Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 87
September 1, 1998

Last Update 30 Aug 98 1900ET

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |


JAMAICA: BREEZES, RUNAWAY BAY BY JOE AND MARY PAT MATTSON

Trip 7/98

Background

For  starters, Mary Pat and I are both 45, married 21 years, have five
children  and  in  the  past  year  a  very hectic life. This fall our
oldest  child  is  off  to  college  so  for the past year we had that
distraction  as  well  as  every  day  life.  We  are also avid tennis
players  and  our best friends/tennis pals are travel agents who go to
great  places  each  year  as part of their job. In 1997, our friends,
Nancy   and  Mark,  went  to  Breezes,  Runaway  Bay,  Jamaica,  on  a
complimentary  trip  and loved it. They liked it so much they asked to
be  "comped" again this year but thought it would be great if they had
company.  At a Tennis function dinner in April, they asked us ( begged
us)  to join them this year. At first, Mary Pat was hesitant. It costs
money;  you  need  "kid  coverage"; and being raised Catholic (both of
us)  their  was  a  little  guilt factor - initially. Mark told me the
price  and  the  deal  about  the  "  all inclusive" and after about 5
minutes  I  knew  this  was  a  good  deal.  It was also a good way to
celebrate  our  wedding  anniversary  (  # 21) and Mary Pat's birthday
(#45).  In  addition,  it was also Nancy's birthday (July 9th). We had
never  been to the Caribbean before and with College and other tuition
in  the  offing  I  thought  it  would  be nice for us to have a great
vacation,  out  of  the country, away from the maddening crowd. It was
only  to  be  5  days/4  nights  and Mar and I decided to "go for it".
Between  various family functions, a high school graduation, baseball,
Swimming,  etc.,  we  were  glad we booked and were looking forward to
the  trip.  The  fact  we  were going with good friends who were there
before  really  eased  any  anxiety  about  out of the country travel.
Also,  I  did  extensive  Internet  investigation  about  Jamaica  and
Breezes  so that when we arrived I felt I knew the place. The Internet
is  a great resource for travel information so use it often and E-Mail
seasoned  travelers.  They  couldn't wait to share stories with us and
since our return we have shared our experience with others.

ARRIVAL

Our  plane was scheduled to leave Philadelphia at 8:40 AM on Thursday,
July  9,  1998. It was a full flight and took a long time to board the
plane.  We  got  into the air at 9:10 AM and in 3 hours and 15 minutes
landed  in  Montego  Bay.  The  flight  was  fine and it was sunny, 88
degrees  and  about 300 % humidity on the tarmac---my kind of weather.
We  forgot that Jamaica does not have Daylight Saving Time so while my
watch  said  12:20  PM,  it  was really 11:20 AM.....an extra hour!!!!
Great!

It  took about 45 minutes to clear immigration, claim our bags and get
through  customs.  WE  went  right  to  the SuperClubs desk where they
asked  our destination, took our bags and lead us to a small tour bus,
where  the  bags  were  loaded  and  we took our seats. The bus seated
about  20  people  and  was  full.  The  driver  was  well dressed and
professional.  We proceeded to Runaway Bay by 12:30 PM. We did tip the
Airport  porter  for  loading  our  bags  but this was the last time I
opened my wallet until we left!

As  I  said,  this  was  our first trip to the Caribbeanand on the bus
ride  to  Breezes  you  could  tell  you  were no longer in the United
States.  I  am not being critical here but the fact is that Jamaica is
3rd  world and you are now in their country. The view of the Caribbean
was  great  but  there  is a lot of rocky soil, scrubby vegetation and
tin  shacks  along  the  way.  The  people  seem  happy an you have to
realize  that  this  is  how they live.....and you are guests in their
country.  Because  of  the  British background, they drive on the left
side  (or  the  right  side  as  they say) of the road. The bus driver
drove  fast  and  furious  but  I figured this was his job and he knew
what  he  was  doing.  I  just  looked out the side window and avoided
looking  out  the  front.  We  listened to Reggae music all the way to
Runaway Bay and by 1:50 PM, we arrived!!!

The  check  in  desk  was  open  and  airy. Even though it was hot and
humid..hell,  we're  on vacation in Jamaica in the summer. What do you
expect.  Plus  we like outdoors. The desk employees were well dressed,
courteous  and professional. We filled out our forms and were told our
rooms  were  ready  but that Nancy and Mark's room was not. In reality
it  probably  was  but  as  Mark  noted...."you  are  on  Island  time
now!!!."..  No problem!! ( A phrase we would hear a lot).. We told the
porter  to drop the bags at our room and we went to go get a drink and
some food. Our Jamaican Vacation had begun!!

