Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |
The Boardwalk is a small property with several 1-bedroom and 2- bedroom "Casitas", located right across from the Marriott Resort - which is on a beautiful stretch of beach- so it's only 150 yards to the beach and swimming area. We're a short walk away from the high-rise hotels, casinos, and water sports facilities. We offer "close to it all" convenience and at the same time "far from it all" tranquility. The Casitas all have a spacious bedroom with elegant bedding consisting of luxurious down comforters and duvet covers. A spacious living room with adjoining kitchen, also a private patio with a teak patio set, BBQ and private hammocks secluded from view by garden area. White tiled floors, ceiling fans, rattan furnishings, tropical fabrics, and colorful prints; it's very private, tropical, comfortable, relaxing, and elegant. The Casitas have a telephone, Internet access, color TV with cable (32 channels), a video player, individually controlled air- conditioning, hot and cold water, daily maid service, alarm clock/radio, a selection of literature and videos. The kitchens are complete with full size refrigerator/freezer, cook top, microwave oven, coffeemaker, toaster, blender, all cooking utensils, glassware, cutlery and silverware. The lush and tropical gardens surrounding the casitas are embellished by a variety of exotic palms, a multitude of flowering plants and shrubs, around a beautiful lawn. These gardens are home to hummingbirds and butterflies. Among these gardens lies our freeshaped swimming pool with a shallow kid's area and a Jacuzzi. We have a minimarket and windsurfing/surfing/beach store at our front office as well. To see photos and for more information of our property please check our website at http://www.theboardwalk-aruba.com You may also check the pages we have at the following websites; http://www.velawindsurf.com/boardwalk.html and http://www.arubatourism.com/boardwk.html RATES: 1-bedroom 1-bedroom 2-bedroom/2-bathroom garden view ocean view gardenview (double occ.) (double occ.) (quad occ.) Low Season'01 08/15-12/15 US$ 96.00 US$126.00 US$151.00 High-Season'01-02 12/15-04/15 US$186.00 US$216.00 US$276.00 Mid-Season'02 04/15-08/15 US$131.00 US$161.00 US$196.00 * Rates are per night per casita based on double occupancy for the 1-bedroom casita and quad occupancy for the 2-bedroom/2- bathroom casita. * Additional is 8.65 % Government & service tax. * Extra person charge is $15.00 per night, up to 4 persons maximum in a 1-bedroom, 6 persons maximum in a 2-bedroom/2-bathroom Casita. * Children under 12 stay for free with adults. Reservations: A deposit of 25%, or one night -whichever is greater- is required to take a reservation. Since we're a small property we recommend making reservations well in advance. You may call, email or fax to authorize a creditcard transaction for deposit; please confirm card#, exp.date, name as it appears on card and amount to be charged. Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, Amex and Discover are accepted. Payment by bankcheck (please send by registered airmail), telex transfer or Western Union is also possible. In this case please contact us for account details. This deposit will be credited to your account when it is received. The balance due on your reservation may be paid at any time during your stay with us. Cancellation policy: There is a 60 days cancellation deadline. If a reservation is cancelled before this deadline (60 days or more before confirmed check-in date) your deposit, less 10% (of the deposit) for administration charges, will be refunded. Cancellations after this deadline lead to forfeiture of deposit. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you need any additional information or if you would like to make a reservation. We hope to get to welcome you to The Boardwalk in the future! THE BOARDWALK VACATION RETREAT, BAKVAL #20 ARUBA - DUTCH WEST INDIES. Ph. (297) 866654 - Fax (297) 861836 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: http://www.theboardwalk-aruba.com
Lyliane and Michel Job of Boston, Massachusetts, new owners of the Gate House guesthouse, opened the restaurant the first week of October and are now taking reservations for the hotel. The substantial property consists of the main building, which includes reception, restaurant, six double rooms, and a rooftop swimming pool; a separate cottage with terrace; and a luxury villa for up to 10 people, with its own private pool. The guesthouse is nestled snugly in the side of a ridge, just minutes from Saba’s airport. The breath-taking view from the terrace includes St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Barts, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and Nevis. Although only 11 years old, the construction pays homage to Saba's well-known and appreciated architecture and color schemes: white walls, red roof, and green trim. The Gate House had been actively marketed for sale since last year when operator and local artist Jim Siegel closed up the hotel to attend to family health