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Carribean Island All-Inclusive Resorts and Beyond


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Heading to the Virgin Islands in March and am hoping there's something in addition to conch fritters on the menu--any dining experiences you can share? We'll be staying on St. John, but am willing to island-hop for food--even to the BVI, if there is something really special there...

Thanks for any input!

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My husband and I have been to St John the past 4 years in a row. We always rent a villa in Coral Bay. Our favorite restaurant there for a special meal is Chateau Bordeaux (http/www.stjohnrestaurants.com/chateau.htm)

It is on St. John's highest peak. Ask for one of the tables by the window, and you will get a beautiful view of Coral Bay and a few of the British Virgin Islands. We had my husband's 40th birthday dinner there, and I must say it was one of our most memorable meals. In Cruz Bay there is another one of our favorites, Paradiso. See the link above to get there. All the restaurants in this link are highly recommended for fine dining, though we haven't ate at the others. I would recommend calling for a reservation, especially since it will be high season. Also when you arrive in St John ask if Miss Lucy's is open over in Coral Bay. She serves authentic island food (home cooking not a fine dining experience). On the night there is a full moon, she has a full moon party. You pay one price and get either chicken or fish caribbean style with all the fixins. The restaurant is right on the beach and there is usually a band and the rum punch flows. Always a big crowd. We were lucky one year to hit it right, and we had a blast. She does lunch and dinner and used to have a brunch on Sunday mornings. Bon appetit!

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I like Paradiso as well.

I would also highly recommend ZoZo's, which is also in Cruz Bay. It serves excellent Italian food. May sound strange to go for Italian food in the Virgin Islands, but trust me. I have recommended it to others and they ended up going several times.

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St. John is one of my favorite places!! I have been to Paradiso a couple of times & found the staff to be very slow and snooty. And there is better food to be had too, IMHO. For the price, it's good but not great.

My absolute favorite on the island is the Stone Terrace. Outstanding food, good wine list (Wine Spectator award winner), and centrally located in Cruz Bay. (http://www.stoneterrace.com/). Don't miss this place - reservations are necessary, as is the case with many of the restaurants on STJ.

For beautiful views and good (albeit expensive) food, check out Asolare. Make a reservation a few days in advance for an outside table so that you can watch the sunset over Cruz Bay. Very beautiful! (http://www.stjohnrestaurants.com/asolare.htm)

For more casual fare, the Lime Inn has good seafood & cocktails. And, Wednesday night is all you can eat shrimp. I also like the tapas restaurant and the Fish Trap - both of which are more casual.

As for bars, Woody's is the island's best-known spot for quick bites and happy hour $1 beers. Also, if you make your way over to Coral Bay, Skinny Legs and Island Blues are fun spots for beer, burgers, and the like.

Have a great trip!

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Just got back from Grenada on thursday. Laluna is the best place on the island. It's an Italian restruarnt and the owner imports his own wine from small producers in Italy. The food was good, the service was great and, the atmosphere was stellar! I think they even did a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot there. Its hard to find but, the taxis know how to get there and its a must do. Another place, Calabash, was ok but, expensive. The Owl has hermit crab races but, the Boat Yard has much better rum punch. If you plan to dive or snorkle, Dive Grenada is the snizzle. Phil is a blast to be around and a first rate guide. Its right next to the Owl. Nutmeg was a sandwich shop in downtown St George we ate at that was good and cheap. the view was cool too. Had a local dish called Roti there, a wrap of curried fish and potato, delish. The Beach House was another place we ate, I don't quite remember the food due to a flood of rum that night. We had much fun and plan to return often. :lol:

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My fiancee and I are planning a honeymoon in Aruba in the second half of October. It seems to be about the only place in the Carribean that's out of the hurricane belt!

The idea of the "all-inclusive" resort really appeals to me. After months of stressful wedding planning, the last thing I want to worry about is how much I'm spending on food when I'm SUPPOSED to be relaxing.

