Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 98
October 1, 1999

Last Update 1 October 1999

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New  York,  NY, September 1999: The jewel of the Caribbean, beautiful 
Jamaica  will  launch  the  4-day  Jamerican  Film  & Music Festival, 
"Cinema  Inna  Yard  at  the  luxurious  Wyndham Rose Hall Resort and 
Country  Club  in  Montego Bay, November 17-21, 1999. The Festival is 
the  brainchild  of  Jamerican  actress/filmmaker  Sheryl  Lee Ralph, 
whose   company,   Island  Girl  Productions  will  host  the  highly 
anticipated  film  festival  with assistance from the Jamaica Tourist 
Board, Air Jamaica and JAMPRO. 

Cinema  Inna  Yard  will  celebrate  the  work of filmmakers from the 
Caribbean  and  around  the world. The festival will actively support 
strong,  positive  and  innovative  examples of cinematic work. "At a 
time  when  the  global  community  recognizes  the importance of the 
arts,  it  is critical that we provide hope, exposure and opportunity 
to  those  who  want  to  pursue  filmmaking,  acting,  directing  or 
producing but don’t know how," says Ms. Ralph.

What  sets  the  Jamerican  Film  and  Music  Festival  apart  is the 
innovative  program  line-up.  A  retrospective  of  the  outstanding 
cinematic  achievements  of  filmmaker  and  Caribbean  woman, Euzhan 
Palcey  is planned. Her films include Academy Award nominated, "A Dry 
White  Season",  "Simeon"  and  the  critically acclaimed "Sugar Cane 

The  Conversation Series, "Coffee with…" will kick off with acclaimed 
actress  Alfre  Woodard  (Primal Fear, Mandela’s Flight For Freedom). 
The  intensive  acting  workshop will be led by world-renowned acting 
coach  Howard  Fine.  Mr. Fine is coach to Brad Pitt, Gary Shandling, 
Heather  Lockear,  and  Sheryl  Lee Ralph to name a few. The writer’s 
workshops  will  be  led  by award winning W.G.A. writer Carol Munday 
Lawrence.  Other  celebrity participants include Lynn Whitfield (Step 
Mom,  Josephine  Baker  Story),  Vivica  Fox  (Independence Day, Soul 
Food),  Kadeem  Hardison (Different World, Renaissance Man), Victoria 
Rowell  (Barbed  Wire,  Distinguished  Gentleman), Doug E, Doug (Cool 
Runnings,  Cosby  Show), select members of the cast "Moesha" and many 

Following  the  film  screenings, master classes, and seminars during 
the  day,  the nights will be filled with receptions, parties and the 
much-anticipated  Festival  Awards  Gala.  Local  entertainment  icon 
Chris  Blackwell,  the  legendary  Harry Belafonte, Richard Roundtree 
(Shaft,  George  of  the  Jungle, Seven) and Billy Dee Williams (Star 
Wars, Batman) will be honored.

Travel  arrangements will be packaged and serviced by Air Jamaica the 
official  airline  of  The  Jamerican  Film  and  Music Festival. All 
packages   include;   air   transportation   on  Air  Jamaica,  hotel 
accommodations   at   Wyndham  Rose  Hall  for  four  nights  (unless 
otherwise  noted)  and airport transfers. The following four packages 
can be purchased by calling 1-800-LOVEBIRD.

#1  Registration  Package  – Includes panels, screenings, Gala Awards 
ceremony, beach party and world premier screenings.

Gateways (package #1):

    a.. JFK/EWR - $1099 per person, double occupancy
    b.. LA - $1099 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-21)
    c.. Chicago - $1159 per person, double occupancy
    d.. Atlanta - $1069 per person, double occupancy
    e.. Mia/FLL - $989 per person, double occupancy
    f.. Orlando - $979 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-22)
    g.. Baltimore - $1079 per person, double occupancy
    h.. Philadelphia - $1039 per person, double occupancy
#2  Actors  Workshop  Package  –  Includes  panels,  screenings, Gala 
Awards  ceremony,  beach  party & world premier screenings PLUS 3-day 
intensive workshops conducted by Howard Fine.

