Club Orient Trip Report - November 26, 1998

This is our trip report from our trip to St. Martin from November 26, 1998 to December 5, 1998. Having previously visited the island many times on cruise ships, this was our fifth weekly stay in St. Martin, staying for the second time at Club Orient. We did a full resort review on Club Orient the last time we stayed there, and that report, along with pictures, is available on our web page at in the island reviews section, along with this report , without the aggravation of individual notes, if you are reading this report on Prodigy or another browser impaired newsreader. We found very little that was any different at the resort from our last stay there, with a couple of notable exceptions. Since our last trip there in September 97, Papagayo's has expanded the restaurant by adding on a patio, most of which is covered. This has greatly expanded their seating space. Also, they have opened up what we called "Papagayo's II"--a small beach bar at the end of the Club Orient property, not far from Pedro's. Papagayo's II serves drinks and at this point, hotdogs only. Supposedly, they are in the process of ordering a heater unit for nachos and cheese sauce. It appears that all the construction is done on the property, including the new additional deluxe mini-suites. The reception area has been moved to the permanent reception area, which is a nice, bright spacious area compared to the previous cramped quarters.

We booked our trip all the way back in January 98, 330 days before we were due to leave, as we wanted to use AA FF miles for tickets and knew that for Thanksgiving Week, we would have to book early. We were originally planning on using FF tickets for only one of us, but after having watched ticket prices for a long time, hoping for prices to go down, without any luck, we decided to check on getting FF for both of us. Since one of us already had FF tickets, they allowed both of us to use FF, even though they technically didn't have FF seats left both ways. Something to remember.

Our air schedule was Washington Dulles to San Juan, then SJU to SXM. Our flight left Dulles at 7 AM on Thanksgiving Day, so we were up at 4 A.M. to make the flight, which was uneventful on a half-full plane. Since we had an hour and a half in SJU, we called my parents from the airport there and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving. They were surprised. We then had our turkey dinner for Thanksgiving--a couple of slices of turkey on our club sandwich! G!! Onto a another half full plane for the 1/2 hour ride to SXM--no food or drink on this flight. We arrived in SXM at 2:40 local time, just in front of another American jumbo jet, thankfully. Since we were the only plane on the ground, we breezed through immigration, had our bags and our car in a world record 20 minutes. By the way, they have moved the car rental guys into the area right next to the baggage claim area, which is a lot more convenient than their being across the street.

Along with booking Club Orient through him, we rented Hertz through Jim Ruos again --$157 per week for a Hyundai car with automatic and a/c. This car ran fine, but it had seen better days, as it sported many bumps and bruises and when Eric went to put the key in the door the first day, the lock fell down inside the door. It was kind of pain, as we always had to come in through my door and then unlock his door from inside. We thought about taking it back, but didn't. The cars from there seem to have gotten progressively worse over the years--a symptom of a bad island economy, I suspect. It got us where we were going without any problems though.

As usual, we stopped at Match for supplies on the way to Club O, buying liquor, cheese, grapes, milk, orange juice, wine, all the essentials! G!! The trouble began when we got to the resort to check in.

Club Orient has four basic types of accommodations--studios, mini-suites, garden chalets and beach chalets. Studios are the smallest and cheapest, but except for the beach chalets, most of the studios are closer to Papagayo's and more importantly, to the ocean, than any of the rest of the units. Several of the studios also have at least partial ocean views. Only two of the mini-suites have ocean views and few of the garden chalets have any ocean views, even though they are the second most expensive accommodations in the resort. One thing that you should know with regard to Club Orient is that there is no such thing as booking a particular room there. Part of the reason is that most of the units there are actually owned by private individuals, who can come to the resort at any time and stay in their unit, even at the last minute. The other reason, based on our experience this time, is that they're just too disorganized to do something like that. We observed a couple of computers in the office, but they certainly don't use them to assign room numbers, as they assign room numbers by putting them on a large blow up chart on the wall. We had booked all the way back in January, and requested unit number 25. As we went to check in, and the gal was giving us our room key, I expected to hear number 25 or maybe 23 or 26. The lady pronounced that we had been "upgraded" to number 147. My response was "Where the heck is that??" She showed us on the diagram of the resort that 147 was very close to L'Orientique, which is about as far from the ocean and from the restaurant and bar as you can get within the resort. At that point, I went off. I stated that I had booked all the way back in January and that I wanted a studio, preferably close to Papagayo's, and that I didn't want to get stuck all the way down in the mini-suites.

