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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JAMAICA: COUPLES OCHO RIOS AND NEGRIL BILL AND DEBORAH SMITH

We  were at Couples Ocho Rios. for a second time in Aug 99. This is a 
very  romantic  and  lovely  resort,  I have read a couple reports on 
Couples  Ocho  and  they  were  very negative, but that is a person's 
view  point.  If  we  didn't  love this resort we sure would not have 
returned to it. I hold Couples Ocho is high esteem.

  We  took  the  DOUBLETAKE OFFER, splitting our time between Couples 
Ocho  for  four  nights  and  then  flying over to Couples Negril for 
three  additional nights. Part 1 will be a trip report concerning our 
return visit to Couples Ocho Rios.

Couples Ocho Rios (Part 1)

We  flew  into  Montego  Bay  from  New  Orleans around 1:30 pm, went 
directly  to the Couples desk. When we told them our names, they said 
that  they  had  been  expecting  us.  As  returning  guest,  we were 
entitled  to  a  free  flight  on Jamaica Airlink to the resort, a 35 
min.  flight  vs  a 2 hour shuttle trip. They hurried us to a shuttle 
that  took us to the other end of the airstrip, within in minutes the 
pilot  got us and we flew over to Boschel airstrip. A car was waiting 
for  us,  and within minutes we were at the resort. We had reserved a 
ocean  view  room, we got room 302 in the main building, last year we 
were  in  the west wing ocean view. Both rooms were similar, with the 
exception  this room had a huge walk in closet. Briefly, the room had 
a  king  size  four  poster  bed  (on  the bed, there were two towels 
shaped  into  either  a  heart  or  swans)  ,  carpeted floors, TV, a 
radio/cd  player,  bathroom  was  large  with  a combined shower/tub, 
included  is  a  hair dryer, patio doors opened onto the balcony. The 
water  pressure in the rooms has a little to be desired, this applies 
to  both  visits;  you either have cold or hot, no mix. The next day, 
the  staff  had  placed  a  beautiful floral arrangement, with a card 
stating  thanks  for  being  a returning guest, along with a bag that 
had  two  couples  t-shirts  in it. On Wednesday, Couples took us and 
another  returning  couple  to  an  off  the  property lunch, free of 
charge.  Kaycee,  an activities staff member was our host, we went to 
the  Almond  Tree Restaurant. We were told to get anything we wanted. 
It  was  a  wonderful  lunch.  Well  enough concerning the extras for 
returning guest.

Now  back to the resort, it was just as beautiful as it was in Dec98. 
There  were  more  guest  in Aug vs Dec. The pool was large, it has a 
shallow  end,  and a diving end with a diving board. Plenty of lounge 
chairs  around  the  pool  for sunbathing. The outdoor bar is next to 
the  pool, along with the Patio Restaurant. The two hot tubs adjacent 
to  the pool, the temp was perfect. The beach area also had plenty of 
lounge  chairs for the guest. There are a total of five hot tubs, two 
that  would  hold  8  people  near  the  pool, one that would hold 20 
people  in  front  of the east wing near the wedding gazebo and there 
are  two-  two  person heart shaped hot tubs in the avery/jungle area 
for  private  moments.  Around  the  main pool , the activities staff 
would  play  games with the guest for bottles of Tia Maria, Rum or t-
shirts.  These  games  included  name  that  tune,  hoop  the liquor, 
Olympic  pool  games, etc. plus they had water volley ball, and beach 
volley  ball.  The  activities staff really did their best to get all 
involved  and have fun. The beach has fine light brown sand, no rocks 
on  the  beach  nor  in the water, there is a little wave action, but 
not like the waves in the Atlantic. ACTIVITIES:

1.WATER  SPORTS:  Skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat 
rides and catamaran cruises.

2.HORSEBACK  RIDING:  Stables  located  across  the  street  from the 
resort,  walking distance. Saddles are English, must sign up a day in 
advance.  The  guide  works  for couples, will take the group up on a 
mountain  trail,  tell  you all about the scenery. Bring your camera, 
he  will  take  your  picture  for you. Ride last approx. 45 min., no 
tipping the guide.

3.BICYCLE TRIP

4.WEIGHT  AND EXERCISE ROOM- treadmills, stair masters, weights and a 
sauna room

OFF PROPERTY EXCURSIONS INCLUDED IN PACKAGE

1.  DUNNS  RIVER  FALLS: ( be sure to either rent water shoes or wear 
old  tennis shoes, the rocks are slippery) after the climb, the staff 
from  Couples  has  a  beach  party  on  the beach at the falls, they 
furnish  red  stripe  beer or rum punch for the guest, plus they play 
games  for  prizes  of  TiaMaria  or  Rum.  This  time we went vendor 
shopping,  while  everyone  else  climbed  the  falls. We had already 
climbed the falls on our prior trip.

2.  A  SHOPPING  TRIP  TO  OCHO  RIOS  one afternoon, shopping in the 
vendors market..

3.  PROSPECT  PLANTATION TRIP , to see how they grow food and live on 
a Jamaican Plantation.

4.  VENDORS:  They  are  set  up  across the street behind the tennis 
courts. You can barter with the locals to get good prices.

RESTAURANTS & DRESS CODES: (total of 6 different ones)

1.  PATIO  RESTAURANT:  this  is  an open aired outdoor/covered area, 
serves  buffet  breakfast and lunch. Very good food. Be sure to watch 
out  for  the  black  birds/crows, they will get your food if both of 
you  get  up  &  go  to the buffet at the same time. Dress code: very 
casual,  guys  can  wear swimsuits with shirts or shorts with shirts, 
the  ladies  can  wear swimsuits with cover ups , bikini tops are ok, 
or  wear shorts with a top. At nighttime the same place serves as the 
entertainment  area  and disco after 10pm. Adjacent to this area, you 
will find the pool and main outdoor bar.

2.  CARIBBEAN  CUISINE  RESTAURANT:  This  was  new  to us this time. 
Seating   for  50  couples.  Located  in  one  corner  of  the  Patio 
restaurant.  Serving  menu  style Caribbean food. Dress code: casual, 
shorts/shirt/tops/sun dresses/ sandals/shoes.

3.   BAYSIDE   RESTAURANT:   located  hanging  out  over  the  water/ 
openaired.  Very  romantic. We tired it again this time, the food was 
great.  Had  lobster  tails,  fantastic. All courses are pasta style. 
Dress code: Casual, shorts/tops/shirts/sun dresses/ sandals/shoes .

