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Caribbean Travel Roundup Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 48
October 1, 1994
America On Line Edition

SPECIAL MENTION:

The September 1994 issue of Internet World carried an interesting article by Dave Taylor entitled "Caribbean Vacation" in which he describes his internet search to plan a Caribbean vacation. The CTR is prominently mentioned. Dave quotes comments from previous issues. Check out the article beginning on p.29.

CONTENTS FOR OCTOBER 1994
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1/ PRESS RELEASES

Puerto Rico Wine and Food Festival

2/ CARIBBEAN JOURNEYS FOR OCTOBER 1994

Antigua: Sandals by Joan and Stanley Liu

Bahamas: Nassau by Bill Forehand

Bahamas: Paradise Island by Carol Hill

BVI: All 32 of Them by MartI Martindale

BVI: Flying Sailing by Brian Gladue

BVI: Bareboat Report by Allen Lewis

Club Med: Punta Cana by Eli Gorin

Jamaica: Swept Away by James Drury

Jamaica: Boscobel By Helen Comet

Jamaica: Grand Lido by Dwight Christal

Jamaica: Poincaina Beach Hotel, Negril by Chris McCormick

Nevis by Ronald Cohen

St. Martin by Bruce Farrington

St. Martin by Casey Lipshaw

About The Authors
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Marti Martindale is Vice President of the Tampa Bay Area Professional Writers Guild who specializes in writing general features especially on the cultural aspects of travel, including food. She is a former broadcaster, copywriter, reporter, interviewer, and stringer.

1/ PRESS RELEASES
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Puerto Rico: Wine and Food Festival
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An internationally renowned roster of food and wine experts will gather in San Juan from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 1994 for "A Celebration of Vintage Hospitality 94", a spectacular food and wine festival to benefit the Rene Aponte Chapter of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association Scholarship Fund.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is a major sponsor of the event. The Caribe Hilton Hotel and Casino in San Juan will serve as the host hotel and will offer a special rate of $140, single or double, per night, to attendees. Patron Tickets, which provide admission to all activities during the "Celebration" are available for %400. Tickets to individual events can be purchased separately.

The schedule is as follows:

30 Oct. Sun: Food and Wine Festival, Arsenal de la Puntilla, Old San Juan , 1-5 P.M. $35

02 Nov. Wed: Louis Jadot and Fonsesa Winemaker Dinner, St. Moritz Restaurant, 7:30 P.M. $125

03 Nov. Thurs. Ridge Vineyards Grand tasting, Casa Olympica, 7:30P.M. $125

04 Nov. Fri.: Veuve Clicquot Champagne Dinner, Compostela Restaurant, 7:30 P.M. $250

05 Nov. Sat. Gala Dinner and Benefit Auction, Club Caribe at the Caribe Hilton Hotel, 7:30P.M. $175

For more information contact Guillermo Ramis or Carol Dalmau at 809-751-8470 ot (Fax) 809-766-2896.

2/CARIBBEAN JOURNEYS FOR OCTOBER 1994
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Antigua: Sandals by Joan and Stanley Liu
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My husband and I came back recently from the all-inclusive, couples only Sandals, Antigua and we mutually agreed that one week was definitely not long enough. Everything about our stay at the resort was very good--- everything except the "taxi ride from hell" to the resort.

After about a four hour plane ride (with a brief stop over in San Juan, Puerto Rico), we finally arrived in Antigua at about 10 o' clock at night. We were kindly greeted by a Sandals representative who helped us with our luggage and swept us through the customs line. We were then shoved into an ancient Oldsmobile driven by the cab driver who seemed not at all happy to be there. The roads are quite narrow and very dark and the local drivers seemed to like to play "chicken" with us. Another couple that we met at the resort later told us jokingly that they were afraid they were going to be driven somewhere desolate and killed, but we finally reached the gated resort safe and sound.

Checking in was very nice with cool towels to refresh ourselves and glasses of champagne to drink while we waited for them to get our key. The whole main area which consisted of the main lobby, lounges, eating areas and courtyard are open with no enclosed walls that block the view of the beach.

Our room was a clean, beach front deluxe that included a hairdryer and satellite TV. The beach was a few steps away from our room and a couple of more steps to one the pools. All the rooms had a "balcony" or "porch" with a table and chair for sunning. We ended up upgrading our room on the second day to a beach front rondoval. The rondovals are round, cylindrical bungalows that are slightly larger than the deluxe rooms. They are also better decorated and included a mini bar and stocked fridge.

The resort is situated right on the beach of Dickenson Bay so the water was very calm and peaceful---great for all the water activities that are available there and there are LOTS to do. Activities that are available through the resort are scuba diving, snorkeling (the reefs we hear are incredible), sunfish sailing, paddle boats, and water skiing. Other stuff like jet skiing, parasailing and horseback riding were also available through other vendors who were not associated with Sandals. Since the beach is public, you can easily find these vendors---most of the time they find you. We found the beaches to be very clean (there are strict litter laws) and not very crowded. There are a couple of t-shirt vendors and friendly, local women who offer their hair braiding services (I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked to have my hair braided).

The staff there are very friendly and helpful from the play makers in charge of activities to the security guards that patrol the resort 24 hours. Besides the beach activities, there are pool activities, tennis courts with instruction, a small gym with aerobics, volleyball court, a sauna with hot and cold plunge pools and massage parlor, a swim-up pool bar, hair salon, disco and very well maintained gardens (I was kind of leery of the coconut trees but they were pruned and kept "bomb free").

There were lots of things to do and every night was a theme night to dress up in togas, black and white, etc. and play games. Points are earned with every activity you participate in and are tallied up. After gaining a certain amount of points, a leather necklace with a little pair of sandals are awarded (we racked up two pairs). Some games had a bottle of the local Antigua 150 proof rum to award the winning couple. One couple shared theirs with everyone---just the fumes alone could've knocked you out and so we were all kinda afraid of "lighting up" a cigarette while drinking that stuff. We ended up bringing several bottles home for friends and learned one of them used it as lighter fluid for his BBQ!

The food there was quite good (the desserts are killer!). There is a main dining area where we could sit outside by the beach. Breakfast and lunch was like a buffet and dinner had a preset menu every night. On mornings when we've overslept (because we overdid it with the partying the night before) there is a grill that serves hot-dogs, sandwiches and fries. There are also two other "restaurants" that require reservations that we tried. The one that we liked (I cannot remember the name) served dinner in the same preset menu fashion except that the staff serve you in white gloves. The food was very good and did I mention that the desserts are killer? The restaurant that we didn't care for was Tokyo Joe's--a Japanese/Chinese, trying-to-be-but-didn't-quite-do-it-for-usbecause-we're-Asian type place. I thought the Chung King egg rolls served on a stick on top of a little grill were a hoot! Anyway, besides the food, the drinks were pretty good too. I'm not a big alcoholic drinker so I found the nonalcoholic drinks really good.

One of the things that we do recommend is to rent a car and explore the island on your own. There are several sport utility type vehicles that are available through the resort. For under a hundred dollars (about $55 for a nice Geo Tracker, $12 for a license, and $10 for insurance) we were able to go about on our own. There are tours offered to certain scenic places for about $45 so we thought we were getting a better deal for $80 to take our time and see the whole island. My husband only forgot to drive on the other side of the road only once. St. John's is a great place for shopping (we recommend buying your touristy t-shirts there because it's much cheaper). I can't tell you what the currency exchange rate is but everyone accepts American dollars. Getting around the island is easy, though the roads at certain times were dirt roads and we had to four wheel it---that was the funniest part. We drove to Shirley Heights, an over two hundred year old military fort in ruins, which was pretty spectacular during sunset, and drove through numerous little towns and villages and even through a rain forest. There were a lot of picturesque places of deserted beaches and coconut groves in between and there is, like any other place, poverty all over the island and lots of free running goats and chickens along side the roads, but the local people that we came across were very friendly and helpful.

Another thing that we recommend is to plan your trip around the last week of July and the first week of August. That is when Antigua celebrates their annual Carnival---a good excuse to party for two weeks straight! There are parades, colorful and amazing costumes, dancing and incredible music. Sandals had a float in the parade and for a fee we got costumes and got to be in the parade! The floats were decorated trucks that were stacked with amplifiers blasting Carnival music. One play maker told us Antiguans just don't like their music loud, they like to FEEL the music! The parade lasted a few hours (we had to follow the float and dance the whole way) until we came to the end of the route which was a baseball stadium. From there, we watched the rest of the parade dance their way into the stadium, snapping pictures of colorfully clad children until we were rounded by groups and shoved on stage to dance in front of the stadium! Not only were we on the local TV station but CNN was there too--dancing like the fools that we were, not knowing that we were being judged. We actually came in third place which was pretty amazing to us!

Well, that about raps up my report. Almost everything either met or exceeded our expectations about Sandals and not to mention the really nice couples that we met there and to Mr. Scotland, a taxi driver that comes highly recommended by everyone who had the pleasure of taking an island tour with him. We really enjoyed ourselves and wished that we could've stayed an extra week.

Bahamas: Nassau by Bill Forehand
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Funky, Funky Nassau

I returned from a 7 night stay at the Carnival Crystal Palace on Cable Beach in Nassau, the Bahamas. My wife, 5 year old daughter and I had a good time overall, as the weather was fantastic and being away is always better than being at work. But all was not perfect in this carefree tropical paradise.

The Crystal Palace is a very large hotel, over 800 rooms. It has a casino, nightclub, restaurants, movie theater, spa, shops and $7.00 cheeseburgers (15% tip included for my convenience). It's pink, purple and aqua color scheme offends the senses of some but suited me fine. Our room was good sized and comfortable. It had one too many windows though, in the way of a large uncurtained "porthole" which, as we discovered just after sunrise on our first morning, faces east. We found that a 28" American Tourister pullman suitcase (softsided with wheels and pull strap, teal in color) surrounded with towels made a functional and attractive window treatment.

We had asked for, and been told, we would be given something to cover the window. But it never arrived. Getting help from the hotel staff was about as difficult as getting the truth from a congressman during an ethics investigation. We asked for a roll-away bed for our daughter when we checked in at 1:30 PM. Four games of telephone ping pong weren't successful in getting the bed:

Front desk: "you'll need to call housekeeping". Housekeeping: "you'll need to call the front desk" Front desk: "no, you'll need to call housekeeping" Spouse: "how about a couple daiquiris then?"

We finally made a bed of towels and put our little girl to sleep on the floor. We were roused from our travel weary slumber at 11:30 PM when the bed finally arrived.

Our main reason for choosing the Crystal Palace was price, $465 each for 7 nights double occupancy, and a short direct flight from the Washington, DC area. We booked through Apple vacations. I've been to Nassau twice before, but had stayed on Paradise Island both times. We've vacationed in the Caribbean about a dozen times. I've stayed in all kinds of accommodations, including moderate hotels, one bedroom condo's, a large hillside villa, and all inclusive resorts. I'm not terribly cost sensitive, but I want to feel I'm getting good value for what I spend. My most enjoyable vacations have been at all inclusive resorts and in a condo or Villa with a kitchen. Eating and drinking at restaurants for every meal at Caribbean prices can be so expensive. Breakfast for three, $50. Where's the kitchen?

In the Cable Beach area any building containing anything of value has prison quality bars on the windows and doors. Some buildings are surrounded by walls topped with razor wire. We visited a Tony Roma's restaurant and a liquor store (in the day time) each of which had a uniformed guard with an attack dog guarding the entrance. Apparently barbecued ribs and bottles of bourbon require extra security. We saw a man leaving a store on Bay street accompanied by a uniformed guard carrying a machine gun. Was he a barbecue sauce courier?, I wondered. Perhaps he carried the Colonel's finger licking good secret recipe of those eleven different herbs and spices. I made no sudden moves, and hoped the body guard wouldn't hear my stomach growling. I feared my ample girth and gurgling digestive tact might prove deadly in funky, funky Nassau.

My biggest disappointment was the beach at the hotel. There was none. No real beach anyway. There is a seawall between the ocean and the hotel. A manmade lagoon has been created, but the water was murky and kind of smelly and there was a lot of gravel on the "beach". The hotels on either side, the Nassau Beach Hotel and the Radisson Hotel each have excellent beaches.

I like to walk on the beach a lot on vacation. An extra dimension was added to this activity because on either end of the property one must run a gauntlet of hair braiders and jet ski rental men. While it's true that a polite "no thank you" is effective in stopping a sales pitch, Miss Manners herself would have grown weary of the 30 or 40 courteous utterances one must make each day. Having said "no thank you" once (or 10 or 20 times) does not make one immune from having the same vendor ask you each time you pass. On the good side I never saw one time share salesman the whole time, unlike Cancun, Aruba and St.Martin. And I was only asked to buy drugs once. On my first visit, about 10 years ago, I must have been mistaken for David Crosby or something because I was constantly being asked if I wanted drugs. Come to think of it, and I try not to, my resemblance to David Crosby is closer now than ever before. I guess they heard about "my" stay at the Betty Ford clinic.

