Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 95
May 15, 1999

Last Update 10 May 1999 1700ET

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |


Trip 3/99

Left  Detroit  on Sun Country Air and had no problems. We arrived in Aruba on 
time  and  got  a  cab  to Caribbean Palm Village. This is our second trip to 
Aruba.  We  rented  a  timeshare  there  for  one  week at the Caribbean Palm 
Village.  The  CPV is very nice but it is not on or close to the beach. It is 
about  a  mile  away  and  is  located  at Noord. There are two pools and two 
Jacuzzis.  There  is  also  a  bar  and outdoor restaurant there called Coco-
Loco's.  We  ate there on Saturday night and the food was good. The timeshare 
was  a  one  bedroom with a sleeper sofa that made into a bed. There were two 
baths,  a  very  small kitchen that was adequate, and a nice porch that faced 
the  street on the other side of the complex. We spent a lot of time watching 
traffic and the local people which we found to be interesting. 

On  Sunday, we got up and went to the beach and spent the day kicked back and 
enjoying  the  sun.  Sunday night we went to the Flame to eat. Very good food 
there.  We  usually  ate breakfast in and sometimes went out for lunch or ate 
in.  We  ate  dinner  out. Monday we rented a car (Thrifty, and not the best) 
and  drove  out to the lighthouse and had lunch at the lighthouse restaurant. 
The  food  was  great  but we just had sandwiches. Other people ordered other 
things that looked delicious also. 

After  lunch, we went to the beach at the Manchebo and spent the afternoon on 
the  beach.  The  Manchebo  is  really nice and the CPV has an agreement with 
them so we could get beach lounges etc while we were there. 

Tuesday  was  "shopping"  day  and we spent the day downtown browsing and had 
lunch  at  Iguanna  Joes.  Wow,  what  a  good place to eat, drink, and enjoy 
yourself.  Tuesday  night  we went to Boonoonooonooon's for another meal that 
couldn't  be  beat.  Also,  we went to the Bon Bini Festival at the fort. Not 
knowing  what  to expect, we really enjoyed ourselves. We recommend that as a 
great  thing  to do to aquaint you with Aruba. Wednesday we went to the beach 
at  Manchebo  again  and had another great day in the sun. Wednesday night we 
went to Gasperito's and had another meal that was unbelievable. 

What  a  treat!  Thursday,  it  was  back  to the beach. We stopped in at the 
Pirates  Nest  and had a cold drink and found out that the restaurant manager 
there  is  from  Ohio also, so we had a nice chat. Even knew some of the same 
people!!  Thursday  afternoon,  DISASTER  -  The power went off on almost the 
whole  island  for  three hours where we were. And we had reservations at the 
Flying  Fishbone  for  six  o'clock. Well, we went out there and they were in 
the  process  of  making  alternate food plans when the electricity came back 
on.  We  then  were  taken  to our table - on the beach - and had a wonderful 
meal  as  we  watched  the  sun  set  over  the  Caribbean. We really enjoyed 
ourselves.  Friday  we  went to the beach till after lunch, stopped at Subway 
and  had  a  sandwich,  and  then  went  downtown  to  finish the last bit of 
shopping  that  had  to  be  done.  Friday  night we went to the LaPetite for 
dinner.  Here,  the  food  is  cooked  on  a  stone.  Another  mouth watering 
experience.  Delicious!  Saturday - "go home day" and you can believe we were 
in no way ready to leave here!! 

We  packed,  checked  out, said good-bye to the friends we had made there and 
went  back  downtown.  We  HAD to make one more stop at Iquanna Joes for eats 
and drinks. Yum! 
We  then  went  to the airport, dropped off the car, and sat around while the 
Aruban  customs  agents had a two hour strike... Oh well, we just kicked back 
up  in  the  air conditioned restaurant and had a couple cold ones and waited 
till they got back... No Problem! The rest of the trip home was uneventful. 

Our  first  trip  to Aruba was to the Tamarijn in March of 1997... It was all 
inclusive  and  we  really enjoyed it. I am adding this on to our trip report 
because  I  think  it is an important addition. At the Tam, we paid one price 
for  all  inclusive...  At  the  CPV,  we  had  to  eat  all of our meals out 
basically.  We  basically  decided  there  is  no difference in which one you 
choose.  The  restaurants  are a little more expensive in Aruba, but that has 
to  be expected due to shipping, and its a resort island. There was no way we 
could  eat  at  all  of  the restaurants we wanted to go to - only if we were 
there  a  month  or  more...  We NEVER had a bad meal. All were fantastic. We 
would   have   liked   to   have  gotten  to  the  Canucu  House,  Driftwood, 
Twinklebones,  Buccaneer,French Steakhouse, El Gaucho, and some others I cant 
think  of  at  this  time.  All good places to eat according to the people we 
talked  to.  There  was  also Valentinos at the CPV, but we did not eat there 

We  decided to check out all of the resorts we could and see if we could find 
one  that  we would want to come back to and stay at the next trip. We walked 
most  of  the way from the Bushiri around to the Marriott. We did not see any 
resort  we  would  not want to stay at. They are all great and anyone looking 
for  any  thing  should  be  able  to find a resort on Aruba that meets their 
tastes  and  needs.  One  of  the required things for me at a resort is to be 
near  the  beach and water. Although the High rises are really nice, I prefer 
the  low rise because they are closer to the water. In the end, we decided on 
either  going  back  to  the  Tamarijn  or to the Divi and stay in one of the 
Casita's....  However,  this  creates  a problem for us because of them being 
all  inclusive.  We  found  that  we  really  enjoyed eating at the different 
restaurants  and  enjoying  the fine Aruban food... So, we will probably stay 
where  we  want  and  go  out  to eat a "couple" of nights and pay the extra. 
After  all,  we  ARE  on vacation, aren't we..... We feel it is worth it. The 
next  thing  is  in  choosing  a resort to stay at. I have been following the 
Aruba  B/B  and  the  Visit  Aruba B/B for a long time now and everyone keeps 
asking  for a recommendation of which resort is best. I would like to comment 
on  that.  There is no BEST resort in Aruba. You have to decide what you want 
in  a resort, research it, and figure out which resort best suits YOUR needs. 
Of  course  you  have to ask questions, but no one on the B/B knows your real 
needs   or   desires.   If  you  want  a  recommendation,  put  all  of  your 
requirements,  desires, wants and wishes on the B/B and then people that have 
been  there  can suggest to you which resorts may best meet your needs and/or 
desires.  I  hope this helps everyone that may be trying to decide where they 
may  want to stay, as it is hard to know when you have not been there before. 

We  have  been  on  organized  tours  and  have gone by ourselves. If you are 
afraid  to  venture  out  on  your  own, or are skeptical about it, the tours 
would  probably be for you. If you are not afraid, then you may want to go it 
on  your  own. You can not get lost in Aruba. Just follow the Divi trees wind 
swept  branches  back  to  the  hotel  area... Again, if you are skeptical of 
driving  in  another country and out in the back country, maybe the tours are 
the  way  to  go instead of renting a "peej" and going it alone.. We rented a 
peej  and  had a riot driving all over and seeing what we wanted to see. This 
is  another one of those decisions you will have to make. It is easy to drive 
in  Aruba.  It  is like in the U.S. Maybe you could tour the back country and 
rent  a car for the hotel/downtown driving needs. I think it is handy to have 
a vehicle so I can come and go as I please and see what I want to see. 

So,  here  it is, a trip report written from the perspective and desires that 
I  consider  important,  along with a few tips that I thought people might be 
interested  in.  We  hope  that  it helps you decide how you may want to plan 
your  vacation.  And  finally, where ever you decide to stay on your vacation 
in  Aruba, you will enjoy yourself amoungst a very safe, friendly island with 
the  most  friendly people I have met. So go, enjoy yourself, and look around 
and decide where you would like to stay the next time you visit Aruba... 

Because you will want to return to this beautiful island!!!!! 