4.  VERANDA  RESTAURANT:  it  is  inside  air conditioned, order from 
menu,  excellent  food,  candlelight,  wine strolling minstrel. Dress 
code:  casual,  shorts/tops/ shirts/ sun dresses/ sandals/shoes. Very 
good food and atmosphere. No swim wear allowed.

5.   La  GOURMET  RESTAURANT:  (FRENCH  RESTAURANT)  Elegant  dining, 
required  reservations,  seven course meal. Dress code: men must wear 
dress  pants,  open  collared  shirts/socks  and shoes, the women may 
wear sun dresses, cocktail dresses, or pants suits.

6.  BEACH  GRILL:  located  below  main  bar  at  beach level. Serves 
hamburgers,  hot dogs, and jerk chicken as well as sodas. Open till 5 
am for snacks. Dress code: swim wear

This  time  on  Monday  around  6  pm  they  set  several tables with 
Jamaican  Horsdoeuvre's  next  to  the  pool, cocktail party. On Wed. 
night  all  restaurants are closed and they have a beach party buffet 
on  beach. A live steel band plays, tables & chairs are set up on the 
beach  for  the guest, three longggg tables hold the salads, deserts, 
and  food.  After  the  meal, the activity staff plays games with the 
guest,  guest  participation  is  encouraged,  one can join in or sit 
back and watch.

ROOM  SERVICE:  Be  sure to place the door tag on the outside of your 
room  prior  to  1  am for morning delivery. Your choices is a pot of 
coffee,  juices,  pastries,  and  fruit.  Very romantic to sit on the 
balcony  and enjoy the very and drink coffee. You can still go to the 
breakfast  buffet  and  get whatever you want to eat. The beach grill 
is open till 5 am for snacks, room service not available for this.

WEDDING  GAZEBOS:  Two are located on the property, one is beach side 
and  the  other  is  in  front  of the west wing rooms in the foliage 
jungle.

ENTERTAINMENT  AT  NIGHT:  The  Patio  restaurant area has shows each 
nit,  local  singing  groups,  reggae shows. At 11 pm this area turns 
into  the disco area. If this is not your cup of tea, go to the Piano 
Bar  (located  next  to the French Restaurant)drink and sing karaokee 
with the staff.

SWIMSUIT  ATTIRE:  If you have never been to Jamaica before, you will 
see  most anything for woman wearing swimsuits that are one piece, to 
bikinis  to  thongs......the  men  wore regular swim trunks, speedos, 
bikinis  and  thongs. I would suggest to pack several swimsuits, that 
will  be  main  attire  besides  shorts. It is requested that topless 
sunbathing  be  done on a pier that looks toward the nude island, but 
when  we  were there this time, quite a few woman were topless around 
the  pool,  and  on the beach, did not seem to bother anyone. Be sure 
to  bring suntan lotion and especially strong spf, the sun down there 
is stronger compare to the U.S.

A  LA  NATURAL  ISLAND:  If  you read my prior trip report on COUPLES 
OCHO,  I stated that we did not go out to the nude island, not enough 
nerve........well  this  time we went and went several times. It is a 
totally  different  experience,  we both loved it. A small boat takes 
you  from  the  pier to the island. When you get off the boat, you go 
and  find  you  a  lounge  chair & take off all clothes. At first, it 
felt  unusual,  but  in  less than five minutes we were at ease, hell 
everyone  around  us  was  naked  too,  it  was  better this way vs a 
clothing  optional  section where there is an option to remove or not 
remove  swimsuits.  We  met  some  of  the  nicest,  friendliest  and 
talkative  people  on the nude island, compared to the regular beach. 
There  were  quite a few that said it was their first time trying it, 
and  liked  it.  There were others that are old timers to being nude. 
We  met  some  new friends there, infact Russ got the name of "Island 
Social  Director" and there was Scoobi (the Island Bartender), we all 
had  a  great  time.  The  range  of ages were from early twenties to 
fifties,  from  all walks of life.. I will say that on the island you 
did  not  feel  uncomfortable,  embarrassed,  there  was  no gawking, 
staring  nor  any  sexual  advances to anyone. A brief description of 
the  island:  when you get off the boat, you will walk about 20 feet, 
bushes  on  both  sides  of you. If you go to the left, you will find 
several  lounge  chairs around a swim up bar, further to the left are 
two  opened  aired  huts  with lounge chairs. If you go back past the 
swim  up bar, you will find an open aired hut with a swinging hammock 
under  it, the next thing you will find is the tower or castle. In it 
is  the restroom and a stair case that leads to the top of the tower. 
You  can  take  beautiful  pictures  of  the resort from here. On the 
other  side of the tower, you will find two more open aired huts with 
lounge chairs. Be sure to try it.

ITEMS  TO  BE  SURE  TO  TAKE  ON  THE  TRIP:  At least three cameras 
(throwaway  type  and  a  underwater type), band aids, suntan lotion, 
peptobismol,  aspirins,....items  such  as  these  you  may  take for 
granted  and  cost  is to too much in the states, but in Jamaica they 
will  cost  you three or four times as much (import taxes). This goes 
for snacks, too.

HOW  MUCH AND WHAT KIND OF MONEY TO BRING ON THE TRIP: U.S. currency, 
plenty  of $1's for tipping ( this is for drivers,& baggage handlers, 
these  people  do  not work for the resort), numerous $5's, $10's and 
$20's  for  dealing  with  the vendors for souvenirs. If you exchange 
travelers  checks or get advances on your Visa, you will get Jamaican 
Money  in  return,  not  understanding  the exchange rate, it will be 
hard  to  deal with. REMEMBER to keep back $54.00 U.S. money for your 
departure taxes at the airport.

We  toughly  enjoyed  our return visit to Couples Ocho Rios. We still 
highly   recommend   this   resort   for   getting  married  at,  for 
honeymooners,  and  just  a romantic resort for married couples. Only 
couples are allowed, no singles or children are allowed.

With  the DOUBLE TAKE OFFER, Couples flew us from Coupes Ocho Rios to 
Couples  Negril free. It was a very nice flight, took approx. 45 min. 
to  get  there. The entire trip, including air fare from New Orleans, 
the  double  take  offer, (4 nights at one resort and 3 nights at the 
other,  both booked with ocean view rooms or deluxe ocean view rooms, 
cost $3000.00.

