Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 106
July 15, 2000

Last Update July 14, 2000

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |


ST. JOHN: CANEEL BAY BY LARA SOLONICKNE

Trip 5/00

My  husband and I set out for our first visit to St. John, USVI in May 
2000. We stayed at Caneel Bay.

Before  we left, I read some reports of children dominating the resort 
(even  in  areas  that  are designated adults only). Four weeks before 
our  trip,  my  husband  called Rosewood Hotels & Resorts (managers of 
Caneel)  in Dallas to voice his concerns about these reports. With the 
prices  at  Caneel,  and  limited  vacation  time,  we  wanted to feel 
comfortable  about our decision to stay there. Rosewood was completely 
responsive  and two people called my husband back within the afternoon 
to  answer  our  questions.  General  Manager  Brian Young spoke to my 
husband  at  length and ensured us that Luigi Romaniello, the Resident 
Manger  of  Caneel,  would  be  made  aware  of our concerns before we 
arrived  at the resort. I was impressed with their responsiveness, and 
took this as an excellent harbinger of things to come.

Getting There and Checking In

We flew United Airlines direct from Chicago into St. Thomas.

Caneel  Bay  has  an  area at the St. Thomas airport for its guests to 
gather.  We  actually checked in while at the airport and got our room 
assignment.  Simultaneously,  Caneel staffers labeled our luggage with 
the room tags. Check-in took about two minutes.
Then  after  five  minutes, the guests hopped in a van. We drove about 
25  minutes to a dock where the Caneel boat was waiting. The boat ride 
to the resort took another 25 minutes.
On  arrival,  Luigi  was  on  the dock to meet the guests. The bellmen 
whisked  our  bags  off the boat and went off to put them in the room. 
We  were  offered  cool  towels  and  then we went in a golf cart with 
Yancie  Toran,  Director  of  Rooms,  for  a  brief tour of the resort 
before we went to our room.

History

Laurance  Rockefeller  created  Caneel  Bay  resort in the 1950’s. Not 
only  did  he  purchase the old Caneel Bay plantation land on which he 
built the resort; he also purchased a large percentage of St. John.

Rockefeller   donated   the   Caneel  Bay  property  to  a  non-profit 
foundation  supported  by the Rockefeller family. The foundation later 
donated  thousands  of  acres  surrounding the property to the federal 
government,  which  became  St.  John National Park. Therefore, Caneel 
has a unique location in the middle of the park.
Rosewood  has  been  managing  the  resort  since  the  early  1990’s. 
Rockefeller’s  original  cottage  (called Cottage 7) is still standing 
and  has  been  divided  into  several  very expensive rooms that hold 
priceless  antiques.  Rockefeller,  at  age  90, was at the resort the 
week before we arrived.

Rooms

The  architecture  of  Caneel  was  intended  to  blend  in  with  the 
landscape.  The  rooms  are  in  one-  or  two-story  blocks  and  the 
buildings are dull dark beige. 
We  had  a  beachfront room on Hawksnest Beach. We stayed in room 125, 
on the second floor on the end of a two-story block.
Room was large, especially by Caribbean standards. 
Our  room  had a king bed with a feather duvet thing and thick sheets. 
Very, very comfortable.

We  had  a  mini-bar stocked with drinks and food. The resort provided 
us  with a complimentary bottle of rum and bottled water. Housekeeping 
refilled a small cooler with ice daily.

The  bathroom  had a double sink and plenty of counter space. It had a 
lighted  makeup  mirror,  blow  dryer,  and  full-length mirror on the 
wall.  There  was  plenty  of hot water and water pressure was decent. 
They   provided   us  with  large  amounts  of  mango  soap,  shampoo, 
conditioner,  and  lotion  and gave us more each day. Towels were big, 
expensive,  soft,  and  clean.  We  had eight beach towels in our room 
each day.
There  was  also  a walk-in closet with a lock box. In the closet were 
bug sprays, and a citronella candle if needed.

The  room  was  air-conditioned, although it had some louvered windows 
on  every  exterior wall that we could open if we wanted to forego the 
A/C. There was a ceiling fan over the bed.

Note  that the rooms do not have telephones or televisions. The resort 
provides   telephones  at  various  “phone  stations”  throughout  the 
resort.  Television  is  available  at  the  Beach Bar, and the resort 
shows  a  movie  every  night at 9 p.m. If guests need to check email, 
there is a PC in the lobby area.

There  were  two porches: one on each side of the room. The porch that 
faced  the  water  has  a  lounger and a chair. We used the porch that 
faced  the  interior of the resort to dry our clothes (Caneel provided 
a drying rack).
When  we  arrived, Brian Young had sent us a bottle of champagne and a 
fruit basket. A nice touch.

Do  not expect a sterile hotel room that you would find in the U.S. at 
large  hotel  chains.  The  rooms  are  simply  furnished and designed 
Caribbean-style, with tiled floors and lots of charm.

The  real  thing  I  noticed about what we got for our money at Caneel 
was  attention to detail. This importance of this is often overlooked. 
For  example,  each night housekeeping provided turndown service. They 
placed  a  shell and a little card with a philosophical thought on the 
pillow.

Housekeeping  was  unbelievable.  The  rooms were spotless. During the 
week,  our  toilet  and  our mini-bar stopped working. Caneel had them 
fixed immediately.
The  room was totally quiet. We did not hear our neighbors at all—just 
the  ocean  waves  outside.  I  did  not  see  any children staying at 
Hawksnest.  We  did  have a problem with our smoke alarm that went off 
sporadically until we removed it from the ceiling.
If  I were going back, I would stick with the beachfront category. The 
rooms are literally five steps from the beach.

The  category  up  from  beachfront  is  premium. These are located on 
Scott  Beach,  Paradise Beach, and Caneel Beach. The premium rooms are 
the  same  distance  from the beach as the beachfront rooms. I did not 
see  the  inside  of  these  rooms  so  I  cannot  compare them to the 
beachfront.

The  next  category  down  is oceanview, and some of the rooms in this 
category   have   much  better  locations  than  others.  If  you  are 
considering  oceanview,  you  should  have Caneel fax you a map of the 
rooms  and  pick  one  that  is strategically located. Most oceanviews 
have only a 1-2 minute walk to the beach.
The  courtside  rooms and tennis garden rooms are conveniently located 
to  the tennis courts, the fitness center, and the Equator restaurant. 
However,  they  are  a haul to the beach, with the nearest beach being 
Caneel.  Tennis garden rooms looked interesting from the outside—stone 
structures with outdoor showers.

Beaches 

Caneel  has  seven  beaches:  Hawksnest,  Turtle Bay, Scott, Paradise, 
Caneel,  Little Caneel, and Honeymoon. Following is a capsule analysis 
of  the  four  main  ones.  All  the  beaches were uncrowded—some were 
literally  deserted  in  the middle of the day. And the water is clear 
at all and the sands are white and soft.

I  think  the best beach is Turtle Bay. Snorkeling is fantastic there, 
and  the  beach  is wide and has the softest sand. The one downside is 
that  there are many mosquitoes there, even during the day. Turtle Bay 
gets sun all day.

Scott  Beach  is also expansive, but the ocean floor is very rocky and 
we  needed  shoes  to walk in the water. Snorkeling is also first-rate 
there  (but  not as good as at Turtle Bay), and we always saw turtles. 
Scott Beach gets afternoon sun.

