Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 70
December 1 1996

Last updated 29 Nov 96 1300EST

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |

1/ USVI News
2/ Journeys for December 1996

1/ USVI News

(Ed Note: The following items are reprinted with permission from Frank Barnako's Virgin Islands News. For more information check out as Frank also has a local villa to rent. Much thanks to Frank for keeping us updated on the USVI happenings. ).

New tourism commissioner's thoughts

Commissioner-designate  Wylie  Whisonant  has considered shutting some 
VI  tourism  offices  in  the  US,  hopes  to revive the charter yacht 
business  on  St.  Thomas, and wants to focus some marketing muscle on 
South  America.   That's  the  gist  of  his  comments in an interview 
published  by  the  Virgin  Islands  Business  Journal.  The VI's have 
offices  in New York, Washington, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles. "I'm 
don't  believe  in  holding  on  to  dead  wood," Whisonant said as he 
explained plans to review the offices' productivity.(11/20/96)

St. Thomas says it's ready

One  VI  resident  told us "there are tourists getting off every ferry 
now",  indicating  visitors  have returned to St. John and St. Thomas.  
On  the  "big island" the Renasissance Grand Beach Hotel has reopened, 
the  Ritz  Carlton  is  hiring,  and  as  many  as eight cruise ships, 
carrying  11,000  guests,  are  visiting St. Thomas some days.  On St. 
John,  Caneel Bay's reopened - said to be booked solid through January 
already  -  and  the  Governor reportedly promises to do all he can to 
get the former-Hyatt property operating, too..(11/20/96)

Hotels consider charter flights

Bernetia  Akin,  in the Virgin Islands Daily News, reports the general 
manager  of  the  Ritz-Carlton  "revealed  that  several of the larger 
hotels  ... are talking about working together to set up charter plane 
services  into  the  islands, as an answer to the shortage of seats on 
commercial  flights."  (Major airline are STILL booking winter flights 
to the VI's for something close to $300!).(11/20/96)

New shops in St. Thomas

Hurricane  Marilyn  took  its toll on several businesses, but some new 
ones  are  replacing  them.   The  V.I.  America's  Cup store is open, 
selling  shirts, hats and jackets to raise funds for locals' challenge 
for  the  Cup.   It's  estimated  those  costs  will be as much as $40 
million  -  that's a lot of T-shirts. And a Coach leather boutique has 
opened in Hibiscus Alley, with prices 15% off US retail..(11/20/96)

 New tourism promotion campaign

The  advertising  agency  Lowe  & Partners is preparing a new campaign 
for  the  Virgin  Islands, including the theme "They're Your Islands".  
An  executive  from  Lowe  explained  the  campaign  at  a  Chamber of 
Commerce  luncheon  last  week,  with  media placement focusing on the 
northeastern  US  and Atlanta.  The government's department of tourism 
has  also  reportedly incited 4,000 travel agents to a VI reception in 
New  York  next  week.   More information is available from a story in 
the        Virgin        Islands       Business       Journal       at Nov 96)

Underwater tourist attraction on land

Blue  Carib  Gems,  located at Wharfside Village in Cruz Bay, is ready 
for  the  new  Season.  Owner Alan O'Hara took advantage of the recent 
hurricane-induced  lull  in business to create a "maritime theme room" 
which  looks  like  an undersea world.  Natural sponges and sea shells 
and  a  dinghy  and  an  anchor ... it just goes on and on.  The walls 
feature  a  mural of reefs, highlighted by real coral.  Blue Carib has 
been  operating  in the Islands for almost twenty years, starting with 
a precious and semi-precious stone store on St. Thomas.(11 Nov 96)

 Caneel Bay resort reopens

One  of the Caribbean's premier resorts has reopened, and is expecting 
a  full  house  through Thanksgiving.  The director of the St. Thomas-
St.  John  Hotel Assn. calls Caneel's reopening good for all hotels in 
the  VI's  because,  Beverly  Nicholson  said  "it  increases consumer 
confidence  in  the  destination."   The  Daily  News  says Caneel has 
rehired  almost all of its 450 workers who were laid off after Marilyn 
hit  the Islands last Fall.  Caneel now includes 168 rooms, with rates 
ranging room $450-$600/couple/night.(5 Nov 96)

St. John "Hyatt" to reopen in January?

The  Daily News is quoting sources who say the former-Hyatt hotel will 
reopen  in  two months.  The paper reports "industry sources said bids 
for  the property (have closed) ... and a decision is expected by Nov. 
15."  Naturally,  St.  John  business  owners  are  eager  for the re-
opening,  since  the  hotel's  guests  are  active island tourists and 
visitors.   Caneel's  guests,  on  the  other hand, are more likely to 
stay   within   the  property's  boundaries,  enjoying  the  beautiful 
beaches, lush landscaping, and marvelous food and service.(5 Nov 96)

Speaking of marvelous food ...

Our  favorite  restaurant  in  the  world  ...  yes, the world! ... is 
reopening,   too.   Overlooking  Cruz  Bay,  Asolare:  "featuring  the 
eclectic   creations   of  chef  Carlos  Beccar  Varela"  is  back  in 
business.   Asolare was the island's premier, upscale restaurant prior 
to  Marilyn,  when  the building was damaged and its accomplished chef 
seriously  injured by wind and water damage which destroyed his house, 
with  him  in  it!   If you're headed to St. John, save your pennies - 
and then visit Asolare.(5 Nov 96)




Another  WONDERFUL  TRIP.  Left  Friday, 11/1 from Charleston at 10AM. 
Flew  to Atlanta/Miami/San Juan/Aruba...the price we pay for living in  direct  flights. Had good flights..even got something 
to  eat  on  the  plane  between  MIA and SJU. After a LOOOOOOOng day, 
arrived  in  Aruba  10:30pm.  Of  course, our bag was the last off the 

Took  a  cab  (didn't rent a car this year) to Manchebo where we spent 
the  night  before  our  timeshare  started. Layed on the beach til we 
could  check  into  ABC...wheeled  our luggage across the parking lot. 
That was convenient. 

The  rooms  at  ABC have been redecorated. They are nice, but not sure 
it  was worth the extra three year supplement we were charged. Totally 
new  kitchen,  but  in doing so, they extended the cabinets so we lost 
some  room  in  the dining room/living room area. Not real sure I like 
it. New drapes, new furniture. 

Spent  lots  of  time on the beach this year. Not renting a car worked 
out  really  well.  We  got  to  walk a lot more and saw some stuff we 
would  not  have seen if we had our own vehicle to zip around in. Cabs 
are quite cheap, and so is the bus. 

  We took two timeshare tours (another thing we haven't done in years) 
and  checked out the Phoenix and the Divi Village. Both are very nice. 
They  pay  the  cab fare both to and fro and offer lunch or breakfast, 
PLUS  $50  cash and $50 match play coupons for Alhambra. Quite a deal. 
The  timeshares  are very nice. Phoenix is not built, but the model is 
open  and  there  are  lots of pictures of what it WILL look like when 
complete.  Of the two, liked Divi Village better. Only bad thing about 
that  is it is not on the beach. Can't imagine not buying on the beach 
after owning at ABC. 

The  day after the Prodigy party, Roland Falcioni took Fred and I on a 
tour  of  LaCabana.  Have  never  been  on  the grounds other than the 
Casino  and  was  quite impressed with the facilities. Roland was very 
gracious  as a tour guide and made sure I saw everything in the place. 
(I  think  we  must have walked 10 miles) That place is huge. Saw some 
of  the  model  rooms and also the ones he has available to rent. Nice 
rooms  overlooking  the  ocean.  Most of the rooms he has for rent are 
ground  floor, so the one drawback to LaC...entering through the BR is 
not  a  problem  in his rooms because you can also enter via the patio 
through  glass  doors.  Facility  has  a wonderful fitness center with 
weights,  racketball  courts,  squash  courts, Massage center...etc. A 
very  nice property. We also walked through the Villas and the grounds 
are  kept  very  nice there. A bit removed from the beach however. The 
pool  section  at  LaC  and  the beach at Lac all have umbrella tables 
like  many  other  hotels.  Even  the hotel was quite full, there were 
several  umbrella  huts  vacant  both  by the pool and on the beach. I 
really  appreciate  Roland  taking the time to give us the tour and we 
enjoyed seeing it.

ON  WEATHER...The  weather  was  very  weird this year. More rain than 
I've  seen  before,  and  lots  of  clouds.  Most  days were cloudy. I 
managed to avoid sunburn by staying under the palm tree a lot. 

ON  ALLIGATORS...As  you  all may or may not know, I was so excited to 
buy  a rubber alligator float before I left and had big plans to float 
on  him  a lot. I even took rope to tie him to my chair so he wouldn't 
blow  away...well  as  I got him almost all blown up in the hotel room 
the  first  night  we were there, all of a sudden I heard WHOSH and he 
started  deflating.  Seems  there was a defect in the blowup tube, and 
he couldn't be fixed, so the Alligator was a bust. 

