Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 67
Sept. 1 1996

Last updated 30 Aug 96 1900EDT (2300Z)

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ANNOUNCING TWO NEW PUBLICATIONS

WWW CARIBBEAN SITE LIST
As I venture through cyberspace, I have found no one comprehensive list of the WWW sites dedicated to Caribbean travel. There are some very good sites with excellent link catalogs but I sometimes get e- mail telling me that despite extensive searches, a user has just come upon the CTR by accident. There would seem to be a need for some type of master list.

There are probably plenty of very useful sites with untold information riches on the net which remain virtually unknown. This is especially true of some of the private sites maintained by CTR contributors.

Hence, as an experiment, I'm soliciting from readers WWW sites dealing with Caribbean travel. I'll publish the list around the September 20. If this is successful, then I'll try to do it on a relatively regular basis.

PRESS RELEASE FORUM
A second problem seems to be the filing of scattered press releases from various organizations which seem to float through cyberspace but haven't found any permanent home. I'll try to do the same for press releases as the WWW sites. If you know of a Caribbean related press release, then send it to me and I'll compile a current listing which will be published. Because of its clearly commercial nature, I may have to restrict the press releases to my WWW site but, hopefully, they'll be in one place.

The only requirement is that the press releases must be in digital form, either on a disk or e- mailed

Contribution to either publication or to the CTR can be made to:

Paul Graveline, CTR Editor
9 Stirling St.
Andover, MA 01810

E-Mail
ctreditor@aol.com or
74007.3434@compuserve.com.

Both of these publications will be initiated on an experimental basis.

Six and a half years ago I began the CTR on the same premises hoping to do 6 pages ten times a year. That experiment appears to have been successful!

Paul Graveline
CTR Editor


CONTENTS FOR SEPTEMBER

1/ Caribbean Four Island Summer Swing by Paul Graveline, Editor
2/ News

3/ Journeys for Sept 1996

1/CARIBBEAN FOUR ISLAND SUMMER SWING BY PAUL GRAVELINE, EDITOR

BARBADOS: ALMOND BEACH CLUB AND VILLAGE RESORTS

My  visit  to Almond Beach Club was prompted by an invitation from the 
local  Boston marketing representative to observe the property. Beside 
the  Almond  Beach  Club, they also have a more extensive location the 
Almond  Beach  Village  about 15 minutes up the road. The Almond Beach 
Club  caters more to couples ( a lot of honeymooners) while the Almond 
Beach  Village  has  a wider orientation towards families, singles and 
couples.  I'll  be discussing both of these beautiful settings in this 
report.   I   was   staying  at  the  Club  but  there  is  convenient 
complimentary  bus  service  between  the  properties  and  if you are 
staying  at  one,  you  can  enjoy  the amenities of the other with no 
charge. I'll review the Almond Beach Club where I was staying first.

ALMOND BEACH CLUB 

The  Club  is  a  compact  well  laid out property straddling the west 
coast  shore  of  Barbados. It's located right next to the prestigious 
Sandy  Lane  area.  The  well  maintained complex consists of mostly 3 
story  buildings  clustered around a central pool and dining area with 
151 rooms total. 

The  first  thing  one  notices  is  that  the  reception  area is not 
traditional.  Just one hostess to greet you -- no formal walk up desk. 
They  quickly  welcome  you  to the property and provide you with some 
material  including  a registration form which you fill out and return 
at  your  leisure.  Hence,  you  are in your room in a very short time 
with  little  or no hassle. In fact, you don't even get the impression 
that  you  have  arrived  at  a  hotel.  It's  more like arriving at a 
friend's home.

The   interconnected  pools  which  grace  the  central  section  were 
immaculate.
There  are  two  "waterfalls"  in the pool which constantly generate a 
tranquil ambiance of flowing water. 

The  main  restaurant  separates  the pool area from the beach. Dinner 
and  lunch  are sit down affairs but there is also a lunch option of a 
self-service  section  for  those  who  just  want hamburgers etc. The 
dinners  were  3  or  4 course presentations each night. I only ate at 
the  Club  and  did  not get a chance to dine at the Village but, from 
what  I heard, the meals were also of excellent quality over there. In 
fact, everyone thought the dining was very, very good. 

The  Club's  beach  is  nice but not extensive and might be considered 
somewhat  small  for  a property of this size ( remember you can go to 
the  Village with it's huge beach so if you are looking for an massive 
beach you have that option). 

There  are a number of bars including one at the main dining area, one 
at the beach and a late night piano bar open from 11 - 2 am. 

Clientele  during my stay seemed to be mostly composed of honeymooners 
or couples. 

There  were a few families at the Club but predominantly families book 
at  the Village. I saw a few babies at the Club but no young children. 
There   was  quite  a  variety  of  nationalities  but  Americans  did 
predominate.  For fall 1996, they are planning to make the Club an all 
adult resort with an age minimum of 16 years old.

My  room  ( number 150) was configured with a small sitting room ( non 
a/c  with  ceiling  fan)  and a bedroom ( with a/c) and a bathroom and 
very  large closet. The room exited to the garden area through a small 
patio like area. There was a free safe in the room. 

I  was  shown a number of other room combinations and construction was 
underway  to  convert some of the rooms into adjacent suites to better 
accommodate two couples traveling together 


ALMOND BEACH VILLAGE 

The  remnants  of  an  old  sugar  mill are the setting for the Almond 
Beach  Village.  The  Village  is  a water wonderland with nine pools. 
Those  on  the  north side of the property are reserved for the adults 
while  those  on  the  south  side are dedicated more for children and 
families.   This  seems  to  be  the  pattern  they  are  aiming  for: 
separating  the  children's' area and adult area thus allowing them to 
provide  a  family  vacation spot but also permitting adults ( with or 
without  children)  to  be  able  to  gather  together  away  from the 
distraction  of  the  children. Most of the families whom I met seemed 
to have English or Irish accents. 

I  was  shown  a  number of rooms -- all very nice . Since there are a 
number  of  options  and  price  schemes,  you  should check with your 
travel  agent  to  be sure as to exactly what you have booked. I doubt 
you  would  be  disappointed  with  any of the accommodations, but you 
might  want  to  check  on room particulars before setting out for the 
Village.  Like  everything else at the Club and Village, all the rooms 
were  very clean and well kept. A usual sign of neglect in a resort is 
the  condition  of  the  hallways  which  are  the  last things to get 
brushed  up.  All the hallways I saw looked like the had been recently 
refurbished.  This  might  be explained the plaque on the Village wall 
noting  that  the  property had been opened by the Prime Minister just 
about 18 months ago. 

The  aforementioned  sugar  mill provides an nice setting for weddings 
and functions. 

Dinner  is  served in a number of locations at the Village. There is a 
fancy  Italian  restaurant  and  a  main  dining area. There is also a 
grill near the beach serving snacks during the afternoon. 

The  entire  property  is very well laid out and strolling the grounds 
in  a  very  pleasant  experience as you proceed from one pool area to 
another.  Even  the  children's'  pool ( where I wrote this section of 
the  report)  was  quiet  and  tranquil  unlike  some  other  "family" 
oriented resorts which I have visited.

There  is  an active children's club and a kids room with video games, 
and  a  section  dedicated  to the very young children with playthings 
appropriate for that age. Hair braiding is free. 

I  asked  around  and  parents seemed quite happy with the facilities. 
The  scheme  is  to keep the kids relatively isolated from the adults. 
It seemed to be working.

They  are also trying to develop a conference center accommodating 200 
people  primarily  to  promote the shoulder season occupancy. However, 
in  such  a  nice setting, who'd want to sit and listen to some boring 
seminars?

There  is  a  small mall with 3 or 4 stores where you can purchase the 
usual T-shirts, light food, snacks etc.

As  for  sports,  they seem to have thought of everything. A very nice 
tennis  facility  had  6  lighted  courts. There is a 9 hole executive 
golf  course. One guest described it as a "pitch and putt" course. You 
have  to bring or buy your own balls and tees to play the course which 
has  a  significant  lake  around  which  the  first  few  holes  were 
situated.  So there is a good chance you'll need more than one ball if 
you  are  like  me. If you are interested in a more challenging round, 
you would have to book at one of the nearby more exclusive courses.

All  the  water sports are included in the price so that is a plus and 
they  also  have special events like sailing picnics for the guests on 
certain  days.  There  is  no  need to lack for activity or no need to 
participate in any activity if you so desire. 

The  Village seems to represent what a large all inclusive first class 
resort should be. 


GENERAL COMMENTS ABUT THE CLUB AND VILLAGE RESORTS

The  two  resorts  are  about  15  minutes  apart  with shuttle busses 
running  every  two  hours  during the day and hourly after 6:30 PM to 
allow diners to sample the restaurants at the other resort. 

Both were exceptionally clean and well maintained.

Dinner  is  somewhat  formal.  No shorts are allowed and men wore long 
pants and the women were casually attired for the tropics. 

If  you  plan  to  dine  at one of the specialty restaurants, you must 
make reservation 24 hours in advance. 

My  impression  was  that  the  Village was more active than the Club. 
After  11  PM the Club was pretty quiet. I wasn't at the Village after 
that  time  but  I suspect there was more activity going on over there 
since there is a late night disco which opens at 11 p.m. .

Both  resorts  are  all  inclusive including drinks. I was told by the 
staff  that  any misbehavior is not tolerated and I never observed any 
problems  while  I was there nor did any of the other people with whom 
I spoke.

