Trip Report, Club Orient, Nov. 4-11, 2000
Friday, Nov. 3rd
Finished packing in the morning, picked up Linda from work at 3 PM and drove from Maryland to the Philadelphia airport, arriving around 6 PM. Checked in to the Sheraton Four Points hotel one exit North of the airport. For a one-night stay costing $79 you get to leave your car in the hotel lot all week for free. Dinner in the restaurant was very good, Linda had a Caesar Salad and I ordered the Shrimp Scampi over pasta…we actually shared both and the quantity was just right for the two of us.
Saturday, Nov. 4th
The Sheraton shuttle bus dropped us at the US Airways check-in counter a little after 6 AM and we found NO LINES! We had no seat assignments after being re-ticketed to get a lower fare back in August, so we checked in for our flight and got the last two assignable seats…the flight was severely overbooked. Linda wound up in the first row of coach and I wound up at the rear of the plane. Just before pushback the airline raised the bounty for volunteers to TWO round trip future tickets per person, a hotel room in Philly, and first class on Sunday's flight. That got them the last 6 volunteers they needed in a hurry. The flight was uneventful and we landed at SXM about on time around 1 PM. Stairs were brought up to BOTH ends of the aircraft and Linda was first down the forward stairs and I was first down the rear. The line for immigration took about 10 minutes and the greeter from Budget was right outside the exit. The first car had no driver's side seat belt anchor bolt (!) so we switched our carry-on bags to a replacement car and were at the Sunset Beach Bar munching on burgers and drinking our first Caribs of the week by 2 PM. Air France was late that day so we left after an Air Luxor L-1011 made an impressive short field landing.
We found a parking place at Match in Marigot and stocked up on breakfast foods, wine, and veggies to accompany the steaks slowly thawing in our luggage. Check-in at the Club Orient office went smoothly again and by 3:30 we were unpacked, undressed, slathered with sunscreen and letting sand gravity pull us into our beach chairs in front of Papagayos, a home made TTOL "flag" stuck into the sand halfway between our toes and the water.
We walked down to the water sports building and made our reservations for Tuesday's Tiko Tiko trip.
At 5:30 we picked out a table inside and replanted the TTOL flag in a plastic cup filled with sand. Mike & Tracy quickly found us, and three other TTOL couples dropped by to say "Hi" before they headed off to dinner. The special that night was prime rib and the portions were huge, although not seasoned heavily enough for our tastes. Half of each order wound up in our refrigerator shortly after dinner, and we settled in for Kareoke night and (we hoped) meeting other TTOLers. Around 9 PM the flag started drawing TTOL couples and soon there were around 10 of us there. We had a great time talking and comparing notes and wound up closing the place down around 11:30! All in all we met around 16 people that night, counting those that dropped by during happy hour as well as the late evening crew. By the end of the week we had met around 12 couples from the board (you know who you are), all great people!
Sunday, Nov 5th
This was a sand gravity day. After a light breakfast in our mini-suite we planted the flag in front of our chairs, walked the beach, swam, read, applied more sunscreen, and just chilled. Lunch at Pedro's'for BBQ ribs and Chicken with Caribs. The afternoon was a repeat of the morning. After happy hour we headed back to our unit where I seasoned the left over Prime Rib with our favorite spices and then sautéed them back to warm but still pink while the potatoes and green beans cooked. A nice dinner with a bottle of fine French wine ending a great beach day.
Monday, Nov. 6th
The morning was great beach weather again and we took advantage of it. Mike and Tracy joined us for lunch at Papagayos. The club sandwiches on French Bread were very good. During lunch clouds moved in and passing rain showers threatened so Linda & I found where we had left our clothes in the mini-suite, dressed, and drove into Phillipsburg. Only one cruise ship was in port, so we went to Kay's jewelers and picked out a new setting for a ruby ring we had bought there in 1998. They graciously took the old setting in trade for the new (more expensive) one, and within an hour had the ring reset. While we waited we went down the street and bought a silver "hugs & kisses" bracelet to match a necklace we purchased last year. A short visit to the casino had Linda walking out with $6.00 more than she went in with. We picked up the ring and drove back to Club Orient.
After happy hour we got dressed again and drove into Grand Case for dinner. We ate at the Rainbow café and it was wonderful. Linda started with a light Lobster Bisque and I had Escargot with a pastry crust which ranked right up at the top of the list in the "best I ever had" category. I had a salmon baked in puff pastry with a caper sauce and Linda had grilled sea bass which had a tomato accompaniment that was like a warm salsa in consistency but was flavored with fresh herbs and provided a perfect complement to the fish. With one bottle of wine and service charge the bill was $107.
Tuesday, Nov. 7th
Tiko Tiko day! (Also election day, but we had voted absentee two weeks before). Phillippe and Emanuelle welcomed us onboard and off to Tintamare we sailed…well the sail was up but a pair of diesels below provided the motive power directly into the wind. As we approached we were concerned that there were two large catamarans, a dive boat, and 6 jet skis already at the beach. Emanuelle told us not to worry, they all would be gone within the hour. She then stood on the bow in all her nude glory holding the forestay, giving the unspoken message "here we come, ready or not!" Phillippe set up beach umbrellas and a cooler of drinks on the beach for us and we also had floats, noodles, and snorkel gear with us. Some of us put on sandals and went inland to explore some of the ruins from the WW II airstrip. By the time we returned the last cat was loading its passengers and we soon had the island to ourselves. The day turned cloudy and we could see St. Martin, St. Barths, and Anguilla getting drenched by passing rain showers, but all we got was a few sprinkles. We swam back to the Tiko Tiko around noon and enjoyed a wonderful lunch complete with champagne. The sun came back out by desert and we then swam back to the beach to relax. Mid-afternoon Phillippe brought a bucket ashore and went to an exposed strata of brownish gray dirt and scooped up a bucketful. He then added sea water and mixed and mixed until he had a bucket full of yellowish tan mud. We then had a blast covering each other with the mud and laughing at ourselves.
