Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 97
September 1, 1999

Last Update 29 Aug 99 1600ET

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JAMAICA: COUPLES NEGRIL BY SHEILA M. KERN

Here's a review of our trip to Couples Negril, 6/5-6/13/99. 

It was ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!

My  fiancee and I were at Couples Resort in Negril for 9 days in early 
June.  I've  traveled extensively in the Caribbean, but never had gone 
all-inclusive  before  nor  had  I been to Jamaica. I highly recommend 
it!!  The  Couples  resort  in  Negril  is  absolutely  beautiful. The 
grounds  are very lush, it's quiet, the beach is long and picturesque, 
the  water  changes hue constantly and is crystal clear, the rooms are 
very  large and the beds are the most comfortable we've ever slept in. 
Every  little  detail from the bas-relief molding on the walls outside 
each  room  to the overhead light illuminating the wall hanging in the 
bedroom  just  delighted  us.  If you get a beachfront suite the rooms 
are  huge,  with a bathroom the size of a normal large hotel room with 
a  fabulous Jacuzzi bathtub!!! We stayed in a suite the last 3 nights, 
it was wonderful. 

As  for the people at the resort, you don't get hassled by anyone, the 
staff  is extremely helpful and courteous, they go out of their way to 
make  you  feel special and will attempt (always with a smile) to take 
care  of  any  requests or needs that you may have. Even the gardeners 
were  friendly!!  We  had  two  hummingbirds right outside our balcony 
every  morning  and  the  garderner  said it was because of the flower 
beds  below  and  trailing  vine  going  up  the  wall.  The  food was 
generally  very  good. They have several different restaurants and the 
gourmet   restaurant,   Otaheite,   was   exceptional,  in  both  food 
presentation,  food quality and "white glove" service, (we're from the 
NYC  area  and  we  know good restaurants). That's the only restaurant 
that  you need a reservation for and you can usually make that the day 
before.  All your beverages are included (if you get friendly with the 
bartenders,  they  tend  to  make your drinks extra strong and use all 
top  shelf  liquors, if that's important to you). They serve some very 
nice  French  & Italian wines w/dinner. The other thing is they do not 
allow  tipping and we even offered to tip a few of the staff that were 
especially  helpful  and  they  turned  us  down  saying  it  was  not 
permitted  and  still  went  out  of their way to make us feel like we 
were  special,  and  this for first-time visitors. I can't imagine how 
wonderful they are to repeat visitors. 

You  can  do as little as you want, or you can get really involved. We 
were  into  the  watersports,  they have Hobie-catamarans that we took 
out  just  about everyday and sailed all over in. We went scuba diving 
(I'm  certified,  my  boyfriend  is  not and he took the resort course 
which  was  great, they even video taped his first dive and he said he 
felt  like  Jacques  Cousteau). The diving is included, the video tape 
was  extra.  They  have  water-skiing  (a  lot of places don't include 
motorized  watersports)  which  was great and they let you stay out as 
long  as you want if there aren't a lot of people waiting, which there 
never  was.  Or you can just lay on the beach or lounge on mats in the 
water,  which  we  did  quite  often.  They  have a strolling cocktail 
waitress  on  the beach and they have red flags that you set up in the 
sand  by your lounge chairs and she'll come by and take your order and 
deliver  them  back in a fairly short time. Suggestion- order at least 
two  drinks  at  a time. Topless sun-bathing, (which I did partake in) 
was  allowed  at  both  beaches  (C/O  and "textile") and at the pool. 
There  were never many people at the C/O beach, which was at the north 
end  of the resort right next to the watersports center, and we didn't 
use  that  beach, but it appeared to be nice and had lots of shade and 
a  small swimming area and from what I understand it will have its own 
beach bar, if it hasn't already been completed.

They  also have a spa, and salon in a beautiful treehouse environment, 
extremely  tranquil  with  the  birds chirping, etc., and the massages 
were  wonderful,  they  unfortunately were not included, but they were 
priced very reasonable. 

Couples  also  has  several trips which are included in your package.( 
Most  of  the all-inclusives - Sandals, Superclubs, etc. - do not have 
these  trips included, they offer them but they charge extra, anywhere 
from  $30  to  $50  a  person  per  trip.)  A shopping trip to a craft 
village  near  Negril,  which was all right, that was the only time we 
ever  felt  hassled  while  we  were  in Jamaica. The vendors are very 
aggressive,  but  a  simple,  "No  thanks,  we're  looking  right now" 
usually  suffices  and  they  will  leave  you alone. Also once you've 
established  a  rapport with them they are extremely friendly and open 
and  very willing just to talk about Jamaica, politics, their life and 
what  life  was like where we came from. At one point, we needed to go 
to  an  ATM  (none  at the resorts) and the tour-bus driver offered to 
take  us  into  Negril  to the bank, while all the other people on our 
bus  were  shopping at the craft market. We offered to tip him for his 
trouble  and  he  said  "No problem, it's too far to the bank and it's 
too  hot  for  you  to walk, and the bus leaves here in 1 hour and you 
would  miss  it and it's even a longer walk back to Couples." Needless 
to say we were extremely grateful! 

