This is our trip report from our trip June 12 to 23, 2004 to St. Martin. We had just a lovely trip, enjoying 10 days vs. our usual 7, and outstanding weather. We stayed for the first 7 days at Green Cay Villas, above Orient, and then the last 3, at Cole Coombs' Party Villa, at Guana Bay. Sorry for the length of the report, but I will try to put in headings to divide up the report to make it more readable for those not interested in the whole report, and I tried to highlight names of restaurants for those interested in restaurant stuff.
We generally don't take hardly any pictures any more, as I don't take the camera with us most places. We did take a few this time, and they are available under the island photo gallery.
Thanks to our great good fortune in October last year of taking a "bump" in SXM --to leave the same day an hour later--, we were flying on free US AIR tickets to SXM again. "Bump" tickets are like frequent flyer tickets, in that FF seats have to be available on the flight you want to go on, but unlike FF seats, you cannot book them online. Even though this was our 25th anniversary trip, we booked it kind of late, as we had other plans which we ended up having to cancel in April. At the point that we wanted to book, there were no FF seats left going down to SXM on June 12, which is when we wanted to go, so we had to make do with flying to Philly the night of the 12th, and flying non-stop from Philly to SXM the next morning. There were not any FF seats left going down through Charlotte, even on Sunday. While this routing didn't get us to SXM until Sunday, it did have the advantage of getting us to SXM rested and ready to go. We flew from DC at 6 PM to Philly and stayed at the Sheraton Suites Philadelphia Airport
SHERATON SUITES PHILADELPHIA AIRPORT
We booked the hotel online through the Sheraton website, which was cheaper than Travelocity, etc., with a 21 day advance purchase, fully paid at the time of booking, for $90 a night, plus taxes. This hotel is about a mile from the airport and provided free, very efficient shuttle service to the airport. I wouldn't call the hotel particularly "deluxe", but the room and the bed were quite comfortable, although I didn't personally care for the decor, which I couldn't quite figure out, as being either "modern" or "fifties". Kinda weird. The rooms are all two room suites, with a separate bedroom and living room, with refrigerator, coffeepot, etc. The set-up of two actual separate rooms with the bathroom in between was nice, as I went to bed and Eric was able to sit up and watch TV and didn't disturb me. We ate dinner at the hotel, which was hotel food, OK, but took a while, and somewhat expensive. Fairly predictable.
We got up about 7 AM on Sunday, which was much nicer than it would have been--maybe 4 AM--if we had flown all the way to SXM on Sunday, and headed to the airport. We checked in through the kiosk, inserting our passports to check in. Pretty cool! They checked our bags there and we went off in search of breakfast, ending up at Mickey D's. Getting breakfast there was a good thing, as all that was served on the plane was a lame a$$ bagel and cream cheese, which we declined. The plane was fairly full, although we had two aisle seats, so that was comfortable. We thought we would leave on time, as we boarded the plane in plenty of time, but this is Philadelphia!!! We sat on the plane for an extra hour while they did an extra security sweep of the bags. Whatever.. We've come to expect screw-ups of all natures in Philadelphia, which has become our LEAST favorite airport in the world. We left an hour late and arrived in SXM about a half hour late. Despite landing just after an AA plane, we flew through immigration, retrieved our bags and were in our car in 30 minutes.
This time we rented through Kenny's. Great price and no problems with the car, other than the usual rice beater stuff--these things are not made for hills! Kenny met us at the airport on both ends--no muss, no fuss!
CELL PHONE RENTAL
One of the main joys for us when we go on vacation is to get away from computers, TV, newspapers, and phones. Unfortunately, we needed a phone this time and we contacted Sharon Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org , and got a great deal. The cell phone is $30 for the week, including a $20 phone card. You can pick up and drop off at the Royal Palm front desk, easy as anything. They do have delivery available also, which I think was around $5. The per minute charge is something like $.50 per minute, with no charge for incoming calls. We didn't use all of our time, as we only used the phone maybe a half dozen times for a few minutes each. However, for the price and service, Sharon can't be beat!!!
Wow, we had just about perfect weather for the whole time. The first couple of days, the wind was a little still, and it was kind of hot, but we had ONE five minute shower during the day, during the whole 10 days, when we were at Buccaneer Beach Bar. Otherwise, we had rain at night a time or two, but absolutely nothing that interfered with beach time at all. The sky was a little hazy a lot of the time, but in general, you could just not make up better weather if you ordered it from room service.