Rather  than bore you with our day today- minute to minute activities,
I  figured I would give you a virgins eyes view of the Resort and what
we  liked the best. This is a totally prejudiced report and I would be
happy  to  speak  to  anyone about the contents. As I said earlier ,if
you have any questions, we will answer all E-Mail.

THE RESORT

Breezes  Runaway  Bay  is  a  class resort. The facility was clean and
beautifully  landscaped.  The  lobby  is large and airy and there is a
bar  (  The  Pelican  Bar)  where  the lobby ends and leads out to the
grounds.  There  is a large game room with pool tables, etc. There are
also  slot machine against the wall ( $1.00 a shot). There is a lounge
with  a  large  screen  TV  where  many  people  watched the World Cup
Finals.  A  gift  shop is off a corridor leading to the tennis courts.
You  can  get  snacks,  sunscreen,  etc. here as well. There is always
maintenance  going  on--varnishing,  painting,  landscaping..all  very
subtle.  The  concrete walkways were "mopped" in the morning. I saw no
trash/litter.   Staff   is   constantly   walking  around  picking  up
anything..especially empty drink glasses at the pool.

The  resort  itself is beach front. There is a very large pool; kidney
shaped  with  the right half being 9 feet deep and the left half about
3.5  feet  deep. This is where the water volleyball action took place.
The  beach  and  pool  are  separated by the " Beach Terrace", an area
under  cover  where  all  meals  are  served  and where another bar is
located.  The  beach  is  beautiful (more on that later). The swimming
area  is  defined  by  buoyed ropes (to keep you off the coral reefs).
Our  first  day  there was very windy (the "Trade Winds") and the sand
was  blowing.  We  spent  most  of  the balance of the day be the pool
(after  trying the Caribbean Sea for the first time). Later in the day
we  noticed  a front-end loader brining in new white sand to the beach
and  doing  beach  maintenance.  We noticed later that in the early AM
the  employees  combed the beach for debris and collect it to keep the
sand  clean  and  white. The beach was better the next day as the wind
was  not  as  severe.  It  is  hot  and humid in July so the water was
refreshing.

THE ROOMS

We  had  a  1st floor " Deluxe Garden View Room". I would not describe
the  room as "Deluxe" but it was very nice and clean. Since we did not
intend  to  spend  a lot of time there, it was more than adequate. The
room  had  a  large King Size bed, TV, CD player, phone, dresser/desk.
The  floor was tiled with throw rugs. The bathroom was fine. There was
good  water  pressure  for  showers. There is a closet in the bathroom
with  mirrored  sliding  doors.  The safe is located in the closet. On
arrival  my  wallet  and  travel  docs went into the safe and I didn't
need  them  again until departure. There was an iron and ironing board
in  the closet. The rooms were cooled by an older technology Trane A/C
unit  on  the  wall  between  the  sleeping  area  and bath and it was
difficult  to  control  the  temperature  and  air  flow. We put it on
minimum.  Because  of  the age of the unit, there was a slight "musty"
smell  upon  arrival.  We  turned off the A/C when we could and opened
the  slider  to the garden for air. When the breeze was blowing it was
quite  pleasant.  However,  you  have  to use the A/C at night. WE got
used  to the noise but hopefully they will upgrade this system at some
time.  There  is  a  small  patio  facing  the  garden accessed by the
sliding  glass  doors. We put wet/damp clothing out there to dry. On a
scale of 1-10, I would rate the room 8.

THE FOOD

Excellent.  Meals  are served buffet style on the Beach Terrace. There
is  a  wide  variety  and plenty of it. In the morning, coffee and tea
are  served  at  your  table.  At  lunch and dinner, you can be served
wine.  The  cuisine  was a mixture of American, European and Jamaican.
In  addition  to the plentiful buffet selections, you can have made to
order  omelets  at  breakfast  as  well as made to order sandwiches at
lunch.  One  day  they  even  had  various pizzas. Dinner was always a
treat.  The  employees keep your water glasses filled at all times and
they  take  your  plate  when  you are finished. With the exception of
serving yourself your main course, the staff service was excellent.
There  is also an Italian Restaurant on the premises ( Martino's). You
must  have  reservations and men must wear long pants. We love Italian
so  we  ate here twice. There are chef's specials everyday in addition
to  the  main  entrees.  In  lieu of salad, there is a large antipasto
station  that  is served buffet. However, your main courses are served
by  waiters after they take your order. They will also serve wine with
your  meal  but  no other alcoholic beverages are served. However, the
Pelican  Bar  is  just outside the door so you can order a drink there
and  bring  it  in.  The food was very good and the service excellent.
There  is a piano in the restaurant and on our first visit there was a
man  taking  requests  while  all  dined to piano music. A nice change
from the buffet.