Trip 4/99

Between  March 26 and April 6, 1999, my wife and I (both around 50 years old) 
stayed  at the Allegro Caribbean Village Fiesta (7 days) and the Hotel Villas 
Lapas  (7  days)   in  Costa  Rica.   It is our opinion that you receive good 
value  for  your  money at both resorts.  The Villas Lapas is situated on the 
edge  of  the  rainforest  and  is  a  small  quiet resort.  For those people 
looking  for  a quiet vacation or are interested in nature, especially birds, 
the  resort  is  ideal.   There  are 46 rooms (some are small cottages) and a 
small  swimming  pool.   There  is one TV in a common room and a phone at the 
front  desk.  Although there were some children there, the lack of activities 
for  children would result in them getting bored very quickly.  The meals are 
very  good.   The  only  bar opens at 10 AM and closes at 10 PM.  You can get 
snacks  (French fries etc.) during the day through the bar.  An afternoon tea 
(coffee  with liquors is also available) with sweets is served around 4.  The 
staff  is  very  friendly  and willing to assist in anyway they can.  You can 
take  various  tours,  at an additional cost.  We went on the Canopy Tour and 
had  a  great  time.   We also visited the Carara Biological Reserve where we 
saw two Scarlet Macaws and a whole assortment or birds and plants.

The  Caribbean  Village Fiesta is located south of Puntarenas.  The resort is 
the  opposite  of  the Villas Lapas.  Here you have several pools, children's 
activities  and  various  watersports and classes (Spanish, dancing etc.) for 
the  adults.   Nobody places any pressure on you to do anything the choice is 
yours.   There  is  always  a  bar or restaurant open to get food and drinks.  
There  is  even  a juice bar where they will combine whatever fruits you like 
into  a  cold  drink.   We found the variety and selection of food to be very 
good.   They  have  two  restaurants  on site.  An Italian and Seafood.  Both 
require  reservations.   To reserve you must be at the main bar at 8 AM.  The 
availability  of  seats  goes  quickly.  Both restaurants would rival any 4-5 
star  eateries  with  respect  to  service, quality of food and presentation.  
The  main  buffet  style restaurant has numerous "stations" where you can get 
the  daily  offering  of  beef,  pork,  chicken, fish, pasta as well as local 
cuisine.   Usually  the final cooking of the food is done in front of you and 
often  done  the way you like it.  The rooms are large and clean.  All of the 
staff  are  friendly  and  willing to help.  The shows at night are very good 
and  they  even  have a children's show that starts at 8pm.  There is a disco 
and casino neither of which we went to.  

The  unique  black  sand beach can get very hot during the day so be careful.  
The  resort  encourages  you,  for  your  own  safety,  to  stay  within  the 
boundaries  of  property but we walked on the beach for a considerable amount 
of  time  and  had  no problems at all.  Like any place, it is not wise to be 
wear  a  lot of jewelry or flash your money.  The swimming in the ocean is OK 
but  most  people  kept  to the swimming pools.  There are several kayaks and 
other  watercraft  available for your use.  To me the downside was that there 
was no snorkeling.

Again  several  tours  are  offered  at  an  additional cost.  We went on the 
Tortuga  Island trip and had a great time.  Other people we talked to went to 
Volcano  and  enjoyed it while some found the trip to Manuel Antonio National 
Park, while good, was a long way to go for a day.

Both  the  Caribbean  Village Fiesta and the Villas Lapas are Allegro Resorts 
properties.   They  are both well managed and offer good value for your money 
and we look forward to visiting other resorts within their chain 

On a scale of 1-10 we would rate the hotels at 8.5.   


Trip 4/99

Returned  a  couple weeks ago from a wonderful trip to Costa Rica.  We were a 
group  of   15 ,( 8 adults  , 4 16 &17 year old girls and 3 14 year old boys) 
all  friends.   We booked our own flight through Travel Charter on ATA, which 
was  the  only  downside  of  the trip.  We transferred to 3 different planes 
before  finally taking off after an 8 hour delay.  Which basically killed one 
day  of  the trip.  Obviously safety is paramount when flying but the lack of 
courtesy  ,  communication  and  small  perks to make the delay palatable was 
very  irritating.  Plus  at  a  cost of $600 a person you would hope to get a 
little consideration. .  Enough bitchin’.

On  the upside the tour group we booked through was fantastic.  Their name is 
Serendipity  Adventures, based in Ann Arbor, Mi. and Costa Rica.  They have a 
web   site,  .  Serendipity  focuses  on  active 
vacations but they’re very flexible.

We  had  a  group  meeting initially to plan this trip and each person ranked 
the  kind  of things they wanted to see and do, I sent Serendipity my initial 
thoughts  on what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go in Costa Rica and 
they  came  back  with  a  very  reasonably priced tour which was doable in a 
weeks  time.  Getting  around Costa Rica is slow going, roads are twisty, can 
be  steep  and  not a lot of guard rails.  They can also get  badly potholed, 
so going from place to place is a major consideration.  

We  were  picked up at the new Liberia airport in a ½ sized bus, which we had 
for  the  whole  week.  Our driver Jorge was a great guy.  Alex Fernandez was 
our  guide  and  stayed  with  us  for  the  first  5  days.   Alex  was very 
personable,  lots of fun and well organized.  He grew up in both the U.S. and 
Costa  Rica  so  he’s  bilingual , knowledgeable about the country and a real 
hard worker. 

The  first  night  we drove to Cabanis de Montana near Fortuna and the Arenal 
Volcano.   Real  nice  accommodations in a beautiful setting close to Tabacon 
Springs.   Got  up  at  5:30 am and went on hike to the Volcano. As usual the 
top  of  Arenal  was  covered  in clouds, we never did see the peak.  Went to 
breakfast  then half our group went for a kayak with a naturalist, Roger, and 
half  went horse back riding with Alex. Saw howler monkeys, iguanas and Jesus 
Christ  Lizards  and  a poison dart frog.  Visited a remote homestead, pretty 
primitive  but  had  coffee and dessert there, quite interesting.  That night 
we  went  to  Tabacon  Springs to relax and have dinner.  The hot springs are 
wonderful   they’re broken into various areas and pools, and we gravitated to 
the pool with the swimup bar.  Purda Vida.  

The  next  day  we  were  up  early  to a great breakfast and then my turn to 
horseback   ride.   Well  never having horseback ridden before this was about 
as  much  as  I  could  handle,   these  horses liked to run. I guess I never 
appreciated  what it’s like to be on a horse at full gallop.  We rode out for 
an  hour  ,  stopped  in the jungle climbed a strangler fig and then repelled 
down  the  40  ft  or so.  Then rode back, I had a welt/blister on each cheek 
that  is  still  healing,  but I’m glad I did it, and it was quite a sight to 
see these late 40’s plus women repelling down this tree.

That  afternoon  we left for Turrialba, it was a 5 hour drive and we ended up 
staying  at  the  Turrialba Mountain Resort ? up in the mountains overlooking 
the  town.   Great  view nice dinner and breakfast, walls were paper thin but 
led  to a good laugh talking to our friends in the next room as we lay in bed 
getting  to  sleep.  The next morning  we went to Miner Gomacho’s snake Farm.  
What  a  treat,  poisonous  snakes, red eyed frog and boa constrictors.  Very 
educational and interesting.  Then off to the Pacure River to White 

Water Raft and spend a night in the rainforest. 

Rafting  was fun, not too difficult, water was low but the scenery was great. 
They   had  5  rafts , 3 for us and 2 for provisions and 2 kayaks for safety.  
The  guides  were  at lot of fun.  Stopped at a falls to waterslide. The camp 
was  great  ,  platform  tents  and  a kinda of raised palapa with tables and 
barbecue  for  a  dining  area..   Great appetizers, beer , wine and barbecue 
chicken  and  beef.   Weather  was a pleasant surprise, warm not hot or humid 
and no bugs.

Our  friends  John  and  Mary  opted  to  sleep  on an overturned raft on the 
riverbank  instead  of  tents.   Rafted  the  next  day for 4 more hours then 
pulled  out  and  had lunch. After lunch  drove a few hours  through San Jose 
to  a hotel ‘The Chantel’  west of there to say goodbye to Alex and spend the 
night  before  going  to  Samara  on the pacific coast to relax and sun.  The 
place was ok but dinner service was very slow.

It  was  about  4  hours to Samara, including a ferry trip, the roads were ok 
for the most part with a ½ hour stretch that was real bad. 
The  last  2 days we were on our own more or less , still had the bus. We had 
to  pay for our meals but the hotel was covered.  We stayed at the Brisas del 
Pacifico.  Nice place, great food, margaritas and view.

Lots  of  howler  monkeys  there and good surf.  The town is a 10 min walk up 
the beach and very small.

Some  rented  horses  to  ride  on the beach, I declined however, bad case of 
baboon  butt.  John and Kirk went diving with Carlos, saw a manta ray but the 
visibility wasn't  good and a lot of tidal surges. 

