trip report was composed by Jamaica Jim Jordan, following his 16TH trip
to Hedonism, in the hopes it would be helpful to the others looking for
information about Hedonism II.
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Well, it's all over again! In late April and early May, 1995, we returned from our sixteenth trip to that "Paragon of Pleasure Palaces," that "Home of Hedonistic High-jinks," that "Location of Looney Luxury" -- Hedonism II, in Negril, Jamaica! And, here is my humble attempt to post my memories and memoirs of that trip! If it seems to be a rehash of past trip reports, that's probably cause there are just SO many things that one can say, or write, about Hedonism! Plus, when you reach MY advanced age, you do tend to repeat yourself! If I've left out ANYTHING, just take the Jamaican song theme - "Don' worry, be happy!"
I won't try to cover all the things that occurred during what was an eleven-day span of time -- my mind can't recall THAT many things! Nor will I try to emulate all the other trip reports that promulgate those things that everybody ELSE seems to hold so dear! You know the drill -- "We went to breakfast and "Doody" had a cheese omelet and..." or "We took flight 10000 from Denver to Atlanta and ended up in Hartford..." or "We couldn't get the waiter to bring us a *decent* bottle of wine...!" I find those to be a tad bit mundane, even though SOME people think a trip report just ISN'T a trip report without 'em!
No, and I'm not gonna try to give out a chronological list of what happened to whom, where, how and with whom! In the first place, for the reader who hasn't been to Hedonism, either they would think such things just COULDN'T happen or they'd decide that Hedonism just wasn't for THEM! I may put in too much about the some of "players" who were there, but if one of THEM was composing a trip report, I'D shore wanna be included! <smile>
No, I'm gonna try to hit the highlights of what was - for us - probably the absodamnlute "best-est" ever trip to Hedonism! Hey, rather than go on and on and on bout WHAT I'm gonna write, I'll just get on WITH IT! <smile> But, remember that this "tome" was composed almost a month after the fact and I AM as old as DIRT and my memory IS severely adversely affected by my advanced age! So, here goes nothing..... <smile>
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Hedonism - "ZOO II"!
Jamaica Jim Returns -- AGAIN!!
The Trip South!
It was a dark and stormy night ... (Oops, wrong trip report)! Actually, the day of departure was a clear day, albeit we had to get up and to the airport SO early that it was INDEED still dark! However, we made it to our plane on time, flew to the Queen City (Charlotte, NC) and got to our check-in gate for our US Air flight to "MoBay" (Montego Bay, for you Jamaica neophytes) ontime. There, I struck up a conversation (much to Nina's chagrin) with a gal who was obviously going on the same flight. Turned out that she and her husband were headed to Hedonism, too! Small world!
Our flight from Charlotte was uneventful - until it had landed at MoBay and pulled up to the gate! No, they DIDN'T "spray the plane for insects! <g> No, as I reached up and took my "Original Jamaica Jim WalMart Straw Hat" from the overhead bin and placed it firmly on my receding hairline head, a gal two rows ahead and across the aisle looked at me and exclaimed in avoice that the whole front half of the plane could hear, "Are YOU Jamaica Jim? THE Jamaica Jim? From CompuServe?" With my usual demure demeanor <g>, I nodded and softly said, "Yes, that's me." She turned to her traveling companion and said, "Look, it's the guy that wrote all those reports about Jamaica and Hedonism that we read!" That just goes to show you - I *AM* a legend in my own MIND! <smile>
MoBay Airport - Hot and Humid !!
As we walked off the plane, we were again assailed by that hot, humid air that I've come to love so much! We quickly cleared Immigration and got ALL of our checked bags without a hitch. I WAS just a bit "antsy" about going through Customs, seeing as how we'd gotten "caught" the last trip - with "smuggling" in children's clothes - but I bravely faced the "Customs Agent From Hell" - again - and it appeared she didn't remember ME, so I sure wasn't gonna remind her who I was! We cleared Customs, AND without being caught with the blender I was "smuggling" in for a friend, and wended our way to the new Timair desk, just to the left of the double doors in the transportation hall. I quickly paid for the flight on our chartered plane and we hied off down the way to the far end of the terminal building, to the intra-island airline gate.
As we were walking along, a single guy - who was going on our plane - was walking along beside Nina. She turned to him and asked, "Where are YOU staying in Negril?" He answered "Hedonism" - whereupon the porter who was taking all our bags to the gate mumbled under his breathe, "ZOO II!" So, as Paul Harvey would say, that's the rest of the story of how this report got it's title! Oh, and it turns out that "Zoo II" is THE name that ALL the locals use to refer to Hedonism! I wonder why? <BG>
To see a graphic map of the Negril area, click HERE! On the map, Hedonism is number 59, Grand Lido is 58, Sandals is 77 and Point Village is 68 and the Negril Airport can be seen angling to the northeast.