ON  RESTAURANTS...  We missed the car for this more than for anything, 
but we went to Chalet Suisse the first night

We  ate  at  French  Steak  house  at Manchebo twice. It was good, and 
convenient.  Had the Churasco steak and Chateau Briand. We also ate at 
the  Mill  which is one of my alltime favorite. Have eaten there every 
time  since  first  trip  in '75. Food still wonderful but prices up a 
bit  from  last  year.  Service was better this year. I love the Mill. 
The  night  we did the Phoenix tour we were in shorts, so we just went 
to  Tony  Roma's  for  ribs.  We  do  not  have  a Tony Roma's here in 
Charleston  so  I've  never eaten in one. Was not impressed. Ribs were 
ok,  but  I'm from Bar b Que country, so something was missing. A good 
night for casual dress. 

Buccaneer  was  also as good as always. It is Fred's favorite. He love 
the  Pailla (sp) there. The fish tanks are starting to show their age. 
Perhaps  they need some new plants in them. We ate lunch one day at La 
Petite  Bistro downtown and it was also very good. We had the best cup 
of  coffee  on  the  island  there.  We  thought  about  going  to the 
restaurant  at  the  golf  course,  but  the night we were going to do 
that,  we had some of our Aruba Friends over to our hotel and we wound 
up eating in our room that night. 

Our  last  night  we  ate at the Pirates Nest at Bacuti. It was really 
good.  We sat outside the ship on the deck and had Garlic Shrimp...the 
best  I've  ever  had.  A very under rated place worth dining at in my 

ON  CASINOS...We  made  some  deposits  with  no returns as usual at a 
variety  of  casinos.  We  visited  some  without making any deposits. 
Spent  some time at LaCabana Casino which is probably the nicest. Some 
deposit  no  return.  Also  spent  some time at the Hyatt. Visited the 
Americana,  Holiday  Inn,  but  since it was convenient, spent most of 
our  time  and  Gambling  allowance  at  Alhambra.  Spent  all  of the 
timeahare money there. 

and  visited  with  friends and when we went to go to the Archives, we 
found  a shell of a building...they are renovating. I heard later that 
the  Archive collection was being housed in the tower, but I never got 
around  to  checking it out or calling, so I guess I will have to wait 
till  next  year  to  see the Carol Burns/Jean Suter Collection of Old 
Aruban photos. 

ON  ARUBAN  RED  CROSS...  Spent lots of time looking up phone numbers 
for  Red  Cross  (not  listed  anywhere).  Called  Hospital  for phone  one  answered. Finally our Aruban friend gave me the name 
of  the head man for Red Cross, called him and told him I work for Red 
Cross  and  was  interested  in  getting Aruban Red Cross t-shirts. He 
offered  to  bring  them  to me at my hotel the next day. What a find. 
The  man  was very interesting and we chatted Red Cross talk for about 
an  hour.  I  gave  him  an  American  Red  Cross  t-shirt and will be 
corresponding  with  him..he may make a visit to Charleston when it is 
time for him to become re-certified. Really enjoyed him. 

ON  RENOVATIONS...Aruba  Beach Club closed their pool the day after we 
arrived  and  we  spent the rest of the week listening to jack hammers 
tear  the  pool  up. The inconvenience of not having a pool at ABC was 
not  a  problem  because  the  pool at CDM was available, but the jack 
hammers were not a lot of fun. 

ON  BBSS...for those who do not know what that is, it is Bare Breasted 
Shell  Seekers.  MANY  on  the  beach this year. even more at Manchebo 
when we went there for our last nights stay. 

ON  MORATORIUMIt  seems that they are finally sticking to the building 
moratorium.  No  more  new  building.  Not sure what is happening with 
BETA. Did not go to Marriott. Steamboat closed down...empty. 

ON  SHOPPING...  went  to  the  Pink  Mall. Was not impressed. Lots of 
CHEAP  trinkets...souvenir  type  stuff.  Still  love to shop Main St. 
(Nassaustraat  to  those  of  us  who knew Aruba way back when). Found 
some  unusual  jewelry  and other things. Did some Christmas shopping. 
Cosmetics  cheaper  than  here  in  the  states.  Got free t-shirts at 
Manchebo French Steak house and at Timeshare presentation. 


I  had  not  planned  on sleeping in the tub, but then again I figured 
Hurricane  Lili  would head north (Take that, Florida!) instead of due 
east. Right at us.

My  buddy  and  I went to San Salvador last week for a long weekend of 
diving.  Connections from DC via Miami were pretty easy and the resort 
is  not  expensive  and  three  dives per day meant that we'd get more 
bottom  time  for our money. By the time we were in the air over south 
Florida  it  was  obvious  that  Lili  was  slanting  at  least to the 
northeast.  I  had  visions  of  a soggy, overcast vacation. We should 
have been so lucky.


San  Salvador is flat with slivers of pretty beaches (including one at 
Riding  Rock  Inn  where  we  stayed.) There is not much in the way of 
cultural  or  scenic  attractions,  but we really liked the islanders. 
They  were warm and helpful and a real contrast to those in Nassau (or 
in  New  York  or Washington.) Cockburn Town is the main settlement on 
the  sparsely  populated  island  and it offers two rudimentary stores 
and a bar or two. 


This  beachfront  in  has  (or had) about 40 rooms. They are not fancy 
but  are clean and adequately furnished with two beds, cable TV, and a 
small  fridge.  A  balcony  overlooked  the beautiful sea. The premium 
rooms  are on the corners of the two story building and offer an extra 
window. It's a fine place for divers.

The  main  building  at  the  resort  houses a restaurant and a bar in 
which  Jimmy  Buffett  would  feel right at home. Cooking is down-home 
and  good.  Omelets  to  order,  fresh  fruit  and grits at breakfast. 
Spaghetti,  burgers,  conch chowder at lunch. Dinners featured sauteed 
grouper, steak, pork chops, and similar fare. Portions were adequate.


San  Salvador  is known for its walls, which start in about 30-40 feet 
of  water. There is very healthy coral growth at the crest and down to 
120-140  feet. We saw lots of small tropicals and a pack of big, semi-
tame  groupers.  There  are  some swim-throughs, but the topography is 
not  as  dramatic  as  Cozumel.  Water was 83 degrees and viz was only 
about 80 feet due to the cloud cover.

Some  noteworthy  critters  included  a  spotted  moray,  coral banded 
shrimp  and  a  ray.  Others  saw  a big hammerhead at about 180 feet. 
Dennis  and  I  were  sharkless, unfortunately. Ironically, three were 
spotted  in  the  shallows just below the hotel's verandah. But not by 


Kevin  Collins  runs  the dive operation which uses two 40 foot boats. 
About  15-18  divers  were aboard. (The local Club Med has giant boats 
which  carry  up  to  50  reef  manglers.)  The Riding Rock staff does 
everything  for  you  and  there's  no need to tote or even touch your 
gear  until  it's  time  to  make  your  giant  stride. Briefings were 
minimal  and  you  are free to dive your own profile and wander around 
the  reef on your own. Recreational limits were sufficient for me, but 
not  for  everybody: We had some gorilla divers on the boat as well as 
a jerk or two.


A  max  depth  of  130 feet was merely a vague concept to a group from 
western  Pennsylvania.  Back  home  these guys dive in icy conditions, 
dive  wrecks in the Great Lakes and even man the local Search & Rescue 
team.  In the Bahamas they went ape. On one dive I was at 120 feet and 
one  of  the  rescue  divers  was  at least 40 feet below me and still 
heading  down.  Some of the others were below him, at 180 feet. One of 
them  was  a  young  guy  on  his first week of open water diving. The 
second  dive  was  to perhaps 80 or 100 feet. We then off-gassed for a 
couple  of  hours over lunch then headed out for the day's third dive. 
So  what  if  they were flying at noon the next day...there was a wall 
to  dive,  by  George!  So it was back to 150 feet for them and that's 
where they saw a 12-15 foot hammerhead.

The  shark  spooked  the  rookie diver. I doubt that he was aware that 
his  profiles  were  far  more  dangerous  than the shark's jaws. That 
night  I  asked  one of the group's leaders about diving like that the 
day  before flying. He was frank. "We blew it. We should not have done 
it.,"  he said. I hope no one got bent. They were good company if poor 
role models.

Another  group  was not so congenial. A scruffy guy from Nashville got 
in  my  face when he saw me pulling on a pair of gloves before a dive. 
"You  don't  need  them," he barked. I should have said the same thing 
about  the  cigarette  in  his mouth or the dive flag he had pained on 
his toenail. I was polite and merely said "We disagree." 


At  about  eleven  on  Friday night an electrical storm moved into the 
area  and put on an awesome light show. From CNN we knew that Lili was 
headed  in  our  general  direction  but we hoped it would pass to the 
north.  By  4:00  AM  we knew that it wouldn't. Winds were howling and 
everybody  in  the hotel woke up. CNN was gone as the satellite dishes 
were  ripped  out.  Water  was  coming in from the ceiling, around the 
window  frames  and  under  the  door.  As the winds increased the big 
sliding  glass  doors started to vibrate, then throb. I had visions of 
shattering  glass  and  severed  arteries, so I grabbed a pillow and a 
blanket and moved to the tub.