matters in Holland. At the same time, the Jobs, who are French-born, naturalized American citizens, decided that 22 years of Boston winters were sufficient and they started surfing the Web looking for small hotels or “B&Bs” in the Caribbean. “Our children were raised, and we were looking for a new adventure,” Michel said, with a definite French cadence in his lilting English. In summer 2001, the couple spent three weeks touring the Caribbean surveying property possibilities, including a July 4th meeting on Saba with the Siegel family. They fell in love with the guesthouse and the five-mile square island, only 15 minutes from St. Martin. They were also attracted by the fact that the Gate House was in pristine condition and offered itself as a turnkey operation. The Jobs decided to capitalize on the guesthouse’s existing reputation and retain the look and feel of the place, as well as some of Jim Siegel’s distinctive artwork. “We did not want to buy the property without its soul,” said Michel of Siegel’s work. Michel said that he particularly appreciated the property’s warmth and one-of-a-kind flavor. “We do not want our guests to think they have been transported to any cookie-cutter hotel chain with its over-wrought look. We want to welcome them to a unique Caribbean space, but one that feels like home at the same time,” he said. The couple has taken time to establish a basis in the community, with government, and with other business. They met with the Executive Council, the tourist office, and local businesses in order to introduce themselves and perfect their marketing strategies. They have retained Gate House employees, and have been delighted with the knowledgeable, responsive, and hard-working team. While Michel, who has always been the family chef, is performing his culinary duties in the well-appointed kitchen, Lyliane serves customers with flair. An experienced sommelier, she is a compendium of knowledge on the excellent wine offering, the restaurant’s signature. The Jobs previously had two wine outlets in the Boston area and have already built up a very respectable wine cellar. The wine list has more than 80 entries, and most wines and champagnes are available by the glass, thanks to “Le Verre de Vine” The Gate House is the only restaurant in the Caribbean with this state-of-the-art preservation system. The three-course, prix-fixe menu has a Creole presentation for $28 and a French presentation for $38. The room can seat 16-20, and up to 50 for a party. The restaurant is open at 6:30pm, Monday through Saturday and will be ready to serve lunch in time for the high season. High season room rates are $125 double/$95 single, and $110 double/$85 single in the low season. Continental breakfast is included. Package rates are available for divers, groups, and extended stays. Special opening rates are valid through December 15, 2001. For more information and reservations, the Gate House may be reached at +599-416-2416 (phone), +599-416-2550 (fax), or at their web site www.sabagatehouse.com.
Club Ambiance is a small, all-adult, all-inclusive resort that has succeeded in providing a quality product at an affordable price. We arrived to a gaily painted lobby and smiling faces welcoming us by name. We were escorted to our room after lunch and given a refreshing fruit punch. My husband and I were the first of our group of 11, spanning 3 generations, to arrive. All the rooms are large, well appointed, with a/c, satellite TV's and balcony or patio and ocean views. Our group occupied all category rooms and everyone was very pleased. Housekeeping is fantastic! Lots of pillows and an abundance of fluffy bath towels. We always had an ample towels \ and wash cloths. Tile floors are immaculate. The food is very, very good. All meals are buffet style with something 'special' cooked at the grill. The stir-fry was fantastic. Jamaica Night is awesome! A LARGE variety of Continental and Jamaican food choices ensure that there is something for everyone including our 'picky eater' who never complained once. Dinner is served alternately in the dining room and on the Terrace. The staff are wonderful. They are warm and friendly and make you feel as though they are really happy to have you in their 'home.' They are right there but not on top of you. The bar drinks are varied, exotic, prepared on the spot and served with lots of smiles! The glasses are small. Take a large insulated glass with a lid with you. The staff is a real pleasure! Every staff member we met was friendly and helpful and welcoming. Management is visible and approachable. The beach is small, but adequate. There are several sandy areas and we never felt crowded. My husband's favorite was the partially shaded area with hammocks. The pool is large and very clean. There are ample lounge chairs throughout the property and beach towels available throughout the day poolside. The entire property is well maintained and very clean. There are a couple areas that need some paint, but that's a never-ending battle in the Caribbean. There are daily activities for those who are so inclined. The