THE ACTIVITIES

It  seems  as  though  there  was  always something going on. The nice
thing  about  Breezes  is  that  you  can  choose  to do nothing or go
apeshit  and  do  it all. The daily activities are posted in the lobby
and  at  the  beach.  We are tennis players and spent a lot of time on
the  court  (even  entered  a 'tournament' and took a clinic). We also
wanted  to  relax and spent a lot of time 'vegging' at the pool/beach.
But  we witnessed a lot of activities at the beach (goat racing, e.g.)
And  elsewhere.  We  went  snorkeling one day and our friend Nancy did
scuba  for  2 days. There is kayaking, power sailing, horseback, golf,
beach  and  pool volleyball, aerobics, a gym with workout equipment, a
game  room,  to  name  a  few.  There are organized tours of points of
interests  (  e.g.  Dunn's  River  Falls).  At  night,  the activities
continue:  Bingo,  Casino, Trapeze show, Talent night, etc. There is a
great  night  club  and a Disco which opens at 11:00 PM ( too late for
us). There is a lot, or little, to do, depending on your mood.

THE BEACHES

There  are  two  white  sand  beaches  which  are resort property, one
designated  for nudity. The 'prude' beach is larger, however, the nude
beach  has  (in my opinion) a better swimming area. The swimming areas
are  clearly  defined  by  buoyed  roped  so you will not stray into a
coral  reef  and  get  cut  (  we did while snorkeling!). The water is
crystal  clear  and  warm.  There is a Grill on the 'prude' side where
you  can  get  fresh  cooked  hot dogs/hamburgers and soda/ice tea and
other  soft  drinks.  The Beach Terrace Bar is not far from the Grill.
"Prude"  is  only an expression I picked up from others because at any
given  time  several  woman  would  be topless on this beach. However,
most  of  the  folks  on this side were dressed, even though the suits
were fairly skimpy!
The  nude beach is separated from the 'prude' by a large sand berm and
shielded  from the resort by shrubbery. You can access this beach by a
designated  path  from the resort ( sign says "Nude Beach and Jacuzzi)
or  you can approach from the prude side by walking around the berm or
by  swimming.  There  are  security  guards on the property line where
Breezes  meets FDR Resort. It is smaller than the 'prude' side but the
swimming  area  goes out further. The beach was used mainly by couples
of  all  shapes  and  sizes, ages 35-65. There is a small self service
bar  where  you  can  serve yourself beer, soft drinks and rum drinks.
However,  there are no bathroom facilities on this side ( as there are
on  the  'prude')  side.  There  is less wind on this beach due to the
sand  berm and mornings are beautiful on this side. This was our first
time  on  a nude beach and while Mary Pat was a little apprehensive in
the  beginning,  by  our  last  day we felt like old pros. It was very
relaxing  to  try  something  different  and  we  met some interesting
people  from  all over the country, some of whom were doing it for the
first  time  as  well. We'll be happy to answer any specific questions
you  may  have  in  this  regard. Just E-Mail us. DO NOT FORGET TO USE
PLENTY OF SUNSCREEN ON THIS BEACH!!!!
The  water was refreshing after laying in the hot sun, but vary salty.
We're  used to the Jersey Shore and the Atlantic Ocean which is not as
salty....but  then  again,  not  as  clear and clean. After the beach,
there  was  always  the  pool  for a quick rinse and a beer to cut the
salt taste.

THE STAFF

Friendly  and  courteous.  "  No  problem,  mon" was a steady cadence.
"Coffee,  Milady?" was heard every morning. It was not unusual for the
bartenders  to  breakout into a local song. There was a tall, handsome
man  in  a  shirt  and  tie walking around with a clipboard, reviewing
matters with the staff. They aim to please at Breezes.

