We loved staying at the Sands . Last year was a disaster, we started out at the Sibonne and luckily, because if their mistake we ended up changing to the Sands. Hated Sibonne, loved the Sands.
This year we opted for a slightly larger room. It was very nice. The room had a screened in porch which we took advantage of several times, but did not spend a whole lot of time there. The one annoying thing about the room (like many hotel rooms) is there is a connecting door between our room and the room next to us. This is handy for groups that book rooms next to each other, the downside is that the door does not make a very good noise block. The first couple of days we woke up to our neighbor, an old man, hacking up a lung. We got new neighbors two days into our stay. They had a little girl, about two and a half years old, she was extremely chatty, she never cried, but she talked continuously. It was not irritating but she did wake us every morning. We saw her and her parents at the pool, her mom was about seven months pregnant and she was a cute little girl with dark curls and a sunny disposition. I hope her mom has a lot of energy.
The help at the Sands was as friendly and helpful as always, however, when it comes to billing they are not completely organized. If it wasn't for Karen's keen eye for detail, they would have charged us for our seventh night which should have been free.
We passed on renting a car again this year and opted for getting around the island via the gecko (bus). We had very good luck using the gecko last year. We even used it to change hotels, meaning that we hauled our luggage on the bus.
As usual we took the gecko to dinner, back from diving, and to the IGA to get groceries. We had good luck taking the gecko until Sunday, then it all fell apart. We found out that Sunday is a very slow day for the the gecko on the island and you need to have someone call and tell the gecko to come pick you up, and even then there is no guarantee that the bus will show up. We made the mistake of taking the bus to the Tiki Hut in Turtle Cove for the a late lunch. We wanted to go the the IGA after lunch. We waited for the bus, and waited, and waited. I asked the bartender at the Tiki Hut to call the gecko and we waited some more. We eventually took a cab to the IGA but were able to take the geko back to our resort.
Provo Turtle Divers
Same as last year, they were great. The best dive company ever. They setup all of our equipment, and at the end of the day they stored our equipment at their shop. I had read several bad reviews about them at Trip Adviser, but they were unfounded.
Dave was our dive master and the boat captain for one day. Tony was another dive master and we also had Murray for a dive master. Murry was the boat captain last year. He look a little rough around the edges, Tom said he looked like a pirate, but he was a nice guy just like the other dive masters.
Art Pickering who is still part owner of the dive shop, captained the boat one day (he also did last year). He has a Jack Russell terrier named Dewey. Dewey is a great dive dog, he barks at you as you giant step off the back of the boat, and he is convinced that he is scaring into the water. If you feed the fish he will jump in and try to catch one.
Not much has changed concerning restaurants since last year. They are still expensive, but they are generally good.
Hemingway's- I'll start with the worst. We had dinner here last year and liked it. We ate dinner at Hemingway's this year and it was not so good. Karen had pasta and I had stir fry. Both meals were mediocre to bad. We had breakfast there several days and it was good. We also had our favorite lunch there twice, fish tacos, also good.
The Tiki Hut- We did rib night again. It is the best deal on the island, the ribs are good and only $12.95. That is a deal.
The Blue Iguana- This is a nice restaurant located in the Salt Mills shopping center. The food was good.
Bachi (?)- This is a small Italian restaurant located in Turtle Cove. They looked like they had good Italian food, but we ordered a large pizza two salads and drinks and it came to over $60, a bargain for T and C. The owner (manager ?) was a neurotic mess, we walked into the restaurant, it was nearly deserted, he walked up to us with a piece of paper in his hand and he was shaking his head. He never said “hi” or “welcome to Bachi” he just stood there looking at the list and muttering. He finally told us that he would not seat us out side, we said fine and he seated us inside (not that hard). The rest of the night he micro managed the waitresses. Service was very fast, the fastest on the island, but the waitresses were very short with us and you could tell they were under a lot of pressure. Watching him drove Karen crazy.
Sharkbite- A restaurant in Turtle Cove. We had lunch there last year and again this year. We had fish both times. The food has always been good there.
Aqua- Our favorite meal last year and this year. The food is great, the restaurant is located in the marina so the the ambiance is nice. We had two problems this year that had nothing to do with the restaurant. It was cool, unlike last year when it was sweltering into the evening., so Karen was shivering through dinner. Someone decided to spray off their fishing boat, about $300,000 worth of fishing boat, and people in the restaurant were getting wet.
I was able to run on the beach this year (barefoot).
I taught Karen how to sail the catamaran at the Sands.