ALL RIGHT, WE' RE IN PARADISE!! THE TRIP REPORT!!!!!!
Since it was Sunday afternoon when we arrived and most grocery stores were closed, we stopped at US Import/Export in Sandy Ground for some essential "liquid" supplies, intending to get more supplies the next day, before heading to Green Cay Villas, where we would stay for the first week.
GREEN CAY VILLAS!!!!
We have stayed at Green Cay several times before and it really is my favorite place to stay in SXM. We both love Club Orient, but there is something to be said for the luxury of Green Cay!!!! Before this trip, we had stayed in numbers 9, 12 and 18, with the last two times staying in #18. The villas are basically all virtually identical inside, except that numbers 18, 20 and 4 have a/c in the great room and the others do not. The only jacuzzi in a villa is in #18. (The studios have jacuzzis.) Other than that, the only real difference is that several of the lower villas don't have much of a view of the water any more, as they have built several villas right in front of Green Cay which block the views from several of the lowest level villas by the front desk. As always, we booked through Jim Ruos, at Caribbean Islands Travel Service. Even though June is historically a pretty slow month, we had had to accept a villa on the bottom row when we booked, as we had booked so late and the resort was basically full. We were on a wait list for a better view, but Jim told us not to hold our breaths. As we checked in, I assumed that we were in number 4 and was quite shocked to have the lovely Bridgette in reception tell us that we were in number 20!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Apparently someone had booked at the last minute and there was only number 20 left, so they upgraded us! Number 20 not only has the a/c in the great room, but is one of the two highest up villas, with the best view, for which they normally get a 10% premium!!! Merci boucoup, Yannick!!!!!
Upon checking In to the villa, we discovered our welcome bottle of champagne, which we enjoyed from the balcony. The refrigerator contained a welcome pack, which included 6 cokes, 6 Caribs, eggs, bread, butter, jam, milk, bottled water. We ate breakfast in every morning except one. At Green Cay, we got the continental breakfast prepared each morning. The maid would come around 8 and fix a pot of coffee and steam some milk, set up the table, and leave us croissant, french bread, coffee, OJ, milk, and a bottle of water. We don't generally eat breakfast at home, so this was certainly adequate for us. I was going to have Eric make me an omelette one morning and discovered NO fry pans of any nature, so we hard boiled most of the eggs.
ALL ABOUT GREEN CAY
All the villas have three bedrooms and all bedrooms have a/c in the bedrooms. #4 and possibly one other one (but NOT 9, 12, 18 or 20) have a studio which is the third bedroom and totally separated from the rest of the villa. If you rent a villa at Green Cay, you will NOT be sharing it with anyone, regardless of whether you pay to rent one bedroom or all three. If you only rent one bedroom, the others are just locked off and you can't enter them, as each bedroom has a separate key. They do have a security system, but we never used it, as I was always afraid we would set it off! I have enough problem with my car alarm!!! Green Key's website has a very good diagram and 360 degree view on their website. For a complete description of Green Cay, please consult the resort report we did in 1994. Although the report is 10 years old, most the information continues to be correct. http://www.info-res.com/ehill/reviews/grncay.htm Pictures we took this trip of Number 20 are HERE. There are also a few pictures from previous trips to numbers 9, 12 and 18 here. http://www.info-res.com/ehill/othpgs/islgal.htm About the only thing I don't like, design wise, about the villas is that the bathrooms within the bedrooms do not have a real stand-up shower, but merely a hand-held one which is cumbersome to use. However, there is a totally separate shower, right inside the front door, which is a stand-up American type shower, and we used it to shower in most times. Three things I would like if they would have though are 1) clocks in the bedrooms!!!; 2) real American TV--they have several French stations and HBO and Cinemax and CNN, and that's it and 3) a frying pan in the kitchen.
WHAT"S NEW AT GREEN CAY?? Since the last time we stayed there, they provide nice cotton robes with the Green Cay logo. These are not hot, like the terry robes would have been. We had quite a bit of problem with mosquitoes this time–I think due to the rain that SXM had in the weeks before our trip. They will be painting the villas with a new type of paint which supposedly kills mosquitoes if they land on it. Weird, huh?? While we were there, Yannick signed the contract for wireless internet to be available in ALL villas. Not sure how long that will take. Also, new deck furniture--in teak, with pads--has been ordered for all villas and should be in place before high season.. As I told Yannick, I foresee another price rise in their future! But, as he said, they are selling very well at the moment (witness, their being sold out in June!) and they have to keep upgrading if they want to continue to compete.