  During  our  visit  in Aug 99, the mosquitoes were extremely bad at 
Negril  this  was  around  dusk  and at night. During our stay, there 
were  little  bugs  I called sand fleas/mites, they would not jump on 
you, but crawled around in a line on top of 
the  vanity in the bathroom. Another couple that also took the double 
take  program,  flew  over  a  day after we did, and had a gardenview 
room  which  they stated smell musty the entire 4 day stay, plus both 
of  us  commented  that the activities staff was not as friendly with 
the  guest  as were the activities staff at Ocho. But other reports I 
have  read  refer  to  the  opposite concerning the activities staff. 
Maybe they were on vacation when we were at Negril.

------------------------------------- 

Couples Negril (Part 2)

With  the  double  take  offer,  Couples  flew  us  free from Ocho to 
Couples  Negril.  The flight was very nice, except we ran into a rain 
storm  just  prior  to  landing,  our  pilot  did an excellent job on 
flying  and  landing  the plane. When we landed, it was raining hard, 
ran  to  the  terminal, waited for the shuttle to take us the resort. 
For  the  three days we stayed here, it rained for several hours each 
afternoon,  compared to four days of sunny weather at Ocho Rios.. The 
resort  was  five  minutes from the landing strip. For our stay here, 
we  booked  deluxe  ocean view rooms. I want to first say this resort 
is  only  a  year old, it is spread out and very beautiful. There are 
some  good points and not so good points as compared to Couples Ocho. 
Sorry it is so long but there is allot to cover.

When  we  arrived,  the  shuttle  pulled  in front of the lobby. This 
resort  is spread out over the entire property, larger than Ocho. The 
resort  is  laid  out  in the form of a 3, the main section, (which I 
described  below)  and  the 9 blocks of rooms which are three stories 
each  are  configured  in the shape of "U"'s on each side of the main 
section.  The  lobby  was  open  aired, decorated in bohemian colors( 
pastels,  reds,  and  yellows). On the walls were bohemian tapestries 
with  the Couples Logo on them ( twisted palm trees, not the lions as 
Ocho  uses). There was the front desk and numerous wicker couches and 
chairs  with  red cushions through the lobby. Walking past the lobby, 
on  your left was the gift shops and overlooking the lower level were 
4  swings  were  you could sit and relax. Going back to the lobby, to 
the  right,  you  would  find  the  PIANO BAR and restrooms. From the 
lobby,   going  either  to  your  left  or  right,  were  two  curved 
staircases  leading  to  the  lower  or  ground  level. At the ground 
level,  directly  in front was the pool and swim up bar; to the right 
was  the  elegant  restaurant  " OTAHEITE GOURMET RESTAURANT". Around 
the  corner  from it was the BEACH GRILL AND BEACH BAR. Let's go back 
to  the  center  at  the  pool; going to your left, you will find the 
MAIN  BAR and THE TERRACE RESTAURANT. ( I will go into greater detail 
concerning   the  above  places  after  finishing  the  tour  of  the 
property.)  In  front  of  the  entire  resort  was  the  beach.  All 
buildings  on  the  property  were  painted in a light bohemian green 
color.

The  sections  of  the  rooms.  On  the  right  side of center of the 
resort,  you  will  find the GARDEN VIEW ROOMS AND DELUXE GARDEN VIEW 
ROOMS  .  This is 5 blocks of rooms configured in the shape of a "U", 
each  block  consisted  of  3 stories. All rooms are outside entrance 
with  balconies.  In  the  center  of  this  U,  was  large trees and 
beautiful  foliage  with  inter-twinning  side  walks though out. The 
difference  between  the  standard  rooms vs the deluxe, was that the 
deluxe  rooms  were  located  on one of the ends of each building, it 
was  a  double  room  with  a hammock hanging out on the balcony. All 
rooms  have  balconies,  two  chairs  and  a table, the railings were 
curved  strips  of  wood.  On  the  other  side (or left) of the main 
section  are the OCEAN VIEW AND DELUXE OCEAN VIEW ROOMS AND THE BEACH 
FRONT  ROOMS . These consisted of 4 blocks of rooms configured in the 
shape  of  an  "U",  each  block  consisted  of three stories. In the 
center  of  this "U", are two natural ponds, surrounded by palm trees 
and  beautiful  foliage,  with  intertwining side walks. Also on this 
side  is  a wedding gazebo (different than the one in Ocho), it was a 
grass  covered hut with table and chairs under it. We booked a deluxe 
ocean  view  room,  I  want  to  be  honest.  NONE of the rooms in my 
opinion  are  Ocean View, to see the ocean you would have to lean way 
out  over  the  balcony  and look one way or the other, for most part 
you  see palm trees and foliage directly in front of your balcony and 
also  see  the  other  blocks  of rooms. If you go to COUPLES NEGRIL, 
book  the  cheaper  rooms (garden view), well worth the difference in 
money.  This  side  also  has  outside  entrance  to  the  rooms, and 
balconies just the same as the garden view section.

THE  ROOM  DESCRIPTION:  As I stated we had a deluxe ocean view room. 
We  were  disappointed  in that is was not exactly what I consider an 
ocean  view  room,  it was more a garden type view, to see the ocean, 
one  would  have  to  lean  over the balcony rail or peek through the 
palm  trees  to  see  the  water.  Oh  well,  for  the  room. Outside 
entrance,  when  you walk in, it is a foyer, there is a closet on one 
wall  with  bamboo  beads  as a curtain concealing the closet, on the 
opposite  wall  is  the  bathroom.  The bath room consisted of a long 
counter  with  sink,  hair  dryer on wall, a combined shower and tub. 
The  water  pressure  was  great,  you could regulate the water temp. 
compared  to  not being able to do so at Ocho. After walking past the 
foyer,  there  was  a  dresser  in  the  corner  ( four wicker styles 
drawers  stacked  on top of each other). The bed was a king size bed, 
built  low to the floor, above the bed was a ceiling fan, on the wall 
behind  the  bed was a Bohemian Tapestry with a spot light pointed at 
it.  On  each  side  of  the  tapestry were two round mirrors. On the 
night  stand  was  a  cd/radio  unit.  You also had a color TV in the 
room.  The entire floor of the room was ceramic tile, on each side of 
the  bed  were  two  oval  hemp rugs. There was a small red cushioned 
chair  in  one  corner. There were two glass french doors that opened 
onto  the  balcony. The balcony had two chairs and a table on it, the 
railing was curved strips of wood.

