Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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If you believe that getting away at the dawn of the new millennium is good medicine, then you'll want to join physicians and eager vacationers aboard a New York - Grenada Medicine for the Millennium charter. Enticingly priced at $685 round trip, the nonstop flight will depart New York on Dec. 27, 1999 with a return on Jan. 2, 2000. The special charter, arranged to carry doctors and other health care professionals to Grenada for a Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference at St. George's University in the country's capital, has now opened up to those who simply wish to travel to Grenada for a vacation. Book now before price increase on December 1, 1999. For further information about booking the charter or details about the conference, contact St. George's University Alumni Office at 1800- 747-1977. Submitted by Linda McGarvey, Alumni Director St. George's University
Nestled just off the coast of Virgin Gorda in the BVI lies an unspoiled, little known,125-acre undiscovered gem of a resort island called Drake's Anchorage. What makes Drake's special? First, Drake's is family owned, for 31 years, in fact, and the love the owners have for the island's environment shows-the island is a reminder of the unique beauty the BVI possesses. There are no swimming pools on Drake's. There are no tennis courts. There are no phones or televisions in the rooms. What Drake's has is something far more special: Four pristine, white-sand beaches, hours of unspoiled hiking trails that lead to spectacular views of North Sound, breathtaking snorkeling sights, and most of all, true privacy and seclusion. Drake's hosts only twenty overnight guests. Guests stay in cottages, suites and villas, and every accommodation is private, oceanfront and features a private terrace that faces the water. Drake's restaurant is renowned throughout the Caribbean and features private, oceanfront dining. Prices start at $200 per-person per-night, including accommodations, three meals a day and use of watersports and snorkeling equipment. Special packages are available including Valentine's and Spring Fling. Honeymoons are a specialty. You can even get married and have your reception at Drake's. Drake's was chosen as a "Best Deserted Island Escape" in Fielding's 1998 Caribbean Guide. For more information, call your travel agent or 1-617-969-9913. True privacy and rejuvenation are just a phone call away.
My husband and I had a great trip. We stayed at the Club first and were disappointed with the beach so we switched to the Village. (At first we were told the Village was full and to come back and check in a few days. When I persisted, I was told by the manager that she would call me back to tell me when and if space was available and she did!) The beach at the Club had steps to get into the water. They had about 300 feet of frontage but it was a 3 foot drop to the water, from a coral wall. Just off the property was a beautiful white sandy beach where people often went to go snorkeling or to just wade in. They had a GREAT gym with brand new equipment, tread mills, bicycles, and steppers, free weights and "Nautilus" equipment. You could shower there and shampoo, lotion, towels, etc. were provided. They also had separate men's and women's steam rooms (not working and saunas. The spa didn't look too apealing to us and the prices were high. I believe they are availalbe on the Internet. The gym at the Village did not compare but I still got my workout in. One good thing, there the areobic classes were in the morning. The meals were typical all-inclusive fare. The Club had one buffet style restaurant and 1 restaurant only open for dinner and reservations were required. That was our favorite spot. Most other guests raved about the Italian rest. at the Village. There was also a seafood one which we missed due to fatigue. Reservations were always required and they booked up early. The Village also had a beach BBQ which was great.(no shirt and/or shoes required). The Guest services staff with whom you made the reservations were generally available which was nice. The rooms had a coffee pot so you could make your own in the morning. Outside, they also had coffee on early. Late I couldn't tell you. At the Club, our ocean view was right on the ocean. The balcony was quite warm as the A/C unit fed onto it. It made drying clothes super easy! (the A/C at both places worked great. The Club was quite compact, 1 swimming pool like a clover leaf with 4 compartments and a Jacuzzi (same temp as the other pools only with jets) in the middle. They had floating rafts for the taking. One really nice thing, they had plenty of chaise lounges at both places so you didn't need to stake your claim. The spoke to lots of people that stayed at the Club and they said the longer they stayed, the more they enjoyed it. we were too tired to try the piano bar but it was open for those people who could stay up. Tommy the bartender was great. If anyone goes there, say hi to him for him. I told him I'd be mentioning him in my letter. Free Shuttles were available between the 2 resorts. At 9,11,1,3, 5, 6:30, 7:30, etc. till 1:30 from the Club and the even hours from the Village. It was a fifteen minute drive. The Village was huge in comparison. 9 swimming pools, 2 buffet restaurants and maybe 3 others for dinner only (with reservations). There were several bars, and (I think) I was told, a pool bar but I did not see it. It was a great place for kids, lots of activities, to use as you wanted but also organized throughout the day. Again, we didn't have children with us so I don't have a lot of info. The north end pool was for adults only and when we were they, people didn't abuse it. The snorkeling off the beach was great. You could borrow the equipment anytime throughout the day. Water skiing, wind surfing, kayaks and a Hobie catamaran were also available. These also tended to book up early (if you got there by 8:00 am you were OK. The staff were good and took a young boy during his lunch. Myself and another couple were able to just hop on when we saw it wasn't in use later in the day. Most accommodations were arranged around each the pools so people could step out of their place and into their own pool. I think I've said enough to give people an idea about what they would have in store for them. Some people did complain about the service, but most people were quite happy (except for the beach at the Club).