In  short,  both the Village and the Club are beautiful properties and 
I  doubt  any  guest  would be disappointed with either site. However, 
you  should  decided  which  would  suit  your  needs  the best before 
booking. 

ST. MARTIN

I  arrived  on  St.  Martin  just  a  few  days  after  the passing of 
Hurricane  Bertha and initial indications weren't very promising. As I 
rode  along  the  road  paralleling  the  Juliana  runway, I noticed a 
number  of boats washed up on the shore. They had been newly deposited 
by  Bertha  so  I  anticipated  a  rather bleak three day visit on St. 
Martin.

Fortunately,  the  damage  had  not been very extensive although I did 
see  other  vessels  either  marooned on the shore or actually sunk. I 
was  told  that parts of the island had no power but in the drive from 
Juliana  to  my  hotel on Orient Beach, nothing significant looked out 
of  the  ordinary  except  for the previously mentioned beached boats. 
Things  were  looking  up. But my short visit was less productive than 
I'd  hoped  due  to  some  very  inclement  weather  on the last day ( 
Bastille  Day  as it so happened). I did not get a chance to visit the 
Dutch  side but the French side seemed to be moving along pretty well. 
Although  there  were  clearly  remnants from the pervious hurricanes, 
especially that of Sept. 1995. 

My  first full there spent the day at Orient Beach. Many of the recent 
reports  have  indicated  that OB is back and I would agree that it is 
fully  functional  but  the  scars  of the horrific damage are clearly 
visible.  This is most apparent at Club Orient where the shells of the 
chalets  still standing are a constant reminder of the of the power of 
nature.  They have set up some tables and chairs on a concrete slab to 
"re-open"  Papagayo's restaurant. It's more like a small sea side cafe 
with  a  very  limited  offering. They are building a new structure on 
the  old  spot which is supposed to be ready by the coming high season 
but  I personally have some doubts. On Bastille Day, I was caught in a 
torrential  downpour with horizontal rain and, probably, 30-40 mile an 
hour   winds  (  but  certainly  not  a  hurricane)  while  eating  at 
Papagayo's.  The  workmen were laying the tile on the floor of the new 
restaurant  which  was  getting  drenched  by the horizontal rain so I 
wonder  how  long some of the tiles will remain fastened to the floor. 
Finally,  it  got  too  difficult  for  the workers and they, like the 
people  at Papagayo. gave up and went home. I walked back up the beach 
to La Plantation. 

Many  of  the  stalls  which  lined  the  beach now stand in rubble. I 
assumed  their  destruction was due to the 1995 storm and not the more 
recent Bertha.

On  Saturday,  the  13th,  I  went  into  Marigot  to  see  how it had 
recovered.  About  the only significant problem I encountered was that 
a  section of the concrete walkway which surrounds the marina area had 
disappeared.  I  was  told  that  this  was  not  the  result  of  the 
hurricanes  but  of  poor  construction.  Apparently,  it had begun to 
buckle  last  summer and forced a restaurant to remove its tables from 
the  area  because  the tables had become lopsided. However, when Luis 
hit,  the  whole  thing  collapsed. Otherwise, I found Marigot to be a 
thriving  bustling  town  with an active market on a Saturday. While I 
did  not  visit  Philipsburg  this  time, I am somewhat convinced that 
Marigot  is  now  the more interesting location. Shopping has improved 
greatly  over  the  past  few  years  and the marina area introduces a 
ambiance  not  felt in Philipsburg. Some sprucing up might be in order 
but  given  the  hammering  it  has  sustained  over  the last year, I 
thought it was in pretty good shape. 

For  the  third  time  I  stayed  La  Plantation  --  just across from 
Esmeralda.  This is probably one of the best bargains in St. Martin. I 
was  traveling alone and for about $80 US I got a studio with color TV 
/  Cable ( reduced channel capacity due to Bertha I was told), a small 
efficiency,  safe,  air-conditioning  (  except from 9 am - 4pm) and a 
free  continental  breakfast  and an ample size pool. All of the rooms 
overlook  the  beach and come with extensive verandahs. You could have 
easily  held  a  party  for  10-15  people  on mine overlooking Orient 
Beach.  Clearly, this is good value for money. Rates for two people in 
a  studio  were about $30-40 more per day. It's about a five minute or 
less  walk  to  the  beach.  Due  to  the inclement weather, I ate two 
nights  at  their little restaurant on their own verandah. The food on 
both  occasions  was very good and pricing probably in line with other 
eating  establishments  on  the  French side. This remains my pick for 
inexpensive lodging, especially in the Orient Beach area.

On  Monday  the  15th, I left for Culebra which was to be a completely 
different experience. 

CULEBRA

My  motivation  to  visit Culebra came from an invitation from a local 
Bostonian  who  owned  a  guest  house on the island. As things turned 
out, my Culebra stay was not very pleasant as will be described.

I  flew  from  SJU  to  Culebra on Carib Air. The 8 seat aircraft left 
about  30  minutes  late  and  I was the only passenger on the flight! 
Round-trip  SJU-CPX-SJU  is  only  $75 which seemed like a pretty good 
deal.  You  can  make reservations through your travel agent for Carib 
Air  but  you  can't  purchase  tickets in advance. You must make that 
transaction  at the check-in at SJU. The flight takes about 30 minutes 
and  it's  interesting  being  out  on  a  huge runway in such a small 
plane.  Same  for  the landing which was enlivened by the fact that an 
Airbus  was  landing  on  the  parallel  runway.  If  you  are  making 
connections  on  the  return  to SJU be sure to figure about a 30 - 45 
minute delay in getting to SJU from the scheduled time.

Culebra's  airport  is  two  years  old and is exceptionally clean. It 
looked  like  you  could  almost eat off the floor. However, I was not 
able  to  get  a taxi -- sometimes a problem on Culebra -- and a local 
volunteered to drive me to my guest house.

As  my  night's  stay  at this establishment was the worse of any I've 
experienced  in  all  my  travels  (  anywhere),  I've  decided not to 
identify  it  my  name.  There  were  clearly  unusual  circumstances, 
however, the place suffered from some systemic problems as well. 

When  I  arrived,  the  local  manager  was attempting to fix a rather 
significant  leak on the second floor. It looked like one of the hoses 
on  a  sink  had  sprung  a  leak. She pointed out that this would not 
effect  my  plans  and  showed me to the accommodation. Unfortunately, 
the  leak  was  coming  through the ceiling into my ground level room. 
She  asked  that  I  leave for while until she got things straightened 
out.  When I returned, the leak had stopped -- so had all my water and 
electricity. They must have been shut off for safety reasons. 

I  decided  to  seek other accommodations. However, the manager met me 
on  the  street  and persuaded me to go back since all had been fixed. 
The  water  ran and the lights came on. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed 
to stay. That was a mistake.

I'd  already  made  up my mind that I would find better accommodations 
for the next night or leave the island the next day in any case. 

The  rest of the night was horrific. Around 11:30 the leak began again 
and  a  number of lights did not work. The couch I had chosen to sleep 
on  (  it's  too  complicated to explain why I was going to sleep on a 
couch),  seemed  to be riddled with fleas which delighted in finding a 
gringo  to  attack.  This  forced  me to sit in a chair for the entire 
night.  Of  course  that  meant  I  was vulnerable to mosquito attack. 
Shortly  after  the  resumption  of the leak ( my concern was that the 
leak  would set off a fire in the electric wiring system), I head some 
noises  near  the  sink  area.  It  was  a HUGH bug. After a 10 minute 
battle,  he  decided  to  retreat  behind  the  sink  counter. I don't 
believe I fell asleep at any time during the rest of the night. 

The   pictures   of   guest  houses  displayed  on  the  wall  of  the 
exceptionally  clean  airport  were  quite  a  contrast  from  what  I 
experienced.  IF YOU ARE GOING TO A GUEST HOUSE ON CULEBRA, I STRONGLY 
SUGGEST  YOU  HAVE  SOME  UNDERSTANDING  OF  WHAT  YOU  CAN  EXPECT ON 
ARRIVAL.

The  next day I moved to the Culebra Beach Villas located on beautiful 
Flamenco  Beach. This is a long sweeping beach which must cover a mile 
of  the  coast. The property's units have a kitchen area, bathroom and 
bedroom.  There  are  also  some  units  in  a  central  building that 
reminded  me  of a pagoda. It may be the only property on Culebra that 
has air-conditioning.

But  even  here, I had to fend off some type of flying beetle ( I'm no 
insect  expert  -- if it flies and looks bad , it probably is). He was 
resistant  to annihilation. I put a cup over him and hoped he'd expire 
in  the  morning  but alas -- he was still kicking. I threw him out on 
to  the  grass  and  a  bird  immediately  came over and took home for 
dinner. 

As  I was about to leave, a mouse ran from the bathroom to the kitchen 
and  disappeared  behind the stove. To make life interesting, water is 
only  available  from 9-10, 12-1 and something like 6-7 P.M. There are 
no dining facilities or even soda machines on the property.

Most  of  the visitors are from Puerto Rico and come over on the ferry 
with  their  cars  so  they  go  out  and  get provisions at the local 
merchants.

There  were  some positives things about Culebra that I need to relate 
although  I  doubt  it  qualifies as major destination for most of the 
CTR's readers. 

