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T&C report 12/9-16

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It’s a little long, bare with me.

Stayed at the Sands Dec 9-16 with our 2 daughters (5,7). Had a good time overall tho experienced some unusual bad weather the first half of the trip. This was more or less a tale of 2 cities vacation for us. Even the food tasted better the second half. You know how everyone says ignore the weather reports in the caribbeans. Well this time the reports were close enough. The first 2 days we didnt see any sun.

We enjoyed the Sands. Spacious 1 bedroom suite ,full kitchen, nice screened balcony. location is as convenient as it gets I thought. One of the biggest pluses is having Hemingways around - never had a bad meal there.
The beach was as advertised but when the weather was bad it was seaweed galore especially by the sands. Walking toward grace bay club the beach was noticeably cleaner and other resorts cleaned their area a little faster I noticed. Had no problem with the service tho I had to "remind" them to bring the water bottles after the first 2 days. I was only able to get internet in the room for one day but you can use the 2 computers at the hospitality room or bring your laptop there.
The lush gardens at the sands require a lot work, which sometimes means an early wake-up call from workers singing at 7 am which didnt bother me (I found it soothing) but kept disrupting my wife’s beauty sleep. No constructions however near the sands.
There is a small convenient store on the property that has bread, milk, cereal, batteries, pretty much all the essentials.
Took some long walks both directions. The somerset looked pretty neat - not for kids. Palms seamed so peaceful, I almost expected someone to yell "GUARDS!" when we passed by the pool with the kids. Beaches felt like one of those big mexico village resorts where kids treated like kings and adults sit around the yellow pool bar.
As far as kids are concerned, the sands was perfect for us. Always something to eat at hemingways, nice pool including a kiddie pool, and just enough families to make friends. They had a blast.
It was fun taking the hobie cat to coral gardens to snorkel (not sure if we were allowed - probably not). Otherwise its a 30 minute walk. While snorkeling there I kept hearing whisling and yelling something like "move to the other side of the orange thingy" so me and a group of 6 or so were convinced that
the yelling is toward some idiot who went outside of the orange circle. After all it was many of us, right? It took us about 5 minutes and some pretty good snorkeling well inside the circle to realize we were the idiots.

Caicos dream tour - half day tour was interesting. The weather kinda turned on us midway and the wife got seasick while I was snorkeling. John the owner refunded her share and the kids’ which was very generous. Conch salad was great. Even though we didnt exactly have the time of our lives I recommend them.
Rented a car from scooter bob for one day. Drove to the IGA. Really enjoyed Sapodilla bay - still, shallow beautiful water, perfect for kids. A nice change of pace after a choppy grace bay at the time. There's no sign to it so just take the first dirt road on your left (I think that was it) when you are looking for it. And do continue on that road to see the scenic chalk sound. Ignore any pictures you saw till now.
Got caught in a rainstorm during lunch at the conch shack.. still managed to go to malcolm beach after the rain stopped and it turned out to be a mistake. The ocean was kinda rough and we decided not to stay. Not a pleasant drive especially with young kids and as mentioned numerous times before, you need high clearance vehicle to get there.
Overall I didnt find it necessary to rent a car for more than a day. The most we paid for a cab was $24 round trip to turtle cove (2 adults, 2 kids). A decent car will cost you $90 per.
Dining. Ok now pay attention. Grab a pen.
Overall this was even more expensive than we thought.. averaged about 150 for dinner . usually no drinks, appetizers, 2 entrees, pasta for kids, 2 desserts. Even some of the casual places like Iguanas were expensive. Restaurants sorted in order of visit
Bay Bistro - Good dinner. crepes, grouper, coconut crusted conch curry all very good especially the conch. Unfortunately the memorable thing for us was the terrible chocolate orange creme brulee special which sounded like a slam dunk, and the banana tart was very good but tiny. Fish and
chips for the kids were not good.
Breakfast (brunch) there was a big letdown for me. Brunch is really 5 additional breakfast choices at higher prices. So instead of plain pancakes you can get chocolate chip pancakes. They were out of mushrooms for my omelette and hash browns were barely eatable. Much better
breakfast at hemingways I thought. btw, to walk here from the sands means walking on the beach sand. Could get tricky and sticky at night - bring flashlights.
Coco Bistro - Disappointing to say the least. The wife didnt like her conch and grouper ravioli. The lobster was plainly grilled, good size, with white
rice. It was pretty good but not sure if its $39 worthy. If you planning to come anyway here's what you do. first make sure the weather is nice so you can sit outside as its kinda dull inside. Second, order the red and green pepper soup, take a good picture and send it back. It tastes like.. well, pepper, but the picture will draw more wows than the beach, trust me.. The Chocolate creme brulee was good but small. The kid's penne w/butter and chicken ($20!) wasnt very tasty.
Iguanas - We went on Carribean bbq night (monday). My wife got the all you can eat bbq ($30) and I ordered the peppercorn steak. lets just say we wound up sharing the steak which was delicious, grilled to perfection.
Conch shack - lunch was very Good. Conch salad, conch fritters all very good. Not sure if I would call it a must do especially if you not a big fan of the conch.
Tiki Hut - was just ok for us. good conch chowder, ribs. jerk snapper was flat, rubbery, a little fishy, and dry. otherwise it was great. we skipped dessert this time. By this time, I’m not very happy with this island. My wife suggested to go to Magnolia after several people recommended it. And I was like “sure, what do I know”.
Magnolia - finally a great dinner. nice setting. plenty of room between tables makes a difference. everything in the appetizer sampler was very good so you cant go wrong there. I called ahead to make sure they have the grouper special, they did and it was great, and so was the seared tuna.. I wound up eating the kids chocolate ice cream for dessert since they seized control of my chocolate cake.
Coyaba - Amazing. Forget about trying to keep the bill down once you see the menu. the lobster bisque was probably the best ever. Great conch Roti appetizer special. Their famous lobster Thormidor so good the wife didnt want to share it. I complained to the waitress who seamed a little worried at first. I had a tough time deciding what to get here. There were more specials on this extensive menu than regulars. To give you an idea, they had 3 different lobster dishes and both pork and lamb osso buccos. finally settled on the pork osso bucco with some help and it was good. good size too.. couldnt finish it. The kids had pasta. It doesnt mention that anywhere but with kids under 12 they book you at 6. That was fine with me.. by the time we left it was packed. the creme brulee was amazing as well. A must have.
We both agreed that it was one of the best dinners ever. That includes some great restaurants in NY, London, Paris, and more.
Hemingways - ate here quite a bit including the last dinner, and enjoyed every meal. Nice setting, large portions. Great fish and chips. nice grouper fajitas. didnt care much for the black bean soup. for dinner good mahi special, very good lobster pasta, rum cake, best and biggest conch chowder of the trip by far.
Also, had a very good breakfast at the salt mills one day. 10 minute walk.
Anyway, this is it. By the end of this trip the conclusion was that we’ll be back. I’ll post pictures very soon.

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