We had intended to have our daughter spend much of each day at "Camp Junkanoo", a children's activity program at the adjoining Radisson Hotel. After looking things over I didn't feel comfortable leaving our daughter there so we ended up keeping her with us. This reduced our relaxation factor but we had fun and were all proud and pleased to participate in our daughter's learning to swim. The Crystal Palace has a nice pool area with a large circular slide, but for a hotel of it's size, the pool area could have been a little larger.

A surprise to me was the large number of kids and teens who where at the hotel. I don't want to sound like a snob (I don't mind being one, I just don't want to sound like one) but these teens seemed more likely to be causing anxiety in shopping mall patrons back home than hobnobbing with the rich and sunburned along the "Bahamian Riviera". The crowd was not all blue blazers and ascots.

We took a day trip to Blue Lagoon Island (Salt Cay). It was the nicest day of our trip. It's quiet. Has many paths for "exploring", good snorkeling and beautiful sandy beaches. There are plenty of picnic tables and hammocks among the numerous palm trees. This is what I think of when I think of a tropical island paradise. There were a lot of other people there too, but there was enough room to be away from them if you wanted to. For $35 you get a day on Blue Lagoon Island, an OK lunch and wine or fruit punch.

We had dinner at the Paradise Pavilion on Paradise Island one evening. The food is reasonably priced, and just so so, but it's the best place for watching the sun set. It's perfect for enjoying a couple daiquiris and watching the sun dip into the ocean. We spent one day on Paradise Island on the beautiful stretch of beach near the Paradise Pavilion restaurant. It's a very long beach with clean white sand and beautiful calm clear blue water. It's much nicer than the beaches at Cable Beach and it is free of aggressive vendors.

We ate at five of the Crystal Palace's eight restaurants and I'll give each the same review. Expensive and pretty good. We went to the 'Native Show' at the Nassau Beach hotel next door, and thought the food and show were pretty good also. My guess is that the hotel has been doing the exact same show, with the exact same people for at least 30 years. The black MC's joke "contrary to what people say, you don't all look alike to me" was obviously an antique from the days when the audiences were all white. Now about half of the audience was black. They may want to freshen up the act a little. The limbo dancer went under the limbo stick, lowered to about 12 inches, while holding our daughter in his arms. It was a pretty nifty trick and she loved being part of the show.

The transfers from the hotel to the airport were the worst I've ever seen. We sat on the unairconditioned bus for 1/2 hour before it left. The truck with our luggage didn't make it to the airport until 1/2 hour after we did. The method for distributing luggage seems to have been modeled on recent CNN coverage of UN relief trucks handing out rice to Rwandan refugees. Luggage starved tourists clamor around the back of the truck and they toss out suitcases, one at a time. I'm not making this up. We got our luggage about 15 minutes before departure time. Got our boarding passes, passed through customs and immigration and went OJ Simpson style to the boarding gate (that is, we ran quickly through the airport, we didn't drive though in a white bronco holding a gun to our heads) and boarded one minute before scheduled departure time. Because many others had still not made it to the plane we waited another 1/2 hour before taking off.

In spite of the difficulties it was still an enjoyable holiday.

Some of the things I mentioned are really characteristic of other Caribbean locations as well. (like the roach the size of a mouse that crawled up my daughters leg oops I wasn't going to mention that). The weather, water and beaches were beautiful and that's why I come to the Islands. The shorter travel time, and the low cost package deals make Nassau an attractive destination, but I'll take Paradise Island over Cable Beach next time, pick a smaller hotel and maybe arrange my own transfers.

Bahamas: Paradise Island by Carol Hill
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Following is our report from our trip of September 16 through 19 to Paradise Island Resort and Casino in Nassau, Bahamas. We booked through Apple and were aware that the resort was under construction. However, if I had been aware of how MUCH construction there was there, I would not have booked this hotel.

PIR&C is a good bargain these days, being about the lowest priced accommodations that you can get in Nassau. HOWEVER, do not expect to be able to see the ocean from any of the public areas of the hotel. There is NO open bar on the beach and no open restaurants on the beach. On the beach there is one small shack which serves an abbreviated bar menu (plus soft drinks, of course), hamburgers and hot-dogs, potato chips, and that's all. There is NO place to sit on the beach and look at the ocean except for beach chairs provided by the hotel. If I had known this I would not have booked this hotel. Once I got over my extreme disgruntlement over not being able to see the ocean from the hotel, we had a good time. Having been there once, I might re-book this hotel with the current situation, although I am not sure. So, here goes the report......

We booked the trip about 3 ahead, having decided we need a getaway that was WARM and cheap and were not too picky about where we went. We live in the Washington, DC area and after checking around for prices, figured that Nassau was about as cheap as anywhere. We also took into account the direct flight from BWI to Nassau, which certainly helped with squeezing the most out of a long weekend. I had checked on the trip on a Friday, when Apple quoted a price for ROH room, but by the time I called back on the following Monday, the only thing available was island view rooms.

We left BWI around 9 AM on Sept. 16 on Carnival Air. The seats are VERY close together and breakfast quite unmemorable. Left on time and arrived on time in Nassau, around 11:30 AM. We had decided that we did not want to deal with checking baggage, as we wanted to grab our stuff and head to the beach. We took carryons only and decided to forego the bus provided by Apple for transportation to the hotel. Figured we'd get to the hotel faster and hoped to get an upgrade to an ocean view room.

We were slightly surprised at the price for the cab--(which, actually was a white stretch limo)--$25.00, but felt it was worth it regardless not having to wait around for everyone else to pick up their bags and waiting in a hot bus. I made the mistake of saying that we wanted to go to MERV GRIFFIN'S Paradise Island Resort and Casino. The driver corrected me, rather vehemently, and said that Merv no longer had anything to do with the resort. Merv apparently was not too popular a person, at least with this particular fellow.

Once we arrived at the hotel, we got the first view of Apple customers as second class citizens. There were separate check-ins for Apple customers. We arrived at the hotel around 12:30 and were told that our room was not available. The rooms were already pre-assigned and there was no opportunity to try to cross someone's palm to get an upgraded room. We asked the Apple lady what we were supposed to do until the room was ready and she had no suggestions. Just told us to come back around 2:00 to see if our room was ready yet. However, I saw "regular" customers of the hotel checking in around 11 AM one day and they got keys right away. Moral of the story--either book directly through the hotel or pack a swimming suit in your carry-on luggage so that you can at least go into the pool until your room is ready.

The lobby at PIR&C does not really look under construction, and is fairly impressive, with marble entrance, check-in desk, etc. The casino is just off the main entrance. Lots of slots, plus Caribbean stud, roulette, blackjack, big wheel and baccarat. Even some nickel slots back in one corner. We checked at the desk and got one of their lockers ($20.00 deposit, returned on bringing back the key) and put our camera and my purse in the locker and went out by the pool to get something to eat.

There apparently used to be two pools at PIR&C, although we only saw one. There is a pool in front of Britannia Towers which is open. Pretty nice pool, no diving board, but a swim-up bar. You could not see the ocean from this pool, as there was a construction wall behind it, although I'm not really sure that you could see the ocean from there before. There are lots of chairs, with towels provided, no whirlpools however. There was a band playing, accompanied by the very faint roar of landmovers from the construction crews. We ordered drinks and cheeseburgers. Entire extent of the menu by the pool was cheeseburgers, hotdogs and potato chips. Hamburgers were good and fairly prompt. Drinks were expensive, (around $9 for a beer and a mixed drink), with Coors Light beer costing MORE than a mixed drink. Needless to say, Eric didn't drink too much beer this weekend. We had to pay cash for this meal, since Apple did not give us our hotel charge cards until we went BACK after lunch. After this, we were able to charge drinks and food to our room, both at PIR&C and at Paradise, Paradise.

After lunch, we went back to the Apple check-in people and got our key for the room. After some wandering around trying to find our room (my fault), we found our room. The room itself was pretty nice, with a king sized bed, cable TV (about 10 channels), mini-bar (typical expensive), lots of drawers, etc. There was music available through the TV but you had to know what the location of the radio station was that you wanted, as there were no station pre-sets. The major disappointment was the balcony, which was chipping and peeling paint, and which looked out on the top of the casino and toward the construction in the other tower.

A word of warning--if you want to see the ocean during your stay, do NOT accept a booking for island view, as I would venture to say that basically all the rooms in the tower we were in had no view of anything. Our ticket voucher said "BT 2602", signifying to me that it was Brittania Towers, but we were definitely NOT in Brittannia Towers, so I presume that we were in Paradise Towers, although I never saw anything which signified the name of the tower we were staying in.

Some of the literature that we read said the hotel had around 1200 rooms. I would say that maybe 1/4 of the hotel rooms are open to guests. It looked like they were replacing all the balconies of the hotel rooms. One day we saw them putting up new balconies in the other wing of the tower we were in, with the aid of a crane. On the last day the hotel provided a change room, which was in the other side of the tower we stayed in. This room had the balcony replaced also. It appeared from the balcony that all the balconies of this wing, which had (partial) ocean views had been replaced already.

After dumping our stuff in the room, we headed out for a walk around, to pick up some cokes and some munchies for the room. PIR&C is not within easy walking distance of any fast food places. There are a couple of small shopping centers that are around 1/4 mile away, which have a couple of restaurants, plus a small grocery store, some clothing stores and a couple of liquor stores. Prices were a little higher than downtown, but not excessively so. We went to the grocery store and paid $3.95 for a 6 pack of cokes, plus bought some OJ and a couple of muffins for Saturday breakfast.

After a walk out to the beach, to discover that there were no restaurants or bars open on the beach, we decided to take the free shuttle over to Paradise, Paradise to check out their beach. Free shuttles run from PIR&C over to PP and back every 15 minutes until around 5 P.M., then after 1/2 hour till around 11. PP and PIR&C are sister resorts and you could charge food and drinks at PP with your PIR&C charge card, plus get the use of pool, beach chairs and towels free. Also, while PIR&C is under construction (but apparently not normally) you could also get free non-motorized watersports at PP with your PIR&C card. Snorkelling, sailboats and canoes were available. There were banana boats, parasailing, water skiing and jet skis available for rent, but have no idea how much they were.

PP is not a particularly fancy resort, with the lobby being nothing to look out and the the couple of rooms that we peeked into from the beach being not too great looking. However, the beach there is really beautiful. The water is absolutely flat calm, with a huge expanse of sand, with no rocks, just a few scattered patches of seaweed.

There is a regular sit-down restaurant right there on the beach, plus the separate bar, which also served sandwiches. We sat in the bar and talked to some people who were staying there at PP. The people we talked to had booked the hotel as an all-inclusive, and they seemed pretty happy. We had intended to head over to Tony Roma's that night for dinner, but after happy hour at the beach bar at PP, decided we would just stay there for dinner. Had a pretty good steak dinner, to the accompaniment of a pretty beautiful sunset. Steaks were around $14.00, plus $2.00 for a baked potato. Headed back to PIR&C for some gambling, then off to bed.

Saturday morning we had our OJ and muffins (which were very good, by the way!) and coffee. Had to get coffee from room service (no coffee pot in the room) and had to pay $6.00 (!) for a pot of coffee from room service. Good sized pot of coffee, although we thought it was expensive. However, we don't ever do room service, so probably we are out of touch with how much it should cost. Here, as well as everywhere we went, tip is automatically added (15%), so unless you want to be a real big spender, don't tip extra!

After breakfast, we headed out to the main part of Nassau for some shopping. Taxi over to town from PIR&C was $6 plus tip. We had been to Nassau lots of times on ships before, so we knew what was available in shopping. We picked up our standard 4 t-shirts for $10 and some junk jewelry at the straw market, and visited Little Switzerland, although for once we didn't leave any money there. Had lunch at a roof-top place, whose name escapes me at the moment, with a view of the Nordic Empress, plus part of the side of a building. Excellent club sandwich with fries for around $6.00.

While downtown we checked out the British Colonial Beach Resort, which is one of THE cheapest places to stay in Nassau. We had checked into going to Nassau before and our TA's had always told us that we would not be happy with the British Colonial Beach Resort. We checked out the grounds--OK looking pool and a pretty nice looking beach, with a great view of the ships coming in and out of the harbor. Great stuff for ship lovers like Eric and I. There was a bar out by the beach also.

