Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 88
October 1, 1998

Last Update 27 Sep 98 1800ET

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JAMAICA: SANDALS, NEGRIL BY SCOTT RHODES

It's  Friday,  August 28, 11 PM in Los Angeles. My wife & I are set to
depart  on  our  non-stop  Air  Jamaica flight to Montego Bay. After a
half-hour  delay  (no problem, mon), we take off. The plane is crowded
and  seating  is  cramped.  The  food is decent...some kind of curried
chicken  and  you  get  a  free cup of champagne. But, even the stupid
movie (Major League 3) can't help me sleep.


5  1/2  hours  later  (plus  2  hours  time  change) we land in MoBay.
Saturday,  8/29,  7  AM.  We  clear customs and proceed to the Sandals
check-In.  8AM  we  walk  out  into  the sauna that is Jamaica in late
August.  Being  from LA, we are not used to 98% humidity. We board the
Sandals  Negril  shuttle  (which,  thank  God, is air-conditioned) and
wait  for  the  other  couples. 8:30 AM we are on our way. Having read
other  travelers  accounts of the drive along the Ho Chi Mihn trail to
Negril,  I was prepared. The scary part is getting used to the driving
on  the  wrong  side  of  the  road.  I  am  now  suffering from sleep
depravation and am content to watch the countryside go by.

10  AM  we  arrive and are escorted to the lobby. We are given a glass
of  champagne  and  wet  towels. I turn over our documents and my Visa
card.  The resort gives you a card that you can use to charge items at
the   store.   As   you   will  see,  this  becomes  necessary  almost
immediately.  I start to catch my second wind. Who needs sleep anyway?
About  a  1/2  hour  goes  by  and  we are escorted to our room in the
Paradise  block.  The  room  is  fairly  large, has a balcony, a small
Ocean "Peak", TV & radio, and the A/C works very well.

The Camera Dies

At  first,  we  thought it was just the batteries. We hike over to the
store  and  purchase  a couple of AA's. $5.00. We hike back. Camera is
still  not  working and after much cursing, hike back to the store and
buy  a  disposable  camera.  $20.00.  We now are stuck with this and 2
disposable  underwater  cameras.  So  what. No problem, mon. We are on
vacation.  Well  the  next  8  nights  (we  booked  1 extra night) are
somewhat  blurry  due to the combined effects of rum and other illicit
substances. So, here is a synopsis.

Food

4  restaurants  and  a  snack bar. Not all are open all the time. Main
Dining  Room:  Breakfast  buffet.  Lunch buffet. Rotate between dinner
buffet  and sit-down. Decent buffets. Good sit-down meals. Casual with
very nice ocean views.

Kimonos:  Dinner  only.  Japanese  style. Very nice presentation. Chef
prepares  food in front of you. The only completely indoor restaurant.
Dress Jamaican formal (long pants or dress shorts).

Sundowner:  Sit-down  breakfast. Sit-down dinner. Very good food. Very
good service. Dress nice shorts.


4  C's:  Dinner  only.  Select your own stir fry. Very good food. Very
good  service.  Very  romantic  setting. Small and right on the beach.
Dress casual.


Snack Bar: Jerk chicken, burgers, hot dogs, fries.


Beverage: Hey, mon. Open Bar! Kick-ass drinks and lots of them.


Beach: Very long, private, clean, sandy and beautiful.


Activities:  Took  the resort diving course. Included in the price and
definitely  "a  must".  Snorkeled.  Played pool volleyball. Drank. The
"camp  counselors"  do not pressure you to join in. You are free to do
as much or as little as you want.


Pool:  There  are  a  total  of  three. We only used the main one. God
bless whoever invented the swim-up bar.


Things  to bring: Sunblock, insect repellent, cards, a book (I brought
Jimmy Buffett's: A Pirate Looks at Fifty)


In  conclusion, we had a blast at Sandals Negril. It has been recently
refurbished  and  the  grounds  are  lovely.  I hope to return someday
soon.

JAMAICA: BOSCOBEL BEACH TRIP REPORT BY JERRY BRADFORD

Trip 9/98

Just  got back from a 5 night stay at Boscobel Beach. I thought it was
a very nice resort.

The Room:

We  stayed  in a very nice 1 bedroom suite, #6201.Room had a king size
bed,  TV,  dresser, 2 night tables with lamps, chair and coffee table,
CD/Tape  player,  ceiling  fan and coffee maker in the main room. Also
had  a  bathroom  with  tub/shower.  The "other" room had 2 twin beds,
table  and  lamp  and  had it's own bathroom with a shower in it. This
room  is  separated  from  the  main room by shuttered doors. It had a
balcony  overlooking  the  Beach  Bar  and  Grill.  I  think it is the
closest  room to the ocean, maybe 30-40 feet. Great views with lots of
space  on  the balcony. Room was 1 floor below Allegro (very nice) and
2  floors  below  the  Piano Bar. The room is on the same level as the
adult pool.