After  a  couple  of  hours the winds were at 115 mph according to the 
radio,  which  was  informing  its  listeners  that  Lili was 40 miles 
southwest  of  San  Salvador  and heading right for it at 23 mph. When 
the  eye  eased by at about 6:00 the hotel hustled us into its vans to 
be  evacuated  to  a  church.  As Dennis and I clambered into the back 
seat  of  the  last van there was a jarring crash: A chunk of roof had 
been  torn off and hurled into the rear of the van. Our arrival at the 
Church  of  God  of  Prophecy  had its own dramatic punctuation. As we 
stumbled into the sanctuary a window blew out.

That  was  the  last  close  call,  though. We spent about three hours 
trying  to  sleep  on  the  padded  pews,  then ate a breakfast of ham 
sandwiches  and  candy bars. When we got returned, the Riding Rock Inn 
was  trashed  but  had not suffered any structural damage. Sections of 
roof  were  here and there, some rooms were full of water. Plants were 
shredded and pool furniture was strung helter-skelter. 

No  one  was  hurt. In fact, only one islander was injured and I don't 
think it was serious. Our prayers may have helped.

Saturday  was spent gawking at the damaged resort. The hotel generator 
had  failed  as  had  island power. That meant that there was no water 
since  the  pumps  wouldn't  work.  For the better part of two days we 
used  trash cans full of swimming pool water to flush the toilets. All 
divers  carry  flashlights  so  we could see, and the hotel grilled us 
burgers and steaks. 

Island  entrepreneur and hotel owner Carter Williams was super through 
it  all.  When  it  became  apparent  that  his  generator wouldn't be 
repaired  Saturday,  he  sent  us  all to the Club Med at his expense. 
Club  Med  is  filled with Europeans who are all younger, sleeker, and 
better  looking  than  us, but I shouldn't carp about a place with hot 

When  we  returned  to  Riding  Rock on Sunday, Williams had a crew of 
about  40 people cleaning up, fixing things, putting on new roofs, and 
taking  care of the guests. As I write this I am certain he is in full 
operation  and  that there will be few visible reminders of the storm. 
One,  sadly,  will be a shredded oak tree in Cockburn Town, right by a 
sign which urged residents to "Keep our island Beautiful." 


The  following  will  be a tad long winded, but I will try to give the 
reader my view of Sunset Beach Hotel and their Dive Operations 

History:  Sunset  Beach  Hotel  was  one of Capt. Don's first ventures 
into   resort  diving  and  apparently  he  did  not  fare  well.  The 
Government  took  over let the place fall into disrepair and it picked 
up a bad rep. 

Today:  New  management is trying their damnedest to rebuild the hotel 
and their reputation. 

Hotel:  The  hotel  is two stories of open space and airy walkways. If 
have  a room on the second floor, there is a ramp on your right as you 
leave  the  lobby  that will allow you to drag your bags up an incline 
rather  than  fight  the  stairs.  There  also is supposed to be a new 
"coffee"  shop,  which  is  probable  the "sports" bar from last time. 
They  recent  rebuilt  their  beach- side restaurant and bar. There is 
also  an  old miniature golf course that is no longer used or rather I 
have  never  seen  it  used  for  putting  and  a good, lighted tennis 

Accommodations:  They  are  renovating  the  hotel, wing by wing. They 
started  with  the  "divers"  rooms (those closest the dive shop). All 
rooms   are   spacious   with   in  rooms  refrigerators,  telephones, 
individual  A/C,  electronic  safe  (when power fails the safes forget 
your  combination  and  you  have to call maintenance to reset em) and 
color  TVs  with  cable  (why?). The older rooms remain in fairly good 
condition  with  wooden floors which I like, large baths, and a decent 
amount  of  storage (closet/dresser) shelves space. NOTE: Sunset Beach 
Hotel  is  NOT  a  5-star  establishment.  If  you want a weight room, 
massage  rooms,  etc.,  there  are a couple of establishment that will 
cater to you. This a comfortable, family type hotel. 

  On  my trip (May 96) I got one of the new rooms on the second floor. 
Beautiful  tiled  floors  (hazardous  when  wet), new firm beds, large 
screen  TV  (again  - why?), a new monster A/C with remote control and 
no  operating  instructions.  If  you have one of the "new" rooms make 
sure  you  have  the  remotes  for the A/C and the TV or make sure the 
front  desk  is  aware  you do not. Our a/c had timed setting and ours 
kicked  into overdrive about 2AM, needless to say when I jumped out of 
bed  onto  the  tile  floor I like froze to the deck. Take a couple of 
minutes and get to know your A/C it will pay off big time. 

Second  floor  rooms have a balcony, if you are on the first floor use 
the  trees  for  drying  gear. I have never lost an item except to the 
breeze.  There  are  two  hot  tubs,  however the people that use them 
think  they are bath tubs and the tubs end up nasty just when you want 
to  sit  and  rest. Note: There is some construction ongoing at Sunset 
and  at the condos next door. I have never been annoyed by either, but 
last  year  some  friends  were  asked  to move rooms to allow work to 

  Parking: If you rent a car parking is in front of hotel and there is 
also  an  overflow lot in the field between Sunset and Sand Dollar. If 
you  park  back  by  the  dive  shop remember, they close the gates at 

  Beach:  Great beach, great snorkeling. Please note: This is a public 
beach  and  everybody  that  does not drive out to Pink Beach comes to 
Playa  Leche  (Milk  Beach) at Sunset on island weekends and holidays. 
It  appears  holidays  outnumber  weekends.  So you may encounter some 
crowding  during  these  period.  And, although the Island elders have 
been  trying  to  discourage  it,  topless sunbathing is permitted and 
practiced.  They have sailboats, sail boards and surf kayaks for rent. 

Dive  Shop:  Operated by Walt Stark and Mary DiSanza. They have rental 
diving  and snorkeling equipment. They also rent Nikonos V with Strobe 
and  video  cameras.  The shop is small, not a great selection of gear 
to  buy, but Walt can fix almost anything, just don't ask him how!! On 
the  morning  after  your arrival, go to the shop around 8:30 AM, have 
your  dive/boat  package documents on hand, plus US$10. for the Marine 
Park  Fee.  Note:  Everybody  pays the Marine Park fee, it is good for 
one (1) year so come back in the same year and save money. 

Once  you  have paid your park fees you will be assigned a Peg Number. 
This  number  corresponds  to a peg in the tank/storage area where you 
can  hang  your wet gear. Hangers are provided for your wetsuits. This 
Peg  Number is also what you use when signing up for your boat dive/s. 
Sunset   Beach  uses  a  dive  boat  sign  up  similar  to  the  other 
operations.  You  will  receive your orientation briefing, it is brief 
and  to  the  point - If lucky Walt will do it, he adds a bit of humor 
(??)  to  his  presentation, then off to the weight room for your belt 
and  weights.  You do your first (orientation) dive right off the dock 
or beach. 

If  you  have the dive/boat package, on the first day they will have a 
spot  set  aside  for you on the PM boat. After the first day you sign 
for  either  the 8:30 boat or 2:00 PM boat or both if you have the 2 a 
day  boat  package,  by  putting  your  Peg Number on the boat of your 
choice. I think I am right on the times. 

If  you  have  not  dived Front Porch you will find it in better shape 
that  Sand  Dollar  "Bari  Reef"  but not as good as Capt Don's. It is 
closer  to  the dock than either. The reef begins as soon as you giant 
stride  off  the dock, you can use the beach for entry but I hate sand 
in  my  boots.  Look  under  the dock, you will not believe what hides 
under there, great photo ops. 

Staff:   Walt   and   Mary   are   American   ex-pats  whose  combined 
personalities   make  staying  and  diving  at  Sunset  Beach  a  real 
pleasure.  Do  not  expect to be doted on, as an Bonaire Diver you are 
should  be  fully  aware  of  their  policy  of personal freedom. This 
exists  at  Sunset  Beach better than anywhere. There are always tanks 
and  always  the  dive  site "Front Porch" with the sunken tug off the 
dock  in  72 ft. of water. My most memorable night dive was done right 
off  the  dock, octopus, BIG tarpon (Terry), etc. Their boat operators 
are  all  Instructors,  the usual requirement of 100 ft or 60 mins. is 
here  also,  but  nobody  checks  your gauges or computer, that is you 

Instructors  staff  is French and Dutch and are very knowledgeable. If 
you  take  time  around  the  rinse tank to get to know them, you will 
find  them warm and friendly (and slightly crazy). Note: Travel agents 
publish  "guided"  dives at Sunset Beach. I cannot comment - I do know 
that  if  you did not bring a dive buddy and you do not want to "join" 
a   group,   you  may  arrange  to  accompany  the  Instructor.  These 
arrangements  should  be  made  with  the Dive Shop before leaving the 

Boats:  There  are  three,  maybe four by the time you get down there, 
and  they  are  large  and  fairly  fast.  The  sign up boards prevent 
"cattle  boats",  much  the same as other island operations. They will 
have  a night boat at least once a week, and their instructors do Town 
Pier   at  least  twice  a  week  (US$10).  Bonaire  now  requires  an 
Instructor accompany all Town Pier divers. 