They  have a twice weekly sunset catamaran booze cruise to the Pickled 
Parrot  for  cliff diving, rope swinging and swimming in caves. It was 
great  fun,  we  even  took the sunset cruise twice. The first time we 
had  a  magnificent  sunset  to the west and a double rainbow appeared 
over  the  mountains  simultaneously, we didn't know which way to look 
first!!!  They  have  snorkeling  trips daily and they take you out to 
some  very  nice  snorkeling  areas,  and  a  glass bottom boat cruise 
(which  we  did  not  do).  They  have  the  usual  beach parties with 
bonfires,  fire-eating  performers  and limbo dancers (even the guests 
get  involved in limbo dancing and one girl limboed lower than some of 
the  dancers  themselves).  They have very good nightly entertainment, 
including  a staff-guest show which we participated in and had a great 
time,  and  a  really  neat  piano-bar, where everyone sits around and 
sings  along. They also have a tour-desk where you can look into other 
tours  not  run  by the hotel at a cost. We didn't go on any of these, 
but we might try the river safari next we come to Jamaica.

There  is  a  web-site  at  www.couples.com  and another site which is 
maintained  by  a  very nice couple who gave me invaluable information 
about  traveling  to Jamaica and the Couples Resorts in general. Their 
site  is located at www.carmaron.com. They have pictures and narrative 
and  are very helpful in answering questions you might have. Also they 
have  been  to  a  lot  of  the  other  all-inclusives  in Jamaica and 
elsewhere  and  they  are NOT travel agents. And another other site at 
www.dennisphoto.com.. He provides trip reviews and wonderful photos.

One  other suggestion: we took Air-Jamaica Express from Montego Bay to 
Negril  Airstrip,  my  travel  agent suggested this. It was well worth 
the  extra $100. per/person round-trip. It took about 15-20 minutes as 
opposed  to the "2 hour drive from hell" that most of the other guests 
were  on. The airstrip was literally across the street from the resort 
and  it  took  less than 5 minutes to get our bags and taxi($5.00, you 
can  get  a  receipt  from the driver and turn it in at the front desk 
for reimbursement if you choose) to Couples. 

I  researched  my  trip  before  I  made the decision to go Couples. I 
looked  at Sandals and Grand Lido and the other superclubs and Couples 
seemed  like  the  best  choice  for  me, but as you know, everyone is 
different  and  what pleases one person may not please another. We had 
a great time, it was well worth the money to go all-inclusive!! 

We  plan on going back to Couples Negril within the next year, to "Tie 
the  Knot", that's how much we enjoyed ourselves (oh, and the weddings 
are free too)!!!!! 

JAMAICA: NEGRIL, JAMAICA-POINT VILLAGE BY DANIEL PIERREZ

Well I am writing in reference to my Jamaican experience. 

Our  destination  was  Negril. It was the most fabulous experience. My 
friends  and  I  had the times of our lives. We had relaxation when we 
wanted  it  and  excitement when we craved action. From the moment you 
land,  you  get  this  wonderful Caribbean smell that entices you with 
all the pleasures that await you. 

The  ride from Montego Bay to Negril was an experience all on its own. 
It  was  scary yet good because you received a chance to sightsee. But 
scary  as  all  those who have experience it, the drivers are crazy. I 
felt like I was in the Indie 500 without a seatbelt. 

When  we  finally  arrived  to  our  destination, Point Village, I was 
relieved  and  elated.  The  hotel  was spectacular. It was beautiful, 
comfortable  and  the  people  were  great. You do have to get used to 
things  being  a  lot  slower  than we are used to but it was a lesson 
well  worth  learned.  The  beach  was  breathtaking, fulfilling every 
fantasy  you  can imagine. I definitely recommend people going to this 
hotel  because  they  had  everything you could imagine from their own 
market  store  to  restaurants  galore. Everything you think you would 
need  they  had  it.  You really don't need to leave the hotel because 
you can still have fun there. 

