Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 118
October 1, 2001

Last Update 28 Sept. 2001

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JAMAICA: NEGRIL

Trip 9/01

DAY  1  ARRIVAL  Our  flight  to  Mobay was a smooth ride aboard Air 
Jamaica  from  Houston. This was our fist time in first class and on 
Air  Jamaica  and I must say we enjoyed both (smile) Stepped off the 
plane  into  the  warm  Jamaica air and I knew I had arrived back to 
paradise.  While  in  the  immigration  line  my husband realized he 
forgot  his  CD  player on the plane, so he runs back to retrieve it 
and  GUESS  WHAT.... the security person had it...just waiting on my 
husband  to  return...so  much  for  all  the  crime  in Jamaica. We 
followed  the  Air Jamaica vacation signs and after checking in with 
the  coordinator,  we  were  on our way. Loved the view from the van 
and  was  so  excited  to  be  visiting my beloved Jamaica again. We 
arrived  at  beaches  (which  is where everyone on the van was going 
all  22  of  them  BUT  us) and we realized the bus driver forgot to 
drop  us off at our hotel Negril Gardens....we knew he was on a time 
schedule  because there were tons of people waiting at beaches for a 
return  ride  to Mobay with a little attitude to boot...one lady was 
down  right rude...I started thinking if Jamaica can't calm you down 
lady  there  is  no hope for you...anyway the driver said no problem 
and  back  to  Negril gardens we went. We drive up and think this is 
nice.....all  of  the  builders are brightly painted and have a very 
inviting  appearance.  we  are  told  by  the front desk clerk to go 
ahead  and  have  lunch  because  we only had 30min remaining in the 
lunch  hour  and  when we returned our room would be ready. That was 
music  to  my  husband's  ears.  The  food as in every meal here was 
quite  good, sure enough when we returned our room was ready, and we 
were  upgraded  (at  no additional charge) to the beach side. Negril 
Gardens  has  two sides to the property beach front and garden side. 
Garden  side has the tennis court and pool. Beach side has the check 
in  desk,  gift shop, restaurant, beach grill, bar, massage shop and 
water  sport  stand.  We were shown to our room amidst nice grounds, 
the  room is a little small but comfortable with all the necessities 
so  everything is IRIE. We take a nap then walk the beach for a bit. 
We  stumble  upon  Nirvana's and decided to take a look. Stanley the 
owner  was  there  (such  a gracious man) and he gives us a brochure 
and  a tour of the grounds. Lovely hardly describes this place. Very 
unique.  The  cabins and cottages are a nice size with a screened in 
family  area overlooking VERY beautiful grounds and they have a full 
kitchen.  In  the  middle  of  the grounds is a covered sitting area 
with  hammocks and other chairs where we sat and talked with Stanley 
after  touring  a  few  of  the  cabins/cottages  it was so peaceful 
sitting  there talking and listening to the birds and tree frogs. We 
thanked  Stanley  for  his time and on our way we went. Made our way 
back  to  Negril  Gardens  to  rest  a  bit before dinner, which was 
another  good  meal. After dinner to the bar for a little unwinding. 
There  was  a  show  at  MXIII  but we didn't make it we talked with 
Nicholas the bartender until late and turned in.

DAY2  EXPLORE  AND  REST  DAY  Started our day with breakfast at the 
hotel  and  a  walk  on the beach. Stopped by Risky Business and met 
Alberto  (queen  B's man) very nice guy and got a few flyers to pass 
out  here  and there for him....hope he received some extra business 
from   the   flyers...people  seemed  interested.  Also  stopped  by 
Yellowbird  to take a peek. Napped and laid on the beach must of the 
day.   Later   in   the   evening  walked  up  to  Debuss  for  some 
jerk...yummy.  Decided  to  also  check  out  Rondel Village we were 
looking  for a place for next time and think we founded it in Rondel 
Village.  Liked  the grounds it's also fenced in (which I like since 
we  plan  to  bring  our daughter next time) looked at a one bedroom 
which  was  very  nice  and  spacious also has a pull out bed in the 
living  area,  a  Jacuzzi,  A/C  in  the bedroom and a full kitchen. 
Spoke  with  Sienna  to finalize our plans for later in the week and 
checked  in  with  Isabelle  to finalize our plans for the next day. 
Alfreds  had  the beach party so we stayed there and listened to the 
band  and  danced  ....nothing  like  dancing  in  the  sand to live 
reggae.

