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Trip Report, Part One #271073
12/11/2021 10:08 AM
12/11/2021 10:08 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
This year we decided to arrive a couple of days early to take advantage of more reasonable (?) air fares. We flew on Thursday, November 18, and spent Thursday and Friday at Grand Case Beach Club before moving into our timeshare at La Vista Beach for our usual three weeks. I'll divide this report into categories, as dates and details are already fuzzy.

Travel:

Our flights down and back were uneventful. We flew RDU/MIA/SXM on the way down and the reverse on the way home. We usually spend the night before our flight in Raleigh as it's two hours from home. Because our first flight departed at 6 AM, we couldn't take advantage of the hotel shuttle, so parked in the airport lot. This was very convenient, but certainly not inexpensive for 22 nights.

Flying home was also relatively uneventful, although immigration and security in MIA was a $hit$how. Even though we have GE, half of the kiosks were out of order, and once we got past that the lines for security were ridiculously long. They don't have a separate line for TSA Precheck, but give you a card that supposedly gives you the precheck screening benefits once you finally get to the front of the line. We still had to take our electronics out. We did make our connection with about ten minutes to spare, but Todd and MJ nearly missed theirs.

Traffic on the Island:

For the most part, traffic was about what we've come to expect during this time of year. One exception was on the day we arrived, when it took us nearly two hours to get from the airport to Grand Case. Traffic was at a complete standstill from the roundabout at Maho until we escaped it at the causeway. We found out later that there was an accident involving a bus.

A couple of days it took us quite some time to get back from the French side, but it's the price you pay to be in paradise.

Accommodations:

We had not stayed at GCBC before, but we really enjoyed those two nights. They've done a beautiful job of restoring the property after Irma; pretty much everything in the units is brand new.

La Vista Beach has some new furniture, and is as comfortable and well-maintained as usual. Even though we had been on the island for two days, I didn't feel like I was home until we checked in to our studio there.

Beaches:

We generally go to a different beach each day, with a couple of exceptions for a down day at home. In no particular order:

El Zafiro: We went there twice; had one very nice day and one that was the complete opposite. The first day we had delicious appetizers on the beach and great service. The second time, they had two different cruise groups in (one quite large), and while the groups were very quiet and not at all disruptive, the restaurant just wasn't adequately staffed for that many people. Still, it's a beautiful setting, and we haven't given up on the place.

Grand Case Beach Club: Of course, we spent our first two days on the beach there, and returned several times with the rest of the November Gang. The beach there is small, but the water is always calm and a fun place to float around. The restaurant there is excellent, being run by Koko and Marina from KokoMarina, and then later, Palm Beach, on Orient.

Friars Bay Beach Club: Again, a beautiful beach with calm waters for floating around. And again, fabulous food with excellent service. My only wish is that they'd have pads on the chairs, but bringing a small inflatable wheelchair pad helps that.

Le Temps de Cerises: Again, in Grand Case, which has become a favorite because of the great beach restaurants and calm water. We encountered very little seaweed on any of our days on the beaches in Grand Case. Great service here, which includes a nice beach towel and a small bottle of water with each chair.

Captain Frenchy: A close second to LTC, and while we only got there once this trip, we'll remedy that in the future.

Anse Marcel: Although this one is a longer drive, the fabulous food is definitely worth it. The beach is beautiful, and again, the sheltered cove makes a great spot to float around.

La Playa: We love Orient, just because of the great people-watching, the ability to take a long walk, and the variety of restaurant options there. The wind and the seaweed are detractors if you let that bother you. We don't get into the water on Orient since the waves are always so strong, but we do enjoy watching the kite surfers and other water sports. Bruno is no longer operating the restaurant there, but the service and food were still excellent. More on food later...

Coco: Coco has become our new favorite on Orient. Fabulous beach service in the most comfortable chairs I've found on the island. Chairs come with a nice beach towel and water, and the beach boys continually bring fresh ice for your drinks and ice bucket. It's our new "last full day" tradition.

Part two soon to come...




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Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271076
12/11/2021 10:17 AM
12/11/2021 10:17 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 78,189
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
Thanks so much for part 1. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

Miami is just becoming an all around sh*t show. We are going to try Jet Blue from FLL next time and are hoping it will be moderately better, although not holding our breath.

I guess maybe we need to try harder next time to eat at GCBC, just weren't sure what do to about the parking, etc. Koko and Marina have always done a great job with their restaurants, for sure.

Refresh my recollection, as all the beach bars on Orient seem to have changed places from where they were. Is Coco still in front of Esmeralda? Surprised that you say the chairs there are the most comfortable. More comfortable than AMBC??


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271079
12/11/2021 10:35 AM
12/11/2021 10:35 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 743
East Texas
Jaybird Offline
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Jaybird  Offline
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East Texas
Thanks for the report. How did the Verifly app work for you at PJIA?

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271081
12/11/2021 10:42 AM
12/11/2021 10:42 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,668
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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ruralcarrier  Offline
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Ohio
Thanks for the report. Looking forward to part 2.