DEPARTURE

At  check  in you are asked to fill out a departure confirmation slip.
The  resort  confirms  your  flight and returns the slip to your room.
Our  flight  from  Montego  Bay  was  to  leave at 3:10 PM and we were
informed  that the bus would take us to the airport at noon. That gave
us  1/2  day to enjoy the beach and the pool for the last time as well
as  to  eat  breakfast.  You leave your bags outside your door and the
staff picks them up and delivers to the lobby.
We  did leave at noon on the dot and got to the airport at 1:10 PM. We
had  to  get  in  line  to check in and pay the Jamaican departure tax
($22/head).  This  was the first money I pulled from wallet in 5 days.
After  we  got  checked in, we had some time to kill so we shopped the
duty  free  shops  in  the airport, had a few last Red Strip Beers and
began  to  board  the plane at 2:30 PM. LADIES - NOTE- the ladies room
on  the second floor of the airport near our gate had no toilet seats.
Use  the  bathroom downstairs. Our flight left on time and we returned
to reality.

On  a scale of 1-10, it would be hard not to give this vacation -- and
Breezes--a 10...and in no way less than a nine.

LITTLE CAYMAN BY DON ACHESON

Trip 7/98

  If  it's  luxury  air-conditioned apartments and disco till dawn you
crave,  don't go. However, if it's well-organized, unregimented diving
with  reefs  and  reef  life  that are as good as the Caribbean has to
offer,  fine  food,  great  staff,  and  very reasonable prices, go to
Pirate's Point on Little Cayman.

Diving  Daughter  and  I  spent  a thoroughly delightful week there as
guests  of  Gladys  Howard  and  her  staff.  Pirate's  Point  isn't a
discovery;  I've  been  reading and hearing so many good reports about
this  resort  for  so  long,  that  I  finally booked it. How to begin
describing the place? Let's start with the diving.

Pirate's  Point runs two dives a day on Bloody Bay Wall or Jackson Bay
Wall  -  back-to-back  with a recommended one-hour surface interval. I
discerned  only  three  rules: dive with a buddy, stay above 110 feet,
and  come  up  with  500  psi  in  your tank. Nobody checks for strict
adherence  to  these  rules  -  they  are reasonable expectations of a
mature   diver  at  these  sites.  Diving  Daughter  and  I  regularly
registered  2  hours  and  15  minutes  or more on two dives and found
ourselves,  multi-level  diving  with  computers,  with  enough  of  a
nitrogen  load at the end of the second dive to approach decompression
at  33  feet after the second dive and enough to require waiting until
breakfast or later the next morning to clear.

The  dive  boat  - a forty some-odd footer with twin diesels - and its
crew  are almost a dream. Want your tank and BC set up and waiting for
you  on  the  platform?  It's there. Prefer to handle things yourself?
OK,  too  -  and  easy. Detailed, thorough dive site briefings by Loch
were  followed  by an offer to take off with your buddy on your own or
go with the guides. We usually discussed the upcoming dive with razor-
eyed  Gay  and determined whether what she expected to find called for
wandering  off  on  our own for the whole, the first half, or the last
half of the dive. And what marvelous things there were to see.

Once  again,  I'll  open  with  a  brief  negative  note: Based on our
limited  experience,  don't  expect to find pelagics or sharks. On the
other  hand,  Jackson Bay and Bloody Bay are marine preserves, so look
for everything else the Caribbean has to offer.

On  the  big  side:  eagle  rays,  southern  rays, lots of 2 to 3 foot
groupers  with their variety of coloring, hawksbill and green turtles,
snappers, jacks, big lobsters, big crabs, lots of big conches, etc.

On  the  small  side:  corkscrew  anemones  with  Pederson  and pistol
shrimp,  purple-tipped  anemones  with  two  varieties of shrimp and a
crab  living  symbiotically,  sea  horses  and  tiny  trumpetfdish and
filefish  trying  to hide in the soft corals, huge banded-coral shrimp
at  home  on  the sponges, golden-striped blennies anxious and able to
nip  at your hand held steady over a cleaning site, tiny scorpionfish,
arrow-headed blennies curled into a question mark, and more.

In  between: a myriad of tropical reef fish. Underlying all of this: a
vibrantly  healthy  population  of  hard  and  soft  corals, sea fans,
sponges,  etc.  On  the walls, it's sometimes difficult to find a spot
to  put  one's  fingertip  to  stop  and admire something special. The
walls   themselves  are  well-structrured  with  many  deep  cuts  and
ravines, swim-throughs, tunnels, and shafts.

Back  at  Pirtae's  Point:  a  serious  breakfast of eggs (Beautifully
prepared  and  very  tasty  eggs  Benedict  one  morning!),  bacon  or
sausage,  cereal,  juice  and a few other things my drowsiness ignored
at  8  AM  preceded the dive at 10 AM. Transported by pickup truck for
the  short  drive  to  the  dive boat and returned the same way, lunch
began  shortly  after  our  return  at  2:30  or  3:00PM.  Interesting
offerings  - unusual salads, fresh breads, cold vegetable dishes, meat
and/or fish dishes tempted one.

