Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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Anguilla News From Bob Green Cap Juluca Changes Hands. Cap Juluca has been re-acquired by its original developer Dion Friedland of South Africa. Mr. Friedland will be putting in place people who were involved in his original creation of the resort. For example, Eustace Guishard, General Manager; John Mezzanotte, Finance; andSue Ricketts, reservations, sales, marketting, and public relations. Visit their web site, capjuluca.com for more details. Call-Forwarding Causing Problems. If you or your business use call- forwarding in Anguilla, don't forget to reset to the newly required 7- digit phone numbers. Lots of people have been caught and the poor customer or friend keeps getting a strange message telling them to "call again, later", lots later! Carnival 98. If you are planning your 1998 calendar, Carnival runs from July 30th to Sunday August 9th. Want a quick way to tell a sheep from a goat? Goat tails stick up, sheep tails lay down. Restaurants reopening after September break: Blanchards with new swordfish and snapper dishes, Hibernia, Serenity, Sonesta/Casablanca, Zara's Oct 17, Frangipani October 25 with new menu around Thanksgiving. Straw Hat before November 1st. A new restaurant Oliver's is open at Long Bay. Wallblake House Needs Help Wallblake House Trust has some great t-shirts for sale. The Trust is organized to save this beautiful historic house before it collapses. Hurricane Luis caused a lot of damage and Hurricane Erika was a near miss, wake-up call. Anguilla is too small a place to raise all the money for this project alone, so they need help from Anguilla's off- island friends. If you visit Wallblake.ai , their web site, you can find out how to mail order for t-shirts with the logo pictured above. Why not get a hundred for Christmas presents? New items on their web site: letter from the Governer encouraging and recommending the project, and the September progress report Introducing Villas.ai There are so many villas for rent on Anguilla, and so many of them now have web pages, that it was becoming overwhelming. So we have created villas.ai , a comprehensive guide to villa web pages. This "Anguilla Villa Guide" categorizes all the known web pages into quick comparison tables and lists their key features. We thought about what we would want to know about a villa's amenities before we rented and decided the most important thing for us was how many steps to the beach - and which beach! We've also included other more mundane pieces of information like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the usual. New Scuba Shop at La Sirena As of November 1st, La Sirena hotel in the West End will have a branch of Island Harbour's Anguillian Divers on site. This was confirmed by Wim Haagedoorn and Frieda Vandenplas of Anguillian Divers: "You have to listen to the customers. They said it was too far to drive from the West End to Island Harbour. Wim and Frieda also mentioned that they can do charter fishing. For a fun story, ask them about the experience on the Grady White at Goat Bay. Anguillian Divers can be reached at 264-497-4750 and La Sirena at 264-497- 6827. Anguilla's Wonderful Chefs Not only did our chefs triumph at the 1997 competition in Puerto Rico, but now they are TV stars as well. Anguilla Triumph at Culinary Competition Anguilla's team took home the most honours among the 19 teams competing in the "Taste of the Caribbean" Culinary and Bartender Competition in Puerto Rico: 22 awards including Most Creative Caribbean Dish : Escovitch of Red Snapper on a Breadfruit Pancake. Pascal Baronnier of Koal Keel won Best Pastry Chef of the Year and silver medals for his whimsical centrepiece depicting a traditional West Indian cottage. Zeff Bonsey of the new restaurant ICI at Sonesta won a gold for Crispy Snapper with Roti Style Vegetables. George Reid of Chatterton's at Cap Juluca won a silver for Pan Grilled Tuna with Guinea Corn Risotta. Marc Alvares of CoveCastles won bronze for Spicy Carrot Glazed Shrimp on a Pastry Seesaw as did Vernon Hughes of Palm Court at Cinnamon Reef for his Crayfish with Caribbean Vegetable Ratatouille. Ron Webster of Koal Keel won double gold in the bartender category for the second year in a row. Chefs Become TV Stars: The "Great Chefs of the World" show on the Discovery Channel includes several chefs from Anguillia: - Nov 5, Dec 19. 