J.D.
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271082
12/11/2021 11:32 AM
12/11/2021 11:32 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,990
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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Brookfield, CT.
Beautiful report, Georgia. Personally speaking, I’m not at all surprised at your description of flying through MIA - last time I swore, NEVER AGAIN would I subject myself to that. And didn’t I tell you you’d love Grand Case Beach Club?

Eagerly awaiting the rest of your story…..😊😊


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271083
12/11/2021 11:44 AM
12/11/2021 11:44 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,713
Connecticut
The_Lurker Offline
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The_Lurker  Offline
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Connecticut
Great report!

I agree with you about the beach in Grand Case. I wonder why it took us so long to discover it.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: Carol_Hill] #271085
12/11/2021 11:55 AM
12/11/2021 11:55 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Carol, Coco is where it always was. Waikiki is gone, and Kakao is where it once was. Wai Plage is where KKO was, and I think (though I'm not positive) that the rest are still in their usual locations. Except for Palm Beach, which is gone.

As to Coco's chairs, they're big heavy wooden ones with very thick pads. Definitely more comfortable than AMBC, and the beach service is much better, in my opinion. Cost is about the same.

Last edited by GaKaye; 12/11/2021 11:59 AM.
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: Jaybird] #271086
12/11/2021 11:56 AM
12/11/2021 11:56 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Originally Posted by Jaybird
Thanks for the report. How did the Verifly app work for you at PJIA?


I don't think it accomplished anything. We still had to fill out a paper attestation form, show our covid test results, and check in at the counter, even though we had no bags to check.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271090
12/11/2021 01:11 PM
12/11/2021 01:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 7,192
Yonkers, NY
fabila Offline
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Yonkers, NY
Looking forward to reading on to your other reports.

The water is much calmer down towards Kontiki so swimming is enjoyable. Way back when Andy & Cheryl’s was on Orient I found the waves string down by Waikiki but if we stayed farther down by Andy and Cheryl’s I had no issues with waves.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271097
12/11/2021 02:58 PM
12/11/2021 02:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 78,189
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
Georgia--thanks for the info. We will have to try Coco next time!


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271103
12/11/2021 04:36 PM
12/11/2021 04:36 PM
Joined: Nov 2021
Posts: 4
T
Thewsm Offline
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Thewsm  Offline
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T
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Posts: 4
Thank you for the report. Just curious, how long was your connection in Miami?

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271112
12/11/2021 08:08 PM
12/11/2021 08:08 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,274
Portland, OR
jazzgal Offline
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Portland, OR
Originally Posted by GaKaye
Originally Posted by Jaybird
Thanks for the report. How did the Verifly app work for you at PJIA?


I don't think it accomplished anything. We still had to fill out a paper attestation form, show our covid test results, and check in at the counter, even though we had no bags to check.


Georgia - Didn't you receive an email that enabled you to complete your attestation within Verifly? I did.


[Linked Image]
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: jazzgal] #271113
12/11/2021 08:15 PM
12/11/2021 08:15 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Originally Posted by jazzgal
Originally Posted by GaKaye
Originally Posted by Jaybird
Thanks for the report. How did the Verifly app work for you at PJIA?


I don't think it accomplished anything. We still had to fill out a paper attestation form, show our covid test results, and check in at the counter, even though we had no bags to check.


Georgia - Didn't you receive an email that enabled you to complete your attestation within Verifly? I did.



Linda, I did, but still had to complete the paper form at the airport. I showed them the Verifly app, which showed that I was ready to fly, but they still required me to fill out the paper form, and to check in at the counter, even though I had a boarding pass on my phone and no bags to check. Although now that I think about it, that form may have been a contact form, not the attestation. I also filled out the contact form online though....Seems there's a lot of duplication of effort.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: Thewsm] #271114
12/11/2021 08:17 PM
12/11/2021 08:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Originally Posted by Thewsm
Thank you for the report. Just curious, how long was your connection in Miami?


We had nearly two hours in Miami. Between sitting on the tarmac waiting for our gate, and the long lines for immigration and security, it was close. We have Global Entry and TSA Precheck, but half of the GE kiosks were down, and there was no separate line for precheck.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271123
12/12/2021 08:23 AM
12/12/2021 08:23 AM
Joined: Nov 2021
Posts: 4
T
Thewsm Offline
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Thewsm  Offline
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Thank you for the information. This has also been our experience going through Miami - I was hoping things were better . . . . .

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271124
12/12/2021 09:08 AM
12/12/2021 09:08 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,911
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
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RonDon  Offline
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Rhode Island
Love the report and info on places we've not yet tried. Did you happen to see Carole (Lestimenet) at LaPlaya?

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: RonDon] #271139
12/12/2021 10:35 AM
12/12/2021 10:35 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Carole is no longer at La Playa. She's at Oasis in Oyster Pond, and sadly we didn't get to see her this trip.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271140
12/12/2021 11:26 AM
12/12/2021 11:26 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 743
East Texas
Jaybird Offline
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Jaybird  Offline
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Posts: 743
East Texas
Originally Posted by GaKaye
Originally Posted by jazzgal
Originally Posted by GaKaye
Originally Posted by Jaybird
Thanks for the report. How did the Verifly app work for you at PJIA?