Hawksnest  Beach  is  the  most private, but it has lots of seaweed on 
the  beach.  Hawksnest  Beach  gets  sun  in  the  morning  and  early 
afternoon. It can also be a little breezy on this beach.

Caneel  Beach  is  also  nice, but busier with cruise ship passengers, 
and  kids.  Water  sports are located on Caneel Beach. If you snorkel, 
you  can  see  manta  rays  and the big barracuda that lives under the 
float. Caneel Beach gets late morning and afternoon sun.
There  is  no drink service on the beaches except for Caneel. And even 
on  Caneel,  we  would  only  see  a  waiter  come by every few hours. 
Regular bar service on Caneel Beach would have been a plus.

Getting Around the Grounds

Caneel  Bay  is an eco-resort with natural landscaping. There are many 
animals on the grounds: iguanas, donkeys, mongoose, pelicans, crabs.
The  property  is  huge—170 acres—and Caneel has air-conditioned buses 
and  golf carts to shuttle guests around. You can walk from one end to 
the  other,  but  it takes about 20 minutes. This becomes a big hassle 
when you remember you left something in your room. 

Therefore,  what  happens  is that you pack your beach bag or backpack 
for  the  day and carry all your stuff with you. It rather defeats the 
purpose  of  staying  at  a  beachfront resort—you are not always near 
your room.

Something  that  was  mildly upsetting was that non-guests used Caneel 
towels,  Caneel  chairs, and the Caneel buses to take advantage of the 
property  for  free, while I had a monster Visa bill waiting for me at 
home.   Caneel  must  crack  down  on  the  non-guests  usage  of  the 
facilities. Why stay when you can play on someone else’s dollar?
There  are  also two trails on the Caneel property that are maintained 
by  the U.S. Parks Service. Turtle Point Trail leads around the cliffs 
east  of  Turtle  Bay.  The  Hawksnest  Trail  leads from the rooms at 
Hawksnest  Beach, along the water, and connects with the Caneel Trail. 
These trails take about 20-30 minutes to walk through.

Food

Caneel  has  four  restaurants:  Equator, Turtle Bay Estate House, the 
Beach  Terrace  Dining  Room, and the Beach Bar. You need reservations 
for all the restaurants except the Beach Bar, so plan ahead.

Our  favorite restaurant was Equator. The restaurant is located within 
sugar  mill ruins. The décor, open-air seating, and view of St. Thomas 
were  spectacular. Equator features Caribbean cuisine and the menu did 
not  change  the  week  we  were  there,  although they did have daily 
specials.  We  went to Equator Tuesday and Wednesday nights for dinner 
and  the meals and service were perfect. Then we went back on Saturday 
night,  and  there  was  a  different  staff  and the service was poor 
(messed  up our dinner orders, lost track of us, etc.). So, stick with 
Equator on the weeknights.

There  were  some  special  “romantic” dinners held outside at private 
tables  in  the  ruins. To me, it seemed as if they were eating in the 
house from the Blair Witch Project!
Turtle  Bay  is  indoors,  has  a  more formal atmosphere, and is air-
conditioned.  It  consists  of  two  rooms,  each  surrounded by glass 
doors,  with  high  ceilings  and lots of bleached wood. I did not see 
any  children at Turtle Bay. We ate there on Friday and Sunday nights, 
and  service  and  food were great. Nevertheless, Turtle Bay lacks the 
ambiance of Equator.
As  an  example  of  the  type of service we received at Caneel, I can 
impart  this  story. At our first dinner at Turtle Bay, my husband and 
I  placed  our  entrée  orders,  and  the  server said, “That’s it? No 
special  requests?  That  was too easy.” So my husband said, “Well, if 
you  insist,  I  really  would like some tuna, but I did not see it on 
the  menu.”  He  said  that if they had tuna, he would take that as an 
entrée,  and if not, he would just take what he originally ordered. So 
a  few minutes later, the chef comes to our table, introduces herself, 
and  asks  about the tuna order. She told my husband that they did not 
have  any  tuna  in her kitchen, but they had some at Equator, and she 
would  be  happy  to  send  someone  down  to  Equator to get it if my 
husband  wanted  it.  The staff at Caneel was always willing to go the 
extra mile to satisfy the guests.

The  Beach  Terrace holds the breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. We 
had  breakfast  there  every  day. They have a table of fresh fruit, a 
table  of  pastries,  and  a  table  with  about  10  types  of juices 
including  tamarind,  mango,  and  papaya.  They  also have cereal and 
yogurt.  As  for  hot  dishes,  there  is  French  toast, hash browns, 
crepes,  bacon,  sausage,  and  a  grill  where the chef cooks eggs to 
order  and  Belgian  Waffles.  Every morning the hostess seated us and 
handed  us  the  New  York  Times  facsimile. We did not eat there for 
lunch.
As  for  dinners  on  the  Beach Terrace, we only went to the renowned 
buffet  on  Monday  night.  They served Caribbean lobster tails, prime 
rib,  and  several  other  entrees.  They  had a huge pile of enormous 
fresh  shrimp  under  an  ice sculpture. For dessert, they had a table 
with about 10 choices.

Now  for the story of the Beach Bar. We ate at the Beach Bar for lunch 
almost  every  day.  They  have  the  same  menu  every day, and it is 
limited:  wings,  nachos,  burgers,  jerk  chicken,  some  salads, and 
swordfish  burger.  However,  the  food  was  tasty,  and  the  fruity 
(guava?) BBQ sauce they used for the wings was out of this world.

During  the week, service was fine at the Beach Bar. But weekends were 
another  story.  Saturday,  we waited over 30 minutes for a server (no 
one  came),  so  my  husband  ended  up placing our own food and drink 
orders  and  picking them up himself. Then the servers showed up after 
we had already placed our orders and gave us attitude.
Sunday  lunch  was  equally  bad.  We  waited 30 minutes again–with no 
server  in  sight.  My  husband again placed the drink and food orders 
himself.  When  he  returned,  our  server had magically appeared. She 
picked  up  our  drinks  for  us from the bar, and we mentioned to her 
that  we  had  to  make our flight and needed our food fast. We waited 
another  20  minutes  for  our burgers. All the other people at tables 
around  us  were extremely irritated as well. Our server had vanished. 
So  my  husband goes down to the grill and sees everyone’s food orders 
sitting  there  ready to be served and our server standing next to the 
bar  doing  nothing. My husband brought our food up himself and it was 
cold  already.  This  poor  service  was inexcusable. The Beach Bar is 
understaffed  and  there  are  no  managers  on  site.  This  must  be 
remedied.

As  an  aside,  I  have  read many reports of people griping about the 
food  at  Caneel. I live in large city, I eat out a lot, and I enjoyed 
the  creative  cooking  and  presentation.  If  you  are  not  used to 
Caribbean foods, you might not like some of the spicier/local dishes.
The  drink  of  choice  is  the BBC. It is Bailey's, rum, bananas, and 
coconut milk. 
Dress  for  dinner  is  sundresses or pants for women; collared shirt, 
pants,  and  no  sandals  for  men. I saw many men buying shoes at the 
boutique because they brought the wrong type. 

Meal  prices  that I recall are as follows: breakfast was $20pp at the 
buffet.  Lunches  at beach bar would run about $40 for two, buffet was 
$40pp.  Dinner  entrees  were  $30-42, soups $6-$8, salads $6-$9. Wine 
lists  were decent with the normal markups. Tropical mixed drinks were 
$7-$7.50 apiece.

