Sugar Mill or Long Bay

Aug 8th, 2004, 11:20 AM
  #1  
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Sugar Mill or Long Bay

Wanting to try BVI for our next Carib vaca upcoming in Nov/Dec.
Accomodations must include clean rooms, king size bed, cable tv and private balcony with large beach or ocean view. Considering Sugar Mill and Long Bay.
Is Sugar Mill newly renovated?
Is Long Bay a large resort?
We loved St.John for the island, Coral Gardens at T&C for the accomodations, however, enjoy trying new islands.
Thanks for any suggestions.
island_breeze is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 09:25 AM
  #2  
 
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We stayed at the Sugar Mill Resort last December and were very impressed with the facilities, dining and the staff. The only rooms with TV's are the suites and they are nicely decorated and spacious (see their website, sugarmillhotel.com I believe). The Sugar Mill is a small quiet romantic property winding up a hill with absolutely beautiful views. The award winning restaurant is the best on the island and has limited tables so staying there gives you preference for seating. You will need to rent a jeep to get around the sometimes mountainous roads--the views are amazing!
There is a small beach at the Sugar Mill with good swimming from the jetty. A large tropical beach is located at Cane Garden Bay where lounge rentals and watersports are available and is not too far away by jeep. We stayed most of the day at CGB and finished the day at the beach at the Sugar Mill. At Cane Garden Bay, Myett's offers delicous lunches and drinks. Try the conch fritters!
The staff at the Sugar Mill were helpful and courtious.
We saw the Long Bay Hotel and looked very nice but a little too big for us--it has received mixed reviews so you might do some research on this property.
We toured the Fort Recovery Estates (see website) which offered spacious nautical designed casual suites all with TV's. The grounds were lovely and they offer packages which may include a boat ride to Norman Island for snorkeling. The Manager, Pam, was very helpful and we were impressed with this property as well. The suites at Fort Recovery have kitchens and a cook is available by request.
Maureen is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 09:46 AM
  #3  
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Thanks Maureen, sounds like we like the same kind of quiet smaller resorts. We like to explore with Jeeps, how are the road conditions on the island? Are there many beaches?
-Jen.
island_breeze is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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I would also like to hear more about the Sugar Mill & Long Bay hotels. I'm considering both for a short trip next year with my husband and his granddaugther. We don't need lots of activities on site, but we are interested in a place with good food and a beach that offers some snorkeling and a chance to cool off in the water. Can you say more specifically about the beach? I know that it's small, but is it adequate for the number of guests at this small hotel? Are there umbrellas and chairs available? How long a walk from the pool/bar area to the beach if we wanted some refreshment? How far is Cane Garden Bay from there?

Thank you!
ejcrowe is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 01:51 PM
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I don't know about Suger mill but my mum went to long bay a year or two back and hated it. It didnt seem like the hotel was actually open! Requests seemed like an inconvenience to staff, cold tea served at breakfast, no cocktail lists at the bar (just minor things that added up to a bad impression). The whole place needed a revamp and a good manager!
Choose a different hotel!

jo_from_England is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 06:50 PM
  #6  
DerekD
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I don't know when your mother stayed there jofromengland but the hotel has been under new management for at least a year. I stayed there last February and had no complaints. There has been a real turn around in the place. We stayed in a nice room right on the beach. It is a bit on the large size though, not so much in number of guests but in layout.
 
Aug 10th, 2004, 06:23 AM
  #7  
 
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Hi ej,

Hubby and I stayed at Sugar Mill last may for a week and adored it. The beach is small but pristine with some limited but decent snorkelling right from shore. We never saw anymore than 3 or 4 people swimming there and often had the beach to ourselves. The beach bar has plenty of shade, tables and lounges which are available all the time, not just when the bar is open (which if memory serves is only from 12 noon to 2 PM). We were never there in this time slot as we were always off somewhere else on Tortola and would finish our afternoons with a swim and a last snorkel at the SM beach and then another swim in the pool. There is a sign posted on the beach indicating that the loungers are for the use of hotel guests only. However, I think it's kind of redundant as the loungers always outnumbered the people by about a 4:1 ratio.