Before we left home, we had corresponded by email with sjculmo Steve and Debbie from TTOL, and knew that they, along with another couple, were staying in number 18 at Green Cay, just across the parking lot from us. We knew that they were leaving the next day, so we had assumed that we would probably not be able to meet up. As we were settling in, we heard a car come in and went out to greet them! We chatted for a while. Later that evening, they stopped by and said that they were heading to CALMOS for dinner and wanted to know if we wanted to join them. How strange, Eric and I had just decided that was the very place where we wanted to head for dinner that night!!! As fate seemed to have ordained it, we all headed out to Calmos–in different cars, since we were 6 people. We had just a lovely welcome dinner with them with a couple of bottles of wine, with our feet in the sand, finishing up a bottle or two of MaDouDou at the end! I had the chicken sate, which was great, and Eric had ribs. What a lovely beginning to the trip!!!! Hope to meet you guys in SXM again!!
After breakfast at the villa, we headed over to the Dutch side to check out our directions to Party Villa, where we would be staying the last three days of our visit. Having found it, we headed back to Grand Marche for some groceries. They did not seem particularly well stocked there, so we went on over to Ram's and picked up the rest of our supplies. We noted that the Queen Mary II was in port (or should I say, at anchor, as she can't dock because of her draft), kind of neat to see her. We stopped by the front desk at Green Cay to say hi and thanks to the manager, Yannick, and met his lovely wife and chatted for a bit.
We headed back to the villa and cooked burgers on the grill for lunch and proceeded to be totally lazy for the afternoon. For dinner, we headed to BISTROT CARIABES and enjoyed an absolutely lovely dinner! We split an absolutely fabulous appetizer of hot goat cheese in a puff pastry (YUM!!) and an order of their marvelous onion soup. (I asked for a PETIT serving, and think I got the regular size..) I had a wonderful rack of lamb and Eric had the fabulous Fisherman's Platter, and I had my required creme brulee. Wow, we were stuffed, but it was all GREAT!
After Bistrot, we headed to Tropicana Casino, and won about $100 on blackjack. In the SECOND best decision we made all week, (the BEST decision we made all week came on Wednesday!) we decided to head to Dolphin Casino instead of going home. I played a little and Eric had played some blackjack and was down to about $50. I said that I wanted to go home and Eric wanted to stay just a little longer, and thank goodness we did! From that point on for about the next two hours, he could do no wrong in blackjack! Every time he had a 16, against a 10 showing, he pulled a 5!!! Just amazing, silly stuff!! There were two other fellows sitting at the table, one another tourist and one a local (bartender at Lee's) and neither one could believe it! It was a night to remember!! Eric cashed in about $1400 in chips--not bad, considering we were down to $50!!! The guy from Lee's offered us the first drink on him if we came by Lee's, and we just never got by there. Next time.... The first two days of our trip could scarcely have been better, had we written out a script!! ..and we hadn't even been to the beach yet!
After breakfast at the villa, we headed out to Orient for the day. As usual, we went to Club Orient beach, parking by L'Orientique and taking chairs by the Perch. THE BEACH IS BACK!! Orient is full of sand these days, with wide expanses in front of Club O and all the way down the beach. You can walk on dry sand past Pedro's. There is probably 30 feet of sand between the front corner of Papagayo's and the water.
The Perch is looking great these days, with the new deck all finished, and several picnic tables on it, with umbrellas above. The shade and breezes there are marvelous! Willie is great, as always, and there is 2 for 1 happy hour every day from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. The restrooms and showers are supposed to be done SOON, whatever the heck that means.. As before, the only food at the Perch is Panini sandwiches and hot dogs, chips and ice cream. If she's busy, Willie doesn't serve food during happy hour. Willie says she will be gone in August, but open in September. Good for us, as we will be there in September!
For lunch, we headed down to BAYWATCH and enjoyed specials of ravioli and an Italian burger. They had so much sand at Baywatch there was room for 3 rows of chairs and another 30 feet between the chairs and the front of the restaurant! The restaurant was always busy whenever we went, and this day was no exception. The roof is a great addition to the place, providing better shade, a better breeze and a better view! All were great! Stuff at Andy's is sometimes a little expensive for lunch–like I think the scallop caesar is something like $13, but it's always GREAT. Andy is a great cook, Cheryl is a joy to talk to, Ross is a great bartender, and Adrian is a cool dude, and takes care of the chairs.