The  dinner  bell rang around 7:30 or 8 PM. Dinner, like all meals, is
buffet  style,  but  embellished by Gladys personally serving the main
course  -  meat  or fish in interesting variety. Unexpectedly, I found
the   meat  -  beef,  pork,  lamb,  chicken  -  excellent  and  mildly
preferable  to  the  also  excellent  fish.  In  any  case,  the  wine
selection  was  fine, the vegetables varied and well-prepared, and the
desserts delicious. In short, meals were first class!

Accommodations  include  air-conditioned rooms away from the beach and
not-air-conditioned  on  the beach. Diving Daughter and I chose one on
the  beach  and  were  perfectly  comfortable with a ceiling fan and a
couple  of small floor fans. Rooms were spacious and included generous
shower  and  toilet  spaces.  As an added benefit for Diving Daughter,
the  accommodations  came  with  the  optional  company of one of four
cats.  Pirate's  point  has  a  fresh-water  pool. Its beach, however,
doesn't approach the good ones in the Caribbean.

This  review  would incomplete without a few comments about the staff.
As  I  understand  it,  aside  from  Gladys, two chefs and a part-time
maid,  all  the  staff are qualified dive instructors and share duties
on  the  dive  boat,  serving  in  the dining room, cleaning up in the
kitchen  ,  and  goodness  knows  what  else.  I'm  sure  all are well
remunerated  for  their  efforts, but I could not help but remark upon
the  consistent cheerfulness and effort to please made at all times by
every member of the staff. - no exceptions - at Pirate's Point.

The  week  - accommodations, meals, diving, and drinks included - came
to  $1195  plus  tax and gratuity - remarkably reasonable. Air fare is
additional  and  must  include  about $150 to get from Grand Cayman to
Little Cayman. It's a no-brainer: Pirate's Point is a great deal.

ST. CROIX: CANE BAY DIVE SHOP, ROBERT HAINES RESPONDS TO A PREVIOUS ARTICLE

Comment 9/98

I  just  read  a  posting  in  your  newsletter  and  felt I needed to
respond. [St. Croix by Susan Willard - CTR April'98]

The  posting  called Cane Bay Dive Shop one of the most dangerous Dive
operations in the Caribbean.

I  have  lived  on  St. Croix for seven years during which time I have
gone  diving  at  Cane  Bay approx. twice a week. I have observed Cane
Bay  Dive  Shop operation and have found the staff to be knowledgeable
and  safety conscious. I have also found the condition of their rental
gear  to  be  completely  reliable,  some thing that cannot be said of
many Dive Shops I have encountered.

I  have  known  over  fifty Divers who have been certified by Cane Bay
and  found  them to be well taught and safety conscious. I am aware of
several  instances  where  can Bay staff have rescued Divers that were
in  trouble that were certified by other Dive Shops. I would call Cane
Bay  Dive  Shop  a leader in Dive safety that I would recommend to any
one.  Just  to make my point clear Cane Bay Dive Shop is the only Dive
Shop  on  St.  Croix  that  I would trust to certify my three children
when they are old enough.

Having  read  the  posting  the  writer is obviously angry at Cane Bay
Dive  Shop  and  just  venting  off steam as she contends that she saw
seven  resort  course  Divers  go  out with one instructor in six foot
swells.  The  only  times  in  the last five years there were six foot
swells  at Cane Bay was during hurricanes Luis, Maryland, and Hortense
no  one  went  diving  in  them,  also the owner of Cane Bay Dive Shop
would  fire  any  instructor  that took that many resort Divers on the
spot.  Perhaps  one  or  more  of the Divers she assumed were students
were also instructors.

I  appreciate that your newsletter provides an open forum where people
can  express  their ideas. In the interest of fairness I would greatly
appreciate  it if you would also post these comments. I think it would
also  be  of  value to your readers who might be chased away from Cane
Bay  Dive  Shop  to a less safe operation that would charge then for a
forty  five  minute  boat  ride to a Dive sight you could swim to in 5
minutes from shore.

Ps  I  am not affiliated with Cane Bay Dive Shop in any way other than
as  a  satisfied  customer  an am willing to sign an affidavit to that
effect.