If  you  need a cab, call Willey. He also has jeep rentals. He told me 
he  has 6 phones in his house. I called him one night at 8 P.M. and he 
said  that  he was in the shower. Yet he showed up 5 minutes later. He 
was  going  to  the  " big island" ( no not Hawaii -- Puerto Rico) the 
next  day but would send his son to drive to the airport. The cost was 
only  $2  for  the ride but I didn't have any singles to pay him with. 
The  kid  said  he  didn't  have any change and resolved the matter by 
saying  "no  problem -- hope you enjoyed Culebra" and rode off without 
a fare being collected. Willey's my choice for a taxi on Culebra. 

I  ate  at  two  different  places. One called the Galleria is located 
right  opposite  the ferry dock and run by an ex-Bostonian. This would 
be  a  recommendation  for  dinner. They only open at night and that's 
dependent on the weather. 

The  other is a place called Dinghy Dock which is, in fact, a dock for 
dighys  for  people with boats in the harbor. I had both breakfast and 
dinner  there  and both were good. The setting is really nice -- right 
at  the  water's  edge  overlooking  the  boats in the harbor. This is 
especially pretty as the sun sets. 

Due  to  my  disastrous first night and especially my lack of sleep, I 
decided  to return to San Juan a day earlier than planned and play the 
slots at the Marriott Casino where I broke even. 

If  you  are  thinking  of going to Culebra, I recommend that you know 
about  your  accommodations before venturing out unless you don't mind 
being  surprised. ( Remember I'd come from few days at Almond Beach in 
Barbados!).  There  may  be more to the Culebra than I was able to see 
but I'm definitely not in a hurry to return. 

2/ NEWS

CLUB ORIENT UPDATE

I just received the following recovery update from Gina 
Brink.  It can also be found on our Club Orient Homepage.
------------------------------------------------------------
 August 21, 1996

 Dear friends of Club Orient,

  Some of you have already asked us again for a second progress report 
on  the  reconstruction  of  Club  Orient. Well, here it is! A lot has 
been accomplished since the first report in June.

Restaurant:
The  Papagayo  restaurant  is looking great with its high roof. It now 
has  to be painted inside and out. We are still working on the rest of 
the  building,  i.e.  kitchen, showers, bathrooms, etc. The tables and 
chairs  of  the "open air" restaurant (on the foundation of # 46) were 
moved  into  the  new building. The restaurant is still expected to be 
in full operation by November 1.

 Chalets:
  As  of  today  17  beach chalets have been poured (# 78 - # 47). All 
crews  -  carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians - are working 6 
days  a  week  to  get  their  job  done.  The forecast is to have all 
chalets  poured  by  November  1st. Beach chalets # 80 - 94 and garden 
chalets  # 42 - 44 are scheduled to be built last. This will limit the 
disturbances  of  the  reconstruction  to  the two extreme ends of the 
resort.  Our  aim  is  to  have  the  middle  of the resort - the most 
popular  units - ready for rent _first_ so that our guests are exposed 
to  the  least  amount  of  noise.  However,  please  be  advised that 
_not_all_  construction  will  be  over  in  November and December, in 
order to prevent surprises or disappointments.

 Mini-suites:
  Work  on  the mini-suites is progressing well. All but two buildings 
are  under their roofs. We are now working on the finishing touches on 
the  carpentry  work inside these buildings. Most furniture is already 
in stock. New couches are expected to arrive this week from France.

 Studios:
  All  studio  buildings have been sanded on the outside to show their 
natural  color,  and they have been stained the same pine color as the 
mini-suites.  All  of  the studio buildings have the roofing boards on 
and  we  plan  to have all roofs finished by the end of August. Please 
note that we will no longer have Beach Studios available.

 L'Orientique:
  Truus  Brink  has  already  ordered  many  new  items  for  the  new 
l'Orientique.  She  is  very  anxious to get started. It will be a few 
more weeks, however, until the building is ready to be occupied. 

Tennis:
  Our  aim is to have the tennis courts ready for use in November. The 
materials  for  the  new  courts  have been received and the work will 
start in September.

 Horseback Riding:
  The stables at Bayside Riding Club have been totally rebuilt and all 
services including beach rides are offered again.

 Landscaping/shade:
  All  landscaping  throughout  the  resort will have to be redone. We 
will  take care of this task section by section. Because there will be 
no  high trees, bushes or vegetation for the first few years, and thus 
not  much shade, Club Orient will offer one complimentary umbrella per 
room to our guests.

 Reservations/Sold-out dates, etc.:
  As  you know we are partially re-opening on November 1 of this year, 
and  we  have  been  already  taking reservations for a few months. We 
have  had  a  great  response - most rooms are reserved already during 
the  month of November and in the last week of December. We would like 
to  give  the following information on AVAILABILITY and SOLD-OUT dates 
(until further notice):
 * November 1 to 7 - 10 rooms AVAILABLE (studios+mini suites).
 * November 8 to December 4 - ALL types of rooms SOLD OUT.
 * December 4 to December 28 - ALL types of rooms  AVAILABLE 
   (Chalets not guaranteed yet).
 * December 28 to January 4 - Only mini-suites AVAILABLE
 * After January 4, 1997 - ALL types of rooms  AVAILABLE

 With best wishes to you from Club Orient Resort,

 The management.

USVI News

(Ed  Note:  The  following  items   are reprinted with permission from 
Frank  Barnako's  Virgin  Islands News. For more information check out  
http://www.clark.net/pub/fbarnako/otr/Paradise.htm/   as   Frank  also 
has  a local villa to rent. Much tanks to Frank for keeping us updated 
on the USVI happenings. ). 

St. John "Hyatt" renamed, on sales block

A  senior  VP  at  Tishman Realty is quoted by the St. John Tradewinds 
saying
"the bank is committed to selling (the former "t") this year."  The
property  has  been  renamed  Great Cruz Bay Resort and reportedly has 
drawn
"substantial  interest"  for  the  resort's owner, Skopbank.  The bank 
took the
property  after  the  owners  apparently  defaulted  on  loans of $100 
million.(7/16)

Coral World may be sold

The  Virgin Islands Business Journal reports Coki Point's (St. Thomas) 
Coral
World  may  be  sold.   It  has  been  closed  since Hurricane Marilyn 
destroyed
the  marine  park last September.  If there is a sale, a spokesman for 
Coral
World  says  "there  are plans ... to reopen in November or December."  
The
prospective   new   owners   are  described  as  "a  locally  involved 
group".(7/16)

Mountain Top's owner

Howard DeWolfe is the latest owner of the famous, 1500-foot-above-sea
level,  St.  Thomas  restaurant/hotel.   He's  became  manager  of the 
property in
December  1994,  and closed on the property purchase last July.  Which 
means
just two months after he bought the place, Marilyn blew it apart.
Rennovations and repairs have been the order since.  The VI Business
Journal  reportsd  DeWolfe  is  also  expanding  retail  shops, adding 
outlets for
local  art, spices and other "natural" products.  DeWolfe says "I want 
to
make Mountain Top a signature attraction in St. Thomas."(7/16)

Pistarckle Theater will return

Bernetia  Akin  reports,  ion  thge  Virgin  Islands  Daily  News, the 
community
theater  group  will  reopen  at  Bluebeard's  Castle.   The  move was 
planned for
last  year,  but  Mariyln  got  uin the way.  Pistarckle will not be a 
dinner
theater  at  Bluebeard's,  as  it  was  at  its  previous  home, Coral 
World.(7/16)

Back from the islands

Just spent a week on St. John, at "Over the Rainbow
(http://www.clark.net/pub/fbarnako/Paradise.html).    I  am  happy  to 
report
St.  John  is lush, there's plenty of water in the cisterns, there are 
no
waits  in  the  restaurants  because  it's  the  off  season,  and the 
electric
company  managed  to  keep power on 6 of the seven days we were there. 
But we
did have cable TV (which worked when the power was on ...).(7/30)


Hyatt, Caneel still closed

While we were there, Caneel Bay announced its re-opening would be
rescheduled to Nov. 1, a month later than expected.  And the Hyatt
continues  to  renovate  ...  all the buildings have new roofs ... but 
there's
no  word  yet  on  who  the  property's new owners will be, or whether 
Hyatt will
continue  to  manage the property.  So, there is no reopening date for 
the
Hyatt.(7/30)

Tourist industry getting the word out

Dozens  of  US travel agents had the kind of vacation we'd all like to 
have
...  a  free  one.   Hosted  by  the  St.  Thomas-St.  John Chamber of 
Commerce,
with  help  from  American Delta, Prestige and US Air, the agents were 
wined,
dined,  shown  and  sold on the beauty of the Virgin Islands.  Chamber 
of
Commerce  president Joe Aubain told the Daily News "what we want to do 
is
get   the   word   out   that   we're   rebuilding   ...   we're   not 
devastated".(7/30)

Can you believe this?