4:30PM ET. Carib 8. Artichoke with Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese by Alain Laurent, Malliouhana. - Nov 12. 4:30PM ET. Carib 20. Lobster pancakes with Stingthyme Sauce, Vernon Hughes, Cinammon Reef. - Nov 19. 4:30PM ET. Carib 23. Exotic Crayfish Salad with Vanilla Dressing, Alain Laurent, Malliouhana. - Dec 17. 4:30PM ET. Carib 10. Creme Brulee with Sauteed Exotic Fruits prepared by Chef Alain Laurent of Malliouhana Hotel. Feedback on Scilly Cay. Our article on Scilly Cay generated the following questions from Brendon: I will be visiting Anguilla between 20-27 October, 1997. And, I am very excited to visit Scilly Cay. However, I recently read a passage on the internet that Scilly Cay is only open on Saturday and Sunday only during the summer? Is this true? Could you please provide the days and hours of operation? How much the outing will cost for two? And, do I need to bring my own snorkeling gear or is it provided for me on the island? Finally, do you recommend that I make reservations? Scilly Cay goes back to full schedule on Wednesday, October 15th. They are open around 11am until 5pm, closed Monday. They don't stay open after dark except for special events, as Scilly Cay does not have electricity. You should budget about $100 for a couple if you plan to eat. If you are on a strict budget, you can just go over for a drink. Everyone will be just as gracious to you. You should bring your own snorkel gear. Reservations are not required. Fantasizing About the Classifieds Have you ever poured over the tiny classified villa ads in the back of travel magazines? Publications such as Islands Magazine and Caribbean Travel and Life. Did you wonder what the villas were really like? For example, here are two classifieds from the April 1997 issue of ISLANDS : ANGUILLA, MEADS BAY - Nathan's Cove - 1-2 and 4-bedroom apartments from $100- $550 nightly. (301)630-3040. (264)497-2596. It so happens that we know Nathan's Cove. We stayed there on our second visit to Anguilla in January 1994. It was new, clean, and fully furnished including washer and dryer. A few steps of sand to the water of Meads Bay. Very nice for a reasonable price. This small complex is located next door to Blanchards Restarant. A couple of suprising things: the wind blows from the back of the building, not the ocean side, so the better bedrooms for cool sleeping are on the back side; and, the vegetation blocks the downstairs view of the beach, but this gives you privacy too. The upstairs was huge. At the time it had 8 double beds in 4 bedrooms, perfect for an Anguillian family reunion. Here's another: ANGUILLA, SHOAL BAY - 2 bedroom, 2-bath villa, Pool satellite TV, and maid service. $325/night peak season, $225/night low season. (909) 822-1169 days, (909)793-9694 nights and weekends. This is Dick and Judy Collins' Seabreeeze villa, just to the west of Serenity Restaurant on Upper Shoal Bay, 100 steps from the water. Pictured above. The villa is almost perfectly designed for two couples. Anguilla's Fast Food The Landing Strip restaurant serves up dependable Chinese food, quickly and efficiently. The place has a constant stream of people picking up dinner to go but you can also eat in. One night we ate on their balcony and watched the- one-airplane land. Cheapest romantic dining room with a view. Open 7 days a week, 11am to 11pm. 264 497- 2268. George Hill, behind Java Wraps. The Landing Strip Menu US$ EC$ US$ EC$ Soup Chow Mein Wonton Soup 3.00 8.00 Pork Chow mein 5.00 13.40 Chicken Soup 3.00 8.00 Chicken Chow mein 5.00 13.40 Vegetable Soup 3.00 8.00 Shrimp Chow mein 7.00 18.75 Min Soup 3.00 8.00 Beef Chow mein 5.50 14.75 Chinese Soup 3.00 8.00 Curry Chow mein 4.50 12.00 Mushroom Soup 3.00 8.00 Conch Chow mein 7.00 18.75 Hot & Sour Soup 3.00 8.00 Fish Chow mein 7.00 18.75 Fishball Soup 3.00 8.00 Mixed Chow mein 7.00 18.75 Shrimpball Soup 3.00 8.00 Vegetable Chow mein 4.50 12.00 Conch Soup 3.00 8.00 Appetizer Salad Egg