 

For  dinner at ARH we expected one of the prime beach side tables that 
are  set aside for hotel guests. But it had rained and the skies spoke 
ambiguously   of  their  future  plans.  Ambiguity's  a  vice,  as  is 
vacillation,   according  to  our  waitress.  So  beach  or  pavilion, 
either/or,  choose  it  now,  irrevocably.  We chose a table under the 
pavilion  from  which  we  grieved  as the stars came out. Our varied, 
grilled  dinner  selections  were all delicious, service was otherwise 
fine  and  the  setting  satisfactory though dining on the beach would 
have  been  better. Next morning, under skies unequivocally opposed to 
rain,  we  were  served  a  full breakfast at a location closer to the 
beach under some pleasant shade. 

Returning  to  the  service  at  dinner  for a moment, be advised that 
guests  here are expected to place their dinner orders before 4:00 pm, 
as  is  the  custom  everywhere  on  Anegada.  Guests are then given a 
dinner  seating  time.  But  a  heads  up on a key point about outdoor 
barbeques  is  withheld  -  the  barbecued food won't be served for an 
hour  or  more  after  arrival  time.  The practice is to serve diners 
nearly  simultaneously  and  I  guess  it  takes  some  time consuming 
coordination  to  get different entrees just right when you're cooking 
over  driftwood  coals.  But  it  does  cause  grumbling  among hungry 
patrons  unfamiliar  with  the practice. My advice: don't dwell on the 
practice,   focus  on  the  opportunity  presented.  Time,  place  and 
justification  have joined to absolve any excess of the smoodie glass, 
not to mention its custodian. 

We  didn't  pull up a stool this particular night, but the bar had its 
usual  eclectic  crowd,  consisting  of  a few overnighting fishermen, 
yachties  off  their  boats,  hotel guests and locals who'd stopped by 
for  a  drink.  You meet interesting people at the ARH bar. The locals 
are  great conversationalists, seemingly well informed and inclined to 
share  opinions  on  a  wide variety of subjects. Visitors are equally 
interesting.  One  year  we sat with a retired New York City detective 
who  was  on  an extended visit trying to decide whether to move here. 
Another  time, there was a gang, presumably rich and famous, over from 
Necker  Island  for  snorkeling.  Once,  we  chatted  with a Vancouver 
university  professor  and his wife who'd dinghied in for refreshment. 
Later,  a  young  couple  from  England  honeymooning at the hotel sat 
down.  Sometimes  it's  hard  to  strike  up a conversation unless you 
speak  German  or French. Anyway, it's a pleasure to be in the company 
of  people  who  aren't  exactly  like yourself. On that subject, I've 
never  seen a certain hoofed patron after sunset. Nocturnally, he must 
prefer the company of those exactly like himself. 

The  gals  had  first  dibs  on  the  room so we fellows hung around a 
little  while,  then  returned  to  the boat. Lynne, Maryann and Nancy 
reported  everything  was  up  to high standards. The well maintained, 
air  conditioned  room  was  graced  with  a  spiffy  floor, marble or 
simulated  marble,  that  set a good tone for other fine appointments, 
the  functional  island  furniture,  the  comfortable twin beds and an 
equally  comfortable  cot  that was brought in for the third person. A 
coffee  maker  was  stocked  and ready to go. The bathroom had all the 
niceties  you'd  expect at fine lodgings. Everything worked. The power 
didn't fail. The water ran. The toilet flushed. No bugs. 

By  our  count,  there  are  20  rooms  here  in  a  single, one story 
building,  10  of  them  facing  the sea and the remaining with garden 
views.   Landscaping  is  desert  frugal.  There's  no  pool  but  the 
Caribbean  waters  are  calm  and inviting. We didn't have time to try 
the  sea  kayaks  but  these  waters  seem just right for them. Public 
areas  are  not  fancy  but are nicely maintained, including the small 
indoor reception area stocked with books, magazines and easy chairs. 

Although  it's  set  in  a  tropical desert, ARH's atmosphere compares 
with  sea  coast  hotels  in  Great  Britain where the crew and I have 
stayed  a  few  times.  Pleasant  and  well run places, their relaxed, 
holidaymaker  tone is counterpoised by an unmistakable edge of British 
orderliness. The crew and I like that atmosphere. We sensed it here. 

ARH's  proprietors  are  Lowell  and  Sue Wheatley. Mrs Wheatley hails 
from  Manchester,  England.  This  must contribute to the atmosphere I 
mention. 

Comments  of  our party were universally affirmative, everyone enjoyed 
the  beach,  snorkeling, lodgings, the food, the elan and the island's 
wholesome  atmosphere  for  family vacations. Of course, we are all in 
our  fifties  so  our  tastes,  ideas  of a good time and observations 
should  be  weighed  accordingly.  If  weighed  by  travelers in their 
twenties, handicap them accordingly. 

The  crew, as fond of scrabble as she is of beaches, estimated that in 
a  place  like Anegada she could easily knock off a half dozen games a 
day,   knowing   there   would  not  be  the  slightest  risk  of  any 
distraction. 

So  if  these  are  the  things  you like, you'll love Anegada and the 
Anegada Reef Hotel. 

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