I  had  read on a earlier trip report that the maid would at nit come 
in  and  make  the  bed  down,  and  light  a  candle  that hung in a 
suspended  holder  on the wall. Disappointment : Yes the bed was made 
down  nightly,  but  NO candle was lit nor was there ever a candle in 
the  holder  while  we were there. Plus after we got there, turned on 
the  air conditioning, we went out onto the balcony, left the balcony 
door  open,  the  humidity  was  so high that the tile floors sweated 
profusely,  to  the point of being very slippery. The so called BEACH 
FRONT  ROOMS, were not beach view either. From what I could tell , it 
was  two large rooms, with a wet bar or refrigerator and the bathroom 
had a whirlpool in it, plus a hammock on the balcony. 

THE  SWIMMING  POOL:  The  pool was quite a bit larger than Ocho, but 
the  entire  pool  was  only 4 1/2 feet deep. At each end of the pool 
there  was a hot tub, that would hold six people. From the main pool, 
there  was  a  water  fall  that emptied into another 4 1/2 deep pool 
which  had the swim up bar located in it. There were plenty of lounge 
chairs  around  the  pool  area.  The bar in the pool was opened from 
10:30 am to 5:00pm. 

THE  BEACH AND OCEAN: This resort is located on what they call Bloody 
Bay  or  3-mile  beach.  The sand is a powder white, and the beach is 
wider  than  the  one  at  Ocho.  The  water  is calm, no wave action 
compared  to  Ocho.  I would say that the area that was roped off for 
swimming,  one  could  walk  some 50 yards out and the water would be 
only  chest  high.  The water was clear, and you could see schools of 
fish  swimming.  A  lot  of  people  floated  of  floats furnished by 
Couples.  Plenty  of  lounge  chairs  on  the  beach as well as shade 
trees.  Saw  just  a  few  women topless on the beach compared to the 
amount at Ocho.

WATER  SPORTS:  At  the  other end of the beach, nearer to the Garden 
View  rooms,  was the water sports area. They had water skiing, scuba 
diving, snorkeling and sail boats offered free of charge.

A  LA NATURAL BEACH: We were very disappointed . This is what Couples 
Negril,  advertises  in all literature, but the sign on the side walk 
leading  to this area says you are entering the c/o section. And that 
is  exactly what it means, c/o. We went there for just a few minutes, 
a  few  couples were totally naked, while some the men were naked but 
the  women either had her entire swim suit on or just the bottoms on. 
Plus  this area is located right next to the water sports area, (that 
did  not  bother  us) but it also was next to a public section of the 
beach,  the only thing separating the c/o beach was a guard house and 
a  line  of  bushes. There was a continuous parade of people in front 
of  the  c/o  section going from the Couples section of the beach and 
the  public  beach.  I  prefer Couples Ocho Rios for the a la natural 
sunbathing.

OFF SITE ADVENTURES: 

1.RICK'S  CAFE:  A  very  popular  &  scenic  cafe, hold long lasting 
reputation for most brilliant sunsets and cliff diving.

2.  SHOPPING  TRIP:  A  shuttle will take you to a duty free shopping 
area, air conditioned shops, shop owners will not 

hassle  the  customers,  then  you  will be driven to a craft market, 
where  you  can barter with locals for hand made crafts. 3. CATAMARAN 
CRUISES:  Takes  you  on  a relaxing journey along Negril's beautiful 
coastline.  4.  GOLF:  Held at Negril Hills golf club, includes daily 
transfers and green fees, carts are extra. 9 hole or 18 hole

RESTAURANTS AND DRESS CODE:

1.  OTAHEITE  GOURMET  RESTAURANT: An exquisite dining experience for 
romantics.  Reservations required. Excellent food and service, for an 
entree,  we  had  the  filet  mignon ( 2 large ones on each plate and  
mouth  watering) For couples, that wanted to eat alone, you would sit 
in  a small curved love seat with the table in front of you. The also 
had  tables  in  the  center  that  would  seat  up to 4 couples. AIR 
CONDITIONED.  Dress  code:  Casual  elegance,  long  pants,  collared 
shirts and covered shoes for men 


 Casual elegance, cocktail dresses, sun dresses for ladies

2.  TERRACE RESTAURANT: Serves a breakfast buffet each morning. Lunch 
is  also  served  buffet style. At nit, it was buffet style salad bar 
and  desert  bar,  but  ordered from a menu. What was very nice, that 
during  lunch  and  at  dinner,  they  would have a live band playing 
instrumental  songs  while  you  ate. Lobster tails were on the menu, 
along  with  other  nice  items.This  restaurant  is open aired. Also 
adjacent  to  this  is  the  MAIN  BAR. Dress code: Casual, short and 
shirts, no swim suits.

3   BEACH  GRILL:  During  early  hours  and  late  hours  they  have 
hamburgers,  hot  dogs  and  jerk  chicken.  At lunch time on certain 
days,  they set up a buffet section and close the Terrace Restaurant. 
Music  is  also provide to dine with. At nit, the beach grill, serves 
from  a  salad  bar  and  desert bar along with a menu to order from. 
Mainly specializes in Pasta dishes. Music is violins.

4 PIANO BAR: 
Located upstairs, starts around 11pm with disco.

5.  BEACH  BAR: Located next to the beach grill. Bartenders Leroy and 
Clyde were just great and kept you laughing.

ENTERTAINMENT:  Nightly  at  the  Terrace Restaurant, they would have 
the house resort band along with local singing entertainers. 
Instrumental music would be played for the lunch and dinner meals.

The  service and attitudes of the bartenders, waiters and waitress of 
all  restaurants  was  excellent  and  professional.  The  activities 
staff,  compared  to the activities staff at Couples Ocho was less to 
be  desired,  referring  that  I  did  not see them trying to get the 
guest involved in games around the pool.

Couples  Negril,  is  situated  next  door to Grand Lido Negril, then 
Hedonism  II  and Sandals Negril and on the opposite side is a public 
beach then another resort.

Even  though  I  have  pointed  out pros and cons from my view point, 
hopefully  this  will  help  others  in booking rooms and seeing what 
this  resort  has  to  offer  vs  Couples  Ocho  Rios.  We did have a 
wonderful time at COUPLES Negril.