We  were  all  very happy campers and I believe most of it had to do with the 
wonderful  job  Alex  did  organizing  the trip and guiding us.  We all think 
we’d like to go back again if time and money permit. 
 Purda vida

As  a  footnote,  Travel Charter did call a few weeks later and say they were 
giving  a  $150  voucher to everyone on the flight. They did this without any 
contact  from  us,  which  I  give them credit for.  So I'd like to give them 
acknowledgement for this in the article.


Trip 4/99  

We  traveled  to Curacao from Boston during school vacation week Apr.  17-24, 
1999.  There  were  3 adults and 2 teenage girls in our group. Getting there:  
We  chartered from Boston with GWV. Direct flight that  stopped in Bonaire to 
let  people  off.  The return was nonstop. Easy  checkin except you had to be 
at the airport at 5am for a 7am flight.  

The  airport  in  Curacao  was easy to get through. We rented a car  (Toyota) 
from  Hertz  ($300 for the week). Since we were staying in a  timeshare condo 
we  needed groceries. Had been advised to shop at the  large supermarket near 
the  airport (a wise decision). Stores are  generally closed on Sun. The ride 
to  the  resort  was  45  min. The resort: Stayed at Kadushi Cliffs resort in 
Westpunt.  The  far  western end of the island. The resort is well maintained 
and  one  of  the loveliest sites imaginable. High on cliffs above the water. 
You   could  hear  the  crashing  surf  against the rocks from your unit. The  
units  are duplexes with 2 bedrooms up and living room, dining room,  kitchen 
down.  2  full bathrooms. Jacuzzi in master bedroom. A porch  (lanai) off the 
master  bedroom overlooked the beach and water. You  could hear the waves and 
wind  rustling  in  the palm trees. The resort  staff was very helpful. Check 
in  was easy. The beach (Playa Kalki one  of Curacao's best) was right there. 
The pool (fresh water) was large  and never crowded.  

Weather:  the days were monotonous warm (high 80's), sunny, and windy.  There 
were  small ants (if you left anything out). We generally kept  the doors and 
windows  open  to  get the breezes. We slept with AC  (only the bedrooms have 
it)  to  keep  the  night  bugs  out.  Activities:  Snorkeling and diving are 
excellent.  Curacao  has  small   coves with small beaches. You can generally 
walk  out  to  dive  or  snorkel. No need for a boat. There is often coral at 
the  wave  line  so   water  socks are helpful to save your feet. There was a 
dive  shop  at   our  beach to rent equipment and take diving lessons.(PADI). 
The water  was warm and full of fish and coral.  

Other  things to see: The Hato Caves near the airport are interesting.  Short 
guided  tour  for  about  $5.  The SeaAquarium on the other side of  Punda is 
wonderful  and  well  worth  a  visit. We have a good Aquarium in  Boston and 
this  was  equal  or  better.  Lots  of  interactive  areas. Boac  Tabla near 
Westpunt  is  worth a visit too. It's a park on the windward  side with waves 
crashing  onto  the  rocks  (coral)  and  small caves. Land  Huizen (old land 
houses)  are scattered all over the island. We didn't  visit any however they 
looked interesting.  

Town:  Otrabunda  and Punda are the main central area of interest.  Separated 
by  a  swinging  floating  bridge.  Good  shopping  and sights.  Casinos. The 
cruise  ships  dock there. Many restaurants. The Miklev  synagogue is worth a 

Restaurants:  We  are used to excellent restaurants in Boston so were  a  bit 
disappointed.  Most were over priced. The best far a n away was  Fort Nassau. 
It's  in  an  old fort high atop a hill overlooking  Willemstadt. Great views 
and  sunset.  Gourmet food elegantly served.  Go early and watch sunset. Make 
reservations.  This  was the only place  we "dressed up" (wore long pants not 
shorts)  for.  Other  restaurants  we tried were the Pirates Restaurant (ok), 
the  Cactus Club near the  Aquarium (like Chilis) in town. In Westpunt we ate 
at  the Cliff House  (at our resort) --a great view and setting but only have 
food.  (I did  try the goat stew which was good). The most fun place (we went 
twice)   was  Jaanchi's  in  Westpunt. Jaanchi is quite a character. The menu 
is    in  his  head  which  he  gives  with  editorial  comments  (he  always  
recommends  the  fresh  fish).  He has iguana on the menu (we didn't try  it) 
"tastes like chicken". 

The  island  is  fun  to tour around but distances are great (an hour to  get 
from  one  side  to another). It's mainly desert with cacti etc.  Driving was 
easy  unlike  other  Caribbean islands.  The main roads were well labeled but 
the  side  roads   weren't.  We  frequently  got  lost but what the heck it's 
vacation  time.  The people are friendly. They speak papiemento but most also  
speak  English.  We  felt save everywhere. Dollars are taken everywhere.  You 
need not exchange for Dutch Antillean Guilers.  

All  in  all,  Curacao  is  nice place. Other islands have more to offer  for 
less  money  and  hassle.  It  is also a long trip to get there (our  nonstop 
flight  was  5  hrs).  The  main reason to go is to snorkel/dive.  With those 
reservations I highly recommend it.  


Trip 4/99

We are back from a one week stay at the Flamenco (our stay in near heaven).

We  took  the  all  inclusive  pkg.  with Sunquest that allowed us 4 sit down 
meals  in  the  various  restaurants  around the resort. Be sure to pack your 
appetite.  I  was  amazed at what was available (although fresh citrus drinks 
are  limited -- more of a mix), the meals were great (and this is coming from 
a  picky  eater!).  The  service was exceptional and we did tip our waiter at 
the  rooftop  pizza  restaurant.  He  happened to spot us on the resort a few 
days  later  as we waited to enter the grillhouse restaurant and made a point 
of  coming  over to thank us and ask us how we were enjoying our stay (in his 
best broken English).

The  resort  is  a series of low rise buildings. We were in building #3 (near 
the  main building and restaurants). Friends of ours were in #10 (adjacent to 
the  main  pool and evening stage area).Towards the back of the property is a 
series  of  trees  and walkway to the beach/disco. NOTE: rooms are ready only 
after  3  pm.  We were stuck in our "polar" gear until the room was ready and 
we  could change (yes, a sign of a Canadian traveler). I would suggest taking 
shorts/bathing  suit  etc.  in  a  carry  bag and changing in a washroom upon 
arrival.  Also,  should you wish a fresh set of room towels when your room is 
done  up  in the morning, they will be brought to your room after 3:30 in the 
afternoon.  We  didn't  know this one day and had already handed in our beach 
towels and were caught with just one towel for our shower.

The  beach  is  clean  and  well maintained. It is wide and the water is very 
warm and sheltered -- due to a coral reef about 200 yrds out.

After  one  rainy  and  stormy day they had a tractor and crew out raking the 
beach.  The  waterfront  was usable within an hour or two. The same could not 
be  said  for  other  resorts in the area. We did go for long walks and noted 
The  Paradise has a sewage pipe draining into the ocean in front of it! Let's 
just say high noon and blue air take on a whole new meaning.

We  hired  a  taxi  to go with another couple to Sosua beach and flea market. 
You  will  need  to  rent beach chairs. The locals are inventive in trying to 
make  money and you will probably have a youngster offer to wash the sand off 
of your feet and legs once you're out of the ocean.

One  thing  that  we  were not told is that the week leading into Easter is a 
religious  holiday  and  tours  and waterfront activities shut down. Although 
the  hotel  has a "fun club" and still offered a number of activities but not 
the  waterfront  ones.  We  were  already  weeping  having  to go back to the 
airport  had  we been treated to these we probably would have done just about 
anything to stay indefinitely.


Trip April 1-7, 1999

Trip to Montego Bay

We  took  an  American  flight  from  Houston  Intercontinental  to Sangster, 
Montego  Bay.  This  connects through Miami and isn't pleasant. We got out of 
bed  about  3:20  a.m.  to get ready for our 6:45 flight. We had an easy time 
getting  out  of  the house and stopped at Whataburger for breakfast tacos at 
4:45.  The  flight  boarded at 6:15. We were there by 5:15, and the line went 
quickly.  We  had  parked at the city lot and noticed the bus ride was longer 
and a bit different.