For  those  who  want  more  like us, we went to Parrot Cliffs, It was 
great.  It  has restaurants, bars, slides and cliffs for those who are 
into  those  adventures.  My friends and I had the best time there. We 
also  went  to  Ziggy  Marley  concert  which was awesome. It made our 
experience  so  much  more  fun  to  hear  reggae  by the one and only 
Marley.  Everyone  was  there  from  locals to tourists all united and 
having  fun through the music. We also went to the Mayfield waterfalls 
which  was so much fun and such a great experience. The waterfalls are 
beautiful  and  makes  you appreciate nature's beauty. The restaurants 
and  bars around are good and the prices are fair. You can bargain the 
prices and the people are helpful. 

My  friends and I are definitely going back because we had so much fun 
and  such  a  relaxing  time.  If  you  want to have an experience you 
always  will  remember  then  go  to Jamaica. Just remember everything 
will be all right! 

JAMAICA: SANDALS NEGRIL BY LORI HOFFMAN

Trip 7/99

Let  me  just  begin  this  by stating that this was our honeymoon. We 
were  married  on  Friday and left for Jamaica early Saturday morning. 
We  had  a  difficult  time deciding between Sandals Halcyon St. Lucia 
and  Sandals  Negril, but because of the calmer water our TA suggested 
the latter.

Directly  from  the  wedding  we  hopped in the limo and headed to the 
airport.  We only had two hours to kill. Our flight departed @ 6AM and 
we  were  beat.  It  was the most unpleasant flight, only because they 
pack you in like sardines and all we wanted was some sleep. 

Finally  we arrived Sangster International Airport. We were sung to by 
locals  all  dressed  up  and it was really nice. The lines were short 
and  we  were  in  and out of the airport in 30 minutes TOPS. That was 
nice.  There  was  a  Sandals bus waiting for us at the airport and we 
were promptly on our way! 

I  heard  many,  many,  many  nightmare stories about the drive on the 
internet,  but  we  decided  to try it. I have no complaints. I didn't 
think  it was bad at all. Drive through the city of Chicago once after 
a  long,  cold  winter.  The  road  there was fine. We were on an air-
conditioned  bus  and  it  was roomy. It only took @ 90 minutes and it 
was  quite  scenic.  Jamaica  is  not very beautiful, but it does have 
some  nice  sights.  We  saw Doctors Cave Beach in Montego Bay. We saw 
some  tropical  flowers and many Billy goats and cows wandering around 
aimlessly. It was a lot of fun. 

Our  bus  pulled  up  and there was a Sandals employee waiting outside 
for  us.  Within  10 minutes, we had a room and were all set. That was 
great.  We  booked  a  Honeymoon  Grande  Luxe  Beachfront,  but  were 
upgraded  all  the  way  to  the  top,  a honeymoon loft suite. What a 
pleasant  surprise!  The  room was clean and comfy, but much different 
than  I  had  imagined  from the brochures. Sandals hires an excellent 
photographer! 

Now,  I  am  not  going  to give you details of each day hour by hour, 
that would be boring, but I will give you details on everything!

The Property:

As  I  stated  the  rooms  were  a  bit smaller and drabber than I had 
imagined.  They  were  well  kept  (with  the exception of the lizards 
pooping  on  our bed a couple nights). They didn't have any roaches or 
anything and that was a big concern of mine.

The  property  is  long and spread out. We were all the way on one end 
of  the  resort,  but  still the other end was close by. The beach was 
narrow,  but  beautiful The ocean was clean, clear and warm! Just what 
I  was  looking  for.  The  beach was clean and white. We spent 90% of 
each  day  on  the  beach. We would get a floatie and float around the 
ocean all day. It was quite relaxing. 

Sports

We  didn't  do  too  many  of the sports, but a few. We did the banana 
boat  -  I  wouldn't  really  bother as you could probably ride a bike 
faster  than  the  boat  goes.  We  wind surfed and tried the sunfish. 
Those  were  both  a lot of fun. Not a lot of wind out there, but just 
enough  to  get going. We also did the water trikes, the exercise bike 
floaties and the kayak. They all were a lot of fun.

Snorkel/Scuba

We  did  not  scuba,  but  did do a snorkel trip one day. It was cool. 
There  wasn't  a  real  lot to see. We saw a few brightly colored fish 
and  a lot of colorless coral. I went snorkeling in the Virgin Islands 
and  they  were much more beautiful, but the clarity was wonderful and 
it was fun to do.

Restaurants

Most  times we ate at the buffet in the main dining room. Everyday for 
breakfast  and  lunch  they  had  a buffet and we switched off between 
there  and  the  Beach Grill. The grill offered Jerk Chicken, Burgers, 
Hot  Dogs, Grilled Cheese. They buffet had different themes for lunch. 
One  day  was Mexican, another Italian, etc. It was delicious each and 
every  time.  We  did  the  Sundowner one night and it was good, but I 
preferred  the  buffets  because I like to try a bit of everything. We 
didn't  try  the  4Cs.  Never  made  it  there.  It smelled delicious, 
however.  We  did  Kimono's  one  night  and  that  was  great! It was 
excellent  food  and great atmosphere. We also did Beaches two nights. 
One  night  we went to Seville's. It was really good. Another night we 
did  the  Tex Mex restaurant there and it was delicious! It was a nice 
change. 