The Pools:

Pools  were  always  clean, never got in the adult pool but spent time
at  the  kids  pool.  Kid's  pool starts at 3 foot and goes to 9 foot.
It's plenty big, never seemed to be really crowed.

The Beach:

Its  a  nice  sand  beach,  wish  it  was  bigger. Never had a problem
finding  shade,  although  it  was cloudy most of the time and did not
need shade.

The Food:

It  was  ok. The Beach Bar had cheeseburgers and fries every day, made
the  kids  happy.  The  Terrace  buffet  had plenty of food and it was
always  good  quality. I really liked the Pavillion restaurant, it's a
sit  down  place  and  really nice. You need to call at 9:00am to make
reservations  for that evening. The Allegro was nice, too nice for me.
BRING  YOUR OWN LARGE CUPS!!!!. They serve you drinks in a cup about 3
inches  tall  and  1  inch around, last all of 3 minutes, maybe. After
5:30  when  you have to walk up 2 flights of stairs and then up a hill
to  get  a  drink  to  take back to the room a large cup would be real
nice.  I  would always get 2 drinks and have one finished buy the time
I  got back to the room. It would also have been nice if they gave you
a  number  of  cans of pop or orange juice for the little refrigerator
in  the  room so in the morning or late at night you would not have to
walk for 5 minutes to get a drink.

Kid's Club:

Never used them.

Scuba:

Made  3  dives,  all  were  really good. Dive sites are only about 2-3
minutes  away  so it does not take too much time away from the family.
Nice reefs.

Bus Trip from Airport:

Trip  to and from the airport was ok. Takes a good 2 hours with a stop
in  the  middle  for  a break. Roads are really narrow (and bumpy) and
people  pass  each  other  all  the  time. Makes for an exciting time.
Buses were air-conditioned and looked in good shape.

Dunns River:

I  had  a  good  time  here. Started out the whole family was going to
climb  it,  but  once  we  got  there it was pouring down rain, I mean
pouring.  I  ended up being the only one in the family to start up it.
About  half way up my wife and son joined the group (stopped raining).
They ended up having a great time also.

Overall:

I  think  it's a good resort. I will probably never go back though. We
traveled  for  12  hours  to  get there and 12 to get home. Once there
you   are  there most people never leave the place. You have to pay to
leave,  by  taxi  or  tour. They drive on the left (wrong side) of the
road  and  I  am  not  going to rent a car there. You never get to see
Jamaica, except for the bus ride.

Most  of  the  time  I  never knew I was in Jamaica, could have been a
beach  in  Florida,  well  except for the fact that everyone there say
"Mon"  (I  know  it's  a  resort thing). I would have rathered spent a
couple  of  grand  less  and stayed in Florida. I just do not think an
all-inclusive is my thing.

JAMAICA: FAM TRIP BY LISA POFF OLIVER

JUNE 12-15, 1998 Ocho Rios Hotel Inspections:

Jamaica  Grande, Comfort Suites, Plantation Inn, Grand Lido San Souci,
Boscobel  Beach, Enchanted Gardens, Sandals Ocho Rios, Ciboney and FDR


I  have  made  every  effort  for the information in this report to be
accurate,  however  it  was  a  very  busy  3 days and I probably have
overlooked or reported something in error.

Departure:  I  left  my  house  at  7:15am,  arrived at the airport at
7:30am,  met  my  co-worker and we were in the air at 8:10am, right on
schedule.  We flew US Airways from Virginia to MoBay, with a change in
Charlotte,  NC. All flights were on-time and full, the flight to MoBay
was  overbooked  and  people volunteered to give up their seats. Cabin
service  to  MoBay  was  somewhat  slow,  due  to  the  full  load  of
passengers.  We  were sitting toward the front and received our drinks
rather  quickly,  I  was  disappointed  to learn that they had removed
their  bottled Margaritas from the cocktail menu. The meal service was
slow,  and  was  not  worth  the  wait. We ate the "pot roast", as our
bagels had worn off.

Arrival:  We landed on time at Sangster Airport at 1:20 pm local time.
>From  the  air,  I  was  somewhat  surprised  at the appearance of the
island  - it was not very picturesque. I thought the airport was nice,
newer  than  I  expected.  We  were off the plane quickly, but somehow
dawdled  along  and  let  most  of  the passengers get in front of us,
therefore  putting us at the back of the immigration line. We were one
of  the  last  passengers  to  go through, a lesson to be learned. The
immigration  officer  was not very welcoming and had little to say, he
asked  me twice "Where were you born?" then handed me my documents and
pointed  in  the  direction  of  baggage claim. We passed the Jamaican
Tourist  Board  desk, and stopped to inquire about our transfers. They
said   to   go   to   baggage   claim   and  see  the  Jamaica  Grande
representative,  which we did. The Jamaica Grande representative asked
"Did  you  go  to  the  JTB?"  Once  we  said,  we  already had - they
proceeded with our transfers.