#3  Writers  Workshops  Package  –  Includes panels, screenings, Gala 
Awards  ceremony,  beach  party & world premier screenings PLUS 3-day 
intensive   workshops  to  learn  advanced  structural  screenwriting 
techniques,  plot  and  character  development under the direction of 
noted W.G.A. writer Carol Munday Lawrence.

#4  Golf  Tournament  Package  –  Includes,  panels, screenings, Gala 
Awards   ceremony,  beach  party  &  world  premier  screenings  PLUS 
registration  in  the Celebrity Golf Tournament on Saturday, November 
20,  Tee-off  at  8:00  (portion of the proceeds benefit the Jamaican 
Cancer Society).

Gateways (packages #2, #3, #4):

    a.. JFK/EWR - $1249 per person, double occupancy
    b.. LA - $1249 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-21)
    c.. Chicago - $1309 per person, double occupancy
    d.. Atlanta - $1219 per person, double occupancy
    e.. Mia/FLL - $1139 per person, double occupancy
    f.. Orlando - $1129 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-22)
    g.. Baltimore - $1229 per person, double occupancy
    h.. Philadelphia - $1189 per person, double occupancy
Packages  purchased  after October 1st will increase by an additional 
$75 due to increased airfare.

For  more  information  call  the  Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in New 
York:  212-856-9727;  Chicago: 312-527-1296; Miami: 305-665-0557; Los 
Angeles:  213-384-1123;  and  Toronto  416-482-7850; or visit the JTB 
website   at   or  the  Festival  website  at  For  information  and  entry/registration 
forms  contact  Island Girl Productions at 323-936-8951, the Festival 
website or JAMPRO Corporation at 876-960-0025.



Trip:  August 18 – 24, 1999

  Summary: On August 18, we went to the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort 
at  Cable  Beach on the island of Nassau in the Bahamas. This was our 
first  time  going  to  a  tropical  climate and staying at a Sandals 
Resort.  It  truly  knocked our sandals off! It is a glamorous resort 
with   impeccable  service,  classy  rooms,  eight  restaurants  with 
outstanding  food,  many bars hosting premium liquor brands, two huge 
pools,  a  range  of  activities,  full-service  water  sports, and a 
private  offshore  island.  Sandals  is  a  bit  pricey,  but you get 
exactly  what you pay for here – they do not cut corners on anything. 

Travel/Check-in:  We  left  for  the  Bahamas  from Los Angeles on an 
American  Airline’s  red-eye flight. The flight was about 4 1/2 hours 
and  not  much  fun,  but  rather  typical  as  far  as  red-eyes are 
concerned.  Once  we landed in Fort Lauderdale, we caught an American 
Eagle  turbo-prop  to  Nassau. It took about 50 minutes. We could not 
believe  how hot & humid the weather was – it felt like a sauna! Upon 
arrival,  we  were  immediately whisked to a van and driven the short 
10  minute drive along the beach to the resort. Nassau is wonderfully 
lush  and clean. The natural beauty of the island initially surprised 
us  by exceeding our expectations. Upon check-in, we were escorted to 
the  VIP  Concierge lounge, given orange juice (since it was early in 
the  morning,) a cool towel, and a cute Sandals bag of amenities. The 
bellman  took care of our bags and the concierge took us to our suite 
in the Windsor building.

Room:  Our  room  was  amazing!  We  originally  booked  a  Honeymoon 
Concierge  Suite  but  were given the Honeymoon Grande Luxe Oceanview 
Junior  Suite  in the Windsor building on the 6th floor. The room was 
beautiful  with  a  canopied  four poster bed, fully-stocked mini-bar 
stocked  with  a  variety of liquor, wines, beer, juices, soft drinks 
and  bottled  water  along  with  a  coffee  pot and a variety of bar 
glasses,  sitting  area,  couch,  Sandals  robes, armoire with TV and 
VCR,  desk,  marble  bathroom, huge bathtub, and a balcony facing the 
ocean,  Windsor  pool,  and  gardens. There was also an ample closet, 
ironing  board, and a safe for valuables. Along with the suites comes 
the  Suite Concierge Service, who made our dinner reservation at Café 
Goombay  and  catered  to  our every whim. Breakfast room service was 
prompt  and  the  maids  did  a  clean  job as we were never short on 
towels,  and  they  always replenished the complimentary mini bar. It 
truly  was  a  splendid  room!  (NOTE: The hairdryers in the room are 
very  weak  so  bring  your  own!!!!  The  current is compatible with 
American outlets, i.e., no adapters required.)