General:

During  our  visit  in  Aug  99, the mosquitoes were extremely bad at 
Negril  this  was  around  dusk  and at night. During our stay, there 
were  little  bugs  I called sand fleas/mites, they would not jump on 
you,  but  crawled  around  in  a  line  on top of  the vanity in the 
bathroom.  Another  couple  that  also  took the double take program, 
flew  over  a  day after we did, and had a gardenview room which they 
stated  smell  musty the entire 4 day stay, plus both of us commented 
that  the activities staff was not as friendly with the guest as were 
the  activites  staff at Ocho. But other reports I have read refer to 
the  opposite  concerning  the  activities  staff. Maybe they were on 
vacation when we were at Negril.

ITEMS  TO  BE  SURE  TO  TAKE  ON  THE  TRIP:  At least three cameras 
(throwaway  type  and  a  underwater type), band aids, suntan lotion, 
peptobismol,  aspirins,....items  such  as  these  you  may  take for 
granted  and  cost  is to too much in the states, but in Jamaica they 
will  cost  you three or four times as much (import taxes). This goes 
for snacks, too.

HOW  MUCH AND WHAT KIND OF MONEY TO BRING ON THE TRIP: U.S. currency, 
plenty  of $1's for tipping ( this is for drivers,& baggage handlers, 
these  people  do  not work for the resort), numerous $5's, $10's and 
$20's  for  dealing  with  the vendors for souvenirs. If you exchange 
travelers  checks or get advances on your Visa, you will get Jamaican 
Money  in  return,  not  understanding  the exchange rate, it will be 
hard  to  deal with. REMEMBER to keep back $54.00 U.S. money for your 
departure taxes at the airport.


We  toughly  enjoyed  our return visit to Couples Ocho Rios. We still 
highly   recommend   this   resort   for   getting  married  at,  for 
honeymooners,  and  just  a romantic resort for married couples. Only 
couples are allowed, no singles or children are allowed.

With  the DOUBLE TAKE OFFER, Couples flew us from Coupes Ocho Rios to 
Couples  Negril free. It was a very nice flight, took approx. 45 min. 
to  get  there. The entire trip, including air fare from New Orleans, 
the  double  take  offer, (4 nights at one resort and 3 nights at the 
other,  both booked with ocean view rooms or deluxe ocean view rooms, 
cost $3000.00. 

JAMAICA: SANDALS DUNN'S RIVER GOLF RESORT AND SPA BY DEAN WOOLRIDGE

Trip 9/99 

The Plane Ride: 

My  girlfriend and I took a red eye flight on Air Jamaica late Friday 
night  (which was two hours delayed). This was the start of the Labor 
Day  weekend  rush,  which  was  one  reason  the  plane was delayed. 
However  the  flight and flight crew made up for the delay. They were 
warm  friendly  and  professional. Champagne and red stripe beer were 
complimentary. 

A  movie  and  a  choice  of mainly reggae music via head phones were 
entertainment  options.  Air  Jamaica  has  a  brand new fleet of air 
planes  which  are  the  300 air bus series. Not roomy but supposedly 
state  of  the  art  technology.  All in all, I would use Air Jamaica 
again. The flight was 5 1/2 hours, enough said. 

A  big  difference  from the 10 year old Aero Mexicana DC10 I flew to 
Cancun   last   year.   That   plane  was  literally  falling  apart. 
Condensation  from  altitude fluctuation leeched on passengers in the 
emergency  seat  rows.  Air conditioning could not be turned on until 
after  the  plane  reached  cruising  altitudes.  Tip;  if you fly to 
Mexico,  do  yourself  a  favor  and  fly  an  American carrier, more 
comfortable and definitely safer. 

Arrival: 

Okay,  so  we arrived in Mo Bay at 700 AM and clearing customs was NO 
PROBLEM  MON  . The Apple Tours REP greeted us and Two other couples. 
We  hopped  on  the  air conditioned bus and headed for Ocho Rios. We 
all  decided  not  to  stop  for  a  restroom  break so we made it to 
Sandals  in  about 1 hr. 15 min. Normal travel time is usually 1hr 45 
mins. 

Very  impressed  with  the  greeting  at the front lobby. The hostess 
welcomed  us  to Sandals, gave us a glass of champagne and a cold wet 
cloth  to  wipe  our  faces.  She  was  all  smiles, very up beat and 
professional.  A  big  change from the laxed greetings I've gotten at 
Hedonism 11 in the past. 

We  walked  in  to  the beautiful open air lobby, sat down on elegant 
and  plush  sofas  and  got  a brief orientation. The hostess advised 
that  the  rooms were not quite ready yet as check in time is usually 
300PM.  She  escorted  us  to  lunch at the restaurant Wendi's. Which 
serves   buffet  breakfast  in  the  morning,  buffet  lunch  in  the 
afternoon  and  fabulous  west Indies cuisine for dinner. The Hostess 
advised  us  to  return  to  the  lobby  after  lunch  for  our  room 
assignments. 

Wendi's  is  an open air restaurant with a view of the pool and water 
fall.  Lunch  was  the  typical  all  inclusive with choices of meat, 
poultry,  fish, veggies, etc., excellent deserts to choose from and a 
chef  who  serves  hot  pastas.  I  would  rate  the  lunch buffet as 
excellent.  Waiters serve the drinks and bus the plates. I found them 
to be very polite and efficient. 

Now  for  the  surprise.  My travel agent faxed ahead a request to up 
grade  us  from an ocean front luxury to whatever might be available. 
We  returned to the lobby after lunch to see if the room was ready. I 
timidly  asked  Wendy  Ann  (Asst. Mgr.) if they received our request 
for  an  upgrade. She grinned and said "yes sir, you've been upgraded 
to  a  penthouse  / honeymoon concierge room, top floor with an ocean 
view."  I  definitely had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. I 
was  so happy I wanted to kiss her, but that would not have gone over 
well with my girlfriend. (grin) 

Accommodations: 

She  personally  escorted  us to the room and our luggage was brought 
up  by  Kevin  the  bus  boy. The room was excellent by Caribbean all 
inclusive  standards.  There  was  a Huge four poster cedar king size 
bed.  I  think  this  bed  was larger than king size, it was huge, NO 
PROBLEM MON. The bathroom was large and in great condition. 