The lobby didn't look too great and the rooms probably would be pretty cruddy, I don't know. The place was built in around 1905 and looked it. Had lots of character, but one could tell that it would benefit from a massive infusion of money. Great location, though. There are LOTS of really cheap places to eat right there--McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts right across the street. Except for evening cab rides to one of the casino's, one could stay at the BCBR for not much money at all.

This was probably the 6th or 7th time we had been to Nassau and I had always wanted to do the carriage ride thing, so we did this time. Costs $5 per person for maybe a 10 minute ride. Fun and worth the $10.

We took a water taxi back to Paradise Island from Nassau. It leaves about every 1/2 hour. We did not wait very long, but some of the other passengers onboard were getting very restless by the time we finally left. We therefore got the impression that they leave when they get a full boat and not before. Cost is $2 PP and the ride is around 10 minutes. They stopped first around Paradise Paradise, which is close to Club Med, then let the rest of us off right by the end of the Paradise Island bridge. That's about a 1/4 mile walk from PIR&C.

We spent Saturday afternoon on the beach at PIR&C. The beach there right now has no shade, and, as I said in the intro, no restaurants or bars, etc. There is one little shack which served only hamburgers and hot-dogs, and an abbreviated bar menu, but there was no place to sit down and eat or drink except beach chaise lounges provided by the hotel. The beach has wonderful sand, no rocks or weeds, etc., but has pretty good wave action going. We were only out on the beach there that one day, but it seemed to be pretty rough for youngsters.

Getting to the beach is quite a trek right now. One advantage though is that you do get to walk through the new section of the hotel which they are building. One could tell that this section is going to be absolutely beautiful, with wonderful views of the ocean. Can't imagine what the per diem will be for those rooms, but I'm sure it will be out of sight.

Walking over to that section of the beach you can get a view of the massive nature of the project they are undertaking at PIR&C. The hand-out we picked up at the front desk said that Sun International was spending $127 MILLION on the refurbishment and I can believe it. Just outside the casino, there are mock-ups of what the various parts of the hotel will look like once they are finished and the place will be fabulous. They are building a huge outdoor aquarium with a huge lagoon with sharks, etc., a lagoon bar with an underwater walkway to get there, etc. Fabulous stuff. The signs up in the hotel said that the Oceanview Restaurant is supposed to be open December 15. I frankly do not believe there's any way it could be open by then, but Eric thinks it might. Concrete work looks done, but that's about it.

After winning quite a bit of money in the casino (which we eventually gave back on Sunday!) we walked across the bridge to Tona Roma's for dinner. Late arriving crowd there, as we arrived around 8 PM and there was almost no one there. However, by the time we left around 9:30, the place was mostly full. I had a grilled chicken salad for around $8 and Eric had some pretty great ribs for around $13, plus we had some nice potato skins. Good meal, one of the best we had in Nassau. Coming out of the restaurant, I told Eric I wanted to take a taxi back, provided there was one waiting there in the lot. Of course, there was!

Sunday we decided to spend most of the morning and afternoon at Paradise Paradise and this was probably my favorite day of our trip. We took a shuttle over to PP around 10 AM and had breakfast there in the restaurant. Had waffles (plain for me, around $3.50, blueberry for Eric, around $4.50, plus $2.00 for some ham. Good meal, with a good view of the ocean.

Headed over to the beach at PP, and got towels and chairs free on showing our PIR&C cards, plus I got some snorkeling gear. Not bad snorkeling at all, right off the beach, in only around 3-4 feet of water. Lots of damselfish, butterflies, sergeant majors, etc. Had a wonderful time in and out of the water, and reading a book. Headed up to the beach bar for hamburgers and fries and drinks. Great food, fast, and pretty cheap, then back out to the beach for some more rays. Next report should be the last! Around 3:30, we headed back to PIR&C, fairly burned and happy. There is a sports bar right by the casino at PIR&C. We tried to watch the Redskins game on TV and succeeded for the first half. Then the hotel lost the signal from Fox and so we didn't get to see the second half, so we headed on back to the casino and lost some of the money we won the night before. Had dinner at the Cafe Casino at PIR&C. This place is not very memorable and things are overpriced, especially breakfast. $7.95 for an omelet with toast. Get real! I had a craving for pizza, so we had pizza for dinner. Not so great. We would have done better to get pizza delivered from Domino's. BTW, we saw them delivering pizza at Paradise Paradise, so I'm sure that they deliver to PIR&C also. Monday was to be our return home, and so we had to make plans to check out at 11 AM. We decided to get all our things ready and check out, then head on over to PP for breakfast and time on the beach. We watched a little bit of the Haiti situation on CNN, then finished packing up our stuff to leave. No problems with check-out. We left our suitcase to be checked at the hotel and got another locker for the camera and my purse and headed over to PP. Had a breakfast of ham and cheese omelets plus toast for $3.95. Good food, although service was not as prompt or efficient as it had been for dinner on Friday. Hung out on the beach till around 3, although mostly out of the sun since we got burned the day before. Very restful day. Took the shuttle back to hotel and asked for the promised change room at PIR&C. We had to wait around 15 minutes, but did get a room to take a shower and change clothes before heading out. Plenty of towels, plus shampoo, etc., provided. Nice touch, and allowed us to head out to the plane clean and refreshed. Took Apple transportation to airport. Bags were transported separately from people and we had to wait a little bit for our bag to show up. Gave me time to pick up a bottle of Bacardi, which I hadn't done yet. Price was around $.50 higher than downtown. Not bad. Strangely enough, we cleared US customs on the ground in Nassau.

The flight left on time for Baltimore, again technically Carnival Air. Dinner was quite unmemorable, but the flight was otherwise fine, including the captain, who thought he was a comedian.

Overall, we had a wonderful time. If we had it to do again, since we enjoy gambling, I might do the same thing--book at PIR&C and spend most of the days on the beach at PP, then the evenings and nights at PIR&C.

The BVI: All 32 of Them by Marti Martindale
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In the 1500s the first queen Elizabeth made her best sailors become privateers, including Sir Francis Drake. This meant they had permission to attack ships of other countries, especially Spain, with no war was in progress. United in their hatred for the Spanish, Drake and the "brethren of the coast" attacked ships and settlers alike. The British Virgin's islands and harbors were perfect for surprise attack and successful hiding. Drake made good use of them and in 1596 claimed the Virgins for the British. Today Drake's Passage runs through the center of the British Virgins.

The area's very steep islands are rock-hard, and interior development is minimal. Their geological legacy caused by ancient, dynamic, volcanic upheaval, has resulted in breath-takingly steep, scrub-covered rock formations. These are rimmed by sugar-white sand beaches. This inherited topography lures many to sail these islands for their astonishing contrasts, countless inlets and totally private beaches.

To this end, THE MOORINGS, home based in Clearwater, Florida, keeps a fleet of over 600 yachts for lease on Tortola. Vacationers choose ahead of time from yachts in many classifications and degrees of luxury. (800) 437-7880

VIRGIN ISLAND SAILING LTD. offers over 150 luxury crewed yachts from 40 to 200 ft, taking two to 20 guests. A typical week's itinerary includes a visit to a different British Virgin every day. (800) 233-7936.

On-land accommodations and activities make the Virgins fun and colorful, as well:

The BITTER END YACHT CLUB on Virgin Gorda Island, is kind-a-like an all-ages, year-round camp. The Club is two resorts in one: the upper-scale, premium Commodore Club, and nearby, the more relaxed Yacht Club digs. The Bitter End's heavy emphasis is watersports. If you don't do it, you can learn it there from the best. The Bitter End's also home to the music group, Reflections. (809) 4942746.

LITTLE DIX BAY, also on Virgin Gorda, was completely renovated in '93 sand is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It provides water taxis to 13 nearby beaches and islands. Tennis clinics available. Full American, or European Plans are available. Packages include Little Dix's Honeymoon Plan, Island Hopper Plan, Tennis Plan, Dive Plan, Land/sea Plan includes a day's jeep rental, a day's sail and sunset cruise. (800) 928- 3000.

JOST VAN DYKE: This British Virgin island is devoted to music, fun and saving the universe. It's also not difficult to regard this island as one in-the-rough resort. Find campgrounds, food and fun along its main street at Foxy's, Rudy's, Club Paradise and Ali Baba's. Here is where the Wooden Boat Regatta began. Call Contact the Sandcastle Hotel (809) 775-5262 or Sandy Ground, (809) 494-3391.

PETER ISLAND RESORT is expensive, remote and ever-so- private. Unspoiled as any Caribbean island gets, it's an exclusive resort on its own island. Discover your own spot on any one of Peter Island's five beaches. Member Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Phone: (800) 346-4451.

FORT RECOVERY, on Tortola puts an emphasis on fitness and the fact vacation time is an excellent time to start new behaviors. Their individualized meal programs, daily exercise classes, daily hikes, discussions on meal-planning, food preparation and behavior modification help bring this about. There's also water sports, yoga classes, massages and group packages available at this 17th Century Dutch fort. (809) 495-4467.

QUITO RHYMER'S OLDE WORKS: There's only eight units in this paradise in a 300year-old restored sugar factory. Some of the accommodations are only $600, double per week in winter! Quito's Gazebo Restaurant, just across the narrow road, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is just seconds from your beachspread towel! This Caribbean secret nestles itself on lovely Cane Garden Bay. Call (809) 495-4837; Fax: (809) 495- 9618.

INTIMATE INNS & VILLAS is a guide to 27 locally-hosted small hotels, villas, inns, apartments and cottages. For a copy call (800) 835- 8530.

CULTURE & ACTIVITIES:

THE AMPLE HAMPER: A gourmet grocery store ISLAND TREASURES, a Caribbean Art gallery ZENAIDA'S, exotic artifacts.

FUNGI MUSIC: It is melodious, spontaneous and a blend of African, Spanish and European culture. There aren't too many fungi groups. Look for an upcoming cassette by "O Squared."

BOMBA'S SURFSIDE SHACK AND HIS FULL-MOON PARTY EVERY MONTH: Since 1975, Bomba's Shack has been one of Tortola's greatest attractions. This is a building, or lack of building, which hurricane Hugo only improved. Bomba's, a fun time, is also good for any night of the month. Each night a taxi is available from the Shack. Call 495-4148 or 495-5843.

SAGE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK: This park under the direction of the BVI National Parks Trust Ministry is a memorable hike.

SKYWORLD, mountain top bar, restaurant and gift shop has a spectacular view. Only 10 miles from Road Town, it is open daily for lunch, sunset cocktails, dinner and Sunday Brunch. Call 494- 3567.

WRECK OF THE RHONE: Dive operators conduct trips to the site frequently.

Access to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands: Fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, then take American Eagle to Beef Island on Tortola. An alternative is flying to St. Thomas and taking a ferry to Westend or Road Town, Tortola.

BVI: Flying Sailing by Brian Gladue
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My wife and I spent 5 wonderful days in and around Tortola, BVI, the jewel of the Caribbean, and probably one of the lesser known islands in that part of the world. We went there primarily tore-create that unhectic, leisurely, lowtourism ambiance of islands days gone by. You can still get it on Tortola. NO Jet airliners can land there (airport is way too small, with no plans for expansion, nor is it likely - no enough flat runway space). Some cruise ships can come in, but the "shopping" is pretty dim, so the cruisers usually hit the U.S. Virgin Islands, thus leaving Tortola alone as a sailing paradise... Here's what we can report

The Hotel:

Long Bay Resort. Pricey (about $250 per night, taxes and gratuities included for a king-sized bedroom suite with balcony)but worth every penny. Stayed in Room 114, a so-called "Hillside Studio", but easily an understatement. This is THE room to stay in. On the hillside, a brief but brisk walk up the hill from the lobby/restaurant. Suite has King-bed, cathedral ceilings, tropical pastel decor with LOTS of windows facing the ocean. Lounge area with kitchenette (microwave, TV, coffee maker, refrig/freezer, toaster-oven and complete supplies, dishware, etc.), and HUGE bathroom dressing area with cute nodoor/only 2-walls shower stall (the water goes pretty much everywhere) also overlooking the ocean. In fact, there is a lot of beautiful unobstructed ocean view. If you can't get this room, take any hillside suite instead of the socalled "Deluxe Oceanview" rooms- those rooms may be deluxe but they have mostly an obstructed oceanview of palm trees and lots of beach-goers stumbling around looking for the beach paths and generally peering in your windows and blocking the view. The hillside rooms all have a sweeping panoramic view of the beach, ocean, bay, and neighboring mountains/hilltops. It is indeed breathtaking.

The hotel is typically tropical: open, airy, and has a leisurely staff (this is a MAJOR understatement). The pace is very unhurried, and even lazy or surly by American standards. If you are in a hurry for breakfast (things to do, places to go), then shop for groceries at the local supermarket (there are 3 on the island), and do breakfast in your room. Otherwise if you like the slow-mo day, have breakfast in the beachside outdoor restaurant. Plan on a 2 hr meal (the staff is a bit poky in the AM) . Very airy, breezy, and leisurely with a great selection of pastries, fruits, and main dishes. Breakfast comes in at about $12 per person (tip included).