ST. LUCIA: ANSE CHASTANET BY BETTY LI

Trip 6/98

  Before  I start this trip report, I would like it to be known that I
won  the  trip  (minus  airfare) at Underwater Canada, a big dive show
held  every  spring  in  Toronto Canada.  My husband says that because
the  trip  was  free,  I  shouldn't  be  too hard with my comments.  I
believe  anyone  interested  in going to St. Lucia and staying at Anse
Chastanet  should  have my honest opinion, whether I paid for the trip
or not.

The  prize  had  to be taken between June and September so we took the
trip June 29 - July 6th 1998, a Monday to Monday.

Our  flight  from Toronto was very early (7:30am) but this was perfect
because  we  landed  at  12:35pm and I had hoped to be on the beach by
2pm.   We  were  greeted  at  the airport by a friendly Anse Chastanet
employee  who  showed  us  to  the waiting taxi where we met two other
couples  who  had  also  just  arrived on our flight.  It was a 1hr 10
minute  taxi  drive  from  the  airport  to Anse Chastanet.  Since the
resort  is  on  the  western  side  of  the  island  near  the town of
Soufriere  we didn't take the modern highway most tourists take to the
northern  part  of the island where the majority of large resorts like
Sandals  are  located.   It was a pleasant enough drive except for all
the  potholes.   Actually  the  worse part of the drive was the last 1
1/2  -  2km into Anse Chastanet itself.  This road (and I use the term
loosely) has to be experienced to be believed.

Anse  Chastanet  is a quaint resort with only 48-50 rooms built up the
side  of  a  hill.   The  reception  was  mid-way up the hill from the
beach.   There  we  checked in but were informed that our room was not
yet  ready.   We  were  asked to wait in the bar for a bit.  We waited
and  kept  waiting.   We  were  told  once  by the manager it would be
another  20 minutes and when that came and went by another 20 minutes,
I  asked  at  reception again.  By now we were past being just hot and
tired.   We  also  hadn't  eaten  since  breakfast on the plane around
9am.   If  we knew that our room would take almost 1 hrs to be ready,
we  would  have  asked them to hold our carry-on luggage and gone down
to  the  beach restaurant for lunch.  We finally got into our room and
quickly changed into our bathing suits and headed for the beach.

Our  bedroom  was octagon shaped attached to another similar room with
both   bathrooms  in  between.   I thought the decor was nice where as
other  guests  told  me  they thought it was silly.  I think they were
speaking  about  the ceiling being painted blue with stars, clouds and
a  moon  around  the  ceiling fan.  On the opposite wall from the main
door  was  the  door  to our balcony, which wrapped around the bedroom
and  had a spectacular view of the pitons.  I later found out that not
all rooms had such a view.  I guess it was worth the wait!

Our  room  came with a huge king-size bed, which was very comfortable.
Others  told  me  their  king-size  bed had a crack down the middle of
it.   I  wonder  if  their room was a Standard with two twin-size beds
pushed  together  to  make  a  king.   Our  room  was  a Premium.  Our
bathroom  was  a  good  size  and came with a built-in hair dryer.  My
only  complaint  would be that the water pressure wasn't the best.  We
are  used  to  this from other Caribbean islands but found it annoying
especially when we had trouble flushing the toilet.

Our  room  also came with a safe, but you had to rent the lock for $50
US.   You  got  the  money back at the end of your stay as long as you
didn't  loose  the  key.  I also understand you could lock things in a
moneybag  in  the  resort's main safe if you preferred.  This was nice
since  I  hardly ever carried my purse.  Only when we left the resort.
Otherwise,  everything  else  was signed back to our room.  I did hear
about  one  couple who had something charged to their room that wasn't
theirs.   I  guess  it's easy to overhear someone and then turn around
and  say  "Smith,  room 3A".  Obviously the signatures didn't match so
they didn't have to pay.

I  had  been  told  that  Anse  Chastanet  was  "open concept" and was
pleasantly   surprised  to  find  out  that  our windows and shuttered
doors  did  in  fact have screens on them.  Again, we heard others did
not.   I  can't  imagine  how  it would have been without screens.  My
husband  is  the  type  of  person  that will get bit by a mosquito if
there  is  one  within  10  miles.   And he did get bit. A lot!  Every
night  we  started burning the coil and spraying around the window and
door  cracks  before going down for dinner but he still got bit a lot.
Even  the  restaurants  are  open  concept and he got eaten alive most
nights.   As you can tell, my husband did not enjoy himself as much as
I did.