Diving  at  Sunset:  The  dive  from  Front  Porch  to Bari Reef (Sand 
Dollar)  and then coming back with that gentle current is just about a 
tank  full.  Each time I do it there is something new to see. There is 
a  whole  Macro  world in an area that borders on a coral slide better 
the  two  resorts.  There  is much damaged coral in this slide, but on 
the  Sunset  side  look  close  and  you  will  not believe the little 
cleaning  stations  hard  at  work.  Eels,  Porcupine puffers (big and 
small),  etc.  etc.  They are all friends. Big Nassau groupers down on 
the  tug and a fair size green moray down there too. Never met him but 
everybody swears he is there !! 

Dining  -  The  beachside restaurant at Sunset Beach Hotel is Dutch in 
nature  and  the  Dutch  consider it MOST impolite to rush anybody, so 
dinner  is always a 2-3 hour affair. The food is great, but it is at a 
leisurely  pace  and  if  you  are  in a hurry, walk next door to Sand 
Dollar's  Green  Parrot. You will find us there for Happy Hour anyway. 
Breakfast  Buffet - starts at 7AM. We like to sit by the wall and feed 
the  birds.  Watch  out  for the sugar stealers and IF you see a mouse 
don't  jump,  it  is one of our friends. If they are slow to bring you 
coffee, you can get your own, it is over by the register. 

Oh  yes,  when  you  check  in you at the hotel you will get a pack of 
slips  for your breakfast buffet. Fill in your name, date, room number 
and  give  to the girl at the front of the breakfast buffet (all kinds 
of  fruit,  breads,  cereal,  potatoes,  eggs, French toast, pancakes, 
milk,  juice,  etc)  My  favorite  meal!!  If  you figure out what the 
sausages  are  made  of  -  Don't  tell me!!! Lunch you can sit in the 
restaurant  or  order  at  the  bar,  I  am  always diving so I cannot 

Bar  -  Last  trip  bar  service  was the far side of horrid. We had a 
cooler,  so  stopped  at  the  local  supermarket picked up Amstel and 
cokes  and  used  the  Sunset  Beach  ice  machine. We have learned to 
adapt.  I  understand  the  bar has also been rebuilt and is under new 
management  -  we  shall  see.  I  complained  bitterly  last  time to 
everybody  including  the  hotel management. 25 minutes to get a fresh 
Amstel  is  unforgivable.  However,  most  recent  reports  have  been 
favorable - so there is some hope here. 

Misc:  There  is a small shop (Boutique ??) in front of hotel that has 
the  little  things  you might need and a quickie store on the road in 
front of Sand Dollar. (also an ice cream store) 

  Summary  : Sunset Beach is one laid back operation. Collectively our 
group  has  done  them all and Sunset Beach suits our particular brand 
of  diving.  It  does  not  have  a  microwave in every room like Sand 
Dollar  and  it  not  heavy  with Americans like Capt. Dons. There are 
more  Europeans  at  Sunset  and  they  make for a very great mix both 
diving and at the rinse tank. Have a great trip !!! 


 We stayed at Long Bay Resort on Tortola's NE side. 

We  went  to  Bomba"s Full Moon party on Oct. 26th. Great time lots of 
people  and  a  great band. We went to Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke on Sat. 
Nov.  2nd.  They  had  an  all  nighter  also  (  Wooden  Boat Regatta 
rescheduled  from Labor day weekend). Another great party with ferries 
going  all night. Forgot about Halloween party at Pusser's Sopers Hole 
had  great  party  too!  They  had a $#500 costume contest. A sailboat 
group dressed as Pusser's Painkiller cups and won the competition. 

Ate   at  Sugar  Mill  (had  lobster  stuffed  with  crab  dressing  - 
excellent).  Had  good  food at the Jolly Roger Inn at Sopers Hole and 
several  good  meals  at Pussers. Best breakfast was at Long Bay Beach 
restaurant.  Only  disappointment  was  at Sebastian's. Food there was 
less than average. 

We  rented  a  Geo Tracker from Hertz and found it to be great for the 
hills.  We had conch fritters just about every where. Pussers were the 
best  but  Jolly Roger had the best sauce for dipping. Best beaches we 
visited  were Cane Garden Bay, Long Bay, Smuggler's Cove, and Brewer's 
Bay in that order. 

On  Virgin Gorda we liked Devil's Bay, Baths, and Savannah Bay in that 
order.  We  have  sailed  these  islands  a  couple of times but never 
stayed. We liked being able to take the ferries to all the island. 

We  even went to St. Thomas and did some shopping. We could have taken 
ferries  to Peter,. St. John, Bitter End on Virgin Gorda. We could day 
sail  to  Norman,  Cooper  and Sandy Key. We could fly to Anegada also 
for the day. 

So  you  can  see that Tortola is very centrally located. One does not 
have  to  sail  to  enjoy  the islands. However, every time a sailboat 
went  by we dreamt of being on it. Foxy announced that the wooden boat 
regatta  will  be  in  May  next  year instead of Sept. because of the 

We  liked staying at Long Bay Resort and would stay there again in the 


We  have  returned from another great sailing adventure aboard our cat 
in  the  BVI.  This trip we were alone and enjoyed the ease of sailing 
and planning our days for ourselves alone. 

Things  have  been  slow  since  the  early  July  hurricane  and many 
threatening  storms  through  the  season. Anchorages were open, there 
were very few boats in the area. 

We  spent  our  first  night  at  Cooper  Island. We were late but not 
problem  finding a mooring. The sunset and conch fritters were as good 
as always. This year's staff are delightful. 

Next  day  we  jib  sailed  to  Soper's Hole to join in the fun of the 
Pusser's  Halloween  Party  and  costume competition. Seven women (one 
our  base  manager)  with  Pusser's  cups  adorning different Pusser's 
drinks  won  the  top prize. It was fun, live music, plenty to eat and 
drink.  However,  we must be getting older because we went back to the 
boat at 11 PM and the music went until 12:30 AM. We had had enough. 

Next  day  we  headed  to St. John and dropped in on friends there for 
the   afternoon.  They  have  a  home  on  the  top  of  the  mountain 
overlooking  Coral Bay. What a view!!! We went on to The Bight, Norman 
Island  for  the  night and enjoyed it so much we stayed two days. The 
bartenders  are  great  and  fun.  The  snorkeling is excellent on the 
southern  shore.  We  went  all  the  way  to the point and around the 
corner  to the Caves. There was a nurse shark, pair of adult squid and 
a friendly turtle. The new moorings make it an easy anchorage. 

Next  day  we  sailed  to  Mahoe  Bay,  next to Savannah Bay on Virgin 
Gorda,  one  of  our  most  favorite anchorages. We stopped in Spanish 
Town  on  the  way  for  ice  and  provisions. This is one of the most 
enjoyable  isolated beaches in the islands and great snorkeling but it 
is  not  for  the  faint  of  heart.  Getting  in  and  out are a real 
challenge  and  you  must have good overhead sunlight. The reef can be 
quite intimidating and it should be. 

Next  day  we  had  a  great  sail to Anegada. Again, things were very 
quiet,  only  one  other boat in the anchorage. We had dinner at Flash 
of  Beauty  on  the  northern  shore. The cattle sleep on the highway. 
Glad we took a taxi. 

Back  to  Mahoe  Bay  for another night but the winds died and we went 
sideways  to the waves and rocked all night. Dinner at Georgio's Table 
was  excellent!  After  the  rolling night we motored to Marina Cay at 
6AM and spent a very nice morning. Again good snorkeling. 

Later  had  lunch with friends in Road Town. Then on to Deadman's Bay, 
Peter  for  the  night.  We met some charter friends, dinner on board, 
great  sunset  and  city lights. We spent Thursday at the Tortola Boat 
Show.  There  really are some lovely crewed boats available!! And some 
great  crews!!  It  was  fun  to  see what is available, Last night we 
headed  up to our base in Fat Hog's Bay and had our last dinner at C & 
F. It was excellent as always. And don't forget the key lime pie! 

Last  thought,  these  islands offer some of the greatest easy sailing 
in  the  world.  The  hurricane  season has discouraged visitors. They 
will  be  very happy to see you. Please go and enjoy. I doubt there is 
a more beautiful and pleasant setting for sailing in the world. 



Rudolph's  restaurant  can  be  found  on  the Carnage in downtown St. 
George's.  It  is  easily accessible by bus or car. Parking usually is 
not  a  problem since spaces are usually in abundance directly outside 
the  establishment.  Beware  not  to park to far, especially at night. 
The  Carnage  is  known  to  be  relatively  safe,  however I have had 
several unpredictable experiences during my two year stay.

  Rudolph's  is  in  a  charming  old  building  along the Carnage. As 
beautiful  as  the exterior is it cannot hold a candle to the charm of 
the  interior.  The  restaurant  decor  is  strongly suggestive of its 
owners'  Austrian  roots.  Upon  entering,  you  feel  as  if you have 
stepped into an Austrian Beer Haus.