Phone service locally is sketchy and off-shore connections often iffy, but keep trying. Use pay phones located around the island -for some reasons they are more efficient and offer better sound quality than hotel room connections (can't figure out why - they all run off the same company).

Dinner in the hotel restaurant is an elegant affair - right out of an old tropical James Bond movie. Soft lighting, distant Caribbean tunes, and very good food with prompt but understated service. Expensive - expect about $40 each including drinks, but hey, if you wanted a cheap meal, go to St. Thomas.

Other restaurants around town are OK, but for local color, especially of the yachting type, stop by Pusser's in Soper's Hole Marina at Frenchman's Cay. At night this is the hang-out for sailing bums of all ages and nationalities. Watch out for the special rum drinks or you'll start singing sea chanteys along with the crowd under the breezy palms and evening moonlight. And Pusser's has a "begging cat" that loiters around tables sniffing for fishy handouts. It may be cute for some folks (who can't resist the urge to feed the cat gourmet droppings), but I prefer my romantic moonlit meals to take place without pathetic whinings of somebody's over-stuffed tabby at my feet. Lose the cat.

One restaurant deserves special mention, and we only stumbled across this place while bombing around the backroads. It is a roadhouse-style restaurant located on the top of the mountain ridge of Tortola over-looking the entire island and surrounding bodies of water. The food is OK, and the bar/meal service is very good, but it is the windy wide-open view from the observation deck or any table in the place that makes this a worthwhile stop.

Sailing:

This is probably the best (or at least in the top 5) place to sail in the world. The location of the channels, the variety of islands nearby and the reliable brisk winds make this truly a remarkable sailing paradise (for a change, the clich?s in the promotional brochures are astoundingly understated).

We signed up for a day-cruise on a large Catamaran, the "Cat Paluu". The boat came complete with a Dutch captain and deckhand, and a British mate/chef. Nice crew and great smooth fast sailing. There were about 20 passengers aboard but not crowded at all. [Avoid cruise days. The crew said that up to 60 people clamber aboard for a half-day sail when the cruise and ferryboats drop in to Tortola.] Anyway, we went under motor and sail(mostly sail) to Virgin Gorda for a swim, hike and snorkel at The Baths. An excellent unbelievably blue-green water natural pool with Very hot sands/sun. Bring lots of sunscreen, a hat, and some sort of water shoes/socks. The sand is very toasty. Back on the boat for a sail back up Sir Francis Drake Channel (the length of the BVI) to Norman Island for some off-boat rocky coast snorkeling. Another great sailing experience with perfect sky, wind, and temp. The snorkeling was fun but a bit dicey. Several caves have their own charm AND hazards. Lynn got bashed up against a coral reef at the waterline by a few surprise waves and I ended up with sea urchin spines in my finger tips from a cavalier attitude about grabbing a rock ledge at a waterline shelf in one of the caves. The captain and crew were very prompt to treat these maladies with antiseptic lotions and peroxides and we ended up OK. We washed off the salt water with fresh water hoses, had a GREAT lunch (quiche lorraine, frenchrolls, assorted fruit and dessert bars) made on deck by the mate/chef. Sailed back to Road Town harbor in time for supper and the whole sailing day was terrific. Skip the speedboat versions of Tortola cruising take the sail and enjoy the sea for what it offers.

Flying:

This was a GREAT part of the Tortola visit. Rented a Cessna 172 Skyhawk and pilot at the Beef Island Airport. Fly BVI Air. Avery friendly and laid-back operation, but also neat, prompt and professional. For about $100 you can rent the plane and pilot for about a 1 hour 500 feet above sea level guided tour of the BVI archipelago, including a flight over open water to Anegada Island/reef. The pilot was cool and the "chart" we used for navigation and landmark ID looked suspiciously like a detailed placemat (it was). Got to fly low but legal over Soper's Hole Marina (buzzing the Pusser sailors hanging out) and experienced the unusual wind patterns, sights and weather of Caribbean flying

A MUST if you like flying. And if you know how to fly a plane, even marginally, they'll let you take the controls for a lesson in Smilin' Jack flying ("OK, said the flight instructor, "make sure the winds don't push us into that mountain over there"). Otherwise, let the rental pilot take charge and relax for the view. Headphones make it easy to talk with passengers and tower.

Perfect taste of a different view of the islands.

Beaches:

The beaches are not that plentiful on Tortola. Long Bay has some great sand stretching a distance, and there are a few smaller spots on the island. A neighboring island, Virgin Gorda, has a great mini-bay with terrific sand ("The Baths"). But overall, if the wind is blowing up, hanging out on the beach can be a sand-blasting experience. When the wind is low key, the beaches are uncrowded, white sand with great waves, but watch out for rocks and coral underfoot, especially when body surfing at low tide in the Long Bay area. Atlantic beaches (North Shore) are best. Alas, lounging around on the sand is great, but can change quickly: if the ocean/sea breezes kick up, the beach gets in your face and your body gets a fine satiny etching. Bring a towel and be ready to head inland.

Shopping: Pretty good if you want t-shirts, a few local crafts, conchshells, rum, spices, and some more t-shirts. Other than that, save the shopping for malls back home. They have newly installed a deep harbor pier in Road Town Harbor to handle cruise ship traffic, so eventually Tortola will get a bit more of cruise ship style shopping esplanades, but since hotels are not that plentiful or near to the main harbor, and the shopping pretty mundane (compared to other Caribbean ports), the next few years should still be low key in Tortola. However, you can have fun trying to haggle with the T-shirt vendors. Since they all sell pretty much the same selection in the same bazaar market, goofy price swings can occur. They can also tell you to buzz off, too(frankly, I like surly vendors that aren't so ingratiating).

Hiking:

Went on a half-day walk/hike through the Mount Sage National Forest/Park- a nottoo-rugged series of paths along the highest mountain on the island. Excellent simultaneous breathtaking views of both sides of the island, VERY WINDY up here and on cloudy days, even pretty cold. On clear days you can see the clich? infinity or at least to the U.S. islands (St. John's , St.Thomas). Try to get lost while hiking if you are an adventurous sort, but watch out for the big spiders - they are spooky!. Bring drinking water and a hiking stick - its gets long and stumbling in places.

Avoid horseback-riding, old plugs and boring trail-guide rides on back roads. Slow, stodgy and uncomfortable. You are better off walking/driving around. And surprisingly we saw NO motorbikes the entire stay - something about

unbelievable insurance requirements or costs or something like that...

Driving/Rental Cars:

This is essential if you want to see the island, eat at different places and so on and NOT pay exorbitant taxi fees. For example, the hotel clerks claim that the fares from Long Bay into Road Town (about 5 miles, 20 minute ride) are $15 per person one-way. Well, its hard to believe the locals pay such fares, so there must be a sliding (upward) scale for tourist. One round-trip into town

for a couple can thus whack you for $ 60, so renting is easily a better deal. The problem lies in the rental cars available. Prices aren't bad (about $35 per day, cheaper with a weekly rate), but the cars are really beat-up. Low-end is a Suzuki Samurai, infamous for making Consumer Reports "Most Likely to Tip Over

at Low Speed for No Reason" List a few year sago. Suzuki claims that its newer vehicles (Sidekick, etc.)won't do this, but the rentals on the islands are old enough to be the infamous ones. And they look it, too. These cars are rattletraps at any speed: holes in the floor-boards, torn up interiors, manual

shifts, no air conditioning, and hell-on-wheels. Adventurous soldier-offortune, treasure-hunters in the outback fantasies pop right into your head as you careen around the hairpins pot-hole roads of the island. Great for

loosening fillings and jarring kidneys and kneecaps. But they do get around easily enough, as long as you have a firm understanding of slipping clutches

and aren't afraid to really damage the gearbox. Slightly better cars (Jeeps and newer Suzukis and Monteros) are available but go fast to tourists with clout

and lots of cash. If you do get a Samurai, leave the convertible top up: the locals talk about "rocks hitting you in the head" from cliffs along the road, not to mention the sharp sun and occasional tropical downpour.

And The Roads:

The roads basically look like inner-city alleys and side-streets from ward sand districts of unpopular politicians (i.e., long-neglected forre pairs). There

are LOTS of potholes and washouts, so be careful on those 270 degree turns that seem to go straight down (or up). One-way its a roller-coaster zoom; the other direction you feel as if the damn car will tip over backwards as it struggles and crawls to the top. And just when the car seems to be totally without motion or momentum, poof! You have crested the hill and are now plunging down to the next cliff-that-turns-into-a-turn-in-the-road-at-the-last-meter. The dents on the roll bar are only partially reassuring. And occasionally, you do see a rusting burned out hulk of a car nestled into the jungle foliage right off the hillsides of the roads. Sort of a wake up call should you care to get too reckless. Remember to stay on the LEFT side of the road, and do get insurance, just in case. Finally, avoid hitting chicken sand small animals. They seem to have the run of the place.

Would we go back? In a shot! Although, it would be really tempting to fly in, charter a sailboat and wallow around the islands for a week, taking an occasional night ashore for hotel amenities. In any case - Tortola was terrific...

BVI: Bareboat Report by Allen Lewis
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We spent 10 days cruising the BVI on a 39' Privilege Catamaran the first two weeks in August. Following is the report and some highlights.

The boat was great, the weather outstanding, the water spectacular and the people unspoiled.

Day 1 - Picked up our provisioning and the Maverick at the Village Cay Marina in Tortola and left for the Bight at Norman Island. Supper on the William Thorton was very good but the punch of the Painkillers is still being talked about.

Day 2 - Snorkeled the Caves at Norman Island, a must stop for snorklers. Sailed to Cooper Island, explored the beach and snorkeled at Cisterine Point. Supper on board the Maverick.

Day 3 - Scuba rendezvous with the Dive BVI and dove the Rms Rhone. Sailed to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor. Kids had pizza at the Bath and Turtle, Mom and I had our anniversary dinner at the Old Yard Inn. Very Good.

Day 4 - Sailed to the Baths, our favorite snorkeling spot, and then to Gorda Sound for a night at Levericks Bay and supper at Pussers.

Day 5 - Sailed to the Bitter End, Biras Creek and Saba Rock. Snorkeled Saba Rock and found the Cheeseburger in Paradise at Pirates Pub.

Day 6 - Sailed to the Dogs and a Scuba rendezvous with Kilbridge dive tours. Two excellent dives on the Dogs and then to Marina Cay and Trellis Bay.

Day 7 - The boys took sailboarding lessons at Trellis Bay and then off to Monkey Point and Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke. Visited with Foxy, a real experience, and then over to Little Harbor and Sidneys' Peace and Love.

Day 8 - Snorkeled Sandy Cay and Green Cay and then to Cane Garden Bay. The boys played on the beach and we watched the sun set at Rymers and Paradise Bar.

Day 9 - Sailed to the Indians for scuba and snorkeling then back to Sopers Hole and supper at Pussers.

Day 10 - Sailed around the West End up the Sir Frances Drake Channel to the Baths and on to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor to view one last sunset over Tortola and supper at the Bath and Turtle.

Day 11 - Left Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor and made on last stop, again, at the Baths then downwind past Cooper Island and Peter Island and returned the Maverick to Village Cay Marina.

Best Snorkel: The Baths

Best Nighlife: Little Harbor at Jost Van Dyke

Best Burger: Saba Rock

Best Pizza: Bath and Turtle

Best Scuba: A tie between Dive BVI and Kilbridge

Best Restaurant: Old Yard Inn

Best Beach: Cane Garden Bay

Best Beach Bar: Quitos Gazebo

Club Med: Punta Cana by Eli Gorin
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I got back from my Club Med Punta Cana trip. The way I will do this is give a ranking of each thing 1-5, five being the highest.