We found the service at SM to be outstanding. Unlike Maureen though, I thought that the food there was more hype than reality. Don't get me wrong, it was OK, just not great. (I had heard so much about food here that perhaps my expectations were too high). However, atmosphere and service were outstanding. We did eat all our breakfasts there and they were just fine. The suppers were just mildly disappointing. Didn't bother us much as there are so many good places to eat within a short drive! And it's nice to get out and visit some more "low-key" local establishments. We didn't have any lunches at the beach bar but heard rave reviews from others staying at the Sugar Mill. I also have to point out that several others we talked to raved about the supper offerings as well, so our opinion was definitely a minority one.

We stayed in the Plantation Suite. which was huge and certainly very new in appearance. Excellent bed, huge bathroom with double vanity, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, fresh flowers in the room. Great housekeeping service. I can't comment on any of the other rooms as we never saw them.

We visited Long Bay 3 times during the week. It's on a magnificent beach, but not for swimming. It's very very rocky in the rough surf and downright dangerous trying to get into the water past knee deep. My husband succeeded, but got scraped up quite badly tring to get back to shore. I only saw one other person sucessfully get into the water to swimming depth.

In short, if you plan to rent a car and visit other beaches and dining and snorkelling spots, Sugar Mill is ideal, a gem. If you plan to stay at one resort and not venture out and about, then maybe Long Bay would offer more activities provided you can forego the beach swimming.

Bottom line for us - no choice whatsoever. We were booked back to the Sugar Mill for next year within 4 weeks of coming home! Top notch place.
saharabee is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 08:05 AM
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The roads are good in most areas but terrible driving into Smugglers Cove where there are huge potholes--managable if it's dry although not a comfortable ride. Unfortunately we attempted to drive after a rainy day and it was scary so we turned back! We understand that most of the time Smuggler's Cove is a desolate area.
Some of the roads on the island thru the hills are steep but very scenic.
Beaches in Tortola other than Cane Garden Bay include: Long Bay, Apple Bay (surfing), Brewers Bay (snorkeling), and Josiah's Bay (scenic but strong undertows).
It's a short water taxi ride to the small island of Jost Van Dyke and you can ferry over to other islands if you do not like sailing. The ferry dock next to the Soper's Hole Marina is about a 15 min. drive from the Sugar Mill and is a much closer drive from the Fort Recovery Villas, which we previously recommended.
Cane Garden Bay is about a 20 minute drive from the Sugar Mill. Lounges were $10 for the day and there was plenty of shade. Some days it was very crowded around noon because of the arrival of cruise ship passengers. We usually arrived at 10:00 a.m. to get the lounge in the area we preferred. This ia a very long beautiful curving beach which is popular on one end as an anchorage.
Maureen is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 08:57 AM
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Thanks, Maureen and saharabee for the additional information. I have a few more questions:

What does the line of horizon look like from Sugar Mill and Fort Recovery beaches? Can you see to the horizon? Are there other islands in view?

How is snorkeling at Fort Recovery? Are the whole villas/condos air conditioned, or just the bedrooms?
Is the driving challenging getting between Fort Recovery and other beaches for snorkeling?

Ditto for Sugar Mill--in the larger accommodations, is there central AC or only in the bedrooms? Is it a challenging drive between Sugar Mill and other snorkeling locations?

Elsewhere on Tortola, which beaches offer ample shade from the sun and/or fun, funky beach bars for lunch and adult beverages?

Is it possible to book a snorkeling excursion to Norman Island, Virgin Gorda, or Anegada from Tortola, and if so, do you recommend any companies in particular?

Again, thank you VERY much!
ejcrowe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 09:41 AM
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Hi again!

From Sugar Mill you can see to the horizon with Jost Van Dyke in sight in front of you. Now, I say "see", but what you see depends on where you are. The view is lovely from the restaurant and bar terraces and from many of the higher elevation accomodation units. from our lower level Plantation Suite we had no view from the terrace because the beautiful tropical vegetation and flowers have grown up to provide a secluded private sitting area. This time when we go back, we are sacrificing the large terrace for a smaller balcony and taking the upper level suite instead for the view. (On the other hand, the room next door to us on the lower level had a lovely view from the terrace because there wasn't as much vegetation).

