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Trip Report T&C August 2005

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This was an unplanned trip – DH and myself had already been to Jamaica in April/May, but when our son finally got his Green Card approved it seemed the perfect time to take him on vacation and hang out, just the 3 of us, for a week.

We looked into Florida but since Coral Gardens were doing a ‘2 nights for 1’ it made it more affordable and easier to arrange since I’d already researched the island for our previous vacation (thanks HowardC for all your posts) they didn’t have availability in April so we went to Jamaica and had a wonderful time.

I won’t bore you with the trouble we had renewing DS’s passport when we realized that it’d expired, this was AFTER I’d booked the flights and hotel and it did look for a while as though he wouldn’t be going  luckily the British Embassy in Washington DC came through and we received the passport the night before we needed it. At least now we’re OK for the next 10 years but it was a very, very, very stressful week.

We flew out of Boston, since it was a 6:30am flight and we had to be at the airport at 3:30 we stayed overnight at the Four Points Sheraton in Revere using www.parksleepfly.com this is the second time we’ve used this website, it cost $149 for the room and parking for up to 10 days. Nice clean spacious double/double room.

We had a connection in Charlotte, the flight down there was full but uneventful and after a 2.5 hr layover we boarded the flight to Provo, there were lots of empty seats. I encouraged DS to take the empty row in front of us and sleep but he decided to try to stay awake, yeah right! He spent most of the trip snoring with his head on my shoulder. I don’t sleep on aircraft – I’m too worried that I might drool! 

When we landed at Provo I was very impressed how Customs coped with 2 flights arriving close together, they opened all the booths and we were through within 10 minutes of landing. Most people were cleared before the baggage came through. Very, very efficient and a very friendly welcome.

Outside we looked for the driver to Coral Gardens, we waited for a good 10 minutes while DH called Coral Gardens and was told “He’s on his way”, he turned up soon after. Was this why we were given a ‘complimentary upgrade’ from a 1 bedroom unit to a 1 bedroom Grande Suite? Frankly, I don’t know and seriously, I don’t care 

We were in room 1102, oceanfront on the ground floor, wonderfully easy to get to the pool, the beach bar and best of all - the beach!

The room was very spacious, the living area has a wonderful feature where the front (5 patio doors) and the side (which has 3 doors) tuck completely into the walls, this opens the room to the terrace and the view outside – we had them open whenever we were in the room. There was a ‘moat’ outside which was nearly empty when we arrived – apparently it had a leak and they were emptying it to find the problem – It’s a pity Mother Nature had different ideas!


The kitchen was a good size although the appliances were old and yellowed – I assume this is the owner’s choice since other units had stainless steel appliances. While the units were in good condition the worktops were a little chipped on the edges and the bar sink was rusting around the edge but what the h*ll it was clean and I wasn’t cooking anyway 


Bedroom was a good size with lots of storage (a large chest of drawers, a smaller chest of drawers and a nightstand), a walk-in closet and a patio door to the terrace. The bathroom was huge! Double sinks, a corner bath and large separate corner shower, also a bidet. We also had a Powder room. Since we’d been upgraded to the Grand suite we had a washer/dryer, I’ve never bothered with this as a feature when booking a vacation but I will take it into account for future trips, especially when traveling with a 16 year old who has his favorite 2 pairs of short and 3 t-shirts. Since he’s in charge of the laundry at home and was happy to take charge on vacation, it would have been nice to know we could have all traveled lighter.

I was under the impression that I’d booked a car from Coral Gardens but when we arrived at the resort all the cars were taken, Ricardo contacted Budget who agreed to honor the booking and arranged to collect us at 4pm. So after sitting around for 2 hours we went to the Lobby to be taken to the local Budget office.

Well, all I can say is that this is our vacation we’ve already wasted 2 hours waiting for a car so, when they didn’t turn up by 4:20 we were bored and irritated - we asked Ricardo to cancel the booking and booked a taxi to take us to IGA to stock up on snack things. On Tuesday we booked our own transport through Avis, wonderful prompt service and I think the car we booked through them was better for the terrain.

Sunday was a beautifully sunny day and we decided to enjoy the beach and allow our son to ‘chill out’. We snorkeled and saw a 4ft+ long barracuda, I thought he was cool and did get some good pictures later in the week but DH wasn’t happy at all. He headed for the loungers while I swam around the roped off area a couple of times. Luckily all the week that we were there was always someone in the sea so I didn’t worry about snorkeling alone.