Besides  the  reception  and  bar  located  at  mid-level, is the main
restaurant  used  for breakfast and dinner only.  The view overlooking
the  beach  and  reef  was  beautiful  and  there  is even one smaller
separate  section  called  the  Tree  House, which offered a different
view  of  the  beach.   Breakfast was a cold buffet with the option to
order  something  hot  from  the  menu.   Every  morning  we enjoyed a
fabulous   selection   of   fresh  fruit,  juices,  cereals,  yogurts,
croissants  and  Danishes.  We then would order from the menu, usually
eggs  and  bacon.   Every  day  they had a different special including
salmon  and  mushroom  omelet,  French toast or poached eggs on toast.
The  breakfast  was good but nothing special or outstanding.  Actually
my  husband  started  to  get  tired of the limited selection.  We did
learn  early  on  to  take  turns going to the buffet.  If you didn't,
friendly  and  aggressive little birds would steal everything from our
table.   They  were  entertaining while we ate and never became a real
nuisance for us.

Lunch  was  served  in  the beach level restaurant and I must admit we
never  went.  We spoke to others who went everyday (it was included in
their  package  but not ours) who got tired of the same old things day
after   day.   We  were  usually  busy  snorkeling  or  diving  around
lunchtime  so  we would just wait until 3:30pm when they served tea in
the  beach  bar.  Everyday we enjoyed coffee, tea and an assortment of
small  sandwiches  and cakes, cookies or muffins, which really hit the
spot.   We  did get hungry at noon one day and enjoyed the convenience
of  ordering  French  fries from the wandering waiter. A lot of people
ordered  drinks  and  food from him all day.  My husband and I are not
drinkers  and  only  ordered  a  pop once in a while.  I'm a big water
drinker anyway plus I have a problem paying almost $4 Cdn for a Coke.

Dinner  was offered every night in the mid-level restaurant except for
two  nights.  Tuesday was a BBQ and Friday a Creole buffet held at the
beach  restaurant.   The  menu  changed  every  night  and  there were
several  appetizers,  soups/salads,  entrees  and  desserts  to choose
from.   My  husband  is  a big seafood lover and figuring St. Lucia is
surrounded  by  water,  was  really  looking  forward to great seafood
cuisine.   He  was  disappointed.  Not only with the lack of selection
but  with  the  quality.   He  tried twice and then gave up.  He said,
"stick  with  the  beef".   The food presentation was beautiful but we
both  felt  the  food  just  tasted okay.  Our favorite dinner was the
beach  BBQ  where  we enjoyed great steaks, chicken and ribs.  Then we
went all out at the huge dessert buffet.

The  beach  at  Anse  Chastanet  was beautiful. Lots of beautiful palm
trees  and  thatched  huts  to  set  up lounge chairs under. Great for
avoiding  the  sun and the odd rain shower.  The sand wasn't the silky
white  sand  like  on  other  islands and not the soft pink beaches of
Bermuda,  which  we  are  very  familiar with.  My husband also didn't
think  the  beach  was  good  for non-swimmers or young children since
there  was  quite  a  drop off just a few feet off shore.  I found the
sand  even grittier in front of the dive shop on the other side of the
bar and restaurant.

Anse  Chastanet  has  what  is  supposedly the best reef on the island
just  off  their  beach.   It was very close for snorkeling and diving
and  we went several times.  I am a certified diver, but my husband is
not  and doesn't want to be. My prize included 2 dives per person, per
day  but  we traded them in for escorted snorkeling trips.  We went on
several  with Jungle being our boat driver and Terry our escort in the
water.   They  were  both great and took us to several places where we
thought the snorkeling was much better.

Michael  and  Karen Allard run the dive shop, Scuba St. Lucia.  Gordon
is  the  Assistant Manager.  They were all really great and run a top-
notch  dive  shop.   With  my  husband's  insistence, they all finally
talked  me  into  using  some  of my free dives.  Everyone diving with
Scuba  St. Lucia must do a check out shore dive first to make sure you
can  control  your  buoyancy  so you won't damage the reefs.  I use to
dive  quite  a  bit.   I  am  an  advanced  diver  as  well as being a
certified  Ice  Diver.  I've done over 100 dives with my deepest being
133  ft  (part  of my advance course) but I had not done any diving in
the  past  3  years.   I  was a little rusty and appreciated the shore
dive.   It  all  came  back  to  me in minutes and I soon found myself
signing  up  for the afternoon dive as well as two boat dives the next
day.   There  was  so much more to see 50-60 feet down.  The coral was
larger  and  more  abundant.  The colors spectacular and the fish more
plentiful.