DAY3  RENEW  VOWS  Up  early  which  didn't  go  with the late night 
before...had  breakfast  and headed for bloody bay. Today we renewed 
our  wedding  vows and everything was absolutely beautiful. Isabelle 
Stewart   (weddings@mail.n5.com.jm)   helped   us   to    coordinate 
everything.  After  talking  with  her  via  email for months, I was 
excited  to  finally  meet her. A little petite lady with a mountain 
size  amount of energy great personality and she was a joy to meet . 
She  had  her helper already clearing off a portion of the beach and 
he  even  picked a flower for my hair. The Reverend from Savanna-la-
mar  did  a wonderful job and we felt so renewed and recommitted. We 
were on our honeymoon so I'll leave day three at that.

DAY4  TOUR  DAY  WITH  SOLOMAN Woke early and had breakfast (another 
great  meal  at Negril Gardens) then packed up and got ready for our 
day  trip.  Soloman  (sala@jamaicans.com 1-826-8085 cell or 876-955-
7906  home)was  taking  us  on a whirl wind tour of Black River, Y/S 
falls  and  Appleton  Rum  Factory. Sienna and Soloman were right on 
time.  After talking with Soloman via email for so long I felt as if 
I  already  knew  him  and  Sienna  has  such  a  warm personality I 
couldn't  imagine  anyway  being  a  stranger  to  her.  Marilyn was 
correct   with  her  description  "Jackie  Kennedy  of  Jamaica"  (I 
incidentally  told  her  of  this description before meeting her and 
she  said  "who me.....imagine the opposite") Sienna decided to join 
us  for  our  tour  and we felt special to have both her and soloman 
spend  their day with us. After our initial pleasantries, we were on 
our  way.  Stopped in little London so sienna could p/u a few things 
and  were  off  again.  Peter Tosh memorial was our first stop....we 
paid  our respects and away we went to black river. Sienna joined us 
in  our  fisherman  boat  and up the river we went. Our guide was an 
older  gentleman  (maybe  around 60) but the body of a 30 or 40 year 
old  great arms and muscle tone....he said it was from hard work and 
eating  right.  We saw a few crocs, but they wouldn't come up to our 
boat  which  was  fine  with  me. We stopped and saw small Christmas 
tree  looking  plants  and I was the only one in the boat who didn't 
know  what I was looking at (smile)We went far up the river and felt 
special  in our private boat which could maneuver the river well. On 
the  way  to  Y/S  we  stopped  for peppered shrimp which are really 
crawfish  then  away  to  the  falls.  What  can  I  say  absolutely 
beautiful.  The  grounds  are  so well maintained and beautiful. The 
falls  were a little rough and a chocolate milk color but still very 
pretty.   My   husband   did  the  rope  swing  as  well  as  a  few 
others....got  a  little  wet  then  back  in  the car and headed to 
Appleton  rum factory....we needed to get there before closing time. 
We  were  enjoying  Solomon  and sienna's company immensely. At some 
point  during our drives, we drove through bamboo alley, which is oh 
so  beautiful  and  stopped  for  coconut jelly. First you drink the 
juice  from a straw which is stuck in the top of the coconut then he 
cuts  it  open  so  you  can  scoop  the  insides out...which is the 
jelly...very  refreshing.  Arrive  at  Appleton and enjoyed learning 
all  about  how the rum is made and tried sugar cane juice. Then the 
finale  is  tasting  all  the different rums.....Jeff really enjoyed 
this  part...stopped by the bar for a bit then loaded up the car for 
home.  On the way back we stopped for fish and bamma bread. Everyone 
is  sticking  fish (that's already prepared) into the car.....asking 
you  to  buy  this...buy  this.....I  wouldn't  know fresh fish from 
anything  else so Soloman handled all of this for us. We were hungry 
by  this  point ate as if we it was our first meal in days. The fish 
was  seasoned  so well and really good. Stopped in little London for 
a  leg  stretch  and  took a walk with sienna up to the little store 
then  back  in  the  car  and headed for Negril gardens. back at the 
hotel  we  gave sienna a little tour of Negril gardens and continued 
to  talk  a little...we were so enjoying their company...but knew we 
had  to  end  our day. talked of maybe checking out close encounters 
(go  go  club  in  negril)  because  Talk  of  the Town (Solomon and 
sienna's  go go club in little London) wasn't opened during the week 
we  were there. Had the guard take pictures for us and then said our 
good  byes.  Our friends from Dallas had arrived today so we spoke a 
little  on  the  telephone with them then decided to turn in for the 
night.  Not  sure  what  time  but music woke us up so we decided to 
investigate  and  discovered Alfred's had the party again tonight so 
we of course had to join in on the fun.