The lady in the reception area was quite taken aback by my attitude, as most people who stay at Club O I'm sure basically accept whatever room they put them in. She gave us the option of staying in 147 for the whole 9 days of our stay, staying in chalet number 39 (just as far from the ocean as 147) for three days and then moving to a studio, or staying in 147 for 4 days, then moving to number 40 (which is a very NICE mini-suite--full ocean view and right by Papagayo's). If number 40 or 41 is offered to you, take it and run. Anyway, they gave us the keys for 147 and for 39 for us to check them out. We checked both of them out and trudged back to the office, still very angry. Just what we did NOT want to do was move halfway during the stay, so we told the lady that if there really was nothing else, that we would take 147, but we were not happy campers. About that time, Gina Brink showed up. After about five minutes and a couple of phone calls, Gina put us in number 17--a studio with a nice partial ocean view, just down from Papagayo's. We got to stay there for the entire 9 days. I have no idea why that was such a tribulation, other than I suspect maybe it was a problem because we were coming in on a Thursday. Eventually we got what we wanted by being very persistent, but it made for a bad taste in my mouth to begin the trip.

With rising so early that morning, we were not really in the mood to leave the resort that evening for dinner and had planned on eating at Papagayo's. As it turned out, since it was Thanksgiving Day, they had a dinner buffet (only) that night, as well as a live band, which we might well have enjoyed, had we not been so tired from traveling. The buffet was $30 a person, which we thought kind of steep, since we were so tired, so we just had some wine, cheese and grapes and fell into bed about 8 P.M. Thus endeth the first day.

Friday morning we slept in late, then Eric went up to L'Orientique for some croissants for breakfast and ended up snatching up the last one at 10:15. Since once again this time Match had not had any bags of charcoal smaller than 25 pounds, we again bought our charcoal and lighter fluid at L'Orientique. (This is a kind of little 7-11 there on the grounds of Club Orient. They have quite a good little selection of foods and supplies there, most all of it pretty expensive, but convenient nonetheless.)

We headed out Friday morning for some sun, enjoying the beach chairs and umbrellas provided by Club Orient. For those that regularly visit the beach at Club Orient without staying there, that is one major advantage to staying at Club O--saving the $15 a day for the chairs and umbrella. This would have been particularly important this week, since it rained so much. I would have hated to spend $15 for chairs and umbrella then use them for an hour or so before the rains came most every day.

Friday for lunch we walked down to Pedro's which was busy with cruise people, and there was a live band. Eric was the only one au naturel there (I wore a pareo on the bottom) and we got a few looks from those assembled. Chicken, fries and salad and two drinks apiece was $26. Good meal. I would point out, though, that I thought the portions seemed kind of small on Friday. On the other hand, on the Saturday we left, I sent Eric down for "take-out" at Pedro's and we got the same thing, but the take out portions seemed MUCH larger.

When we had landed in SXM, I saw what I thought was an aircraft carrier at anchor off the island. Eric had pooh-poohed the notion, stating that it was an oil tanker. As we were laying on the beach Friday afternoon, we observed that I had been correct after all, as a large group of navy guys were there at Orient. Eventually, to the cheers and jeers of their comrades and the assembled others on the beach, ALL of them eventually disrobed, one by one dropping their shorts and making a kamikaze run to reach the surf. That afternoon they were having a great time, but overall, they didn't have very good weather for their visit, as the ship stayed through Sunday, and the weather ended up being nasty for the whole weekend.