I've heard, though, that Aruba is one of those places where you DON'T want to go all-inclusive because it has so many good restaurants of its own to offer.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Also, if the general consensus is RESTAURANTS, then by all means, recommend away :)

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Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I was in Aruba in Oct. 2004 and the food was better than I expected, but we were there for only an extended weekend. We had a very nice dinner at Le Dome (I really enjoyed the Carbonnades Flammandes) and they had an excellent wine list. We also ate at the Old Cunucu House, which features "Aruban" cuisine. It was only okay. What I especially liked was the quality of the food in the local supermarket -- we bought really good cheese, charcuterie, pastries, yogurt and bread and had pastries for breakfast and picnics for lunch. A lot of the food must be imported from Europe, based on the brand names and variety. The Pirate's Nest restaurant at our hotel was lousy (the hokey name should have been a dead giveaway, but it was our first night and it was late and we were tired), although the hotel itself was decent, not too expensive and had a nice beach and 2 for 1 drinks every afternoon -- all you had to do was stick a flag in the sand next to your lounge chair and someone would come running to take your drink order. We stayed on the low-rise part of the island, not the ritzier high-rise area. I hope you are renting a car -- we relied on the bus and cabs, and rented a 4-wheel drive one day to go to the ocean side of the island, but our lack of a car prevented us from trying some of the interesting sounding restaurants because they were far away. There are a ton of restaurant reviews for Aruba on the internet.

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Having stayed at three or four all-inclusives, I'm strongly anti- all-inclusives for the most part (the one exception was Grand Cayman, an expensive island where it was nice to have breakfast and lunch, at least, covered). Aruba definitely seemed to me to have better dining options than other islands.

We enjoyed Cuba's Cooking (so tasty, reasonable and fun that we went twice during a 7 day trip), and El Gaucho (a festival of meat). I can't remember the name of the place within the Hyatt. It has a very nice outdoor setting, however the food was pretty much standard steakhouse fare.

A warning: not many fish are native to the waters around Aruba. I'm not sure if that's because of the warmer waters or if the waters have been overfished.

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We will be going to Grand Cayman for a week in early May and staying at the Ritz-Carlton. Other then the three restaurants in the hotel can anyone lend any suggestions for both lunch and dinner. Open to all types of cuisine/pricepoints. Thanks.

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Lucky you! I went to Grand Cayman in 2002 and just loved it. Two restaurant that I recall are Casanova (in Georgetown; Italian) and DJ's (Mexican, near the Grand Hyatt if memory serves).

The island is pretty expensive. Keep in mind that the exchange rate is fixed at US$1.25 = C$1.00.

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If there is Island for people who love food this is it. We spent the first four days of our honeymoon at Cap Juluca (the food sucked) in 2004, and there are some real gems on this island. The only bad meal we had was the one night we had dinner at the Cap. This seems like a nice event, but almost a waste to go there and limit yourself to just food at the hotel, when you have restaurants like Blanchards and grilled lobster, cray fish and rum punch lunches at Scilly Cay (a little private island off Anguilla) among others that we tried. We spend the next four days on St. Barths, which is a short flight from Anguilla, and the food was just as good but more expensive than Anguilla. For way way under $6,000 you split your time between these two islands during the off season and eat very well.

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If there is Island for people who love food this is it. We spent the first four days of our honeymoon at Cap Juluca (the food sucked) in 2004, and there are some real gems on this island. The only bad meal we had was the one night we had dinner at the Cap. This seems like a nice event, but almost a waste to go there and limit yourself to just food at the hotel
Each of the chefs will prepare a dinner one evening during the week that will be paired with the wines listed, so this isn't a 'let's order from the standard hotel restaurant menu every night' kind of trip.
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Each of the chefs will prepare a dinner one evening during the week that will be paired with the wines listed, so this isn't a 'let's order from the standard hotel restaurant menu every night' kind of trip.

Still, not worth it.

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Consider the cost of dining at each of the restaurants for the chefs listed -- CityZen, Citronelle, Restaurant Eve, Crush (trip to Seattle), Melisse (trip to Santa Monica), the Maillouhana itself (trip to Anguilla) and Michel Rostang's restaurants in Paris, including lodging (oceanview luxury rooms included at the Maillouhana), not to mention the cost of the wines that will be served. Hmm... might be worth it.

Still, not worth it.
Perhaps one could make that assessment once one has actually experienced the event.
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Consider the cost of dining at each of the restaurants for the chefs listed -- CityZen, Citronelle, Restaurant Eve, Crush (trip to Seattle), Melisse (trip to Santa Monica), the Maillouhana itself (trip to Anguilla) and Michel Rostang's restaurants in Paris, including lodging (oceanview luxury rooms included at the Maillouhana), not to mention the cost of the wines that will be served. Hmm.. might be worth it.