Our Timair flight got us to Negril's G.N.A.T. (Greater Negril Aerodrome Terminal) right on time - exactly fourteen minutes after execution of the take-off roll at MoBay! For the price, US$120, it sure beats the hell out of taking the "Bus from Hell" - IMHO! Then it was away for the short cab ride to HEAVENISM, TOO! As we passed the back gate to Grand Lido, we saw what was a small huddle of locals who obviously were part of the labor dispute that had occurred there. (More on that later.)
In a flash, we pulled into the front gate and alighted from the cab, to the music of Sydney Watson's welcoming calypso band playing the song Sydney wrote, "Jamaica Jim, He Soon Come Home!" Sorta chokes you up! <smile> We checked in and in less time that it takes you to say "Original Jamaica Jim WalMart Straw Hat," we were snugly nestled in room 2173, just two doors from the famed "Jamaica Jim Suite" - room 2175! We were finally home again, at -- "Zoo II!"
I quickly pulled the drapes open, in order to again be able to behold that beautiful beach -- and Nina said, "That looks like TIM kissing that girl!" I looked, but his back was to me and I couldn't tell that it looked like our friend from the Washington D.C. area. Then, when he "finished" kissing the girl - lo and behold - it WAS Tim - and the GIRL was his wife, Gail ! Tim had told Andrea, of Go Classy Tours - the travel agency we both use, NOT to tell ME that THEY were gonna be there! It was a great surprise, the first of many!
We had met Gail and Tim a couple of years ago, when they were at Hedonism for their honeymoon. This was their second anniversary, I believe. They had a couple with them that they knew from back home, Joann and Sherman, who were a delightful addition to our group.
I opened the window and started talking with Tim and Gail out the window, when - wonder of wonders - WHO should appear - but good ol' RicHARD, our friend from Ottawa, Canada! (He's the fellow who had flown Nina and I, along with four other friends from around the world - at HIS expense - to Ottawa for a WEEKEND, to celebrate his wife's birthday!) It IS a small world! He and Francine had been on a business trip to Orlando and decided at the last minute to go to Hedonism, not knowing that we were gonna be there! It had been two years since we'd seen 'em and it SURE was great to see RicHARD's ugly puss again!!
The next surprise was the arrival - the next day - of Fred and Carol, from a tiny town in Kentucky - Peewee Valley, Ky! (With a name like "Peewee Valley," you'd expect at least a city the size of - LOS ANGELES!) We had been on two past trips when that had been with us. They hadn't known we were gonna be there, either, and they were expecting their neighbors, Jane and Jerry, our friends who have been with us on MANY of our previous trips! I could see it already - a fine time was gonna be had by ALL!
We already knew that Don, who is from Pennsylvania (both of whom are here on CompuServe), and Rich - another one from Philadelphia - were going to be there. We also knew our good friend, George from New York, who is the video director for the "ABC News With Peter Jennings," and our best "gal pal," Barbara from Scotland and her friend John, were going to be in attendance at the "Sixth Annual Jamaica Jim Hedonism CompuServe Spring Reunion!" The plot - and the "characters" - thickened! <g>
By the way, if you've never been to Hedonism when Barbara is there, you really have missed it! Who else could (or WOULD) arrange a "champagne party" on the beach - at 10:00 AM? Yeah, we've been lounging at the end of the nude beach - or as Barb calls it, "The Edge" - when all of a sudden what should appear - but champagne bottles, replete with ice buckets on stands - AND glasses! I tell you, Barbara is SOMETHING ELSE!
A few years back, Barbara was wearing a braided bracelet that I'd made using the same red plastic "gimp" that Hedonism uses for key necklaces. Some fellow walked up to her wearing one of the cute expandable bracelets that you can buy . He told Barbara that his bracelet was the identification that HE was part of some group or other. He then asked Barbara what groupHER bracelet represented. Barbara piped up, "Well, it's the insignia of the 'On The Edge Group!' We're a VERY exclusive group and you hafta be 'invited' in order to even be considered! Our group meets at a different place each season and this time we decided to meet at Hedonism! Last time, we met on the French Riviera!" She REALLY had this dude going! He was almost salivating to get invited to join! Course, Barbara just tossed her pixie bangs and trotted off - back to "The Edge" of the property! She's a TRIP!
And, a nicer person, you'll NEVER meet! We took a trip to Europe a couple of years ago and Barbara invited us to spend a full week staying with Barbara in her "castle" down in the Border Country, just south of Edinburgh. It has to hold the all time record for the absodamnlutely best place we've ever been! It's called "The Hangingshaw" and you know any place with a name like that HAS to be special - almost as special as it's "bonny" owner! She's not only "bonny" - she's got the most lilting Scottish brogue you've EVER heard!
Over and above our regular band of pirates, there were some other new folks who either latched on to US - or we latched on to THEM! We met a few folks who seemed to find our end of the beach to be their cup of tea, just as we do! One who stands out, was Kingsley Clarke, who is Chief Technical Officer for the International Transport Division of Barbados. He is a super guy!