We  were  on  the  “Classic  Caribbean”  package,  which  meant we had 
breakfast  and  dinner (and gratuities) included. My recommendation is 
to  take  a  meal plan that includes lunch so that it may be more cost 
effective  to  eat  at  the  buffet  and  you  can avoid the Beach Bar 
lunchtime!

Caneel  also  can  pack  a picnic lunch for two for $38. We ate our on 
Hawksnest  Beach.  We  got  two  sandwiches,  a  pasta or fruit salad, 
cheese  and crackers, apples, cookies, and two juices. The price was a 
little steep, if you ask me.

Activities/Sports

I  will  only comment on the activities and sports in which my husband 
and I participated.
The  big  activity at Caneel Bay is tennis, and many guests play. They 
have  11 perfectly maintained courts, and a pro shop that has clothes, 
strings, grips, beer!–pretty much anything you would need.

There  were  drills  or  round  robins  every  day  except  Sunday. In 
addition,  many  people  were taking private and semi-private lessons. 
The  pro  was  Giff  Searls,  of Peter Burwash International. Giff was 
enthusiastic  and  encouraged  players to participate in the scheduled 
activities,  and  also  did  game-matching and tried to set us up with 
opponents  of  the  same  ability  level.  My husband and I took a few 
drills  from  Giff  and he is an expert instructor. He has a knack for 
finding  technical  problems  in your stroke production and giving you 
creative solutions.

There  is  a  dress  code  on  the courts: collared shirts and tennis-
specific shoes.

Caneel  has  an  air-conditioned fitness center—one of the best I have 
seen  in  the  Caribbean.  It is spotless and the equipment is new and 
well  maintained.  They  have  aerobic machines (treadmills, steppers, 
and  bikes), Cybex machines, free weights, resist-a-balls, and some of 
those abdomen contraptions. Personal training is available as well.
I   also  took  some  aerobics  classes,  which  are  offered  Monday, 
Wednesday,  and  Friday.  These classes were brutal--the instructor is 
awesome.  The  classes  consisted  of mostly high-impact aerobics with 
some  kickboxing  thrown  in.  They  conduct  the classes in the small 
fitness   center,   which  is  a  shame  because  an  instructor  that 
proficient  should  have  some  dedicated equipment (like steps) and a 
separate aerobics room.

My  husband  did  some  windsurfing,  and commented that the equipment 
Caneel  has  in  is  terrific condition. They have a variety of boards 
and  sail  sizes.  The watersports staff was helpful as well. The only 
trouble he had was that it was not windy enough on Caneel Beach.

Caneel  has  snorkeling  equipment  that  guests can check out for the 
time  they  are there. The best snorkeling is found off Turtle Bay and 
Scott Beaches.
On  Monday  night, there is a manager’s cocktail party for the guests. 
They  have  tropical  drinks  and wine, and table of appetizers. I did 
not see any of the guests socializing there.
Clientele

Guests  at Caneel Bay were almost exclusively from the U.S. and almost 
all  came  as  couples. There were also many honeymooners. (There were 
about two weddings a day on site at Caneel.)

There  were  few children in May, and all were under the age of six. I 
would  say  that  I  saw  less  than 15 children the whole week—all on 
Caneel  Beach.  I  did  hear  a  story  about a rambunctious kid whose 
parents  thought it would be appropriate to bring him on the “Romantic 
Sunset  Cruise” and he was ill behaved and ruined the trip for all the 
adults.  However,  it  seemed as if most of the parents were sensitive 
that Caneel is primarily an adult resort.

There  were  all age ranges represented. It is hard for me to guess at 
an average age—I would say late 30’s.

Most  of  the people seemed friendly enough, although it was rare when 
someone  would  engage  us in conversation. Like I said, the resort is 
quiet and everyone kept to himself or herself.

Despite  the  price,  I  would  not call the resort stuffy. There were 
some  jerks: the older lady screaming at the tennis staff across three 
courts  to  bring  her  a  new racquet to play with or when my husband 
made  an  innocuous  comment to a preppy-looking guy at the bar and he 
snorted  and turned away because he could not engage in a conversation 
with  just anyone! At the other extreme, there was the young, no-class 
honeymooner  who  launched  a big wad of spit as he was walking by the 
area  where  people  were  quietly  having  cocktails.  So you get all 
types, I suppose.

Hazards

The  bugs (mosquitoes and no see ‘ums) were no worse at Caneel than on 
other  Caribbean  islands  in May. I did not have a problem during the 
day  except  on  Turtle  Bay.  Regular bug spray will not be effective 
against  these guys—you need a product with at least 21% DEET. The OFF 
they  supply  in  the  room will not protect you, and they do not sell 
this  level  of  spray  in  the resort store. You must bring it. Also, 
bring Benadryl cream in case you are bitten.

The  resort  store does not sell sunblock higher than 20 and we burned 
wearing 30. Bring 50 and a hat.

Excursions

The   “Classic  Caribbean”  package  included  three  excursions:  the 
Romantic  Sunset  Cruise,  Buccaneer  Beach  Barbecue, and Day Trip to 
Little Dix Bay.
Due  to  rain,  we did not get to go on the Romantic Sunset Cruise. It 
runs  5.30-7.00 on Sun, Tues, Thurs and includes a steel band and hors 
d’oeuvres  (shrimp,  veggies, cheese and crackers) and rum punches and 
beer. 

Buccaneer  Beach  Barbecue was a waste of time. We went to Water Lemon 
Cay  for snorkeling. The snorkeling was better at the resort on Turtle 
Bay  and  the  other resort beaches. Then they took us to a beach that 
was  not  as nice as the ones at Caneel and we had a typical BBQ lunch 
(burgers,  fish,  salads,  and  potato  chips).  Then we went back and 
realized  we  spent  an  entire  day  on  a trip that did not offer us 
better than what we had at Caneel. 

We  were  turned  off after the wasted time on the BBQ and skipped the 
trip  to  Little  Dix. No one gave the trip a rave review, and all the 
repeat  guests  skipped  it. We just did not want to waste another day 
in a boat. 

The  excursions  are  a  good  way to meet people on the resort. It is 
difficult otherwise since things are so spread out.

If  I  had to do it again, I would get the breakfast/lunch/dinner meal 
plan  and  forego  the  Classic Caribbean package. The excursions that 
Classic  Caribbean  includes  are not that wonderful and, if you want, 
you can still go on them and pay separately. 

Service

Almost  all  the  staff  at Caneel were gracious and went out of their 
way  to  be  friendly  and  did  whatever  they could to make our stay 
better.
Thank  you  to  Giff  Searls  (tennis),  Peter  (wine  steward),  John 
(security),  Mat  (server),  Larry  Nibbs  (chef), Josephine (server), 
Claudia  (chef),  Scholastica (pro shop), Marlin (server), and all the 
others who made us feel at home at Caneel Bay.

Checking Out and Going Home

Check  out  was  awful. They sent us a statement the evening before we 
were  to  leave with all our charges. They overcharged us almost $400, 
and  every other guest we spoke to had similar problems at both Caneel 
and  Little  Dix.  Most  of the discrepancies can be attributed to the 
servers entering improper data for guests on the meal plans.
To  rectify  the  errors,  my  husband  sat  at  the front desk for 35 
minutes.  The  front  desk  staff  has to fill out a separate form for 
each  error,  and when there are more than 10 overcharges, this can be 
very time consuming.