Transfer  to  Ocho Rios: We were shown to the bus, boarded and were en
route  to Ocho Rios fairly quickly. The bus was old and the a/c hardly
worked,  we  were  pretty  warm early in the trip. After much research
and  reading  on Jamaica, I was prepared for the poverty - but not the
mounds  of  trash.  The  area  around  the  airport  was  so dirty and
literally  looked like a dumping ground. I was very taken back by this
site.  The  driver  stopped  halfway  into  the trip to Ocho Rios at a
roadside  rest  area,  we  were  able to use the restroom and purchase
refreshments.  It was cooler off the bus than on - so we boarded last,
taking  in  that  final breeze. The driver was a safe driver, but then
again  our  bus  seemed  to  have some mechanical problems and we were
passed  quite  often  on  the  hills.  By this time we had the windows
open!  We passed several pretty areas of the island, then went through
towns  like  Falmouth  - very disadvantaged. Finally we arrived at the
JG  at  4:00pm.  Check-in  went  quickly  and we were offered the all-
inclusive arm bands. We went to Room 1020 in the South Tower.

Jamaica Grande

First  Impression  This  resort  is  a  large  beachfront complex (720
rooms)  in  the  heart  of  Ocho  Rios,  resting  on  1300ft. of sandy
subtropical  beach. The lobby area is large, updated and open-air. The
views  from  the  lobby  area to the ocean were very nice. There was a
lobby  bar  where  you  could  find a drink most hours of the day, and
nice  large  chairs  to  relax in! The resort was at 100% capacity for
most  our  stay,  and  at  times  felt  crowded. The Jazz Festival was
getting  in full swing while we were there, the JG was one of the host
hotels.  The  South  Wing  had  2  restaurants, retail stores, meeting
rooms  and  several  wedding  atriums/gardens.  The  North Tower had a
cafe,  the  children's  center  (Club Mongoose, for kids 2-12), a bar,
gift  shop  and a small casino, and the ever-popular Jamaic'n Me Crazy
disco.  Mallard's  Court  was  a  huge area used for buffets and night
shows  it  encompassed  almost  the entire lower level near the pools.
There  were  3  pools,  the  main pool was very nice and large, with a
swinging  bridge,  waterfalls  and  a swim up bar, the other two pools
were  smaller.  The  pool areas and a strip of land hosting some water
sports  and  boats divided the two beaches. The beaches were okay, the
sand  was coarse and rocky at both, and the water had a lot of seaweed
in  it  (which  is  a  problem at many of the Ocho Rios resorts). This
resort  offers  both an all-inclusive plan and a European plan, we saw
mostly  purple  armbands  (all-inclusive).  They  also have a band for
those  wanting  to pay to use the hotel facilities (cruise passengers,
etc.),  so  therefore  anyone who is on property should have some kind
of  wrist  band  on - usually it is bartenders who notice that someone
does not.

Rooms

We  were  in  the  South Tower in a superior room, our view was a side
view  of the ocean and pool areas. The deluxe rooms would have more of
a  direct  ocean  view. Standard rooms are on the lower floors and may
not  have  a  view  at  all.  The  room  had two double beds with nice
updated  fabrics  on the bedding and window treatments. A long dresser
with  a  mirror,  which  held  the  TV, a small table with 2 chairs, a
nightstand,  a  small  closet with a safe, bathroom had a small vanity
with   several  bottles  of  shampoo  and  lotion.  No  coffee  maker,
hairdryer  or  clock  and very few electrical outlets. The balcony had
two  chairs.  There  was no a/c in the hallways, if there was - it was
not  working. The elevators were slow at times, mainly at key times of
the day - check-in/check-out and dinner time.

We  ate  here  for  breakfast  buffet  each  morning.  A nice open-air
restaurant,  which  in  the mornings was very pleasant. The buffet was
fairly  extensive  with  a nice variety of breads, fruit, hot and cold
cereal,   yogurt,  omelet  station,  Jamaican  dishes,  scrambled  and
poached  eggs  and  bacon.  The two items I did not care for, were the
McDonald  like  hashbrown  potatoes  and  the Eggo waffles. Service in
this restaurant varied, from excellent to poor.

Cafe Jamaique

This  small  cafe in the lower lobby of the North Tower was quaint and
had  a/c, you ordered off of a limited menu and the service was always
quite  efficient. We never had to wait for a table, and this offered a
nice  change  from buffet eating. We ordered a cocktail the first day,
but  was  told  the  second  day  "it  would take too long" to get our
drinks  from  the  bar, just across the way. The food was average cafe
food,  continental  breakfast,  ala carte breakfast items, sandwiches,
hamburgers, chicken and salads.