Roll 1.00 2.68 Shrimp Salad 7.00 18.75 Chicken Sate 1.30 3.50 Chicken Salad 7.00 18.75 Beef Sate 1.85 5.00 Lettuce&Tomato Salad 7.00 18.75 Pork Sate 1.85 5.00 Mixed Vegetable Salad 7.00 18.75 Shrimp Sate 3.00 8.00 Fried Wonton 7.50 20.10 Shrimp Chip 1.85 5.00 Vegetarian Dishes Chicken Dishes Catonese Vegetarian 5.50 14.75 Pineapple Chicken 6.00 16.10 Steam Vegetable 5.00 13.40 Peking Chicken 6.00 16.10 Vegetable Fried Rice 3.00 8.00 Moo Goo Gai Pan 6.50 17.45 Vegetable Chow Mein 4.50 12.00 Chicken with Cashew 7.50 20.10 Steam To-Fu 4.00 10.75 Chicken with Cashew 5.75 15.40 Fried Bean Sprout 3.00 8.00 Sweet & Sour Chicken 5.50 14.75 Chicken broccoli 6.00 16.00 Cantonese Chicken 6.00 16.00 Curry Chicken 5.00 13.40 Spanish Chicken 6.00 16.00 Beef Dishes Shrimp Dishes Oyster Sauce Beef 6.50 17.45 Cantonese Shrimp 9.50 25.45 Cantonese Beef 7.50 20.10 Sweet & Sour Shrimp 8.00 21.45 Garlic Beef 6.50 17.45 Shrimp Chop Suey 8.50 22.80 Beef Chop Suey 6.00 16.00 Shrimp Broccoli 8.50 22.80 Beef Broccoli 6.50 17.45 Fou Yong Shrimp 6.00 16.00 Curry Beef 5.00 13.40 Curry Shrimp 7.00 18.75 Pepper Beef 5.00 13.40 Garlic Shrimp 9.00 24.10 Bean Sprout Beef 5.00 13.40 Shrimp Cutlet 7.00 18.75 Stew Beef with To-Fu 6.50 17.45 Shrimp with Cashew 9.50 25.45 Pork Dishes Fish Dishes Curry Pork 5.00 13.40 Steam Fish (red snapper) Sweet & Sour Pork 5.50 14.75 Sweet & Sour Fish 8.00 21.45 Pork Chop Suey 6.00 16.00 Fish Cutlet 5.00 13.40 Stew Pork & To- Fu 6.00 16.00 Fried red snapper Sweet & Sour Rib 5.50 14.75 Curry Fish 7.00 18.75 Pork Cutlet 5.00 13.40 Cantonese Fish 7.50 20.10 Fish Chop Suey 7.50 20.10 Pepper Fish 7.00 18.75 Fish Broccoli 7.50 20.10 Conch Dishes Lobster Dishes Cantonese Conch 9.50 25.45 Steam Lobster 20.75 56.00 Conch Cutlet 7.00 18.75 Moo Goo Lobster 15.00 40.00 Pepper Conch 7.00 18.75 Lobster Chop Suey 15.00 40.00 Conch Chop Suey 7.50 20.10 Lobster Broccoli 15.00 40.00 Conch Broccoli 7.50 20.10 Cantonese Lobster 20.75 56.00 Garlic Conch 9.00 24.10 Squid Dishes Mixed Dishes Pepper Squid 6.50 17.45 Mixed Chop Suey 8.50 22.80 Squid Broccoli 7.00 18.75 Mixed Chow mein 7.00 18.75 Squid Chop Suey 7.00 18.75 Mixed Fried Rice 5.00 13.40 Cantonese Squid 8.00 21.45 Mixed Broccoli 9.00 24.10 Mixed Pepper 8.50 22.80 Mixed Seafood Chop Suey 11.00 29.50 Special Dishes Cantonese Fried Rice 5.00 13.40 Beef Ho-Fen 6.00 16.00 Mixed & Mixed 7.50 20.10 Steam Pork Rib/blk bean 5.50 14.75 Dried shrimp & fried veg 5.50 14.75 Sesame Chicken 6.50 17.45
The following information is provided by Frank Barnako who owns
property which he'd like to rent. You can check it all out at:
For the most relaxing vacation of your life, stay at Over the Rainbow Our management company has produced a new web site for Beyond the Sea, a spectacularly sited 2-1/2 bedroom property. Please take a look at: http://www.caribbeanvilla.com/develop/carib/beyond/beyond.html.Golf course proposed on St. John
Investors are reportedly interested in building a nine-hole golf course on the east end of St. John, according to a report in the Virgin Islands Daily News. News of the project came in a meeting with about 100 St. John real estate agents and Gov. Roy Schneider at Caneel Bay. The governor also said three casino projects will be underway on St. Croix by the end of the year. Of interest to St. Thomas, the Governor said he'd "signed off" on a $200 to $300 million project for the dilapidated Yacht Haven motel and marina area in downtown Charlotte Amalie. "They want to make it one of the most beautiful sites in the Caribbean," reporter Lynda Lohr quoted the governor.(26 Oct. 97) Other items mentioned by the Governor included his reporting he has asked the Virgin Islands Port Authority to further downsize plans for a commercial port at Enighed Pond on St. John; a produce market is planned for a Cruz Bay parking lot and the Virgin Islands National Park area at Red Hook may be taken over by the U.S. Customs Service.