After a hard day on the beach, we got cleaned up and headed over to LaVista to meet up with Andrea and Martina, Peter's daughters. Andrea manages LaVista and the Hideaway, as before. For those of you that knew her before, Martina is back on island now, and has started up a business doing massages. If you're interested, her email is email@example.com Peter had had this idea, ever since LaVista Beach opened, that they should have a drink there named after me (for some weird reason..) I'm still unsure why I deserve this honor, but I suggested a strawberry Margarita, and the Carol's Delight was born!!! Go by LaVista Beach Bar and ask for a Carol's Delight and say you are a TTOL member and get it half price! (Just that drink, not anything else!) It's a lovely little bar there, right on the ocean, and a quiet place to have a drink and watch the sunset!
Andrea prevailed on us to stay for dinner there at the HIDEAWAY, which was a wonderful choice. We had eaten there for breakfast and lunch several times, but never for dinner, so this was a nice new treat for us. The view out over the pool toward the ocean is quite lovely, especially at dusk as a cruise ship floats past. It really is special. I had the stuffed crab back for appetizer, Eric had the garlic shrimp. I had the beef tenderloin and Eric had the grouper filet. At the end, we were quite stuffed and tried to decline dessert. However, our waitress just wouldn't let us decline, and brought us a lovely piece of cheesecake with strawberries and a candle on top for our anniversary! We were too full to eat it there, but took it home and enjoyed it later! Our waitress announced to those in the restaurant that it was our 25th anniversary this week and a lady dining there wished us best wishes as we left. There are nice people who WORK at LaVista and nice people who visit there also...
WEDNESDAY--JUNE 16--OUR 25TH ANNIVERSARY!
As I said at the beginning, we had planned to be somewhere else on our anniversary, but if that wasn't to happen, I cannot think of anywhere I would rather wake up on that day than in SXM, at Green Cay. It truly is special for me....
THE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN REPORT--I'm not sure exactly why, but one of my favorite lunches in SXM is to get a rotisserie chicken, a bottle of wine, some cheese and grapes, and eat it on our beach chairs. This morning, we wanted to head out early to spend a whole day on the beach and went in search of our chicken before heading out. We went to Tap 5 in the Village du Orient "The chickens will not be ready until 10:30, madam." Ok, so, let's check out Rancho del Sol, at the top of the hill above Orient. Huhm, they don't sell rotisserie chickens any more. OK, one last shot, let's check out LeBounty in Grand Case. "The chickens will not be ready until 11:00 AM, madam". Since it was only 10:00 still by this time, we had to move on to the next plan! (By the way, later on in the week, we got a chicken at Food Fair for only $5, at around 10:00 A.M.) We went ahead to Orient and spent another hard day on the beach. Around 1, I sent Eric down for a carry-out order of chicken and ribs, fries and salad at Pedro's, which we ate in our chairs with our bottle of wine. It's up to $14 now, for one order. The food is good, but getting kind of expensive, to me.
Hanging around at the Perch that afternoon, Eric earned his good conduct star for the week. There was this girl (I would say, maybe age 22) and her husband who had arrived at Orient on SCOOTERS, who were just BLOTTOED, especially the girl. She couldn't even walk. She was determined, however, that she was going to ride that d*mned scooter back to the ship! Along with the help of security, Eric was able to get the girl and her husband AND their scooters into a pickup truck owned by one of the locals, who delivered them back to the ship, alive. The gal must have been drunk already when they arrived, as she had left the key in the ignition, out in the parking lot at Orientique! I'm surprised the thing was still there! We heard from the local guy the next day that they made it back to the ship alive, which they certainly would not have, had they ridden those freaking scooters!!!!!
Having done our good deed, it was time to head back to the house to prepare for dinner! After we had been there for a few minutes (sometimes I'm rather THICK, you know!!) I noticed the HUGE basket of flowers on the table! I was very happy... We showered up and prepared to enjoy our BEST DECISION OF THE WEEK!!!......
We had had some discussions from home about how we would spend our 25th anniversary night. Eric had wanted to go to Bistrot Cariabes, which is our favorite restaurant these days. I love Bistrot also, but I thought that I would like to do something just a little different for this occasion. We knew about Fabulous Feasts before we left home and I was able to convince Eric after we arrived that we should do it. We booked Fabulous Feasts totally through Green Cay, (as Eric did the flowers). Check out their web page at www.fabulousfeasts.com We let them know at reception what we wanted, when and what night and time, and they ordered it, made all the arrangements, and the bill was ultimately charged to our room, along with the flowers. As Jim Ruos says in his material for Green Cay, virtually any service is available through the front desk. Green Cay truly excels in extending service to it's clients!