This  was an Italian restaurant on the lower level of the South Tower.
The  atmosphere  was  simple and casual, resembling a pizza parlor. We
ate  here  one night and it was disappointing. First we waited over 30
minutes  for  a  table,  then  the service was absolutely terrible (15
minutes  to get menus, 10 more minutes to get our order taken, 15 more
minutes  to  get our drinks, etc...) they were out of two of the three
items  I tried to order, then the pasta Alfredo that I ordered was not
fresh  and  hardly  edible!  Maybe we visited on an off night, because
those having pizza around us - seemed satisfied with their food.

Chinese  Restaurant The atmosphere in this restaurant was nice. It was
crowded  on  the  night  we visited, but the service was good. We were
served  a  tray  of appetizers, (shrimp toast, beef strips, egg rolls,
shrimp  tempura)  which  all  were  good.  I ordered beef with Chinese
vegetables  and  it  was  okay,  my  co-worker ordered fish and it was
delicious.  The  best  dish  they  served  us was the rice, we ordered
seconds  - it was fabulous! We were served dessert and coffee, however
it  was  rather  warm  in  the  restaurant  and the coffee was hard to
enjoy.  The  waiter  finally  opened the glass door next to our table,
and the breeze made the rest of the evening more enjoyable.

Bar Service

Bar  service was plentiful and almost always quick. There were 8 bars,
and  we  tried  them all. The drinks tasted different at each bar, the
North  Tower  bar  serving  the  best  Dirty Banana, and the Lobby bar
serving  the  best  Coconut rum/pineapple juice. They use plastic cups
at  most  of  the bars, however you could ask for a glass (at the bars
away  from  the  pool  area).  The bartenders ranged from pleasant and
friendly to almost hostile.

Jamaica Grande Potpourri

This  resort  is active, and for those seeking a busy, non-stop action
packed  vacation  will  enjoy  the  constant get-up-and-go atmosphere.
There  were many families at this property, and the children seemed to
be  well  entertained  with all the activities. There are early dining
times  for  families  with small children, and I would suggest parents
take  advantage  of  this  opportunity.  If  the  resort  is  at  half
capacity,  I  would  think  you could find a place to escape for quiet
time,  however  if  the resort is running at 100% capacity, it is next
to  impossible  to  find  a quiet spot. We were told that JG employees
undergo  continuos  training,  however  I did not verify this. I think
they  could work on the inconsistent restaurant service and coordinate
their bar drink recipes.

Shopping in Ocho Rios

The  JG  is only a 5 minute walk to Ocho Rios, this was convenient for
shopping.  We  shopped  in  the stores, as well as the fenced-in craft
mall.  The  store  personnel  were  polite  and let you look in peace,
however  the  natives  in  the craft mall were much more aggressive. I
know  bargaining  is  what natives expect and some travelers find this
practice  "fun",  personally  I  would  rather  pay  the prices in the
stores  or  hotel  establishments  and  be  left alone. As a mother of
three,  I  have someone screaming in my house constantly, it seems. To
go  on  a trip and try to shop among people yelling at you, NO THANKS.
The  sad  part  is,  that  I  found the crafts to be very unique and I
would have purchased a lot more, if I had been left alone

COMFORT SUITES

Located  on a bluff overlooking Ocho Rios. This is Jamaica's only all-
suite  resort.  (90  suites) Each spacious suite offers a kitchenette,
making  this  a  perfect  vacation  spot  for  families.  They offer a
complimentary  continental breakfast and shuttle bus to the beach. The
grounds  are  well  manicured  and  the atmosphere is very relaxed and
quiet.  The  1-bedroom  suites were well appointed with muted fabrics,
each  with  a  patio  or  balcony. The 2-bedroom suite was very large,
with  a bedroom, bath, kitchenette, living area and balcony terrace on
the  first  level, a winding staircase lead to the 2nd floor which had
a  huge  bedroom/bath  and  jacuzzi combination. They had one open-air
restaurant  and  lounge,  a  large  pool  with swim up bar, two tennis
courts.  This  is  a  nice  moderate  property  for families and those
seeking a quiet retreat.

PLANTATION INN

This  property  was  one  of  my  favorites.  It  is  a small property
(approx.  80  rooms)  just  outside  of  Ocho  Rios  and has a quaint,
personal  feel  to  it,  and  is  operated  by  Friends  International
Resorts.  The  lobby  area  and  the  main  verandah had recently been
renovated  and  were  just  beautiful.  All room categories offered an
ocean  view.  We  visited  a Standard Room (353) that was a basic room
with  a  huge closet and verandah with pocketdoors, the furnishings in
this  room were a little dated, but clean and neat. The Deluxe Room is
similar,  but  larger  in  size.  The Junior Suite (#260) had a canopy
bed,  wet  bar,  bidet,  huge  closet  and  a  large  verandah with an
excellent  view.  My  favorite  was  the  Corner  Suite  (#201), newly
renovated  with  bright  lovely fabrics, hair dryers, cherry furniture
and  canopy  bed,  walk-in closet, mini bar, ceiling fan, and the view
from  this  wrap  around  verandah was unsurpassed!! The resort offers
both  all-inclusive  and  European  plans  (EP  plan  offers a Welcome
Basket,  Welcome  Drink,  Daily  Afternoon Tea, Free Room Service, and
Non-motorized  Watersports).  Also  on  property  is a croquet lawn, 2
tennis  courts  (1 light for night play), gym, masseuse, sauna, garden
tours,  private  beach,  2  pools,  2  restaurants  and  a lounge, and
finally  a  resident  peacock.  Suzanne  that  gave  our tour was very
friendly  and  knowledgeable! I do not think one would be disappointed
in this resort!