Weather

Each  day  would  begin  sunny  and HOT. But, at about 1-2, the clouds 
would  roll  in  for an hour or two. What a welcome they were. We were 
so  hot,  we  prayed for clouds and rain. Then it would clear up right 
before sunset and would be a beautiful night.

People

The  staff  was  wonderful.  They  couldn't  do  enough  for you. They 
greeted  you  each  time  you  walked  by  and  were  always  offering 
something  to  you. I never met a bigger bunch of people more eager to 
help. It was wonderful. I felt completely pampered.

Excursions

The  only  one  we  did  was a shopping trip to the craft market and I 
didn't  like  it  one  bit.  People coming out running at you, chasing 
you,  throwing  necklaces around your neck. It was just really, really 
pushy  and  I  wasn't  prepared for it. I understand that they need to 
make  money, but by pushing me like that, they pushed me the other way 
and  I  didn't  buy  a  THING!  I  wouldn't really suggest going, they 
didn't  have  much,  plus on Fridays they have a bunch of vendors come 
down to Sandals to sell and there they aren't pushy.

Overall

I  loved  the fact that my drinks and food and sports were included. I 
wouldn't  do  it  any  other way. I loved it here and thought it was a 
great  honeymoon destination, but I have to say, the brochures make it 
out  to  be  more  than  it  is.  Would I go back, probably not - only 
because  there  are so many other places in the world to visit. But, I 
did love it and am VERY happy I chose it. 

JAMAICA: MERRILL'S II BEACH RESORT BY VALERIE N JUAREZ

Trip 6/99

We  left  Houston  gbi  at 5:10 p.m. on June 24 and arrived in Montego 
Bay  at  8:30 p.m. We traveled on a charter flight through Sun Country 
Airline  and  it being my first travel experience, I would have to say 
that  it was fairly smooth. Going through customs and immigration were 
a  breeze.  Nothing  gruesome as I thought. I was traveling with seven 
other  people  and  we  all  moved  through customs and immigration in 
about  ten  minutes.  It  took a lot less time than I thought. Once we 
were finished with that we went and got a transfer to our resort. 

The  ride  to  Negril  was hell, as my travel agent warned me it would 
be.  It  took  us  two and a half hours to reach our destination which 
was  Banana  Shout  Resort.  My  party  and I were truly upset when we 
toured  the  premises.  It  was absolutely awful. It was far away from 
nothing  and  nothing  around  it  except  Rick's Cafe. We were on the 
cliff's  and  it  was  nothing  as  I  hoped  it would be. shall i say 
nothing  it  was  geeked up to be. we were po'd. It was late around 12 
a.m.  we  were  hungry,  tired  and  sticky.  We left the property and 
stayed  at  a  better  hotel. It was a lot better, but not quite up to 
our  standards. We decided that we would just stay there for the night 
and go on the search for a better hotel in the morning. 

It's  a good thing that we traveled in the off season because we found 
a  great  and  absolutely beautiful hotel on the beach: Merrill's IIII 
Beach  Resort.  It  was  absolutely  gorgeous. We had oceanfront rooms 
that  allowed  one  to  see  exquisite  views  of  the  ocean from the 
verandah.  The  resort  was  fairly  new about 6 months old. The rooms 
were  beautifully  decorated in a floral print. Each room had it's own 
living  room  and  a sectioned-off bedroom. The staff was very helpful 
and  courteous.  The  only bad thing about the resort, is the food. It 
is not worth the $30 a day for all-inclusive. 

There  are some great places to eat a long the beach. I would strongly 
recommend  Kuyaba.  The red snapper is great and also try the Jamaican 
chicken.  The  night  life was great. The people there are so nice and 
very  well spoken. My boyfriend and I fell in love with Negril. We are 
planning  a  trip  for April of 2000. After the disappointments at the 
beginning of the trip, everything afterwards was truly "no problem!"

Go to Jamaica and relax!

ST. MARTIN BY R. BAILEY

Trip 7/99

This  will  be  a brief report on a visit by my wife and myself to St. 
Martin  June  25-July  3;  the  latest  of  many.  Our activities were 
minimal  -  that  was our objective. Flights from Albany NY via JFK on 
American  were essentially uneventful except for a mechanical delay on 
the  Albany flight that gave us about 5 minutes to make the connection 
at  JFK  - AA bussed us and several other passengers from one plane to 
the  other  to  make it. Very quick through the arrival lounge in SXM, 
but  the  delays  in checking in for the flight back, even going at 10 
AM  for  a  1:30  flight,  are worse than ever. AA seemed disorganized 
both at SXM and at JFK on our return.