For a place such as a villa, Fabulous Feasts will come to your villa and cook the whole meal there for you--it is not prepared elsewhere and reheated. One person comes and prepares the meal and serves it to you, course by course. Either they or Green Cay would have provided the wine, but we thought it would be better to provide our own, which we did, a nice champagne and a red wine. They have a couple of different menus available, but we chose the Traditional. The cost was $65 per person, plus a 15% gratuity. For the appetizer, main course and dessert, there were two choices, with only the salad course having only one choice. According to Bridgette at reception at Green Cay, one has to order at least two of every dish, so I was concerned that Eric wanted the lobster instead of the filet mignon, but fortunately on this occasion, he wanted beef, along with me!
Our menu was :
Crispy Aumoniere of Shrimp & Salmon--WOW! Just wonderful!
Mesclun salad with balsamic vinaigrette--Merely OK to me, as I'm not a big fan of vinaigrette
Filet Mignon with Mushroom Friacassee--wonderful, nicely prepared
Creme Brulee for me--nice
Chocolate Truffle Cake with Creme Anglaise for Eric -- Chocoholic Eric pronounced it wonderful..
(For dessert, we were able to pick different things)
Coffee and petit fours. (We were too full for the petit fours, and I didn't realize till a couple of days later that the chef had placed them in the refrigerator, where they were quite stale by the time we tasted them..... Uhm, next time...)
I'm sorry that I did not write down the name of the chef who came and served us, as he was a very nice fellow. He talked to us quite a bit during the course of the evening. I had ordered dinner for 7 PM, which turned out to be a little late, as by the time that we were served our entre', it was quite dark, even though we did have some candles. We did not want to turn on any lights, as the mosquitos had been quite bad all week.
Overall, I would rate the entire experience as below Grand Case quality in terms of overall food experience, BUT the total experience was just lovely and very comfortable, in terms of having our own place, our own music, not having to do any driving after drinking, and making the occasion just a very special one. We wouldn't do it every night, or probably even every trip, but it made this evening be a very memorable one. My only regret is that somehow I forgot to have the chef take our picture...
Eric had somehow committed us to being on Bulldog's radio show at 7 AM on Thursday, so we used the wake up call service through the phone at Green Cay, and made it to Laser 101 without any problem. Bulldog was kind of miffed, as he looked on Traveltalkonline to see what the top topic was, to see that it was "Carol and Eric on Laser 101 right now!"
After the radio, we headed out to P'burg and had breakfast at KANGAROO COURT. For breakfast, anyway, this seems to be mostly locals, stopping by for an espresso and maybe a croissant to go. It's RIGHT beside the courthouse downtown, so if you want to get an early start on shopping some morning, it's a great place to start! We had an omelette and eggs and bacon and coffee. The place has an inside section and a courtyard section. We couldn't sit in the courtyard as it had rained the night before, and everything was wet, so had to sit inside. Inside there are air conditioners, but I don't think they were on that morning, as it was pretty hot. The breakfast was fast and hot, no problems. Afterwards, we stopped by to see several of our advertisers, and arrived back on Orient around lunchtime.
We have always enjoyed KAKAO and I wanted to have lunch there this day, which turned out to be somewhat of a mistake. As we walked in, there seemed to be a lot of people in the restaurant and on the beach, which probably should have been our clue not to stay. We found out that there was a cruise ship group there, which really stretched their server personnel, who we have always found very personable in the past. They asked us if we were with the group and when we said "no", we actually got our food (a couple of pizzas) very fast, but the service was not up to their normal service. Next time we'll not stay in that situation, but we would definitely go back when they are not so busy.
From there, we went back to the villa and hung out around the pool for the afternoon. (Life is tough in the fast lane...) We then headed out to Peg Leg Pub for our TTOL party! We had a great time, with the band 3 Amigoes, provided by Jack at Peg Leg, and drinks and hors ourdouvres picked up by Vince at Kay's Jewelry, in a surprise even to us. We had about 40 people show up, a mixture of tourists and locals, and had a great time. Later on, Neil showed up with Celine on the Pub Crawl and we hitched a ride with him down to the last stop, Turtle Pier. We have never done the Pub Crawl before, but the experience of riding that cat at night was quite special, and we plan on doing the Pub Crawl next time!
