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Island-Hopping in the CaribbeanAuthor: Lydia B.
Date of Trip: January 2006
I have the good fortune to have some wonderful clients. One of these clients happens to be a private jet pilot. He felt the need to practice and build up flying hours, so he invited my husband and I to join him on some touch and goes in the Caribbean for a week.
We began our sojourn in Ft. Lauderdale, where our seven passenger citation jet was waiting for us at a private jet port, along with the co-pilot (a seasoned pilot flying shot gun). We were off to our first destination -- Turks & Caicos.
It was my first trip to this desolate (and soon to be overdeveloped) island. At the moment it plays home to a Club Med, a Beaches resort and a lot of condo properties. I did not get to see the Parrot Club, which could have been the highlight, but instead stayed in a little two-star property, which some of you may remember as "Le Dec" (it may be the first hotel on Grace Bay). While the rooms were not deluxe, they were nicely appointed and clean. The property was well maintained. The staff was gracious and they have a fabulous beachside restaurant/bar, where we spent much of our time. We were surrounded on both sides by condo properties which looked very nice.
There is no "town" to speak of and not much in the way of shopping, if that's your thing. The beach is fabulous and the water sports on the various islands are wonderful. I suggest that you bring a box of books and some sun screen, lay back and do nothing. It's not for the active set or those looking for night life.
Next day, off to Antigua. We have rooms reserved at the Inn at English Harbour, which is on the opposite end of the island from the airport, but not a bad taxi ride. The view from the hotel was marvelous, the restaurant grand, but alas, our rooms were in need of renovation. My shower backed up and was unusable and no help was to be found. I truly enjoyed the beauty of this island, but I do prefer to be closer to St John's. There's a bit more activity, but it was a lovely experience just watching the yachts come into the harbor from our hillside view.
Next stop -- St. Lucia today. It's a short flight and just marvelous to have customs come onboard and clear you on the plane. We walked off and went directly to the taxi and to the hotel. All travel should be like this.
We were booked at a hotel called Coco Palms (sister hotel to the Coco Creole next door). A wonderful surprise. Although the hotel is not on the beach (10 minute walk), the rooms and pool area made up for it. It's a lovely small property, run by the former director of tourism for St. Lucia. We learned that the hotel is used as a training ground for hoteliers. Even though the staff were all in training, the service was wonderful. There's a lovely poolside restaurant which we ate breakfast and lunch at -- very nice.
We left the property for dinner and had a wonderful experience at a restaurant called The Buzz ( I believe the name comes from one the drinks -- The Buzz Stinger), but it was dining al fresco. Casual, good food, great atmosphere and only a five minute taxi ride from the Coco Palm.
Off to St. Kitts! I felt like I was landing in Ireland; the lush green mountain ranges were simply beautiful. Our hotel is a two-star motel type on the fringes of the new Marriott St. Kitts. The properties are like night and day! We stayed at the Frigate Bay Resort, which is very old, laid back and suited our purpose to a tee. The staff was wonderful and couldn't do enough for us. Take note: this is not for people with a handicap, there are stairs everywhere, it is very spread out and there are no bell boys to carry your luggage. I imagine they get a lot of English and Canadians staying for a month or two at a time as the set up is en suite with kitchenettes, etc. They have a nice pool bar.
There is no beach, but you can walk to one if you are in good shape. St. Kitts is not noted for its beaches (and the brown sand), so if you have time, take the ferry over to Nevis for the day and experience paradise. Our excursion to the north side of the island for dinner that evening was an event -- we hired a driver to take us to the Golden Lemon, a wonderful restaurant located in a 17th Century Great House -- and the ride took about 45 minutes over poor roads in total darkness. Kids -- don't try this at home! It was worth the trip and proved to be a true dining experience. The atmosphere was just what I expected and what I had imagined it would be like after hearing about this treasure for years. The location is on a black sand volcanic beach. Couldn't see too much at night nor did we get to see any of the guest rooms, but what we did see was marvelous.
Last day, flying home via San Juan with a stop in Key West for lunch before returning to our mundane existence. There is no other way to travel for me any more. I am totally spoiled.
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