We met a neat young gal, Heidi, from Norristown, Pa. She was walking down by "our" end of the beach - dressed - and I invited her to "join us." She did! She took off her clothes and jumped right in the water! She was cute as a button and I think all the guys in the group were wishing we were younger! I'm not sure, but I think she mentioned that her favorite music was "industrial gothic!" "Industrial GOTHIC?" That's when she lost me!
I think one of the most delightful couples we've ever met was Dianne and Jim from Chattanooga, who were there for their first time and celebrating their tenth anniversary. Seems that Dianne had just found out, the week prior to their departure, that she was in "the family way" and she wanted to "experience" it ALL - including morning sickness - which she did - every morning! I think she finally realized that there ARE more pleasant experiences! (Unfortunately, upon returning home, she had a miscarriage, but I hear that she is optimistic and she and Jim have gone right back to trying to "make" another baby! We all wish her and Jim success!)
As usual, I ran into my ol' buddy, Charley (W. H.) Cross! Charley runs a large commercial farm over in Manchester, for a German consortium, and usually spends his weekends at Hedonism - if it's not sold out - in which case he takes his chances somewhere down the beach! I've known Charlie for a few years and it was great to see him again ! I always know, come the weekend - and we were at Hedonism for two weekends this trip - that Charley will end up down at the hot tub - just a regular as clockwork!
One other surprise was seeing Myna and Jeff, from Maryland. We had met them and been with them on our second and third trips to Hedonism. Then, the next two trips, we met them - in passing - in the MoBay Airport! We would be walking up the hall from the arriving flight and we'd pass them going down the corridor to their departure gate! It sure was great to be able to renew acquaintances again!
I'm sure that there are gonna be some other folks who are gonna tell me that I failed to include them in this compendium of people who were at Hedonism at the same time. I can only plead "old age" as my excuse for forgetting 'em! After all, I AM OLD!
I had previously written to three couples on the Travel Forum who were all gonna be in Negril at the same time, that I'd be delighted to host a tour for them all around Hedonism, if I could get permission from the management - which I knew would be "No problem, Mon!" (After all, when you hold the exalted "office" - even if it IS self assumed - of Chairman of the Hedonism Board - the management is a pushover for my shenanigans! <smile>) However, the first day I did make a point of "asking" the new general manager, Kevin Levee, if it would be all right. (Of course he said, "Anything you want, Jim, is okay with me!" Nice fellow!) I did tell Kevin that I would take full responsibility for the tour - and I'd have 'em all off the property before supper! Kevin said, "That's no problem. Why not ask them to be OUR guests for supper!" He's a REALLY nice fellow!
In addition to the three CompuServe couples, I'd invited the couple from the plane to join us, too! The party was to include Wendy and Larry Held, Chris and Pat Donahoe, Chris and Melissa Michel and - of course, the couple from the airplane! (For the life of me I can't remember their names! Maybe - since she's on CompuServe too - she will e-mail me, telling me how bad my memory is - but what the heck, it IS the first thing to go!) It was too bad, but Wendy was "somewhat under the weather" and couldn't be in with us, but Larry was and I think he really enjoyed seeing "how the other half lived!"
The tour was a full one - from the main entrance, to the piano bar, thence to the tennis courts and the squash court. From there, we walked around to the swimming pool and down to the disco and bar. Then, we strolled past the main beach bar, along the prude beach, past the pier and the dive shop, to the nude beach. I showed 'em Delroy's bar and - finally, that huge, humongous, Hedonistic - hot tub! I think they were suitably impressed!
I then extended "The Invitation!" and lo and behold, Chris and Pat Donahoe decided to take me up on the offer! The rest said they all had plans, but I think - down deep - they were sorry not to be staying! Larry, Chris and Melissa and the couple from the plane said adieu and they left for parts unknown! I asked Chris and Pat if they'd like to sample the hot tub - and they ACCEPTED! Nina and I offered 'em the use of our room to shed their duds - and it was off to a sensuous soak! I can't really remember what was going on out there, but I'd say it must've been pretty tame or I WOULD have remembered!
After a leisurely soak, we all trooped back to the room and dressed and wended our way "top-side" for supper. We had gotten a table right in the center of the dining area, so following supper, we had great seats for the evening's entertainment. Pat and Chris told me they had really enjoyed everything, thanked me - and Pat said he thought they just might get a day pass the next day, since they'd already had their night pass - and it had been FREE!
As an aside, the next morning, I came upon Kevin at breakfast and thanked him profusely for his graciousness and generosity. I happened to mention that one couple enjoyed it so much that they were planning to pay for a day pass and come back. Ever the genial host, he said, "No, call them and tell them they won't have to pay for a pass. I'd like for them to be your guests for a day and at no charge!" WOW! (I had previously found out that the Hedonism day passes run $50.00 per person and the night passes are $55.00 per person!) Pat and Chris enjoyed everything that Hedonism had to offer (Well, ALMOST everything!), and a package worth $210.00 total, and all for free!
CompuServe Luncheon !!