DAY  5  CHANGE  HOTELS  DAY  This  was our day to change hotels from 
Negril  Gardens  (beach) to Rockhouse (cliffs). We were feeling like 
we  didn't  want  to  leave  our  little  home  on the beach. Negril 
Gardens  has  a  nice  beach with trees for shade and we enjoyed the 
staff  so much. The food was good and the grounds well maintained we 
knew  where good jerk was, the cyber cafe, nightly entertainment but 
the  plan  was  to move up to the cliffs and we had already paid for 
the  hotel.  We  called  home  to  check  on our daughter again then 
walked  up  to the cyber cafe then back to check out and away to the 
Rockhouse.  Met Alphanso at the front desk (we spoke a little on the 
net)  and  was  told  our room would be ready in a bit, so we walked 
the  grounds and I must say they are beautiful, the pool really does 
look  as if it backs into the ocean. Very green and lush grounds not 
to  mention the beauty of the cliffs and water below. By the time we 
made  it  back  to the front office our room was ready villa#7. What 
can  I  say  it's  NICE. Mosquito netting on the four poster bed out 
door  shower,  CD  player, floor and ceiling fan...no A/C or TV....I 
wondered  if  Jeff  would  survive.  Nice  wrap  around  porch and a 
private  sundeck  and  stairwell  with  a  ladder to the water/caves 
below.  Beautiful  and  so  romantic....it does live up to the hype. 
Rested  a bit then we walked up to 3 dives and met Paula and Lloydie 
such  a  nice  couple  (Liz  I  told  Paula you said hello) Had jerk 
chicken  and  sat  and  talked  with them for a while (very good and 
inexpensive  meal)  then on to sunshine plaza for a little shopping. 
Our  friends  from  Dallas  were  taking  a tour with Errol Cox from 
Errol  Flynn  tours  so  we knew we wouldn't see them until later in 
the  evening.  Bought some ting, rum and other items from Hi/Lo then 
stooped  by  countryside for CD's and other items....even received a 
discount  from  Adrian.  then  back  to  the  hotel. Watched all the 
sunset  boats  come  to  pickled  parrot  and sat out on our sundeck 
until  the  storm  drove  us  inside.  Later  in the evening met our 
friends  up at Cosmos for dinner and enjoyed hearing about their day 
and  another  good meal. We then decided to see if we could get into 
RIU  with  our  friends who were guest there. No problem just walked 
right   in  as  if  we  were  guests  also.  This  hotel  is  simply 
gorgeous...I  couldn't believe it was in Negril.... isn't there some 
sort  of  building code on how high a hotel can be? this place has a 
three-story  block  of  rooms looks like an apartment complex in the 
states.  I  started thinking the small time charm of Negril was lost 
with  this hotel but I must say at the same time I was in awe at how 
nice  it  was.  Everything  seemed  so grand and elegant. If you can 
afford  it  and want to indulge, this is the place. We went to their 
rooms  after walking around a little and were equally impressed with 
the  size  and decor of the room. Their room had not only a mini bar 
but  also  a  dispenser  with  all  premium  liquor. I just couldn't 
believe  it.  Am  I  in  Las Vegas?? We of course decided to indulge 
ourselves  and  stayed  there for a few hours talking, playing cards 
and  enjoying  their  dispensers. I've finally founded a mix drink I 
like  (Coruba  rum and ting....I know a strange combination...but it 
works  for  me)  we floated the night away. Found a taxi and back to 
our little cozy cottage on the sea at Rockhouse.