Service:  At  Sandals,  you  get  what  you pay for and service is no 
exception.  Everyone was extremely friendly and accommodating. We did 
not  meet a staff member who was rude, impatient or annoyed! In fact, 
the  staff  truly  made  the experience a vacation that we will never 

Beach:  We  were  on  the  beach  shortly after marveling at our room 
(which  we  did not want to leave!) and taking a quick nap. The beach 
was  beautiful;  clear  turquoise  water,  soft  white sand, abundant 
beach  chairs,  umbrellas,  small tables and fresh towels. There were 
many  areas  for  couples  to  sit  by  themselves away from the pool 
crowds  as  well as areas to sit on the piers and oceanside. The sand 
was  very  clean  –  no  cigarette butts or rocks. They rake it every 

Pools:  Two very large pools (Manor pool & Windsor pool) with swim-up 
pool  bars,  fountains,  Roman  statues,  waterfalls,  and  plenty of 
lounge  chairs  with  umbrellas. There are also several smaller pools 
next  to  the  garden villas, a misting pool, and a small pool on the 
off-shore  island,  Sandals  Cay.  The  pools  are clean and warm and 
there are plenty of floating rafts to lay on.

Land/Water  Sports:  There  are  many  water sports to enjoy. We went 
snorkeling  near  Sandals Cay, and it was great. We saw lots of fish, 
and  the  water was body-temperature and clear. A couple in our group 
saw  a  nurse  shark  and  a barracuda ,so those are in the area, but 
there  is  nothing  to  worry  about. (NOTE: there are many fish that 
swim  next  to  the piers and at the beach, so bring your own snorkel 
mask!  Sandals will not lend snorkel gear out to use on the beaches.) 
We  also  went  out  on  the  Hobie  Cats (catamarans) after taking a 
short,  personal  lesson,  used  the  aquatryke, rode in a canoe, and 
even  took  the  2  1/2  hour  scuba  diving  lesson. If you take the 
lesson,  you  can go on a shallow (30-35 foot) dive. We did not go on 
the   dive   since  I  needed  a  little  more  instruction  to  feel 
comfortable.  However,  I  loved  the  experience  so  much,  I  will 
definitely  get  scuba certified the next time I go to Sandals. Other 
water  sports  were  available to us too: windsurfing, sailboats, and 
water-skiing. Jet ski’s and para-sailing are available but are a rip-
off.  They  are not a part of Sandals. Each evening during room turn-
down  service,  we received an activity sheet for the next day. There 
are  many  activities  that you may join: water aerobics, volleyball, 
water  balloon  toss, bowling, ping pong tournament, golf excursions, 
tennis  lessons,  drink  mixology,  etc.  Employees  (Playmakers) run 
around  and  get  people to participate but participation is strictly 
voluntary.  We  found  that  only  a  handful of people joined in the 
games  as  others (like us) just wanted to rest and relax in the sun. 
The  idea is to earn points and earn your prize-sandals (tiny leather 
sandals  on a leather rope which are NOT sold in the Royal Tings gift 
shop.) The competition was fierce!

Restaurants:  There  were  8  dining choices at the resort with great 
service  and  a  selection for the most discriminate of tastes. There 
are  no  reservations needed. It is strictly first-come, first-served 
except  for  Café  Goombay  where  reservations are made at check-in. 
Most  people  dress  up  for  dinner and it sets the atmosphere for a 
lovely evening. The dining choices were:

  Spices  – Good and very casual breakfast and lunch buffets boasting 
a large assortment of fruits, salads, sandwich meats, desserts, made-
to-order  eggs,  sausages, pancakes, etc. They also serve dinner, but 
we   did   not  eat  there.  They  do  serve  an  incredible  looking 
"International  Buffet"  on Saturday nights, but since it was buffet-
style,  we  passed  for  a  more  intimate  atmosphere  and  personal 

The  Crystal  Room  – We ate there on our first night and found it to 
be  quite  elegant.  It  is  a romantic, candlelight room with a huge 
dessert  area,  baccarat  crystal,  and  white glove service. We each 
ordered  a  seafood appetizer and Caesar salad, and for the entrée, I 
had  the  prime rib and Bill had the salmon in a pastry shell. It was 
very good and the service was wonderful as always.