In the past, the previous General Manager of Hedonism, the esteemed Gary Williams, had made it a practice each trip to have me extend his warm invitation to all of our computer "gang" and "regulars" for an off premises luncheon at Cosmos beach Restaurant - at Gary's expense. (See, in the past, most of the gang had been on that "other" on-line service, Prodigy, where we all did exactly what we Hedonists do now on CompuServe - tell other Hedonism "wanna-be's" how great Hedonism is! Gary knew that our "word-of-mouth" advertising had been responsible for many folks coming to Hedonism and the luncheon was his way of saying "Thank you" to everybody. Plus, it was just a li'l bit extra, that the "ordinary" guest didn't get, but us "devout" Hedonists got, just for helping publicize Hedonism!)
I asked Kevin early in the trip if HE planned to maintain the custom set by his predecessor. He assured me he did and he even had his beautiful wife, Cecile, go with us! Kevin had arranged for us to meet him in the lobby one afternoon at 1:00 o'clock and he'd made arrangements for a bus to transport our li'l band of pirates down the beach to Cosmos - a big, air conditioned bus! (I ONLY travel in style! <g>) We were met by none other than HIMSELF - Cosmo Brown - and we had a fine lunch. At the Cosmo's suggestion, we ordered an assortment of curried dishes. Oh, I know - the first time - I thought I wouldn't like curried food, but the way it's prepared at Cosmos, it is "de-li-ci-ous!" I think they use just a hint of curry, so it doesn't overwhelm your palate! I think I can say without fear of contradiction, and nobody ain't gonna contradict ME, that a fine meal WAS had by all!
During the dinner, we had time to chat with Kevin. He had previously been the resident manager at Hedonism, but had left SuperClubs to follow other prospects. When Richard Hall took the assignment as General Manager at Boscobel, SuperClubs wisely brought Kevin back to Hedonism as Resident Manager, a position in the SuperClubs' hierarchy that's the equivalent to being assistant to the General Manager. When it looked as if Gary Williams was going to go to the proposed Hedonism St. Lucia, Kevin was tapped to take over for Gary. Alas, St. Lucia hasn't even started! More on that later!
Kevin showed, by his manner and the subjects he talked about, the depth of his experience and his dedication to continue improving Hedonism, as it had been doing under Gary's management. He indicated that starting in May, 1995, Hedonism was going to undertake a complete renovation of all the rooms. They plan to repaint each room and remove the carpet and replace it with a ceramic tile. The air-conditioning units are being reworked during the renovation and the overall appearance should be 100% improved.
He stated that he was concerned with the appearance of the beaches and was investigating the possibility of installing artificial reefs to reduce the beach erosion from wave action. This is one sharp cookie! There is still the proposed addition of some new rooms and a new swimming pool on the nude end of the beach, near where the existing aviary is located.
Following our robust repast at Cosmos, most of the gang returned with Kevin and Cecile to the resort. Nina, Gail, Tim and I had decided that we would go on "downtown" and see if we could find some genuine Blue Mountain Coffee, a true delicacy, at least for coffee drinkers! (It seems that bout 90% of the crop each year is bought by and shipped to - Japan! No wonder a pound of the stuff costs in the neighborhood of $40.00 - and that's in US dollars, not Jamaican!) I had remembered that we had purchased coffee by the pound at the Hi-Lo Supermarket at Sunshine Plaza on a previous trip at bout $7.00 a pound. Well, Cosmo got us a taxi and off we went - shopping - Jamaican style!
We first went to the Hi-Lo, but they only had half pound bags and they were fairly expensive. I then decided to look up my old friend, Lachman Dadlani, at his jewelry shop in the mall. (I'm sure many of you who went to Hedonism in the past remember "Lachie" - he and Mona used to run the duty free shop there.) He was out, but his lovely wife, Mona, told me that there WAS a shop just across the mall that carried the coffee at the lowest price anywhere in Negril! She was right! We were able to get the coffee in pound bags - the real stuff - for $9.00 a bag! Tim bought TEN POUNDS - I think!
I had seen a beautiful gold bracelet, which just "cried out" to be placed on Nina's wrist! I bought it - and also got ME a li'l trinket - a gold "Hedonism" half disk to wear on my neck chain! (Heck, if I was gonna buy NINA some gold, I figured it was only right that I should "gift" myself, too!) As I was buying the jewelry, "Lachie" returned and we had a fine time renewing acquaintances! He said he'd hafta put a larger ring on my disk and he'd deliver it to me that night. He did - as if I had any doubt! <g> It's a shame that he no longer runs the shop at Hedonism, but business is business and he didn't bid high enough! Such is life!
I had gotten the taxi to pick us back up for my last two stops! Previous to this trip I had used the "Guide To Negril" information book that can be obtained at the Jamaica Tourism Board kiosks in Negril. It's put out yearly by the Negril Chamber of Commerce and I've found it invaluable in providing me with phone numbers and locations of the various businesses in and around the town for folks on the Travel Forum. I was so impressed, that after our October trip, I even sent in a small check and became a member of the Chamber! So I wanted to stop and introduce myself to Mrs. Jean Jackson, the manager. I did, and I think she was astounded that someone would make a special trip, just to meet her and see the offices of the Chamber!