I bought Karen a blue heart shaped necklace made from sea glass. Usually I do not have much money left in my budget when vacation is over, but Karen paid for most of vacation from her bouns.
I got a housing for my underwater camera so I could take underwater photos and movies.
The trip home:
Last year a storm hit before we left the hotel for the airport and flooded some of the streets. The planes could not land. Everything was delayed for 5 hours. We were suppose to land in Minneapolis about midnight and we ended up getting home between 4:00am and 5:00am.
This year our flight left Provo on time, but the flight from Miami to Minneapolis was delayed. So rather than getting home at midnight we did not get home until 2:00am. The trip through the Miami airport was terrible. It is a long story, but they did not have the luggage drop after customs marked well.
Scranton PA June 2006
My next trip was to Scranton PA. I stayed in a Holiday Inn and it was a dump. I hate that my room has an outside entry and my room smelled really bad. I checked with some of the people in class and their rooms smelled too.
Las Vegas May 2006
After Scranton I went to Las Vegas. I did a seminar and Karen came out for the weekend. She had been at a meeting in San Francisco and flew in on Friday.
The seminar was at Circus Circus. The room was a dump, the bed was hard as a rock (as bad as Mexico), the air conditioner was noisy and the room was generally worn and looked dirty. The people a the front desk were not helpful at all. My hotel room had been canceled, and it took me at least ten minutes to find out which banquet room the seminar was in. On the other hand the banquet room and workers were exceptional. The banquet room was large and every time I needed something I was able to find the banquet person. The downside to having a seminar at a casino is no internet access, I could not even access the internet from a dial-up connection. This has never happened before so I am sure they were somehow blocking it. I was able to find a nice little internet cafe several miles away and later in the week I found an internet cafe across the street from Circus Circus. I thought the food was acceptable both at the restaurant and for the seminar but our California sales person received an email from one of the people in the class complaining about the seminar food.
Karen arrived Friday night and we checked into Monte Carlo. I liked the Monte Carlo, it was plush compare to Circus Circus. Karen liked the hotel and casino, but thought our room was dirty and small. The difference between men and women.
San Francisco June 2006
After Vegas my next trip was San Francisco. It was a very busy trip. I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in San Mateol at 2:00 am Saturday morning, and I had to be at the clinic to setup at 9:00 am. Since I was only there for seven hours, most of the time spent sleeping, I did not get to see much of the hotel, but what I saw was very nice. The room was large and comfortable, the furniture was in good condition. Not a surprise because the hotel looked new. I really liked the self service store in the lobby. It has snacks, soda and water. You also get two free bottles of water when you check in.
I had to go to Santa Rosa after setting up for the one day seminar seminar in Red Wood City so I opted to stay in San Francisco near Fisherman's Wharf at the Best Western Tuscan that evening. The hotel looked nice on the outside and it is in a great location. I was dead tired when I checked in so I went directly to my room, dropped my luggage on the floor, and laid down on the bed. When I woke up about an hour later I noticed that there was a crumpled up fast food bag on the table and there were crumbs on the bed. I thought this was odd but I it was not reason enough to request a new room. I went in the bathroom and saw used towels in the tub. This h motivated me to call the front desk and request a new room. I had hoped they would upgrade my room to make up for my inconvenience, but they did not. Instead the room that I got was located over the hotel entrance and it was much noisier.
Following my one day seminar in Red Wood City I had a seminar inFairfield at the Holiday Inn Select. This was the third time I had been there for a seminar. The first year we got a call from the banquet people saying that our equipment was left in the parking lot and they would not move it inside. We had to call the shipping people and have them redeliver it. To say your equipment is in the parking lot and we will not touch it is not very customer service oriented.
The hotel is very nice, it is on the edge of wine country so it is nicer than other Holiday Inn Selects, but the banquet and front desk people historically had not been very helpful. We were aware of issues we had previously with delivering our equipment and have come to expect problems here. I was driving a SUV loaded with equipment from a one day seminar that I gave earlier that day. The rest of the equipment was delivered and the banquet room was not available so the delivery company left the boxes in the hotel entry way. I am disappointed that they could find a temporary room for it.
After the second class was finished I drove back to a Hilton Garden Inn near the airport. Just like the Hilton Garden Inn in San Mateo this one had a pantry near the front desk where you can buy snacks, sodas and other necessities. The rooms are large and they have free high speed Internet. I was going to drive to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner and sightseeing, but as usual I was shot after a week of being in front of people, so I crashed. On Saturday I was going to hang out at Fisherman's Warf and North Beach and then catch my flight home but when I woke up Saturday I decided to just head home. I caught an early flight back to Minneapolis.