GRAND LIDO SAN SOUCI

This  ALL  INCLUSIVE,  adults  only  Super Club property is one of the
best.  It is a large sprawling luxury property just outside Ocho Rios.
It  has  111  rooms,  3  restaurants, 4 bars, 2 swimming pools, indoor
game  room,  golf, glass bottom boat rides, 3 tennis courts, BEAUTIFUL
a/c   health   club  which  overlooks  the  beach/ocean,  watersports,
jacuzzis,   hammocks  throughout  the  property,  spa  facilities,  al
natural  beach  area,  and  much much more........ Chris Tennyson lead
our  tour  and  was  such  a  nice  gentleman!  The  rooms  ranged  in
categories,  (65%  being  Jacuzzi suites) we saw a beachfront verandah
suite  which  was decorated lovely and was located in the A-B block, a
private  area  away from the main building. Blocks G-E were ocean view
standard,  Block A,B & D were mainly jacuzzi suites. This seemed to be
a  conservative  property,  with a wide mix of travelers. The property
was  at  70%  capacity, and looked empty. This is definitely a retreat
for  those seeking a luxurious paradise. See <B>DebbieH103@aol.com</B>
for a more detailed trip report on this specific property.

BOSCOBEL BEACH

A  SuperClub  property,  Boscobel  Beach  is  the  world's only Super-
Inclusive  family  vacation where children under 14 can stay, play and
eat  free.  The  grounds were well-manicured and clean, the lobby area
looked  updated  with blue & coral tones and was bustling with lots of
people  on  our  arrival.  This  was  a  much  larger  property than I
expected,  with  207 rooms, 3 restaurants, 3 bars, 2 swimming pools (1
was  adults  only  and quiet on our visit), indoor game room, 4 tennis
courts,  land  and  water sports, jacuzzis, health club, small private
beach,  live  entertainment,  SuperNanny program, playground, coinless
game  arcade,  children's barbecue park, petting zoo, Kobi (a dog) the
mascot  and  a Children's Center. This property has been getting mixed
reviews  on  the  Internet  over the past year, some travelers calling
the  property  a  "dump".  I  was  pleasantly  surprised  to  find the
property  neat  and clean and far from being a "dump". It is certainly
not  a  "luxury"  property,<B> </B>and I find their logo "Country Club
by  the  Sea"  a  little misleading. I would consider Boscobel a nice,
moderate  property  with  loads  of  activities  for families. We were
treated  to  a  buffet  lunch  on  our  visit,  and  it was absolutely
delicious,  everything was well presented, fresh and the selection was
wide.  The  house wine was the best I tasted, during my entire stay in
Jamaica.  The  pasta  bar  was  my favorite, where a friendly employee
cooked  his  specialties  (if  you  dared) or whatever you wanted. The
staff  at  lunch  was VERY accommodating, and this was the first place
where  I  had  a gentleman slide out my chair before I sat down to eat
(something  most  women  expect  and  appreciate).  I saw SuperNannies
dining  with  young  children,  and everyone seemed to be content. The
open  air  restaurant  had a comfortable breeze, even on this VERY hot
day.  If  memory  serves me, I think this particular restaurant is ala
carte  on  Wednesday  and Saturday and buffet on the other nights. The
adults  only restaurant (Allegro) looked small and quaint, overlooking
the  ocean,  and  was  A/C.  They  offer  5  settings  per  night  and
reservations  are  required.  This  restaurant gets great reviews from
parents  and  is  a  real  plus  for the property. Overall, this is an
active  property  for active families - older children (7-15) being in
hog  heaven.  Keep  in  mind,  this  property  is  2.15 hours from the
airport on a good day - a long ride for small children.

Rooms

We  visited a 1 bedroom suite in the Adults Only section, Room 6409. A
large  suite,  the living area had day beds used for sofas, table with
chairs,  kitchenette, 1 lrg. full bath, coffee maker, full closet, and
a  large  bedroom upstairs which opened up onto the roof or a terrace,
shared  by  the  other suites. This was a little strange, as you would
get  to  know  your  neighbors very well. Another strange concept, the
suite  had  a  window on the first level, when the curtains were open,
it  showed  the stairwell and atrium. People could actually see in the
suite,  if  they  happened  to  be going down the steps. Some of the 1
bedroom  suites  were  oceanfront  with views, but these were occupied
and  we  were  unable  to  see them. I would think the layout would be
better arranged in those.