Here we go:

ACCOMMODATIONS: The rooms were good, with an air conditioning system that would freeze you butt off. The beds were as hard as rock. That was the only bad thing about the rooms. The showers were good, unlike in Cancun, where the shower head would spray anywhere but straight. Cleaning was very good. One disadvantage was the walk from the rooms at the end of the Village to the other side, a 5-10 minute walk. Grade: 3.5

G.O. TEAM: What a disappointment!!!! This team was so bad it wasn't even funny. The G.O.'s where to themselves too much. They did not ever get along with the G.M.s in terms of conversations. Very rarely would you see a G.O. sit with a G.M. at a meal or anywhere else. There are however many exceptions. I got to be friends with, and not really a surprise, the English and Spanish speaking G.O.'s. The French G.O.'s are as bad as the G.M.'s. Thanks to those G.O.'s my trip wasn't such a bore. Grade: 2.0

CHIEF OF THE VILLAGE: When I went to CM Punta Cana 7 years ago, the Chief of Sports' name was Howard. Well, now he was the Chief of the Village. He did not impress me at all. He was very nice to the G.M.'s but had no control over his G.O.'s. Rumors had it that most of the G.O.'s did not like him at all. They said that he only knew how to yell at them. I remember him giving the music engineer, Jay, a really nasty look during the Mini Club show because his mike didn't go on. He'll be in Sandpiper next season. Now I now where not to go. Grade: 2

CHIEF OF SPORTS: Sergio was his name, and he was half French, and half Spaniard. He did nothing when it came to actually being a part of the sporting event. He never played, only introduced, and then left. He was actually a great actor. He would have been best suited for the job of Animator. Grade: 2.5 (he just didn't do his job right.)

ANIMATOR/ENTERTAINER: HA!!!!!! This guy was a major joke. Jeroun, who was Dutch, was not good at all. For a family Club, you at least would expect him to do something besides act in the shows and do bar games!! He did nothing except for that. I am very disappointed of him. Grade: 1.0

SHOWS: The shows were good considering the team was not professional. The shows were about the same, and there were too many variety shows. The only real good show was the Mini Club Circus Show. I did like some of the shows, but after nine Clubs, they get boring. Grade: 3.5-4.0 (Be back with Part two after lunch, ELI)

WATER SPORTS: The G.O.'s for this part of the Club were very good. Kevin in snorkeling is going to stunt school, so I'll be looking for him in the movies. The water-ski instructors were nice, especially Chicho, who was in Cancun with me. The windsurf/sailing/kayaking G.O.'s were very nice too. The only watersports G.O. I had a problem with Pierre, from snorkeling. What a French piece of $#@*. Sorry, but I had to say it. Grade: 4.0-4.5

FOOD: This Club Med is not highly regarded for its food, unlike Caravelle. The meals were monotonous. Same thing almost every day. Grade: 2.0

BREAD: This is a specialty of Club Med's. No matter what Club you go to you will find the worlds greatest breads. Grade: 5.0 (It was so good it needed its own section)

LANDSPORTS: Very good, if not excellent, are my comments for Carlitos and Shelly, the Landsports G.O.'s. Shelly was a very friendly person, as well as Carlitos. They were so good, that my brother decided to give them a bottle of champagne that he won. They were probably the nicest G.O.'s in the entire village. I hope I see them in another Club. Grade: 5.0

TENNIS: After a few days on those courts, I decided that they weren't worth playing on. They were too rocky, and the balls would fly all over the place. As for the G.O.'s, they were hardly any good, especially Troy, who was actually a windsurf instructor with a hurt back that had no clue of how to play tennis. Grade: 2.0

Overall, this club was just not right for me and my family. I am the youngest in my family, and I'm 15, and we figured out on this trip that we are done with family clubs. This club was fairly good. Not to mention that I also made a lot of good friends on this trip, OVERALL TRIP GRADE: 3.0

Jamaica: Swept Away by James Drury
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I just returned from a 8 day - 7 night Club America trip to Swept Away Resort on the west coast of Jamaica on Negril's famous (infamous) seven mile beach. We have been on three Club America trips and they are a solid, reliable company to deal with - organized and very dependable. They seem to have some of the lowest rates. We took their Private Jet charter from Cincinnati to Atlanta to Jamaica. The flight was on time and we had good service.

We arrived with three other jumbo jets and had a jumbo mess in customs and immigration. Huge crowds, no air-conditioning, long slow moving lines, etc. We spent three hours going through customs, immigration, and waiting on our shuttle. It only took about three plus hours of flying time to get there so we thought three hours to get through the airport was pretty ludicrous.

Bitch, bitch, bitch! I had to get that off my chest. Anyway, things got better and stayed better and soon as we left the "airport from hell".

The trip from the Montego Bay airport to Negril was enjoyable. I had read manymany-many negative comments about this trip, but compared to roads on other islands, this was pretty deluxe. It was paved, no major pot-holes, and wide enough. We had a small mini van we shared with a couple from Columbus, Georgia. We had fun comparing trip notes from our Caribbean trips with the places they had been. The road follows the coast and you can see about a dozen different bays, towns and villages, farmland, hills, and, best of all, the Jockey underwear factory - a MUST see. But it does give you a real feel for the island and is interesting. The trip is about 55 miles and 1 and a half hours. The driver stopped half way to let us get a snack and a refill of Red Stripe beer. (After drinking a couple of Red Stripes at the airport, I had another reason for wanting to stop.)

Then things REALLY GOT GOOD. We arrived at Swept Away.

If you go - one point. They have three classes of rooms. Garden, Atrium, and Ocean View. The Garden rooms are 8 unit buildings with verandahs facing the gardens. The Atrium rooms are in the center of the garden in about 4 unit buildings. Their verandahs face the gardens and the ocean - not ocean view more like ocean peek. The rooms in the both the garden and the atrium building are the same with the same floor plan, same verandahs, same furniture, etc. The second floor rooms have vaulted ceilings and therefore are a little nicer. The atrium building rooms are about $100 a week more (per couple) simply because they are a little quieter and a few feet closer to the beach. The ocean front rooms are larger, nicer features, and more expensive. They can't really see the ocean due to a lush stand of palms along the beach. All rooms have air conditioning.

So - any room is a winner here. We opted for a atrium building - second floor. We had an ocean-peek view but could have cared less. What we were looking at was so much better. The landscaping here is awesome! The place is like the Garden of Eden with dozens of species of palms, flowers, shrubs, etc. I have been to dozens of islands and have seen hundreds of resorts in the islands and stateside. The landscaping here is world class by anyone's standards. They had a large team of people maintaining the plants everyday, so it was all well cared for. The place is fairly new (about 4 years old) so everything looks great. It is a combination of plantings, building design and placements, walkways, etc., that makes for a great looking resort. It also had a nice, quiet, restful feel to it.

"The beach?" you ask? Stand back! I think I'm going to start raving again.

Their beach is 800 feet long - I think I read that somewhere, but it sounds accurate. That's about the length of three football fields if you have trouble visualizing "800 feet." The beach is about 50 feet deep - enough for two or three rows of chairs. Lots of room to spread out. There is a guard at each end to keep non-guests from strolling onto the property. Anyone can walk the beach past the property but non-guest can't step onto the beach were the guests are sitting. So nobody bothers you selling anything.

They have nice recliners, each with a "Swept Away" foam float in it. There are plenty of in-the-sun chairs, lots of shady-palm tree chairs and two or three palapas. Never a problem getting a chair. You could leave you stuff there while you ate or walked - no risk of anything turning up missing. The entire beach was raked and cleaned every night. We were there in August and the ocean and pool were very warm and enjoyable - must have been about 90 degree water. The ocean is clean, no seaweed, white sand bottom, and roped off so you won't get run over by a passing boat. There are no waves, the water is calm like a pool or lake - so the floats get a lot of use. The beach is nice and quiet compared to most. No one was on a loudspeaker instructing you on how to have fun and there was no elevator music piped out to the beach - so it was very restful. I like that word "restful." That's why I was there.

There is no nudity on the beach. About 10% or less of the women were topless. It was pretty much a middle-of-the-road crowd.

People were from England, Germany, France, and Italy. They made up about half the crowd. The other half were American and I think most of the Americans were honeymooners.

Negril is on the west coast so I think of the beach as running north and south. From Swept Away, when you head north, you pass 1/4 mile of undeveloped beach, then pass Cosmos beach bar, then pass a 1/4 mile of common area - soccer field, park, etc. The beach seems to end - but don't despair. There is a foot path through some trees that runs 100-200 feet and then you pop out again on the beach (you may need some shoes on this path for glass and rocks). Continue north for another 1/4 mile past private homes until you reach Poinciana Beach Hotel. Next is Sandals with a fairly long (1600 foot) beach. Next is Hedonism II. The guards at both Sandals and Hedonism will let you walk on through. The walk from Swept Away up to Hedonism where the beach ends is about 45 minutes.

From Swept away heading south - it is pretty much one hotel after another. The beach is pretty all the way, but narrower. The beach is also very crowded in some spots. This seemed to be more of a non-American crowd - with the majority being Italians. That was the language we heard the most. The furthest we walked to the south was down to the Negril Inn which was about a 40 minute walk each way. There was about a mile or two of beach we never saw past the Negril Inn. Maybe next time.

The beach is fun. There are quiet spots, noisy spots, American crowds, European crowds, fancy hotels, cheap hotels, etc. I expected lots of hawkers but only was approached by very few and they were not at all pushy.

So now we're back from this long walk and are we ever thirsty! Swept Away has two beach bars. One a normal bar and the other a veggie-bar. The drinks were excellent, they have on-the-beach waitress service if you really want to veg out. The veggie bar has all sorts of fruit and vegetable snacks and they'd make you a fruit or veggie drink from anything they can push through the juicer. Behind the veggie bar is someone who makes jerk chicken sandwiches for about 8 hours a day if you want a non-veggie snack.

The pool is next to the veggie bar - almost always empty since everyone is out on the beach. Next is the main restaurant where all the meals are served. The food is buffet for breakfast and lunch. Supper alternates daily between buffet and menu. When it is menu, there are about a half dozen entree choices. The quantity, presentation, and atmosphere were all excellent. The food was above average taste - but not gourmet. There is entertainment every night at 9:30.

Say you MUST have gourmet every night? No problem Mon. Just step across the street for supper at their Feathers restaurant. Here the food is from the menu every night and is gourmet quality. The atmosphere is open air, candlelight, and very romantic. If you are not staying in Negril, the Feathers restaurant is also open to the public. You always need reservations - guest or non-guest. There is no charge for guests.

Well, my brain is just about empty now. But I need to mention that Swept Away is also a world class sports resort with many tennis courts, a visiting tennis pro each week, aerobics room, weight room, racket ball courts, Olympic pool with swimming lanes, etc. Their sports complex is huge and has anything you could ever want. They can send you down the road ten minutes if you want to play golf.

If you have an urge to get married, they are marrying experts. They do at least one or two every day.

One last point. Everything is all-inclusive. We carried $100 in one dollar bills and $200 in five dollar bills for cabs and tipping off the grounds. We only spent about $100 in cash all week. Every room has a safe deposit box for your jewelry and cash.

So, if you're heading to Negril, I'd strongly recommend Swept Away. This was our first all-inclusive trip. It's a great no- brainer if you just want to vegout for a week. Jamaica was great. It seemed safe. The people were friendly. The island is beautiful. It rains late every day in August, so take a good book, and head back and relax on your verandah. I hope the trip report was helpful.

Jamaica: Boscobel by Helen Comet
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I just returned from Boscobel Beach in Jamaica and thought I'd give a brief report for those of you with families that might be considering an allinclusive vacation in the Caribbean.

We had a great time! There is plenty to do especially if you are into watersports like sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving or water-skiing. You must sign up for the snorkeling trips and sometimes they fill up fast my husband and 8 year old son were able to get on the boat by just waiting at the pier when it was time to leave and getting on the boat.

There are at least 2 dives a day, one is a deep dive for certified divers only and the other is a shallow dive usually for the people taking the resort dive course. Hubby and I dove each day on the deep dive, never had any trouble signing up for it and the dive staff was terrific, we became good friends with them.

My husband also windsurfs and sails, never had any trouble getting access to boards, etc. Water-skiing was harder as there is only one boat for that and there was a long waiting line. They also have Hobie Cat rides on a catamaran but only with an instructor sailing the boat. You can sail the Sunfishes yourself.

Accommodations were very nice. We had a junior suite which was plenty of room for 2 adults and 2 kids, although the kids slept on a pull out sofa. (Toughright?)

There are several different dining options including a separate kids dinner and lunch if they so desire. Reservations are required for the Al-La Carte Dining Room which we ate at twice- thoroughly enjoyed that, food was wonderful and service as good as at any fancy restaurant back home. There is a dress code for the reservations only restaurants. Hubby and I also ate at the Allegro,(adults only) which we also enjoyed. Usually though we ate at the Terrace which is a buffet-style option with numerous selections and a different theme every night. Food wasn't as good here as at the other places but of course it's hard to mass produce really excellent tasting food. Drinks were plentiful as there are 5 different bars scattered about the resort, open at different times and no scrimping on the alcohol, all drinks were genuine!

My kids didn't spend a lot of time with the "Kids Club" which is organized by ages- 2-4 yrs, 5-7 yrs, and 8-12 yrs. They are 8 and 11 and found the programs more set up for the younger kids also there weren't a lot of older kids signed up the week we were there, probably because a lot of people, us included, felt perfectly safe letting the kids just have free rein of the resort while we were doing our own thing. My kids had their own room key so could come and go as they wanted. There is a lifeguard at the family pool and at the beach although we told them not to go in the ocean by themselves. There is also Teen Program which seemed pretty popular.