Keep  every receipt you get and cross check it against your bill. They 
charged  us  for  meals  that  were  included  on  the meal plan, room 
service  we  never  had,  tips that servers at restaurants arbitrarily 
added onto the bill. This, frankly, is inexcusable.
You  must  leave  Caneel  about two hours before your scheduled flight 
time. We made our flight with no problem.

One  thing  I  did  not  know  is  that  U.S.  citizens have to show a 
passport  or  birth  certificate  to return to the U.S. Fortunately, I 
brought  mine,  but I presumed that immigration would only need to see 
a driver’s license since the Virgin Islands are a U.S. territory.

Summary

Caneel  is  a  huge,  very  expensive,  very  American resort. I never 
really  got  the  feeling  like  I was in the Caribbean at Caneel, but 
that  may  be  the  case  with  resorts  in  the  USVI in general. The 
essential  question  is one of value for the money. At Caneel Bay, you 
pay  a  premium  for  the  privacy.  I  am still undecided whether the 
resort is worth the high price tag.

You  must  be  aware of the quiet atmosphere and sheer size of Caneel. 
If  you  do not mind the shuttle buses, if you go to bed early, if you 
are  really  into snorkeling and the beach, you will enjoy Caneel Bay. 
If  you  are  looking for a more active, intimate resort, you would be 
happier elsewhere.

This  might  give  you  a better idea of whether you would like Caneel 
Bay.  The  first  night there, we went to Turtle Bay for cocktails and 
to  watch  the  sunset.  We  sat outside on a couch on a stone terrace 
that  overlooks  the  bay.  There were probably 20 other people on the 
terrace  as  well. It was dead silent. No one said a word for about 15 
minutes  as  the  sun  went  down.  If this sounds like heaven to you, 
Caneel Bay would be perfect.
I  am  glad I went to Caneel Bay, and now I can say I have been to one 
of the finest resorts in the Caribbean.

ST. JOHN BY SANDY AND DAVE DUDICH

Trip 5/00

We  made our fourth visit to St. John on 6 - 14 May 2000 and stayed at 
Villa  Serenity,  which  is located at Francis Bay, on the North Shore 
next to the Maho Bay Campground. 

Previously  in  October  1996 and October 1997, we had stayed at Cloud 
Nine  at the top of Gift Hill overlooking Cruz Bay and the Westin, and 
in  February 1999, we had stayed at Rosebay further on down Gift Hill. 
Previously  we  had rented through Caribbean Villas, but the owners of 
Cloud  Nine have now gone out on their own - www.cloud9villas.com - so 
we  went  with  them.  This  time  they  were  renting a place - Villa 
Serenity  -  within  walking  distance of our favorite beach - Francis 
Bay. (They no longer offer Villa Serenity.) 

During  our  previous  three visits to St. John we had always rented a 
jeep  to  get  around  the  island. When you are staying at a house on 
Gift  Hill  you really need a jeep both to go to any beaches and to go 
to  town for groceries. However jeeps on St. John are fairly expensive 
-  about  $350  per  week.  Since  Villa  Serenity  is  within walking 
distance  of  our  favorite  beach,  and  since  there  is  a Maho Bay 
campground  shuttle  that runs into Cruz Bay every two hours between 8 
am  and  8 pm, we decided to forego a jeep this time and stay at Villa 
Serenity.  In  addition,  Villa  Serenity  was  about  $1600  per week 
compared  to $1800 for Cloud Nine, so we saved about $500 overall. The 
tradeoff  was  that  we would miss the beautiful view from the hot tub 
at  Cloud  Nine.  On  our  previous trips we would start every morning 
having  coffee  in  the hot tub and watching the cruise ships entering 
St.  Thomas,  and we would end every evening having rum punches in the 
hot tub and watching the cruise ships leaving St. Thomas.

We  keep  returning  to  St.  John  for  the  beautiful  weather,  the 
beautiful  water,  the great snorkeling , and the solitude and privacy 
of  staying  at  our own villa. Our tradeoff in renting a villa rather 
than  a  hotel  room  or  condo  is that we do most of our own cooking 
rather  than  eating  out.  Groceries  on  St.  John  tend  to be both 
expensive  and  in limited variety. We bought a small soft sided Igloo 
cooler  at  Walmart,  and we fill it with a 5 lb box of frozen shrimp, 
frozen  scallops,  crab  cakes,  and  frozen spaghetti sauce. Since we 
don’t  have  to  dress  to go out to dinner, we pretty much get by the 
entire  week  wearing  nothing more than a swimsuit. Therefore we back 
extremely  light  on clothes, and instead pack dry groceries - coffee, 
tea, bread, rice, etc. - and our snorkel gear, books, CDs, etc.

Because  of  its  location, the deck of Villa Serenity provides both a 
view  of  the  sunrise  over  Tortola,  BVI,  and  the sunset over St. 
Thomas.  In  May  sunrise  is around 5:30 am and sunset about 6:30 pm. 
After  watching  the  sunrise and having breakfast, we were usually on 
the  beach  at Francis Bay before 8:30 am. We’d stay until 1 pm or so, 
then  return  to  the house for lunch, spend the afternoon on the deck 
drinking  rum  punches  and  return  to the beach about 4 pm or so. On 
Monday  we  walked  up  to  Waterlemon  Cay - about a 40 minute walk - 
because  we had heard that the snorkeling around the Cay is fantastic. 
In  our  opinion the snorkeling was just as good at Francis Bay, so we 
spent  the rest of the days there. If you walk to the extreme right on 
Francis  Bay  out  towards  the  point,  the  snorkeling starts to get 
interesting  about halfway to the point. We saw sea turtles, rays, and 
even  a  nursery  shark,  as  well  as  many  beautiful fish and coral 
formations.

On  Friday  we had planned to take the around St. John snorkel tour on 
the  Sadie  Sea,  but  that  trip  was  canceled due to forecast rough 
weather  (  which  did  not materialize.) On Saturday we took Cruz Bay 
Watersports’  Blast  to  Jost Van Dyke. That trip was a disappointment 
compared  to  previous trips on the Stormy Petrel to The Baths, and on 
The  Breath  to  Norman  Island.  We only got about 30 minutes of good 
snorkeling in at Sandy Cay. 

Because  of  frequent  flyer  constraints we flew American Airlines on 
Saturday  May  6,  even  though  Villa Serenity would not be available 
until  Sunday.  We  stayed Saturday night at The Inn at Tamerind Court 
(www.tamarindcourt.com),  which  is  located  about  4 blocks from the 
ferry  dock  in  Cruz  Bay.  That worked out well, and we’d stay there 
again.  Actually,  next  time  we’ll plan to fly down on a Thursday or 
Friday,  stay  at  the  Tamarind  Inn  a couple of days next time, and 
schedule  our  boat trips while we are staying in Cruz Bay, and before 
we head out to Villa Serenity.