Local  boaters say they have jobs going begging in the VIs ... because 
many
locals  "don't  know  how  to  swim".   An  employee with the Atlantis 
submarine
ride  suggested  swimming  lessons  be  mandatory  in the schools.  He 
called
swimming  "the  basic skill that would guide people into the ocean ... 
ninety
percent of (locals) can't swim."(7/30)

WIVI AM not on the air yet

The  CBS  affiliate  on  St. Thomas, known for its news and sports, is 
not yet
back on the air, at least as of Sunday when I left the islands.  The
station's  new  owners, Knight Quality Stations, had planned to return 
it to
the air in July.(7/30)

Maho Bay restored, open

Thanks in large part to a grant from Georgia Pacific, the island's
"eco-resort", Maho Bay is open for business.(8/6)

 New shopping center on St. John

"Palm  Plaza" is located on the South Shore road, outside Cruz Bay and 
overlooking  the luxury hotel development formerly known as the Hyatt. 
While  the  center  has  a  number  of tourist-oriented tenants,  many 
locals  have  also  found products and services they can use.  A small 
deli,  Tropicale,  offers  meats,  salads, beverages and a coffee bar.  
Island  Video  is  a  Blockbuster-like store with the island's largest 
video  library.  And a shop for everyone is Island Made, a co-op owned 
by St. John artists.(August 13, 1996)

Factory Outlet mall under construction on St. Thomas

The  'Port  of  $ale'  is  reported  to  be  fifty  percent leased and 
construction  may  begin  soon..   The  project is between Wendy's and 
Havensight  Mall.  Developers  expect the retail center will appeal to 
both  locals  and  cruise  ship  visitors.   None  of  the prospective 
tenants has been named.(August 13, 1996)

Potential casino site to be auctioned Sept. 13

The  Bank  of  Nova  Scotia  has  foreclosed  on  a 327-acre St. Croix 
property  which  is  characterized  by  many people, reports the Daily 
News  as  "the  best  available  area  for  a  hotel-casino."   On the 
island's  South  Shore,  the  site has had several owners who proposed 
hotel    and   condo   development.    So   far,   though,   nothing's 
happened.(August 13, 1996)


Your Park Service at peace

St.  John's  Cinnamon  Bay Campground is a bargain beyond belief.  For 
as  little as $17/night (tent site) or as much as $63/night ('cottage' 
for  three),  you can stay at this Park Service facility.  It's a full 
service  resort!  Open-air, native stone architect-designed restaurant 
and   commissary,  watersports,  nature  hikes,  and  pristine  beach.  
Perfect for families.  Reservations 809-776-6330. (8/21)

No word yet on Hyatt

A  federal  court  hearing  was  scheduled  for  last week which could 
determine  whether  Hyatt would continue to manage the island's newest 
resort.   At  this  writing (Tuesday 11am), I can find no information.  
When I do, I'll send out .... a BULLETIN!!!(8/21)


Post-Marilyn economy cripples retailers
Colombian  Emeralds  and  Parfum de Paris have filed for bankruptcy in 
St.  Thomas.   The  parent  company  of both, Young Caribbean Jewelry, 
says  it  will  reorganize and continue in business.  The president of 
the  St.  Thomas-St.  John  Chamber of Commerce said the filing of the 
two  companies, with stores on all three VIs, is an indicator how weak 
the islands' economy is.(Aug 27)

American to resume daily NYC-STT flights in November

American  Airlines  is  taking  the  Fall  off, reportedly cutting its 
daily  non-stop  flights  to Gotham Sept. 4.  The Daily News quotes an 
AA  spokesman  saying  "it's  just  not  economically feasible for the 
airline  to  run   (this)  time of the year."  Mon-Fri daily non-stops 
will  resume  Nov. 17, and a seven-day-a-week schedule will begin Dec. 
14.(Aug 27)

Caneel Bay getting ready to reopen, Hyatt fate uncertain

The  latest  word  is  that  the luxurious St. John resort will reopen 
Nov.  1.  Caneel  Bay  is  advertising  in  the  daily  News, alerting 
(former)  employees  that  things are happening and that it is holding 
meetings    to   discuss   the   plans   and,   possibly,   employment 
opportunities.   The managing director is quoted by the Virgin Islands 
Business  Journal  saying a recall program is underway and that guests 
this  year  will  find  "166  completely  renovated rooms, a brand new 
tennis/pro   shop,   health/fitness   and   children's   centers,  and 
refurbished   lobby/front   desk.    Our  three  restaurants  will  be 
operational with completely new kitchen equipment in place."

  Meanwhile,  a  federal court earlier this month heard oral arguments 
why  the Hyatt company's management contract for the St. John property 
should  not  be  canceled. Hyatt and the property's owner, SkotiaBank, 
presented  their  cases.  The court took it under advisement, but gave 
no indication when a decision might be announced.(Aug 27)

Source: http://www.stjohntradewindsnews.com/

3/ JOURNEYS FOR SEPTEMBER 1996

ARUBA BY THOMAS ROBERTSON

My  wife,  Peg, and I returned  from a great 12 day stay at La Cabana. 
We  didn't  do very much at all this trip other than to spend a lot of 
time  at  the  pool and beach, eat, and gamble. The island seemed very 
empty  as  was La Cabana (only 6 owners showed up at the Weds. owners' 
meeting).  This meant no hassle for pool/beach chairs, no reservations 
or  waits  at  restaurants  (except Tony Romas on Father's Day) and no 
lines anywhere. 

Meals...  We  had  good  meals  at  Tony  Romas  and  Mama  Mia's; and 
excellent  meals  that  the Golf Course, Chalet Suisse and the Tuscony 
Room  at  the Marriott (twice). The Tuscony Room gets our vote as most 
enjoyable  meal  although  Chalet Suisse is a very close second. Meals 
at  Rigalletos  and The Flame were sort of a disappointment. Breakfast 
at  the  Marriott's  Buffet  was  well worth the price--you won't walk 
away  hungry  and  quality was high. Breakfast at the LC Casino was OK 
if  you  gamble.  Without  the  benefit of the $5 coin buy-in, the $10 
price would be a bit much. 

Shopping...  We  did  very  little  although  we  visited the new pink 
shopping  center in town. Very nice, but my impression is that half of 
the  stores  could  be  out-of-business within a couple of years since 
many  of  them  sell  the same thing (resort clothes). The stores were 
pretty empty when we were there, but so was most of the island. 

Gambling...  Played  every  night  at  but  one  at the La Cabana, the 
Hyatt,  Holiday  Inn,  Raddison, Marriott, and the Crystal (Sonnesta). 
Won  early in our stay on Caribbean Stud Poker and Let It Ride, but by 
the  end of the last night, gave it all back plus a little extra--just 
for  good  will purposes. Good entertainment without breaking the bank 
this  trip.  All casinos were fun except for the Holiday Inn where the 
dealers   seemed   to  be  trying  to  break  the  land-speed  record. 
Government  Plans...According to the newspapers, the Aruban Government 
has  big  plans  for  the  island.  A new port complex in town will be 
developed  to  handle  6  mega-cruise  ships at a time. This will have 
little  impact on us since we spend most of our time at the La Cabana, 
but  it  should  help  the  stores out as they could use the business. 
Also  read  where  roads  are  to  be improved (as previously reported 
there  is  a  lot of roadwork ongoing in front of the La Cabana Casino 
but  it  really  was  not much of a problem due to lack of tourists on 
the  island).  And here's the great news <BG>, a new shopping mall is 
to  be  built  north (?) of the Holiday Inn which I guess would put it 
between  the  HI  and  the  Marriott.  Besides  stores,  the mall will 
include  restaurants  and  clubs  (Hard  Rock here we come). We didn't 
notice  whether  construction started. Come to think of it, it may not 
be  the  Hard Rock at all, it could be Planet Hollywood. After all, PH 
is  building  a  casino/hotel  in  Atlantic City, and what is good for 
Atlantic  City  is  good  for  the world. If you don't believe me, ask 
Steve Wynn, he'll tell you. 

Weather...  What  is  there to say about the weather. Mostly sunny, no 
measurable  rain,  and  windy. No bug problem at all but we did notice 
some  clouds  around  almost  every  day, but the sun always seemed to 
break through to make the days great. 

On  leaving  from  the  airport,  we  were  asked  to participate in a 
survey.  I  guess  you  could  call  it  an informational and customer 
satisfaction  survey.  After providing a lot of information on what we 
did,  and  how much and how we spent, we were asked what we liked best 
about  Aruba.  Our  reply,  the  people and the weather. Other islands 
have  great  beaches too, but the Aruban people guarantee a hassle and 
worry  free  vacation,  and  the weather guarantees that you will have 
the outdoor time to enjoy it. 

ARUBA BY BARBARA MEE

Aruba  Beach  Club feels just like home. Our unit was renovated in the 
last  year and looked great. Our son, Robert did a 5 package dive with 
Unique  Sports of Aruba. We were going down to breakfast on Sunday and 
a  couple came out of the next unit. He had a dive shirt on so I asked 
him  about  the  company.  He told us he owned a dive shop in Orlando, 
and  was  only at ABC for a few days b/c they were running a dive trip 
to  Bonaire.  (For  anyone  interested,  I  later  noticed  in the ABC 
resales  list  that  we picked up, they are trying to sell week 28- if 
you  want particulars, e-mail me. If it was week 27 or 29, we'd buy it 
ourselves!!) 

Used  taxis  all  week and felt that we spent less than half of what a 
car  rental  would  have  cost. Because we only (sob) had one week, we 
really  didn't  do  much  "running around". The dive company picked up 
and  dropped  Rob  off  at  ABC.  I will try to get him to post a dive 
report.  I certainly can't! We went into town early afternoon on Tues. 
and  had  lunch,  shopped  and then went to Bon Bini Festival and then 
dinner.  I  for  one really liked the new mall. I was glad to see some 
quality  shops  again. It seemed to me that last year there were a few 
too many 4/$10 t-shirt places around. 