Rented  a  car from Alain Arnell at AAA, who was waiting for us with a 
fairly  new  car  in  very  good  condition.  Very quick and excellent 
service.  Alain  gets  much of his business through recommendations on 
the web, and is living up to them. 

We  stayed  as  usual at Grand Case Beach Club, half of which was shut 
down  as  they  are  doing  roof work in preparation for the hurricane 
season.  This  was no inconvenience and there was minimal construction 
noise;  the  rest  of the hotel was pretty full with people of all age 
groups,  including honeymooners and couples with young children. Quite 
a  few  cats  around.  They  are  no real bother but anyone with a cat 
phobia  might  want  to  be aware of this. The main beach at the hotel 
has   become  very  narrow,  about  wide  enough  for  a  beach  chair 
immediately  in  front of the hotel, but swimming and beach walking is 
fine,  and  Petite  Plage  remains  wide.  We  noted  a  high level of 
security;  the  usual  guards,  but now you have to punch in an access 
code  to  open  the driveway gate, and another to open the gate to the 
swimming  pool  -  I guess this is to discourage non-resident use. The 
pastry  selection  at  the  complementary continental breakfast at the 
Sunset  Cafe  has  improved.  We  didn't  eat anything else there. The 
waitstaff are very pleasant.

Our  activities  were mainly taking in a few beaches. At Coupecoy, not 
many  people when we were there, but a couple of people selling things 
-  not  annoying,  however. Orient - as usual. Most people were at the 
Club  Orient  end,  it  seemed. Even with few people on the beach, the 
stretch  from  Pedro's  to  Kon  Tikki  was  arm-to-arm  beach chairs. 
Noticed  that  some  beach  bars  now have permanent steel rods in the 
sand  for  the  beach umbrellas. Too much development. Dawn - no start 
yet  on  reconstruction of the old Dawn Beach hotel, so the section of 
the  beach at Scavenger's Beach Bar is quiet; very nice. The other end 
at  Mr.  Busby's was busier. For the first time, we visited Happy Bay; 
walked  the  path  from Friar's Bay; a little rough climbing the hill. 
but  it  soon  becomes  a fairly easy walk. This is a very attractive, 
deserted  beach. Three people with a beach chair preceded us, but left 
immediately.  The  old  hotel  apparently  is being repaired and there 
seems  to be housing in the vicinity; not too sure how long this beach 
will remain deserted.

Restaurants  - As everyone probably knows. St. Martin is noted for its 
restaurants.  We  are not inclined to the French haute cuisine of many 
of  the  best  known, but like Creole and other ethnic food. We have a 
number  of  favorites,  but  this trip also found some new ones. Alas, 
Yvettes  is  closed - not sure if it is permanent, but it had that air 
about  it.  Pity,  as  it  had  the  best  local style food. Our other 
favorites:

Bistro  Nu  -  went  twice; our first Friday (very few diners) and our 
last  (packed).  The  only  place  where  we  were  glad we had made a 
reservation.   Excellent   food,  some  unusual  dishes,  prices  very 
reasonable for the quality.

Wajang  Doll  -  remains outstanding for Indonesian Riijstaffel; higly 
recommended as something a little different.

Mark's  Place - regrettably, he no longer serves christophen farcie or 
octopus  stew,  but the stewed conch is nearly as good and the rest of 
the food is as great as ever. Staff pleasant as always.

Shiv Sigar - as usual, great Indian cuisine.

Had  breakfast at Don Carlos on the day of departure and one other day 
- kind of traditional with us. Good frittatas.

Some new ones (for us) - all moderately priced - 

Malanga  - a fairly new Caribbean Creole restaurant in Grand Case. Not 
a  large  menu,  but  very  good  if  you  like  Creole.  We were very 
impressed (it is the type of food we like) and highly recommend it.

La  Mambo - also in Grand Case - specializes in Reunion Island cuisine 
-  spicey  enough  to  be  interesting  but  not  so exotic as to be a 
problem  for  those  whose  taste  is  timid.  Run by a French couple; 
friendly service. Another high recommendation.