If  you’ve  never  been  to  St.  John before (or if you have been and 
stayed  in  the Westin or other hotel) I would recommend that you rent 
Cloud  Nine  (and  a  jeep). I’d recommend sailing to Norman Island on 
the  Breath  out  of  Coral  Bay  (contact  Connections 776-6922). I’d 
recommend  the  J&J  Texas  Cafe (right at the ferry dock) for a good, 
relatively  inexpensive  breakfast or lunch. If you’ve seen all of the 
beaches  and  other  sights, and are looking for a great place to stay 
near  a  great beach, then I’d recommend Villa Serenity. It would be a 
great  place  for an extended family, because it actually can sleep up 
to 11 people. 

ST. KITTS BY SHARON MEYER

Trip 5/00 

An  excellent vacation all around. The hotel was very nice, good food, 
clean  grounds,  lots  to  do  right there. You could borrow bicycles, 
games,  shoot  pool, play horseshoes, ping pong. The drinks were good, 
I  recommend  Ting  with  a  Sting.  Our  room  had a view of the golf 
course,  and  the views from the course itself were spectacular. Bring 
your camera on the course. 

There  were  so  many  excursions available we did not have time to do 
them  all.  We  took  the  resort  SCUBA  dive  course with Barry from 
Kenneth's  Dive Shop. We went on 2 dives(only one per day though). The 
second  dive  was  the  best,  we  saw  a  huge turtle crawling on the 
bottom,  and  lots  of variety of fish and coral. The first dive was a 
wreck and there were not as many fish. 

At  Turtle  Beach  monkeys  just come right up to people and will take 
fruit right out of your hand. The snorkeling here is good too. 

The  volcano/rainforest  hike  was  hard, when you go to the top there 
was  a  big  volcanic crater and a view of the ocean. Getting down was 
just  as  hard  because  it  was  wet  and slippery. You also get very 
dirty.  We  are  also  pleased  that  we got sports on TV, NBA and NHL 
playoff games. Did not miss a thing. 

I  definitely  recommend  this  island and this hotel for a reasonably 
priced week of fun and sun. 

ST. KITTS TRIP REPORT BY KRIS BURDETTE

Trip: June 19-28, 2000 

Left  on  a  Monday  from Dulles to St. Kitts via San Juan on American 
Airlines.  I  was  surprised  by  the  attitude  of  one of the flight 
attendants.  She  was  a bit plump with too much makeup, very rude, no 
smile  and  gave  us  the  feeling  that  everyone on the plane was an 
inconvenience   to  her.  Besides  that  all  went  smooth  until  our 
departing  flight  from San Juan to St. Kitts was delayed by two hours 
and  10  minutes,  due  to  brake  problems.  We  finally departed and 
arrived on St. Kitts a little over an hour later. 

I  was  very  impressed  with  the  airport  on St. Kitts. It was very 
clean,  modern  and  service was wonderful. We may have spent about 20 
minutes,  if  that,  from  the time we got off the plane until we were 
out  front waiting for a cab. As soon as we entered the front outside, 
airport  employees  asked  if we needed a cab and where we were going. 
They  told  us  not  to  grab  our bags the cab driver would. I do not 
recall the name of the cab driver, but he was very pleasant.

It  was  a  short  ride  to  the Frigate Bay Resort. The ladies at the 
reception  area  were friendly. They had a hard time getting my credit 
card  to  go  through  their  machine to be approved. We tried several 
cards,  finally  one  was  approved--for  the room charges if used. We 
were  given the key to our room, pool towel vouchers and a special VIP 
card  that  entitled  us  to  a 15% discount at the restaurant or pool 
bar.  The receptionist walked us to our room and had a young man bring 
our bags. 

We  stayed in the hillside room 207B on the ground floor. The room was 
quite  large  and roomy. I had warned my boyfriend, who had never been 
to  the  Caribbean, not to expect US hotel luxury. He was pleased upon 
entering  as  was I. We had two double beds, large dresser, window a/c 
that  worked too good at times, ceiling fan, 2 large closets, color tv 
w/  satellite,  phone,  mini  fridge and large bathroom area. The room 
was  simply  decorated, tiled floors and had a wonderful patio area. I 
must  give  the  hotel  credit on the bath towels. They were thick and 
fluffy,  not  those  cheap,  small,  thin  ones  some hotels use. Maid 
service  was  fine.  We  met  one  of  them,  I  believe  her name was 
Venietta.  All  were  friendly  as  we  came in contact with them. The 
grounds   of   the   hotel  were  beautifully  landscaped.  They  were 
constantly  being tended to each day, watering , raking, trimming. The 
swimming  pool  was  nice, with good quality chairs and umbrellas. The 
swim  up  pool  bar  was  a  nice  idea.  You  could see the Atlantic, 
Caribbean,  Royal  St. Kitts Golf Course and the Frigate Bay area from 
the grounds of the hotel near the pool and some of the rooms. 

We  ate  in  the  hotel restaurant for breakfast only, which I thought 
was  a bit on the expensive side. A continental breakfast was $10.50US 
and  $13.50US  for  choices of French toast, pancakes (both which were 
banana),  omelets,  scrambled  eggs.  The  two  bad  things  were  the 
service,  which was at times bad and others tolerable. And for the six 
or  seven times we ate breakfast there and got the same things we were 
never  charged the same price. It's a good thing for the VIP card that 
saved  us  15%,  breakfast usually for the three of us was about $35US 
and that was with the discount. 

We  ate  at  the pool bar the night we arrived, as we missed lunch due 
to  the  flight  delay  and  were  starving. We spent about $30US, for 
conch  fritters,  a hot dog , chicken wings and drinks. The service at 
the  pool  bar  was  a joke as well, depending on the person. The main 
female  who  worked  it,  was  hot and cold. Friendly one minute, then 
service  with  an  attitude  the  next.  The  service  was  slow and I 
expected  it,  but  not  quite  like that. Dion, who worked the bar at 
times,  was of course pleasant and speedy. My boyfriend who was not so 
sure  about  an  island trip decided, hey this wasn't so bad--he liked 
it.

The  night  we  arrived, they were having the manager's cocktail party 
which  was  very  nice. We got to met Sam Nagali (?sp) and the others. 
We  felt  very welcomed and they were terrific spending time with each 
hotel  guest.  They  had  already  heard  about  me  from  RFrost.  My 
boyfriend  and  the  other couple we were with got a kick out of that. 
They  made jokes, saying that with all of the internet searching I did 
and  because  people  already knew me, maybe there were pictures of me 
posted around the island. 

Day  one,  I  got  up before everyone else. I brought along my camera, 
binoculars  and  started  walking  down the road to Frigate Bay on the 
Atlantic  side. It took about 20-30 minutes. The walk was nice and not 
hard,  with  great  views.  I  walked the grounds of the Sea Lofts and 
went  to  the  beach.  Beautiful  beach,  but definitely too rough for 
swimming  and  it  was  very  windy. Took lots of pictures. I tried to 
find  a  bakery  to grab some breads for breakfast, but had no luck. I 
walked  back  to  the  hotel by going down the road to Timothy's Beach 
Resort  and  walked  along  Frigate(Caribbean  side)  back to hotel. I 
timed  the walk from the beach to the hotel, along side of golf course 
to  pool--3  minutes  and  not  strenuous  at  all.  I had heard mixed 
stories  on the walk. I definitely was a breeze, nothing to it. Around 
10am  we took a cab to South Friar's Beach. Our cab driver was Duke of 
Earl,  Sydney Carty's son. He dropped us off and picked us up later in 
the  day.  It  was  an absolutely beautiful beach, nice white sand and 
several  shacks  to  grab  a bite to eat. This beach was our favorite. 
There  may  have  been  about  15 people on it all day long. We had an 
excellent,  cheap lunch on the beach at the Sunset Cafe. We met Derek, 
who  was  a  great  host as well. It was a delicious lunch of chicken, 
rice  and beans. We rented two chairs and an umbrella for $5US for the 
day.  I  did not get the name of the lady behind the bar, but everyone 
here  was very welcoming and made the day very enjoyable. We found out 
later  in  the trip, that the best meals were at the places like this. 
I  forgot  to mention, that as of day one I was hooked on the Ting, my 
daughter  Ting  and  Fanta  and  the  men Carib. I think they may have 
depleted  the  island  supply  during  our stay. Now at home, they are 
having a hard time drinking Budweiser. 