Evidently,  Continental  bought  out American's area of the airport and built 
American  a  new  area  in terminal A. We had breakfast bar (saved ours for a 
rainy  day), tiny banana, and yogurt (threw away). The "Bistro Bag" breakfast 
also  had orange juice in it. We got an exit row and got to Miami on time. In 
Miami,  I  scrambled  to  get  Todd  some sunshade clipons for his glasses at 
Sunglass  Hut,  since he had forgotten his sunglasses. Air Jam was having its 
30-year  celebration. Quite loud and jammin'. We got on our plane on time and 
got  to  Jamaica at 12:15, 20 minutes early. Several other flights came late, 
so  we  waited 40 minutes in customs. We got to the Sandals desk and got on a 
bus  in  about  a second. However, we waited 20 minutes for the bus to leave. 
Two  feet  past GL Braco, we made a stop. That stop was 30 minutes long since 
the  bus  driver  mysteriously disappeared, the way they usually do there. We 
were  forced to look around and saw some very unusual (obscene) woodcarvings. 
Bus  time  was  over  two hours; we left the airport at 1:30 and got to Dunns 
River  at  3:37.  The  bus  driver's name was Hugh. He was one of the slowest 
drivers  ever.  He  gave  a  tour,  though. Why can't they be slow on the way 
back, instead of the way to the resort?

At  our  check-in,  we  were offered champagne, a cold towel and told to fill 
out  our paperwork. This was a change from last year when we were not offered 
anything.  We were sent to the room without our bags. I got us some food from 
the  beach grill while Todd waited for the bags to come up. I had faxed ahead 
for  a  room  upgrade  stating  this  was  our  7th  Sandals stay and our 6th 
anniversary,  but  we were upgraded based on the travel agent's entry of this 
info,  as  we  later  found  out the resort ignored our fax. We were upgraded 
from  Deluxe  to  Grande  Luxe Oceanview (4 categories) and placed on the 5th 
floor  of  the  Florence  wing  in  room  2514,  although we got no paperwork 
stating this was an upgrade. We had a nice view. The Room

We  were in room 2514 in the Florence Block. The room is set up such that you 
can  see  out  the window (which can open) from the sitting area, the bed, or 
the  balcony.  The  balcony  had  two  chairs and table and a rack for drying 
suits.  There were no lounge chairs. The balcony provided a nice view, but it 
was  meant  for  standing,  as a sitting position provided a view through the 
wooden  railing. We had a view of the pool with the waterfall, the beach, the 
swim-up  pool,  the  beach  grill  and  all  the  room  wings.  The two-story 
buildings  (Rialto)  look  the  quaintest and are the most secluded. They are 
also  the newest. The rooms inside are exactly like the Grand Luxe Oceanview, 
however.  The Rialto area has beautiful gardens that have improved since last 
year.  The  gardens all over have improved, and I noted the head gardener was 
the same as last year and is obviously an asset.

Our  room had a large bed, two chairs, a bench at the end of the bed, a desk, 
a  dressing  table, a nightstand, a hair dryer above the dressing table, a TV 
with  satellite  channels, air-conditioning (manual) a coffee pot with tea or 
coffee,  and  a  good-sized  area  for clothing. I think there were around 20 
hangers  provided.  Irons  and boards could be ordered from housekeeping. The 
hot  and  cold  water  were fine, but the bathtub was tiny and would not hold 
water.  I  like  baths  and  attempted  a  few, but I had to have a washcloth 
shoved on top of the drain plug to even partially hold the water.

The Property

Like  last year, the place was bustling with activity. The Genoa and Florence 
wing  give  an  ocean  view.  The  Rialto  wing,  the  rooms in the two-story 
buildings  are  conveniently located to amenities. This is the honeymoon room 
area.  The  resort has 7 bars, but they are never all open. There is the tree 
bar,  open  in the evening. There are two swim-up bars, one at each pool, and 
they  both  have  a  walk-up  side.  The  bars around the property do not all 
operate  at  the  same time. The hours are: beach bar 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Windies 
bar  (outside  restaurant)  12:30-2:30  p.m.  and  6:30-10:30  p.m., tree bar 
(behind  the  lobby) 5 p.m.-1:a.m., swim up pool and piano bar 11 a.m.-3 a.m. 
,(or  whenever  after 11 a.m.), swim up main pool bar-10 a.m.-5 p.m. disco 10 
p.m.-3  a.m., Kimonos bar (restaurant) 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Beach towels policy has 
changed.  Cafe Ameretto was an area on the sidewalk that used to have tea and 
coffee  in the mornings and continental breakfast on Sunday. Those things are 
now   between   the   treebar  and  the  lobby  by  the  Internationale.  The 
orientation,  general  manager's party, and various other activities are held 
at  Cafe  Ameretto.  The  Florence wing on the ocean side had the best views, 
with  garden views opposite. The Genoa wing had a side view of the ocean. The 
2  story  wings  (Rialto) had some ocean view, depending on location but were 
certainly  the  most  convenient to land and some of the amenities. The upper 
floors  of  these  rooms had a balcony, but it was a walk-up to the rooms and 
was  shared.  No  chairs were on it, but guests could stand and look out. The 
downstairs  rooms  had  tables  and  chairs on the patios, but the slat-style 
partitions  between them may have blocked most of the ocean view. If you want 
quiet,  you  will  most likely hang out at the pool and bar near these rooms. 
Another  quiet  option  is  the garden side of the Florence wing. These rooms 
are  across  the  hall from the oceanview rooms. Both Genoa and Florence have 
elevators  that  can  be slow at times. Concierge rooms and suites are in the 
Genoa  wing.  There is a new room category called honeymoon concierge room in 
Genoa wing.

The  resort  is  elongated and boasts a very large main pool with a waterfall 
and  gazebo.  Another  pool is the piano bar pool. Both pools have a hot tub. 
The  signs  at both hot tubs reads "temperature 103 degrees", but neither was 
ever  that warm. The one by the main pool was always 96 degrees F. The one by 
the  piano  bar  pool was always 100 degrees F. The one in the spa was always 
104 degrees F and had siblings of hot and cold plunge pools.

On  the property, there is quite a lot of exercise equipment, horseshoe, lawn 
checkers,  lawn  chess,  shuffleboard,  9-hole pitch & putt course which does 
get used a lot. There are also darts and two ping pong tables.

There  is beach volleyball going on quite often. The tennis courts are at the 
east  end of the property and looked quite nice. The basketball court is near 
the beach piano bar. There were games most days.

There  was  always  a  handful  of  people  at the gym. There was hot or cold 
plunge  pool  and wet and dry saunas but the wet ones never worked, which was 
a  huge  disappointment.  There  is  now a whirlpool at the spa, under cover. 
Occasionally,  it was necessary to bring your own towel. There were restrooms 
there  and  a water fountain (not always working). The gym instructor, Uriel, 
is  an  older  guy that is very fit and enthusiastic. He will ensure that you 
do  all  of  the exercises with the proper form. The gym is open-air, and the 
equipment  is  all  new.  The  lobby has been painted and upgraded in looks a 
bit.  It  made  quite  a  difference.  This  was  a  very  lovely and welcome 

This  property  is  bustling,  no  matter  where you are. Lots of games go on 
around  the  main  pool  starting  around noon until sometime between 3 and 5 
p.m.  More people arrived every day. There was an age mix from about 20 to in 
the  70s  with a significant number of guests being over 50. Over the holiday 
weekend  there  were  quite a few Jamaicans at the resort. After the holiday, 
the age mix moved to 30s to 60s.

This  property is what I would classify as active, rather than elegant. There 
are  activities from 7 a.m. until the wee hours, and ALL are attended. Unlike 
the  typical couples' resort, this place doesn't die at 10. Even the Jacuzzis 
were  full  by  7  a.m.  There  are  many interesting trees and plants on the 
property.  These  have  grown  up  nicely  since  last year. The grounds were 
improved and housed so many beautiful and impressive things.


A  token is given at check-in. Every day, you can exchange towels from 7-7 at 
the  towel  hut. At the end of your stay, you must turn the towels in and get 
the card to present at checkout.

Breakfast-Windies  becomes  the  Terrace during the day. Service is available 
here  from 7:30-10:00. Breakfast consisted of pancakes, French toast (thick), 
omelets  or  eggs to order, bacon, Jamaican don't touch me sausage, some form 
of  potatoes,  variety  different  every  day,  scrambled  eggs,  a couple of 
Jamaican  dishes,  fruit,  yogurt,  cereal, pastries, juices, etc. On Easter, 
there  was  smoked  salmon.  Many mornings, it was very windy and too cold to 
sit  at the edge with the best view. Two or three juices were available every 

There  was  a  continental  breakfast by the bar outside of the International 
(where  coffee  and  tea were always available) on Sunday. Only pastries were 
served.  The  a  la  carte breakfast has moved from the Italian restaurant to 
International  and  is  offered every day but Sunday. Don't miss it, but plan 
on  spending at least an hour. Lance (the guy with the Eddie Murphy laugh) is 
a  manager  there,  along  with  Kimonos. We ate there on Saturday. I had the 
petite  ribeye,  along  with  fried  egg. Todd had chicken breast and omelet. 
Fresh fruit and cereal are available, as well as a full menu of items.