I don't think it accomplished anything. We still had to fill out a paper attestation form, show our covid test results, and check in at the counter, even though we had no bags to check.


Georgia - Didn't you receive an email that enabled you to complete your attestation within Verifly? I did.



Linda, I did, but still had to complete the paper form at the airport. I showed them the Verifly app, which showed that I was ready to fly, but they still required me to fill out the paper form, and to check in at the counter, even though I had a boarding pass on my phone and no bags to check. Although now that I think about it, that form may have been a contact form, not the attestation. I also filled out the contact form online though....Seems there's a lot of duplication of effort.


Would it be possible to bypass the AA checkpoint and go straight to security with mobile boarding passes and no luggage to check?

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: Jaybird] #271176
12/13/2021 07:46 AM
12/13/2021 07:46 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Originally Posted by Jaybird
Originally Posted by GaKaye
Originally Posted by jazzgal
Originally Posted by GaKaye
Originally Posted by Jaybird
Thanks for the report. How did the Verifly app work for you at PJIA?


I don't think it accomplished anything. We still had to fill out a paper attestation form, show our covid test results, and check in at the counter, even though we had no bags to check.


Georgia - Didn't you receive an email that enabled you to complete your attestation within Verifly? I did.



Linda, I did, but still had to complete the paper form at the airport. I showed them the Verifly app, which showed that I was ready to fly, but they still required me to fill out the paper form, and to check in at the counter, even though I had a boarding pass on my phone and no bags to check. Although now that I think about it, that form may have been a contact form, not the attestation. I also filled out the contact form online though....Seems there's a lot of duplication of effort.


Would it be possible to bypass the AA checkpoint and go straight to security with mobile boarding passes and no luggage to check?


As of this past Friday, the answer to that is "No". We had everything in our Verifly app, had boarding passes on our phones, and no bags to check; we still had to fill out a paper contact form (even though we had filled that out online), take it to the counter, where they also checked our passports, input that info into their system (even though it was already in our profiles), and receive paper boarding passes. As I said in my comment to Linda above, there was a lot of duplication of effort.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271183
12/13/2021 09:37 AM
12/13/2021 09:37 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,990
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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Posts: 13,990
Brookfield, CT.
Georgia,

Not sure but I’m thinking Kim uses that app when she flies AA and goes straight to the security check-in. Could be mistaken but she doesn’t check bags and I think she avoids the airline check-in completely. Hopefully she will see your question and check in with you before long.


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271186
12/13/2021 09:44 AM
12/13/2021 09:44 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,421
Newtown, CT
kim Offline
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kim  Offline
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Posts: 4,421
Newtown, CT
If you are able too get your boarding passes, we print ours so not sure how it works with electronic boarding, then no reason to stop in the front. go straight to the first check point, they look at your passport and ticket. Then go get scanned. Then you just go to your gate and they will check your documents. I don't use any app as it seems like a waste of time. At the gate they looked at my covid test, passport and stamped my ticket. With JetBlue they send you an email with a link. Fill out the form and it gets attached to your ticket. No need for paper forms. You can always get the form before you fly out as well and just have it ready. But at least with JB, they were having passengers fill it out online even while in line if they didn't do it already.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: kim] #271222
12/14/2021 07:15 AM
12/14/2021 07:15 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
I guess each airline is doing things differently; AA checked everything before we went through security, so we only had to show our boarding pass and passport at the gate.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271224
12/14/2021 08:05 AM
12/14/2021 08:05 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,421
Newtown, CT
kim Offline
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kim  Offline
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Yea, but you didn’t need to stop at the counter if you weren’t checking bags and had your boarding passes.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: kim] #271225
12/14/2021 08:19 AM
12/14/2021 08:19 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Originally Posted by kim
Yea, but you didn’t need to stop at the counter if you weren’t checking bags and had your boarding passes.


Kim, I agree that we shouldn't have needed to, but we were required to fill out the paper contact form and take that to the counter. I showed the agent who was standing at a table outside the lines that we had our boarding passes on our phones and had no bags to check, and she still required to us to turn in that contact form at the counter, where our passports were checked and paper boarding passes were printed.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271226
12/14/2021 08:26 AM
12/14/2021 08:26 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,421
Newtown, CT
kim Offline
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kim  Offline
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Ah ok. We just walked by them completely and continued on. No eye contact!! wink.

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: kim] #271227
12/14/2021 09:35 AM
12/14/2021 09:35 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,979
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline OP
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GaKaye  Offline OP
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Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
Originally Posted by kim
Ah ok. We just walked by them completely and continued on. No eye contact!! wink.


That's where I went wrong! I actually stopped and asked. Silly me!

Re: Trip Report, Part One [Re: GaKaye] #271228
12/14/2021 09:38 AM
12/14/2021 09:38 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,668
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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Ohio
One has to love the consistent inconsistency with how things are being handled.


J.D.

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