  Rudolph's food is also very good. There are two separate menus . One 
for  lunch and one for dinner. I have had the opportunity to dine from 
both.  The  lunch  menu features an array of sandwiches and appetizers 
that  vary from average to excellent. It truly depends on your tastes. 
I  have had an excellent bowl of conch soup. The tuna salad sandwiches 
are  also  very  good.  There  is  also a variety of finger foods i.e. 
French  fries,  onion  rings  and  the  like.  There  is something for 

  The  dinner menu offers more continental than Caribbean cuisine. The 
steak  there  is  of good quality, with a nice side of vegetables. The 
portion   is   of   average  size.  You  will  not  walk  out  feeling 
overstuffed.  Another  good dish is the Lobster Thermador (in season). 
This  is  done  very  nicely  with  a decently sized lobster tail. The 
sauce  is  nicely done. You won't find its equal on the island. Salads 
are extra by the way.

Note:  Fish  dishes in Grenada are overcooked to a rubbery consistency 
99.9%  of  the  time. Even when asked to do otherwise, fish invariably 
come served this way.

  Service  is  very  good.  Rudolph  or  his  daughter  are  always in 
attendance  making  sure  that  the  staff  is  attentive.  It  is not 
uncommon  for Rudolph, if present, to ask your opinion of the meal. He 
appreciates honesty.

  The  prices  are  competitive as compared to the rest of the islands 
finer  restaurants.  Expect to spend about $ 120.00 E.C. dollars = @ $ 
50.00  U.S for two people having a three course meal including service 

Rudolph's  should  not  be missed when in Grenada, but if you do its a 
perfect excuse to go back.


Being  a  medical  student and living on Grenada for 18 months, I feel 
that  I  must  add  something  to  the  CTR.  I  would  like to make a 
reference  to  Nick's  Donut  World  in St. Georges at the Morne Rouge 
Shopping  Center ( aka the "Round Houses). Nick's Donut World is not a 
restaurant.  The  name  is  self  explanatory,  however  they make the 
finest donuts in the Caribbean.
Nick  learned his donut making art in the U.S. at a Dunkin' Donuts and 
returned  to  Grenada to begin his trade. He makes a variety of donuts 
including,  but  not limited to: Blueberry, Glazed, Strawberry, Jelly, 
and  Boston  Creme  to  name a few. There are also corn, blueberry and 
raisin  bran  muffins  available  every  morning. A special that comes 
around  infrequently  is  apple  fritters.  Nick's,  however,  is  not 
limited  to  breakfast. Nick also has an assortment of lunch submarine 
sandwiches  available in six and twelve inch sizes each being $ 5 E.C. 
and  $ 10 E.C. respectively. The lunch meat is flown in regularly from 
the  U.S.  so  freshness  is  not a problem, and the bread is baked by 
Nick  daily. Be sure to get there early since the medical students buy 
them  out  early. Nick has recently expanded his lunch line to include 
Gyros. Price at this time is unknown.

  Nick's  Donut  World  is  also  known  for  its fresh coffee. Many a 
knowledgeable  tourist  can  be found enjoying a cup of freshly brewed 
coffee at any time of the day.
Most  important,  however,  is  the service. Nick and Lisa Sleeman are 
two  of  the finest people on the island and are quite happy to chat ( 
locally   known  as  "Limeing")  with  customers.  Nick's  is  not  an 
experience  to  be missed when in Grenada. It is not unusual to make a 
long  lasting  friendship  with  this  couple who will look forward to 
your  next  visit.  Take  a  morning  and  experience  true  Grenadian 
hospitality. And tell them Don sent you. 

  Nick's  Donut World is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.. The 
phone number is (809) 444-2460. 


(Ed Note: This file is copyrighted by Jim Jordan, Compuserve Caribbean Sysop, and is used in the CTR with his permission.)


  "Hedonism II! The very name conjures up fantasies of ribald, raucous 
days  and  lewd,  lascivious  nights in a tropical paradise. The facts 
tend  to  be  a  LITTLE bit less than that, but that's what a newcomer 
expects.  Rather than being a wild bacchanalian orgy, replete with men 
and  women  sating themselves with wine and wild merrymaking, the real 
Hedonism is quite different.

  "Oh  yes,  some  guests  there might be seen reveling in the hot tub 
late  at  night.  And Toga Night and Pajama Party, both regular events 
each  week,  do  tend  to  bring out the exhibitionist in some guests. 
But,  Hedonism  is  more  than this for most devotees of all inclusive 
vacations  in the Caribbean. As someone who has been to Hedonism close 
to a dozen score of times, let me tell you about it."

Yes,  that  was  what  I wrote - all those years ago - for Bill Fox, a 
friend  who wanted something about Hedonism II for his travel agency's 

(By  the  way,  I FINALLY met Bill at Hedonism this trip! He was there 
with  a  lot  of  travel  agents who were guests of SuperClubs for the 
twentieth  anniversary  of  the  company,  parent company of Hedonism, 
Grand Lido, etc.)

It  seemed  so  new and tropical and heady and yes, licentious, too. I 
can  still  remember  how I eagerly anticipated each and every trip to 
Negril  and  what  I  had  come to call "Heavenism" - my Jamaican home 
away  from  home! In fact, I finally got to the place when, at the end 
of  a  visit  there, instead of saying I was going home, I'd say, "I'm 
leaving  on  an  extended  trip  -  to  the  United States - and after 
spending  about  six months there, I'll THEN come home!" I hafta say - 
it worked for ME!

And,  the  anticipation extended throughout most of my time prior to a 
trip!  I  would  excitedly  count down each day, scratching it off the 
calendar  as  the day was over. I would even start the packing process 
sometimes  as  far  ahead as three months! I mean - I was anticipating 
the trips to Hedonism - in spades!

But,  I  digress!  Why? Cause, I just returned from my nineteenth trip 
on  Monday  - the 9th of September! Did I have a good time? Well, does 
a  fish  swim in WATER?? Course, I had a good time - or rather, to put 
it  into  the vernacular of my native language, Southernese - I had an 
abso-damn-lutely  fan-damn-tastic  trip!  I  mean,  we're talking MEGA 
enjoyment!  Let  me  expand  and  expound  -  and  hopefully  keep the 
narrative to a minimum and still try to capture the essence of....

 My Trip to Hedonism - Again!

Travel To Negril

We  were  lucky  in that USAir now has a pretty good schedule into and 
out  of MoBay. The flight is non-stop from Charlotte and we only had a 
short  commuter  flight  from  South  Carolina to make the connection. 
And,   upon   check  in  at  the  USAir  counter  at  GSP  (Greenville 
Spartanburg  Jetport),  I  was  able  to  get assigned to the exit row 
seating for the MoBay flight!

(If  you don't already know, the exit rows have more leg room than any 
other  rows  on a plane. Just be careful - on equipment with two over-
wing  exits  on  each  side  of  the plane, the forward exit row seats 
don't  RECLINE!  And if you don't wanna sit bolt upright for an entire 
flight,  steer  clear  of  this row - unless your legs REALLY need the 
extra room to stretch out!)

The  flight down was uneventful - and we arrived promptly on-schedule! 
(I'll  leave  out  any  other flight comments, in that reading ALL the 
trip  reports, I have found the details on flights - for the most part 
- a bit more than I wanna subject you to!)

We  hurried  into  the  terminal  at  Sangster  International, quickly 
cleared  immigration, went down and waited for our checked bags (I had 
brought   all   my  scuba  diving  equipment,  so  checking  bags  was 
necessary)  and  passed through customs without even a pause! (So much 
for  the  "Customs  Agent  from  Hell"  who  "caught"  me  "smuggling" 
children's  clothes  into  Jamaica as gifts for a friend's child - and 
they  were  used  clothes  -  and charged me more in duty than all the 
clothes were worth!)

We  went  directly  to  the Timair counter in the transportation hall, 
where  we  were warmly greeted - and I was presented with my very own, 
personal  Timair  cap!  It's  a "one-size-fits-all" red baseball cap - 
and  it's the ONLY cap that I've ever had that fits - replete with the 
Timair  name  in yellow stitching! (Thanks, Frazer McConnell - for the 
cap  AND  for  continuing  the CompuServe / Timair discount for travel 
forum members!)

We  hurried  out  on the tarmac to our chartered plane and inside of a 
few  minutes,  we  were  winging  our  way  West. To the left were the 
verdant  green  mountains,  while the azure blue Caribbean was off the 
starboard  side  and  the  winding  road full of the "buses from Hell" 
directly  below!  We  were  headed  for G.N.A.T (my personally made-up 
acronym  for  the "Greater Negril Aerodrome Terminal"!) and Heavenism, 

As  we  made  our approach to Negril's airport, we could see the beach 
to  the  port  side,  Sandals  to  the  right  and  - that tiny runway 
stretching  out  into  the  Great  Morass!  I  always  think the plane 
couldn't  possibly  negotiate  a landing on such a short strip, but we 
always  miraculously  slow to a stop just before the swamp engulfs the 
plane! <sigh>

Home Again, Too!

We  quickly  had  our  bags  (At  Grand Lido, they have "luggage" - at 
Hedonism,  we  have "bags"!) loaded into a taxi and hied the couple of 
hundred  yards  to  the  gates  that  "spell  relief"  - and there's a 
planting  on the far side of the circle that spells it out, too! As we 
stepped  out of the cab, my ol' friend Sidney Watson and the welcoming 
calypso  band  struck  up Sidney's own composition - "Jamaica Jim - He 
Com  Home!"  I  tell  you - it always brings tears to the eyes of THIS 
ol'  mon  -  to be welcomed by friends like Sidney, and specially with 
Sidney and the fellows playing of my very OWN Reggae song!

