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Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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Trip 11/99 After intensive research (reading many travel guides), we settled upon the Harmony Marina Suites in Rodney Bay. It turned out to be a good choice for us. We got one of their VIP suites which featured a Jacuzzi in our room and it overlooked lovely Rodney Bay. It was really reasonable, I thought. My irritant alert was on the whole time during our stay just so I could report about it in this letter and here is what it detected. First there is something which sure looks like a coffee maker in the room and after purchasing filters and very potent Caribe coffee we returned to find it just heats minuscule amounts of hot water for I guess tea. So we had to rig up a styrofoam container with a tiny hole to make coffee in the morning and it still tasted a lot like espresso. We had to do this because its impossible to get coffee anywhere prior to 9 am. The other irritating thing was the US/ Caribbean exchange rate through the hotel. Why can't they just give you what the bank does? Why do they have to be cheesy and give you 2.55 and the bank gives 2.70? I also thought the people at the desk could have been a little more informative concerning the specifics of the local bus service. Everyone wants you to take a taxi and everyone seems to have a second job as a taxi driver. The local bus costing about 0.33 US per trip is guarded fiercely in a shroud of mystery since the taxis are at least 20X that. Other than that I liked the hotel and would most likely stay there again. The room was ultra clean. The cleaning woman just knocked herself out. I wish I could clean like that. The whole exchange rate irked me all over the island. You got a crappy exchange rate with US dollars whenever you needed change. It was pretty much up to the person giving you the change to decide how many EC dollars you were getting back. When you bought something with US dollars it was a 2.70 ratio to the price in EC dollars but your change in EC was based on 2.4 most of the time. There are a lot of poor people on the island. I felt that by not staying in an all inclusive hotel we were helping local restaurants, etc.. and in turn the local mon. I can't see how people who barely leave the hotel grounds help the local economy at all. So I felt good about that. We definitely kept some rum makers working hard during our stay. We went on the Tuesday night Sunset Cruise through the hotel and had a blast! Best of all it was free. We toddered up to The Lime's little outdoor grill and ate a fabulous, cheap dinner. The next day we rode out with Captain Dave of the West Coast Ferry to Pigeon Island for 8$ US round-trip. Captain Dave is a very nice, honest person who is on time and very reliable. We went horseback riding at Country Saddles on a mountain/banana plantation ride and had a great time. I met some very nice ladies one of which owned the Razzmatazz restaurant. We ate there and it was excellent! We went Scuba diving with Scuba St. Lucia at Anse Chastenet and I had two of the most patient divemasters on my first beach dive. I hadn't dove in a while and they hung in there with me. Thanks again Jabul and the cute guy I think was Sean. Victor was wonderful to my husband. The one boat driver getting to Anse Chastenet was pretty much an unpleasant word who drove like a crazy person but other than that it was really great. We also went on the Tout Bagay and that was worthwhile, but it sort of felt like a 7th grade class trip. We took out kayaks free from the hotel and investigated crabs near the drain pipes in Rodney Bay. There were six different kinds. A monster land crab came out of a huge hole and that made the kayak trip. You see those holes everywhere and some of them are quite large. The pipes are near La Creole restaurant which is another great place to eat. As one person said, the trash along the sides of the roads was disturbing. For all the walking people do, St. Lucia could be a whole lot more conducive to pedestrians. I would have loved to have rented a scooter but didn't dare once I saw the way people drove. Walking and the local bus system was the way to go.
Trip10/99 I've just returned from visiting the beautiful island of St. Lucia. Our American Airlines flight left out of Dulles at 7:20 and we arrived promptly in St. Lucia at 1:55 with a stopover in San Juan. We took the hour and a half trek by cab from Vigie Airport to the Jalousie. The ride reminded me of the road to Hana, with lots of hairpin curves and turns. The scenery was beautiful but I would take the helicopter on my next visit, as it's only just a 5-minute ride to the hotel. On our arrival we were handed complimentary run punches and check-in went very smoothly. We had a 1BR Villa w/plunge pool. Our villa was huge and elegantly furnished and the bathroom was very spacious. There is a refrigerator and wet bar outside next to the plunge pool. It was one of the most romantic settings I've ever been in on any island. Our maid always put new flower arrangements on our table and flower petals on our bed. My husband loved the beach. It was a beautiful white sand beach with a clear emerald green color. The snorkeling was very good and it was such a spectacular setting as the beach is nestled between the 2 Pitons. The pool area was also nice but we never spent time there, as we loved being by the beach. Everyday someone brought out fresh fruit and cool towels for people on the beach and in the pool area. The fitness area was well equipped with modern machines and daily exercise classes were offered at 11:00. The spa offered many services and I thoroughly enjoyed a Caribbean massage after one of my workouts. Overall we thought the food was very good on the resort. Breakfast is served in the Verandah restaurant. There was a good omelet and waffle bar and lots of fresh fruit and breads. The buffet was $16 pp. We really liked the Bayside Restaurant for lunch. They have a pretty big menu and we normally ordered the daily fish and pasta specials. The sandwiches and onion rings were also very good. Lunch for the 2 of us was normally $30-$40. Our first night we ate at the Pier Restaurant, the more casual eatery. It happened to be a buffet and the salads and entrees were very good. They also had a local band playing that night which was very good. Our only disappointing meal at the resort was at the Plantation. Our appetizers were very good but we found our pasta entrees to be a little bland. I think we just ordered the wrong thing. I spoke to other guests and they all liked the food. I would definitely visit again and maybe order something different. I will say the service here was excellent. We also had dinner at the Bang on Wed. night and stayed for the show. It was a very fun night and the entertainment was great. One of our favorite meals was at Dasheene. I had seen many postings raving about this restaurant and I must say its everything I expected and more. Our concierge recommended the Courthouse in Soufriere and we really enjoyed the local dishes especially the chicken tizki appetizer. Our favorite meal was the Caribbean Buffet Friday night at the Bayside restaurant. They had grilled fish kabobs, steak, prime rib, conch fritters, rice and everything you can possibly think of, and the food was absolutely delicious. The entertainment was also very good. They had children from one of the local schools perform a few dances and they had fire eating and limbo dancing. The show was great and it was a very fun evening. We also heard really good things about The Still, La Mirage and the Hummingbird from the locals and other guests. We visited the drive-in volcano, diamond falls and the town of Soufriere. There were so many excursions to go on but we loved just laying out by the beach. We did visit the beach at Anse Chastanet and the snorkeling and the food at their beach restaurant was very good. We were asked many times if we needed a guide but a simple no was fine and we were left alone. I felt very safe on the island and I found the locals I met were some of the nicest and friendliest people. We took the helicopter ride back to the airport and the $160 was well worth it. I have to say the service at this resort was top notch. We met the new manager, Rui Domengues, at the manager's party and he was very nice and always asked us how we were enjoying our stay. The staff was excellent. Teresa, the concierge was always so pleasant and very helpful and always pointed us in the right direction. The drivers that shuttle you around the resort were so incredibly nice and we enjoyed seeing their faces everyday. One driver in particular, Columbus was one of the nicest people we met during our stay. St. Lucia is a beautiful lush island and the staff at the Jalousie was simply the best
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