Lunch-Terrace  buffet, served 12:30-2:00p.m. -on salad bar, always fake crab, 
various  salads,  such  as  pasta,  potato,  about  10  ingredients,  breads, 
sandwich  bar,  fruit  lady,  ice  cream, pastries, fresh pasta, carving bar, 
several  entrees,  such  as  grilled  fish  or  chops, Cajun chicken, various 
pizza,  a  spa  dish (often eggplant),and various other stuff. There was much 
less  variety  than  last  year. There were various pastries and always soup. 
Soups  were  terrific  and  better  than  at dinner. Soups are one area where 
Sandals  continues  to excel above Lido and all others. They have it down. On 
various  days,  I  had pumpkin, cream of carrot, seafood chowder (huge chunks 
of  seafood),  and pepperpot. Other days, they had various bean and such. One 
or  two  Jamaican dishes were served every day. Windies bar opens during this 
meal,  and  wait  staff  takes  orders  during  the  meal. Seconds were never 
offered,  and  wine  seemed to be a real problem. Sometimes drinks never came 
or  were  not  offered  until  we finished eating. Someone always carried our 
plate  to  the  table at breakfast and lunch and put our napkin in our lap. A 
service  manager roamed to ensure the staff kept up to expectations, but they 
rolled eyes in disgust over several small incidents.

The  beach  grill  posts  a  "self-serve"  menu  and  a  grill menu. A lot is 
offered,  and this remains extensive. It is open a lot of hours and is highly 
used  by  the  guests. Some items offered are cheeseburger, hamburger, garden 
burger,  hot  dog, chicken burger, jerk chicken, popcorn, pizza, nachos and a 
new  self-serve  soda  fountain  (bring  your  own glass and ask them to fill 
what's  empty  or  do  without  ALL  week),and meat patties. Other self-serve 
items  are  an  array of cold sandwiches and chopped (boxed) fruit. The grill 
was  crowded,  but  you  could  get your order taken in 0-5 minutes. The jerk 
chicken  remained  good. On Friday, I asked for white meat. The wing was good 
but  the  rest of the breast was a little dry. The chicken burger was breaded 
on  Saturday  and  grilled  on all other days. One day, I ordered chicken and 
got  a  burger,  but  I  ate  it  and  found  it tasted like a U.S. burger, a 
surprise.  Yummy.  Gone are yogurt cones and the fish sandwich. The grill had 
a  bar  on  the  other side. Sometimes at some of the bars, white wine wasn't 
available.  They'd  either  go  get it or ask you to drink champagne instead. 
The  wine quality during the day varied. At night, we were either offered one 
or two choices depending on the location. Quality varied. Service varied.


Ristorante  d'Amore--served  from  6:30-10  p.m. Last year, I stated the food 
and  service  was  outstanding.  This year, we didn't enjoy our meal there at 
all.  Since  the  menu didn't change a bit since last year, I don't know whom 
to  blame.  Seating  was available for couples or groups. There was no longer 
an  opportunity  to  be  seated  outside.  The decor is very interesting. The 
antipasto  bar was smaller than last year. I enjoyed the tortellini, mussels, 
and  pastrami.  I  know  I  enjoyed the meal last year because it was lobster 

Monday--only  this  restaurant  remains  open on Monday, and the Reef Terrace 
remains  open  at Ocho Rios. The resorts have their beach bash/pirate & wench 
night.  Two  soups, tortellini and seafood with tomatoes were offered. Todd's 
tortellini  looked  good.  I had the seafood tomato. I had one big shrimp and 
some  chunks of fish. Otherwise, it tasted like vegetable soup. Salad choices 
were  Caesar or greens with raspberry vinaigrette. Todd's Caesar looked good. 
My  salad  didn't have raspberry vinaigrette as it should have (last year, it 
did  have  the raspberry, and it was tart but tasty). The pasta was served as 
a  course,  rather  than  with  the  entree.  Todd  had fettuccini Alfredo. I 
skipped  this  course.  The  cook  prepares it in front of everyone who looks 
over  there.  I  ordered  the shrimp with tomatoes, and Todd ordered lasagna. 
Both  had  the  same sauce, which tasted like BBQ sauce. I am not used to BBQ 
sauce  on  my  Italian  food.  I ate 3 of the 4 shrimp and about 3 fettuccini 
noodles,  those  that weren't in the sauce. I ordered the fruit tart pizza. I 
ate  the paper-thin watermelon and honeydew off of it and left the cake part, 
as  there was no pastry. There were breadsticks on the table, along with some 
other  very  tasty  breads.  Last year, this restaurant had a wine list. This 
time,  they  offered  red  or  white.  The  white  was Italian and very good. 
Service on the refills was very slow.

Beach  Bash Buffet--Monday (follows the general manager's cocktail party). We 
are  not buffet people, however, this buffet had some very good looking items 
and  certainly  would  have  been a better choice than what we ordered at the 
Italian  restaurant.  Although we were stuffed, we shared a grilled steak and 
1 shrimp. Both were absolutely outstanding.

Windies-Caribbean  with  seating  from  6:30-9:30  p.m.  with no reservations 
needed.  We  ate there on Tuesday night, arriving at 6:30. There were several 
guests  waiting  for them to open. Todd skipped the appetizer. I had mussels. 
We  both  had  pepperpot soup-it was very good. I had a green salad with very 
good  vinaigrette.  Todd  ordered  crab with papaya. He didn't eat it. It was 
the  fake crab and had no papaya. It wasn't bad but not as good as mine. This 
restaurant  formerly  offered  a  sampler-type platter. Now, some of the same 
items  are  offered  but  they  are  offered  individually.  The menu is much 
smaller  than last year. We made our own platter anyway and ordered steak and 
shrimp.  I asked for a small steak and a couple of shrimp and received a huge 
steak  and  6 huge shrimp. I could not eat even half. Todd finished the rest. 
These  steaks were cooked closer to the way we ordered them. A choice of 4 or 
5  starches  was  available.  I  enjoyed the rice and peas (good everywhere). 
Last  year,  the  restaurant  had a wine menu. This year, they just served us 
Jamaican.  Not  a single restaurant at the resort had a wine list. If you get 
there  early  enough,  you  get a table facing the pool. We had a prime seat. 
The meal was pleasant, but we were in a hurry to get to the casino games.