As  we walked up the steps to the lobby, we were met by Karin Thompson 
[76714,1311],  who's also on The Caribbean Travel Forum on CompuServe! 
It  was  great to see Karin again, since it was way back the end of in 
March  that  we had originally met her at Braco, when we visited there 
with  A.  J.  and  Ginnie  Hutchinson  of  Go  Classy Tours. Karin had 
planned  to  be  at Hedonism while we were there, to be able to see us 
again, and to do a "fam" trip to the resort.

We  quickly  were  checked in, but we were put NOT in the "Jamaica Jim 
Suite" - room 2175 - but in 2174 next door! No problem, Mon - EXCEPT -
-  the  first  four days, every time I'd go to my room, I'd invariably 
attempt  to  enter 2175! (Luckily, the key didn't unlock IT!) Then, it 
wasn't  more  than two minutes before I had shucked my clothes and was 
out on the beach! I was REALLY home again, NOW!

The "New" Nude Beach

The  new  nude  beach  construction  /  renovation  had been completed 
pretty  much  while  I  was  there back in May. In addition to the new 
jetty,  with  it's extension of beach out to the end, they've also now 
planted  some  palm trees along the back side, to provide some measure 
of shade - at least when the trees get bigger.

The  pool  / Jacuzzi / misting pool / hot tub was not complete when we 
arrived,  though Kevin Levee had assured me a number of times by phone 
that  it'd  be  done  before  we  got there. In conversations with him 
during  our  visit,  he  indicated  that  it  wasn't  due to the local 
contractor,  but  to the supplier of the equipment - pumps for the hot 
tub  and  spray  heads  for the misting pool - not being shipped as he 
had  been  promised  by  the architect! In fact, he was able to get an 
air  bill  number  on  Air  Jamaica, but the airline told him that the 
number didn't exist! So much for expediting shipments!

In  addition, the original tile setter, who had been contracted by the 
architect  and  was  to  put  the tiles in the swimming pool, arrived, 
took  one look and left - with the plans! Suffice to say that Hedonism 
and SuperClubs probably won't ever use THAT architect again!

Nina  made  a  bet that the hot tub wouldn't be finished and I'd never 
be  able  to  get  in  it  prior  to my leaving! I asked Kevin (I'm no 
dummy,  I  never bet except on a "sure thing") if it'd be done in time 
for  me  to  win.  He assured me it would be! Bottom line - I LOST THE 
BET!  I  believe  that  the pool complex will be fully complete by the 
end  of  -  September!  Just  think - I was there the last week of May 
when  the  project  started  and  the whole thing won't really be done 
until  almost  October  -  that's  FOUR  months  -  on  a project that 
SHOULD'VE  been complete in no MORE that six to eight weeks! Oh, well, 
"Soon come, Mon!" <smile>

However,  once  completed,  the  whole nude beach pool complex will be 
super!  It  will have basically the same hot tub as it had before, but 
that  has  been completely rebuilt from the bottom up. They did retain 
the  four leaf clover configuration, but from what I saw, it will be a 
welcome  addition  -  or should I say re-addition - to that end of the 

>From  the  hot  tub's location, heading toward the beach the next part 
of  the  complex  is  a "misting pool" which will have a central spray 
head  that  will  envelop  the  entire  pool  in a cool mist. The pool 
itself  is designed to be shallow - I was told that it will have about 
twelve  inches of water. But, with the mist over everything, it should 
provide  a  nice,  cool  respite  from  the  tropical  heat.  The deck 
surrounding  the misting pool is at the same level and contiguous with 
the  one  around the hot tub, so it'll be easy to step from one to the 
other.  How  bout that - just a short couple of steps from the hot tub 
to the cool misting pool! Cool!

The  next part of the complex is a "therapeutic" Jacuzzi! It will seat 
about  eight  folks  and  the  overflow will create a waterfall effect 
down  into  the  swimming  pool. I'll be interested to see the Jacuzzi 
when I next return.

The  real  swimming  pool  is  next in line and it was almost complete 
prior  to  my  departure.  It  has  tiled walls and the bottom has the 
Hedonism  logo  and  name in tile. The end closest to the beach has an 
portion  of the new Nude Beach Bar - better known as "Delroy's" - that 
extends  right into the pool! Yes, Dear Hearts, now you can swim up to 
the  bar  and  sample  Delroy's  many  delicious tropical concoctions! 
There  are  even  bar stool permanently built into the pool, so you'll 
be  able  to  sit at the bar while sitting in the pool! And, there are 
permanent  benches  built  into  the  walls, too, with tables built in 
also! All in all, a super place!

In  addition  to  being  able  to swim up to the bar, the other end is 
adjacent  to  the  nude  beach  and guests can walk up to it for their 
liquid  libations,  just as they did at the old Delroy's. And, there's 
a  new  grill  about where the old guard shack was located, so snacks, 
burgers  and  sandwiches  can still be had. The old beach bar is to be 
converted into an enclosed massage room for the nude beach.

Where  the  graceful casuarina trees grew along the fence, there's now 
a  stone wall. And, right next to the misting pool is a "grotto" built 
into  the  wall. Looked to me like it would quickly become a place for 
a  lot  of  action  once  the place was totally operational! And, they 
have  even  created  nooks in the wall where tropical plants and vines 
will  be  planted.  I  think it will be a credit to the resort - and a 
long awaited one, too!

Hail, hail, the Gang's ALL Here!

I've  already  mentioned seeing Karin Thompson. And on Friday, my good 
friends,  Debbie  and  Doug  Bach  [[72530,12]  (Doug  is the graphics 
section  leader  for  The Caribbean Travel Forum) arrived from Houston 
for  the  long  Labor  Day  weekend - just to be with ME! It was great 
seeing  Deb  ("Tequila  Goddess") and Doug ("Ferrari King") since they 
had been at Hedonism with me back in May.

In  addition,  my old friend from previous trips and another Caribbean 
Travel  Forum  regular,  Mike Rice [75053,24], was already at Hedonism 
when  I  arrived.  He  hadn't  realized  I would be there, so it was a 
surprise to us both!

We  also  met  many  new  folks  - I never say "strangers" since there 
ain't  no  strangers, only friends I haven't met yet! We met Susan and 
Larry  from  Atlanta,  Linda & Bill from Los Angeles (Linda is another 
"transplanted"  Scot  and a lovely gal), Tom Morrison from Akron, Ohio 
and  others either too numerous to mention - or I forgot their names)! 
But, as always, a wonderful time was had by ALL!

On  the  second Friday, the day of the anniversary celebration, my old 
friend  Robert Graves - the webmeister and the "B" of "Bengee'" Negril 
Today  home  page  -  paid us a visit, along with Judy and Le Bordelon 
[74277,671]  (Le  is  section  leader  for  the St. Martin / St. Barts 
section  on The Caribbean Travel Forum). I was able to arrange for all 
of  them  to come to Hedonism as my guests for a tour of the property. 
Then,  on  Sunday,  Judy  and  Le  reciprocated by having us spend the 
afternoon on the beach at Grand Lido as their guests.

Also,  I  was  delighted to see not one, not two, but three folks from 
the  travel agency that I've used for a number of years now, Go Classy 
Tours!  Yes,  Ginnie,  A.J  and  Andrea  were  all  in  Negril for the 
celebration!  Having  these  fine  friends  there really made the trip 

The "MY Zein"

I  had  promised  Deb  and  Doug and Karin that I'd see if it might be 
possible  for  all  of  us  to  take  the sunset cruise aboard the "MY 
Zein."  The  yacht  was  originally  given by Aristotle Onassis to the 
Prince  and  Princess  of  Monaco as a wedding present. In fact Prince 
Ranier  and  Princess  Grace  cruised  on  it for their honeymoon. The 
yacht  is  now  permanently  based at Grand Lido. Kevin had called Sam 
James  on  Friday  morning and made all the arrangements for our party 
to  take  the  cruise  on  that  afternoon,  the day that Deb and Doug 

I  told  the  guys that I thought that the "uniform of the day" for us 
guys  would  be nice Bermuda shorts. NOT! We were on the pier at Grand 
Lido  at the appointed hour, replete in what I thought was appropriate 
attire  for  a  cruise.  Well,  along  came the captain and he made it 
clear  in no uncertain words that, "On MY ship, the men aren't allowed 
to  wear  -  shorts! You have to go back to your rooms and put on long 
pants  - or you can't go on the cruise!" <gulp> I tried to say that we 
weren't  staying  at  Grand  Lido  and  our  rooms  were  way  over at 
Hedonism!  "Well,"  he said in a very 'captain-ish' voice, "You better 
hurry  UP!  We  sail  in  twenty minutes - and if you aren't back, YOU 
don't get to sail!" (So much for SHORTS being appropriate attire!)