After  showering  and changing, we went to Stonewalls for dinner. This 
place  definitely  wins  hands  down  for  setting. A beautiful garden 
setting  in  the middle of downtown, but you don't feel you are there. 
The  service  was top notch. One of the ladies there, forgot the first 
name,  last  name  Goldberg, said they call her Whoopi sometimes was a 
great  part  of  the  night.  Just  a bit of socializing, made us feel 
right  at  home.  I  did  have a great peppered mahi-mahi for my meal, 
which  was  one  of  the  better meals I had on this trip. I tried the 
flying  fish  fritters, which were okay. I didn't care for the tempura 
type  batter,  which  is  how  a lot of the fried foods were done. Day 
two,  we  took  the ferry to Nevis so the guys could play Four Seasons 
Golf  Course  and  we could beach it at Pinney's. Our cab driver John, 
happened  to be on the ferry over to Nevis and offered his service. We 
had  him  show  us  to  the  Nevis Bakery first to grab some treats. I 
loaded  up  for about $5US, what a deal. He then drove the guys to the 
course  and  us  to  the beach at Sunshines. I must admit, I had heard 
about  the  damage,  but did not expect the beach to look as it did. A 
bit  littered,  black  and tan sand and pretty beat up with barges out 
in  the  water.  John was still there, so we had him take us to Oualie 
for  awhile.  Oualie  was  an  improvement although a bit windy and we 
sort  of  got  sand  blasted.  It rained twice on us and stayed pretty 
cloudy.  The  beach chairs here were free to use, but it was easier on 
us,  if  we  stayed  in  the  water where the sand wasn't blowing. The 
beach  was  nicer  than  the part of Pinney's in front of Sunshines. I 
ordered  a  burger  for  my daughter to eat at Sunshines, since I knew 
she  wouldn't  like the selection there and took it with us. We got to 
Sunshines  at  around 1245, seated ourselves and Sunshine himself came 
and  took our orders. We got lucky, we got the last of the lobsters. I 
don't  know  what  the  actual  price of the lobster, tossed salad and 
bowtie  pasta salad came to, but well worth it. One of our best meals. 
The  atmosphere  was great, good times and laughs shared by all. I did 
not  try  the Killer Bees, but the other adults in the group did along 
with  Carib,  chicken and even the ribs. Our tab by 5pm was $160US. We 
got  lots of pictures of Sunshine and the others. The guys got in with 
the   Sunshine  and  the  locals  and  had  discussions  ranging  from 
politics,  sports,  education,  sex, women and anything else. This day 
was  great  and  all that I expected. My daughter finally got her hair 
braided,  by  a lady named "SweetPea" for $30US and everyone went back 
happy.  Well,  maybe  not  poor  John's sister Olivia, who had to tote 
back  two  drunk  men,  one slightly buzzed female and my daughter and 
myself  straight to the ferry dock. Took the ferry and cab back to the 
hotel.  Of  course,  my  daughter and I went to PJ's alone, as dad was 
passed  out on the bed in his underwear from a hard day of drinking at 
Sunshines.  PJ's  the  first time for us was very good, service wasn't 
bad.  I  had  the  goat  cheese  ravioli appetizer for my dinner, very 
tasty.  My  daughter got the bread pizza, but the bottom was burnt and 
black,  so  I  cut  it  off and she ate the rest and liked it. She had 
like  every  night,  vanilla ice cream for dessert and I the Tiramisu. 
That wasn't the best I've had, but it was good. 

Day  three  we  decided to do the island tour. I forgot to mention our 
new  cab  driver, who came into play on our previous day. I introduced 
myself  to Sydney Carty as he was out washing his taxi. I saw the name 
Carty's  Taxi  Service  on the window and knew of him by word of Rufus 
Frost.  From  that  point  on  Sydney  was  our cab driver. He took us 
everywhere  we  wanted to go, when we wanted to go, daily. He was very 
knowledgable  about  his  island  and did not zip around to get you to 
places  in  a  hurry.  He  talked  along the way, filling us in on the 
history  and  the  daily scene of the island. Our island tour which is 
usually  a  3  1/2  hour tour took about 5 hours. Sydney took his time 
and  we  appreciated that. He stopped for pictures and did not rush us 
at  Romney  Manor or Brimstone Hill. Unfortunately, by the time we got 
to  Brimstone  Hill  it  was  sprinkling  so we did not get to see the 
other  neighboring  islands.  You  could  barely  see  Statia  in  the 
distance.  We  did  however  get to see a great historical sight. This 
place  was  impressive,  the work that went in to it, unbelievable. We 
did  see  a  few small monkeys on the way down. Romney Manor/Caribelle 
Batik  was  another  worthwhile  sight.  The  grounds  were absolutely 
perfect.  The  cab  driver  said  they  have  a lot of weddings on the 
grounds.  I  could  see why. We got to see the process of the batik. I 
had  no  idea  that  it  took that many days for the final product. We 
also  saw the 350 year old Saman tree, which was huge. I took loads of 
pictures  and  they  all  came back perfect. Very lush, green and well 
landscaped.  He  took  us  to Kate Designs at Rawlins Plantation and I 
bought  one of her paintings. A smaller one, so I thought, thinking it 
would  fit  in  a  suitcase,  but  it didn't and I had to carry it the 
whole  time  on  the  way home from St. Kitts to US. It made it damage 
free.  We  saw  the  rest  of  the  island, except the SE peninsula. I 
enjoyed  the whole tour. We really got to see a lot of the island that 
tourists  usually  do not see. It really made me think of how lucky we 
are  for  the  home, cars and jobs we have and our ability to visit an 
island  like  that.  I  think  you  get  a better understanding of the 
people  by  seeing outside the hotel/restaurant/beaches. That evening, 
we  walked  up  to  Marshall's at Horizons Villas for dinner. This was 
the  place  for  top  notch,  professional, prompt service. The dining 
table  looked  out  over  the  Frigate  Bay  Caribbean  Beach with the 
swimming   pool   to  the  rear  of  the  dining  area-quiet,  breezy, 
candlelit.  I had the best pasta stuffed with portobello mushrooms and 
served  in  a creamy white sauce with seafood (shrimp, lobster, fish). 
The  conch chowder was good. I also had the conch fritters, which were 
disappointing  pretty much everywhere I went. Don't get me wrong, they 
were  good,  but  not  like  I  have had before in the Bahamas and the 
BVIs.  My  boyfriend  had the surf and turf and was very pleased. This 
meal was $160US, but worth it.