Anse  Chastanet offers many sightseeing trips and has a well-organized
sign-up  board  just inside the Tree House Restaurant.  My husband & I
had  hoped to take the Land & Sea package where we would travel to the
capital  of Castries by boat and then tour around the north end of the
island  before  heading back via the east coat.  We felt it would be a
good  way  to get a feel for the entire island for the price of $59 US
p/p.    The  trip  was  canceled  when  we  didn't  meet  the  minimum
restriction of four passengers.

We  ended  up  arranging  a private taxi to take us on a similar trip.
The  cost was just under $200 Cdn paid to the resort. We later learned
from  the  driver  that he would only receive about 2/3rd of the cost.
It  would  have  been  cheaper  for us to negotiate with him directly.
This  is  what  I  had tried to do when I asked the Social Desk at the
hotel  to  call a cab for me.  But they arranged this Explorer package
and charged it to our room.

We  had  a  wonderful day with Patrick going wherever we wanted to and
staying  as  long as we liked.  It was nice not to have to go with the
timed  schedule  of  a  group.   Patrick  took us to Pigeon Island and
stayed  with  the  car  while  we  wandered around for almost an hour.
Then  he took us to the market in Castries where he waited again while
we  got  a  quick lunch and did some souvenir shopping.  We then drove
home  via  the  east coast stopping at several lookouts for me to take
pictures.   The  whole trip was 7 hours and well worth it.  If you're
interested  in  doing  something  similar,  I suggest you call Patrick
directly  at  459-  7478 and negotiate your own price.  Ours cost $318
EC.

The  only  other  trip  we  took  was  the  Volcano,  Sulphur Spring &
Botanical  Garden tour for $22 US p/p.  It was okay, but not worth the
dollars.   We  had  to  wait  at the Volcano because no guides were on
site.   Something  to do with being delayed due to the Nelson Mandella
entourage  blocking all the roads.  After a long wait, our guide, Earl
was  allowed  to  take  us  up  to the lookout site but he didn't know
much.   We  then  went to the Diamond Falls and Mineral Bath and again
Earl  wasn't the best tour guide when he couldn't be found to give the
vouchers  to  the  aggravated  attendant  at  the  Mineral Baths.  The
Botanical  Gardens  were nice but not very large.  Again, I would have
rather  taken  a private trip with Patrick. We spoke to another couple
who  had  arranged  something separately and enjoyed it much more than
us.

Did  I  like the hotel?  Yes.  It was quiet, romantic and very casual.
I  did  get  several  bug  bites  but not enough to discourage me.  My
husband  on  the  other  hand?   Would I go back?  I'm not sure.  I've
checked  out  the prices and they seem high for what you get.  I think
I'd  like  to  try  a Sandals- type hotel next time, however, they are
all  located in the north end of the island and everything seems to be
located  around  the  town  of  Soufriere.  Maybe  somewhere  like the
Jalousie  Hilton.  Anse Chastanet caters to a different clientele.  If
you're  not  looking for a large, air-conditioned, glitzy resort, then
Anse  Chastanet  may  be  just  the  place for you.  If you are also a
diver, then this is the place for you!

Our  trip  home  was not as pleasant.  First we arrived at the airport
after  the  large  groups from Sandals, etc. had arrived and therefore
did  not get seats next to each other on the plane.  Not fun for a 7hr
trip.   But  it  was a small point after our plane was delayed because
of  a  faulty  back-up  computer  on  engine #1.  We spent 8hrs in the
airport not knowing what was going on.

Then  we  were bused back up to Castries to spend the night at a hotel
called  Caribbees  Hotel.  We all were wondering what a hotel would be
like  that  had  50  rooms  available  on such short notice but it was
quite  pleasant.   It  was  like  a  Best Western.  Nice and clean but
nothing  fancy.   My  husband  thought it was great because it had air
conditioning  and  the  bugs  couldn't  get to him.  Fellow passengers
from  Sandals thought it was unacceptable.  I thought it beat sleeping
in  the  airport.   The  hotel  staff  was friendly.  They had a small
dinner  buffet  set up on our arrival at 9pm. I would have liked to go
for  a  swim, the pool looked very inviting but instead we went to bed
at  10pm  with a wake-up call for 4am.  We were back on the bus at 6am
and finally left St. Lucia at 9am.

Would  I  visit  St.  Lucia  again?   Yes,  after  I had visited other
Caribbean islands that look inviting.


| CTR Home | << Back | ToC | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Next >> | Search |