As the mud was drying the "Golden Eagle" cat returned with another load of cruise ship passengers. Three young ladies in their mid 20s came over to us and exclaimed "that looks like fun, can we join in?!" Of course we said "sure" soon they were topless and covered with mud like us. After laughing a lot we swam and washed off the mud, enjoying the water untill it was time to reboard Tiko Tiko. More drinks aboard as the rain clouds reappeared and we motored back to Club Orient in a rain squall. The rain stopped just as we anchored after a wonderful day of fun.
Dinner at Papagayo's was much better than I expected from last year's trip. Linda had a chicken Caesar salad and I had lobster. My entrée was a beautiful composition of warm lobster medallions arranged on a sauced plate with vegetables and rice. It looked as nice as any meal in Grand Case and the sauce was flavored wonderfully. After dinner we danced a little (Tuesday is DJ night) and then returned to the unit to search the short wave bands and find out the election results on the Voice of America. (As I write this two weeks later we're still waiting for the results!)
Wednesday, Nov 8th
Linda awoke with a sun-poisoning rash and it was cloudy, so we dressed and drove to Marigot. We stopped at a pharmacy and received both pills and a cream. The pharmacist also sold us a sunscreen cream with SPF of 100. The combination cleared up her problem within 24 hours! We found Zee Best and it lived up to its name! A basket of fresh pastries and good strong French roast coffee started us off. Linda had an omelet with spinach and goat cheese while I ordered a crepe. Both were wonderful. My crepe was made with buckwheat flour and contained a mixture of ham, mushrooms, and cheese with a fried egg sitting on top and then folded over as a package…wonderful!
We spent the morning wandering around the market place and stores of Marigot picking up gifts for friends and family back home. We also picked up fresh spices and a homemade hot pepper sauce. We were still too full from breakfast to have lunch, so we returned to Club Orient where we just snacked on cheese & French bread before Linda took a long nap since the medicine was making her drowsy.
I picked up a grill from security and, after happy hour, grilled two filets for our supper.
Thursday, Nov 9th
Another beautiful beach day! Linda's rash was (mostly) gone so we used the SPF 100 sunscreen on her and took our books, water bottles and homemade TTOL flag to the beach again. We had consecutive half-hour massage appointments with Caroline at the fitness center, but Linda didn't feel like keeping hers because of the fading rash. I bravely volunteered to take her slot along with mine! A light lunch at Papagayos was followed by more beach time. I told Linda I had a special dinner planned for her that evening and we had to leave happy hour around 6:30 to keep our reservation. In reality, Fabulous Feasts came in the unlocked patio door of our mini-suite shortly after we left to walk over to happy hour. When we returned, the first course of the "tasting menu" was ready, prepared by Jennifer in our unit. We sat down at our dinette table and were served successive courses of marinated salmon, salad with medallions of lobster, baked Dover sole with caviar sauce, rack of lamb, and (finally) desert platters with THREE deserts on each! As we ate desert our wonderful chef cleaned up the kitchen and bid us adieu. The food was wonderful, but the quantities were overly generous for just the two of us and most of the deserts were saved in the fridge for another day.
Friday, Nov. 10th
Another beach day. We walked down to Baywatch for lunch. Wonderful! We had their fried calamare to start and cheese steak sandwiches with the customary Caribs. We also realized we ordered too much food! Dan & Shirley joined us at our table and Cheryl was a great hostess. More beach time in the afternoon. Back to Grand Case for dinner at Bistro Caribes. The best meals of the trip! WOW! Linda had a red snapper with asparagus that was wonderfully sauced and presented. I had the shrimp with lobster risotto and vegetables and it was magnificent! Total bill for two appetizers, two entrees, and a bottle of wine came to $80.
Saturday, Nov. 11th
Departure day. We packed in the morning, loaded the suitcases into the trunk of the rental car, and pre-positioned our traveling clothes over at Mike & Tracy's mini-suite where we would shower before leaving for the airport around 1 PM (thanks again). One last morning on the beach. I checked us out with the front desk at mid-morning and closed out my charge account at Papagayo's. One more great lunch at Baywatch with Mike & Tracy and it was time to shower, dress, and drive to the airport. We parked in the main airport parking lot and checked in for our 5 PM flight three hours early. We paid the departure tax, got back in the rental car and headed over to the Sunset Beach Bar for a drink and to watch the Air France 747 make it's "carrier landing"…very impressive! I drove Linda & our bags (all carry-on) back to the terminal and then went to Budget to turn in the car. I was quickly processed and driven back to the terminal. A little last minute shopping and we went through security to the new, air conditioned waiting room. We actually got to sit together on this flight! Our departure was delayed 15 minutes while mechanics fixed a problem with the first class lavatory. We still arrived back at PHL around 8 PM EST and breezed through customs in record time. One call to the Sheraton and the shuttle bus picked us up for the return to the hotel and our car.
We had a wonderful time and are already planning a return next spring. Club Orient is as well run and nice as ever, and there is a noticeable improvement in Papagayo's dinner selections over last year. The only site improvements I'd make if I were the owner is adding a pool with a swim-up bar and a hot tub, probably in the center of the mini-suite circle. The best part of the trip was meeting so many of the wonderful couples who hang out on this board! You know who you are and you are all special. We hope we see you again on future trips.
Edited by Carol_Hill on 11/28/00 05:02 PM.