daily volley ball games on the beach were looked forward to by guests and staff alike. The activities staff is highly visible day and night. There is also a game room with ping pong, pool, a large TV, board games, etc. The resident band is very good and play/sing a variety of music. There is also a feature entertainer weekly. The guest/staff talent show provided many laughs! The disco provides entertainment after the band stops on the patio at 11pm. The hotel offered escorted bike rides, exercise classes, a small gym, pool and beach activities, paddleboats, ocean kayaks, and snorkel equipment, a PADI approved dive facility. A tour desk, gift/sundries shop and small boutique are located in the lobby. JUTA approved drivers are on the property and a twice-daily shuttle to Ocho Rios at $10.00 per person. We took long walks down the beach and hikes to the supermarket on several occasions and felt completely at ease. The website is up-to-date and accurate! Do we recommend Club Ambiance? Absolutely! Are we returning? We are hoping to spend Christmas at Club Ambiance! The Coopers Houston, TX
We went to Couples Negril in mid September, We went to Couples Negril in mid September, 2001 through Air Jamaica from Los Angeles. After taking the red eye, we arrived early in the morning and flew on Air Jamaica Express for another 55 per person one way. Got to Couples by 9 am! And the bright sunshine greeted us warmly. My wife and I were told our rooms would be ready later on. We got some breakfast, the usual buffet faire, made to order omellettes and fresh, fruit shakes. The main restaurant was opened air and you could see the pool and to the ocean beyond while eating your meals. After breakfast, we went back to the lobby to change into swimwear, but was told our rooms were already available! The room was very comfortable and clean, with a nice balcony to drink coffee on. Imagine a nice hotel room, though no narrow hallways, and complete privacy, even when on the balcony, b/c the buildings were surrounded by lush coconut and banana trees, as well as palms of all sorts. Housecleaning always cleaned the room nicely, and replaced our pitcher with fresh, cold water. Occasionally we ordered the continental breakfast and ate it on the balcony. Coffee, juice, cereal, breads, and fresh fruit were delivered promptly and deliciously. This was a great perk. The food overall was good, from jerk chicken to rack of lamb. But after getting stranded there for over a week, we didn't get tired of the food necessarily, but you can only eat so much jerk chicken. The menus were different each day, but also quite similar in the type of food. Essentially, its buffet food. Though their fancy restaurant was quite nice, even with a couple of Jamaicans playing string instruments. We went their twice, sitting on beautiful, comfortable couches for two, pampered with champagne (not the 4.99 stuff either!) and a 5 course meal. The soups were especially good, being poured directly onto your bowl and the main courses, filet mignon, seafood pasta, etc were all excellent and flavorful. But besides the food, the ambiance created an ideal mood for couples and honeymooners. Another positive. One negative may not be for some, but it was for us. We went their expecting to relax and just swim, eat, sleep, and lay on the beautiful beach and all our expectations were met, so how could that be a negative?? Well, after a few days, we realized that at night there was nothing to do. My wife and I are not boring people, so we found ways to have fun, but we had to find our own entertainment b/c couples didn't have much entertaining entertainment. The same band played the same American pop songs every night, and strangely, couples placed a big palm right in front of the stage so you couldn't see the lead singer. And you go to Jamaica, you want to hear reggae, but they didn't play reggae. Oh well. Other forms of entertainment were ok, ie newlywed game, casino night, etc but they were very unprofessional and poorly organized. One thing we really enjoyed was the piano bar where an old guy sang and played wonderfully, but we heard him only once, always coming into the bar, as he left. At other nights, we swam in the pool or in the ocean after dinner, soaking in the hot tub and having a nice cocktail, and everyone you meet are very nice. One couple got totally drunk and were very entertaining in the Jacuzzi, and everyone were enjoying themselves that night, but the next morning the very drunk, very appropriately behaved, entertaining couple actually came up to us and apologized for their loud behavior the night before. We told them there was nothing to apologize for! Are you kidding!! But that was the quiet atmosphere of Couples. The drinks are great and plentiful, The red flag service, (stick a red flag in the sand and a waitress eventually comes by and gets your drink) a nice perk, and Red stripe, then later on Miller Lite were always great. Don't get me wrong, Couples is great and we had a fantastic time there but the tragedy in US complicated things a bit for us. The tragedy