A  La  Cabane  Bambou  -  French  cuisine with a Caribbean flair; this 
restaurant  has  had  a  lot  of comment so we tried it even though we 
tend  more  to  other  cuisine.  The  food is indeed very good and the 
operators,   Gilles   (the   chef)   and  Valerie  (the  server)  very 
personable.  It  is  a  fun  place;  don't  go  if  you  want a formal 
atmosphere,  and  I  imagine  that if it is crowded service might be a 
bit  slap-dash,  but  you can eat well. The complementary after-dinner 
spiced  rum  was  delicious,  but  very  sweet. Be aware that the menu 
posted  outside  and  the  menu  that is actually being served may not 
coincide.

Except  for  going  to  the  restaurants in the evening, we did not go 
near  Phillipsburg.  Did  go  to the Marigot market to buy fruit; more 
fun  than the supermarkets. Huge number of T-shirt, clothing, souvenir 
stands along the water-front separate from the produce market. 

Made  a  day  trip to Anguilla, $10 pp each way paid on the ferry. The 
fare  taker  was  also  offering  to rent cars (D-plus Car Rental); we 
took  him  up  and  got  a car and Anguilla license at the ferry dock, 
which  was quick and convenient. $40 for the day. This is the thing to 
do  if  you don't want to just spend the day at Shoal Bay. We had been 
before,  but  wanted to check out the West end of the island, where we 
had  not  had  much time before. Shoal Bay West is not as large as the 
better  known  East,  but is very nice and very quiet - maybe 4 people 
in  total  near the villas at the far end. If you go to the end of the 
paved  road  and  then  follow  the  dirt  road  a ways, you come to a 
parking  lot  for  a  restaurant/beach  bar (sorry, I did not note the 
name)  that looked very nice if one wanted do some quiet beaching with 
facilities.  We  did not use it, as we were not there near lunch time. 
Other  beaches  such as Mead's Bay where the Malliouhana hotel is also 
were  pretty  quiet;  everyone goes to Shoal Bay West which is getting 
relatively  touristy.  Had a beer at Uncle Ernie's, but a snack at the 
Cotton  Gin  Cafe,  a  pleasant little place on the main road near the 
Valley.  Also  drove  the  unpaved  road toward the Eastern tip of the 
island,  which  we had never reached. Got further this time, but ended 
up in a quarry with no obvious road extension to go further.

We'll be back to SXM next year. 

ST. MARTIN BY SUSAN RICHARDSON

Trip 8/99

My  husband  and  I  just  returned  from a vacation to St. Martin,our 
first,  and  definitely  not  our  last!.  We  have  been to the major 
islands  of  the Caribbean and we fell in love with St. Martin. It was 
so  majestically  beautiful. We stayed at La Samanna which was a treat 
in  itself.  The  beach  there, Long Bay, is breathtaking. The food on 
the  French  side  was  incredibly good. Many of the meals can rival a 
fine  Manhattan restaurant. We toured alot and saw most of the island, 
in  fact, we put 375 miles on the rental car.We loved the shopping,but 
we  found  that  there  were  price  variations from store to store in 
Phillipsburg.  You  need  to know your prices before you go.The people 
are  much friendlier than other islands. Then there is the little town 
of  Grande  Case. The food there is unbelievable. We loved Le Tastavin 
and  the  Fish Pot. We also ate at La Samanna which was excellent, but 
pricey.  When  we return we would either opt for a condo for two weeks 
or  stay  at  La  Samanna for ten days. The only big diappointment was 
the  GOLF  COURSE.  It was awful and not maintained. Since they have a 
monopoly  on  the  island, they could charge one hundred dollars for a 
round, but my husband only golfed once. I can't wait to go back!! 

ST. MARTIN BY RANDY WALKER

Trip 8/99

Trip  to  SXM  for honeymoon with wedding on Anguilla. Arrived SXM via 
American  &  LIAT with American losing one piece of our luggage in SJU 
and taking 2 days to get it to us. 

We  stayed  first  at  Ocean Club at Cupecoy next to Sapphire. We were 
pleased  with the villa, nice pool and beach access, and good location 
for  trips  to  either Marigot or Phillipsburg. Rented car from Unity, 
Toyota  Corolla  with  just  over  10,000  on  odometer.  We were very 
pleased with service and vehicle condition given to us. 

Sunday  I  got  up  and  drove  to Rams Food World in Phillipsburg for 
supplies.  We  spent  day  at  Cupecoy Beach and that night we went to 
Surf  Club South. Good service, decent crowd, live band, but they were 
having  dollar  night, where you purchase tickets at door for a dollar 
each  and  you use these to buy drinks and food which consisted of hot 
dogs,  pizza,  French  fries,  hamburger, corn on cob, not great food, 
but fun. 

Monday  we  had breakfast at Zee Best in Marigot, which was wonderful. 
We  caught  ferry to Anguilla to secure marriage license, came back to 
spend  time  at  pool  and  had dinner at Mario Bistro in Sandy Ground 
which  we found to have good service and good food but not as great as 
anticipated.  On  the way back to room we had a flat tire, which I had 
repaired on Tuesday at Cole Bay Tire Center. 

