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DISILLUSIONED WITH ST. BARTH'S

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Anse de Cays(area), St. BARTHS: 11 – 18 January 2008
After checking through customs and immigration, we went to the (name deleted) property management booth, but no one was there. After several inquiries, we found a greeter(name deleted), sweaty and schmoozing with a departing group. He finally came to our aid and requested a form that included our American Express number. Then he departed, leaving the form on the counter, with the exposed credit card number for anyone to view. I went after him again because I wanted a copy of that form, but he became somewhat defensive and stated he would take care of it. He then suggested that we obtain our vehicle at a booth across from his booth. We followed his suggestion, made the necessary vehicle arrangements and then had to seek him again. Once more, we found him schmoozing with another departing group. I mentioned that we were ready when he was finished with that group. Five minutes later, the signed form with our credit card number was still in my hand, not copied. A woman then entered the same property management booth and I asked her to provide me with a copy. She too seemed irritated by my request, but complied. Moments later, our greeter was in his vehicle, and we were in ours, on our way to our villa.
The villa and the pool were as we had recalled from the website and we were pleased. Unfortunately, throughout our stay, two dogs were running loose on the beach in front of our villa. One belonged to a full time resident next door. Both were leaving their urine and feces all over the beach. There were also pieces of broken glass on the beach. I used to collect beach or sea glass, and yes, I found a few of those. While snorkeling off the beach, I was shocked at the number of broken bottles along the bottom just off the beachfront. Apparently, individuals would throw their bottles from the shore or off the nearby bulkhead, which was adjacent to a town road, about a hundred feet north of our villa. The debris on the beach was extensive. Except in areas directly in front of brach front hotels, no one seems to take an interest in removing accumulated debris that washes up along the shoreline.
The most annoying aspect of our particular villa's location was the unending departure of aircraft overhead, just after taking off and veering left, directly over our villa from a little after 7:00 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. This was particularly frustrating in the later portion of an afternoon, when we wished to unwind in preparation for the evening.
Parking in Gustavia is very poor. Everyone I talked to admitted as such. We gave up seeking time to shop, much less eating dinner out, primarily because of the parking.
In terms of dining out, the restaurants were comparatively nice, some were unique, such as the La Marine with its Thursday night lobster barbeque, and the service was excellent everywhere. Sadly, as we were beginning to read the menu’s contents, and later reviewing a packet of menus provided by the properties management people, the listings were somewhat repetitive. Armed with that and the overall average quality of the food, the marketing hype about St. Barth’s cuisine is way overblown. Credits for this observation are based on being an author of a seafood purchase and preparation guide, having a nephew who owns four restaurants in New York city, and both my wife and I consider ourselves reasonably good cooks.
When it came time for our departure, no one made any effort to inquire of our stay, and again no one was at the property management booth. Until this review, we had not made any of our opinions known.
Note: Retain all your receipts and maintain a diary of sorts for potential problems or for personal interest.
Villas-Know when the staff is coming. A pool caretaker arriving at 6:15 a.m. is not pleasant. You do have options. Best to discuss this with the property management's staff at time of your reservation.

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