I  told  the  fellows  that  I  had  some long pants, so not to worry! 
Actually,  what  I  had  were  some 'beach' slacks, the ones that look 
like  swim  suits  -  with  long legs and draw strings! I figured they 
were  'one-size-fits-all'  and  would  suffice,  even  if  they really 
didn't  'look'  like  Grand  Lido apparel! <smile> We quickly changed, 
hurried  back  to the pier, and caught the last launch to the ship. As 
we  were ascending the gangway, the captain looked down from the upper 
deck and muttered, "They looked BETTER in the SHORTS!"

Anyway,  the cruise was a huge success and as we disembarked the ship, 
I  heartily  thanked the captain and told him I'd be sure and put in a 
good  word  with  the namesake of the ship, Zein Issa, the daughter of 
the Chairman of the Board of SuperClubs - which I DID! <grin>

The "Gifties"

Deb  and  I  had  engaged  in  a  running "battle" - of words - on The 
Caribbean  Travel  Forum  from early in July about my "giftie" to her! 
Let me tell you the story - it's a doozy!

It  seemed that Deb had made a promise back some time ago to Doug that 
she'd  give  him  something,  if  he  bought her a new car. Well, Doug 
bought  it  -  but Tequila Goddess NEVER paid up! When we were down in 
May,  Deb  started  telling  Doug  she  wanted a new RED Ferrari - and 
she'd pay up - DOUBLE! Doug told her, "No!"

I  decided  to  put one over on Deb and I made a visit to our local K-
Mart  -  specifically  to find her a Ferrari - a "match box" one! Much 
to  my  great  surprise  and  amazement, I found a set - of FIVE - and 
they were ALL RED! I figured that'd REALLY set her off!

Then,  Deb  started  in  that  she'd  gotten ME a gift, too! Well, the 
night  they  arrived,  we  had  supper  in  the  pasta restaurant. Deb 
presented  me  with  what  I  can  only say was ... something that she 
could  REALLY  "pull  my  chain"  with!  'Nuff  said  on  THAT! I then 
presented  her  with  the  matched set of match box Ferraris - and she 
was  totally  wiped out! The rest of the trip, she spent on the beach, 
playing  with her "set" of cars, making "varoom" sounds as she "drove" 
around in the sand! And, a fine time was had by ALL!

All  too  soon, it was Monday and Tequila Goddess and Ferrari King had 
to leave, but we really enjoyed seeing 'em again!

Beginning of the Day

My  day usually started early - I've gotten to the place where I can't 
seem  to  sleep  late - and I'd get up and go out to the beach bar and 
have  a  cup  of  coffee  bout 7:00 AM. That time of the day is really 
beautiful  in Negril - nobody's usually up at that hour, and the water 
is calm and smooth as a mirror.

Bout  8:00  AM,  I'd saunter up to the dining area for breakfast. Even 
then,  there  aren't usually many people awake and up, so breakfast is 
a quiet time.

Scuba Diving

Then,  it  was  down  to  the  room, to get my dive gear ready for the 
morning's  dive. I didn't dive every day, but I did do eight dives out 
of  twelve  days.  In  fact, it was on Thursday, September 5th. that I 
logged my one hundredth dive! And, what a dive it was!

In  the  past,  Tina,  the masseuse, has dived with me a few times and 
she's  a  great  dive  buddy.  The thing is, I've always had a problem 
using  my  air like it was going outta style! I mean, I've always been 
the  FIRST  diver up on every dive! I just couldn't seem to get in the 
habit of conserving my air.

Well,  the  first  time Tina and I dived together as buddies, she told 
me  when  my air got low, to use her extra regulator - her "octopus" - 
and  use  air  from her tank. That worked well - but we looked like an 
ad  for  United  Airlines  -  swimming connected, or to put it another 
way,  "Diving  UNITED!"  <smile>  And,  who better to dive united with 
that a beautiful gal?

Anyway,  the  dive  that Thursday was with Tina - at Joes Reef, a deep 
dive  on  which  my  maximum  depth  was  90  feet!  And, using Tina's 
octopus,  I  was  able  to stay down for what was for me a record - 33 
minutes  total bottom time! Yaa-hoo! And, to top it off, we saw a huge 
green  moray  eel  that was swimming between two reefs! Absodamnlutely 

The  other  dives  were  at  Arches Reef (two times), Frenchman's Hole 
(one  of  my  favorite  dive  sites),  Richie's  Gallery  (two times), 
Gallery Reef and Treasure Reef.

At  Arches,  there's  a  sunken,  wrecked light plane at bout 65 feet. 
Each  time  I dive the "shallow plane," I make it a point of taking my 
dive  knife  and  scratching  my  initials on the top of the starboard 
wing.  So, if anyone who reads this narrative happens to see a "JJ" on 
the wing, y'all will KNOW I was there!

By  the  way,  I want to say something here about the entire dive team 
at  the dive shop at Hedonism. These guys - Richie, Aston, Trevor, and 
especially  Lindell,  and  the  others  -  are  all  superb.  They are 
conscious  of  safety and yet they all go out of their way to see that 
all the divers have a good time.

And,  the  diving in the waters in and around Long Bay, while it's not 
world  class like Belize or Cozumel or Grand Cayman, is very good. The 
reefs  are  in  excellent  shape  and,  even though there are not many 
large   fish,  the  sea  life  is  abundant.  The  Negril  Coral  Reef 
Preservation  Society,  a  not-for-  profit  organization,  has done a 
wonderful  job  of  installing more than thirty-five permanent mooring 
buoys  at  the  more  popular dive sites, so that boats won't harm the 
reef with anchors. (By the way, I'm a paid up member of the NCRPS!)

As  an  aside,  on a dive during the trip last May, I had a devil of a 
time  clearing my ears! Talk bout HURTING! I thought it was gonna kill 
me!  On  getting  home, I even asked my doctor if it might cause me to 
hafta  give  up  diving. He told me to take one decongestant capsule a 
day  -  I  use  ornade  - and that would probably solve my problem. (I 
remember  hearing  other  divers  talking bout taking decongestants to 
forestall  earaches  when diving.) I did as he directed and other than 
one  dive,  which I eventually was able to get to full depth, I had no 
problems.  So, if you've ever had any ear problems, you might consider 
the advice I was given.

'Appearance' On RJR Radio!

One  morning, as I arrived at the dining area for breakfast, I spotted 
Zein  and Muna Issa, sitting near a remote radio console, and where an 
announcer  was  conducting  a  remote 
                    Caribbean T
time"  radio  show  on  RJR,  the  island-wide AM broadcast station. I 
chatted  with  the  girls,  and  commented  to Zein that I thought the 
radio  program  was  a neat idea. She asked if *I* would be willing to 
be  interviewed!  Well, being as "reticent" and "retiring" as I am, it 
was  a difficult decision, but what the heck - I said I'd do it!! <Big 

I  figured  I'd be asked about Hedonism and what was the attraction to 
me  that caused me to come back time after time! NOT! It ended up that 
the  host - Francois St. Juste - asked me what I "did" and when I said 
I  just  traveled  to  Jamaica and played on CompuServe, telling folks 
world-wide  about  Hedonism  and Jamaica, the interview became totally 
devoted  to  my  explaining  what  CompuServe and The Caribbean Travel 
Forum  were  all  about!  I'll say one thing - I don't think there has 
ever  been  a  better  'advertisement'  for  CompuServe  given  -  and 
certainly not in Jamaica!

The Nude Beach!

There  are  many  folks  who would NEVER deign to be caught on a beach 
sans  swimming  suits!  These folks tend to have "hang ups" and noting 
will  do  but they stay over on the prude beach. Perish the thought of 
them  ever  taking  it  ALL  off! But, their prudery is definitely the 
cause  of THEM not being able to experience what I have over the years 
-  the  pleasure  of  meeting some of the MOST interesting and erudite 
people in this world!

I've  met  - and maintain contact still - with folks from all over the 
United  States,  Canada,  the  United  Kingdom,  South  America, South 
Africa  and  even Australia! It's such a shame to know that others let 
their  concerns  keep them away from what I've found to be a pleasant, 
enjoyable place to meet interesting and informed people.

Now,  please  don't get the impression that I'm a member of the nudist 
"lifestyle"!  Far  from  it  -  in  fact, I don't think I'd wanna be a 
member  of anything that had to set itself up as a lifestyle! And, I'm 
positive  that  members  OF  the lifestyle would just as soon NOT have 
the  likes  of  ME  a  part  of THEIR thing! But, at least nobody ever 
called ME a "prude"!

Yes,  being  on  the  nude  beach  at  Hedonism  does have it's better 
moments!  Okay,  I'll  admit  it  -  I  DO enjoy being able to look at 
pretty,  young,  nubile gals - in the all together! What guy wouldn't? 
But,  it's not just being able to watch gals walking around "neeckid"! 
It's  more  than  that  (or at least I keep telling myself that)! It's 
also  - not having to walk around and sit around in a - wet swim suit! 

Oh,  and  the gals may SAY that they don't look! But, I'm here to tell 
you  -  they quickly realize that not all men are created equal - some 
guys are a lot more equal that others!