Baccarat  – We both loved it and ate there twice for dinner and twice 
for  "healthy-fare" breakfast. It is definitely the best place to eat 
at  Sandals  but  also  the  busiest. We had to wait for a table each 
time  at  dinner  but  the  wait  was both tolerable (considering the 
adjoining  bar)  and  worth  the experience. It boasts French cuisine 
overlooking  the  Manor pool area. The food is five-star fine dining, 
and  the  waiters  enjoy taking the silver domes off the plates while 
saying,  "voila!"  We  ordered  escargot,  scallops, steamed mussels, 
French  onion  soup, Caesar salad, lamb chops, swordfish, salmon, and 
crème  brulee.  Breakfast was wonderful with vegetarian eggs-benedict 
and  a wide variety of fruits and rolls. The food was exceptional and 
the presentation first class. 

Royal  Cafe  Grill – The café house is beachside with casual, grilled 
food.  We ate here almost every day in our swimwear for lunch. We had 
hamburgers,  grouper sandwich, Greek salad, nachos, and our favorite: 
the  deep  fried  conch  which  is  incredibly  similar  to calamari, 
perfect with an ice-cold beer.

Cafe  Goombay – We had reservations for a Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. 
The  restaurant  is  located at Sandals Cay, the off shore island. We 
took  the  boat  to the island and sat in an open-air restaurant. The 
food  was  fun  with  a  Caribbean  flair.  We had conch salad, conch 
chowder,  Mahi Mahi, lobster ravioli, and guava duff for dessert. The 
service  was  more casual than at other places but the atmosphere was 
fun  with  an  oceanview on both sides of the restaurant. Also serves 
lunch but we never tried it.

Cricketeers  Pub  –  An  English  pub  with  traditional pub fare. We 
walked  through  the  place  many times and grabbed some barside hors 
d’oeuvres  but  that  was  about it. There was a lot of cigarette and 
cigar  smoking, and Bill complained that the beer selection for a pub 
was  pretty  lame  (Miller  Lite and Becks only. What’s a British Pub 
without  a  pint of Guiness?) Overall a charming place and perfect if 
you’re up for some kidney pie and Miller Lite.

Ristorante  Casanova  – We ate here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
The  breakfast  and lunch buffets were pretty ho-hum and we preferred 
Baccarat  &  Royal Grill to this. At dinner, it was a different place 
with  great  service,  nice Italian menu, and a romantic ambiance. We 
had  cheese  ravioli,  salad,  lamb, veal, and tiramisu. The food was 

Kimonos  – This is exactly like the restaurant, Benihana, in America. 
We  sat at a table with some other couples and ate sushi, salad, miso 
soup,  and then received a bit of each item featured on the menu that 
included  scallops,  grouper, chicken, fried rice, and beef. Very fun 
place  where  you  can interact with other people. One of the waiters 
came over and sang for us, too. Fun atmosphere and really good food.

The  Drinks:  Sandals is truly all-inclusive when it comes to drinks. 
You  can drink whatever you want, whenever you want, and have as much 
as  you  want.  In  fact,  I found that they wanted people to drink a 
lot!  The  wines were Italian, Chilean, Californian, and French. They 
were  decent  but  not  the  finest  I’ve had. The liquor was all top 
shelf,  and  the  frozen-fruity  drinks  were  to  die  for!! Try the 
Hummingbird  as  it  is  truly a sensation! Sandals is definitely the 
place  to  try  the  drinks  you  always hesitated to try at home! Of 
course, they have sodas, water, and other such beverages too.

The  Spa:  Sandals Royal Bahamian was voted highly for it’s great spa 
and  I understand why. The hot & cold plunge pools were relaxing, the 
sauna  &  steam  rooms  were  great,  and the spa area is elegant and 
pristine.  We  did  not  try  any  of the spa services except for the 
plunge  pools and saunas, but we were impressed. Others said that the 
messages were heavenly.