(26 Oct 97) Labor Trouble in Paradise Caneel Bay resort workers have voted to reject a contract offer that would have raised wages 10 cents to 90 cents an hour over three years, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News. The contract with the United Steelworkers Union-represented employees expired August 30. Caneel's general manager was quoted saying "I believe (a strike) is not what our employees want." A key issue in the negotiations is Caneel's sharing the 10 percent gratuity charge on guests with all employees, except managers, including workers such as gardeners who wouldn't generally get guests' tips. Caneel management has agreed to increase the share of the pool given to maids and bellmen, the Daily News report said. Maids are currently paid about $8.41 an hour, including their share of the gratuity, the report said. Caneel's payroll totals 460 employees, 190 of whom are unionized.(26 Oct. 97) Westin Resort sets Nov. 15 opening Expectations the new Westin resort will be open Nov. 15 are high, but it is in the islands, mon ... so maybe it won't happen. The pool is the big problem, reports the Daily News' Lohr. To judge from her report, the pool is being rebuilt. She says 60 people are working two shifts to build the concrete forms, and then the concrete needs to be poured, and then there's been a lot of rain that slowed work, and on and on and on. Westin is spending $14 million on the renovation of the former-St. John Hyatt, she said. The most visible difference will be the hotel's color scheme. Under Hyatt, it was purple. With Westin, it's blue and yellow.(26 Oct. 97) St. John to host regatta reception Organizers of the America Cup Challenge expect the early December event to include a get-together on St. John the night of Dec. 5. ESPN is expected to videotape the event which will feature America Cup teams from seven countries and the VI teams sailing for victory. Marriott's Frenchmen's Reef hotel is the lead sponsor in a group of about ten supporters. The event will be called the Frenchman's Reef International Match Race, according to the Daily News.(26 Oct. 97) St. John Westin criticized Management at the St. John Westin hotel are being accused of ignoring local businesses in the resort's preparations to open Nov. 1. Several business owners, including St. John's Andy Rutnik, have complained to the Industrial Development Commission that the Westin did not meet obligations to consider local contractors. In a formal hearing, landscaper Rutnik testified he was unable to get specifications on the hotel's needs. An attorney for the Westin told the IDC, Rutnik "wasn't capable," the Virgin Islands Daily News reported. Several other local businesses, including a furniture store, made similar allegations against the Westin. The property's general manager said $6 million has been spent in refurbishing the property, $1.2 million of which has gone to St. John businesses, and $4.5 million to St. Thomas businesses, the News added.(19 Oct. 97) Gov. vetoes new taxes on tourists Legislature-approved taxes which would have added two percent to the hotel occupancy tax and a $2.50-per-passenger levy on cruise ships were vetoed by Gov. Roy Schneider. The governor called the tourism- targeted taxes "a fatal error" for the islands. Cruise-line industry representatives and the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel association argued against the taxes, with the hotels group taking out several full page ads in the Daily News to express opposition.(19 Oct. 97) Lavish Dawn Princess liner docks Princess Cruise Lines' 14-story luxury cruise ship, Dawn Princess, paid its first visit to St. Thomas earlier this month. On board, besides comedian David Brenner, were several thousand passengers, the Daily News reported. The ship's features include two theaters, five swimming pools, a disco, a "teen room", a children's play area, and a library. There are 950 crew members. The Dawn Princess will make 53 visits to St. Thomas over the next year, with 75 planned the year after.