Kimonos  (renamed  from  Teppanyaki)-this restaurant is the only one at Dunns 
River  to  require  reservations.  There  are various seatings throughout the 
evening,  beginning  at  6  p.m.  Do  not show up late for your meal, as they 
operate  on  a  strict  schedule.  This  restaurant  is  good to go for a fun 
evening  and  a  few  pictures.  I would rate it just below Benihana. We were 
scheduled  at  6:30 on Saturday. We ate with 4 other couples all honeymooners 
or  there  to  be married and most were returnees of Sandals. The meal at the 
table  lasted  one  hour,  and  we  were  sent  outside the restaurant to eat 
dessert.  Appetizer  choice  was  a  variety of sushi as one, another type of 
sushi,  a  spring  roll,  ginger pork skewer, and tempura vegetables. We both 
had  the  spring roll. Soup choices were chicken broth or miso and crab soup. 
I  had  the  miso (very good), and Todd had the broth. First, they brought me 
the  wrong  soup.  The salad was cucumber and greens (but I couldn't find the 
cucumber).  The  entree  was  called  Emperor's  Feast, same as last year. It 
included  items  cooked by the Jamaican, Riley, in the Benihana suit with the 
typical  show. Our waiter was Howard. Lance was our host and was delighted we 
remembered  him  from  last year. Riley cooked and fed us tuna, shrimp, pork, 
steak,  and  chicken, along with vegetables, which were Japanese, but not the 
same  as Benihana. The rice was gummy rice. It tasted good, and we were given 
chopsticks  and  forks. To end the routine, he had Todd and another guy catch 
a  shrimp  in  their  mouth.  The  dessert  outside was either lychee pudding 
(good)  or  ice  cream.  Hot  tea  was not served, although I requested it. A 
welcome  drink (Malibu Boy again, and some people had several) and a glass of 
wine  were  served  inside.  Internationale-boasts the most extensive menu on 
the  property.  Service  is  available from 6:30-9:30. We ate there on Friday 
night.  Service  was white glove. The restaurant had very nice decor and fast 
service.  Our  meal took a little over an hour. We arrived at about 7:10. For 
appetizer,  I had crayfish--4 little ones. Todd had some wonderful chicken in 
phillo  dough  thing.  For  soup,  I  had  chicken chowder, and he had French 
Onion.  Mine  was  outstanding.  He  enjoyed his but said he's had better. He 
ordered  a  seafood  pasta  salad. I didn't order it because the menu said it 
had  mayonnaise in it. I ordered a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. His 
salad  looked  great and had no mayonnaise. I didn't get the salad I ordered, 
but  mine was good. It had greens and some tuna and a very good dressing. For 
the  main  course,  Todd  had  the  New York, New York strip steak. I had the 
seafood  jambalaya.  Todd  ordered  the  steak  medium,  and  like all steaks 
ordered  at  Dunns  before,  it  was  nearly  burnt  to  a  crisp. My seafood 
jambalaya  had  crayfish,  shrimp,  and fish chunks. The sauce was not at all 
like  anything  we  get  in  South  Texas  (being  close to Louisiana), but I 
enjoyed  the  seafood and the vegetables I got. The rolls we were served were 
cold.  They  took  a  long  time  to offer desert, and we didn't see anything 
appealing  enough  on  the menu to tempt us that much. We are not big dessert 
people.  The  dessert menu here did look better than other restaurants at the 
resort.  The  restaurant  closes  on both buffet nights, Monday and Thursday. 
There  is  a dress code. For something similar, try St. Ann at Ocho Rios. All 
of  the  golfers  Todd  met  from  Sandals Ocho Rios had high praise for that 

International  Buffet-Thursday  beginning  at  6:30  p.m. all around the main 
pool.  We  are  not buffet people, but last year this looked good, so we gave 
it  a try. It was a cut above most buffets, and I would not miss this one. We 
ate  some pumpkin soup. It was so very good that I had another half bowl. The 
presentation  at  this event was wonderful. The tables had candlelight. There 
were  ice  sculptures.  There  were  a larger variety of foods at this buffet 
than  at  any  other  during  the  week. There were many salads and pastries. 
There  was  pasta  cooked  to order. Grilled jerk chicken was being prepared. 
The  same  crayfish with the heads that we had around the property were being 
grilled.  They  looked  like  shrimp  but  had a different taste and texture. 
Understand  that  these  were  TINY but delicious. Thre were several stir-fry 
dishes  being  prepared  in very large pans, and the staff was having a blast 
cooking  it  up,  but they took too long. The carved meat was beef. I enjoyed 
the  mussels.  The  entertainment  was a one-man band. He sang some songs and 
just  played  others.  Todd  enjoyed trying to figure out the tunes. This was 
toga  night,  so  a  small percentage of guests ate dinner in their togas. At 
9:30,  the  entertainment  moved  to  the Forum for a cabaret singer, the Ray 
Charles  of  Jamaica.  Before  he  came  on,  there were costumed dancers. At 
10:30,  the toga parade and party began. We did not attend that event but saw 
about  14  people in togas. They were provided by the resort and in colors of 
green and yellow.

Returnee  Dinner-Wednesday  begins  at  6  p.m. We received our invitation on 
Monday.  It  noted  that  guests  leaving  before  or on the day of the party 
should  go  to public relations (hours stated) to get their special gifts. We 
were  given  an  Ultra  Club  form to fill out with dates of our previous. We 
went  on  Tuesday  at  1:30. They did not believe that we hadn't received our 
gifts  and  made  us wait for them to verify the need for our silver sandals. 
We  found  out  we  had  not  been  invited  to  the reunion week outing to a 
botanical  garden and that it was that day. I was so upset. Nell and Bob, who 
we  ate with last year at the returnee dinner, were in the office hearing all 
of  this  and  were  this  time  on their 23rd Sandals visit. I recommend not 
missing  returnee  night  if you are a returnee and even if you are not. That 
is the night the comedian performs.

Nell  had  said the dinner wouldn't be that good this time because there were 
160 people coming.

Manager's  Cocktail  Party--held  Monday  at  5:30  p.m.  Appetizers included 
fritters,  chicken  skewers,  fruit,  and  finger  sandwiches.  We didn't eat 
anything.  Various  staff  members and Louie Grant, the general manager, were 
there.  Some  were in costumes. A drawing was held, and four couples got nice 

Sandals Ocho Rios 

The  Reef  Terrace--we  visited  on  Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Reservations are not 
required  at  this restaurant. The menu for this restaurant and all others at 
SOR  are  available  in  the  lobby  at  SDR. This restaurant offers open-air 
dining  with  an  ocean  view  and  a  partial  sunset view. We took the 5:30 
shuttle  bus  to SOR from SDR. The bus was completely full and left early. As 
a  rule,  the  buses  arrive  a bit early, and I have heard from other guests 
that  not all couples get on, at times. The bus ride was 15 minutes each way. 
We  took  a little time to walk around the property and take some photos. The 
babbling  brooks  behind  the  cottages  were  working this time, and it made 
quite  a  difference.  The  foliage  had  grown  up,  and  the  gardens  were 
beautiful.  The gardens include a small aviary and a cactus garden. There are 
several  fishponds,  and  very  large  and colorful fish are in them. SOR has 
over  200  rooms.  There  are  two pools, one in the gardens and one near the 
amphitheater  above  the  ocean. That pool has a swim-up bar and a good-sized 
hot  tub.  Quite  a  few people were using the hot tub in the gardens. In the 
gardens,  there  are  paths  leading  to  various  places, such as basketball 
courts. It is easy to get lost on this property.

The  lobby  of  SOR  was multilevel. The lobby housed an area with a few slot 
and  video  poker  machines.  When  we finished eating, there were two people 
playing and appearing to be doing well.

At  the  Reef  Terrace, we actually got a wine menu, but they didn't have the 
French  wine  we ordered. They offered us another French wine "just like it". 
It  was  quite good and served by the bottle. Appetizers (very few) and salad 
were  available on a self-serve basis. We tried the grilled squash and salad. 
Since  it  was  our  anniversary,  I  splurged  on a steak. Both of ours were 
cooked  just  right,  and our vegetables were lovely. For dessert, I actually 
ate one and enjoyed it. The key lime tart was amazing, and I ate it.

We  took  the 8 p.m. bus back to SDR, and it was VERY full. The evening buses 
do  not  run  at  all  frequently, so it is necessary to pay attention to the 

Watersports  Kayaks,  paddle boats, aqua trikes, hobie cats, windsurfing, and 
sunfish  were available. Snorkeling was offered 5 times daily at 9:30, 11, 1, 
2,  and  3.  Water-skiing  was also available from very early morning until 4 
p.m.   with   a   one-hour  break,  along  with  kneeboarding.  Water-skiing, 
snorkeling,  and  sunfish  lessons  are  offered  everyday. Scuba lessons are 
offered  everyday  except  Saturday. Resort certification scuba is available, 
and  guests  must  go  through  a swimming test and learn about equipment and 
what  to  do  in  the  water. There are 3 dives daily, all in the morning and 
only  one  on  Sunday,  which departs at 9. I do not know which dives are for 
resort  divers and which are for certified divers. Check with the watersports 
staff. A glass bottom boat goes out daily; check with watersports for times.

The   11  a.m.  snorkeling  trip  was  normally  a  combination  snorkel  and 
sightseeing  trip.  We  took that trip one day last year and saw a James Bond 
site.  However,  this  year,  we  left  late, so they only took us out to the 
reef.  We  were  given bread to feed the fish. We saw a lot of colorful fish, 
big  and small and some nice live coral. We stayed out about 45 minutes. Many 
snorkelers  were  out  for  the  first time, so they came back early. We were 
required to wear life vests, even sitting in the boat.


Theme  Activities  Every  day  and  night  had a theme, and sometimes the day 
theme was different from the night theme.