Fitness  Room:  Never  used since it was our vacation, but it had all 
the  equipment  you would ever need. Further, it had the best view in 
the resort – directly facing the ocean on top of the Manor building.

Town:  There  are many things to do off property, but we were content 
with  just  hopping  on  the #10 bus for $1.50 one-way for both of us 
and  riding  into town for the straw market. I had heard about it and 
wanted  to  see  what  all  the  hoopla was about. Talk about Sandals 
service,  as  we  got  off  the  bus, a Sandals employee from the spa 
approached  us  when  he  recognized  us  from the resort. He gave us 
advice  on  where  to  go  for the better deals and also cautioned us 
about  the  questionable  "tourist"  prices  in  some  areas.  Again, 
another  example  of  top-notch, beyond-the-call-of-duty service. The 
market  was okay, but the resort was better, so we ran to the bus and 
took  the  10 minute ride back. We had originally wanted to visit the 
Atlantis  Hotel,  but some other couples went there and said it was a 
crowded  "city"  with  over  38 restaurants and not worth the effort– 
forget it!

Sandals  Cay,  Offshore  Island:  The  five  minute  boat ride leaves 
Sandals  for the offshore island every hour until 4 p.m., and we were 
excited   to   spend   some  time  over  there  but  were  ultimately 
disappointed.  The  beach  is bigger but the sand is rocky and dirty. 
There  are  bugs everywhere and the atmosphere was not as celebratory 
as  on  the  mainland.  I  do have to say that it is a great place to 
take  your  snorkel  mask  and wander as some people were doing (only 
Sandals  won’t  lend  you  masks – bring your own) It also is a nice, 
peaceful  place  to  get  away from the crowds and feel as if you are 
alone  on  an  oasis.  There  is  a  pool, pool-bar, and Café Goombey 
available for lunch.

  Grounds: Someone was always working on and maintaining the grounds. 
The  flowers were beautiful, and there were wild lizards and peacocks 
wandering  about.  There  were  lush tropical plantings filling every 
empty  space. There were hammocks and swings hanging around providing 
more  romantic  spots. The grounds were clean, grass freshly cut, and 
the  statues,  fountains,  and  building architecture was impressive. 
There  was  even  a  beautiful  floral mural on the side of the Manor 

Nightlife/Entertainment:  Sandals  always  seemed  to  have something 
going  on,  be  it  the  Honeymooner’s game (like the Newlywed Game,) 
Jeopardy,  staff & guest talent show, or the Junkanoo band. We played 
the  Jeopardy  game which was fun, and the Junkanoo band & fire limbo 
dancer  on  Monday night were amazing! There is a disco, but it never 
seemed  to  be  crowded.  People  tended to just have dinner and then 
stroll  the  beach & grounds. There is also a piano bar where drunken 
singing  is  in  abundance.  A perpetually-occupied billiard room was 
next  door.  There  is  also a complimentary shuttle to the casino at 
the  Nassau  Marriott Crystal Palace resort which we did not find the 
time to do as we live only 5 hours from Las Vegas.

The  People:  There  were  many  people  celebrating their honeymoon, 
anniversary,  or  having a wedding. The age range was diverse and the 
majority  were  from  America. Many couples had been to other Sandals 
resorts, and we are looking forward to following their footsteps. 

Weather:  We  were  very  lucky  because  we had sunny days the whole 
vacation!  Hurricane Dennis just started to arrive in the area on our 
last  day. It did rain a tiny bit every once in a while, but it would 
last  for  20 minutes or less and then be sunny again. Nightly, there 
were  electrical  storms  which  were  neat  to watch. It was hot and 
humid with temperatures ranging in the mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Travel/Check-out:  Checking  out  was  very easy since we only had to 
leave  our  luggage  in  front of our room and call the bell desk. We 
had  full  reign  of all resort activities until our departure, which 
was  nice.  We  walked around, took pictures, and then caught our bus 
to  the  airport. (The concierge tells you what time you should catch 
a  bus,  and they post the flight times in the lobby.) Traveling home 
held  no  hassles  but  was mentally, very difficult to do. It was so 
hard  to  return  to  reality  since  we had such a wonderful time at 

Conclusion:  This  was  the best vacation that we have ever taken! We 
were  treated like royalty and we loved it! It has opened our eyes to 
visiting  other  tropical  regions  and  even to scuba dive. We would 
definitely  recommend  this  resort  to  anyone who wants a relaxing, 
romantic  vacation  with  no worries. Truly, some couples we ran into 
were  not  quite  as  enthralled  with  the  experience  as  we were. 
However,  they  were  looking  for more of an action-packed adventure 
rather  than  a romantic experience. The resort is what they claim it 
to  be,  a  romantic  adventure  for couples. If this is what you are 
looking for, you won’t be disappointed. We’ll definitely be back!