happened on the day we were to leave Couples, and we were "stranded" in Negril. Its nice being stranded. But Couples weren't very accommodating and we had to pay from our own pockets. Travel insurance!! Service at Couples was fine, no problems, but no problem doesn't necessary mean yes, it just means whatever! Jamaicans are a fine people, with confidence and pride, and they are friendly as well. I especially enjoyed the many conversations with the various staff. The only negative was when we were checking out and on our bill (bigger than normal because we overstayed b/c of tragedy in US), had phone charges. I didn't use the phone. Are you sure you didn't use the phone? Yes. Are you sure? Yes. You didn't make any calls to the US? no. How about calls here? no. To family? no. How about your wife, did she make any calls. No, no, no. It was only for 6 dollars and we were already late for our express flight, so I felt like screw this, I don't need the interrogation for just a lousy 6 dollars but then I felt like I was already paying for the extra nights when no one else was coming to Couples...ok ok so it was just a little problem. I really didn't use the phone!!! The best part about Couples? The beach. And the sunsets. One night, my wife and I waded in the calm, warm, and clear water just a minute from our room and floated on the surface, watching the brilliant red sun go into the horizon, then seeing the cloud marked sky turning into glowing shades of violet. Fish, rays, jelly fish (even got stung by one),and other wild life could be seen right from the beach. The waters are shallow, so you just look where you're walking. We also went snorkeling and saw even more fish. But better than anything was little bloody bay. Couples is on Bloody Bay. Very beautiful. To one side is Grand Lido (what's so grand about it??) and to the other side is Riu. Next to Riu is just pristine beach, which bends to a point about a mile away. If you stay at any of the three, you are in Bloody Bay, just gorgeous. One day, I took a catamaran around that point and appeared before me a much smaller version of bloody bay. Only a few hundred yards wide, it was a half moon shaped, and on one side, very, very shallow coral covered the far side of the bay. The middle of the bay was more sandy, and the only spot you could take the catamaran to shore. Green foliage came up to the water but for about 10 feet of absolutely brilliant white sand. Shade from the trees covered the white sandy beach. And nobody there! Absolutely no presence of man. Pristine. And I mean it. The next day, I went back there to explore it more fully, taking my wife and a kayak. From the proximity of the kayak, we saw even more pristine beauty and picnicked on the sand. Under water we snorkeled, while purple, green, and pink coral flashed its color against the dancing background of small pastel colored fish. This bay is only about 20 minute paddle on a kayak from Couples, yet no one seemed to know about it. I just found it by accident. Maybe, I should leave this part out, but then if you go to Bloody Bay, look for yourself, but please, don't damage the coral and don't leave any trash. This place is beautiful because its not overrun by people like you and I. Later, I talked to a local, Mudslide, and he even told me about an old pirate's hangout amongst the overgrown trees, it turned out to be a cave, the opening of it bricked up by large blocks except for a small, door like opening. The entrance was very overgrown and while standing near the entrance, the pirate's cave appeared to be an excellent hiding spot, for you could see whatever approached you, but not be seen. Little bloody bay reminds me of a deserted island I once visited in the Indian Ocean. To come back from that island took me 4 days, mostly by boat, ferry, bus, then plane X3. To go to the bay took me 5 hours from LA. The bay was as pristine, as beautiful. Inside Couples, and even Negril itself, you don't see the real Jamaica. We wanted to see Jamaica, and even went to church on Sunday. The church was full of tourist. So I asked around and found that a nearby town, Sav La Mar had a Friday, Sat morning market. We hired a taxi and took the 30 minute wild ride, straight out of a James Bond movie, exciting yet a little nerve racking as well. Jamaica the beautiful, Jamaica the poor. But everyone we met at the market weren't miserable. America has riches galore, but plentiful misery, Jamaica has plentiful poverty but not misery. Or that's what I saw. Sav La Mar was also on the sea, and we got to see an old Spanish fort, turned prison, now just some eroding walls and buildings. The entrance was only 5 or 6 feet. I was told the Spanish were short back in the 1500's. The weather in September meant an hour of welcomed showers in the late afternoon, rainbows and clouds,but enough sun to go through a whole tube of sunscreen! Overall, our vacation was very relaxing, Couples is great, Negril is great. Just don't come here when crazy people decide to bomb our country. ****
| CTR Home | << Back | ToC | Part 1 | Part 2 | Next >> | Search |