(19 Oct. 97) ** Area code changeover rocky It's been a few months since the official area code for the Virgin Islands changed from 809 to 340. Or is it? A number of people in the islands report trouble making calls using the new area code. The manager of a telephone answering service in Cruz Bay, St. John says she's not heard of anyone yet making a call that got through using 340, the Daily News reported. Vitelco says by next July, all the problems will be solved. ** Boat show moves to Crown Bay Marina The dilapidated condition of the Yacht Haven Marina has prompted the V.I. Charteryacht League to move its annual Fall show to the Crown Bay Marina, a few miles closer to St. Thomas airport, and away from downtown Charlotte Amalie. In its report of the shift, the Daily News says the show is scheduled Nov. 7-10 and is expected to draw brokers from across the country to review charter boats available for the upcoming season. Owners of businesses in Yacht Haven's retail area are, understandably, unhappy. The owner of the Sti bar and restaurant at the marina said "it's absolutely devastating." ** VI Freenet hopes to add Web access The three-year-old Virgin islands Freenet is hoping to be able to offer access to the World Wide Web soon. Co-founder Peter de Blanc told the Virgin Islands Daily News he is waiting on approval for a $300,000 Commerce Department grant that would let the Freenet offer Web graphic services and install computers at public housing communities and senior citizens units. Currently the Freenet operates with a budget of $60,000 a year, offering text service, including e- mail, to 3,300 registered users. ** St. John Saturdays, one year old It's been a year since the St. John Action Committee, business and professional people on our favorite island, began sponsoring St. John Saturdays; days when entertainment, and food, and fun and sales populate downtown Cruz Bay in a festival-like atmosphere. Jo Sterling, of the Bamboula clothing and gift shop told the Daily News the events have "absolutely" been worth the effort. Many other merchants echo her support. The decision to be made now is whether to do it again, plan another year of the events in what's shaping up to be a very busy season. A year ago, the island was struggling to recover from the whipping Marilyn gave the islands. One thing the Action Committee does plan to do is apply for grants to advertise St. John nationally, the paper said VI Web sites: * Island map: http://www.usvi-on-line.com/sj/sjmap.html * St. John 'Tradewinds': http://www.tradewinds.vi * US Virgin Islands: http://www.usvi.net * The Virgin Islands Business Journal: http://www.vibj.com * WSTA's Good News: http://www.usvi.net/usvi/gnews/ * VI Weather: http://www.weather.com/weather/int/cities/VI_St_Thomas.html * Caribbean-On-Line: http://www.usvi-on-line.com/barnako/barnako.html Source: http://www.stjohntradewindsnews.com/
Compared with other destinations, there is little posted about Curacao. I thought I would post our play-by-play experience to give perspective travelers a better idea of what Curacao is and is not. I hope it will be of interest to some. For an early October vacation, we wanted something that was out of the hurricane belt. The first island that usually comes to mind is Aruba. But, everybody goes to Aruba. It is really a "destination". As such, it is very touristy. We wanted the experience of a real living island and not of row and rows of hotels. After doing a lot of research, Curacao seems to fit exactly what we were looking for. Now, I know that there are going to be people out there that stopped at Curacao on some cruise and will say that it was awful. Since the cruise ships dock near the huge oil refinery, I can see why they may say that. However, nobody has ever seen Curacao, or any other island, by docking for a couple of hours. You must spend time on any island to really experience it. American Airlines got us there and back problem free and ahead of schedule. Tabor Tours provided the airport to hotel transportation. They also did and excellent job. We arrived at the Sonesta at 2:30 in the afternoon. At this same time, a huge group from Brazil was trying to checkout. There were people yelling at the desk clerks and everything ... what a mad-house! When we finally made it to the front of the line, we were told that there were no rooms ready yet and to check back in one hour. Due to the amount of people just checking out, we accepted that. When we went back to the front desk, we were told that they still had no rooms. The desk clerk went and got the manager (on her own) and advised him of the situation. Within 5 minutes, he had a