Friday evening we just HAD to go to Grand Case, especially since we had just had cheese and grapes for dinner Thursday night, right?? We ended up at Le Tastevin, at a table by the water. Well, I was facing the water. Eric was facing me. He claimed that there really was no ocean there, just a big wave machine, as he didn't get to see it! G!! Anyway, I had a lovely view of Anguilla. We opted for a price fix menu at $42 per person. The meal included 1/2 carafe of wine per person, soup or salad, entre, dessert, and coffee. We both had the lobster soup (wonderful, although very rich), Eric had the salmon (again, wonderful) and I had the pork tenderloin (excellent) and we both had the creme brulee (absolutely TERRIBLE!). The creme brulee was burnt and we sent it back. The waiter came back and said that the chef said that sometimes that happens to creme brulee. I did not consider that an acceptable answer. They did not adjust the price of the meal or seem to be at all disturbed about serving us a burnt dessert, and they did not offer to bring us another dessert. The setting there is wonderful and the rest of the meal was wonderful, but that creme brulee left a real bad taste in my mouth (G!!) and I doubt we shall go back to Tastevin any time soon. There are just too many great restaurants in Grand Case to worry about going someplace where they don't care if they serve you something that's not right.

By the way, as we were getting ready to leave, our waiter dropped off a card with a invitation to visit Green Cay Villas and tour the timeshares there, in exchange for a free meal at Tastevin, up to $100.00 per couple. Especially in light of the weather later in the week, I wanted to do it for the free meal, but Eric didn't want to, so we didn't.

After dinner, we headed to Atlantis Casino, which is where we ended up most every night. Eric lost a large amount and I won a large amount, and we ended up, after tips for drinks, etc., down about $2 for the night. Much better than some of our later forays, I'm afraid.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy and drippy. I sent Eric down to L'Orientique for croissant and bananas for breakfast. After breakfast, the sky was very dark so we decided to head to P'burg for some shopping. Without knowing it, our choice of Saturday for shopping was serendipitous, as there are no ships in port, plus many island people are coming and going, so the shops are very empty and shopkeepers have time to spend with you. About six months ago I had managed to lose the diamond out of my engagement ring, so we had decided to replace it while in St. Martin. I checked out a couple of other stores, just for comparison, then headed to Touch of Gold. Heeru was there, apparently doing some inventory when we came in. A fellow waited on me and I found a diamond that I had to have. I begged and pleaded on the price till he couldn't go any lower and he eventually called Heeru in and we made the deal. AFTER we had made the deal I told her that I had learned about the shop on Prodigy and she brought out her scrapbook of clippings people had sent her from $P$. After the purchase, since we had purchased an un-set stone, we went and watched the fellow make the setting and place the stone in the ring, a fascinating process.

Having purchased what we came for, it was back in the car toward Orient. We stopped at the top of the hill above Orient at a place called Casa del Sol, which used to be a Mexican restaurant, but is now a kind of 7-11. They have a decent selection there of snacks and chips, cheeses and wines, at better prices than at L'Orientique.

As usual this time, we had brought along a very small collapsible cooler with frozen steaks and burgers to cook on the grill in our room. Just about everything as far as groceries are concerned is available in SXM, so there is little reason to bring much food as such, other than meats. Meats are very expensive in SXM and looked to be of questionable quality. On Saturday for lunch, we cooked burgers on the grill, then headed out to the beach. Unfortunately, it became very windy and overcast and I became cold on the beach and headed back to the room. We took a nap, and then around 4:30 the rain started really coming down in buckets. We swam down to Papagayo's for the 5:30 happy hour for drinks. Happy hour at Papagayo's is really 2 for 1, as, whenever you order a drink during happy hour, they give you both drinks at the same time. This works OK for some drinks, but mixed drinks kind of have a tendency to get watery. Oh well, the price we pay for 2 for 1!