The Plantation suites have central air (which we greatly appreciated, since we had spent the previous week on JVD with no air con). However, I believe that there is no air con in the bathroom (or else it isn't very effective) because the huge shower has open louvred screens to the outside. Didn't miss it much there as we were usually wet in the bathroom anyhow - LOL! Which unit were you thinking of?

I can't help you with snorkelling excursion recommendations as we didn't do that (we were on a crewed charter before JVD). However, we will be doing at least a one day excursion next spring and there are lots and lots of highly recommended snorkelling tours on the www.traveltalkonline.com web site in the British Virgin Islands forum. That's where I'll be searching for my excursions.

Good Luck!
saharabee is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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Forgot to mention that we loved Brewers Bay for the snorkelling and swimming (good shade) and Nicole's Bar. Didn't try Lamberts or Josiah's - will do those this year. Found Smuggler's quite crowded the day we were there. Not much shade at either of the Long Bays.
saharabee is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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We stayed at Long Bay three years ago - stayed in a Jacuzzi Jr. Suite - could use a bit of updating but was cleaned well everyday. Because most rooms are on the hillside, we had a wonderful view of a neighboring island. We had a small balcony off of our room. The staff was friendly and we really enjoyed the Fungi Band following one of their buffet evenings. The band was better than the buffet - expensive for the small selection of food. We went off-site most evenings for dinner - loved Skyworld and Pusser's (on the Cay). We're thinking of returning to Long Bay in February - glad to hear from these reviews that the place is turning around. The beach is beautiful, but not very good for swimming due to rocks, etc. There were never many people on the beach. Please rent a car - exploring Tortola was great - awesome views from high on the hills! Enjoy!
beth48 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 09:47 AM
  #13  
 
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You will be able to get information and photos of both properties from the websites online at fortrecovery.com and sugarmillhotel.com.
There are views of islands from both properties.
The front desk will be able to help you set up sailing excursions. Fort Recovery offers boat trips to Norman Island for snorkeling. They have their own dock.
The steep hills in Tortola are the only thing that made me a little nervous but the jeep handles it well. Driving is on the left and you have to get used to making those sharp turns in the hills. You will be rewarded with fantastic views as you drive. The only traffic jam we ever saw were cattle being walked down the middle of the road!
The suites at the Sugar Mill are newer and more fancy than Fort Recovery. But we found FR to have casual comfortable nautical designed units with wonderful breezes from the ocean.
We spent every day at Cane Garden Bay because it had everything we wanted. We ate lunch at Myett's Restaurant at Cane Garden Bay where we enjoyed the hamburgers and conch fritters. The Myett's Special tropical drink was so cold and tasty --definitely worth a trip!
Fort Recovery is closer to the west end marina, ferry dock and downtown restaurants/marinas, and Sugar Mill is closer to Cane Garden Bay. You could probably add another 10 mins for the drive to the beach from FR.
If you're in Tortola on Sunday stop by in the late afternoon for live music at Sebastian's at Apple Bay just down the road and close from either property.

Maureen is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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My husband and I honeymooned at Long Bay and loved it. The pool is huge, there are tennis courts and there are gym facilities- only one on the island. That is important for us. We rented a jeep at the resort, no problem mon. Agreed, the food is a bit overpriced here....go to Cane Garden for beach dinners and great Roti. The Shell Museum for famous Island Breakfast...cheap and HUGE! Skyworld, we loved. jolly Roger at Sopor's Hole is good and a lot of fun. Do NOT miss taking the ferry to Jost and having a painkiller at the Soggy Dollar. We also ferried over to the Baths...the restaurant at the top is really good, fun music, awesome views. For a REAL treat, go on the puddle jumper to funky Anegada and get a fresh lobster lunch. To DIE for! I though small planes would freak me out, but it was smooth and easy and the views were incredible. We did have to shoo the local goat off the runway, tho. This has to be the world's smallest airport, LOL! One of the 3 cab drivers will give you a nice tour.Give him a little tip. Don't attempt to ride bikes over here, it's a bump fest on the roads. We LOVE the BVI....have a great time! ps...I have a review on traveltalkonline.com There is a BVI board which is quite active and there are many trip reports and ideas.
LLindaC is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 11:30 AM
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I forgot to add....though the beach is rocky at some parts of Long Bay, down at the far end it is very nice. Unless you are really unfit, it's an easy walk to very pretty Smuggler's Bay with it's funky honor bar.Long Bay sits out by itself, you have no traffic noise at all (not so at Sugar Mill) The rooms are spacious and nice- we had a junior jacuzzi suite and it was totally private, the view was wonderful, and the bouganvilla, ferns and tropical plants were gorgeous. We also had a mini frig in the room and coffee maker, which was handy.
LLindaC is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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LLindaC: When did you honeymoon at Long Bay? Do you know if it was before or after the management there changed hands?