Day  four we took a daysail to Nevis aboard the Eagle Catamaran run by 
Leeward  Island  Charters.  Let me just say, I think this was the best 
part  of  my trip. The cost was $60US per person, my daughter was free 
(maybe  that's  why  I  liked  it  so  much). We departed at 930am and 
sailed  for a bit to Shitten Bay. They let us snorkel for an hour in a 
depth  of  about  18  feet.  The  snorkeling was so-so. The visibility 
wasn't  that  great,  but we did see fish and I took some pictures. My 
daughter  was  afraid  to  get in the water with her gear, so they put 
her  on  a  small  plastic board/boat with a glass bottom view window. 
She  loved  this. I was able to snorkel along side her. Unfortunately, 
my  boyfriend  who  had never snorkeled before was unable to. He tried 
several  masks  and  couldn't  get  them to seal. One of the crew said 
"Mon,  you  should  have  shaved  and  it  would  have fit." He was on 
vacation  and  had that three day stubble. So, he missed out. After we 
all  boarded  the  boat,  it  set  sail to Pinney's beach up past Four 
Seasons  close  to  Lovers  Beach. This beach was 100% better than the 
part  in  front  of  Sunshines.  We got there around 1230pm and stayed 
until  300pm They had lunch ready as soon as we got off the boat. They 
had  grilled  chicken,  hotdogs,  rolls, vegetable salad, and the most 
outstanding  slaw --coconut and raisin slaw. I wish I had some of that 
now.  All  the  liquor,  beer, soda or other drinks available all day. 
The   guys   on   this   charter  were  outstanding.  They  were  very 
professional,  yet  fun  and catered like mad to my daughter. Elvis, I 
would  say  was  the best. We had seen him at the beach at Friar's and 
he  recognized  us from that. We thought that was funny, but after all 
we  being  Americans  probably  stuck  out  like  a  sore thumb to the 
islanders.  We arrived back at 415pm, a bit tired, wet and I got a lot 
of  sun  ( I was trying to though). That evening we went to the Circus 
for  dinner.  Our  friends  had  been there previously and said it was 
great.  I  was  not  impressed. In fact, for most of the dinner we and 
two  other  tables were the only ones in the place. Our waitress tried 
hard,  but  she  was  a  bit  flighty.  I tried the stuffed mushrooms, 
lobster  bisque  and  carib  conch  for appetizers. The mushrooms were 
piled  high  with  filler  and  cheese,  but not heated in the middle, 
which  was  cold.  Only  the cheese was melted. The lobster bisque was 
very  tasty,  although it was like a thick broth. The carib conch once 
again  had that tempura batter, which ruined it. I had for my meal the 
creole  snapper,  which  probably  was good, but I didn't care for the 
combination  with  fish,  so  I considered it my fault. The cheesecake 
for  dessert  was  good  with  a nice homemade pie crust. I did have a 
very good Pina Colada here. 

Day  five we were supposed to fly Nevis Express to St. Barths, but the 
trip  was  canceled  because  they  needed at least five people on the 
charter  and  we only had three. We liked the daysail so much, that my 
boyfriend  played  Royal  St. Kitts Golf Course and we did the daysail 
again.  This  time  the  charter  was  better, as we only had about 12 
people-  almost  like  a private charter. Service was great as the day 
before.  For  the price it couldn't be beat. If we took the ferry over 
and  a  cab  to  Nevis  and bought lunch, we would have paid about the 
same.  I think I could have done the day sail over again and again. We 
decided  to  stay  close to the hotel for dinner and try PJ's with the 
whole  family  this  time.  (Since  Sunshine's  put  a  damper on that 
previously).  PJ's  was  definitely  better the first time. Our server 
this  time  was  different  and slower than the usual slow. We ordered 
the  Mexican pizza, the pepperoni pizza, garlic bread, the goat cheese 
ravioli  (again)  and the shrimp ravioli. The garlic bread came first, 
about  10  minutes  later  came  the goat cheese ravioli and no shrimp 
ravioli.  About 10 more minutes went by and I asked our waitress about 
the  missing appetizer. She said she did not hear me, so she turned in 
the  order.  Out  came  the  pizzas, which were good and then came the 
appetizer  minus  the  shrimp.  We  didn't say anything. When the bill 
arrived  we  looked  and  she  ordered the wrong one. PJ's has a great 
menu,  service  could  be  hit  or miss. The night time breeze blowing 
into  the  building  made  it nice and with comfortable cushioned type 
lawn furniture and nice decor. 

Day  six  we just hung out at the hotel pool and beach while he played 
golf.  His  comments  on the golf courses were not what I expected. He 
played  Four  Seasons  -$95  for  12 holes. He said even if it were in 
prime  condition  he felt the course on St. Kitts was better. He liked 
the   views   while  playing  on  St.  Kitts.  The  beach  at  Frigate 
(Caribbean)  was  okay  with  black  and  tan sand. I thought that the 
abandoned  Crickets  was  an eyesore. It was windy that day and easier 
to  take my daughter to the pool with her float. She enjoyed the pool. 
I  was  amazed  at the guests at the hotel who spent all of their days 
at  the  pool.  Why  would one go to an island to hang out a the hotel 
pool  everyday,  when  you  have  nice  beaches  a short ride away? We 
decided  with  the  few  restaurant  choices  on  a Sunday, we'd go to 
Fisherman's  Wharf  for  dinner.  We  got  there  a bit early and were 
promptly  greeted and shown to the bar for a drink. I wanted to sit at 
one  of  the  picnic  tables  closer  to  the  water, but the wind was 
blowing  pretty  briskly  and my daughter was cold. We sat inside. The 
only  negative  thing, lots of cats all around us during our dinner. I 
had  to  keep swatting them away with a napkin. The service was really 
great  until  it  got  busier,  then it was harder to get our server's 
attention.  We  did  have  a few other people from the restaurant come 
around  and  check on us. I got the Cajun kingfish, he the lobster and 
my  daughter a burger and fries. One thing the burgers on this islands 
are  nasty. They taste "gamey". I joked with several people about them 
being  monkey  or  mongoose  burgers.  A  frequent  visitor said it is 
because  of  what  the  cattle  graze  on.  My  boyfriend  said he was 
disappointed,  his  lobster at Marshall's and Sunshines were better. I 
did  like  the  pumpkin  fritters  on  the  buffet bar. We had NYstyle 
cheesecake,  which  was  pretty  bland  and of course, had vanilla ice 
cream.  I  think  my  daughter  lost  weight  and  he  gained.  He ate 
everything  and  she,  only  fries,  hardboiled  eggs at breakfast and 
vanilla ice cream.

Day  seven we were going to go to Turtle Beach, but it rained a bit in 
the  morning  so  we  decided to do our shopping instead. We went into 
town,  shopped.  I  bought  two  wonderful  silk  screen  paintings at 
Bayembi  Cafe.  We  had  lunch  at Ballahoos. I cannot say a bad thing 
about  this  place. Service was fast, food good and view of the Circus 
enjoyable.  I had some of the delicious coconut slaw that I had on the 
daysail.  I  remembered  that Ballahoo's catered for the Eagle. He had 
the  chicken  roti, which he had to spice up with hot sauce. They were 
kind  enough  to  make a grilled cheese, which was not on the menu for 
my  daughter.  We decided it was great there, we'd come back later for 
dinner.  We  went back to the hotel after shopping and hung out at the 
pool.  For  dinner,  service was a bit slower. He got the chili shrimp 
which  he  said  was  the  best  meal  of  the trip. I tried the conch 
fritters,  which  were  close  to good, but still a bit off. I think I 
tried  every  conch  fritter  on  the island. My daughter was thrilled 
that  for dessert they had fresh homemade chocolate cake. Everyone had 
"cakes"  on menu, but when it came time to order no one ever had them. 
She was happy, and when she's happy so are mom and dad. 