Day6  ROARING  RIVER  Woke  surprisingly early (without a hang over) 
and  sat  out on the sundeck and enjoyed the solitude. Today we were 
joining our friends for a trip to roaring river with Errol Cox (876-
772-1274  errolflynntours@hotmail.com).  We  had a late breakfast at 
Just  Natural...such  large  portions  and  reasonably priced. Errol 
picked  us  up  promptly  at 11 and away we went. Drove out past the 
lighthouse  and  Errol explained things as we went along. Arrived at 
roaring  river  and we realized this was the place we visited on our 
very  first  trip  to  the Negril...we rode out by scooter following 
someone  else  and  honestly  had no idea where we were just that we 
enjoyed  our  hike  and  swimming very much. They have done a lot to 
improve  this  place...not  nearly as many hustlers (which is a huge 
improvement)   and   new   looking   refreshment  bar  and  changing 
area...really  nice  changes  since  our  last  visit. Paid our 10us 
admission  fee  and met up with lightening (our guide) and on to the 
cave  first.  Lightening  was a very knowledgeable guide and told us 
about  everything  we  saw.....he  also  pointed  out  some  natural 
formations  in  the  rocks.  We had a dip in the mineral pool...very 
refreshing  and  cold  and  lightening  explained that many visitors 
come  to  rock  climb. We then stopped at the blue hole it's suppose 
to  be  bottomless  and some of the locals were jumping and swimming 
but  we  didn't  try  any  of  that  and took their word that it was 
indeed  bottomless.  It  started to pour so we opted not to take the 
hike  this  time and back to the snack center for a drink and talk a 
bit....met  some  really  nice people and it was interesting to hear 
their  stories.  Then  back  in  the  van  for Savanna-la-Mar. Errol 
stopped  at  a  place  for  lunch  and  got  our orders even brought 
everything  to  the  table.  Errol  is  a  very  good and personable 
guide...we  really  enjoyed  his  company  and  infectious smile and 
quickly  became  friends.  Did a little shopping and he drove around 
and  told  us  about different things then stopped for ice cream and 
back  to Negril we went. We dropped our friends off at RIU and Errol 
told  us  where  to  get  good lobster he recommended Erica's on the 
west  end  right  past the Rockhouse. He drove us by and we told the 
guy  we  would be back around 8:30 for dinner. Errol dropped us off. 
Did  a little resting then went back to Erica's for dinner. The BEST 
lobster  I've  ever  had  simply  delicious and for two of us around 
$22us.  Stayed  and talked with Vicky and then back to the Rockhouse 
to  get  ready  to  explore the "Jungle". This club is funky-- looks 
like  a  club  in  New York very high tech sound system and lighting 
and  by  12:30 it was hopping. I didn't know if it was the fact that 
I  haven't  been  to  a  club  in a while or what but I had a blast. 
People  stayed  on  the dance floor the entire time. With the action 
and  sights  in the Jungle Jeff and my friends husband wouldn't need 
to go to a go go club after all.

Day7  LAST  FULL DAY Met our friends at Sunshine Plaza so they could 
do  a  little  shopping stopped again at Adrian's shop (countryside) 
he  has the best prices from what we saw. Quick stop at the bank and 
then  stopped  at  Debuss to pick up some food and on to RIU (yes we 
were  able  to  walk right in again) enjoyed our food and walked the 
beach  for  a bit. Errol said he would drop by and pick us up on his 
way  to  Rick's  so  we cleaned up and off to watch the sunset. Nice 
atmosphere  good  for  sunset  and people watching. The guys jumping 
from  the  cliff  side and the trees for that matter is something to 
see.  There  was  a  live  band  playing  and we enjoyed dancing and 
talking  with  Errol  and  others there. Errol dropped us all off at 
the  Rockhouse  for our own private happy our (thanks to RIU). Since 
it  was  our  last night we decided to splurge and had dinner at the 
Rockhouse   restaurant...yes,   lobster   again...two  nights  in  a 
row...am  I in paradise or what. It was 19us for one and although it 
was  good Erica's was better and for half the price but we could use 
our  credit  card  and  enjoyed  the  cliff side view so No Problem. 
Errol  came  back and picked up our friends and we all became sad in 
saying  our  last good byes. We so enjoyed this trip....this was the 
first  visit  to  Negril for our friends, so we enjoyed showing them 
how  to  enjoy a little of Jamaica from behind the confines of an AI 
and  we enjoyed our new friends including Errol. Took final pictures 
and away they went.