Pirate  Night  Activities  (Monday). Entertainment was held on and around the 
tiny  stage  near  the  beach grill. Guests were crowded around in chairs. We 
watched  reggae  dancing by the playmakers, nail board dancer (involving some 
very  active  returnees),  the  snake  charmer  (scared  a  few  guests), and 
participated  in  the  group  reggae  dance.  Oh,  yes, and the fire breather 
involved  a  playmaker  and  a few guests. We left when they were still doing 
the  socca  dancing.  Activities  to  follow were beach games and volleyball. 
Last  year, we heard this party until 1:30, but they thankfully moved some of 
the  activity this year to the Forum theatre. Perhaps some guests complained. 
No one wore costumes to this event.

Jamaica  Day-Reggae  Night-Friday.  During the day, additional activities are 
held  to  teach  about  Jamaican  crafts  and  activities.  A  junkanoo  band 
performed  around the two pools and beach. There were costumed dancers. There 
was  an  art auction at 8:30 in the forum. Items all went for the minimum bid 
(high)  or  not at all. The minimum bid included shipping. His first name was 
Eli.  At  8:30,  the  charity  bingo  is held. I won one and got an anklet, a 
carved fish, and a leather sandals necklace. We also earned points for this.

Saturday  Night  Live-Saturday--The  jazz  band  plays  from  5:30-9:30  p.m. 
outside  of  the  Forum,  and  you can hear them for quite a distance. 70&80s 
music  with  a  reggae  flair and lots of dancing happen in the afternoon and 
again in the evening. There is Karoake after the cabaret show.

Casual  Elegance-Sunday.  Again,  the  jazz  band  plays  at  5:30. After the 
cabaret show, there was a best-dressed couple contest.

Pirates  &  Wenches-Monday.  At  5:30  (5:45), the general manager's cocktail 
party  was held. The playmakers and lots of staff were introduced. Activities 
included  a  steel  band,  nail  board dancer, fire-eater, snake charmer, and 
games.  During  the day on Monday (they called it Easter month), there was an 
Easter Egg hunt and a kite- flying demo.

Las  Jagas-Tuesday.  The  charity  casino  was  held  at Cafe Amaretto. Games 
included  golf putting (Todd cleaned up on that), black jack, poker, and some 
other  game.  Gloria,  another  guest,  cleaned  up on poker. I lost my funny 
money  on  black  jack,  but  I had a blast. At 9:45, an auction was held. It 
took  us 23,500 points to get a white Dunns River t-shirt. We got points with 
the  rest  of  our money. During the day on Tuesday, they had activities such 
as  water balloon toss. We heard a female reggae singer that night at 10. She 
involved the audience.

Toga  Night-Thursday.  There  were  games  on the beach and in the pool. Some 
guests  wore togas to the International buffet. The later in the evening, the 
more  people  were in togas. It was a small percentage of the guests, though. 
The  toga  party  began  at 10:30 p.m. with a parade, followed by games. This 
event  provides  clean  fun. Before that, E.T. Webster performed at the Forum 
for  dancing  and listening. We've seen him several times, and he is popular. 
Before  Eli  came  on, the resident band played and sang and a costumed group 
danced.  Shelly  Ann,  one  of  the  playmakers,  told  us that another group 
alternates Thursdays and are the best.

Other Activities

Lots  of  activities  held daily and activity board near main pool showed the 
day's  schedule.  However, a more complete schedule was posted by Windies/The 
Terrace  and by the entertainment office. For watersports schedule, check the 
watersports   hut.  There  were  pool  games,  basketball,  pitch  and  putt, 
shuffleboard,  tennis tournaments, volleyball, and various other unique games 
invented  by  the  playmakers.  We  were  not  given a schedule of the week's 
activities  when  checking  in.  Some  of  the  activities included ping pong 
tournament,  dance  lessons  daily and nightly, too, domino tournament, speak 
Jamaican,  mixology,  charity  bingo  and  casino, Jamaican trivia, horseshoe 
tournament,  fashion show, dress up competition, lover's knot, Newlywed game, 
beer  drinking,  water aerobics, darts tournaments, backgammon, and jeopardy. 
Points  were  given  for  most  things  and  were  in  the  range of 5-15 per 
activity.  I  don't know how many points this trip to get a necklace--I think 
it  has  been  upped  to  70. We had 140 points and two red marks (a red mark 
indicates  they owe you a necklace). When we checked out, the playmaker would 
only  give  me  one pair, insisting we'd already received a pair (pretty much 
calling  me  a liar). I was very insulted and upset. I had been just starting 
to get over not being invited to the Reunion Week outing.

The  usual  Sandals  watersports  were  available, and water-skiing and knee-
boarding  were  at the opposite end of the property from the watersports hut. 
Optional  (not  Sandals) Jet Ski was available. Sometimes, we saw parasailing 
and  once  a banana boat. Guests had to flag these down, as they weren't part 
of Sandals.


There  was  shuffleboard,  croquet, table tennis, pool, backgammon, checkers, 
slot  machines  (didn't  win anything on my $20), and board games. Golf-buses 
leave  throughout  the  day,  beginning  at  7:15.  The next one leaves at 8. 
Caddies  now cost $15, up from $12, and Todd tipped $15. If a person shares a 
cart,  a  caddie can be shared. A cart is $30. Tours-tours can be arranged at 
a desk in the lobby. The prices vary.

Books and Board Games

Both are available for loan from the playmakers.


Points  are  awarded  for  activities such as volleyball, aerobics, aquacize, 
contests  and  games,  tennis, basketball, talent night, Olympics. You can go 
to the playmakers and find out how many points you have at any time..


There  is  dancing  every day by the pool with the playmakers. Many evenings, 
there  is  an  event  entitled  "dancing  under the stars It is just like the 
poolside  dance.  Usually,  people  dance  at  the  cabaret  shows. The disco 
dancing  begins  at 10 p.m. and has moved to the forum since people didn't go 
to the old disco.


A  photographer takes your picture all over the property at various times. No 
pressure to buy. You don't even have to go look at them.

 Gift Shop

Lots  of  Jamaica  and  Sandals  items.  They had various sales. For cameras, 
batteries, and some other items, expect to pay double from back-home prices.

Fish and Birds

There  are  fish  &  turtles  in the lily pad pond across the street from the 
lobby  and  up  the hill on the pitch and putt course. There were two parrots 
on  the pitch and putt course, too. All of that area across from the lobby is 
a beautiful garden.


The  spa  menu  is  provided at check-in. If there is something you don't see 
there,  they can probably do it. They are very accommodating. There are quite 
a  few  different  massages, reflexology, scrubs, wraps, paraffin treatments, 
facials,  mud  treatments,  hand and feet treatments, and specialties such as 
back  treatment,  after sun, couples massage lesson, wedding packages, mom to 
be  package,  treatments for men, and quite a few combo packages. The new spa 
is  complete and different from what I expected. Sara remembered me from last 
year.  Elaine  is still at the spa but was off the first day I came to visit. 
Earl  (I  think)  was  working  there. They will put together any package you 
want.  However,  Earl  didn't  really  know  how  to  price what I wanted and 
charged  me  full  price.  On Friday, Todd and I had the couples massage. His 
was  rough  and  mine was too gentle. It was nice, though, and I heard myself 
snore  once.  We  were  in a big room that also had a large hydrotub, as they 
also  offer  a couples package that includes that. They offer another couples 
package  where you are taught to massage. Facial--on Monday at 10 a.m., I had 
the  European  facial  with  Norma.  It  was  very personalized and lasted 70 
minutes  and  cost  $60.  There  are a variety of facials available. This one 
includes  the  steam  and a mask. She massaged my hands but not the scalp and 

Wrap--on  Tuesday  at  9  a.m.,  I  was scheduled for a paraffin wrap. I told 
Elaine  I  was  worried  that  the  front  of my legs were too burnt. She had 
Pauline  do  a  seaweed wrap with aloe and lavendar. During the wrap, I had a 
reflexology.  Afterward,  I  had  paraffin  on  my hands and feet. Before the 
wrap,  I  was  placed  in  the  dry  sauna.  They tried to get the steam room 
working  and  stuck  me  in  there  for  a  few  minutes  because I wanted to 
experience  it  (I  love this at other places). Pauline sprayed peppermint in 
there.  That  was  neat,  but she couldn't really get the steam going. Elaine 
charged  me  $90 for all of that since I had booked several things but hadn't 
booked an existing package.

The  spa  uses  orange-scented  towels.  They  are nice. Not very obvious are 
lockers  behind  the  desk. Also, they have hairspray, private shower, facial 
mist, and some other amenities.