In addition, I had previously met a young man, Bert Bently, who is working for the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society. The Society has done a wonderful job of placing permanent buoys on some 32 dive sites, thereby reducing damage to the reefs by boats anchoring. It has also done a great job of making people aware of just how fragile the reefs are. Being a scuba diver myself, and having learned to scuba dive just so I could be able to dive in and around Negril, I was most interested in the work of the Society. After all, I want the reefs to be around long after MY bubbles have departed this world! That said, I'd sent in my membership fee months ago to join the Society! (I bet y'all had NO idea how interested in Jamaica and Negril I really am!) I stopped in at the Society office, too, just to meet Katy Thacker, the Program Director, and let the folks there know who Jamaica Jim Jordan is!
Scuba Diving - Negril Style !!
I made a promise to myself for this trip. "Self," I said, "You need to make a point of diving as many times as possible this trip! After all, you DID get your dive certification, just to be able to dive the warm, gin clear waters in and around Negril! And, you DID haul all that equipment, including those heavy dive weights all the way down here on that plane! If you don't dive each and every day, you're not getting your money's worth for ALL those dollars you paid!" I had to agree with myself - Hell, who was *I* to argue with *HIM*? However, the "best laid plans of mice and men" - I did only seven dives, but they were great!
The only problem was - every damn day it seemed that the dive boat was packed full - and with folks who'd never dived before! Now, don't get me wrong! I sure don't profess to be a "Jamaica Jim Cousteau!" Far from it! But being on a "cattle boat" full of divers, many of whom take the better part of ten to fifteen minutes just to clear their ears and get to the bottom of the anchor line - and you're talking bout me using up HALF of MY air, waiting for the group! That ain't MY kinda diving! Lucky for me, all of the dive masters know me and, if there are not an even number of divers to buddy together - they let me dive by myself. No, I don't go off by myself! I stay with the group - generally - but I really just do my own thing!
I can say that I did enjoy the dives, once all the rigmarole of getting the equipment on and getting in the water was done. I took along my underwater 35 mm camera and got some fairly good shots - nothing that will ever grace the pages of "Scuba Diver" magazine, but good enough to remind me of the joys of diving at Hedonism! The last dive, on Frenchman's Hole reef, really was a highlight of my total of 100-plus dives. It is just above Grand Lido and Bloody Bay and just south of the mouth of the river that feeds from the Great Morass. (That's the river that flows under the bridge that's bout two miles along the road toward MoBay.) The reefs there were awesome - with long narrow cuts running from the foot of the cliff out and to the bottom - some ninety feet down! Other than the "tugboat" off the South Point, I think this was as good a dive site as I've been to, at least in Jamaica!
I had a number of occasions to talk with Kevin Levee about what was going on with SuperClubs and from what I got, it's all optimistic. Oh, yeah, they did have a bit of labor trouble over across the street at Grand Lido, but that wasn't of SuperClubs' making!
As I understand it - and I've also gotten information on this from sources other than Kevin - the problem started back in late February or early March, when a union organizer from Kingston got a "bee in his bonnet" that HE was gonna get the workers at Grand Lido a better deal than they had!
Now, you need to understand, Grand Lido's workers were ALREADY unionized! And, the union contract was due to expire in 1996 . It also contained a provision that the two parties would enter into contract renegotiations six months prior to the end of the contract.
Not to be daunted by "mere" contract terms, this organizer persuaded about 20 workers that they deserved a better wage than they were getting and he convinced those twenty workers to stage a "walkout" - this, when the resort had a large number of paying guests! It's my opinion that he figured the resort's management would cave in and negotiate right then and there! Was HE ever wrong!
Well, Sam James duly reported the walkout to the Kingston office and he was told to fire the lot of 'em - which he did! Those fired workers, under the urging of the organizer, "stormed" the front gate and staged a "sit down" strike, right in the lobby! The Grand Lido management promptly called in the police and all the strikers were arrested, including the organizer, who I understand "resisted arrest!" That resulted in the remaining 180 or so employees walking out - in sympathy for the fired workers! Thereupon, Sam promptly fired them, TOO!
Now picture this if you can - in a country that already has an extremely high unemployment, here were about 200 people walking off of what was probably a pretty good job - by Jamaican standards! Well, it didn't take long for the 180 workers to realize that they had just effectively lost a good job! They all returned and said they wanted to forget about the sympathy strike and get back to work! But, Sam remained steadfast and refused to allow any of 'em back on the property!
So, here was Grand Lido, the "jewel" in the SuperClubs' crown - with a hotel full of guests - and nobody to wait tables or make up beds or mow the lawns! What Sam and the other folks in supervisory positions did was to roll up their sleeves and do whatever needed to be done! In addition, they notified all the guests that if they wanted to leave Grand Lido and go to any other resort, Grand Lido would pay the cost of transferring them and the cost of their stay at the another resort! As new guests arrived, they were also given the option of going elsewhere - at Grand Lido's expense. A few of the returning guests opted to stay at Grand Lido, since they knew that what was going on wasn't the fault of the resort and they made the best of it. Others did transfer to other resorts, mostly guests who were at Grand Lido for the first time.