During high season, there is entertainment at Papagayo's two nights a week, Saturday and Tuesday, so we had already decided before we left home that we would be staying IN on Saturday night, which is what we did. Probably a good idea, in light of the really HAPPY happy hour we had! G!! Anyway, we stayed at Papagayo's for dinner, along with what seemed to be half the resort, as I think all the tables were full. It continued windy and rainy all evening, so I suspect that had something to do with it. I had a chicken dish, Eric had fish soup (WONDERFUL!!) and two crab cake appetizers for his entre. The band started playing around 8 and we had great fun dancing and enjoying the evening. The band was still playing when we toddled off to bed around 10:30 or so.

Sunday morning we had croissants in the room again and were able to get some sun before it clouded up and started raining around 1 P.M. We decided to go to Papagayo's for lunch, hoping (vainly, as it turned out!) that it would stop raining. We had a club sandwich, a side of fries, a chicken steak sandwich and two drinks apiece, for $36. Somewhat expensive for lunch, but it was good. We went back to the room after lunch, hoping that the weather would clear, which it did not. This was about the only time when we've ever been on vacation when I would have watched a TV, had I had one. (Rooms at Club Orient don't have TV's.) Since it was Sunday afternoon, I kind of wanted to go watch a football game on TV somewhere, but Eric wanted to hold out for some good weather, so we read in the room and listened to the rain.

The weather cleared up enough Sunday night so that we could cook a couple steaks on the grill for dinner, before heading out to the casino. Cheri's and Casino Royale have both reopened and appeared busy, although we always just drove through. I hate the traffic there and fighting for a parking spot. Sunday night we went to the Pelican for the only time this trip, as they had (at least for this week anyway) done away with the 50 cent roulette, which is the major reason we always went to the Pelican. The Pelican does have a version of Second Chance Caribbean Stud Poker, BUT the payout is lower if you have purchased a card on a winning hand. Pelican has a big screen TV on which we watched some of the Sunday night football game and they have a cash bar in the casino, $2 and $3 for drinks. After losing some money at the Pelican, we went to the Atlantis, instead of going back home and proceeded to lose some more money. Monday morning dawned sunny, then clouded up around 10:30 and rained for about half an hour. Around noon the weather finally cleared off and there were no showers during the afternoon. Lunch was hamburgers on the grill at our unit. Around 4:30 I had a fairly dumb idea that we should take a ride in the car and try to find Mario's Bistro, as we had never eaten there as we weren't sure how to get there. Well, take a hint and avoid Marigot at 5 P.M like the plague! Traffic in Marigot was horrible. Eventually we found Mario's, and almost lost a wheel in the road, which was terrible, due to all the rain. In the immediate area of Mario's, one had to drive through the holes in the road, not around them, as the holes WERE the road. Of course, as things would have it, we didn't get to Mario's this trip either. Another reason to go back, I suppose........ G!!

Speaking of roads, for the first time that we ever remember, they were actually doing some road construction in SXM, which was on the road between Marigot and P'burg. Also, going to P'burg from Orient the opposite direction from toward Marigot, they are building a "welcome center" for the Dutch side at the border. The parking lot didn't hardly look big enough for busses to park in, so it may be intended for taxis only. Last, but by no means least, the road into Club Orient, always bumpy, was a major obstacle course this time, to arrive at your destination with yourself and your suspension still attached to your vehicle.

Monday evening we had sunset drinks at Calmos Cafe in Grand Case, which is a very nice experience. Calmos is down a little alley, almost directly across the street from the (free) parking lot in Grand Case. At Calmos, you eat or drink, etc., right ON the sand if you want. They have about a half dozen picnic tables and some big comfy chair groupings. You can't actually see the sunset from that side of the island, but sipping a couple cold ones on the sand, watching the lights of Anguilla come on, is pretty special.