Nightly entertainment varied from excellent to not so good on amateur night but we enjoyed it. Wed. night is a beach party with fire dancer, limbo etc.

Staff for the most part were friendly and gracious but not all unfortunately however this wasn't unexpected. A definite must is the excursion to Dunns River Falls (included) unbelievable! You actually climb up the falls, kids can go but younger ones will need a lot of help. I'd be glad to answer specific ?'s would I go back? Most definitely!

Jamaica: Grand Lido by Dwight Christal
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Here's yet another Grand Lido, Negril trip recap from a couple of first timers. We were there in early September.

At first we were a little nervous thinking that a couple in their early 40's was just too old, especially since we reserved a room on the nude beach (something we never did before). Wow, were we wrong. We fit right in.

Ages ran mostly from mid 30's to mid 60's. Also, this was definitely an upscale crowd - no low-life types! Everyone was very friendly, not stuffy or uppity as one might expect. As far as being on a nude beach for the first time, we just decided to "go for it" and we adjusted in no time. In fact, we soon found ourselves MORE comfortable and content on the nude beach than on the "prude" beach!

Well, rather than have you jump to the end of this article now, we'll tell you right up front- we found PARADISE and can't imagine ever planning a trip anywhere else. Now for the recap:

(1) Get a passport. It makes getting through immigration much easier. Instead of a passport, Jamaican immigration will accept a certified copy of your birth certificate (MUST have the raised seal), AND a photo ID (preferably your driver's license). We had the birth certificate and driver's license combination and got through without any problems. These documents were checked at the JFK counter in NY prior to boarding.

Flight was about 3-1/2 hours. Although NY and Jamaica are in the same time zone, Jamaica does not acknowledge daylight savings time so we had to turn our watches back one hour. Unfortunately, this meant that it would get dark an hour earlier than we are accustomed to.

(2) Packing for the trip. After every trip we take, we always vow to pack fewer items the next time. Well, we did. This turned out to be the first time we ever under-packed! Figuring we were going to a nude beach, how much clothing could we possibly need? A couple of bathing suits and cover- ups would have been fine for Hedonism, the super-casual SuperClub resort directly across the street. But we were staying at Grand Lido, the super luxurious, upscale member of the SuperClub resorts. We'll get on with what is acceptable dress later in this report.

(3) Money. We took too much, including a couple of $100 bills. It seems the Jamaican government hates US $100 bills. We tried to use one in the gift shop and the cashier started to fill out a lengthy form that held us up 10-15 minutes. This did not occur with smaller bills and credit cards. While staying on the grounds of GL we never needed to go to our wallets. Tipping is not allowed, and EVERYTHING else is included, along with 24 hour room service. On one occasion I called for a Pepsi at 3:00AM. Another thing- we should have taken some time to practice the mental conversion of US to Jamaican money.

There is only one gift shop at GL and they convert at 30:1, i.e., $30 Jamaican = $1 US. This is a slight rip-off from the actual exchange rate, but is nothing to get excited about. Jim Jordan is very nice to post the latest actual exchange rates here from time to time, as it does fluctuate with market conditions.

(4) Montego Bay Airport. When we got our luggage off the carousel, the baggage porters surrounded us, asking to help us with our luggage. We foolishly accepted. All he did was walk the luggage a few feet around the corner to line #6 (the Grand Lido line) where we were greeted by GL representatives to wait for the bus to arrive. The porter put his hand out for a tip and quickly disappeared. The GL rep told us that we could go outside and get free Red Stripe (Jamaican beer). We took turns watching the luggage and getting beers. Eventually, the bus arrived and we got a porter to help us carry our luggage to the bus.

(5) The bus ride to the hotel. We had read here, in other messages, that this is known as "The Bus Ride From Hell!" Our small bus was new, air conditioned and surprisingly, fairly comfortable. Our driver took it slow which ended up being about a 2 hour trip instead of the usual 1-1/2. I think this was preferable as we didn't feel sick on arrival. Having been fore warned, on the way I curiously asked the driver why no one had tried to push Ganja weed on us (meanwhile my wife was giving me the elbow). He replied, "Because it's illegal mon!"

Shortly thereafter the bus driver asked if anyone was thirsty. We all agreed to stop. He pulled over at one of the many sleazy road side stands. This wasted more time. Also we got ripped off here. The bus driver took our orders, went inside, paid 50 cents for a Red Stripe, came out and charged us $2.50 for each. I was the only one on the bus who boldly (stupidly) ventured inside the shack. The owner of the "establishment" took me behind the counter and showed me the Ganja and Hash he had for sale. I got out of there in a hurry! Hmmmm, maybe the driver made the stop because I had asked about the Ganja earlier?

Next time we will take a couple of drinks from the beer cart with us and ask the driver NOT to stop. When we finally arrived at the hotel, the bus driver had his hand out for a tip. This surprised me because I heard that tipping is not permitted once on the hotel property. I ended up giving him a couple of bucks.

(6) On arrival. We were quickly brought into the beautiful fuchsia-colored lobby where we sat and waited for our room assignments as we were served unlimited drinks. During this wait, we walked over to the concierge and made reservations for dinner at the top French restaurant, Piacere. We also set up reservations for the sunset cruise. After about 1/2 hour we were told that our room was ready. It turned out to be one of the best room locations.

We had asked our travel agent, "Go Classy Tours" in Florida, to request an ocean view, ground floor room with a patio, on the nude beach. They told us that they could not guarantee it. Well, when we got there, it did seem to make a difference. Another couple that was on the bus with us wanted a similar room but had made no prior request with their travel agent. They ended up waiting two hours to get their room.

(7) The rooms. We were escorted to room #1063. We later decided that rooms in the 1050's-1060's were the best location. Room 1064 is the last room in the section (corner). The rooms have beautiful French doors on the beach side that open up onto a patio with a table, 2 chairs and a lounge. Walk straight ahead, and we were on the beach. Walk to the right and we were at the nude bar, pool, and Jacuzzi. From our patio we could see a hammock, giant hip-size chess set and a pocket billiard table.

Our room had a comfortable king-size bed, air conditioning, sunken living room, safe, cable TV, phone, and a large bathroom. Electrical outlets were same as home - no converters needed. A small wall safe is provided. We were told to be very careful with the wall safe key. "Lose the key and it will cost you $100!" I guess that's because they then have to change the lock as well. Rooms are made up each morning and a turn-down service with additional towels is provided each night.

(8) The food. Every evening, before 2AM, we put out the breakfast menu door hanger and checked off what time we wanted it brought to our room. This way we had coffee, juices, fruit, and pastries when we woke up. Then we went over to the huge buffet breakfast for everything else (if we needed more to eat - we often didn't), but the breakfast buffet WAS excellent. A buffet lunch is also provided, and is very good.

Most days we preferred to have the room service breakfast and later have room service lunch brought to us at the nude pool-bar-Jacuzzi area. Although the room service menu is limited, we were quite satisfied with the offerings of hamburger, grilled chicken breast, salads, etc. We would sit in the Jacuzzi with the lunch tray on the ground next to us while sharing a bottle of wine, or sipping Pina Coladas or other tropical drinks. Absolutely, Heaven on Earth!

Unlike other SuperClub resorts, GL has 3 real sit-down restaurants for dinner.

(1) The Pasta Bar, very casual, offers a variety of pastas and choice of several sauces. It is open late, 'till 'bout 2AM.

(2) Cafe Lido, semi formal (no shorts, jackets not required).

(3) Piacere, exceptional in every way- food, service, ambiance. This French restaurant is formal (jackets required for men), and reservations required well in advance because it is small and very popular. We could have eaten there every night. I heartily recommend the rack of lamb. It was the best I have ever had.

(9) The Night life. Every evening, the famous Mei Zein, a 147' yacht originally owned by Aristotle Onasis, sails on a sunset cruise. Cocktails flow as the ship stops at the famous "Rick's" to watch the cliff divers and see what has become known to be the most beautiful, romantic sunset on the island. At least that's what we were told! Unfortunately, the Mei Zein was in dry dock for routine maintenance and we had rain every day during the late afternoon and evening hours. So much for watching a beautiful sunset! A replacement vessel was provided. It was nice, but certainly not what we had hoped for. I guess we really shouldn't be complaining. We knew we were taking our vacation during the rainy, off-season.

Very good entertainment, mostly by Jamaican local singers and dancers, a fun piano bar with sing-a-long (the Karaoke machine was broken), and a throbbing,' rocking' disco that stays open 'till the last guest leaves, pretty well summarizes the night life at GL. Sherry loves to dance, mostly freestyle, and we ended up closing the joint one night.

Most of our nightly entertainment came in the form of the two of us, alone in the Jacuzzi, or snuggled up in a hammock at midnight, sharing a bottle of wine, and....! We'll leave the rest to your wicked imagination. We are told that things are a bit more active during the peak season.

(10) Hedonism. If you really want to get wild and crazy, buy a night pass to Hedonism for $60US per person for which you get to "play" from 10PM 'till 5:00 the next morning! On our next trip, we will definitely give a Hedo night a try. We did take the complementary tour of Hedonism that is offered daily at 11AM. The Hedo tour guide, Cornell, (great PR man) offered us food and drink and we graciously indulged. He even mentioned that a transfer could be arranged between hotels so we could spend the remaining days of our vacation at Hedo, with a refund to boot (since GL is the more expensive of the 2 resorts). We declined as we were just too comfortable and too much in love with our setup at GL. Just before departing I asked Cornell if we could say hello to Delroy, the bartender at the nude bar. For some reason, he did not seem keen on the idea. Maybe he felt we had overstayed our welcome. Nevertheless, as we were leaving, we managed to sneak off to the nude beach and did meet Delroy. He was very cordial. He also allowed us to take his picture.

(11) Snorkeling. Although water sports of every description are available at GL, we planned for this to be a vacation of pure rest and relaxation. Just didn't have the energy or desire to partake of all the activities available this time around. We did get out to do some snorkeling early each morning. We had our own equipment, but if not, you can certainly get borrow whatever you need. The morning proved to be the best time of the day for snorkeling. The sun was hitting the crystal clear water just right.

*Tip - When we entered the nude beach the first time, we saw a grouping of rocks not too far off to our left. The larger set of rocks further to the left, by the famous point, is where Hedonism starts. We couldn't swim out there. When we later went snorkeling for the first time, we swam over to that 1st group of rocks. The water was quite shallow there and I accidentally stepped on a piece of coral, causing a mild infection that lasted a couple of days. As we swam around the rocks we found a tunnel with thousands of fish, and coral of every description. We found ourselves hanging out over there almost exclusively. Only wish we had taken an underwater camera with us.

(12) Our "SAD" departure. Just don't want to say much about it. All we could talk about on the bus ride to the airport is when we are going to be able to return. When we arrived at the airport we took out our birth certificates and photo ID, thinking that we might need them again for immigration. Oh no, we left our driver's licenses back in the room safe! I picked up one of the many public telephones in the airport to call GL. There was no place to put money, just a slot for a special Jamaican Government phone card. How do we get such a card? We were panicking at this point.

Fortunately an airport employee pointed us to the Post Office window in the airport where we were able to purchase a phone card for $50J (about $1.65US). I inserted the card and the display on the phone showed a $50 credit. I called GL and they told us that they would mail the card to us in New York. Fortunately we had other photo ID with us. After the call, the phone display showed that we had a credit of $46.50J still left on the card. Boy, it's sure cheap to make a phone call in Jamaica!

We have a week's vacation coming within the next 6 months. But wait a minute. I almost forgot. We have a 12 year old daughter! We feel a little guilty, and it would be selfish of us to just dump her on a relative for a week. What a dilemma! Guess we'll be taking a few weekend ski trips this winter (Sherry and I are not winter-sports types but Sara loves it)! Actually she's an only child and loves spending time with her cousins.

Remember, this was our very first trip to Jamaica and there are many far more experienced people who can surely offer many more beneficial tips. Hope all this "first hand" info finds you arriving as "experienced" Grand Lido guests so that all that remains for you to do is to relax and have fun, fun, fun!

Jamaica: Poincaina Beach Hotel, Negril by Chris McCormick
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We recently stayed at the Poinciana Hotel in Negril, Jamaica. Our trip was probably one of the best travel experiences we ever had due mainly to the quality of our stay at the Poinciana.

The hotel is located next door to Sandals, west of Hedonism II and Point Village. The entire lobby as well as the rest of the hotel and restaurant is all open air, pavilion style. The entire area is comfortable and with the ocean breeze, no air conditioning is not the problem you would expect. The staff are very friendly and willing to accommodate any request..no problem mon!"