Day  eight  we  went  to Turtle Beach. We had our wonderful cab driver 
take  us  down  there  and I thought this would be a great day. Wrong. 
Remember,  my  boyfriend  who  hates  the  beach,  sand  and heat, but 
decided  this island thing wasn't so bad. Well, that all changed about 
two  minutes  after  the  cab  driver  left  and  we walked around the 
restaurant  to  the  beach.  The  wind was really blowing and the sand 
felt  like  needles  sticking  you.  I put our bag down and he started 
cussing  and  demanded  we call the cab driver to come back for us. He 
wasn't  going  to  stay at this &@#()$_$_*#*$)$(($($)$_)_)*&%$%$%beach 
all  day.  So,  we regrouped went to the bar area and ordered a drink. 
He  eventually came out to the chairs where we were. He decided to get 
his  belly  tan  and  wrapped  his face up in his shirt. The water was 
very  choppy,  but  warm with a lot of seaweed. A young man was raking 
the  beach to rid it of the seaweed. The sand was perfect for building 
sandcastles.  Watershoes were necessary as it was very rocky until you 
got  out  a  ways in the water. There were a lot of people snorkeling, 
we  did not. The sand was everywhere, even in things that were zipped, 
but  hey, we got to see Turtle Beach. We ate lunch. He got the lobster 
sandwich,  which  was like lobster salad. I got the coconut shrimp and 
you  guessed  it--conch  fritters.  Well, wouldn't you know, I finally 
find  the best conch fritters on the island and instead of the usual 5 
or  6  at  other  places, they gave me 3. The coconut shrimp was okay. 
The  shrimp  was  dried out and covered lightly in bbq sauce. The pina 
colada  I  got  here  was  enough  to kill you. The rum so strong, you 
wouldn't  have wanted to light a match near me. I like a strong drink, 
but  not  overpowering.  As we were finishing lunch, the monkeys came. 
About  15  of  them  and  my daughter got to feed them. We got lots of 
great  pictures.  Sort  of  like  a  National  Geographic Adventure or 
something.  The  owner and his son had a huge bowl of bananas and were 
letting  the  visitors  feed  the monkeys. It was pretty amazing. When 
our  day  was  over my daughter asked the cab driver why it was called 
Turtle  Beach,  when  she didn't see turtles, just monkeys. That night 
we  went  to  Mangos  for  dinner.  The  setting  was  very similar to 
Stonewalls. 

I  liked  Stonewalls  much  better. I ordered a pina colada, which was 
about  as  nasty  as  the one at Turtle Beach. I had them take it back 
and  mix  half  of  it  with the non-alcoholic portion. Our server was 
very  attentive  in  the  beginning,  then  he sort of fizzled out. We 
ordered  our  appetizers,  conch  ceviche and roasted vegetables. Both 
were  okay. The waiter came out with a basket of bread and let us each 
take  one  roll. The bread was the best thing we ate in the place, and 
they  were tight with that. He ordered the bbq ribs, which were awful. 
I  had  the  mango  and chicken crepes which were very good, but rich. 
For  dessert choices we limited, so we again had cheesecake. It was NY 
style,  just like what you get here at home. It took us forever to get 
the  waiter's  attention  to get the check. The meal came to $97US. We 
left  disappointed,  as it was our last dinner on the island and not a 
memorable one.

Departure  day,  we  ate breakfast at hotel and checked out at noon. I 
asked  if  we were able to stay in our room until 115pm, as our flight 
left  at  237pm.  The receptionist said no, someone else was coming to 
that  room.  The  cab  driver  told  us they offer you a complimentary 
room.  I  also  saw that you could pay $25US to stay until 4pm. So, no 
questions  asked  we  headed  to  the airport. We said our goodbyes to 
Sydney  Carty.  We got to the airport too early, but hung out and wait 
for  that  237pm flight. Then the panic began. They announced over the 
intercom  that  our flight was delayed. This put us in a panic, as our 
flight  on  San  Juan was to leave at 510pm. We finally left St. Kitts 
around  315pm  on  the  American Eagle. This flight made me nervous as 
hell.  The  young pilot, had his girlfriend or wife in the cockpit. He 
spoke  fast  and unclear when announcing things. He did not explain to 
us  that he was circling the San Juan airport for 6 to 7 times. I felt 
like  we  were  on  a  flight operated by an inexperienced captain. We 
finally  landed  and  had  about 15-20 minutes to get through customs, 
get  our bags, check our bags and run like mad through the airport. Of 
course,  our  luggage  was  the last to come up. We grabbed it and ran 
like  crazy  to  check  it. They had us wait and then took the luggage 
and  told  us to run. We ran with people cheering us on "GO GO GO". We 
got  to  the  gate  with  5  minutes  to  spare. The flight home was a 
relief.  A  much more professional staff aboard. The flight attendants 
Barbara  F.  and Libby acted and looked like flight attendants should. 
They  were  very  courteous  and pleasant, all smiles. Our captain was 
very  informative.  We  ran  into  a  lot  of turbulence and had to go 
around  storms.  He  at  least  announced that, instead of ignoring it 
like  the  captain  on  the  Eagle flight. We landed a half hour later 
than  anticipated  due to the storms, but safe and not looking forward 
to going back to work.

My  boyfriend  said  that  this  was the best trip he has been on. So, 
that  means  I  started  something  that we will have to keep up every 
year.  St.  Kitts  and  Nevis  were  great  islands. I liked the local 
culture.  For  the  most  part,  all of the people we encountered were 
friendly.  The  food  could have been better at some places and prices 
cheaper.  The  beaches  certainly  were  not the best I have seen, but 
Friar's  was  pretty  close.  Safety  was  not  an issue. I never felt 
threatened  by  anyone. Would I go back, yes, but after I visit all of 
the other islands I want to see first. 

Positive  things  on  the trip. Our cab driver, Sydney Carty, who made 
our  stay  on  his  island  a great one. The daysail on the Eagle with 
Leeward  Island  Charters.  Our  hotel,  Frigate Bay Resort, which was 
priced  right  and very comfortable. The Carib beer which kept the men 
happy.  The  coconut  raisin  slaw, which I have never tasted anything 
like  it. Ting, which was a refreshing drink after a day at the beach. 
South  Friar's  beach,  a beautiful one. Sunshines and Sunset Cafe for 
some  local flavour and socializing. The monkeys for daughter to feed. 
Negative  things  on  the  trip.  The  amount  of  time  it  took in a 
restaurant  to  get  the check. The inability of people to convert ECs 
to  US correctly. Service at some of the restaurants. The litter on an 
island,  that  could be much more beautiful. Uneasy flight back to San 
Juan  and  it  takes  a  lot to scare me. The lack of menu choices for 
children,  burgers  or  fries  were it, an occasional hotdog at one or 
two  places.  Best  beach  Friar's, best cab driver Sydney Carty, best 
beer  Carib, best restaurant Marshalls and Ballahoos, best beach shack 
Sunshines. 

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