Of  course  there  were  the  usual  problems with water pressure and 
water  that's  too  hot  or  too  cold,  so  what  else is new in the 
Caribbean.  There was an ironing board, iron, his and hers robes in a 
very  roomy  closet.  A  TV  with  cable was in a cedar entertainment 
center  with  drawers at the bottom. Two plush sitting chairs aside a 
cedar  table.  A  cedar dresser drawer night stand on one side of the 
bed  and  a  desk  with chair on the other side. No CD player here as 
with  super  clubs, just a nickel and dime radio alarm clock. Oh well 
ya can't have everything. 

Two  beautiful  French  style  cedar doors opened to the balcony with 
two   comfortable  chairs  and  table.  The  balcony  overlooked  the 
beautiful  aqua marine Caribbean and the main pool with waterfall. Oh 
and air conditioning of course. 

These  rooms  did  have room service and a concierge for whatever you 
needed.   We   pampered   ourselves  one  afternoon,  ordered  a  few 
appetizers  and ate them out on the balcony. The food was great. Only 
took  20  mins.  to  arrive,  service was very prompt, is this really 
Jamaica? 

There  were  two  other wings of hotel rooms. The Florence wing which 
is  above  the lobby and the rialto east and west wings which are two 
story  buildings.  They call these their honey moon grandeluxe rooms. 
The  balconies and patios of the rialto wings don't have much privacy 
at all. 

The  rooms of the Florence wing that have ocean views are set back at 
least  75  yards from the ocean. These rooms are the least expensive. 
The  ones  that  don't  have  the  ocean views face the mountains and 
parking lot. Most do have balconies that are adequate at best. 

The  ocean views form our building the Genoa wing, are set back about 
25  yards  from  the  beach.  The  rooms  are generally the same, the 
difference   in   price   is   location  /  view  and  service  (room 
svc./concierge).  At  night  before  retiring,  we  would  sit on the 
balcony  and  look  out into the beautiful blackness of the Caribbean 
and  watch  the  stars.  Every  night  we  would  see  a  distant and 
sometimes  not  so distant lightning show provided by those notorious 
warm  water  weather  systems.  At  times  accompanied by the awesome 
sound  of  Caribbean  thunder.  Being from dry California, this was a 
real treat for us. 

Upon  going  to  bed, we would keep the French doors open and let the 
sound  of  the  waves lapping the shore ( and the tree frogs) lull us 
to  sleep.  I  still  had to pinch myself (grin). If these things are 
important  to  you,  spend the extra money to get a room in the Genoa 
wing with ocean view, its well worth it. 

The  beach  is  about 1/4 of a mile from east to west and about 30 to 
40  yards  of  sand  from  the edge of the property to the water. The 
sand  is  a  beautiful fine light golden brown. If your a beach lover 
like  us,  you  wont  be  disappointed, the beach is just like in the 
brochure, beautiful. 

Water Sports: 

Aqua  trikes,  Canoes,  Catamarans, sail boats, wind surfing, kayaks, 
water  skiing  Ect.  The  water  sports crew were great. They provide 
instruction  for  anything  you  want  to  try.  They are very upbeat 
personable and above all they have plenty of patience. 

Kudos  to  the  water  skiing  crew, Snoop, Alex and Andrew. All were 
great  instructors  and  extremely  patient. Never a dull moment with 
these  guys,  they  truly  made  you  feel at home. Constantly joking 
around  amongst themselves and with the guest, and they remember your 
name as well. 

Water  sports  closes  at  400  PM.  These guys work from 700AM until 
400PM In the hot Caribbean sun. 

One  day we ran to the water skiing area only to get there 20 minuets 
after  400PM. They were in the process of closing. Keep in mind these 
guys  have  a  life  too  and  want  to  get  off when works over. My 
girlfriend  had  the  audacity  to  asked if she could get one run in 
before  they  left.  (She  is a water ski fanatic and went crazy over 
there)  They  told  her  that  would  mean they would have to let the 
other  4 waiting ahead of her go as well. They were already preparing 
to  leave  and  this  would really keep them form leaving for home on 
time. 

WHAT!!!!!!!  NO  PROBLEM!!!!!!,  these  guys  stayed  an hour over to 
accommodate  us.  If  this  had  been Club Med, believe me that never 
would  have  happened  in a million years. After that they challenged 
us  to  a volley ball game on the beach. This truly goes to show that 
these  guys  not  only  like  there job but they like people as well. 
Enough  cant  be  said  for  the play makers and water sports crew at 
this resort. They are simply heads and shoulders above the rest. 

There  was  a  sandals  boat  which  left  every  two hours or so for 
snorkeling.  You  just  go to the water sports hut, ask for some fins 
and  a  snorkel,  wait  for the boat and your on your way. There is a 
reef  approx.  200 yrds. from shore. it extends a few miles form east 
to  west.  This  is usually where the boat goes depending on the time 
of day. 

The  beach  water  is  a very comfortable 80 degrees or so. There are 
little  to  no waves due to the reef off shore. I actually found this 
to  be  quite  pleasant  and  relaxing.  In  Cancun  and the Bahamas, 
depending  on  which  beach  your  on,  You've  got to be cautious of 
dangerous  currents  due  to  the size of the waves that create these 
conditions.   They   put  up  those  ominous  colored  flags,  yellow 
(caution)  red  (strong  currents) and Black (Don't go in). Not here, 
the  waters  safe at all times. The lack of large waves also made the 
water skiing conditions ideal, especially for learning. 

Plenty  of  grass shade huts on the beach and beach chairs. Beach was 
never  crowded.  In  fact  the  majority of people stayed by the main 
pool  where  there were daily games and activities thrown by the play 
makers.  The  play  makers kept things going, morning noon and night. 
with games, activities, contests ect. 

We  vowed  for  the  beach  however, to enjoy the Caribbean's natural 
beauty  and of course the water skiing. The water was extremely clear 
and  the  hue  would  change during the day depending on trade winds, 
position  of  the  sun,  clouds  etc.it was absolutely beautiful. The 
water  color  changed  from  deep blue, turquoise, aquamarine etc. On 
one  cloudy  day  as the sun set in the West, the water actually took 
on a shade of pink WOW! You never see that in California. 

Oh  and  girls,  if  your thinking about wearing that string or thong 
bikini  get  ready  to  be smirked at and hissed at by other females, 
remember  this  place  is  packed with newlyweds. My girlfriend and I 
are  open minded and single so we were already different from most of 
the couples there. 