As  I've  indicated  above,  the beach now is better than it was - and 
getting  better  every  day. The three permanent rafts that used to be 
moored  out  from  the  beach  -  well,  there was only one left! But, 
despite  the  absence of the others, that one is still a neat place to 
go  to sun. And, there is a family of brown pelicans that has made the 
waters in front of the beach and that raft home!

It's  marvelous  to  watch these birds - ungainly walking on the raft, 
but  extremely  agile  when  in  flight!  They  would soar in the air, 
peering  in  the  water for their next meal morsel and then -- splash! 
They  would bob up with water straining out of the sides or those long 
bills  and  usually they had that fish for dinner! And, they seemed to 
be  totally unaffected by the people in the water. Many were the times 
when  their  dive  would be close enough to a guest on an air mattress 
to actually splash the guest!

SuperClubs SUPER Anniversary!

It   so   happened   that  while  we  were  at  Hedonism,  the  parent 
organization  was  to  celebrate  the  twentieth  anniversary  of it's 
founding.  (Yes,  Dear  Heart,  I  did schedule this trip, knowing the 
celebration  was  being  held!) I will say right here, that SuperClubs 
and folks at both Hedonism and Grand Lido KNOW how to throw a PARTY!

The  resort  was  decorated  to the n-ith degree, the grounds were all 
spruced  up  and  everything  was made to portray what a wonderful job 
SuperClubs  has  accomplished over the twenty years of it's existence. 
There  was  a  crew  of  fellows from the International Association of 
Sand  Castle Builders there to construct what were without a doubt the 
most interesting sand castles ever built in Jamaica!

Tom  Morrison,  of  Akron,  Ohio,  a  firefighter  - as were the other 
members  of  his  troop  -  was  delightful  and  showed  anybody  and 
everybody  how  sand  castles  OUGHT to be done! The crew built a huge 
rendition  of  the "Nautilus" from the movie "20,000 Leagues Under the 
Sea,"  some scenes of which were actually shoot on Booby Cay, just off 
Rutland  Point. They also created a mermaid, a sand stature of Neptune 
and the SuperClubs logo with "Twentieth Anniversary" on it.

The  entire  staff  of Hedonism, augmented by employees of Grand Lido, 
Breezes  and  all  the other SuperClubs' properties turned out to work 
to  get  the  beach  set up for a seated dinner - for what looked like 
more  than  seven hundred people! I didn't find out what the gala cost 
but suffice to say that it was one helluva party!

There  were  numerous buffets set up around the beach, with every kind 
of  meat,  vegetable dish and dessert known to man being served! There 
were  steaks, prime rib of beef, lobsters, shrimp -- you name it, they 
had it!

The  dinner  was  by  invitation  only  and there were numerous travel 
agents  that  had  flown in as the guests of SuperClubs, as a token of 
the  company's  appreciation  for  all  the  guests  that these travel 
professionals  had  sent  to the SuperClubs' properties. It's not hard 
to  see  why  members of the travel industry have made the resorts run 
by   SuperClubs  some  of  the  most  often  visited  resorts  in  the 
Caribbean.  It's  a  fact that Hedonism has more returning guests that 
any other Caribbean property.

Distinguished Guests

We  were seated not three tables away from the "head" table. And, what 
a  head  table it was! After most of the resort guests and the invited 
travel  agents  had been through the buffet lines and been seated, the 
Issa  family  -  John, his wife, his twin daughters, Zein and Muna and 
his  son  Joey  -  arrived  with  the "special" guests of the evening. 
Accompanied  by  the  Issa  family  was  P.  J. Patterson, fourth-term 
President  Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his wife and the Deputy Prime 
Minister  /  Minister of Tourism of the Bahamas! Yes, Dear Heart, your 
correspondent  was  sitting  just  three tables away from two heads of 
state and one deputy head of state!

The  official  party  also  consisted  of nearly fifty people who were 
part  of  the  retinues  of  the  three prominent guests. Security was 
tight  and  the  personnel  who  were guarding the dignitaries were in 
full force.

Following  the  dinner,  John Issa made a speech in which he expressed 
his  appreciation  to  the  Prime  Minister  for  going along with the 
creation  of  what  was  Negril  Beach  Village,  which  was to become 
Hedonism  II,  all  those  twenty  years  ago.  He  also  spoke of the 
partnership  that exists between the management of SuperClubs and it's 
employees.  John  was  followed on the platform by the Prime Minister, 
and  it was easy to see why he has been re-elected -- the man has more 
charisma than any of the politicians back home!

After  the  Prime  Minister  finished  speaking, all three of the Issa 
children  surprised  their  father by mounting the platform and giving 
their  comments  of what it had been like during all those years while 
the  resort  was just beginning. The recounted how all week long, they 
attended  school in Kingston, but every weekend they were bundled into 
the  family  car for the ride to Negril, so that John could see to the 
management of the property.

Following  the  speeches,  there was what was probably a real first in 
Jamaican  history!  It  is  against  Jamaican  law  to shoot fireworks 
anywhere  in  the  country.  But,  SuperClubs  had  gotten  government 
permission  to  put  on  a fireworks display and I'm sure that nothing 
like  it  had  ever been seen in Negril before! The fireworks had been 
set  up on Booby Cay and staff members from Hedonism were in charge of 
setting  them  off.  They  soared  skyward  out over Long Bay and were 
easily  visible  from the town of Negril and the South Point. It was a 
beautiful culmination to a super celebration!

Meals and Entertainment

I  won't  bore  y'all  with the repetitive recounting of what I ate at 
each  meal,  since  there  have  been plenty of trip reports that have 
covered  that  subject  to  the  extreme!  I will say that overall the 
meals  were  good  and  I didn't see any evidence of complaints by any 
guest  while  I  was  there.  In  addition,  I think that the both the 
service  and  the  quality of the food has improved, but I'm certainly 
not  a  gourmet,  so I really didn't agree with some of the complaints 
that  were previously posted by others. The Pastafari Restaurant was a 
treat  and  I  was  most  pleased  with  both the food and the service 

The  evening  entertainment  was about the same that I've watched over 
the  years. There were the usual cabaret shows featuring local Jamaica 
entertainers.  These  are  good  and  the first time I saw them, I was 
most  entertained.  Now,  I'm somewhat blase about the shows - you see 
one "Jamaican Cowboy" and you really don't need to see another.

The  piano bar was as usual - loud! I'm an "anachronism" - I liked the 
old  Cheryl's  Pub. I really enjoyed the quiet times that we had there 
with  old friends late in the evening. But, that's a thing of the past 
and  the  new  Veronica's  Bar  isn't  a  place  to  meet quietly with 
friends.  Suffice  to say that I think the management is missing out - 
it's  older  folks  like yours truly who pay the price and return time 
after  time.  But, there's no place on the property for us older folks 
to  gather.  The  disco  is  for the younger guests and now, so is the 
piano  bar.  It's  such a shame, cause the young folks come down for a 
trip,  while  us  older folks have the money and the time to come back 
again  and  again.  Personally,  I  believe that unless the management 
addresses this, they'll lose repeat guests to other resorts.


The  major  change  that  I  noticed  was  the  institution of a towel 
exchange  program,  which  I  wasn't  upset  by,  but  which I feel is 
somewhat  of  an  imposition  on  guests  who  are  paying for a class 
vacation.  I  realize that towels are a problem and that management is 
attempting  by  instituting the exchange program to reduce towel loss. 
But,  I  think it's going to have severe repercussions when guests get 
tired  of  not  being  able  to  exchange the towels at the few places 
designated  for  exchange.  There's  no reason that there shouldn't be 
towels  available  at  all  times  and  having  to go, to the exchange 
points is a pain in the gluteus maximus. 'Nuff said!

Return from paradise

All  too  soon,  that  time  comes when we all have to head back where 
we'd  really rather not be! But, over the years, I've found that, when 
it's  time  to  return  home,  I'm ready to go. Now, that's not to say 
that  I  don't love Jamaica and Negril and Hedonism! I do. But I guess 
it's  a  product  of  my  age and having been there so many times that 
combine to make me ready to get back home when the time comes to go.

This  trip,  the  time  to leave came the morning of Monday, September 
9th.  We  had everything packed and I told Tony to be sure to pick our 
bags  up  promptly  at  11:30  with  the  truck. He did and we climbed 
aboard  the truck - with me sitting in back on the bags - for the ride 
over to GNAT and our flight back to MoBay on Timair.

Upon  arrival  at  MoBay, we quickly checked in with USAir, were lucky 
and   again   got  exit  row  seat  assignments  and  hurried  through 
immigration  and  customs  with no problems. We met Judy and Le in the 
upstairs  bar in the international exit gate area and had a drink with 
them.  Just before we were to leave to board our plane, Andrea arrived 
-  I  had offered to have her ride with us on Timair, but Andrea won't 
fly  on  anything  smaller  than a 727! And, this is our travel agent, 
who regularly books out flights!

The  flight  back  to  Charlotte was great. We cleared immigration and 
customs  at  Charlotte  with  no problems, and were quickly on our way 
home to South Carolina!

All  in  all,  this  was  a magnificent trip and I can only say that I 
look forward to my next trip back to -- Heavenism Too!

| CTR Home | Part 1 | Part 2 | Next >> | Search |