Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 119
November 1, 2001

Last Update 31 Oct. 2001

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PRESS RELEASE

ARUBA: THE BOARDWALK VACATION RETREAT

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: reservations@theboardwalk-aruba.com
 Website: http://www.theboardwalk-aruba.com

SABA: GATE HOUSE

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.

JOURNEYS FOR NOVEMBER 2001

JAMAICA: CLUB AMBIANCE, RUNAWAY BAY BY CHARLES AND DIANNE COOPER

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      

JAMAICA: COUPLES NEGRIL BY KWANG-CHUL MA

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. ****

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