For some reason when we're on vacation, we often eat dinner much earlier than at home. At home, we never eat dinner until 7 to 7:30, but we often eat in SXM about 6 P.M., which actually works out pretty well, as we generally don't have any problem getting a table at any of the best restaurants in SXM. Up to now, we have maintained our perfect record in SXM of NEVER having made a dinner reservation. That's part of the reason why we've never eaten at Mario's, as everyone seems to say reservations there are a necessity, and we just are not excited about having to plan our meal more than about five minutes in advance. Monday we had thought we would have dinner at Calmos, but they didn't seem to be in any hurry to bring around dinner menus, so we decided to head on out down the street. We probably would have eaten at one of the chicken shacks, but just as we were walking down the street, it started raining and I didn't feel like standing in the rain to tell the lady what I wanted to eat, so we headed on down the street looking for something different. We ended up at Calamba Creole (SP???), which is on the land side in Grand Case, about half way down. The restaurant was empty when we arrived, but there were soon several tables occupied. Eric had a wonderful conk-stuffed chicken, I had a chicken curry dish and Eric had an absolutely lethal bananas flambee'. That, along with a bottle of wine made a cheap, good meal at $54. After more losing at Atlantis, it was home to Orient to crash around 1 A.M., waking up our friend the security guard at Club Orient on the way back. I think that, by the second or third trip, he knew our car license plate, as we were probably about the only people who went out about every night.

Tuesday morning we had breakfast at Papagayo's, ham and cheese and western omelettes and coffee. $16 total and very tasty. As we were sitting finishing our breakfast, the Tiko Tiko was preparing to go out. Apparently there was a couple missing, and Guillome came through Papagayo's and recognized us and said Hi and asked if we were the ones they were waiting for. Looking at the wind blowing and the waves whipping, we laughed and said that it looked too rough for us! Guillome laughed and said that's when it's fun!

Tuesday was sunny but VERY windy, and the umbrella fellows refused to allow anyone to have umbrellas, so I had to be careful not to get burned that day, keeping covered up for parts of the day. We took a walk off to the right of the resort over to the undeveloped, rocky section, and took some nice pictures. We also went down to LOrientique to check out the boutique for stuff to buy. For those who are Club Orient fans, they have a limited number of prints of a oil painting of Club Orient for sale at L'Orientique. The original oil hangs in the reception area at Orient and the print is a great reminder of Club O, something we have been looking for for a while. The signed, numbered print (unframed) was $40.

For lunch, we headed down to Papagayo's II, for 2 hotdogs and 3 drinks, for $14. While at PII, we also enjoyed some free samples and some nice conversation with a local who makes his own liqueurs. The afternoon continued very windy but sunny until about 3:30, when it came up a brief rainstorm. We headed down to Papagayo's for happy hour, then had steaks on the grill at our unit for dinner. Afterward, we headed back down to Papagayo's and enjoyed some more live music and dancing there. I believe the name of the band on Tuesday was "Phenomenon". The band on Tuesday night was fabulous, especially the sax player, who was fantastic.

I tell you, though, you haven't LIVED till you've sat naked in a bar in St. Martin, listening to a fantastic saxophone solo rendition of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire". (Just sit there and think about that one for a moment. It'll grow on you. G!!) There were many less guests there on Tuesday night than on Saturday, and they missed a wonderful evening.

Wednesday morning the weather was again problematical, with patchy clouds and rain, but the weather in the afternoon was a little better, with some sun. Wednesday night was the weekly wine and cheese party, which is not technically limited to Club Orient guests, as they never check on who's really staying there. Lots of free wine and some great cheeses and lots of semi-naked people! G!! We all got a great kick of the evening's special meal at Papagayo's--SURGEON in butter-lemon sauce. We all figured that it was a great bargain at $18, as we all know it costs the EARTH for a surgeon to make house calls these days! G!! Afterwards, we invited our friend Albin, who we had met before at Club O, to spend the evening at the casino with us, since he doesn't rent a car there. We are constantly surprised at the number of people who don't rent a car there. We went to Portofino in Grand Case for pizza and some more wine (G!!) for dinner, before heading out to Atlantis, to continue our losing ways. The pizza for 3 was $50.