Next  to the spa's hot tub are hot and cold plunge pools. A lot of wails were 
heard  from  those  trying  the  cold  plunge pool, as the temperature was 50 
degrees.  I had no trouble getting appointments at the spa. They are open 9-7 
daily.  The spa treatment rooms have piped-in music that is soothing, but you 
can  hear  people talk in other rooms. There are cut-glass windows to provide 
a  look  of  more space. The saunas were a mixed bag. Only one of the two hot 
ones  was  ever  hot, and the wet saunas never worked. One didn't even have a 
door.  To  be  10 months old, that was a huge disappointment. Showers and the 
saunas were uni-sex.

Monday  through  Friday,  a power walk is held at 8 a.m. I chose to do my own 
workout  at  that time most days. At 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, a water 
aerobics  class  is  held  at the main pool. That is a lot of fun and usually 
attended  by  about  20  people. I tried it two days (once it rained) and got 
points.  Monday  through  Friday,  a class is held at the gym at 4.p.m. Uriel 
did  what  he  had  scheduled  even when all attendees wanted to do something 
else.  I  attended  three  days  (all  week  days  except  day of arrival and 
departure).  One  day,  we  did  step  aerobics.  Another  day,  we did a gym 
curcuit.  The other day, we did a high/lo aerobics work-out and floor work. I 
tried  to  do  1-3  workouts  a day. I only got Todd to the gym once. I tried 
barbells but couldn't tell the weight of bar to match with home.

Slot Machines

There  are  about  a dozen by the pool tables. These are quarter slots. There 
are  a  few other games, such as video poker, and very few $1 machines. There 
was  always  an  attendant  there  any time of day or night when I came by. I 
remembered  one from last year. I won $250 one night playing on $20. We tried 
$20 a day between us and left the trip with $210 in winnings.

Beach Bar and Grill

The  bar  opens  from  11  a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and perhaps late a
p.m.  -  3 a.m.). The grill opens from around 11 a.m. and stays open into the 
night.  Alcoholic  and  Non- alcoholic drink specials are posted at the beach 
bar and main swim-up pool par (two menus are not the same). Afternoon Tea

Tea  and  coffee  were  always  available  at  a  table near the tree bar and 
Internationale  restaurant.  Sometime  during the afternoon, fruit is brought 
out.  At night, coffee and tea were available for self-service beside the bar 
by the Forum.

Piano Bar

The  pianist  plays  beginning  at 11 p.m. We never saw him. Another piano is 
set up outside the Forum, and we heard some tunes there.

Shuttle to Sandals Ocho Rios

The  shuttle runs every 1-2 hours Sandals Ocho Rios. The schedule for each is 
in  the  lobby  near  where  the bus comes. They fill up early, so come 10-15 
minutes before scheduled departure. In the evenings, the bus is infrequent.


Lots  going  on  during the day and then the jazz band plays. After that, the 
cabaret  shows  are  held at 9:30 in the indoor room called the Forum. It was 
always   about   half  full.  See  the  theme  activities  section  for  more 
information  on  entertainment.  We heard 3 different reggae singers--two men 
and one woman and saw some costumed shows.

Departure and Return Home

When  checking  out  you can request American Airlines frequent flyer points. 
We  had  to check out at 9 a.m. We never got a note stating what time to have 
our  bags  out,  but  we  called  at  9 to have them picked up after enjoying 
breakfast  and a last trip to the Jacuzzi and a beach stroll. Our bus left at 
9:30  a.m.  The  bus was huge and full. We stopped on the way down for a rest 
stop and again at Sandals Royal Jamaican and Montego Bay.

Check  in  at  the airport was no problem. They had a Miami line, and we were 
third  in line. Since our skycap had taken bags for someone to Funjet, we had 
trouble  getting  our  bags from him by the time we needed them for check-in. 
Departure  tax  remains  $21  per  person  U.S.  We  had  time for a Jamaican 
Farewell stop before boarding our 12:50 flight.

Customs  in Miami took a long time, as it took 40 minutes to collect our dog-
inspected  bags.  Even  with  all of that, we still had hours to wait for our 
flight.  We went to the gate and waited a couple of hours. Then, I noticed we 
had  a  gate  change. We hurried to the tram and went for our 7:30 flight. We 
arrived  back in Houston at 9 p.m. We waited a long time for our bags and the 
bus to the parking lot and arrived home at 10:10.

Returnee Program

The  Ultra-Club  is  the  reward  system  for returnees. Instead of number of 
trips,  they  will  be  rewarding  by  number  of  nights. After 70 nights, 7 
nights,  land  only,  will  be  awarded  free. Getting our silver sandals and 
returnee  gifts  was a hassle, since they lost or ignored my fax (also didn't 
do  anything  for our anniversary, which was in the fax). Once again, we were 
almost  called liars trying to get our gifts. We found out the reunion outing 
was  going  on  at  that very moment and was a trip to a botanical garden. We 
could  have  easily  gone  but  weren't  invited  after spending 40 nights at 
Sandals. We were told they'd "make a note of it". Comments

Sandals  Dunns  River  is  a  very  active resort. This has disadvantages for 
people  that just want quiet and to be alone. Privacy and quiet can be found, 
but  they are not available everywhere at all times. Because the resort is so 
full,  there is very seldom the frustration of searching for an activity only 
to  find  that  the activity coordinator didn't show up. Services such as the 
tour  desk, guest relations (where dinner reservations are made), casino, and 
bank  have longer hours than many resorts. Breakfast and lunch buffets at The 
Terrace  are  usually  a  disappointment,  but  the  a la carte breakfast and 
extensive  beach  grill  help  make  up for this by offering more variety and 
options.  Staff was very friendly and interested in service. There were quite 
a  few  gaps  in  service, and the staff obviously works at least 3 levels of 
advancement.  In  the  service  department,  there  are managers just walking 
around  to  see  what  the lowest level are doing wrong. This makes them feel 
threatened.  Housekeeping  came  between  10  and  3.  There was no turn-down 
service,  and  sheets  are  only  changed  if  you  put  the card on your bed 
requesting  it. Guests can fill out a survey upon checkout. Negative comments 
are  circulated among the staff for review. The cards are placed in a drawing 
held  twice  a  year. People are sunbathing by 8 a.m. Unless they drink juice 
or  water  from  the  buffet, there are not many drinks available until 10 or 
10:30  a.m.  Self-serve  soda  machines  have  been added, but the Diet Pepsi 
never  worked,  and  there  were almost never any glasses. I used the machine 
for  soda  water  several  times  when I had my own glass. The day we left, I 
went  to 3 bars trying to get a glass, but was told by all they weren't open. 
Only  the  3rd  place gave me a glass (no soda) and offered Todd orange juice 
after  assuring us he was not open. Coffee and tea are available all the time 
near the lobby.

The  arrival  greeting  should  always be as advertised in the brochure, even 
when  guests  arrive at 7 p.m. After a 10 hour trip, guests look forward to a 
certain level of service, and the greeting leaves a lasting impression.

Weddings  were  held  on  the  stairway to the tennis courts. Receptions were 
held  in  the  gardens. Those who got married on the resort enjoyed it, but I 
would  think  some  of  the  other  Sandals  resorts offer a better choice of 
location.  Photos  are  taken  around  the property, and there is a setup for 
taking  pictures  at the beach. Generally, there were several weddings a day. 
Note  the  48 hour residency before a wedding is weekday. Once couple arrived 
on Friday and couldn't get married until Tuesday.

Activity  centers  on the elongated strip that houses most of the facilities. 
Oceanview  rooms  in  the  two  high  rise  buildings have the best view. The 
building  with  the luxury rooms may not have the best view, but it is newer. 
The other high rise is the old Hilton Hotel. The two story buildings are add-
ons.  If  the  resort  decides  to  add more rooms, they would likely convert 
those  two  to  have more floors or to be one building. The sand and beach at 
SDR  have  a  nice  tan shade and are picturesque. The beach does not provide 
the  opportunity  to  walk for miles and miles. You can walk down the stretch 
on  the property, and I enjoyed that. You can also pass the guards and walk a 
ways on either side of the property, but expect hagglers if you do that.

For  the very best in all-inclusive luxury in Jamaica, pick a Grand Lido or a 
different  Sandals,  perhaps.  However,  Sandals Dunns River provides a great 
opportunity  for  a  good  vacation. There is quite a variety of things to do 
and  see,  and  the  various  specialty  restaurants  and dinner buffets give 
guests an opportunity to sample local and international cuisine. 

| CTR Home | << Back | ToC | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Next >> | Search |