We  visited Lanai Room 100-120, these rooms were blocked by large palm
trees.  Lanai  Rooms  101-121 are considered oceanfront, but you might
get  a  room without a view. These rooms resembled regular Holiday Inn
type  hotel  rooms, 2 double beds, table with chairs and a full bath -
no  frills.  Unfortunately, all the Junior Suites were occupied and we
were  not  allowed  to  see  one.  However, we were told 95% have been
renovated  and  the rest should be finished before October. Also added
features   for  the  winter/spring  season  will  be  jet  skis,  wall
climbing,   rollerblade   rink  and  Adventure  Packages  (similar  to
Boy/Girl Scout outings).

Pools and Beach

The  main  pool was large, with a wide deck area. Part of the pool had
a  volleyball  net  and people engaged in good competition, left was a
small  area  for  swimming. The baby pool looked like an oversight, as
it  was  extremely  small.  The  beach  area  is not a strong point at
Boscobel,  it  is small and somewhat narrow. The beach is contained at
both  ends,  which  does not allow for long beach strolls. The seaweed
was  heavy  on  our visit, and they were trying to remove some of it -
however,  the  Jamaica  government  is  very strict on how much can be
removed.

SANDALS OCHO RIOS

Entering   the  lobby  of  this  property,  a  stunning  fresh  flower
arrangement  was  very  welcoming.  The  ponds and fountains were also
very  inviting.  Chris,  the  Asst. Mgr. was very nice and gave a good
introduction.  This  particular  Sandals  is  often  called "Garden of
Eden"  and  for  good  reason, the grounds are well manicured and just
lovely.  There  are  237  rooms, which are divided into at least seven
different  categories.  Also  on property are 4 restaurants, 4 bars, 3
swimming  pools,  2  tennis  courts,  health club, live entertainment,
indoor  game  room,  land  and  water sports, private beach. I thought
some  of  the  public areas could have used some updating, but overall
this  property  was nice. The room we visited was 4515, which had a 4-
poster  cherry  bed,  stocked  wet bar, a garden view balcony, and was
located  on  the  concierge  level.  Extra  perks  for residing on the
concierge  level  are  daily  NY  Times,  cocktail  parties,  escorted
shopping  trips, continental breakfast, just to name a few. One of the
restaurants,  Michelle's  caught  my  eye,  it  was a/c and had a nice
decor.  St.  Anne's has night terrace dining only, which would be very
hot  in  the  summer.  The beach is small and contained, and they were
dealing  with the seaweed problem too, here they told us that the fine
is  $1000  if  you  are  caught  removing it. Other than one couple in
their  50s, most of the clientele seemed very young to me (early 20s).
I  would  venture  to say that this particular Sandals property is not
at the top of the Sandals list, somewhere in the middle.

ENCHANTED GARDEN

This  property  is  HUGE, and the site inspection took forever. If you
stay  here,  plan on walking a lot, up and down stairs. This resort is
not  for  the  faint  at  heart. The lobby area was small and a little
dated,  there were tears in the sofas. Overall this property could use
a  little  renovating,  the  spa  area  especially was not very clean,
paint  peeling  from  the  walls, and the furniture again had tears in
the  upholstery.  The  grounds  are  fabulous, having been a Botanical
Garden,  the  waterfalls  and gardens are just breathtaking. This is a
very  private  and  quiet resort, MANY places to escape! Hammocks over
the  falls and in the gardens. The main pool had a swim-up bar and was
nice.  The  sound of the waterfalls were everywhere and gave a calming
feel.  The  have a shuttle to their private beach. We saw Room 116, it
was  a  large  1 bedroom suite - had a kitchenette, table with chairs,
living  area  (however  this  part  was  not  a/c) and the bedroom was
upstairs,  also  large  and  luckily a/c. On the balcony was a private
plunge  pool.  The view was hidden by all the foliage. I had been told
you  could  see  the cruise ships from some rooms, I am not sure where
those  rooms  would  be!  A really neat feature of this property was a
townhouse  effect,  the rooms converted into 1,2 and 3 bedroom units -
all  with  their  own  entrance. This would be a very nice feature for
families  or  couples  traveling  together.  The standard rooms had no
balconies  and  were  very basic. The two restaurants serving oriental
food  were  not  a/c  and looked dated, the disco/lounge also needed a
new  twist! The continental restaurant near the spa was a/c and looked
bright  and  airy  with  a  lovely island appearance. Overall, I would
consider   this  a  moderate  property,  besides  the  need  for  some
renovations  -  the grounds and the uniqueness of the resort are worth
a visit.