Friday we headed out to Orient, somewhat late, but had no problem getting a chair in front of the Perch. The beach did fill up pretty well by afternoon, as there were two ships in. For lunch, we headed down to Baywatch, where I had the chicken fingers (my god, a whole BOX full of them!! (there was no way I could finish them), and Eric had the meatball sub. After lunch, I came back to the chair and found some folks that looked somewhat familiar sitting next to us, with a dog. Since I was missing my Simba at home, I asked permission to give their pooch some kisses, and later determined they were Jack and Linda, from Changes in Latitudes. They are no longer renting out the boat, but living on it, and I guess doing something else for a living, as Linda said that she had been working bartending at Lee's till somewhat recently. We had a nice time discussing the vagaries of St. Martin and the joys and exasperation of living in Paradise.
Eric had been fighting a fairly bad cold since around Tuesday and finally succumbed to it on Friday, so we came back from the beach early and he laid down for a couple of hours, before heading out to dinner. We had wanted to check out the Planet Orient restaurant, but it was closed for about two weeks.
We had never eaten at COTE PLAGES on Orient and we thus decided to try it this night, as it was close to Green Cay. Overall, we were not terribly impressed, although we will probably give it another chance in the future, as Eric was sick, and that affected my opinion also. Eric and I both had a goat cheese salad, although different ones. They were both HUGE, and Eric enjoyed his, but I did not particularly enjoy mine, as it just seemed like lettuce with a couple of huge hunks of goat cheese. Eric had the snapper, which he said was decent. I had the pork tenderloin, which I found somewhat tough. There were at least two large groups in attendance at the restaurant, one of 6 and one of 8, so I think that probably affected our service, which we found to be very slow and not very professional. The prices seemed very close to Grand Case prices and the entire experience just not close.. After dinner, we were back to the villa by 9:30 and Eric went to bed. This was one occasion when I wished that Green Cay had some actual US TV stations to watch (as opposed to just CNN, HBO, and a few French stations.)
Saturday, as could be expected, the Club O beach was pretty empty. We were feeling pretty smug at this point, as normally we come down on Saturday and leave on Saturday and we knew that we had 4 more full days coming, before we had to leave! Once again, we headed down to Baywatch for lunch, this time Eric opting for the scallop Caesar salad and I had the meatball platter. Eric was feeling better from the cold today, so we enjoyed a nice day on the beach.
Saturday evening, we went to Rainbow and had a glass of wine on their upper deck, which is quite lovely. The sunset was obscured and a little disappointing. We didn't see any decent sunsets any night of the trip, about the only disappointment I can think of. Thereafter, we headed to LE COTTAGE for dinner. I had the shrimp and crab appetizer (WOW!), Eric had a fish combo appetizer, I had the chicken with mushrooms, and Eric had fish again!!. We very much wished that we had room for dessert, but alas, no room! The meal was fabulous, as was the service. As at many of the establishments in Grand Case, Le Cottage accepts 1 to 1 for cash payments, so we paid in cash.
After dinner, we headed out to Princess Casino and thereafter to Tropicana, losing a little at each before heading home to a restful night's sleep.
Sunday was to be our day to switch rooms, from Green Cay to Cole's Party Villa in Guana Bay. We had checked with Green Cay the day before, and found that no one was coming into our villa until Monday, so they said we could stay in the room as long as we wanted. We decided to laze around the villa in the morning and cook burgers on the grill for lunch. We listened to Jimmy Buffet on the CD player till around 2, and then took off for Guana Bay. It's a tough life. The fact that we were packing up to move to another place, as opposed to going home, made it much more palatable. We packed up all our dirty clothes and stuff we knew we wouldn't be needing, in one suitcase, everything else in the other, so unpacking would be less of a chore.
Cole's Party Villa is a two bedroom two bath unit located at Geo Villas on Guana Bay. Make sure you get good directions to the page, as it's easy to find once you've been there once, but hard to find without proper directions. It is 20 minutes drive to Orient, 25 minutes drive to Dolphin Casino. Particularly going to Orient, you are going along the back roads, so there is almost no chance of getting stuck in any traffic.
Cole's place is more for the independent traveler than one who expects hotel services. Just think of it as staying at someone's house, where if there isn't enough toilet paper, you run to the store to get some, and you'll do fine.