Did you do any snorkeling off the beach at Long Bay, and if so, how was it? Along the rocky part of the beach, are there any areas for entering the water, or do you pretty much have to walk to the end of the beach to find an easy entry?

In the room category that you stayed, would you consider it spacious enough to add a rollaway bed without the room occupants always tripping over each other? Did you see any other rooms at Long Bay, and if so, which ones would be most spacious for adding bedding for a third person?

Even though the food was expensive, how would you rate it? In particular, how were the breakfasts and the desserts? (My two dining passions!)

Thank you!
ejcrowe is offline  
Aug 15th, 2004, 11:18 AM
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Hi again. We were there in June 2001. I thought it was well-managed and we got friendly service from all. I don't have one complaint! We snorkeled at Smuggler's...it was all right, not great. The best snorkeling was on the Patouche- a day trip which took us to several great areas. I highly recommend doing that! I'm not sure how a rollaway would do in the Jr Suite. It was on 2 levels, and while quite romantic might be too cramped. There are some 2 bedroom and 3, I think , up the hill. We did look at the beachfront rooms- they are pretty cool, but we liked staying closer to the hotel, the jeep, the pool, etc. When I say "other end of the beach" it isn't that long of a walk, either. It's a gorgeous beach for moonlight strolls, the sand is pure white. We also walked to the "Full Moon " party at Bomba's Shack- that was a trip, but nothing too unusual, really. The breakfast here was good- we only ate there twice. We kept cereal in our room and ate at Shell Museum twice.That's the 5 dollar MASSIVE breakfast; hope it's still there. I don't know about desserts; I don't eat em! Never. I do indulge in a bit of rum, tho, and love the Painkillers at Pusser's! The driving is on the left, there are steep 'switchbacks" and assorted problems, such as donkeys and goats on the road, LOL, but the road leading to cane Garden isn't too awful; the road to Road Town is excellent. If you take the day snorkel trip, that's where you go. My email is [email protected] if you want a copy or link to my trip report. I want to go back next year, but my hubby insistes on Australia!
LLindaC is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 04:00 PM
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Hi ej & Jen -

Just thought I'd share some insights.

We've stayed at Long Bay and toured/eaten at Sugar Mill. Headed back to LBBR next month. Pretty psyched!!

We stayed in a Beach Cabana at LBBR and friends were in a Beachfront Delux. The Cabana was cozy with no room for a rollaway but the Delux would be fine with one. Both are right on that awesome beach.

Food was average at LBBR and we'll definately be eating all over the island rather than there. Wouldn't miss the BIG breakfast at the Shell Museum. Found SM food extremely overpriced and the service snobish. Very nice setting at SM but we won't be going back to dine.

The beach - Long Bay is the prototypical Caribbean beach and perfect for long strolls & sunning. The rocky area ends about 40 yds past the resort and the swimming is fine except in winter. SM has a small, man-made beach that is adequate for a dip & sunning. Neither has good snorkeling.

Both shine as an excellent, comfortable "home-base" for a Tortola visit with better snorkeling, swimming, food, beach bars, etc scattered about the island. I give LBBR the edge due to the availability of true beachfront accom. as well as the vastly superior beach.

By all means rent a 4WD and spend most of your time away from wherever you stay. Tortola and the other BVIs have a great variety of treasures.

Finally, Joe & Julie at Patouche are top notch. We'll be going out with them next month.

Dave
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