The resort did go through a difficult period of a few weeks - maybe even a month - before the employees that had been newly hired to replace the striker were able to be trained in the "Grand Lido way of doing things! However, within that month, things slowly got back to what passed for normal - or nearly so. When we arrived in Negril and were riding from the Negril airport to Hedonism, we saw only a small group of ex-employees across the street from the rear gate of Grand Lido, but there was no picketing and we saw little if anything that would indicate that anything was out of the ordinary.
Kevin did tell me he heard that the union had threatened to strike all the SuperClubs properties, but nothing ever came of it. I also heard from somebody else that the union had also threatened to strike Sandals Negril, but Butch Stewart was reported to have said he'd burn the place to the ground before he'd even talk with the union!
As we were headed back to the United States, the Jamaican Industrial Dispute Tribunal was to hear the case. But, as recently as a month after we got back, the IDT had only heard a part of the testimony - prior to adjourning for the summer! Who knows when - or IF - the dispute will be finally resolved?
What's Up With SuperClubs ??
In contrast to the situation that was experienced at Grand Lido, the rest of the SuperClubs resorts appear to be doing fine. There is, in addition to Kevin Levee, a whole, new generation of general managers at some of the resorts, including some who "paid their dues" at Hedonism. Richard Hall is now the General Manager at Boscobel and Patrick Drake is General Manager at Sans Souci Lido. Patrick, by the way, was promoted to take over when Joey Issa, son of John Issa, Chairman of the Board, was promoted on up to Executive Vice President, Development, for the whole company.
I personally think all of these fellows have proved themselves to be fully capable of their responsibilities and will provide the leadership of the company for MANY years to come! I also once met Zein Issa, John's daughter and Joey's sister, and the person for whom the yacht at Grand Lido is named after! If anybody wants to see up-and-coming management, just watch Zein! She is a real driving force in SuperClubs!
As I mentioned above, Gary Williams left Hedonism the end of March to go to the Bahamas and take over there as General Manager at Breezes. SuperClubs had purchased a property in the Bahamas last summer. It used to be the Wyndham Resort and SuperClubs quickly began complete renovation of the property, and in the process, renamed it Breezes . (They also have another Breezes being built right now, in Montego Bay.) Gary accepted the position as General Manager at the new Bahamas property and he moved on as of April 1st. I just heard this week that it was not YET open, though it had been scheduled to be open by June 1st! "Soon come, Mon!" <smile>
As for Hedonism St. Lucia, it looks like it's completely on "the back burner" - for the immediate future. That's a shame for us long-time Hedonists who were looking forward to going to St. Lucia - for the grand opening! I don't think it's much of a problem, as I've heard, that the St. Lucian government didn't want a nude beach . I think instead that it's simply a matter of SuperClubs devoting it's manpower and financial resources to get the newly acquired Breezes in the Bahamas open and producing revenue. To that end, the MoBay Breezes is reported to be under construction at Doctor's Cave Beach and I'd expect it will take precedence over St. Lucia, too.
I'm sure most of our forum members know already that SuperClubs operates the Club Varadero in Cuba. I happened to sit in on a post-breakfast gab-fest one morning with Kevin and the Executive Chef from the Club Varadero. It was most interesting and enlightening to talk with him. I learned that all of the tourism infrastructure in Cuba belongs to one man - Raul Castro, brother of Fidel! He controls everything from the taxis to the shops and the hotels and resorts!
Raul's company, Cubanacan, even decides who goes to work in the tourism industry - and where! If a hotel needs a cook, they might get a man who had been a truck driver, or a mechanic, or whatever, for his whole life! It's up to the hotel to train him and they have no say in who they get. I was also told that if an employee gets sick, they still come to work! But, if a member of their family gets sick, they simply stay home and tend to their sick! Interesting!
The "band on the stand" during our stay was from Cuba, too! The six members were very good. There were also two beautiful coordinators, who were both work at Club Varadero and were at Hedonism "on loan" for six months! Gosh, could they sing and dance! When the "Lambada" started up, it was "Katie bar the door!"
SuperClubs still has a long term plan to build in some other Caribbean countries . There is still the real probability that there will be a Cuba Cuba and a Grenada Grenada. Of course, the names are a "play" on the name, Jamaica Jamaica, their other property in Runaway Bay.
I had, as always, brought my "pre-sewn" toga (McCall's pattern #4585, Lg.) <g> and that always gives me plenty of extra time on Toga Nights - to tie togas on young, beautiful, nubile, pliant feminine bodies! (Course, all this activity takes place in the "Jamaica Jim Suite" - whichever room that happens to be that particular trip - and Nina's always there, so it's all on the up-and-up!) I DO tie a mean toga, even if I do say so myself! This trip was no exception. I had my hands - AND my eyes - full, tying togas on a plethora of pretty gals! (I even tied a few on guys, but keep THAT fact quiet! Heck, somebody hadda do it!!)