The unit consists of a bedroom with a queen bed on the first floor, 2 bathrooms on the first floor, a living room/kitchen/dining area on the first floor, and the 2nd bedroom with 2 twin beds on the second floor, and a probably 8 by 10 outside deck. The living room has Dutch side cable TV, a CD/cassette player, and a VCR. The main bedroom has a clock radio. The bathroom does NOT have a hair dryer. There is NO safe. There are separate a/c units for each of the bedrooms and the living room/kitchen area. The kitchen has coffee pot, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, and toaster, but not a blender. The refrigerator is a full sized one, and does NOT have an ice maker, but there are plenty of ice cube trays. There was a good selection of dishes, glasses and pots and pans.
In the closet for use by renters were a decent sized cooler, boogie boards, beach towels and one of those beach tents. You have a wonderful view of Guana Bay from the deck and it is only a couple of minutes walk there, but it appears that there are no regular services there (chairs/umbrellas/etc for rent), and no natural shade, so the tent may well come in useful.
The small deck has two chaise lounge chair and a some dining chairs and dining height table. The deck gets the morning sun and afternoon shade, and a constant cooling breeze. We had zero mosquitoes there. (EXCEPT for the couple which we apparently transported from Green Cay, which flew out when we opened the bags!)
There is a shared pool for the complex, which appeared pretty lightly used. It seemed that probably half of the units were occupied by fairly permanent residents. The pool has walk-in steps and there are several chairs and tables there, but no umbrellas. The pool appeared very clean and clear, although the only body we saw in it was a dog that belonged to one of the residents!
We arrived at Cole's place around 3, took a turn around, dumped our stuff off and headed out to Buccaneer Beach Bar for a few drinks. Neil has had a band on Sunday night for around a month–4 to 7 PM, which was nice. We had a very brief shower there, but nothing serious. Hopefully he will be able to continue the band, as they were nice.
For dinner, we headed to PEG LEG PUB, and I enjoyed the sirloin kabobs (which were HUGE, and I took half home in a doggy bag, which I enjoyed as a midnight snack one night–not sure which!), and Eric the sirloin steak. We did miss seeing Shawn, as he was off that night. We made the mistake of going back to Dolphin Casino (even though we previously had promised ourselves that we wouldn't return there this trip!) and lost a little bit of money. We headed back to Cole's place for the night, which took about 25 minutes from Dolphin.
Monday morning Eric made me an omelette for breakfast, and we headed out to Orient, as usual. The trip to Orient takes about 20 minutes from Cole's place. On the way to Orient, we stopped at Food Fair and got a rotisserie chicken to go. It was only $5, which is much cheaper than some of the places we have gotten them on the French side lately. I asked the lady (quite nicely, I thought!) to cut it for us and she said "NO!". OK, I think maybe she thought I wanted her to cut it in pieces, but I just wanted her to whack it in half. Anyhoo, we had brought along a paring knife, so cutting it ourselves turned out to be no problem... The weather was a little windy on Monday, but not to the "sandblast" stage and we were able to enjoy a very nice day on the beach, and a wonderful lunch of chicken, wine, grapes and cheese.
We had made arrangements to meet ocbill at the Oasis at Ocean Club at 6 on Monday. We chatted with Jill and Bert for a while before Bill showed up. Bert was hobbling around, having broken a toe, but otherwise they seemed good. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and a nice conversation with Bill, before heading out to Grand Case for dinner.
We had planned to go to Alabama for dinner, and were disappointed to find it closed this evening. There didn't seem to be a common night when the restaurants were closed, but many were closed for one night or so during the week. OK, we had wanted to get to LA CALIFORNIA anyway, so we headed there instead! That's the beauty of SXM, and why we never make a reservation. If we can't get in to the restaurant we were thinking of, just keep walking 20 feet and there will be another fantastic restaurant! That's got to be one of the things we love best about SXM!!
We were surprised when ZouZou from California recognized us right away as we walked up. The restaurant was really somewhat full, so they were doing a nice business that night. Eric had the melted brie and bacon appetizer, I had the french onion soup, Eric had the salmon pasta and I the chicken stuffed with lobster. All of it was wonderful. Since they always take your picture and give it to you at California–and what is the picture without one of their fabulous ice cream desserts in it!!!–, we had to have the various kinds of chocolate ice cream. Somehow, we managed to finish all of that! Then they brought out the bottle of Ma DouDou!! We shared some shots with the table next to us, and let them know how to find the ‘factory", and caught them up on which flavors are the best! We're such great humanitarians, you know, helping out poor lost travelers.....