Rest  of  Tuesday  we went to Cupecoy and had dinner at Sambucca. Good 
food  and  service,  not  expensive.  Wednesday  was  the  big day, we 
lounged  by pool before taking ferry to Anguilla for our wedding which 
was  performed  on  beach  at  Shoal Bay. We had beautiful scenery for 
this  event  and  we  will  cherish  these memories always. We had not 
eaten  all  day and when we returned on the ferry to Marigot we walked 
straight  over  to  La  Vie en Rose where we had a wonderful meal with 
good  service,  expensive,  but this is our wedding day and it was the 
perfect setting. 

Thursday  we  had  breakfast  at  Richards Crepes at Simpson Bay, very 
good  sugar  crepes,  and  spent  the  day  at  Orient Beach, lunch at 
Papagayos, and dinner that night at Cheries in Maho. 

Friday  we went to Cupecoy beach then had late lunch at a Creole stand 
n  Marigot  near  ferry as we caught late ferry to Anguilla to pick up 
our  wedding  photos  and  video.  Dinner  was  at  a sidewalk cafe in 
Marigot next to Arawak Restaurant, but we forgot the name. 

Saturday  we  left  Ocean Club for 2 days at L' Hoste. We checked into 
#304  and  yes  it was a beautiful view, but a pain to take luggage up 
those  stairs.  Spent  day  at  Orient, lunch at Papagayos, and dinner 
that night at a small cafe in Maigot Marina Royale. 

Sunday  had  breakfast  at L'Hoste, last day on Orient, lunch again at 
Papagayos,  and  our  last  supper  in Grand Case at L'Alabama. What a 
fabulous place, excellent service and the food was wonderful. 

Monday  morning  we  at  breakfast at L'Hoste and went to check out to 
catch  plane. L'Hoste tried to charge us for both breakfast days which 
were  supposed  to  be free, and there was a charge for Coco Beach for 
$100  and  we  never  went  there.  They  were  not  cooperative about 
removing  these  charges,  and  we  had  to  be  forceful  about these 
charges.  Also  the  night  before  we asked for bath towel change and 
they  refused.  We  were  not  pleased  with  l"Hoste  except  for its 
location.  We  went  to  look  at  Green Cay Villas and we are already 
making  plans  to  spend  our  first  anniversary there. We also loved 
Orient  Beach  and preferred it over Cupecoy, just more to do and more 
to  our  style.  I also felt the French side roads were in much better 
condition,  and  preferred  Marigot  over  Phillipsburg.  This was our 
first  trip  to SXM and we will definitely be back, neither of us were 
ready  to leave, and we appreciate all previous reports that benefited 
our planning greatly.

ST VINCENT/GRENADINES: SAILING TRIP BY CAPT. MIKE KNEAFSEY

Ed. Note: Mike Kneafsey is a freelance charter captain working in the Caribbean. Also a ASA Instructor.

Trip 7/99
Cost:$3700/2 couples
Currency : $EC

I  just  returned  last  evening  from  sailing  St.  Vincent  and the 
Grenadines.  We  chartered  a  Beneteau  445 from TMM. The boat was in 
great   shape  and  the  staff  was  fantastic.  Sailing  through  the 
Grenadines  is  the  only  way to see the islands. Each island is very 
different  and  you  would  not get that exposure staying at a resort. 
Not to mention there isn't a lot to do on each island.

Flew  into  ST.  Vincent from San Juan, there are limited flights so I 
had  to  spend  a  night  in  San  Juan.  Sailed from Blue Lagoon, St. 
Vincent  which  is  on the Southern end of St. Vincent. It is also the 
base  for  Sunsail  and Barefoot. Spent some time in Kingstown for the 
pre-Carnival  parties  - interesting. Went to a Calypso contest. I had 
heard  a  great  deal  about crime in St. Vincent, but everyone seemed 
extremely polite. There was a strong police presence.

Provisioning  was  also  done  in  Kingstown.  Fair  prices and decent 
supply of goods. The cab fare was $12 US

Sailed  for  Admiralty  Bay,  Bequia. Easy sail with a double reef and 
125.   Winds   were   about  25-30  kts.  Bequia  could  have  been  a 
provisioning  stop,  if  you hit all the stores. They had Chips-a-hoy, 
cheese  crackers,  can  Pepsi and M&M. All the staples of life. Took a 
cab  tour  of the island, cost was $5US/person/hour. Bequia is the big 
spot  to stay to rent villas, there are a lot of nice homes available. 
Went  out to the turtle sanctuary, it was interesting, having sailed a 
lot,  I have seen quite a few turtles, but seeing them as baby turtles 
was  good.  At  Bequia  you can have water and fuel brought out to the 
boat  which  makes  it quite easy to stay here for extended periods of 
time. 