Toga night - the first week - was pretty much the same as it always is, and the second week, was more of the same! I do remember that the talent show, put on by both staff and guests, had some excellent skits, singers and dancers - both weeks we were there.
The Pajama Party was a surprise - on ME! Nina had said weeks before we even left to go to Hedonism that, she had gotten "something special" to wear at the Pajama Party . No matter how much I tried to get her to tell me what it was, she stood fast. By the time we got to Hedonism, what with all our friends that had arrived, I'd completely forgotten about it.
On the night of the Pajama Party, we went back to the room after the show and I hastily pulled on my paisley nightshirt. Nina was in the bathroom changing. I called through the door that I was gonna run over and get a Pepsi from the dispenser at the hot tub and I'd be right back. I got the drink, walked back the short distance to the room opened the door and saw - Nina, standing there in the negligee she'd worn the first night of our honeymoon - thirty-five years ago! I was stunned ! She looked just as beautiful as she had thirty-five years before! Then - to put the icing on the cake, Nina won for having the "Most Virginal" costume! I'd say THAT was an appropriate award, seeing as how the ONLY other time it had been worn was on our WEDDING NIGHT - and then, it wasn't worn for very LONG!
Oh, yes, Gail also won a prize - or should I say THE prize - at the Pajama Party ! She'd gone to some specialty shops in Washington and HER outfit was the best danged LEATHER and BOOTS and CHAINS and WHIP anybody ever saw! Plus, she'd gotten Tim a matching "sub" outfit - in the same leather! I must say she shore did look great! <grin>
Bits and Pieces !!
I hafta admit to NOT taking part in body painting, Hedo Olympics, island picnics, disco dancing, Karochi singing, "lunch time spins," or midnight dips in the main pool - sans swim suits! I know - from the list of things I DIDN'T do, you'd think I had a lousy time of it! Au contraire, mes amis! It's just that "I've been there, done that" - and I don't HAFTA do it no more! But, I DID do a lotta watching!
Some friends and I had, on other trips, had a helluva of a good time with the three person, water balloon slingshots! We'd all made shopping forays out before our trip down, just to replenish our supply of water balloons - but we were most careful! We ONLY got the "bio-degradable" ones! (The best ones are the green ones that look like "hand grenades!") I had a device to fill 'em that screws right on the water faucet that's between the two last buildings! But, all our logistics were for naught! Seems that a gal a few months had been hit smack in the face with a water balloon and nearly lost her eye, so the management had "outlawed" use of 'em anywhere on the property! I could certainly understand - but it was a disappointment, since we always enjoyed giving the Sandals' boat a "broadside salvo" as they'd slow down - to let the "Sandalites" look at the "neecked Hedonists!"
On Wednesday afternoon, they had the regular nude body painting on the nude beach. Again, I've been there, done that and don't hafta do it no more! I had failed to print out the Travel Forum "logo," for folks to see what it looked like. But Tim and Gail decided that they wanted to get the award of a "month's free flag" on the Travel Forum, as our esteemed Sysop, Jerry Schneiderman has offered to anybody crazy enough to paint it on themselves! I quickly "sketched" out how it should look and what colors to use and, I think it looked pretty good. Sherman and Joann and Tim were gonna be the "artists" and Gail was to be their "canvas!" I must say, considering the heat and humidity and a short shower at the end, that their efforts were damn good! Tim's waiting to get the photos back, so he can scan and upload one - or two!
While I'm talking bout Tim, I hafta comment on his great idea! (Not!) He had planned to bring down some new business cards, so he could pass 'em out, instead of writing out his name and address and phone number! Smart! When it was time to depart for Jamaica, the cards weren't back from the printer, so Tim left the address for the printer to mail 'em to him at Hedonism. NOT smart! See, the cards arrived on the island in a fairly quick manner, but they couldn't be delivered - CAUSE THEY HAD TO CLEAR CUSTOMS! Tim tried over and over to tell the delivery company that the cards were HIS property, but to no avail! He - finally - got the damn things - weeks AFTER he got home!
As EVERYBODY knows, I have historically touted WalMart straw hats as being probably the best hat I'VE ever worn down in the Caribbean. Well, when we were on our fall trip to Jamaica, a couple of my friends had hats that REALLY caught my attention - and my ENVY! They turned out to be The Tilley Hats! The look and feel was SO outstanding, that I wanted one for myself! (My first wife, Nina, finally took pity on me and surprised me with my very own Tilley Endurable Hat for Christmas! How bout that, a SUPER Hat from my SUPER wife!)
Tilley Hats float, tie on, won't shrink, are machine washable, repel rain and mildew, block UV-A and UV-B radiation, are guaranteed for life and are 50% insured against loss! Heck, if you wear out a Tilley Hat, you just send the remains back to Tilley - and they'll replace it! You can even put your Hat in your will! The problem is, who gets it when you die!