us a room and it was in a better location that the one we were slotted for. The Sonesta is located downwind of the refinery (what were they thinking?!) and there is an occasional odor. Only one evening was it somewhat offensive. The pool and beach at the resort are very nice. The beach is long and wide (man-made). Once you go into the water it is very rocky. The west beach has a sandy bottom. The restaurants at the Sonesta a good and worth trying. We ordered room service for breakfast everyday instead of going to the buffet and everyday the order was wrong. Stupid stuff like getting a half grapefruit instead of grapefruit juice. But, they were on time! Overall the staff is very friendly and professional. I recommend renting a jeep or car. We rented a jeep for about $38/day (that's with a 20% AAA discount). Driving around town was "interesting". There is a serious lack of street signs. We stopped and asked people for directions a couple of times and often they went out of their way to be helpful. A drive to the north and west points of the island is highly recommended to see the country side. Two places I would recommend dining at are Fort Nassau and the Rysttafel Restaurant Indonesia. At the Rysttafel, a meal consists of 16,20 or 25 dishes, hot and cold, all brought right to your table. Very nice people here, also. When we arrived (after being lost. call for directions first!) the door was already locked, but they opened up for us. Fort Nassau is a 300 year old fort at the highest point above the harbor. Great view and food. In summary, Curacao is an island worth visiting. The friendly people are a great asset. Please get out and see the countryside. I do think they need to put more controls on the refinery emissions if they want to attract more tourists. Many call the Sonesta the best place to stay on the island and I have to agree.
Attached are some follow up questions to my trip report published last month with my answers. They relate to facilities It was one of only two or three places in Jamaica that catered to nudist families. I wouldn't say it catered to nudist families. It tries to attract everyone including families and nudists - but also including singles and couples without children. I don't know how old your children are but according to one of the beach attendants, one of the staff was fired while we were there for fooling around with a 14 year old girl who was there with her family. They are encouraged to keep the single girls happy and he just made an age mistake. >Sorry you didn't like it, but we have two >kids and were wondering.....when you were there were any kids in the c/o area >of the beach? (How many?) We were there for a week. On the fourth day, one couple used the CO section for a couple of hours - the man was nude and the woman topless. On the last day, a nudist couple used the CO area. That was the extent of nudism while I was there. At no time did a family with children go near the CO beach. There were plenty of children but most seemed to spend their time at or near the kiddy center which was at the opposite end of the beach from the CO area. >Also, a few other questions....your best estimate of how many people used the >c/o area, typically? The total number was 3 plus me (but I don't really count myself as a nudist) >And what % of the total hotel guests used the c/o beach? As a % close to zero if you mean those who went nude. Out of some 3000 people days (500 guests for 6 days) only 3 went nude plus possibly another 10 couples who had women who were to shy to go topless on the main beach. >What % of the women went topless in the textile area? In the main beach area less the 10% were topless. In the beach extension, some days close to 50% were topless and probably never less than 20%. In the CO area, close to 100% >What % of the c/o people were smoking? None. Smoking wasn't frowned upon but it just happened that the only couple there probably didn't smoke. >What were the nightly rates...or did you have a package deal? I had a package deal which was $850pp for 7 nights including airfare from LA but that was for another hotel. I would guess that the rate is a little under $100 a night per person in low season.