Perhaps one could make that assessment once one has actually experienced the event.

Not if you know what Anguilla has to offer. When I travel, I eat local, besides half the Chefs are from DC.

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So my wife and I were thinking about doing the all-inclusive thing - I hate the stress of paying for food on vacation. Any recommendations? I'd like to find the one with the best food offerings of course ;)

Many of these places get their food shipped down from Miami. The cooks may be local, but the raw materials are not. The food is also dumbed down for tourists. Once upon a time I lived in Jamaica and I love Caribbean food. I've spent some time at a well known all-inclusive and the food wasn't bad. However, If it were me I'd stay away from the big resorts and seek out some local food.

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Many of these places get their food shipped down from Miami. The cooks may be local, but the raw materials are not. The food is also dumbed down for tourists. Once upon a time I lived in Jamaica and I love Caribbean food. I've spent some time at a well known all-inclusive and the food wasn't bad. However, If it were me I'd stay away from the big resorts and seek out some local food.

We tried to do all-inclusive on the cheap in Cancun last year and struck out big time. The spot itself was nice, but food and drink were a culinary disaster. My sense is that all-inclusive is designed for people who don't give a crap about what they are eating or drinking so long as they can eat or drink lots of it. If you think you are going to run up a huge tab drinking or want to stuff your face, all-inclusive is probably a good way to go, but if you would rather eat well than eat lots and would rather share a bottle of wine than a case of beer, you might find you are both happier and as well off in the wallet to just eat out judiciously.

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It's as close to a sure bet as you can find that -- barring some culinary tourism outfit -- the food on an all-inclusive deal will suuuuuuuuuuck.

I find that knocking back six or eight rum and tonics before dinner dramatically reduces the stress of paying and encourages the kind of aimless wandering that gets you to the cheap cafes where the locals eat. This maximizes the chances that you'll discover something brilliant and unique, and minimizes the potential of being chained to the kind of cooking favored by people to are afraid to eat goat.

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Um, OK. Must be stressful to travel to Europe. My recent trip to PR provided for some interesting food finds that were not even close to breaking the bank. I guess it all depends on what island you are planning on visiting, but food better (and cheaper) than the all-inclusive offerings should not be hard to find.

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Waitman and I stayed at http://www.grandvelas.com/ for a few days in January for a work obligation. The best fun was getting off the reservation and into town to enjoy evening dancing in the square and a little bit of cock fighting. Though the accomodations and staff were top notch, the food was b-o-r-i-n-g even though I am sure that for an all-inclusive it too would be considered top-notch, my investment banker co-workers liked it enough to never leave until the departure date.

I recall reading recently about a resort in the Mexican Jungle that piqued my interest - ahah (wonderful Internet) here it is http://www.verana.com/. I would go there if it were my own dime. I still don't think that food's the thing but everything else is very compelling (read romantic and fun).

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I have stayed at two all-inclusives (Beach Club Colony/Grand Cayman and Couples San Souci/Jamaica). Will do everything I can to avoid it in the future. Other than breakfast, in both cases, I was ready to slit my wrists by the third meal. Jamaica was a short trip, but for the longer trip to Grand Cayman, we eventually started eating only breakfast and lunch on-site.

My parents (Mom is 61, Dad is 71) love Sandals. They always come back from Antigua with stories of the wonderful Japanese restaurant on the property. ;)

And the booze at all-inclusives is, uh, bottom shelf.

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Jlock and I thought we had found an answer to this problem with the Jamaica Inn, where we stayed for a week last month. Despite all of the good food reviews, we were quite disappointed. The breakfast was wonderful each day, and the lunches were very good, but dinner was a huge disappointment. They just tried too hard to make very formal multi-course meals when the talent laid with more casual fare. Jlock was hugely impressed with the drinks though. And, there was good jerk chicken nearby, but nothing within walking distance, and I wouldn't really recommend going off the property.

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We just spent 4 days trapped in food hell, in Jamaica. The food at the Round Hill Resort is the worst! Overcooked frozen fish, $30 Jerk Chicken, $15 frozen hamburgers, $25 breakfast buffet, it goes one. There was no way out, unless you wanted to pay $80 for a cab ride to the other side of Mo-bay. I left yesterday, feeling like I have been held up, and taken for everything I had. These people are clearly taken advantage of their guest.