Well, not to be "advertising" for Tilley, but after I got back, I got with the folks at Tilley - in the person of none other than the General Manager, USA, Mark Jedele - and he agreed to make the Hat available to Travel Forum members at a reduced price! The original Tilley Hat sells for $45 and up. However, since I convinced Mark that all you CIS travelers ought to have a Tilley like me, he has agreed to give forum members a five dollar discount on purchases of the Hat from now until August 31!
No, you're not reading this wrong and yes - this IS being posted by the very same fellow who promulgated WalMart straw hats as being the best hats in the world! I guess from NOW on, it'll hafta be "The Original Jamaica Jim TILLEY Hat" - even though the other DID have a certain "ring" to it! <grin>
Minuses and Pluses !
Despite all the best efforts of everybody, there are always those li'l things that "drop through the cracks." Now, I want to say that - on the whole - this was, in Nina's words, "The best trip ever!" But, there was a group that made other people's enjoyment a bit less than it should've been! I won't get into a contest with anybody, but this group DID tend to take over - whatever and wherever - they went! I heard others who'd been there at the end-of-April, first-of-May many times in the past say that they'd never return at THAT time again - just cause that group would be there! That isn't the fault of Hedonism, though! You makes your bets and you takes your chances!
I know how much fun the new piano bar, Veronica's, is for MOST people. I'm sorry, but for me, give me back the old "Cheryl's Pub!" It was quiet and a place where us old f***s could gather late in the evenings and sit around enjoying a drink with friends.! Veronica's certainly is NOT quiet and, other than going into the "game room," there really isn't any place there to get away from the commotion! However, I *DO* enjoy watching the angel fish and the moray eel in the big aquarium, so I must not be ALL bad!
We WERE delighted to see our most favorite coordinator, Jeanette, back at Hedonism again! She wasn't there last trip and having her beautiful, warm, smiling face - and that slim, lithesome body - back was a real highlight for ME! (I doubt they did MUCH for Nina, but after all, Jeanette IS a friend to BOTH of us! In fact, it was for Jeanette's daughter, Elizabeth, that Nina was "smuggling" children's clothes into Jamaica last trip - but it was ME who got caught!) Jeanette is now working in Sales in the front office. She just called us a few weeks ago, while stateside on her first sales trip, from - Los Angeles! I KNOW she'll do great!
As with everything, our eleven days finally drew to an end. Yeah, I know - it's always difficult to leave such an idyllic vacation spot and return to the realm of reality! But, over the years, I've found out a couple of things that make it a li'l bit easier to accept - for me.
First, 10 days to 12 days is just about the right length of time to be away. After that, I start longing for my very own bed - and my great big, feather pillows! (Those yucky, rubberized things, that they put on beds to pass for pillows at every hotel and resort, just don't cut it!)
Second, I don't tell myself that I'm "going home!" Heck, Hedonism IS home - least, I like to think of it as "home." I tell myself, "Self, we're gonna leave tomorrow on a trip - a LOOOONG trip - all the way to the United States! It's gonna be bout five or six months long. THEN, we'll return - home - to Hedonism!" See, if you "lie" to yourself enough, you start believing it! And, everybody likes to go on trips! And, knowing I'll be coming back, somehow makes leaving easier. Hey, it works for ME!
Third, over the years, I guess I've not only aged, but I've mellowed, too. I no longer hafta worry bout going back to a job that I hate, like I did all those years that I was - "working!" <YECH!> Now, when I get back to the states, I can start planning my next trip! And, I've got my activity on the CompuServe Travel Forum to keep me not only busy, but thinking of how wonderful the Caribbean and Jamaica and Negril and Hedonism all are! And, there, I can also spread the "word" - and maybe a li'l bit of cheer - to others who want to find THEIR own Nirvana, too!
Our trip home was fairly uneventful, particularly after such a wonderful trip! Upon arrival, I had a message that a friend needed me to help him. Turns out he has a private investigation company and he needed some part time help investigating a fraud. So - "Jamaica Jim, Private Eye!" <grin> It was an interesting assignment - and it did afford me the ability to buy just what I've ALWAYS needed - a LAPTOP COMPUTER! Now, when I go back to Hedonism, I can STILL access the CompuServe Travel Forum and I'll not ONLY be "working" the Caribbean Section, I'll be doing it FROM the Caribbean! "Dat gonna be dam IRIE, Mon!" <smile>
I hope that y'all who HAVEN'T been to Hedonism will have found something in this that answers a few of your questions. And, I hope those who HAVE been to Hedonism - and you know who YOU are - will get something, too - a sense of being back there, lounging on the beach, with a delicious Delroy drink in your hand, looking out across Long Bay at the town of Negril in the distance. Or, maybe dancing till dawn to the beat of a reggae sound in the disco, with the lasers darting across the floor and the lights blinking! Or, maybe just lazing in a hammock slung between two palm trees, with the one that you love beside you! Whatever Hedonism may be to you - to me, it is "Heavenism, Too!"
Copyright Jamaica Jim Jordan, 1995.
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