We  also  took  one  morning and went to tour the Divi Phoenix. Rather 
than  type  a lot, if anyone wants info on that, let me know. Bill and 
I  did  the  Fri  afternoon,  4:30- 6:30 Mi Dushi sunset/booze cruise. 
There  were only 12 of us on the boat, so it was really personal. Bill 
got  his  and  my money's worth on the free drinks!! And shy as he is, 
managed  to  have quite a conversation with the crew mate from Sweden, 
or  was it Holland?? (BG)They should not call them sunset cruises, b/c 
it  was  about  8  pm  b4  that  happened! Bennie was on vacation from 
Chalet Suisse. 

Alhambra  Casino  looks  like  a  dump, actually the whole little mall 
does.  I  pointed  out on the t/s tour that Divi needs to do something 
about  that or people's impressions of Divi won't be too good. We lost 
an  appropriate amount of $$. Why have a new tax? Just leave the slots 
and  tables  the  way  they  are now. I was told the slots at Alhambra 
were  awful(after  I'd  lost  my  3  rolls  of  quarters) and that the 
Marriott's were the best. 

We  decided  to  do  our  shopping for groceries at the mini-market on 
site.  Felt  that  the round-trip cab fare would eat up any savings. I 
suggested  they  get American 1/2 and 1/2. For those of you interested 
in  my  experiment,  I  put  two  pints,  one frozen and one just from 
fridge  in  a  small cooler bag with ice pack. The non-frozen was just 
fine.  The  frozen defrosted and also seemed to taste fine, although I 
had to shake it and stir it to get rid of some little "spots". 

In  coupon  book  from  airport,  there  was a Subway, buy one get one 
free,  large  sub.  coupon.  Subway  is  right  behind ABC. We had two 
books,  so has two days of lunch for about $7.00. Bill and I split one 
sub, Rob ate one himself. 

Questioned  a few cab drivers about new road to avoid downtown, and no 
one  seemed  to  have  anything  definitive on it. Also asked about US 
citizens  clearing  customs  in AUA and the AA guy said "maybe in five 
years" I asked if he meant Aruba time and he laughed. 

Beach  in  front  of  ABC  and down to Tamarijn or Costa Linda in very 
good  shape,  but area in front of ABC changed quite a bit in just one 
week.  As  an  owner,  I  can't  for  the life of me figure out why we 
"redid"  the  lobby-  it  seemed  neither  bigger  or  faster  or more 
efficient.  Someone  needs  to  get Bam Bam a friend... he seems to be 
shrieking a lot!! 

We  did  not  go  to  owners'  meeting Mon. am. Forgot it until it was 
almost over, to be honest.

I  will  type  chronologically and give some menu choices. Robert (the 
15  1/2)  at  mostly  steak and filet mignon, except he did have baby-
back  ribs  at  Tony  Roma's.  His  idea  of  good  rest. is free Coke 
refills,  so  keep  that in mind. With the exception of Villa Germania 
on Tues. afternoon, all of the others are dinners. 

Walked  over  to  Pirates'  Nest  on Sat. pm. Ate inside (I guess boys 
don't  like  wind  or  sunset  at  this age). I had a chicken and puff 
pastry  appetizer (they were out of my 1st choice mushrooms). Bill had 
onion  woup  which  he  said  was  very good. He had a meal called ABC 
special(we  think  Aruba,  Bonaire  Curacao)  and  it  was  a  sampler 
platter.  I  had  chicken  with  pink peppercorn and mango sauce. Both 
meals  were  excellent.  $88.00  including  service.  I  will type all 
totals including service and not write that each time. 

Much  to  our  disappointment, there was no brunch at Seagull. Stopped 
serving  it  several weeks ago they said. We had regular breakfast and 
it was fine. 

Went  to  Tony  Roma's  for  dinner- great baby-backs. $55.00. Awesome 
skillet  cookie  dessert... tiny pan, choc. chip cookie, ice cream and 
fudge sauce!! 

Mon-  Robert  doing night dive. We met friends at Gasparito. Coupon in 
airport  booklet  for  4  course meal/for 2/ $50.00. The fourth course 
makes  me  laugh a bit... coffee or tea. But you get choice of soup or 
salad,  choice  of  all but 2 items on menu (filet mignon had $8 extra 
charge  and  surf/turf  had  $10.)  Two  of  us had coconut shrimp (no 
batter,  done  in  sauce with coconut sprinkled on it)' one had shrimp 
scampi  special,  only we think he got garlic shrimps from menu( heads 
left  on)  but  he  said  it  was  great  and didn't care, and one had 
special  of  Mahi-mahi.  All  were  excellent,  as  was service. Had a 
variety  of  desserts...  mocha  cake,  pear/pineapple  strudel, mocha 
mousse. Also split a bottle of zinfandel wine. $70. each couple. 

Ate  lunch  Tues  at  Villa  Germania. I had potato soup and >> salad. 
Lunch was fine... nothing out of ordinary. About $30 for lunch. 

Boonoonoonoos  for  dinner.  Bill  ordered  the Jamaican Jerk ribs and 
they  offered  to  bring  him a sample to be sure he didn't think they 
were  too hot. He loved them. I had chicken Barbados. Very good. About 
$84.00...  but  really  good  meal!  Wed. Went to Buccanneer. Robert's 
choice.  this  is  ok  to  me,  not  one  of  my  1st  choices.  I was 
disappointed  with  my shrimp stuffed with crab. I don't know when the 
crab  walked  through  the  breadcrumbs, but it definitely didn't stay 
around  long.  I mentioned it to waiter who told me they "looked at my 
plate,  and  the orange stuff was crab" I was going to tell say it was 
ground  pretty  fine,  but  thought  something  would  be  lost in the 
translation.  $77.00 total. Bill had crab stuffee swordfish, and there 
seemed  to  be  a handful of langostinos (we think) dumped on the top. 
Their  presentation  and stuffed potato and vegetables are nice, but I 
don't think it compared to the other meals in the same $$ range. 

Thurs.-  Bill's  choice  was  mini-golf and Alfredo's. Friends of ours 
who  were  at  LaC  a few weeks ago recommended Alfredos It was a good 
meal  and  great  portions.  Served  in a skillet. Half of mine became 
Bill's  lunch on Friday. He had frutti de mari, I had chicken Alfredo, 
and  Rob  had  plain  ziti  (he is an exciting eater!!) $48.00. We got 
free  glasses  of  wine  b/c the adventure golf person  me say we were 
going to dinner afterwards. 

Chalet  Suisse  on Friday- I had Wiener Schnitzel and bill had the red 
snapper  creole.  R-filet  mignon. All was excellent. I asked why they 
don't  serve  spatzle  with  the  schnitzel  and  the  waitperson said 
Americans  want  potatoes.  Oh  well, my loss. Finished with Toblerone 
fondue.  All three of us shared. I think they put a bit more fruit and 
cake  on  b/c  of  that. $98.00. No wine or cocktails b/c we'd been on 
that  MiDushi  and I reached my max (reached very early incidentally!! 
don't like more than one or two. 

BAHAMAS : GREEN TURTLE CAY AND THE ABACOS BY SANDY ESTABROOK

The  Abaco  cays (of which Green Turtle is part) start in the north at 
Walkers  Cay  working their way 100 miles or so down to Little harbor. 
The  outside  and  many of the passages between are covered with coral 
reefs making passage between a bit tricky if not impossible. 

Walker's  is  strictly a sport fishing resort and the only cay with an 
operating  air  strip.  It's  reputation  is  world  wide.  Many sport 
fisherman  keep their yachts berthed there and fly in for a weekend of 
fishing  fun.  There  are  numerous  tournaments  here through out the 
year,  and  was  once famous for their "Shootout" between Hatteras and 
Bertram  owners.  (as  of 1995 the Shoot Out is now being held at Boat 
Harbour Marsh Harbour).

   Walker's  native  workers  live on the adjacent island of Grand Cay 
who's  main  (and  only)  attraction is "Rosie's Restaurant" where you 
can  get  their  famous  combo of Cracked Conch, Turtle Steak, Lobster 
Tail and Grilled Grouper. 

Working   southward  you  will  pass  a  half  a  dozen  or  so  large 
uninhabited  cays.  Most  have  their own protected and secluded spots 
where you will always find a few boats anchored.  

Lying  between  them  and  on their Atlantic side are some of the most 
beautiful  coral  reefs  between  here  and South America. Shooting up 
from  depths  of  from  20  to  200  feet are these towering stands of 
coral.  Truly  a divers paradise. Passage between these islets and the 
fishing  grounds  outside  can  only be made at a few select locations 
and with local knowledge.

 

Spanish  Cay  is  the  first of the outlying cays after Grand that has 
any  population  and  those  folks  are those attached with the resort 
there.  There is an airstrip and a fine marina attached to the "Resort 
at Spanish Cay".  
Outside  of  what  the  resort offers, Dive Shop, Restaurant, Bar with 
occasional  Calypso  singer,  there  isn't  a  heck of a lot to there. 
Beaches  on  this  Island  are  nowhere  near what will find on others 
along  the  route. An earlier owner of the island (Clint Murchison who 
owned  the  Dallas Cowboys) removed the Casuarina's (Australian Pines) 
which  have all but undermined the natural foliage of this (and other) 
islands.  Instead  he  replanted  the island with thousands of coconut 
palms  and  other  tropical  trees.  Although  I can't say for sure, I 
suspect  these  new  plantings,  many  of  them  berry  producing that 
attract  the  many  types  of  birds  I've  noticed  on this island as 
compared to other cays.