Franklyn D. Resort

I  felt  the  need to do a site inspection here, while my other travel
agent  companions  took  the afternoon off. This property is small and
personal,  having  only 76 suites - it is definitely no Boscobel. Much
smaller  and intimate. The lobby/check-in area was small and open-air.
The  grounds  were  manicured  and  well  contained, which gave a safe
feeling.  This  all-inclusive  resort is custom designed for families.
Children  through  the  age of 15, stay free. A very unique feature at
this  resort,  like  NO  other  -  is  that  each family is assigned a
nanny/Girl  Friday  who  watches  over the children, prepares in-suite
meals  and  does light housekeeping. The nannies were dressed in crisp
white  and  pink  uniforms,  and  looked very professional. The resort
also  offers  a  supervised  mini  club,  complete with field trips to
surrounding  attractions.  They  had  a nice computer center which was
a/c  and  a  Kid  Center with videos. The Piano Bar was small and a/c,
nice  simple  decor.  They  had  one  pool,  medium sized with lots of
lounge  chairs,  the  kiddy  pool  was  adjacent  and  somewhat small,
although  a  built-in  slide appeared to have been added recently. The
man-made   beach  area,  was  not  a  strong  point.  Very  small  and
contained,  which is safe for small children - but limited for others.
I  noticed  lots  of sand toys and was told, they were the resorts and
free  for  anyone to use. They have one tennis court, health club, and
watersports.  I  saw  Suite  109, a 2-bedroom suite and was pleasantly
surprised  at  the  size.  It  had  a full kitchen, table with chairs,
sofas,  lots  of  floor  space,  a  garden view balcony (although this
level  was  not  a/c)  the upstairs had two large bedrooms, a bathroom
and  a  BABY gate at the top of the stairs - I was impressed! Although
I  was  told,  they do not sell their suites by categories or views, I
know  I  would have rather had the ocean view in the 1-bedroom suite I
saw!  It was lovely! This suite was also spacious, more narrow but the
furnishings  were  nice.  This  property  being  smaller, has only two
restaurants  and  two  bars/lounges.  I visited the lunch buffet, on a
smaller  scale  than Boscobel - still everything looked fresh and well
presented.  I  walked to the end of the deck, past the tables - and as
I  prepared  to  take  a  photo, I looked to the far right and a stark
naked  man  was entering the water. Now, I know what people meant when
they  mentioned on the Internet travel boards about Breezes nude beach
being  next  door  to  FDR.  FDR could stand to plant a little foliage
there.  It  would  be easy to keep small children away from this area,
however  older  children  might  be  too intrigued if they learned the
nude  beach  was there. This property is located in Runaway Bay, which
is  closer  to the airport - a SHORTER bus ride for those little ones.
I  think families with small children (infant - 7) would be especially
comfortable here.

CIBONEY

A  Radisson  Villa,  Spa & Beach Resort. This property is located on a
hillside,  just  outside  Ocho Rios. The property is on a grand scale,
very  very  big  and  spread  out.  The  property  has  300  rooms,  6
restaurants,  90  plunge  pools,  6  tennis courts, beach club, health
club,  7  bars/lounges,  activities  desk, and entertainment. The main
building  had  a  lovely lobby with beautiful furnishings and gorgeous
fresh  flower  arrangements.  The  main  building offers standard type
rooms  with  balconies,  I think to be in the main building would be a
great  advantage.  Especially  if convenience is important. The villas
were  dotted  over  the entire hillside, some very secluded among lots
of  foliage  (no  views)  -  this  would  be  ideal if you are seeking
seclusion  and  privacy! Most of the plunge pools are shared by two or
four  villas  (you  might  get  to  know your neighbors real well). We
visited  a  One-bedroom  Villa  Suite,  it  had  a small living area &
kitchenette  (no a/c) and a separate bedroom with bath (this was a/c).
The  furnishings  were simple, updated and nice. The balcony opened to
the  patio  and  pool  area,  closed  in  by hedges and very private -
however  NO  breeze  or view. The other villa we visited was a Diamond
One-bedroom  Villa Suite, which includes a villa attendant. This was a
little  disappointing,  the photo in the brochure was definitely taken
with  a  wide  angle lens. You entered a private courtyard (completely
enclosed  by stucco walls) which was very narrow (maybe 6-8 ft. wide),
where  there  was a small pool with a jacuzzi. If you walked into your
courtyard  after several drinks and lost your balance, you would be in
the  pool.  To  the left, you entered a door to a lovely large bedroom
suite,  open  toilet,  bath and shower/tub. Beautiful furnishings. You
went  back  through  the  courtyard  (which  was VERY hot on this June
evening)  and  at  the  other  end  of the courtyard was a door to the
living  area,  a  very  small  sitting  room  with  a kitchenette. The
furnishings  in  this area were very limited and not luxurious. I have
mixed  feelings  about  these  villas.  I think the privacy concept is
very  appealing  for  some, but I felt almost claustrophobic closed in
among  walls and hedges. Personally, a room in the main building would
suit me fine!