My wife Susan and I (Steve) left Columbus, Ohio on Saturday November 2, 1996 early for Montego Bay connecting through Charlotte via USAir. Everything on the trip went as hoped. We arrived in Montego Bay and gathered at the SuperClubs desk near the baggage claim and customs section. As others arrived with plans to visit the Grand Lido we were fortunate to begin to meet some people that we would be spending some time with that week. We were promised a trip of about one and one- half hours in length and were not misled. The trip was interesting and fairly comfortable and did not live up to the horror stories that I had read concerning the trip from Montego Bay to Negril. This is quite possibly because we had a fairly nice bus. I saw other buses for properties such as Swept Away and they were basically used yellow school buses that had been recycled for tour operations. Arrival at the Grand Lido was one of the most enjoyable "check-in" experiences that I had ever experienced. We were seated in the spacious lobby with much of the resort activity surrounding us peaking our anticipation to get into the swing of things. We gathered with some of the people we met at the airport and on the bus in comfortable sofa's around a large coffee table and were offered Champagne or Orange Juice and snacks. As we introduced ourselves to the people we were with and shared our backgrounds, the staff gave us a form to complete and received our travel voucher. Shortly they sent us an escort to take us to our room where our baggage had already arrived. Our room number was 2031 (textile side). We selected this location because of our desire to stay on the textile side with an ocean view (front) room. This room was in the building closest to the center of activity and the restaurants. We decided to pick the second floor because we anticipated a better view of the ocean and horizon and desired to not have people walking directly across our path in front of the room. When we return we will choose the first floor because the walk in front of the building is far enough away and the pedestrian traffic was not the least bit of trouble. Also, the view from the first floor is approximately the same as the second floor with a nicer patio (larger) and extremely convenient for running back and forth from the beach to the room to go to the john or change to get lunch, etc. The room itself was spacious and well laid out; however, I had anticipated the room finishes to be commensurate with a 4 or 5 star room in the states. Actually it was more like a 3 star room as to the level of finish, but rather luxurious by Caribbean standards as I understand it. None the less, the room was clean, spacious, comfortable and quite pleasant. For sake of expedience I will resist providing a blow by blow description of our entire week and attempt to summarize our experiences. First, we found the food at all the restaurants to be excellent; however, occasionally the service was a little slow. This was not always the case but sporadic. The buffet in the main assembly area was always good and breakfast and lunch dining was always with pleasant music in a festive atmosphere. We chose to have breakfast at the buffet on our first morning, but thereafter we had room service with a continental breakfast (coffee, juice, rolls, cereal, yogurt and fruit) delivered daily at our specified time as a "wake up" call. During the day we went to the beach. To the bottom of the page. I would recommend securing your lounge and towels by 9:30AM or there could be a scramble to get what you want. We got in the habit of taking a couple of towels in at night with us from the hot tub. After a day of swimming and sunning we prepared for dinner and ate at all of the restaurants during our stay. We were never disappointed. We couldn't make our minds up on dessert, so we would get four items. They were always excellent, though the Creme Brule at Piacare (the French Restaurant) was maybe the best desert I have had anywhere. After dinner we would go to the main pavilion and have Champagne and listen to the music on the stage or watch a show of national Jamaican dance or something like that. We would venture to the dance floor and have a few dances before they would finish each night. When that would conclude they would open the Disco (Atlantis) and we would go for a while and it was usually well attended, especially on Thursday night when they had the P.J. party. It was pretty wild! Good time for all. Typically after we left the disco (before closing) we would venture to the Piano Bar and relax and listen to a Beatle medley or something like that. This was a good opportunity to relax and talk with new friends. Following this we typically would venture to the Hot Tub (around midnight) and order a bottle of Champagne and relax in a very romantic situation and talk with new acquaintances. We found most people to be most enjoyable. Even on a couple of occasions we would go to the c/o hot tub for our Champagne. We had a wonderful time. On Wednesday evening we scheduled the Sunset Cruise on the M/Y Zein (147 foot Yacht). It was a very enjoyable cruise to the West End (at Rick's Place) where we relaxed and talked to new acquaintances, drank Champagne and listen to a four man combo play Reggae music. If you go, do not fail to schedule this cruise, it is included (Super Included). Both my wife and I had a manicure and pedicure (my first) and it was very relaxing. During the day we did venture over to the c/o beach for a sightseeing tour, but shortly after we arrived it started to rain and the place pretty much cleared out. Our departure was handled very comfortably and conveniently by the staff and we took what amounted to about a 1 hour 15 minute trip back to Montego Bay airport. The bus was a very large and luxurious coach. In summary, we had a wonderfully romantic and relaxing week with wonderful food and good people. We hope to return soon, but may first want to sample some of the other delights of the Caribbean. We saved so much money through Go Classy Tours that we will use them again.