From  Bequia  we  headed  to  Canouan,  we decided to bypass Mustique, 
since  unless  you  wanted  to  spend  a lot of money there isn't much 
there.  We  dropped  the  anchor in Charleston Bay. Great beach there. 
There  was  a  42  Catamaran abandoned on the beach, never did get the 
story  on  that one, it had been nicely stripped. Had a late dinner at 
Pirate  Cove  Bar  at  the  Tramarid Bay Resort, we certainly couldn't 
have   afforded  to  eat  at  the  resort  $75EC  dinner.  We  had  an 
interesting  walk  around town the next morning, the people there were 
all  extremely  nice.  There  is  a  large  resort  being built on the 
Windward  side  of the island and what looks like a Super Walmart on a 
hill  (isn't  really  a  Walmart). Not a lot of life on this island so 
although  the  resort  was nice, I'm not sure if there would be enough 
to occupy someone for more than a few days.

The  next  AM  we headed around to Friendship Bay for some snorkeling, 
but  the  waves were too large so we sailed down to Mayreau. We stayed 
at  Saline  Bay. They have a great beach there with a small village on 
the  hill. The beach used to be a cruise ship stopping spot. The beach 
was  great  for  4 of us, I cannot image the "private beach" with 1500 
people.  There  was  a  nice  wreck  to  dive  here  as  well  as some 
snorkeling.  There  are 4-5 small restaurants on the hill. If you walk 
up  the  hill  there  is  a  great  view of the islands. There is also 
another  great  cove at the North end of the island, Salt Whistle Bay, 
but it was more crowded than I like (7 boats).

In  the  AM  we met Walter who was a local businessman bringing bread, 
ice,  t-shirt  to  the boats. All the local boat businessmen were very 
nice  if  you  didn't  want  anything  they  didn't  bother  you.  But 
generally  we  wanted  fresh bread every morning for $5 EC. If you had 
something  specific  you needed the would bring it out to you the next 
morning. 

>From  Mayreau  we  motored  over  to  Tobago  Keys. I didn't think the 
snorkeling  there  was a great as advertised. But the islands were fun 
to  explore  and it is a great anchorage. We purchased some fresh fish 
from  some  locals  $25EC for 4 fillets. It was great. We did dive the 
Mayreau  Gardens which is between Mayreau and Tobago Cay. We dove with 
Grenadines  Dive which was a great dive company, $50 US for a one tank 
dive including equipment.

Next   stop  was  Union  Island  for  water.  Walter  had  recommended 
Bourgainville  as  the  water  stop,  they  were very helpful. FYI all 
water  stops  are  stern to the Quay. There are several restaurants on 
Union  Island,  we  ate  at  Lambi's.  They had a family style dinner, 
fish,  chicken,  shark  all  for  $30  EC.  They also had a steel band 
playing  and  Mr Invincible doing interesting bar tricks. Union island 
is  the  big  stopping  spot for people on other islands. Fly here and 
take a big catamaran to Mayreau and Tobago Cays.

>From  Union  we  sailed  to  Carriacou  the  northern  most  island of 
Grenada.  This is where I dropped off my clients. They grabbed a cheap 
flight  to Grenada and were on the way home. From there sailed back to 
Saline  Bay  on  Mayreau. Took our time departing in the morning, then 
sailed  for Friendship Bay Bequia. Not a lot at Friendship Bay, but is 
it  a  nice  anchorage. In the AM we went to Admiralty Bay to get some 
books  at the book exchange and some lunch. In the afternoon we sailed 
back  to  Blue Lagoon St. Vincent. On the return sail we encountered a 
pod  of  about  50  dolphin.  They  played  in  our bow wave for quite 
sometime. I wish my clients could have been here for this.

We  spend  the last night at Blue Lagoon. In the AM we checked back in 
and headed out to the airport.

I   would  definitely  recommend  TMM  as  the  charter  company.  The 
Grenadines  is  definitely  a  great spot to visit, but you have to be 
ready for a slower pace than some of the other islands. 

The  official  The  Caribbean  Travel  Roundup  World Wide Web site is 
http://caribtravelnews.com.  The  CTR  is  also  available  on America 
Online.  Contact:  Paul  Graveline, 9 Stirling St., Andover, MA 01810-
1408   USA   :Home   (Voice   or   Fax)   978-470-1971.   E-mail   via 
editor@caribtravelnews.com or CTREDITOR@aol.com

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