The first impression of Poinciana is how beautiful the grounds are. The landscaping and flowers everywhere will take your breath away on the first look! We had arranged to stay in a "superior ocean view" room. I had contacted the hotel prior to our arrival to order flowers for my wife on our tenth anniversary, and when we checked in, we were told we had been upgraded to a suite, compliments of the hotel! Our suite was #4101, had a kitchen, frig, stove , dining area, living area with a sleeper sofa, king size bed and a knockout bath with jacuzzi tub and black marble. The suite was ground floor, about 20 yards from the ocean, and had French doors on two sides of the living area. Both rooms had ceiling fans and a/c, but being so close to the water the a/c was a luxury, not a necessity. They also had villas for families that looked very nice and were just as close to the ocean.

After we had our welcome rum punch and had settled in our room, we looked throughout the grounds at the various facilities. The hotel has a full gym, a duty free shop, gift shop, massage services, mini casino, outdoor pool table, Ping-Pong and of course an ocean front bar with the appropriate Bob Marley selections playing while you watch the sunset. Also onsite was a "general store" that sold snacks and beer, etc. The service from the staff was outstanding throughout our stay and "no problem" was more than a slogan, it was the way things were!

The restaurant was good, with different menus and theme party buffet nights throughout the week. Breakfast was a complimentary continental until 7:30am, then a full buffet thereafter. The breakfast buffet was about nine dollars US and had omelets made to order, as well as the standard fare for breakfast.

The only weak spot in the food service at the hotel was lunch, which was slow even by Jamaica standards, and somewhat limited in menu. They need a beach grill type establishment for burgers and dogs for the quick munch from the beach. The wine list is good, but also somewhat limited. Dinner prices were around US$20-25 per head for full course and lunch was US$6-8.

We sampled several restaurants in Negril, and found that only a couple were a better value or selection, and none could match the service we received from the Poinciana....including the heavily advertised "Swept Away" which had delicious food but the worst service I've had in a restaurant in a long time...2 1/2 hrs for dinner and three requests for the check (no wine or appetizers mind you...the third check request was answered by our waiter with "I'll get it in a little while!").....not! This was our last night and we ate there with the intention of checking out the facilities for a future stay and the staff at Swept Away did everything in their power to ensure I would never stay there!!

The price for the Poinciana was @ US$1500.00/couple for a week including air and transfers. They offer the all inclusive packages and I heard that effective Dec. 94, they will be all-inclusive only. I have no problem with that, I chose non-inclusive to be able to come and go as I pleased and to try different restaurants and soak up some local flavor. I spent about as much as all-inclusive, so the money was not the factor in determining this...though the all-inc is convenient and comfortable - not having to sign and tip at every transaction - which is probably how I'd go next time. My main concern with all-inc was what if you got there and the food is bad? Not to worry at the Poinciana, where we ate most of the week anyway.

Negril is a great beach, and a great place to party. While there, do not miss a local reggae show, the most popular places are Kaisers Cafe' and De Buss.

We made it to De Buss one night, ate their jerk chicken..best I had in Jamaica, and listened to a reggae band that was phenomenal! Also the sunset at Rick's Cafe' is a must, but I didn't understand why more people didn't eat there. It was pricey (US$25-30), but my wife and I had a fabulous meal seated on the balcony overlooking the cliffs after sunset and that couldn't be beat. Check out their lobster linguine....

The lighthouse in Negril was also a great experience, we drove by saw a no trespassing sign, got ready to head back and an enterprising young Jamaican asked if we wanted a tour! He got the lighthouse keeper to take us to the top, took pictures, and offered to let us swim when we got down! This was one of the best experiences we had in Negril, just the two of us, the lighthouse keeper and his "assistant". They do expect tips, but I gave the keeper US$10 and his "assistant" US$7 and they were quite happy. For me a 17 dollar lighthouse tour was a steal for two people and you should see my pictures.........

Anyhow, if you're looking for a place in Negril, I wholeheartedly recommend the Poinciana! The physical beauty of the place will get your attention, but the first class, white glove service will make you want to return...I know I will!!

Nevis by Ronald Cohen
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I returned from one week at Nevis Four Seasons. I was impressed with just about everything they did. The American Air trip from Philadelphia left at 8AM, arrived at SJU about 11:30. The AA Eagle left SJU 12:50 arrived at St. Kitts 2PM. At St. Kitts we were met by Four Seasons rep after customs. We were taken by their van to an a/c lounge next to the dock where we had comp drinks and check in. After a few minutes their private launch took us on a 25 min. ride to Nevis Four Seasons. At the dock were met by another rep who personally took us to our room. Once you went through customs at St. Kitts you never saw your luggage, plus your golf bags went directly to the pro shop. The same thing applies when you leave. You leave your luggage in your room and then you get it at St. Kitts airport.

The accommodations are excellent. There are 12 different motel type two story buildings which are nothing to look at from the non-ocean side. Inside the rooms are great with one of the biggest and nicest bathrooms I have ever seen. The rooms have a/c, fans, cable TV, couch and sitting chairs hair dryers and robes. The porch has a table and two chairs to watch the sunset. 10 of the 12 buildings are ocean view (about 75 yds from the beach.) Presently they are doing construction of a second pool area so, in my opinion, it is better to stay on the south end. We stayed at Saddle Hill, which was furthest from the construction but also longest to the pro shop and tennis courts. Other buildings on the south side are Pinneys, Paradise and Morning Star. On the north side and closest to the golf & tennis are Belmont, Clark & Coconut Walk. I would also suggest 2nd floor for a better view.

The Golf course is great. 4 separate tees for every level of play. Some holes go up the mountain and others come down offering wonderful views of the sea and St. Kitts. If you don't take your clubs they rent Calloway's. They also take tennis seriously. Both clay and hard cop courts, some were lighted for night play.

The watersports pavilion rents out 14' very stable aqua catamarans. Also paddle boats, kayaks and snorkeling gear.

The 5 diamond package included all non motorized water sports.. We opted for the MAP which provides breakfast and dinner. There are no restrictions on the menu. I had lobster 4 of the 7 nights. Breakfast is in the Grill Room. If your not on the meal plan. Hot buffet $20, cold $15 and other regular type breakfasts also available from the menu. You can also get omelets to order on the hot buffet. Dinner is either in the Grill Room or the Dining Room. The grill room is more casual with lots of families. Here you have a choice or regular appetizers or the buffet appetizer You also have a choice of a regular desert or the buffet desert. There are four main courses. Grilled lobster, steak and usually two fish items. You can also get pizza or hamburgers.

The Dining Room is casual chic with a more elaborate menu. They always have a lobster and steak on the menu. Plus we had a veal chop and a pork tenderloin. All the food was excellent. Far better than I thought it would be. I was told the free range chicken with shrimp was also good. I saw that all the provisions arrive on Thursdays, so if your ordering a fish which is not locally caught, order it late in the week.

We did rent a car a day from the hotel $35-70 depending on what you rented, plus $13 for a drivers license. The taxi to Charlestown was $12-14 round trip and about a 10 minute ride There is almost no shopping in Nevis.

St. Kitts is better but not good. We did get to go the Golden Rock Inn. Delightfully secluded with wonderful views and beautiful vegetation. We just came to look but stayed for over two hours. Good drinks and then a great lunch. Ellen had lobster salad ($17) and I had a grilled Snapper which was just outstanding. We had a nice chat with Pam. She even said we should have brought out suits to use the swimming pool. Golden Rock is very quiet and charming, but I don't think I could stay there for more than two days. We also stopped at Nisbet Plantation on the Atlantic side. Nice beach, lots of waves and I heard they had good snorkeling. The cottages were nothing to write home about, but the main building looked charming.

Overall it was a great vacation. American style with a local flavor. Lots of families were at the Four Seasons but there were also many honeymooners. The people of Nevis were wonderful. We traveled through Charlestown but no one bothered us. Even the few hawkers on the beach - once you said no - they left you alone. Incidentally, the shack to the south side of Four Seasons had two bottles of Caribe beer which is about half for a plastic container the hotel would serve. The employees of the hotel were top notch to being even overly courteous. A first class resort in every way. I would go back.

St. Martin by Bruce Farrington
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Edie and I just got back from 2 weeks in our favorite paradise. In this trip report, I will try to get everyone up to speed on what's happening in St. Martin, with what I hope will be the proper blend of local color, politics, gossip, news and of course restaurant reports.

First, a general comment. This was our first two week stay on St. Martin. Is it really much different from a one week stay? DEFINITELY! You really have a much more relaxing vacation because of the additional time frame to do things in. This is the first time that I truly felt I made the transition to island time and became part of the wonderfully diverse culture that is St. Martin. I was not nearly as sad upon departure because I had time to experience the Island in much more detail than ever before. This report will be in a daily journal format.

Sat. 8/20 - Arrived at St. Martin around 6 M after an uneventful 4 hour Canada 3000 flight. On final approach, noticed the island is really dry! They are suffering through a 2nd year of drought down there. Cisterns are getting low in many spots on St. Martin. One of the advantages of getting in this late was that we breezed through immigration in a record 10 minutes!

We were met at the airport by the Budget folks and driven to their nearby office. I've always rented through Budget and have gotten to know the folks there. If you make the reservation directly through their St. Martin office instead of the 1-800 number, they promise to beat the headquarters deal. Either give you a lower rate or an upgrade. In this case, I got an upgrade to a red 1994 Mitsubishi Lancer with less than 5000 miles on it for $150/week. Felt strange to drive a good car around St. Martin. It almost seemed illegal.

While at Budget, I asked the locals about the flashing light between the Airport and Marigot. It is, in fact, not malfunctioning but has been set to flash yellow from all three directions for "safety reasons". In two weeks of driving through that intersection, I could not ascertain St. Martin drivers rules for a flashing yellow light. It not a simple case of stopping and letting whoever was there first have right of way. Locals seem to use a biblical "quick and the dead" approach. When you come to the intersection, go quickly through it or you're dead.

Anyway, we picked up the car and headed to LaBelle Creole. Were supposed to stay at Mont Vernon but they closed for renovation on 8/22, so we were switched. LaBelle Creole is a lovely rendition of a 16th century stone architecture French village situated about 1 mile west of Marigot on the other side of the harbor. The rooms are large and spacious with a very pricey mini bar. The beach is not up to St. Martin standards, however. They had a deluxe continental breakfast which included fruit, cereal, croissants (God - the chocolate ones were as good as reported!), rolls, bagels, juices and coffee. You could get eggs, ham, bacon etc. for an additional price. It was a good thing that they also had a very good fitness center to wear off that breakfast!

After checking in, we went to Cheri's for cheeseburgers and Caribbean music. The other couple that went with us were celebrating a 50th birthday. The owner provided free champagne. Nice touch. Curiously enough, we had to wait 5 minutes for a table before we were seated. That says volumes about how they are doing during the 2nd slowest month of the year. Ended our first evening on the island by winning $50 at the Grand Casino mostly thanks to the match point coupons.

Sunday, 8/21 - Breakfast at LaBelle Creole is one part eating and two parts feeding the multi-colored birds that come begging almost to your table. Many of the Hotels (including ours) are now distributing free daily St. Martin newspapers. I became quite addicted to reading the Chronicle at breakfast. During our two weeks, I noticed that every day somewhere between pages 2 to 4, the Chronicle would run a sex story that ,although it was not the least bit newsworthy, got top billing over the Cuban refugee crisis or the cease fire in Northern Ireland.

We got packed up after breakfast and headed for Orient Beach. On the way, noticed that the draw bridge in Marigot was open for 2 way traffic and appeared to be all but completed. Would the local government destroy the tradition established years ago and actually complete this project? I talked to a local and was relieved to find out that although the bridge appears to be finished, it in fact is unusable as a draw bridge. It seems that the submerged sewage line on the new bridge got crinkled somehow and is not working. The temporary bridge next to it (allows one lane of traffic) has a temporary sewage line above water and is being used until someone figures out what to do about the permanent unusable sewage line. Needless to say, no time frame has been mentioned.

We spent the rest of the day saying HI to the Club Orient gang and letting sand gravity do its thing. Edie and I did our version of the French picnic on the sand with French bread, Camebert Cheese and French wine.

We went to the Talk of the Town Lolo in Grand Case for ribs and chicken. Food was good and the service was great as usual and all for $15. I won enough at the Grand Casino to pay for supper.

Monday, 8/22 - We had croissants at the Croissanterie on Marigot harbor based on raves I have heard . I was not disappointed. They were outstanding! We went shopping in Philipsburg and the wife got a new 14K necklace at Caribbean Gems. At $12/gram, I think we got a good deal.