The  first  Cay  you  come  to  with any population (20 Miles south of 
Spanish  Cay)  is  Green Turtle and the one we are most familiar with. 
We  have been going to Green Turtle cay (almost annually)  since 1973. 
Those  were  the days of Mackey airlines. Things have changed a lot in 
20+  years. There were no cars on G.T. back then. Electricity was only 
provided  for  the village of New Plymouth. The clubs at the other end 
had  their  own  generators.  A  flash  light was a necessary item for 
travel  since  the electricity would go off regularly. - "The good ole 
days  in  the  Bahamas". Radio was the primary means of communications 
(and  still  is, only now VHF instead of CB). And of course you didn't 
see  the many satellite dishes that have sprung up. Recently the small 
satellite  dishes  and  cellular  have made their impact on the island 
folks.  (And as of 1996 a Internet site is expected in Marsh Harbour!) 


During  our  early  trips  we would take our kids. I was a great place 
when  they  were  growing  up.  We didn't have to worry about a thing. 
They  could  run  around  all they wanted , as kids still can, I might 
add. 



It  was  originally settled by the loyalists in the 1770's. Lobstering 
and  tourism  are  main industries of the island today. The quaint and 
picturesque  village  of  New Plymouth serves most of the needs of the 
Islanders.  Access  to  the  Island is of course only by boat. A ferry 
(the  "BOLO",   Neigel, Larry or Curtis will probably be your captain) 
runs  from  anywhere  on  the island to a dock on the mainland serving 
the  airport  (by  land Taxi /ask for Emanuel - great guy) at Treasure 
Cay.  Connecting  commuter flights here are to Miami, West Palm Beach, 
Ft.  Lauderdale  Orlando and Nassau. (Incidentally Treasure Cay is not 
a  Cay  anymore  but  the  name of the mainland resort and the airport 
serving  that area of Great Abaco. It boasts one of the most beautiful 
crescent  white  sand  beaches  in the Abaco's. It's beach is on Great 
Abaco Sound and therefore has no reefs for snorkeling.)



There  is  in  New  Plymouth a half a dozen restaurants including  the 
some  first  class  dining  at the "New Plymouth Inn" ($25+ & includes 
wine).  The favorite night spots for the  visiting yachtsman are "Miss 
Emily's  Blue Bee Bar", (the originator of the Goombay Smash), now run 
by  her  daughter,  and  "Bert's  Sea  Garden",  right next door. Then 
there's  the  Island's  hot spot, "Roosters Rest" where on the weekend 
you  can  find  the  Gully Roosters playing Reggae and Soca (Calypso). 
For  native  dinning   there  is  always  The  Wrecking  Tree  and the 
"Rainbow  Restaurant"  who's  proprietor  Anita Roberts will take good 
care  of  you.  Then  there  is  everybodys all time favorite "Laura's 
Kitchen",  just  up  the  street from the town dock. Here you will get 
your  plate  piled  high  with food for about $10-$12 a reservation is 
strongly suggested. You can hail them on your VHF.

  Cottage  rentals  are  available not far from New Plymouth. A few of 
names  that come to mind are Linton's Cottages, Star Cottages and Long 
Bay  House  which are near beaches close to town. Others Like Coco Bay 
Cottages  can  be  found at the more pristine north end of the island. 
Still  others  can  be  found  listed  in  the  classified of yachting 
magazines  like  Southern  Boating,  Yachting Power & Motor Yacht etc. 
Islands  magazine  and  Caribbean  Travel  and   Life  routinely  have 
listings.



At  the  north  end  of  the  Island (White Sound), you will find "The 
Green  Turtle  Club"  and  the  "Bluff  House".  Both have first class 
restaurants  (order  in  advance), marinas with rooms and cottages for 
rent.  This writer finds The G.T.C. a little more upbeat and an easier 
spot  to  explore  the  north end and its beaches. The Bluff house has 
come  under  some disrepair as of late (94-96).  The Green Turtle Club 
Bar  is  a  lively spot hosted by Gerri or Debi. They will gladly whip 
you  up  a  great  Tipsy Turtle (which will do the job for which it is 
intended).   This  is  a favorite stop over for the cruising yachtsman 
and  often the nights are spent in conversation with them and of their 
travels.  On  Wednesday  the Gully Roosters comes over from town (with 
half  the  population)  to  play  at the club. On Fridays and Mondays, 
Brendal  (the  unofficial  Ambassador  of  the  Goombay  Spirit)  will 
entertain you with his one man band. 

I  might interject at this point, the G.T.C. is within a 5 minute walk 
to  a  lovely  bay beach at Coco Bay and 15 minute walk to a beautiful 
stretch  of  ocean  beaches with all the diving and snorkeling you may 
want. Add another 15 minutes if from the Bluff house.



Next  to  the  Club  on G.T. you will find Brendal's dive shop. He can 
take  you  on  any type dive you want, however my favorite is, the day 
trip  where  he  will  catch  your  lunch  and  cook  it  for you on a 
uninhabited  beach.  There  are also a couple of boat rental companies 
(Donny  Sawyer's  and  Danes), You'll need a small runabout to get you 
to  the uninhabited neighboring islands of Noname Cay and Manjack Cay. 
Their  boats are usually beet to hell but seem somehow to work.  There 
are  hardware,  gift  and  food  markets  in New Plymouth albeit a bit 
pricey.  Finally,  a  visit  to Albert Lowe's museum is worth a visit. 
Remember  there  are the out islands. Merchandise has to be shipped to 
Marsh  Harbour  via  Nassau  or  the states then to the outlying cays, 
This plus a 25% duty makes things a bit costly.

The  fishing, diving and beach combing are great; as good as anywhere, 
even  in  the Caribbean. Evenings are spent with the boating folks who 
often  return.  The native population is as friendly as can be. Blacks 
&  Whites mix without any problems. A truly homogeneous little spot in 
the world. 

The  original white settlers descendants are still here and consist of 
primarily  two  families  Sawyers  & Lowes. They have a lot of similar 
looking features (understandably).

If  sport  fishing  is  your  thing,  contact the Sawyers, a family of 
fishing  guides.  The  old  man  Joe  is the best and most experienced 
although  he  is  "sort  of  semi  retired". If he is busy try his son 
Ronny.  Another  very  popular  guide  is native fellow named  Lincoln 
Jones  - one of the best. Any and all of them can take you any type of 
fishing  you  like  deep sea to flat fishing for bone fish. If you can 
bring  a  marine VHF Walkie talkie with you, just hail them on channel 
16. Most of the islands communications are by radio this way.



The  main  Islands  south of here have a similar constituent. They are 
Great  Guana  Cay.  Man-O-War Cay , and Elbow Cay with it's village of 
Hopetown.  Marsh  Harbor is Abaco's commercial hub and the Bahamas 3rd 
city  after Nassau and Freeport. It is on the mainland of Great Abaco. 
It  has  an  airport with connecting flights to the States and Nassau. 
The  town  sort of forms a triangle between, and is the jump off point 
(water taxi) to the off shore cays of Man-O-War and Hopetown. 

Guana  Cay's north end (Bakers Bay) has been the "Treasure Island" for 
those  "Big Red Boats"  that made this their out island paradise stop. 
We  are  happy  to report, that due to uncertain weather conditions of 
the  Infamous  Whale  Key Passage in this area, as of fall 94 they are 
no  longer  stopping. However, as of Disney has bought a new island in 
a  more  protected  area  for  this  purpose called Gorda Cay which is 
located  south  east  of  Great Abaco Island and is under construction 
as  summer 96.



Guana  Cay   has a picturesque small settlement (pop 95) with a couple 
shops  and restaurants. Here you really feel you are really at an "Out 
Island".  The  reef strewn beaches and reefs that line the 5.5 mile of 
ocean  side  are  reputedly the most beautiful in all the Abaco's with 
every  shade of blue and turquoise and have the quality one might find 
in  the  South  Pacific  minus the palm trees.  The settlement adjoins 
the  "Great  Guana  Resort"  which  provides accommodations and a fine 
restaurant  which  is  open  for  breakfast,  lunch  and dinner. (like 
always  reservations  for  dinner  can  be  made  by  VHF  radio). The 
resort's  equivalent  of the Tipsy Turtle and the Goombay Smash is the 
Guana  Grabber  -  not  too  unlike  the  others  but  with  a hint of 
grapefruit  juice.  Recently  opened  (spring  96)  is  "Nippers" is a 
trendy  new  place  that lives up to its reputation for its view, on a 
bluff  overlooking the ocean - Spectacular. The food is another thing. 
Not  bad,  just  typical  island fried everything and tomatoes without 
color.   All  in  all  Guana  is  more  laid  back than G.T. but has a 
reputation   as  the  getaway  party  spot  for  the  folks  from  the 
neighboring  cays despite the fact there are only two places to party. 


Their  Marina  here  offers  free dockage if you stay for dinner which 
attracts lots of yachties especially on Barbecue (Friday) nights.