Trip: August 21,-28, 1999

(This is the 2nd time I've been on a Club Med vacation)

I  traveled  to  this club Med by myself at the end of August. I am a 
female, 30.

The  Club  Med  charter  flight left JFK airport (New York City) at 7 
a.m.  and  this  direct flight was only 2 ½ hours. The airport in San 
Salvador  is  the  size  of an outhouse. Only 30 people debarked from 
this flight and it continued to Club Med Eleuthera. 

We  were  greeted  by  Club  Med  reps  and taken in mini-vans to the 
resort,  which  is  only 2 minutes away. Per usual Club Med style, we 
were   taken  into  the  open-air  auditorium, given refreshments and 
then  guided to our rooms. Luggage is brought separately a short time 
later.  This  club  has  a  suite arrangement for solo travelers. You 
have  your own bedroom but share a bathroom with another guest of the 
same  sex. You enter into a small foyer and straight ahead is an area 
with  a  sink  and vanity on each side. Beyond this is a shower room. 
There  is  a separate toilet off to the side. There is one bedroom on 
each  side  of  the  vanity  area. The rooms are small but absolutely 
immaculate.  The  floors  are white tile, there are 2 windows in each 
room,  a  phone,  t.v.,  closet, safe and a full size bed. For a solo 
traveler  this  is  a  good  way to meet another solo traveler. I got 
along  very well with the person sharing my suite and we participated 
in meals and other activities together throughout the week. 

We  had a problem with ants in the sink areas for which we were given 
a  can  of  insecticide. This is not the Club's fault. The weather is 
very  hot  and  moist and that's the way it goes. There are also many 
lizards on the property (not indoors). 

The  premises:  I  tried  to  take  a bunch of pictures of the resort 
premises  itself  because  the  setup was so exotic and unusual, in a 
style  I  can  only  describe  as  Bahamian  Gothic.  The  rooms were 
clusters  of brightly colored bungalows. The main building was a long 
annexation,  accessible  through  terrace doors (I nearly walked into 
several  full-length  glass  windows  because  they  were  so clean I 
thought  they  were  breezeways).  This housed in one long strip with 
glass  on both sides: the dining hall, gift shop, piano bar, a series 
of  living  rooms  and sitting rooms, meditation rooms, all with lush 
velvet  couches  and  statues  and  art  from  all  over  the  world, 
reception  area,  rest  rooms,  and  open  air  auditorium. Note, the 
public restrooms by the dining hall and disco were sumptuous.

At  the  other end of the property was the Sea Center, which housed 2 
annex  restaurants on the 2nd floor; the terraces over the water were 
amazing.  Downstairs  was the disco, open air bar, fitness center and 
huge  boardwalks with benches and tables. Part of the bench was built 
into  the  porch  railings. This was my favorite place to sit. I went 
pretty  much  every  day  before  dinner.  I  watched  the  hurricane 
approach.  My arty pictures just came out dark and blurry. There were 
a  lot  of  Asian and Indian influenced statues in this section. With 
the  lush  landscape  of  palm  trees,  coconut  trees,  pine  trees, 
hibiscus  and  wild  plumeria  (the  breeze  smelled incredible), the 
statues  seemed  all  the more exotic and appeared to jump out at you 
from shrubbery as you passed them. 

The  property  is  large-I'm  not  sure of the acreage-but there were 
plenty of places in the gardens and on the beach for privacy.