Accommodations - We traded a week from our timeshare in Nantucket for a loft villa at the Westin. It was really a super place...marble everywhere..curved staircase..excellent equipment, a small but very nice pool and beautiful grounds. It's only drawback is its "manmade" beach. They were hard at work on the hotel, shooting for what they are calling a "soft opening" on Nov. 15. They were having a hiring fair (300 positions) on the day we left. The major project still underway is the rebuilding of their huge pool. Also overheard a developer describing a number of new businesses and a new restaurant coming to the Wharfside Village. Beaches - With our little 4WD from Denzel, we tried them all. The trip along the north shore road was just as spectacular as advertised. Our favorite turned out to be Hawksnest for swimming and snorkeling. We probably didn't go out far enough on the north side of Francis. A surprise was the little bay at Gallows Pt. We tried a swim/snorkel there as part of investigating a purchase of one of their units..neat...large boulders, lots of fish. Restaurants - Tried all your recommendations and had some great meals. Unfortunately the Fish Trap and Asolare were closed for vacations. The Lime Inn turned out to be our favorite. My wife loved the grilled lobster. Jerry, while the Key Line pie is great, the Brownie ala mode is FANTASTIC. Rich is really a great host - he understands he gets a lot of recommendations from "Prodigy folks". Uncle Joe's BBQ chicken was super. Had a great meal at Morgan's Mango, especially the seafood brochette. And yes, I think they do make the best Bushwacker. Also had an excellent meal at Ellingtons (Grouper), and they get the nod for the best Rum Punch. For lunch, they do make a fantastic Roast Beef sandwich at the Mongoose Deli. The one disappointment was the burger at Pussers (overcooked, stale roll) (we have a Pussers here in Annapolis - had a burger last week after the Sailboat Show and it was much better). And finally, the Mahi-mahi sandwich at Skinny Legs was terrific. Tried conch fritters at a number of places...sorry folks but I have to say those are "better in the Bahamas". Activities - Tried to take the Blast trip to JVD. Again, not enough visitors...we were the only two to sign up so they canceled the trip. Took the regular Friday ferry. Had a great time swapping sea stories with Foxy...in an hour we covered everything from politics to the creation of the universe (again, we were the only two people there). He's obviously tuned in to everything. When I told him I was from Annapolis, his reply was "what are you doing here..didn't the Boat Show start today". Took a boat over to White Bay with the highlights being some great snorkeling on the west point - very tame Parrot fish, they let me get within a foot to take their picture - and the dynamite Painkillers. Medical (Unusual category, I know) - Unfortunately my wife started the trip with a bad case of Poison Ivy. Her medication from home ran out and she was still in rough shape. The St. John Pharmacy was very helpful...called our Dr for free, but his office staff wouldn't OK a refill. They then called to set up a visit to the Clinic. It was great.. short wait, $30 fee and an excellent doctor. Judy was on the mend in a couple days. Summary - Great trip...Fantastic beaches...Super food - and again many thanks to those I mentioned for "pointing us in the right directions".
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