Tuesday was another full day on Orient, and we actually had to pay for beach chairs again! We had bought the weekly pass at Orient on the previous Monday. The weekly pass is now up to $90 for the week (buy 5 days, get 7 days, as the price per day now for 2 chairs and an umbrella is $18 per day...) The chair guy gave us the 2 chairs and umbrella for the last day for $10, which was certainly nice of him. For lunch, we again headed to Andy and Cheryl's and I tried their famous Margarita Shrimp for the first time! Trust me, medium spice, for a kind of a gastronomic chicken like me, is just about enough! These guys kind of sneak up on you!!! Eric had the fish and chips.
After another hard day at the beach, we showered by the guard shack at Club O and met up with the owner of a villa on Orient to tour his villa. He will be an advertiser here on TTOL as soon as the website is up, and his villa is great! At least for the price, although it does not have a pool.
Dinner found us again at Bistrot Caribes. I had their lovely lobster bisque, Eric the blue cheese special salad. I had their HUGE rib-eye (which I left most of, sadly..) and Eric had the shrimp and scallop special. That was enough, sadly, no dessert for us tonight. We headed out to Tropicana and then to Atlantis, losing a little at both, before heading home LATE, around 2 AM... Now, why we would pick the night before we go home to stay up later than we had the whole trip is beyond me.. College education is sometimes wasted on the foolish.....
All right, well, all good things must come to an end, so too this trip! Wednesday was our day to go home. We had breakfast and cleaned up the villa and headed out to the airport around 10:30 to check in and check our bags. We were noticing that everyone in front of us was taking forever to check in. Apparently the flight going back to Charlotte was going to be late, and thus they were re-booking many people on other flights. We had (once again) booked Charlotte, trying to avoid Philly, but it seems that was not to be. They told us we would miss our connection back to DC if we took the Charlotte flight, so we were placed on the Philly flight
Since the Philly flight was not due to leave until around 4:30, we knew that we basically would have almost the whole day in SXM, and contemplated going to the beach. But, since we didn't have any towels and I didn't fancy going home without a real proper shower, we decided to go and spend a few hours at MS B'S at Dawn Beach instead. We split one order of chicken and ribs, with salad and garlic bread. Cost was around $12 without drinks, I think. Her ribs are really good, and frankly, I would probably advise to skip the chicken, and just get all ribs. The chicken was a boneless skinless piece of chicken and seemed kind of dry. The ribs were wonderful as always. We spent a lovely couple of hours on Dawn, before heading back to the airport and stopping by Ric's on the way.
DINNER ON THE BEACH A lot of people continue to ask about the concept of doing a private dinner on the beach in SXM. We didn't ask Fabulous Feasts about that particular thing, but they do LOTS of different things, so you might ask them about that, if you don't want to do the "dinner in the villa" thing. We did ask the waitress at Ms B's if they still do it, and she said "YES". She gave us an email address to contact them at, which is firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, remember that you can get the folks at Mary's Boon to set you up a table on the beach there–arranged ahead of time. BUT the menu will be whatever they are serving in the regular dining room that night, so check the menu there and pick your night accordingly.
TIP TO MAKE GOING HOME MORE PALATABLE
On the way to the airport, we stopped at RIC'S and got a carry-out chef salad and an order of chicken tenders. We separated them there at Ric's into the two containers and carried them on to have for dinner on the plane. This was much better than the lame turkey and cheese sandwich they had on the plane.
The Charlotte flight left about an hour late going home, so we definitely would have missed our connection, had we stayed on that flight. Our flight to Philly was on time and pretty empty, arriving in Philly on time. Of course, there was the standard BS in Philly--no gate available, and then no one to drive the docking mechanism to the plane. It "only" took 25 minutes from when we landed until they opened the doors to the plane. That was probably a record for our flights through Philly. Immigration was quick, since this was a Wednesday night and the flight less than half full. We had ample time in Philly to grab something to eat but we weren't hungry because we had eaten our meal from Ric's.
The plane arrived back in DC without incident and we arrived at our house around 12:30 AM. Our poor pooch, Simba, was so glad to have us home after 11 days, he stayed up until after 2 A.M. whining for us to play with him, which was really sad for Eric, since he had to go to work the next day. Since I work for myself, I took Thursday off.....
CONCLUSION–We had a lovely, memorable trip. We can't wait to go back.
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