One  problem  I  had was that the rooms on this huge property are not 
arranged  in  chronological  order. At night I got lost several times 
trying  to  get  back  to  my room from the disco. The numbers jumped 
from  the  300's  to  the  60's,  and  there  was  not a lot of night 

Club  Med Columbus Isle is laid back to the extreme. The G.O.'s don't 
frolic  and  participate  with  the  guests  as much as at other Club 
Medusa,  and  there  are  much  fewer organized activities around the 
pool.  The  makeup  of  the  guests while I was there were 80% French 
families  and  couples.  There  are  no  children's clubs here so the 
resort  isn't overrun with kids. There were some American, German and 
Italian  families  and  couples.  There  was  a  smattering  of  solo 
travelers  from  U.S.  and  Germany.  We  gravitated  to  each  other 
immediately  and  I met some really fun people on this trip. The most 
prevalently  spoken  language  is  French.  I had to bust out my high 
school  French  and did very well. It was fun and an adventure. C'est 

Drink  prices  at  this  club run from $4.50 U.S. for beers and up to 
$7.00 U.S. for mixed drinks. 

The  nightlife  at  Columbus Isle is so-so; it's what you make of it. 
The  disco  was  frequented by people traveling alone, young couples, 
and  teenagers  who've  escaped from their parents for the night. The 
music was the same each night with an obsessive focus on Will Smith.

The  organized  entertainment  ran  the  gamut.  There  were  2 dance 
performances  I  enjoyed  very  much  (Austin  Powers  and  The Fifth 
Element).  But  there  were  2 shows that were duplicates of what I'd 
seen  the  previous month at Club Med Turkoise. I didn't realize Club 
Med's entertainment was so standardized.

The local Bahamian staff is extremely friendly and gracious.

The  beach:  This  is why Club Med Columbus Isle is famous. The beach 
is  endless.  White  sand,  warm  clear  blue water. The area between 
boardwalk  and  tide  is  very  very  wide  and  the beach absolutely 
sprawls  lengthwise.  I  did  not have trouble getting an umbrella at 
any  time  of day on this beach. Continuing on the beach off the Club 
Med  property  is  simply  more  beautiful  beach. This is a sparsely 
populated  small  island  with only 1 other hotel on it. There is not 
much  in  the  way  of off-club excursions so I didn't go on any. But 
this  is  not  necessary if you are a lover of water sports. The club 
offers    kayaking,   water-skiing,   snorkeling,   scuba,   sailing, 
windsurfing,  water  polo and water aerobics. There are water-skiing, 
scuba,  sailing  and  windsurfing  lessons  for  all  levels. On land 
there's  aerobics,  massages  (extra $$), volley ball, tennis, a gym, 
indoor  bar  and  board  games, and more that I'm sure I'm missing. I 
personally   went   sailing   twice,   snorkeled  twice  and  took  2 
windsurfing  lessons.  The  conditions  for sailing are glorious with 
calm  water and light breezes. The snorkel and windsurfing G.O. teams 
are  very helpful and concerned with the welfare of the guests. I saw 
2   different   snorkel  sites:  Jackson's  Reef  and  Coral  Garden. 
Jackson's  reef was a little disappointing because there weren't many 
fish.  Coral  Garden was a jaw-droppingly beautiful grotto. I took an 
entire roll of underwater film there. 

Unfortunately  the  last  2  days  of  my  vacation  saw a visit from 
Hurricane  Dennis.  Even  the  day  before Dennis arrived, most water 
sports  stopped  because  the water got very choppy with strong cross 

I  have only the highest praise for how the Club Med staff dealt with 
the  hurricane.  Boats were sent to a marina, windsurfs and sailboats 
were  grounded  or  locked up. Any lighting and outdoor fixtures that 
could  blow  loose  and hit somebody were unscrewed and put away. All 
beach  and  pool  chairs  and umbrellas were taken inside. A group of 
G.O.'s  dismantled  the  docks  at 3:30 a.m. so that they wouldn't be 
destroyed. Kudos to all!

While  a  hurricane  wasn't  quite  what I had in mind for my trip, I 
still  had a wonderful time. It was a dramatically beautiful thing to 
witness  between  the  trees  nearly bent over from wind and the tide 
coming up and covering the entire beach.