She  brought  a  string  bikini to get a full tan. That's it, nothing 
else  just  a  full tan. Huh, we were in Jamaica and she was the only 
one  with  a  thong  on  and  the stares she got from other women, if 
looks  could  kill, enough said. That was the first and last time she 
wore that there. 

I've  stayed  at  hedonism  II twice and heard that most of the super 
clubs  have  clothing  optional  beaches,  which  usually  means open 
minded  people are present, even if clothed. I've also stayed at Club 
Meds  and other resorts, where topless and thongs weren't a big deal. 
Most  Europeans  bathe  topless.  Not  at Sandals, this was the first 
time  I  was  in  Jamaica  and actually felt we were judged. Man, bad 
karma  here,  we  did  not  like  those  vibes.  Was this Mayberry or 
Jamaica? 

Land Sports: 

Basketball  (full  court), 4 lighted tennis courts, Volleyball (beach 
and  pool),  billiards,  Horse  shoes,  Croquet,  shuffle board, ping 
pong,  etc.  A  beautiful  pitch  and put golf course in front of the 
property  which  had  a  large  pond  teaming with fish and two large 
(caged)  tropical  birds.  The  18  hole  71  par golf course is a 15 
minuet  shuttle  ride  away.  Heard  it  was  very nice. Not too many 
people  golfing  though.  Most  of  the  people  we  talked with that 
planned  on  golfing,  said  they were enjoying the property so much, 
they  didn't  feel like even bothering. Truly not of the die hard cut 
of course. 

Gym and European Spa: 

The  open  air  gym  was  impressive in comparison to the usual hotel 
gyms.  This  was  an  open  air  gym complete with life cycles, tread 
mills,  free  weights,  dumbbells,  and some nautilus type equipment. 
There  were  also  TV's  in  certain  areas so you could work out and 
watch TV. 

We  both work out quite a bit back home. So in my opinion this was an 
impressive  gym  in  comparison  to  other resorts I've stayed at. We 
steered  clear  of  the gym because this was not only a vacation from 
crazy  LA  and  our  jobs  but  from  working  out as well. There are 
aerobic classes going on daily at the gym. 

A  sauna,  Jacuzzi, and cold dip pool share the building on the first 
floor.  There  is  a complete European spa on the second floor of the 
open  air  gym/spa.  The  spa  offers  body  raps,  skin  treatments, 
facials,  eucalyptus  steam baths, aromatherapy, Swedish massage etc. 
for  both  men  and  women.  We  spoke to people who got massages and 
treatments and they said it was wonderful. I guess we missed out. 

Property: 

Two  pools, one is very large with a large water fall model of Dunn's 
river  falls. The pool was spectacular and had designs painted on the 
bottom.  The  pool  was  accompanied  by a large swim up/walk up bar. 
Adjacent  the  pool  was  a very large Jacuzzi which could easily fit 
over  14  people.  Plenty  of pool lounges and floats to go around. A 
large  mature  tropical  grape tree shaded a portion of the spa which 
made  it  semi private. The tree was bearing fruit and you could pick 
the  ripe  grapes  and  eat  them  as you relaxed in the Jacuzzi. The 
other  pool  was  a  bit  smaller but nonetheless appealing. This was 
also  accompanied  by a Jacuzzi swim up bar and a full open air piano 
bar on the other side. 

Mature  Coconut  trees  were  also  plentiful about the property also 
bearing  their  fruit.  If  you  politely  ask  any of the employees, 
they'll  be  more  than  glad to pick one for you and cut it open. We 
would  then  go  to  the  beach bar fill it with ice and rum and boy, 
need  I  say more. Another tree we found interesting was the tropical 
almond  tree.  Many  were  on  the  property bearing their fruit. The 
fruit  resembles  a  large lime, is very sweet and has an almond type 
nut inside. 

These  were literally falling from the trees on a daily basis. We had 
several  near  misses  during  the  week.  The  landscaping  was well 
manicured  with a lot of mature tropical foliage which provided shade 
and  beauty.  I  would  rate it as better than average for a hotel of 
it's caliber. 

There  was  a  beach  bar/grill  which stayed open 24 hrs. a day. The 
highlight  was  the  jerk  chicken,  best  I've had anywhere. For the 
first  time  ever  the  cheese  burgers actually tasted like good old 
American cheese burgers, they were great. 

The  East  border  of  the  beach is fenced off, the sandals beach is 
private  as is the entire resort. Locals selling goods have made camp 
just  on the other side of the fence. They are there morning noon and 
night   to   sell  you  anything  from  T-shirts,  braid  your  hair, 
bracelets,  necklaces etc. oh and of course ganja if you so choose to 
par  take.  They  can  be  down  right  annoying  at times constantly 
calling  you over to the fence for a sales pitch. Remember Jamaica is 
a  3rd  world  island with the state of the economy in decline and an 
unstable political situation? 

If  you  don't  want to be bothered a polite no thanks usually works. 
We  braved  the  fence and bought souvenirs as did others. The people 
were  actually  quite  pleasant  were personable and posed no threat. 
One  of the peddlers would wade in the water most of the day directly 
in  front  of  the  private beach. Remember, private beach, the ocean 
itself is legally not private anywhere. 

So  it  is  legal  for  these guys to be right out there in the water 
bothering  you  for  a  para  sail  ride, jet ski rental or whatever. 
There  was  actually  just  one  or two guys who did this but I could 
tell  it  definitely  bugged  the ---- out of some people. Some women 
wouldn't  even  get in the water without there men with them. I spoke 
with  both  of these guys and they really are quite harmless and very 
friendly.  They  are  just  doing  there job as its the only job they 
have.  So  not  to  worry,  just  say no thanks and they do leave you 
alone. 

Restaurants: 

Okay  Wendi's  I  already discussed above. We ate here the most often 
for  dinner.  We  were  interested  in  eating Caribbean food on this 
trip,  after  all  we  were  in Jamaica right. I get enough Japanese, 
Italian,  Mexican  etc.  in the states. I certainly wouldn't look for 
Chinese,  Jamaican  or  Mexican food in Italy. This is a sit down and 
order   from   the   menu  restaurant  specializing  in  west  Indies 
(Caribbean)  cuisine.  The food was great, from appetizers to desert. 
Order  as  much  as ya want, NO PROBLEM MON. We only ate at the other 
restaurants once. The service was also excellent. 