I did take a walk along the beach and walked as far as the Sands, Somebody posted here a while ago that the Sands is a 20 minute walk, ok, my legs aren’t that long but it took me over 1hr there and back – perhaps I dawdle but isn’t that what vacations are for? We decided to ‘eat in’ Sunday evening on the terrace watching the sun go down – Pate, cheeses, crusty bread, tomatoes and red wine – wonderful!

Monday, to say the least it was wet! It rained all day so we opened the doors and watched the rain while we read and watched TV. DS had a book report to finish for school; DH had some work to do and I’d bought a book at the airport – I’d already read The Other Boleyn Girl so I was looking forward to reading The Queens Fool by Phillipa Gregory, wonderful book, perfect for curling up on a lounger during a thunderstorm. We ate the complimentary breakfast at the Beach Café, a large serving of pancakes and maple syrup, DH had an omlette and DS had scrambled eggs and toast, we repeated this scenario most days apart from the day when I had crepes instead or I skipped breakfast altogether.

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    Tuesday, the rain stopped by lunchtime. We took a walk along the beach in the morning before we were then collected from the resort and shuttled to the airport to rent a Terios from Avis. We drove back to the resort via IGA and collected more snack stuff - Remember we’re traveling with a 5ft 8” 16yr old boy who I swear has hollow legs, where on earth does he put it all?

    DH and I decided to explore the island so we headed for Leeward Marina, we stopped at Ports of Call mall and bought postcards and stamps on the way back. We stopped at Hemingway’s for a late lunch and shared Conch, garlic bread and crab cakes from the appetizer menu all very tasty - $36 for the 2 of us including tip and 2 drinks. The resort looked very nice, we had thought of staying there but since DH needed to be online for some of the time and The Sands didn’t reply to my emails asking how reliable the internet connection was, we booked the Coral Gardens instead partially because Marcine was very prompt when replying to emails.

    In the evening we did a ‘Glow worm’ tour, this was a trip around Sapodilla Bay with snacks (salsa, dips etc) and free drinks. Glow worms are basically the seas’ version of fire flies! We didn’t see as many as I expected but we had fun.

    Wednesday, weather was wonderful so lots of snorkeling, we went to the Tiki Hut for a late lunch and shared a nachos appetizer, DS had ribs, DH had a panini and I had fish tacos which were delicious, we had 2 drinks each and the total was $83 including tip for the 3 of us. Apparently Wednesday is their ‘Rib and Chicken’ night but we were there at 3ish so we were too early. That evening we watched a lightning cloud from our terrace, the first I’d seen so I thought it was rather cool – DS lost interest after a couple of minutes 

    Thursday – it was raining again when we woke up, by now the moat outside our room was a foot deep in water but rather smelly and green. Luckily the weather cleared up quickly and DS and DH were able to go on a Jet Ski tour, they did the 2 hour tour and DS drove for most of the trip, they both loved it, needless to say I snorkeled  Thursday was the first day I saw a turtle, I also saw a couple of stingrays. Damn, forgot the waterproof cameras!

    Thursday afternoon however left a sour taste in my mouth. After a quick trip to the IGA we got back to CG at 2ish and decided to hit the beach. I saw Charles and as I approached he smiled and I asked if he had an Umbrella available, he said “wait a minute” and then proceeded to take $20 from non residents who ‘rented’ 2 umbrellas and 8 loungers.

    I was taken to a group of loungers further down the beach that had CG towels, shoes, and a book and sun cream on them. I declined to use the chairs and asked if there was an umbrella available, Charles said he would ask his boss and left. Luckily 10 minutes later an umbrella became available but Charles didn’t appear again until we left the beach and he was tidying up.

    That night I sent a mail to Coral Garden info but only received a reply from Marcine on 9/14, she had still not heard back from CG and was unaware that they were overbooking cars and renting umbrellas. BTW CG doesn’t have an office onsite, if you need anything just head to the Beach Bar. I have heard nothing from Marcine or Coral Garden since.

    We did take time to enjoy the ‘Martini’ night – wonderful prompt service, not an empty glass to be seen. Then we went to Iguana. I had Rack of Lamb, DS had Veggie Lasagna and DD had Curry. We all agreed that this was the best meal we had on Provo, no appetizer, 2 drinks each and 3 entrees and 1 dessert (me!) - $127 inc. tip

    Friday, it was drizzly in the morning but I snorkeled anyway, it does appear to be the best time, there are very few snorkelers around and if you just ‘hang’ there you see so many fish. The weather cleared up quickly so we hit the beach; luckily we were there early enough and managed to get an umbrella. This is an issue for me since I suffer from Melasma and have to use factor 60 on my face and stay out of direct sun or I get brown blotches all over my face.