Man-O-War  is  a  busy boat building island of God fearing (no alcohol 
sold  on this Island), hard working folks 70% of which can trace their 
ancestry  to  the  first Albury who at age 16 fathered the first of 13 
children  with  his 13 year old wife. It is a great spot for all kinds 
of  quality  boat  work  and  parts.  Marina  facilities are available 
however  restaurants  and  lodging  is  sparse. Still a spot not to be 
missed  if  staying  at  one  of the neighboring islands. No yachtsmen 
would  miss  it especially if in need of repairs. The "Aubry's" canvas 
shop  is the place to see. Here you'll find the town ladies making all 
sorts  of bags and hats out of canvas. Despite the enterprising nature 
of  it's  residents,  restaurants  are  in  short  supply   however we 
enjoyed  an  evening  meal  at  Ena'a  restaurant  one of the two very 
casual  eateries  on  the  island.  As  is the case in the cays dinner 
selection is made when you make your reservation. 



Marsh  Harbour  is  the  commercial hub of the Abacos and the Bahama's 
third  largest  city.  It  is  on  the  mainland  of Abaco and forms a 
triangle  with  Man-O-War  and Elbow Cay.  Here you can feel the pulse 
of  activity and commerce. You will also find a culture of the sailing 
community  enroute  to  places far and wide. Hundreds of yachts mostly 
sailboats  will  be  anchored  anchored  in Marsh Harbour at any given 
time  and  its winter hangout for the northern folks. Just tune in VHF 
Marine  radio  Ch  68 at 8:15 to catch up on all the comings and going 
and  parties  too.  It  has  some really great restaurants and bars to 
gather  and  hang  out  with  the  yachties  (happy  hours). It is not 
unusual  bump  into a couple just returning from a circumnavigation as 
this  writer  has.  A  good  many  of these are within a short walking 
distance  of  the  old established Conch Inn and Marina. Most recently 
the  base of the Moorings Charter operation. Other hot spots are found 
all  along harbors edge on both sides. Despite all the positive things 
I  can  say about Marsh Harbour, It cant be called it a vacation spot. 
It  is  still a must see and  worth 2-3 days on a two week trip in the 
Abacos  and it will probably be your point of arrival (if not Treasure 
Cay) when flying in from the States. 

Rather  than  go into great detail about Marsh Harbour here, pick up a 
copy  of  "The  Cruising Guide to the Abacos" by Steve and Jeff Dodge. 
Available  at  all  yachting  supply stores. They say it all and it is 
updated  annually. Further more you'll get a better feeling for things 
from the yachtsman's perspective when traveling in the Abacos. 

Elbow  Cay  /  Hopetown  (the names are often used interchangeably) is 
famous  for  its   Red  and White Striped Lighthouse. Reputedly one of 
the most photographed attractions in the Bahamas. 

Hope  town  is a small village with a few restaurants, bars and Inn's. 
There  is a small quaint museum of artifacts from earlier times.  Life 
surrounds  the  harbor  on  this Island which has only one narrow (and 
shallow)  opening for the many visiting yachtsmen. There are a half of 
dozen  restaurants  in the area including those at the lodges at "Club 
Soleil"   and  "Hopetown  Harbour"  Lodge.  (ask  about  their  Sunday 
Champagne brunch). 

My  favorite  and  lease  expensive restaurant is, Captain Jacks right 
which  is  right on the water. Next to it down the Harbour a bit and a 
little  more  expensive  is  the  "Harbour's  Edge". "Rudy's Place" is 
famous  for Bahamian dishes but is in the middle of the island however 
he will send transportation. Again by VHF radio reservation.

Three  miles  south of Hopetown on Elbow Cay is The "Sea Spray Resort" 
run  by  Monty  Aubry who owns and runs the resort with his wife Ruth. 
They  have  full  marina  facilities  and  rooms and cottages for rent 
along  with informal restaurant. They too offer a traditional Barbecue 
pool side on certain nights a week. 

Near  by is The Abaco Inn and their more upscale restaurant which over 
looks  the  Ocean  -   absolutely  beautiful.  Be sure to try a Banana 
Flavored  Yellow  Bird and something called the Conch Pearl, God knows 
what was in them.

Continuing  down  the  chain,  the last and most stopping spot for the 
yachtsmen,  
and  the  jump  off spot to Eleuthera and the Islands to the south. It 
is  accessible  by  road  from  Marsh  Harbour.   Little  Harbor  is a 
protected  anchorage  with  hundreds of turtles poking there heads our 
of  the  water.  Here  you  will  find only a beach bar that sometimes 
serves Burgers at lunch only. 

More  importantly  this the home of the late Randolph Johnson who made 
home  here  30  years ago after being marooned during a hurricane. You 
can  even  explore the caves where he and his family took shelter. Mr. 
Johnson  was  an artist so he set up a small foundry where he made his 
bronze  castings which he sold to visiting yachts folks. Soon his fame 
spread  till  the  point where the Government commissioned him to make 
his  now  famous  statue in downtown Nassau. Unfortunately Mr. Johnson 
died  in  1992   who  was survived by his wife who still runs the gift 
shop with the artistic traditions being continued by his son.



The  Abacos  are  truly  a  Yachtsman  paradise.  Their  proximity  to 
Florida,  160  miles make this an ideal cruising area and the starting 
point for trips southward to Eleuthera, Exuma's and the Caribbean. 

However  all  of the spots mentioned can be visited relatively easy by 
the  land  lubber.  where you can enjoy the privacy of lying unspoiled 
islands   and  beaches that can be reached by renting a small outboard 
motor  boat  at  the many rental services.  That's how this writer and 
his wife started and fell in love with the Abacos. 


Our  trip  in  1996 added a new off the beaten path destination to our 
itinerary. 

While  in Marsh Harbour, we rented a car to explore this settlement as 
it  is  not  easily  accessible by boat. We drove 60 miles through the 
pine  barons  to  Abaco's  southwestern  most settlement, Sandy Point.  
This  picturesque  community  of  about 200 friendly folks  make their 
living  from  the  sea.  Their  brightly  colored  boats  at  the  old 
government  dock  make  for  some  great photography. We stopped by to 
talk  to  a couple of fishermen (not attending church) who went out of 
their  way  to  tell  us  of  their work. They also spoke of  new work 
opportunities  for  their  village  due to it's proximity to Gorda Cay 
eight  miles  off  shore  which  was  recently purchased by Disney and 
mentioned   earlier.   We   can   concur  with  the  Yachtman's  guide 
description:  "Sandy  Cay  is  a  picturesque  and friendly settlement 
standing  under the shade of an extensive plantation of coconut palms. 
The  settlements  small  houses  are  brightly  painted  with colorful 
flowers  and shrubs and well kept." On our trip there, we found a spot 
on  where  the  road  ends  on  the  island's tip in the shade of some 
casuarina  trees. There we had a picnic while looking out at Gorda Cay 
and  all  the  while,  thunderstorms  loomed  on  all horizons. A most 
beautiful sight.

BAHAMAS: CUTLASS BAY CLUB BY DENNY AND ANN PASTERNAK

Having  just  returned  from  our  first visit to the Cutlass Bay Club 
(CBC)  on  Cat Island, Bahamas - I thought I'd write up a report based 
on  our  observations  and  opinions  and share it with our cyberspace 
friends.

We  booked our trip for 4 nights at CBC with an initial night stopover 
in  Nassau  through  our  usual travel agency, Go Classy Tours (1-800-
7CLASSY).  Our  flight  from  Omaha-Atlanta-Nassau didn't arrive until 
mid-afternoon,  past  the  cutoff  time to catch the private flight to 
CBC.

We  stayed  at the British Colonial Best Western in Nassau, located on 
Bay  St.  near  the  cruise  ship docks. It had its own beach and nice 
pool.  We  spent a relaxing afternoon and evening watching activity in 
the  harbor  from our 3rd floor balcony and doing some shopping in the 
area  around the straw market. Several large cruise ships were in port 
so there was a large number of people in the streets.

The  next morning we took a cab to the general aviation terminal. It's 
worth  noting here that the Nassau cabs are now generally running on a 
flat  rate  fee  rather  than using the meter. A local paper mentioned 
that  this  would  be  the official method for them. The trips to/from 
the  airport  to  town  ranged from $15-$20. U.S. dollars are accepted 
everywhere  and are on a par with the Bahamian dollar. Change was also 
given  in  U.S.  dollars,  which  is  different than we experienced in 
other countries.

We  waited  about an hour for the CBC plane to arrive. Roy, the pilot, 
found  us  and  said  that  we'd  be  leaving as soon as the plane was 
refueled.  Almost  30  minutes  passed before we were notified that it 
was  time  to  leave.  We  were  ready  since  the terminal is not air 
conditioned  and  it  was  very warm. We were the only passengers. Our 
two  carry-on  bags  and one backpack fit easily into the fore baggage 
compartment  of  the single-engine Piper for our 1.5 hr. flight to Cat 
Island.

Most  of  the  150  mile  flight was uneventful. The plane is equipped 
with  a GPS system which can fix your position via a satellite signal. 
I  was  watching  the readout and saw that we were experiencing a good 
headwind  resulting  in a groundspeed of only about 100 kts. I found a 
sectional  chart of the area in a pocket. Being a private pilot, I was 
able  to  follow the course and find the few islands that we flew over 
or  close  to.  As  we  descended  for landing, we had to wind our way 
around some cumulus clouds.

Soon  a  landing  strip appeared almost dead ahead. As we got closer I 
noticed  a  very  large  hill  just off the far end of the runway. Roy 
made  an  excellent  landing.  The  strip  seemed  short,  but  it was 
actually  longer  than  the  2000' strip that I learned to fly off of. 
The hill on the south end made it seem shorter.