None  of  the  usual "no problem mon" take our time here. Service was 
prompt  and  professional.  Wendi's also is open for breakfast buffet 
and lunch buffet that are both excellent. 

Restaurant  d  Amore  (Italian) : We did not eat here, heard the food 
was average to good at best. 

Kimonos  (Japanese)  Reservations  required.  The  chef comes out and 
cooks  on  the  grill  for  approx.  4  couples  that  sit around the 
table/grill.  A  lot  of fun and the food is very good. A must do, at 
least once. 

The  International  Room  (International):  White glove service here, 
men  must  wear  pants  or ya don't get in. There's a wide variety of 
food  to  choose from the menu. The food is excellent from appetizer, 
salad, soup, entree. to desert. A definite must do. 

If  you stay at sandals you can visit any sandals via shuttle and use 
the  facilities  and restaurants. We went to the Ocho Rios Sandals to 
eat  at  Valentinos  restaurant for dinner. The service and food were 
very  good.  The  Ocho  Rios  sandals  is  very  sedate, the beach is 
considerably  smaller  and  the  property  itself  doesn't compare to 
Dunn's   river.   However   the  foliage  is  much  more  mature  and 
impressive. 

There's   a   beach   party   on  Mondays  with  a  buffet  and  good 
entertainment.  Fire  eater/  blower,  snake  charmer, dancing, limbo 
ect.  The  other  restaurants are closed so everyone attends. There's 
an  outdoor  buffet  by the pool on Thursday with cool ice sculptures 
and very romantic ambiance. 

Excursions: 

The  hotel  offers many tour excursions to see the real Jamaica, take 
advantage  of  at  least  one.  My recommendations; Dunns River Falls 
Booze  Cruise  (a blast). Heard the horse back riding tour was great. 
We  did  the  Martha brae river rafting tour as well , Boring at best 
but  impressive  scenery  and very relaxing. Plenty of other tours to 
take  advantage  of,  port  Antonio  blue  mountains, Rio grand river 
rafting ect. 

CONCLUSION: 

I  am  glad I chose Dunns River falls after seeing Ocho Rios. We also 
drove  via  shuttle  to  the  properties  of  the  Royal Jamaican and 
Montego  Bay Sandals. The Royal Jamaican is extremely sedate and much 
smaller,  Montego  Bays  property  is the oldest and it really shows. 
Although  I  heard  it  was  the  liveliest, with Dunns River Sandals 
taking a very close second to liveliness. 

We  met  tons  of  people  her  and  made several friends. 99% of the 
vacationers  were  married  or fresh newlyweds. I believe most on the 
property had just gotten married. 

We  only met two other single couples there. The ages ranged from mid 
20's  to  late  50's.  I'm  37  and my girlfriends 27. The resort was 
running  approx.  80%  capacity  or so we were told. The property was 
large  enough so it never seemed at almost full capacity. This resort 
is  very  active  at  all  times  and  you  are  never pressured into 
participating  in the activities and games. Club Med could learn from 
these guys, you don't want to play , "NO PROBLEM MON." 

At     night     there's     the     "Forum"     which     is     the 
auditorium/entertainment/and  disco.  The shows were entertaining but 
not  many  people  seemed  to  attend. A lot of the entertainment was 
geared  towards  newlywed's  i.e.;  the newlywed game, love songs and 
slow  dancing.  This  got  old with us, we wanted to party. After the 
show  they  play  dance  music, good dance music, even by Los Angeles 
night club standards. 

What?  Where did everybody go? Once they started the music, most left 
for  their  rooms. Huh, It's only 1130PM, where you guys going? Every 
night  we  were  about one out of 2 or 3 other couples that stayed to 
dance.  On  a couple of occasions we were the only ones left dancing, 
no fun (Frown.) 

Okay  lets  go  to the bar then, there's gotta be some partying going 
on  out there right, NOT. Even the main bar was a sad sight with only 
a  few  ( ah, 5 or 6) diehards left. Okay this is the Caribbean , the 
nights  are  as  beautiful  as  the  days here. We took many midnight 
strolls  to  enjoy  the  stars,  What  still  know  one  around. what 
happened to all the romantics? 

This  place  simply  dies  at  night but its all relative I guess. My 
girlfriend  and  I  are  both  single  and from Los Angeles. We still 
enjoy  a little night life. We are both night people as well as early 
risers.  In  fact it seemed as if we were the last to go to our rooms 
and the first ones on the beach. 

One  evening  we  joined  about  5 other couples who were married but 
were  like  us and wanted to party. We deserve it, we all worked hard 
all  year  long for this right. So after a few drinks we got into the 
Jacuzzi  at  the  main  pool.  After  all were on vacation in Jamaica 
right, we weren't harming anyone. This was about 1230 or 100AM. 

We  were simply relaxing and discussing other destinations we've been 
to.  A  very  polite  security guard approached us and kindly advised 
that  they  had  received  two  complaints  about  the  noise we were 
making.  It was at this point we realized that this is definitely not 
a  party  resort.  Okay  so we'll stop having fun and go to our rooms 
and go to sleep. This was truly depressing to all of us. 

Overall  this  was  one of the best vacations I've had. If you choose 
this  Sandals,  you will not be sorry. There's so much to do, see and 
appreciate.  So  the  night life was dull, okay non existent, but the 
day  activities, the property, beach, water sports and employees made 
up  for  this handicap three fold. If your looking for a couples only 
honeymoon  vacation  look  no further. If your like us, still single, 
enjoy  partying,  night  life  and open minded, well try a Superclubs 
you probably won't feel so out of place. 

My  girlfriend  made  this observation. This resort is truly fabulous 
in  all  aspects, but it was the people that kind of made it a downer 
especially at night. 

The  play makers tried very hard to keep things going after the shows 
in  the  forum  but  Know  one  seemed  interested  but  a very small 
fraction. 

It's  apparent  that  newlyweds  are  much  more  into themselves and 
possible  want  to  get  to  their rooms in a hurry at night. They no 
longer  behave  like  single  folk,  well  they don't really act like 
people that have been married for a while either. 

We  were  truly  out of place here but we both fell In love with this 
awesome resort. It's hedonism III or a Grand Lido for us next time. 

Thanks and good luck.

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