This is my story of probably the worst vacation we have ever had. We arrived for a wedding at flamenco hotel in Puerto Plata Dominican republic to be greeted by the bride and groom who had arrived one day earlier with 12 other friends. They informed us that when they talked with flamenco on the phone that the hotel would look after everything but had really not arranged anything for them at all. We started our stay in room that was hot and the air conditioning was not working. The washroom had the tiles cracked and starting to fall off the wall. The tiles in the floor of the middle of our room had all the grout cracked and loose cement pieces had to be swept up everyday by the maid if she could make it to your room It took me 6 visits to the front desk over a 5 day period to have someone come to confirm that we had no air conditioning and that the unit would have to be replaced. At 6 pm that night the new unbit was installed and seemed to be working. At 9 PM that evening the air conditioner went off but we thought it was part of the power shortages that we were having all week and left it till morning. Come the morning my wife awoke and went into the bathroom and placed her hand on our camcorder battery charger that was plugged into the only plug in the room and received a powerful electric shock from this unit that he been soaked and destroyed by the water pouring through the ceiling in the bathroom and coming from the toilet in the room above us. On our way to the desk to report this we noticed that all the other rooms air conditioners were working so it was not the power but once again the unit in our room. We spoke with guest relations and the manager and told him of are troubles. He offered us a change of room for our last night there and agreed that he was ashamed about the poor service we received. We were to leave on Sunday morning and air conditioning was still broken and toilet water was still running though the ceiling when we left. This was the true vacation from hell and i advise anyone thinking about staying there to think again because as it is rated as a five star it would have to be improved to be a 3 star. Overpriced and the worst service we have ever had.
WOW! What a party In St. Barth! Jimmy Buffett's Free Concert in honor of the 50th Anniversary Of Le Select ROCKED! An incredible weekend from beginning to end. We arrived on the last flight in to my favorite island on Thursday night just as the sun was setting on this little slice of heaven called St. Barth. And what a landing, one of the most thrilling landings in this hemisphere. You half expect Tattoo to greet you "ze plane, ze plane!" Next day we went to Saline beach to shed linen on my favorite clothing optional beach. Nothing like getting fully aired out. For lunch we had a classic Cheeseburger in Paradise @ my favorite bar in the world Le Select.It was mighty tasty and the place was packed! Later we met up with some Almighty Buffett board friends Lisa and Jeff and went to Chez Maya (at my suggestion & on their reservation) to eat. Who should end up sitting at the next table but JIMMY! He seemed in a great mood, everyone was so psyched for the show. As we left I said "thanks in advance for tomorrow nights show". He laughed and said "thanks for the easy review". Now fully buzzed, we took our supercharged Moke (of Porsche lineage) and drove to the quay to check out the stage show for Saturday's concert. As we were walking along the Harbor, my sultry wife Terry noticed a Moorings sailboat. I had mentioned to her earlier that I had met a very cool lady named Pamela Parrothead from the Cayman Islands who was on a Moorings charter. No sooner had her name been mentioned, THE Pamela Parrothead appeared and invited us on her vessel to meet her fantastic crew including sailing friends, parents and her TWIN (ouch - I LOVE TWINS!) SISTER Polly Parrothead. They played us with their most excellent libations, concoctions and dirty jokes and their most generous hospitalities continued through the weekend. We Love you Cayman Parrotheads! To close the evening we went to Le Select and danced, drank and sweated the night away to a kickass local band - "Follow the leader..leader...leader...Follow the leader....yea!" On Saturday - show day, we took the hike to beautiful Colombier beach with Jeff and Lisa and continued to hear Jimmy sightings throughout the day. "He lunched @ Eden Roc", said one PH. "He did a 30 minute mini set for sound check and I was there, bragged another PH". We went home and showered, met up with our friends and went down to the port to stake some territory in front of the stage and party with the Incredibly cool Cayman Parrotheads on their party boat. We rocked out to a steel drum band b4 the show and homage was paid to the late great Bob Marley. Before the show we had the great honor of congratulating the real man of the moment, his excellency Marius Stakleborough who had the most incredible idea of founding Le Select 50 years ago. Marius appeared to be having a wonderful time, he signed our programs and posed for pictures with us. After another very cool opening band and dance troupe from St. Martin, Jimmy and the band came on for a ripping 2 1/2 hour concert. I don't remember every song (someone else - please provide the set list) due to an alcohol and kine bud induced haze. But I know he played Pencil Thin Mustache, Particular Harbor, Margaritaville and a rousing rendition of Why Don't We get Drunk and Screw that rocked the crowd. He also played some appropriate covers, CSN's Southern Cross, Brown eyed Girl, a Marley song amongst some of his other older and newer stuff. He and the band genuinely seemed to be totally enjoying this most festive occasion. He brought Marius on stage and spoke many warm words in French and in English about this very kind and wonderful man. He addressed his numerous St. Barth friends in excellent French - he said he'd been taking lessons and invited some local teens up to sing a song with him. He also made reference to the large PH contingent and mentioned that he hoped that they were enjoying his beloved St. Barth as he does. The love, fun and warmth in the air was infectious. The evening (and in fact the whole weekend) can be summed up with only one word - MAGIC! Jimmy finished the show with two appropo songs - Cheeseburger in Paradise in honor of Mighty Le Select - a place that is special in my heart and a Rocking Rendition of the Rolling Stones "You can't always get what you want" which somehow was oh so fitting. "You can't always get what you want, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need". This weekend was all about those simple needs, a beautiful island, warm people, new friends and a charming place like Le Select to share good times, respect for the past and those who have come before us, and great music shared with cool people of all types and from many different place - there was much LOVE on that quayside on Saturday night and in fact all weekend long. The show ended very fittingly with an impressive fireworks display over picturesque Gustavia harbor. We went across the harbor to L'Escale for Pizza and dancing on the tables. We later heard that Jimmy braved the crowds and continued the party at beloved Le Select before going to a private party in the hills of St. Barth (rumored to be in the Point Milou area). All in all it ranks up there as one of the best weekend in my life. I would love to hear other's experiences and impressions. I wish all y'all could have been there but as we said in the middle of the show with our glasses raised in honor of Le Select, Marius, Jimmy and all of us who made the pilgrimage for this magic weekend - "There is SOMETHING about being in the right place at the right time! Cheers and Fins UP!
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