    Friday evening we went to Coyaba, we had a nice meal with good service. DS didn’t fancy anything on the menu so he only ordered Coconut shrimp as an appetizer - more about his food choices later. I ordered Lamb Kofta which was one of the specials, it was served on a glass block (you know, they build walls out of them!!!!!) while it looked ‘interesting’ I’m only 5’1” tall so being served something that was an extra 2+” higher than the table, made me feel like a child, my elbows were up by my ears to eat this.

    Entrée’s, I had beef tenderloin and DH had Wahoo, DS didn’t order anything. The food was very nice and thankfully served on ordinary plates. We chose not to order dessert, ok I admit I had a dessert martini and DH had an espresso, he was rather relieved to discover that the coffee came with raw sugar – we generally have to ask for it in the US.

    So after the meal where DS has been a wonderful dinner companion but hasn’t eaten anything other than an appetizer – we went to the Beach Bar and he had a Bacon sandwich  and a milkshake.

    Saturday we were flying home but we had time for DH and DS to go parasailing while I snorkeled. I swam round the roped off area for a while and just ‘hung’ there, there was a couple who had an under water camera and he was taking lots of pictures. Just as I decided that I’d head back to shore, I saw a turtle out of the corner of my eye but the couple were heading the other way I snapped a couple of piccies and then tried to catch up with them. I finally managed to tap him on the leg and he looked at me rather shocked. I pointed towards the turtle, he looked and gave me the OK sign and headed off after the turtle with his wife. I do hope they got some good photos. I wonder how many times I’d missed the turtle.

    Coral Gardens – my thoughts, Overall a very nice resort, if I wanted to snorkel on Provo I wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else. It was nice to be able to snorkel, have breakfast, snorkel have lunch, snorkel have dinner 

    Housekeeping was a little hit & miss, generally the room wasn’t cleaned until 3pm and couple of days we returned to find small piles of sand in the middle of the floor - we joked about all of the Sci-Fi movies we’ve watched where someone get vaporized and ends up as a tiny pile of ashes on the floor  Most days we didn’t have a bath mat to put on the floor outside of the shower and we only had a towel in the Powder Room on 2 days, so we tended not to use the Powder Room.

    Provo was a wonderful island with no chain restaurants and not much shopping but I didn’t feel it was very ‘Caribbean’ and to be honest there isn’t too much to do – but since that’s what we were looking for we have no complaints.

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    Super trip report alya. We were at Coral Gardens early last Nov. and we enjoyed it mostly because the units were big and it is so close to the water. However, the unit we were in, 2nd floor on the right corner facing the water...12..something, we continually had the shower leaking into the bedroom. It was a real mess. Three times I told Richardo about it an no one ever came to take care of it. The kitchen was ok, little outdated but fine. The best part for us was the balcony overlooking the water, the sliding doors that opened up the walls (we could open the whole front and the side since we were in an end unit), and the spacious living room where we would watch TV in the evenings.

    We really enjoyed Coyaba for dinner one evening. The food was really excellent. My DH was close to licking the plate and this man is hard to impress. I was glad the dinner was part of the Luxury Link package because it would have cost us over $200 with all the courses, plus drinks and wine. I don't know if we ever paid that kind of money for a dinner.

    I saw their 2 for 1 special and was very tempted to go again but decided we should save our shekels for February and I need sun, sand and sea.

    I agree with you there isn't much to do expecially after dinner but that was ok with us.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    Nice trip report, Alya - thanks! We stayed down the beach a bit at Beaches last year but snorkeled up at Coral Gardens just about every day. You are right; when it showered everyone would scatter and leave us sometimes alone snorkeling. That was great - it's so nice to just "drift" and look. It feels like flying. Glad you enjoyed your trip. Will you be going back any time soon? I'm looking at the middle of July next year.

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    alya,
    I see that you finished your trip report and it was a good one.;)

    You sound just like me..I could snorkel allday long.Provo sounds like a place that I would enjoy.

    You saw a 4 foot barracuda..WOW..that would be cool!I always make sure that my jewelry is off..just in case I see one of them.

    Thanks again for sharing with us.:)

    Christie

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