Thursday dawned sunny and continued windy, although they allowed umbrellas out for the first time since Monday. And, for the first time since we had arrived, chairs were at a premium on the beach. Guillome and the other chair rental guys went around to the units and snatched chairs from people's patios, including ours, and it appeared there was a real shortage of chairs. There had been a notice up in the reception area that there were not currently enough chairs for everyone to have chairs at their unit and at the beach also, and that they had several hundred chairs on order. Thursday was the first and only day during our stay when it was a problem, although, as should be apparent from this report, our weather wasn't exactly optimal during the 10 days we were there. What was also at a premium, apparently, was rental cars. When we had arrived on Thursday, we looked down the row of units and saw almost no cars. By this Thursday, after a week of very mixed weather, almost every unit had a car sitting out front. I'm guessing that the car rental guys LOVE bad weather! G!!

Thursday overall was a good weather day. We had lunch at our unit, more sun for the afternoon, then went to happy hour at Papagayo's. Dinner this evening was at my very favorite restaurant in SXM---Auberge Gourmand. Eric had the wonderful onion soup, I had the chicken, Eric snapper stuffed with salmon, we each had creme brulee (wonderful--NOT burnt!), 2 cups of coffee and a bottle of white wine--$81 altogether and fabulous, every bite. My only complaint was that I have--ever since the first time I ate there--wanted one of their fabulously beautiful plates. I asked the waiter about it twice and he said that he would have the owner talk to us about getting one, but we never got any info on it. After an almost completely successful dinner, it was off to Atlantis, where, including tips for drinks, we lost a total of $3 for the evening. Pretty successful evening overall.

Friday morning we again went to Papagayo's for breakfast--french toast and ham for me and 2 eggs and ham for Eric and coffee for two. The bill was around $16 overall. .We had a small rain shower during breakfast, but the weather quickly cleared off and this was probably our best weather day overall, windy, but not horribly so, generally sunny and no rain except the one shower during breakfast, until a short shower around 4:30.

We were not real hungry at lunch, so I had Eric go down to P-II and pick up a couple of hotdogs, which we ate at the unit, along with a bottle of wine. Hotdogs and a bottle of wine--true class!! G!!

Dinner Friday evening was at Bistro Caraibes, another one of our major favorites, in SXM. Unfortunately, we were both kind of tired and not super hungry, so we couldn't really do justice to a big meal. We each had a glass of wine and entre and a cup of coffee, plus their signature liqueur. Eric had their special Sea-Bass, and I had their beef tournedos, both of which were absolutely excellent. Sorry, I didn't write down how much the bill was, but figure it was around $60. I felt sorry that we couldn't justify dessert, but that will have to wait till next time, I suppose! G!! After dinner it was time to head to Atlantis, to continue our losing ways for the week. Ah well, at least we wouldn't be losing in the casino TOMORROW night! G!!

Saturday dawned beautiful--sunny and not particularly windy and noticeably warmer than the past several days. Checkout time at Club Orient is 11 A.M. and our flight wasn't due to leave until almost 4. We asked about getting late checkout, but as we knew from conversations when we first checked in, the resort was totally booked for that Saturday night, so we couldn't get late check-out. We had packed up almost all our stuff and basically cleaned out the refrigerator on Friday night, so we were able to go out to the beach for a couple hours of sun. Then Eric went to go check out and we brought our bag with our clothes to change into to the beach and put the rest of the bags in the trunk of the car. For lunch, I sent Eric down to Pedro's for carry-out chicken and fries. We ate a splendid lunch on our beach chairs, amid sunshine, warm temps and low breezes and thinking this was the way it normally is in SXM and the way it should be.