We had dinner at another Lolo in Grand Case (Germain's lace) for $14 per couple. Once more the food and service was good.

Tuesday, 8/23 - We tried a new beach that we have never been to which was Bae rune. By St. Martin standards, I would rank it only so so mostly because it was very rocky along the shore. That afternoon the wife and I had a massage from Martha at Club Orient. It was delightful as always. If there is a sweeter person than Martha on the Island, I have not met him/her. If you have never had a professional massage, please do yourself a favor and let Martha work her magic.

Dinner was at Le Plaisance on Marigot harbor. Trout salmon, French onion soup, chicken salad and a bottle of wine for $42 for the two of us. An excellent meal at a reasonable price. Went to the Grand Casino and broke even. Incredibly enough, both Edie and I won 2 free meals (for 2) at the Grand Casino Bistro. We gave one of the 2 free meal coupons to new friends we had made so that we could all go out to dinner later in the week.

Wednesday, 8/24 - We went back to Orient Beach and took a water taxi over to Green Cay for a day of snorkeling and sunbathing. The wind was very calm that day and the snorkeling on the north side of the island was exceptional. We went to the Shack Lolo at Grand Case. The food was OK but the service was very slow. I would not recommend this particular Lolo.

Thursday, 8/25 - We spent the day at Club O and rented a Kayak to try my hand at "kayaking". These Kayaks are the type you sit above the water in and I found them very easy to master. It only took about 8 minutes to get over to Green Cay for example. played volleyball for over an hour at Club O and only managed to eat sand on three occasions. A much better meal was had that evening at Mark's place. For a first time visitor to Mark's lace you may sit down at your table and wonder what makes this place special. After all it is very small and does not reside on a water front location. What makes this place special (rated #2 in the Caribbean) is answered when the food arrives. We had Columbo poulet salad, mixed salad, Lobster lasagna and wine for $43 for the two of us. Excellent food and wine at a very fair price. We were lucky that we went during the first week as we later learned that Mark closed down for September the following Monday. Don't miss this place! We went back to the Casino and won $20 for the evening.

Friday, 8/26 - We had our first experience with a wildcat strike in Marigot. Basically the strike consisted of two trucks that blocked Rue de Hollande in critical locations to stop traffic. The locals involved were eating, playing Island music and were having quite a good time at it, actually. Just one more excuse to enjoy living. We went down someone's driveway through a gate and down an alley that was not designed for a car and came out just beyond the second blockade. The locals smiled and waved at us. Strikes are a little different down there. We later found out that the strike was a result of two local women being fired from a French boutique for supposedly stealing. They had been replaced by two French nationals. One lesson from all of this is that the locals are extremely polite and friendly but also take matters of pride and dignity very seriously.

We spent the rest of that day snorkeling at Green Cay and used our free dinner coupons at the Grand Casino Bistro. The food was better than I expected. Won $40 from the Casino to end the day.

Saturday, 8/27 - Breakfast at the Crossanterie than back to Orient Beach. Orient Beach was very uncrowded, partly due to the time of year and partly due to Mont Vernon and LeHoste being closed. Nudity on the beach is practically nonexistent beyond the beach in front of Club Orient. We had dinner at Brasserie De La Gare. Two salads with goat cheese, pizza and wine came to $45 / couple. The food was good but rather pricey. Got reacquainted with Polux the 3 legged dog at the restaurant and tried to give him a dog bone I brought along from the states. The French patrons when into hysterics when he turned down his nose to an American dog bone. I guess he's more French than I realized. I actually saw him limp to several tables to feed on Pizza scraps.

Sunday, 8/28 - Spent the day giving in to sand gravity at Orient Beach. Based on other trip reports, went to the CoCo beach restaurant on Orient Beach for supper. The previous trip reports were right on the mark. Quaint little restaurant after dark with candles on all the tables and the magnificent ambiance of waves splashing on Orient Beach 100 feet from your table. The food was very good as well. Die and I had the pasta and Salad and Filet Mignon for $44. This is another place not to miss! After dinner we strolled along Orient Beach with only a canopy of stars for company. Great time. We drove over to the Sheraton Port de Plaisance Hotel to see about the French Can Can show. They put on this show only once a week during peak season. Expect to be doing it again this coming year. Lost $20 at the casino but didn't care after the wonderful evening.

Monday, 8/29 - Went over to St. Barth aboard the White Octopus. We planned on hitting a couple of beaches but after we got to the beauty of Saline beach, we could not pull ourselves away. Had dinner at Drew's Deli which had just reopened for business that day. Ate out on the new deck and had chef salads, cheeseburgers and drinks for $18. The food was good and the price reasonable. Drew himself is a gregarious guy and we had no problem getting his life story. Drew is a great guy to chat with to get a real feel for what it's like to live and work on the island. He works 6 fourteen hour days to vacation 2 months (July and August) with his family in Wisconsin. Visiting Drew's Deli is worth the cost of the meal just to visit with Drew.

Tuesday, 8/30 - Spent the day at Dawn Beach. Still think this might be the prettiest beach on the Island. It's great for body surfing with all those large waves coming off the Atlantic. We tried to eat at Mary's Boon but they were closed till October. The Hotel itself looked nice and had very reasonable rates. Ended up eating at Cheri's again and listened to the Island music.

Wednesday, 8/31 - Spent the morning at Orient Beach. A sudden rain storm (with 50 M H winds) came up and blew us into Papagayos while we rode out the storm. I've never seen a storm come up so fast before. Ten minutes later it was sunny and calm again. That afternoon I went Scuba diving at Crowl rock off of Grand Case. My first scuba dive was a fantastic experience. Snorkeling only gives you a flavor for what awaits you 25 feet down. We ate dinner at the Boathouse which has a great view overlooking Simpson Bay. Good food, great service. Conch fritters, French Onion Soup, chicken salad, house salad and drinks for $35.

Thursday, 9/1 - Sand gravity drew us back to Orient Beach. Shopped at Marigot and picked out a Bob Marley tape at a combination Music Shop/Cafe in Marigot. I asked the person behind the desk to try it out. I wanted to hear the song 3 little birds (Every Little Ting Going To Be Alright). When he played it, everyone in the music shop and cafe stopped what they were doing (including the waitresses) and danced to the music. I knew I had a winner! Bob Marley is revered as a God of Reggae music in the Caribbean and this particular song would make a great theme song for St. Martin.

Speaking of themes one of the special books I read on vacation was "Don't Stop The Carnival" by Herman Wouk of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance fame. Great book to read on vacation in the Caribbean! Gave an accurate portrayal of running a Hotel in the Caribbean and of the local culture and philosophy.

Highly recommend it for anyone who dreams of quitting the rat race and moving to St. Martin!

We had supper at the Grill and Ribs CO. on the side of the pizza Hut. Frankly I was disappointed. It was like a franchised Lolo. We had the grilled chicken and all you can eat Baby back ribs. The service was only fair and the food was greasy although plentiful. The bill came to $27. I prefer the Lolos in Grand Case.

Friday, 9/2 - Edie and I took the Fredericanne (a 65' schooner) over to

Anguilla and anchored off of Cove Bay. We onboard of our ship, had the entire mile long beach to ourselves for a day of snorkeling and sunbathing. We also walked through the Casablanca Resort on Anguilla to see what an $800/night resort looks like. It looked like something out of an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Very nice, very expensive. The lunch cooked onboard the Federicanne was fair but nothing special.

Dinner on Friday night was at La Residence in the heart of Marigot. They offer a special where you get an appetizer, a main course and a dessert for $28 per person. Edie and I had a mixed salad, country salad, filet of beef flamed in cognac, red snapper and 2 baked Alaskas with coffee for $61. La Residence has a unique ambiance and eloquence at a reasonable price. Service is also outstanding. This restaurant is also not to be missed.

Saturday, 9/3 - We went back to Club O and said good-bye to everyone and wrote our names in the sand on Orient Beach one last time. I realize that they will stay only for a short time but the secret is to write them there as frequently as possible. This is the way I feel about visiting St. Martin also.

We returned the rent a car and boarded the airplane taking one last look at the closest thing I have ever found to paradise. Although it was sad to leave, I felt that I had become closer to the Island in a way not possible with a one week stay. I remembered the words of MacAuthur when he left another Island over 50 years earlier: I SHALL RETURN!

St. Martin by Casey Lipshaw
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Well we got back from nine days in paradise.

We had a good time, but will never go again in Sept. It poured down rain 2 out of the 9 days we were there. Not to mention we arrived just after tropical storm Debbie. Here goes the report.

Sunday: We arrived St. Martin around 1:30 PM went to pick up car from hertz. Of course the tradition we have of bad rental cars still carries on. We ended up having to go back for a second car again! Will we ever have any luck with cars. We even tried Claude back in April didn't have any luck then either. We got to St. Tropes Hotel Capri and checked in. Lucie Davis is the lady who manages the place and she was very helpful and very friendly she made sure our stay was a great one!

We headed out to Orient beach around 3:00pm but it was pretty empty but was busy around Pedro's and Club Orient due to the locals having Sunday off. We had dinner at Pedro's and headed back to our room for showers. This trip we took our son who will be 5 next month, so night life was limited. We all fell asleep around 7:30pm NO KIDDING! We were so tired after getting up 4 in the morning for a 2 hour drive to the airport and flying all day.

Monday: We headed out to orient in front of Bikini Beach when we met Lucie's daughter 4 years old. She and Davey had the best time on the beach together. She was no problem at all and we didn't mind keeping an eye on her. She will steal your heart! Her name is Reisse pronounced rye e sa and she never has anyone to play with so Davey just made her week. We spent most of the day on the beach and headed in around 6 and went to the Talk of the Town Bar for dinner. We were the only Americans there. As a matter of fact we felt like the only Americans on the whole island (smile). Dave and I had ribs and salad.

Davey had just macaroni and cheese with corn. He's a picky eater.

Tuesday: We had breakfast in our room and head for Cupecoy beach. On the way we picked up the new car. When we got to Cupecoy we didn't want to be there. We thought we would never say this but Orient beach is so much better. Everything we want is right there and we could just walk right out to the beach from our hotel. But since we drove all the way over there we stayed there for a few hours. There are just to many weird people who come to that beach. Those who know what I mean can understand what I'm saying. We came back around 12:30 for lunch and back out to Orient. We had dinner at Burger King the one that just opened next to the food center. They have a little play land there so we just had to take the little guy. Crashed early.

Wed: We got up early again and headed for the beach. Had lunch in room and dinner at Cheri's. Can you tell we were just beach bums most of the time (smile).

Thursday- A tropical wave moved over the islands and it poured all day long.

We couldn't even shop! We tried but got soaked. Spent the day in the hotel pulling our hair out and climbing the walls. That night we went to Papagayos for dinner. The whole time we were there little Davey didn't even pay no mind to his surroundings (smile). Dave got the spaghetti and shared it with Davey, it was a big plate. I had a warm chicken breast salad and was in heaven while eating. It was soooo good never had anything like it!!

Friday: We got up early again was a little cloudy in morning but turned out to be a nice day. Bummed around on beach and had a good time watching people walk by and gawk (smile) that was a joke! We had dinner at Talk of the Town Bar again. We couldn't pull Davey and Reisse apart so Lucie said we could leave him there while we went out to eat. We were only gone for an hour and still couldn't pull them away from each other. We stood around and talked to Lucie for a while. she lived on Statton Island for 6 years!! and loves New York and would go back in a heart beat. Went in and crashed again.

Saturday: Spent all day on beach again didn't see much of Davey that day wonder why (smile). Dave went on a wet bike and I was just relaxing on the beach getting some sun. A French guy who works at Bikini Beach, never got his name, but is very cute!! brought out a chair and pad for me and said this is free for you today. I rented a few times before but for some reason I didn't that day. He was very friendly and always had a smile on his face. That night we had dinner at Kakaos. We had the pizza and it was sooooooo good!!!! better than pizza hut or pizza pizza (smile). Sunday: It was a GREAT SUNNY DAY we got lots of sun and it was very busy that day on the beach. Bikini beach was doing some booming business and you know I had to eat lunch there (smile). We had ribs salad and corn very good but it made me sick later that night. I thought I wasn't going to make it to the airport the next day but was fine in the morning. Dave packed all of our things while I laid in bed feeling like I was spinning in circles and I wasn't drinking, honest

Monday- We had a late flight home 3:24 PM. It would have been nice because we were able to check out when ever we wanted and able to spend half the day on the beach, but it poured down rain all day again. I just wanted to leave that morning. Again we climbed the walls until it was time to head for the airport

. We had a great time and are very sad to be back home. We are talking about 2 weeks in April and will definitely go back to St. Tropez. Anyone who is staying there tell Lucie Casey, David and little David said hello and we will see them soon. Hope you enjoyed this report.

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