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Trip Report ejcrowe -- trip report to Anguilla. Better late than pregnant!

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I've been posting my trip report on my blog. There are a few accompanying photos. too. We had a great trip, but it was off to a seriously rocky start. We ended up getting to Anguilla almost 24 hours late, but we were thankful to get there at all!

http://asthecrowefliesandreads.blogspot.com

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    ej,
    Wow, I admire your tenacity! I would have probably settled for a few days in Puerto Rico but Shoal Bay East is one of the very few places that might have tempted me to suffer all your outbound hassle.

    Great blog, kudos to you

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    I'm glad you finally got to Anguilla. We've had some delays here and there in our travels, but that was a difficult one.

    We also enjoyed Shoal Bay and agree that it was one of the best beaches we've been on. Also the restaurants on Anguilla were fabulous. We stayed next door to Ku at Shoal Bay Villas. Yes, it is a bit older but the view from our ocean front balcony was just the best. We have never had a balcony that close to the sand in our many years of going to the Caribbean. The people at SBV were so nice and accomodated anything we asked of them with a smile.

    We would like to return there one day and would definitely stay at www.sbvillas.ai again.

    Since then we have moved on to Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos for the last 3 years. The beach is also one of the best, the restaurants are also fabulous, and the fact that it is so easy to get there keeps us coming back.

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    Thanks for reading, y'all! I've just updated the blog to include part three, which has more pictures per paragraph than the first two parts.

    http://asthecrowefliesandreads.blogspot.com/2010/10/too-much-of-good-thing-really-can-be.html

    TPAYT, I also liked the looks of SHoal Bay Villas and I'd definitely consider them for the future. One of these days I'd love to get to Provo, but I'd have to be a silver-tongued devil at this point to divert my husband's attendion from Anguilla!

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    http://s708.photobucket.com/albums/ww90/TMPAYT/Turks%20and%20%20Caicos/?albumview=slideshow

    See any similarities between Shoal Bay and Grace Bay? I would say that the only differences are the lack of beach bars on Grace Bay.

    One reason we liked Ocean Club West www.oceanclubresorts.com was the bar and casual restaurant right on the beach. The original Ocean Club Resort was a little remote for us. We liked being able to walk to many restaurants from Ocean Club West.

    Now that the weather is changing in Wisconsin I am dreaming of the beach again. If it's Sept., it's Europe and if it's March, it's the beach. Grace Bay here we come!

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    Sounds like you made lemonade out of lemons; your travel luck is frighteningly similar to mine.

    Interesting that you had the same impressions of Ku that I did ... except when I stayed there, it was February and I'd paid high season rates for a shower that wouldn't drain, doors that wouldn't open, etc. When I posted my review on TA, I got abuse because I was told I couldn't expect ANYTHING decent on Anguilla for a "mere" $400/night. Sheesh.

    And Veya -- it's the BEST! Sorry you had a bad experience at Aguaviva in SJ -- so far, I've had nothing but great experiences.

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    Here's the (delayed) final installment. Photos found at http://asthecrowefliesandreads.blogspot.com

    Thanks for reading!

    Monday, day of departure.

    Having packed most of my stuff the night before, I’m free the morning of departure to walk the sands of Shoal Bay East one more time. Again, I’m the only person on the beach, but this time my head is distracted by our imminent departure. Last days like this are always hard because I feel stuck in limbo and my mind is too distracted even to read; there’s the obvious feeling of yes, I’m sad to be leaving Anguilla. But then there are the more mundane thoughts, too, such as weighing the pros of taking one last swim in that gorgeous water against the cons of having to travel home with damp clothing in my suitcase and knowing damn well that the clothes will mildew in my bag by the time I finally get around to unpacking the bags. It’s times like these that I wish skinny dipping weren’t frowned upon, as it would be the perfect solution.

    After taking a few last photos, I head back to the room for coffee and breakfast, making just enough noise to rouse DH and DG without making it seem like I was trying to wake them. After a light repast, the three of trudge out to the beach one more time, this time slowly, deliberately. My husband and I know each other well enough to realize that we’re trying to take it all in, one last time. Trying to memorize every sight, scent, and sound, trying to make it all count.

    Eventually we have to acknowledge that our time is up, so after changing into our traveling clothes, I head to reception to check out while DH and DH load the car. Leaving Ku, we make a few detours to toss out our leftover food along the roadside. We left a few things in the fridge in case our housekeeper wanted some extra coffee, bottled water, eggs, or jam but the remaining food we deboned and otherwise made animal friendly –I made sure that the black & white cat got our leftover chicken livers from SandBar.

    We elected to go straight to the airport to check in and then make for the Café at Veya for a leisurely lunch. We were the first to arrive, so after placing our orders, we made ourselves at home while the cook was still readying herself for the day. Luckily for us, Veya had recently adopted a kitten from AARF, and he kept us entertained while waiting for our panini and salad. The little guy was adorable and funny and quite vocal, and, at least momentarily, he distracted us from our Leaving Anguilla Blues.