Day8  DEPARTURE DAY Enjoyed the view from our porch and sun deck for 
the  last  time  then  walked  up  to  the Carrot for lunch. I tried 
calling  Sienna  and  Soloman that morning but didn't get an answer. 
On  our  way  up  to  the  carrot a taxi pulled up in front of us we 
thought  to  let  a  passenger  off  and  guess  who  pops  his head 
out....Soloman.  Cheery  as  ever.  It  was  good  to see him and we 
talked  with  him  a  bit then said our good byes in person. Got our 
food  to go and back to the hotel to check out. Our tour bus arrived 
and  away  to  Mobay  we  went.  Enjoyed  my final views of Jamaica. 
Arrived  at  the  airport  checked  in  and  went  to the lounge and 
waited...our  flight  was  delayed  a  little....so just relax. They 
call  for  our flight in no time and we enjoyed another great flight 
on  AirJamaica.  Arrived  back  to Houston in one peace and wondered 
when I would see my beloved Jamaica again.

MEXICO: ADVENTURA PALACE RIVERIA MAYA BY MICHELLE SURRENA

My  husband  and  I  went  to  Adventura Palace in the Riveria Maya, 
Mexico for out honeymoon and it was nothing short of HORRIBLE!

The  first  thing  we  noticed  was  that the hotel lobby and dining 
areas  (except  for  one)  were  not  air conditioned. This normally 
would  not  be  a problem except for it was almost 100 degrees every 
day  we  were  there.  It  is  hard to enjoy your meals when you are 
soaked with sweat.

We  received 1/2 used bottles of shampoo one more than one occasion. 
One  of  the  bottles  actually had a hair 1/2 in and 1/2 out of the 
bottle!

This  was  an  all  inclusive hotel so liqueur was included. When we 
got  a  drink it tasted like kerosene. They must be cutting edges by 
using the cheapest available liqueur available.

My  husband  and  I  both  got sick (and it was not from drinking to 
much  since  we  both probably only had 6 drinks combined the entire 
trip).  We  are  assuming  it  is from the food but of course cannot 
prove that.

We  had a mini-bar with bottled water and beer in our room. Since we 
were  both  sick  we  were  drinking  a lot of water. We used up our 
supply  and  called  the  front  desk  to ask for our mini bar to be 
refilled  (water  only)  and they refused saying that they will only 
refill  it  every 48 hours. I explained the situation and they still 
refused.  So  if  we  wanted to drink water we would have to use the 
tap water!

We  eventually  made  our  way  out of the room to try and find some 
medicine.  We  went  to the hotel store only to find out that all of 
the  medicine  is  in  Spanish  and  the  clerk does not know enough 
English  to  help  us  choose  what  medicine  would  best  suit our 
condition.  Only  after  arriving  back home did I get a letter from 
the  manager  of  the  hotel stating that they had a hotel doctor we 
could  have  used.  Of  course, it was no good to me then and no one 
mentioned it while we were there.

As  soon  as  my  husband  and I felt well enough to go out again we 
would  go to the small town a few block away or take a bus to Cancun 
to  eat.  So  we  were  paying  for an all inclusive feature we were 
afraid to use!

Adventura  Palace  has  awful costumer service! In the letter that I 
mentioned  above  that  they  sent  to me, they basically blamed the 
whole  situation  on  me!  No  sincere  apology, no whole or partial 
refund, no credit due. NOTHING but putting the blame on me!

I  would  advise  everyone  to choose another hotel! Especially stay 
away from Adventura Palace and all other Place Resorts!

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