The  Food:  You will never go hungry at Club Med, no matter what your 
dietary  habits. There is food for every palate from glutton to picky 
eater.  There  are  fresh fruits and veggies at every meal. The mango 
here  is  outstanding. There's a sandwich bar, a salad bar, a variety 
of  veggies  prepared  myriad ways, unusual breads and rolls. I liked 
that  this  Club offered a "late lunch" option as I tend to breakfast 
late  and  am  not necessarily hungry by 12:30 p.m. There is one main 
restaurant  and  2  annex  restaurants. All have outdoor seating with 
views  of  the  beach.  I  tried  both  annex restaurants. Media Luna 
specializes  in  grilled  meats of all kinds and even serves lobster. 
Dona  Maria  is  Italian  and very good. The Main Dining hall usually 
features  one type of cuisine each night along with its regular fare. 
I  was  very  impressed  with  the  Middle  Eastern night and Mexican 
night. The Club Med Gala night is really fantastic, as well.

The  day  I  was  scheduled  to leave there were some airline-related 
hurricane  problems.  We were brought to the airport and then brought 
back  to  the  Club  for most of the day as our plane was grounded in 
Eleuthera.  Note  that  the  security  at the San Salvador airport is 
very  strict.  They  go  over  each individual carefully with a metal 
detector  wand.  We  had  to go through this twice due to the unusual 
weather  circumstances.  When we finally departed at 5 p.m. we had to 
make  an  unexpected  stop in Miami to refuel. All things considered, 
travel  was handled as well as could be expected. There were a lot of 
cranky  people  from Eleuthera on the plane, and the stewardesses had 
had a long day.

Overall:  This  vacation  was  an  adventure! From speaking French to 
dancing  all  night  long during the hurricane, the hurricane itself, 
and  the  beauty  of  the  island  and beach, the charming guests and 
staff--I  had a blast! I have not traveled extensively but I love the 
way  Club  Med  handles  arrivals  and  departures  with  singing and 
dancing. I can't help but get weepy as I leave. 


My  wife  and I spent 5 days/4 nights at Captain Don's in Bonaire. We 
were  there  primarily  for  the  diving, which certainly lives up to 
it's  billing,  but  we  were  very  surprised at how much we enjoyed 
touring  the  rest  of  the  island.  The  landscape seems to be from 
another  planet:  an  arid desert with saguaro-like cactus stretching 
to  the  horizon,  very  dry  and  hostile  yet  surrounded  by  this 
wonderfully  blue ocean full of life. The salt production facility on 
the  south  end  of  the  island, with it's eerie slave huts from the 
1700's  and  1800's, is fascinating. Bonaire is a small island and we 
saw  most  of  the  sights  in two afternoons of touring. Most of the 
time  we  were  completely  by  ourselves as we stopped and looked at 
different  sites.  Very laid-back, step-into-the-past type of feeling 
as you linger in the outlying villages.

I  have  two cautions, however. One, our ATM card did not work in any 
of  the  ATMs (four) in town, even though we have used this same card 
the  world  over  with  no  problem.  It was a minor inconvenience as 
there  are plenty of banks to get cash advances on a credit card, and 
credit  cards  are accepted everywhere, but it was an annoyance. Two, 
if  you  are going to shore dive from a rental car be aware that your 
car  will  almost  certainly  be "gone through" while you are diving! 
Time  and again we talked to people who had lost something from their 
car  while  diving.  Don't  leave  anything in the car that you can't 
live  without.  We had no problems but we got very creative in hiding 
anything  valuable.  Creative  meaning  "the  engine compartment!" We 
went  to one shore diving spot and realized we had our camera with us 
and  finally  figured  out that if we found a cool spot in the engine 
compartment  that it would take a pretty sharp thief to think to look 
there--and  it  worked,  we lost nothing. We left our good sunglasses 
and  wallets  in the safe in our room and took only what we needed to 
dive,  period.  Save  yourself  some grief and do the same. The hotel 
tried  to  tell  everyone  that  the  problem  was overstated but our 
experience  was that it is not overstated at all. In general, we felt 
very  safe  on  the  island  at all times but that car-burglary thing 
made  us  kind  of  paranoid about stuff in the car. I think the more 
remote dive sites have more problems than the busier ones.

Bottom  line?  We'll  go back because the diving is other-worldly and 
the  laid-back  "feel"  of  the island suits us very well. We highly, 
HIGHLY recommend Captain Don's for lodging/diving. 

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