Pool and Beach

The  pool  next  to  the  Main Building was two-tiered, large and very
nice.  Ciboney  has  their  own beach club, located just down the road
from  the  property  and next door to Sandals Ocho Rios. The beach was
small  and  fenced  in,  the  sand  and water looked cleaner than some
other beaches we visited.

Restaurant

We  were  invited  to dinner at the open-air restaurant on the terrace
of  the  Main  Building  (not  sure of the name). The view of the lawn
below  was very nice, and there was a slight breeze from this vantage.
The  service  was  excellent!  I was extremely warm, drank my glass of
water  before  the  waiter  had  finished  pouring for the rest of the
table,  I  said  to him "Please stay close, I have a feeling I will be
drinking  a  lot  of  water  tonight"  -  my glass was NEVER empty, he
filled  my  glass at least eight times. I ordered red snapper prepared
Jamaican  style,  it  was  spicy  but  excellent.  The entire meal was
delicious.

Potpourri

This  property is unique unto itself. Our site inspection was somewhat
rushed  and  we  did  not  get  to  visit the entire resort. For those
familiar  with the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia or The Homestead
Resort  in  Hot  Springs, VA this property reminds me of the class and
old-world feeling that those resorts exhibit.

Departure

Check-out  went smoothly and we waited for our transfer bus, which was
to  leave  at  9:15am  for  a  1:20 pm flight home. We ordered a final
coconut  rum  and  pineapple juice, it was served in a glass by a very
nice  bartender!  Celebrity  Cruise Line was in port and you could see
the  ship  from  the  lobby.  Before long we were on our way in a very
crowded  bus. I was lucky enough to be at the back of the bus, luckily
the  a/c was working on this trip. We stopped halfway into the trip at
the  same  rest  area. This bus driver was much more aggressive in his
driving  techniques,  and  I finally shut my eyes. We made it to MoBay
in  just  under  two  hours. We opted to take our own luggage from the
bus  (and  that  seemed  to disturb the skycap). We were in line, with
only  several  people  in  front of us when those from our bus finally
made  it  in  and  balked at the long line that had formed. The skycap
brought  all the luggage in and dumped it into one place, those people
having  to  pick  through  it  and  then carry their bags in line with
them.  We  heard him tell one couple "you need to give me MORE money".
We  were  checked-in  quickly  and  were  on  our  way for last minute
shopping.  We  bought  coconut  rum at Farewell Jamaica and I bought a
batik  print  romper  for my daughter (which was priced lower than the
shops  in  Ocho  Rios or the hotel). Our USAir flight departed on time
and   was  full.  The  cabin  service  was  terrible  and  the  flight
attendants  were  NOT in a good mood, we landed in Charlotte 5 minutes
early.   Our  connecting  flight  from  Charlotte  was  delayed,  then
delayed,  then  canceled  -  we  sat in the Charlotte airport for five
hours.  We  finally  made  it  home on the last flight, overbooked and
filled with angry passengers.

Final Feelings

My  Jamaica  trip  was  very  informative and enjoyable. The island is
very  beautiful  and  lush in some areas, reminding me of the Virginia
Mountains.  The  other  areas  that  are disadvantaged put a different
spin  on things. It is hard to understand how some of the world can be
so  poverty-stricken. This may really bother some vacationers and they
need  to  understand it is there, but the island offers so much more -
some  of  the nicest resorts I've ever visited. For first impressions,
I think the area around the airport REALLY needs some work.

The  weather.  Keep  in  mind, if you visit in the summer - it is very
hot  and  humid.  Most of the restaurants are open air, and slacks and
jackets  are  required  at  some of the nicer resort restaurants, this
can  make  a nice meal miserable. We were told December - February has
less  humidity  and  the  weather  is  most  pleasant.  Regarding  the
resorts,  some of the separate suite areas (esp. the living areas) are
not always air-conditioned.

The  Jamaican  culture.  We  encountered many nice natives, however we
encountered  many  that  had an attitude and were not friendly at all.
This  made  you  feel like a yo-yo sometimes and I did not expect this
inconsistency,  nor did I enjoy it. A girl working in one of the hotel
stores,  never greeted us in the 4 days we visited her shop, after the
2nd  day  we  stopped  greeting  her - this made you feel like you had
lowered  your  standards.  Although  we  encounter  rude people in all
areas  of  life,  I  have  to wonder if some of the natives may resent
working  in  tourism.  My  mother  has  always  said  "kill  them with
kindness" and that is what I tried to do during my visit.

The  beaches  in Ocho Rios were a little disappointing, again many had
a  great  deal  of seaweed. The aqua colored water, which is presented
in  every  brochure,  was  not  apparent  on  our  visit. I understand
Negril's  7-mile  beach  is  just  wonderful, and I hope to visit that
area of the island next time. I will go back.

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