    The food itself was quite good. DH enjoyed the spinach salad and DG and I enjoyed our panini, but we especially loved the freshly prepared Johnny cakes and the iced tea, which was sweetened with a simple syrup and flavored with fresh lime & orange juices and a hint of ginger. In fact, the only drawback that we could find about the Café at Veya was the very still air. A ceiling fan would have done wonders, but I’m not sure how you could install one on a pergola. In fact, we felt so hot and sticky after lunch that clearly our only option was to return to Kel’s for some more ice cream before heading back to the airport!

    After our ice cream detour, we still had ample time before returning to the airport so we did a little driving around so that DG could see just a little bit more of Anguilla. We drove toward Crocus Bay and stopped to make a few pictures. Then we doubled back toward town to photograph the Wallblake House and the Catholic church next door. Eventually we ran out of ways to procrastinate, however, and made our way back to the airport.

    Travel home was uneventful. Why is it that bad weather and cancellations only happen at the beginning of a vacation and never at the end? We would have gladly stayed in Anguilla one more night—or more! Alas, it was not to be. Dreaded Island Fever is as strong as ever, so with the advent of another New England winter, planning my next trip is the only thing that ensures I make it to spring without going mad.

    A few parting thoughts:

    I started traveling to the Caribbean with the man who became my DH in 2011, not quite ten years ago, and now that we’ve tried Anguilla, it’s the first island that makes me want to forsake all others. I doubt we will. Forsake all others, that is. We’ll flirt with them here and there, and like many relationships, the flirting will enhance our feelings for Anguilla and make us appreciate it all the more. But while I’m happy to have found a place that feels like home, I sometimes worry about all of the other, new experiences I’m missing out on because I keep being drawn back to Anguilla.

    Car rental – We rented from Ronnie Bryan again, and I was a little surprised at our interactions. Hubert was a real help and a tribute to Ronnie in his efforts to communicate with us while we were in San Juan to see if we could get alternative transport to Anguilla. Merlyn, the woman who was supposed to take care of the paperwork, was a different case, however. Part of our lack of communication was, I’m sure, not having a working phone in our rooms. But the ladies at Ku were good about calling Merlyn and leaving her voicemail about where we would be and at what times, so that she could bring the paperwork to us. Still, we never heard from her. It was only the day before we left that she came by with the paperwork, but she didn’t have a total for me and seemed surprised when I asked for one. I was reluctant to sign a credit card receipt with no total attached to it, but I let it pass. Once we got home, I had an email from Merlyn letting me know that my debit card hadn’t been charged yet because they were having trouble running it through. And then she proceeded to list the full debit card number AND expiration date in a completely insecure email, just to see if she wrote down my number correctly. I was appalled! I wrote her back immediately to let her know that it was unprofessional and inappropriate to put a customer’s sensitive information like that in an email, but that she should call me with any future questions about my card.

    East side vs west side – I think I discovered on this trip that I prefer visiting Shoal Bay East rather than staying there. My husband was just the opposite, however. He’d set up shop at Ku for every future trip if he had his druthers. I also think that we still need to explore the east side quite a bit more since we didn’t do much on this short trip—we wanted “sure things” with our granddaughter and thus took her only to places that were known quantities for us, so we were mainly traipsing to the west side. I may or may not stay at Ku in the future. If the price were right and if it were off season, I’d consider it. But despite its superior location, I feel that there are too many other, better options in the same price range. However, one thing that I was dreading before the trip turned out to be merely a trifle, and that’s the driving back to Shoal Bay East every evening after dinner. True, it meant I never had more than 1-2 cocktails or glasses of wine, but to be honest, I rarely drink more than that with dinner, even if I’m not driving.

    A last word on Ku – Because we paid up front for our travel package for four nights (which got broken down to $188/night in the package) but only actually stayed there for three nights, I inquired whether Ku would be willing to make sure we received full value for what we paid. I would never expect or ask for a full refund on the unused portion of our stay, but I suggested that they might give me a credit or voucher for future use—either a future one night stay, or a credit to use in their restaurant or boutique. This seemed reasonable to me at the time and still seems reasonable. However, the answer was an emphatic and resounding “no” – not even a partial credit.

    I may take the matter up with American Airlines Vacations, who was the booking agent for this trip. But I may just let the matter rest. And it’s for that reason, if for no other, that I wouldn’t want to return to Ku. Not only did we NOT have a restaurant & bar on site that was promised, and on top of that, they didn’t even follow through with their offer of preparing a limited breakfast to be delivered to our rooms; not only was the phone out of service, but our internet, too—on top of that, the management did not seem at all interested in making sure we had a pleasant experience despite all of the issues, and they made it abundantly clear that they would not budge on giving us even partial credit. And so despite the fine location and the reasonable rate, I simply cannot bear the thought of giving my hard-earned money to an establishment that clearly places very little value on customer satisfaction –all the more criminal for being a part of the so-called hospitality industry. I run a small business at home and if we displayed such a callous disregard to our customers, we’d soon have very few.

    But, oh, Anguilla. How I do miss you!

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    All I can say is, yes we loved Shoal Bay and given the right circumstances we would return to Shoal Bay Villas, but take a look at Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos---we're headed back for the 4th time in March '11. Anguilla is just too hard to get to, TCI, extremely easy.

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