Robby  was waiting with the van. We piled our luggage in for the short 
2-3  ride to the main building for check in. Sandy was waiting for us. 
She  got us a couple of Cutlass Bay punches and showed us to our room. 
We were in number 6 of the oceanview section.

The  room reminded me of some state park cabins that we've stayed in - 
basic  4  walls  and a roof with a bathroom/shower. The rooms are very 
spartan.  There were 2 double beds with a table and lamp between them. 
There  was  a  plastic table and 2 chairs near the back door which led 
to  a common deck shared with all 8 rooms. There was one dresser and a 
closet  for  clothes.  A  sink  was  across  from  the  closet and the 
bathroom  contained  the toilet and shower. There is a ceiling fan and 
lots  of  louvered  windows. There is no A/C in any building. The beds 
were  a  little soft for our tastes, but were not too bad. We unpacked 
a  little  and then went to get some lunch. I'll note here that we did 
not look into the villa rooms.

It  was  almost 2 p.m. and most of the other guests had already eaten, 
so  Ann  &  I ate alone. Robby and Sandy stopped by to chat and see if 
we needed anything - we didn't.

That  afternoon was spent walking the grounds and sunning by the pool. 
CBC  is  a  clothes  optional resort for most of the grounds. Clothing 
was  only  required  inside the main building and bar area. During the 
day,  all the guests that were there during our visit were nude around 
the  pool and beach areas and wore a towel or t-shirt when going up to 
the  bar.  Swimsuits or towels were acceptable for breakfast or lunch. 
Shorts  and  t-shirts were fine for dinner. There was waitress service 
at  the  pool  and  you  could  have  the  bar pack a cooler with your 
favorite beverages to take to the beach.

CBC  has  the  most  beach  area of any resort we've ever visited. The 
main  beach  is long and uninterrupted by any rocks. There were lounge 
chairs,  hammocks,  and palm thatched umbrellas scattered about. There 
was  shade  available  if desired, from palm trees. There were several 
other  smaller  beaches  around  on  the bay side of the resort. These 
beaches  were  interrupted occasionally by a small area of rocks. They 
also had chairs and shade.

All  the  beaches  had  coral  reefs just off shore that were good for 
snorkeling.  Snorkels,  masks,  and fins are provided by CBC. Bicycles 
are  also  available  for traveling to the more distant beaches or for 
just  riding  around. There was a tennis court and equipment. However, 
the  court  area  had a lot of grass growing on it and didn't look too 
playable.

Most  guests  spent the days reading and sunning. CBC has a library of 
several  hundred  paperbacks  in case you didn't bring your own. Beach 
towels  are  provided. All room linen is provided along with soap. The 
rooms are cleaned each day.

Some  guests  went diving and fishing with a local island outfit. Land 
tours  are  also  available.  Since  we  only  had 4 nights at CBC, we 
elected to spend our time on the grounds.

Although  CBC  has  18 rooms, there were only 7-8 couples there during 
our  visit. Two of the couples were relatives of Robby and Sandy. They 
come  each year for an extended visit and help with various chores and 
repairs.  Robby's  and  Sandy's  daughter  Stacy  from Tampa was there 
also.  Most guests were over 35 other than a couple on their honeymoon 
who  were  in  their  late 20s or early 30s. In fact, most guests were 
older  than  us  (early  40s).  We spent the pre-dinner time and post-
dinner  time  getting  to  know  them.  Everyone was very friendly and 
outgoing.  There  was  not  much turnover during our stay. Two couples 
left and one couple came in.

Breakfasts  are  ordered off a menu with standard breakfast items like 
eggs,  pancakes,  french  toast,  fruit, etc. Lunch and dinner have no 
choices  other  than  salad  dressing.  People  with  special  dietary 
requirements  can  be  accommodated  with advanced notice. All dinners 
had  a soup and salad, bread, an entree and a dessert. Lunches usually 
had  a  small  salad  and  a  sandwich. We had fish (several different 
types),  chicken,  conch,  and  lamb. I understand that they also have 
lobster  at  times  -  but  not  during our stay. Seasoning was to the 
local  customs  and  was  tasty. Appetizers were served each afternoon 
and  were  either  chicken wings or conch fritters. Each served with a 
sauce on the side.

The  bar  was well stocked and the bartenders could prepare many kinds 
of  drinks.  Favorites  were  strawberry  or  bananna  daiquiris, pina 
coladas,  Cutlass  punch. Soft drinks and iced tea were also available 
as  was  coffee  and  hot  tea. Beer was available - Kalik, a Bahamian 
beer  - was the only choice, but was very good. Someone was at the bar 
from  about 7 a.m. until the last person left in the evening. Although 
anyone could come in during the night and fix their own.

CBC  is  all  inclusive.  Tipping  is  allowed  and  most guests leave 
something  for  the  staff to share upon departure. However, it is not 
made   a   requirement  like  on  cruise  ships  where  envelopes  and 
instructions  are  provided on tipping. There is also a departure tax, 
currently  $15/person,  payed  to  the  airline  at  departure. Travel 
documents  required  are either a passport (easiest way to get through 
the  lines)  or  a  birth certificate (original-not a photocopy) and a 
picture  id.  The latter is for U.S. citizens. Other visitors may have 
other requirements. Check with your travel agent.

Evenings  were  spent  mostly chatting with the group inside or around 
the  pool  or reading in the rooms. Reading after dark is a challenge. 
The  room  had only one lamp with a 60w bulb. There were lights in the 
bathroom  area  too,  and  you  could  move a chair there to read. The 
lights  in the main building were all blue party bulbs of low wattage. 
There  are  two reasons for the lack of lighting. First, bugs would be 
drawn  to  any  white light and would pose their own problems. Second, 
all  electricity  was generated on location by a gasoline generator so 
the power requirements needed to be a minimum.

With  little ambient lighting, darkness came swiftly. A flashlight was 
required  to  leave  the  main  building  area.  There was low voltage 
lighting  (blue)  around the pool and walk areas. Those staying in the 
villas  needed a flashlight. Luckily I most always travel with a small 
flashlight.  I've  been  on  several  business trips where electricity 
failed.  It  came in handy this trip. During a full moon and cloudless 
sky a flashlight might not be needed.

The  remoteness  of  CBC resulted in being able to see many more stars 
than  one  is  used to. The milky way and some nebulae were visible. I 
also saw several shooting stars and some satellites.

One  still evening we started a bonfire in an old brick grill near the 
beach.  We  took  turns going for drinks and just stood around talking 
for  hours.  The  only sounds were the crashing surf and the crackling 
fire.

Most  days and nights were like all the other days and nights - except 
one.  We  had  a  visitor  named  Bertha  stop  by  about midnight one 
evening.  She  came  through  with  strong winds (50-60 mph) and heavy 
rains.  We knew she was coming by listening to radio reports. But with 
no  "Weather  Channel"  or TV weather reports - we didn't know how bad 
it  would  be. We were only 10'-50' above sea level and were afraid of 
a  heavy  storm  surge  from  the  sea.  There wouldn't be anyplace to 
evacuate  to  if  needed. Cat Island is about 50 miles long and only a 
few  miles  wide in most places and is relatively flat. However, since 
CBC  generated  their own electricity, pumped their own water, and had 
a radio telephone - we were already pretty self sufficient.

Our  room  was  fairly  water  tight. The roof held with no leaks. The 
windows  had  only  wooden louvers on them which were not water tight. 
However  the  roof  had  a  long  overhang  on  each end which offered 
protection.  Some  rain  got  in  through  the  windows,  but was only 
causing  a  misting effect and no puddling on the tile floor. The only 
loss  was  of sleep. Some outdoor furniture was displaced and the pool 
had  a  lot  of  leaves in it. After checking out the storm track upon 
our  return  home,  we  were only about 75 miles from the eye. Luckily 
the  storm passed to our east and the heaviest weather was to the east 
of  the  eye.  Remnants of Bertha hung around the next day in the form 
of  winds  and  clouds and a choppy sea. It caused cancellation of the 
CBC  flights  and  one  couple had to stay an extra day and one couple 
had to stay in Miami that was on their way in.

Our  return  back  was uneventful. We got back to Nassau in time to go 
into town for lunch before our flight to the states.

Will  we return? We'd like to. We'll try to stay longer, though, maybe 
a  week.  I'll  bring more reading material and larger flashlights and 
spare  batteries.  And  probably bring less clothes. We'd also try not 
to  spend  the first night in Nassau if possible. We'd also try to get 
some friends to go.

With  all  the  above  glowing  reviews - was there anything different 
we'd  like  to  see?  Not  really. CBC has its own charm and features. 
It's  missing  things  you'd  find  elsewhere,  but then one shouldn't 
expect  them  here. CBC main offering is clothing optional privacy for 
couples.  If  you  want  more  than  a  very basic room, want non-stop 
entertainment,  want  large  groups of people, want room service, want 
to  order  a pizza or McDonalds, want to shop, want to gamble, want to 
"party",  want  to be pampered, want air conditioning, want no bugs or 
other  creatures in your room, want TV or telephone, want a newspaper, 
or  want  to  complain  about  any of the above -- please go somewhere 
else.  People  that  come  expecting  any of the above didn't do their 
homework  or  had  a  bad  travel  agent  who didn't tell them what to 
expect or not to expect.

If  you're  looking  for  a  private, remote, clothing optional resort 
with  great  service,  fine  beaches,  good  food and drink, and total 
relaxation  and  not  much  more  -- then CBC is the place. Currently, 
about 40% of their guests are return visitors.

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