Just returned from our 6th trip to the island. Here are some highlights of our June 8-23 trip:
Jim Ruos, Caribbean Island Travel Service: : Can’t say enough about CITS and Jim (Mary, too)! Once we used a different agent (saved $100): BIG MISTAKE! Service is impeccable. The real test of quality customer service is how the rep handles any unexpected difficulties, like flight delays, etc. Been there, done that, and Jim has always been available to guide us. Just a tremendous service.
Jeff Berger: : For us, Jeff’s service is worth the money. I’m a person who has little time to research air fares and I appreciate Jeff’s bulletins, advice, recommendations and personal interest.
ORD/MIA Connection: This has been a topic of interest on the board. This was our 5th experience connecting in MIA with about an hour to race from one gate to another. This time, we made it with time to spare. Many AA reps were dispersed along the route to guide passengers. Without them, MIA can be a nightmare.
Caribbean VIP: Also a topic of interest on the board. My husband has major back problems, so we decided to give them a try. 3 other planes landed at the same time as our flight, so there was a long immigration line.
Unfortunately, we were nearly to the immigration booth before we spotted the VIP reps. They then quickly took our passports and baggage claim checks and walked us through the line. From there it was into a cool van for a ride across the street to Aqua where we met Bevan and Christina, the owners. They expressed regret that we were not greeted in a timely fashion. Also used the service on the return trip. 2 reps met us and escorted us to the AA counter. Ahead of us was a couple with 8 (yes!!) full size suitcases. We stood in line for about 25 minutes when anther rep from VIP came on the scene. He walked right up to the counter, got the attention of another clerk, and our bags were checked immediately (no search). Then he escorted us to security where we parted company.
Fee for the service: $100 plus tax. If you want to get into the private lounge, that’s an additional $20 per person. The service wasn’t what we expected, but given my husband’s back condition, we may give them another try.
Michael, Unity Car Rental: Michael coordinated with VIP and met us at Aqua with our Toyota Rav 4. We were on our way in no time. Last year, we were rear-ended. After phoning Michael to report the accident, he thanked us for our honesty and took care of everything! Another fantastic service.
Craig, Pack Light: We rented a cell phone, beach chair and pool float.
Craig coordinated with Michael, and everything was in the trunk. Craig needed to replace the pool float and he met my husband in the parking lot of Grand Marche to deliver it. Now, that’s service!
Weather: : The evening of the 9th a tropical system passed over, dumping nearly 5 inches of rain. We’ve never seen lightening or heard thunder on the island before! Lost power in our villa for a few hours. Learned a good lesson: always know where the breaker box is, a flashlight and candles/matches. You never know when you’ll need them. The rest of the trip was HOT. The first week brought little relief from the tradewinds, but after that, the ocean breezes returned.
TTOL Party: The weather cooperated for the June 10th party at BBB. Our hosts, Jerry & Joan, did an awesome job organizing the event, complete with handmade TTOL ID necklaces. We met so many wonderful people; to name a few: John & Toddy (don’t forget that trip report from Cuba!), Don & Linda, Patty & Hugh, Joe & Gail, Joe and Lynn. Thanks everyone; it was a real pleasure!
Baywatch: : All we can say is that the phrase “to die for” must have been coined here!
Beau Beau's: Stopped here one afternoon during Happy Hour (2 for 1) and had an excellent BBC. Made a reservation for the King Beau Beau show on Thursday night. Had a terrific time. Lobster salad was delicious. Beau Beau’s show is very “participative” and the audience that night got its money’s worth!
Restaurants: : Won’t review them all, but we had good experiences everywhere: Bikini, Kakao, Co Co, La Playa, Tap Five Pizza, Fish Bar,
L’Escapade, Talk of the Town, Sunset Café, California, Ric’s, on and on.
Fete de la Musique, La Chapelle: One of our most enjoyable evenings was dinner and music in Orient Village. The restaurant, La Capelle, brings all of its tables out doors along the square. Food is cooked on a huge grill.
The prime rib for 2 was a sight to see on the grill! Good music, great food, delightful atmosphere.
Deepti, DK Gems: What would a trip report be without sharing jewelry shopping stories. But this is more than that. We made several smaller purchases this year, but Deepti found an exquisite ring and a tennis bracelet to add to the “wish list.” She has an uncanny ability to quickly assess your tastes and then select pieces that are perfect. But what I really want to share with TTOL’ers is that Deepti and her family are warm, caring and giving people. I direct an organization that serves people with disabilities. For the second year, Deepti and her brothers donated a beautiful pendant for our annual golf outing/fund raiser. What generosity!
We spent over an hour just talking about what it meant to “make a difference” in this life and the importance of giving back to our communities. Getting to know Deepti on this level was truly the highlight of the trip.

This weekend we booked a trip for next May. It gives us something to look forward to for the next 310 days. No trip report would be complete without thanking all of the members of this board for your insights, experiences and for keeping the warmth of SXM alive in our hearts!

Joyce M-C
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