Just as we were finishing up our lunch, out of a clear blue sky, there came up a small rain shower, which seemed somewhat fitting, considering our luck with weather for this week. As the first rain drops came spritzing down, it made me think of that line from Moby Dick "with my last breath, I spit at thee!" G!! Most other people who were on the beach at the time probably couldn't understand why I was standing in the rain laughing.......

The rain shower was a five minute deal, no big deal and all, then we gathered up our stuff around 1:15 and headed to the showers in back of Papagayo's and showered and changed clothes for the flight home. As usual, Eric dropped me off the airport with the bags and went to turn in the rental car. As we pulled up to the airport, we observed the number one reason to fly US Air from SXM--those huge _amn lines to check in at American. As I was standing in line for an interminable time, I was treated to a view of what was probably the front page headline of the Chronicle for the next day--a taxi cab driver running into a light pole right in front of the airport. Of course, that caused the traffic to be way backed up from the airport, meaning it was maybe 45 minutes before Eric got back to the airport. Of course, with AA's lightning service, I was only about half-way through the line by that time. After payment of the departure tax (which has now gone up to $20 a person, by the way), it was time to get a final drink at the airport bar outside and board the plane for the short flight to San Juan. Unfortunately, we took off from SXM 45 minutes late, which proved problematical. We had originally only had an hour and 20 minutes on our schedule to land in SJU, claim our bags, clear customs and immigration and recheck our bags, therefore an extra 45 minutes was a problem. American lied to us, telling us that they would hold our connecting flight, which of course they did not do.

Our flight to Dulles was due to leave at 6:00 and when we arrived at the gate at 5:59, they had already closed the doors. They sent us a couple of gates down, for a flight which was bound for BWI in 15 minutes. They then lied to us again, telling us that our bags would now be sent to BWI. Once onboard the plane, we paid the $5 for earphones to watch The Mask of Zorro which made the flight go quicker (Couldn't they at least have given us free earphones or free drinks??). No surprise, but our bags were not there when we got to BWI. Apparently, they made our original flight (which we could have done, if they had held the plane even one minute.....) Along with at least 3 other people who were in the same position, we were given a cab ride to Dulles, courtesy of American. When we arrived at Dulles, as things would have it, the baggage guy was out to dinner, so we ended up waiting around about 45 minutes for the guy to show up to retrieve our bags. Instead of arriving home about 9:30, as we anticipated, we got home around 1:30 A.M. Overall, a nasty end to a vacation marked by definite mixed reviews.

The weather definitely affected our trip negatively this time, much more than we had ever had the misfortune to experience in St. Martin. I believe that it was most unusual weather for SXM, based on our own personal experiences and on reports from others. We personally have never had any more than intermittent showers in SXM. One couple we talked to were staying for their 9th time at Club O, and they reported that they had only seen showers on some occasions, nothing like the constant rain we had on Saturday and Sunday and the continuing intermittent rain over the course of the week. One of the gals who works at Papagayo's said that, except for hurricane weather, she only remembered one other week in her 14 years there that the weather was that bad. On about Wednesday, one fellow reported that the airport was full of people trying to go stand-by to LEAVE and go home. Amazing..... The temperature was definitely much cooler than we were used to, although I suspect that was mostly due to the fairly common overcast skies. One of the ladies that works at Touch of Gold said that it was always colder there during November. We plan on checking the average temperature for SXM on the net. I suspect maybe their average high temperature varies by about 5 degrees. G!!

Summary----Life lived well is more often lived in small pieces than in big chunks and despite some lumps of coal in our Christmas stockings, we had some absolutely perfect moments--drinks on the beach at sunset at Calmos Cafe, finding a beautiful diamond ring, attending the wine and cheese party at Club Orient and laughing with new friends about the surgeon on the menu, dinner at Auberge Gourmande, listening to Phenomenon on Tuesday night, the perfect Saturday morning on the beach before leaving--these are the moments one lives for.....................

Carol & Eric in Virginia

Photos of Club Orient - Nov. 98

Photos of Club Orient - Sept. 97

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