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I was recently in St. John, USVI. Aside from places previously mentioned, I found Morgan's Mango to be outstanding, both in terms of food and service. I had their voodoo (blackened) mahi mahi (usually made with snapper, but you can choose any of their fish) with a mango salsa. A good balance of spice and sweetness. My wife had the filet with a garlic/parsley sauce -- quite good as well. They also have a great bar, which on the night we dined seemed to have more and later activity than most St. John's bars. If I return to one spot on St. John, it would be Morgan's Mango.

http://digitaldudes.com/navigmorgans.htm

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I'm on my third trip to Anguilla, and let's just say I will have a few pounds to lose when I return to DC. I am traveling with friends who love to eat and drink, so we rarely cook, and we drink frequently. Here are a few places I recommend:

Tasty's - everything on the menu, especially the seafood salad, whole anguillan snapper, and the coconut tart

E's Oven - coconut-crusted grouper

Straw Hat - everything on the menu, say hello to Armel

Deon's Overlook - head here for an amazing breakfast and inspiring view of Sandy Ground ( he also runs the kitchen at Ku and has a place in the vineyard)

Picante - seafood enchilada, fish tacos, great drinks, amazing hospitality

un amore - pizza, nice crust, say hello to Armel, who will take good care of you

Ku - on the beach, herb-marinated chicken wings, ginger-coconut coladas, live music (The Happy Hits) some nights.

Trattoria Tramonto - on the beach, classy, everything's good, may close at the end of this season, celebrity sightings

Ferryboat Inn - very casual, wednesday is wing night

Pumphouse - food is alright, especially the burgers, but the live music (the Musical Brothers on Thursday nights) will keep you and everyone else on the island there for hours.

Smokey's - on the beach, nice fish, chicken, and bbq

Koal Keel - dinner by candlelight, tour of the wine cellar, historic

(Will add more info when I return.)

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So my wife and I were thinking about doing the all-inclusive thing - I hate the stress of paying for food on vacation. Any recommendations? I'd like to find the one with the best food offerings of course :mellow:

We are going here in April. Apparently it is fantastic.

www.hermitagebay.com

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We are going here in April. Apparently it is fantastic.

www.hermitagebay.com

I learned to scuba dive in Antigua so it is one of my favorite places on the planet. Twenty years later I can still taste the sweet local baby pineapples. The perfect snack after you've been in the water for hours and you are convinced you will have the ocean in your mouth forever.
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We tried to do all-inclusive on the cheap in Cancun last year and struck out big time. The spot itself was nice, but food and drink were a culinary disaster. My sense is that all-inclusive is designed for people who don't give a crap about what they are eating or drinking so long as they can eat or drink lots of it. If you think you are going to run up a huge tab drinking or want to stuff your face, all-inclusive is probably a good way to go, but if you would rather eat well than eat lots and would rather share a bottle of wine than a case of beer, you might find you are both happier and as well off in the wallet to just eat out judiciously.

Yeah I had a very similar expereince when I went to Cancun.

When I went to Jamaica and I stayed at Couples Negril I had an amazing time. The food there is really high quality and there are lots of options for every meal and they include traditional Jamaican food as an option for the menu. I cannot recomend this place enough.

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My husband and I are travelling to Anguilla next weekend and thought I'd check in here to see if anyone has any further/updated opinions on the dining options that were listed on this thread? We are staying at the Cuisinart Resort (yes, the blender people - husband keeps asking if we get a free blender! :lol: ) - one dinner at Santorini in the Cuisinart resort is included with the package - but that leaves the other 3 nights. What other restaurants are highly recommended... often when we travel we really like the local cuisine which tends to be more "casual/fun" meals out (not dives - but casual restaurants on the beach, etc.) - not always the 5 star dinner nightly! We have such great food in the DC area with excellent "gourmet" options - it's hard to justify spending several hundred dollars on a 5 star meal out of town - when we could be hanging out at a more casual restaurant having the local food - like conch! Some of the best meals we had in Greece last year were in the taverns with more "tapas" style - not the 5 star "Italian" or "Asian Fusion" spots... We were in Greece - we wanted Greek food! :) I know I can find dining recs on some travel sites - but I have no way of knowing what kind of "palette" those reviewers have for truly good food! :lol:

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My husband and I are travelling to Anguilla next weekend and thought I'd check in here to see if anyone has any further/updated opinions on the dining options that were listed on this thread?
I know you weren't really looking for dives, but in Anguilla you can often find roadside barbecue pits setup that are pretty good. There is a roadside barbecue setup on Friday (and perhaps on Wednesday as well) that is basically a few barbecue grills setup at a shack down the road from Cuisinart and near Malliouhana. Several of the chefs who were cooking at the Malliouhana culinary event last July went there and said it was great. Folding lawn chairs around the grills for seating so it's not exactly a restaurant but it might be a good option for lunch one day. I think it's called B&D's.

They all look pretty much like this:

post-241-1211497649_thumb.jpg

Veya restaurant is an option as is scheduling a boat trip out to Scilly Cay where the only thing on the island is a tiny casual restaurant that serves lobster, crayfish or chicken. You'll need to book that ahead of time, like when you check in at Cuisinart. I'm sure they could set that up for you. All of the locals were highly recommending Tasty's Cafe which was mentioned upthread as well.

Regardless of the restaurants you choose, don't be surprised if you're served fish and meat that's been frozen -- even lobster since a lot of the area has unfortunately been overfished. Have a great trip!

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I know you weren't really looking for dives, but in Anguilla you can often find roadside barbecue pits setup that are pretty good. There is a roadside barbecue setup on Friday (and perhaps on Wednesday as well) that is basically a few barbecue grills setup at a shack down the road from Cuisinart and near Malliouhana. Several of the chefs who were cooking at the Malliouhana culinary event last July went there and said it was great. Folding lawn chairs around the grills for seating so it's not exactly a restaurant but it might be a good option for lunch one day. I think it's called B&D's.

They all look pretty much like this:

post-241-1211497649_thumb.jpg

Veya restaurant is an option as is scheduling a boat trip out to Scilly Cay where the only thing on the island is a tiny casual restaurant that serves lobster, crayfish or chicken. You'll need to book that ahead of time, like when you check in at Cuisinart. I'm sure they could set that up for you. All of the locals were highly recommending Tasty's Cafe which was mentioned upthread as well.

Regardless of the restaurants you choose, don't be surprised if you're served fish and meat that's been frozen -- even lobster since a lot of the area has unfortunately been overfished. Have a great trip!

Thanks Camille-Beau! I appreciate your help! Having info like this before the trip makes it so much easier to dine once we get there! :lol:

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Just got back from a wedding in the Caymans. We stayed at The Reef Resort (http://www.thereef.com) on the East End of Grand Cayman Island. The resort was adequately nice, nothing fancy but did the trick for a couple of days. The Reef Resort bills itself for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of 7 Mile Beach and George Town. Basically the area is comprised of two adjacent resorts with a shopping plaza across the street with a bakery (not very good), gold store, liquor store (mmmm, rum), and a small grocery store (not enough local food stuff). And That's It.

Heavy traffic on the two lane "highway" meant three cars driving by.

Since we were part of a wedding group we got breakfast vouchers and the kitchen did a decent job making bacon, eggs, pancakes, etc. etc. Otherwise we basically snacked off the bar menu, fish tacos, conch fritters, and the quesadillas were all above average on the bar food scale. The pizza was not. The resort catered the wedding, many of the passed apps were sitting on crostini which quickly became chewy in the ocean air. The ceviche shooters and seared tuna with seaweed salad and pickled ginger were good. In the finest British tradition, the chunk of roast beef at the carving station was excellent.

The rehersal dinner was at Portofino (http://caymanislandsdiscounts.com/PortofinoDinnerMenu.htm), which appeared to be pretty much the only sit down restaurant on the East End serving dinner. We had a set menu and thus nothing special to report...except the location, situated on the water, we took over the outdoor balcony...yeah it did not suck!

Other highlights included:

The patties at the Runway Bar in the airport

Snorkeling, fishing, kayaking and drinking

Not being in washington dc

Our driver Apollo

Cuban cigars!

Lowlights

The Tortuga Rum Cake, this is the islands biggest export??? Major disappointment

Caybrew Beer

Missed-lights

Not trying the roadside jerk stands...Best signage "Buy One Jerk, Get One Jerk Free"

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