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Sibonne Trip Report w/pictures

Travel & news discussion about the Turks & Caicos

Sibonne Trip Report w/pictures

Postby KVR » Sun May 28, 2006 5:39 pm

Provo, Turks and Caicos - May 20 - 27, 2006

Flight - We flew American Airlines from Midland, TX to Dallas, TX to Miami, FL to Turks and Caicos. The flight in Miami was an hour late each way. On the way back, in Dallas, the ground crew left several suitcases on the ground by the plane and we took off without them. It was explained that the cargo area was full and they would send the bags on the next flight to Midland. Of course, one of the suitcases was ours, so we had to return to the airport the next day to get it.

Hotel - After much research we chose the Sibonne Beach Hotel mainly due to price and location on Grace Bay. We were pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the hotel. This was our first tropical vacation that we did not go all-inclusive (beside Hawaii, which we didn't care for). We booked the Balcony Ocean View Room on the 2nd floor. They gave us the "Mango Room" #202. The hotel is shaped like an open square, and our room was at the back of the square and not along either of the sides. It had a king size bed with gauze/netting canopy, dresser with small frig, armoire with TV, open closet with safe, iron and board. Small bathroom with just a shower stall. Nice sized balcony with white wrought iron table and chairs and a love seat. We also had a separate living room with a love seat that made out into a single bed, coffee table, desk and another TV. Each room had it's own air conditioning window type unit. We were quite surprised with the separate living room, and it was so nice to have the extra space.

The hotel is small and quite. The guests consisted of adults. No problem with children running around. Grace Bay Beach in front of the hotel is wonderful. Soft white sand and crystal clear water. No direct snorkeling in front of the hotel, but we did see a school of small neon type fish and a crab one day. The limited amount of papalas on the beach could use some improvement. Many people went out first thing in the morning and left their stuff on the chairs under a papalas and disappeared for most of the day. Quite annoying. The whole week, we were able to get a papalas twice. There is no other shade on the beach, so if you don't get one, you'll have to sit in the open sun.

The garden area is quite overgrown. The 2nd floor balcony rooms are mostly beach view obstructed due to the overgrowth of all the plants and trees. They could easily cut the growth back about half and the garden area would still be very nice.

The pool is circular and small. The water is very warm, much warmer than the ocean, We spent a couple days around the pool area since we couldn't get a papala on the beach.

Staff - We thought the front desk staff was very nice and helpful. They called us a taxi when we needed it and changed out our beach towels with no problem. The Bay Bistro dining staff was a little distant and not particularly friendly.

Phone Calls - The hotel charges $1.11 to make local calls. We had to use the phone several times to schedule and confirm tours/excursions. Be aware if you call a tour company's cell phone it is not a local call and the charge is $4.65. Our phone bill was $24.17. At check-out the front desk required that the phone charges to be paid in exact cash.

Dining - Overall, we were very happy with all the meals we had. The food on the Island was quite good. However, the prices are a bit steep. We debated long and hard whether to bring food/beer with us. I received a soft-sided cooler with wheels for my birthday in April, so it was decided we would take a few things. We went to Wal-Mart in Midland before we left and purchased a 30 pack of Miller Lite, a medium sized bottle of Arizona Tea, medium bottle of Power Aid, 6 pack of bottled water, 2 packages of spreadable cheese, 1 package of single serve cheese, 1 summer sausage, a box of chips, a box of crackers, 1 bag tortilla chips, a jar of picante sauce, nacho cheese, pickles, artichoke antipasto, 1 box of cereal bars, 2 packages of different flavored trail mix, 1 package beef jerky, and 6 limes. Total cost = $59.89. It was no problem taking the soft-sided cooler and a duffel bag with the food through all the airports, and in the end we were so glad we did.

Breakfast at Bay Bistro at Sibonne Beach Hotel - They provide a continental breakfast which is served at the table with 2 pieces of either white or wheat toast, 2 servings of fruit, either a 1/2 banana, slice of melon, water melon, cantaloupe, orange, or small bunch of grapes, a breakfast bread such a banana nut bread, spice cake or ginger bread, coffee and orange juice. It really is filling for a breakfast, but too much bread for me in one sitting. They have the option of adding either 1 egg, sausage, bacon or English muffin for $2. Cliff ate the continental every morning and I had the basic breakfast, which included 2 eggs any style, 2 servings of fruit, 2 sausage or bacon, English muffin or toast and hash browns for $7. One morning I tried the basic breakfast with pancakes for $9. The pancake batter contained cinnamon which was very good, and one morning I tried the omlett with onions, cheese and spinach for $10. The omlett was very good and huge. Cliff ate half of it.

Lunch - For lunches we ate the food we brought except for two afternoons. One afternoon after an excursion, we decided to just go to Bay Bistro for lunch:

Veggie Pizza - $11.00. It was just OK
Fish & Chips $12.00. Very Good
Creme Brulee $7.00. Very Good
2 glasses of tea @ $2.50 each = $5.00
3 Turks Head Lager @ $5.00 each = 15.00
Total = $55.00 plus tip

And one afternoon after an excursion we walked to Ports of Call and did some shopping and ate at Barefoot Cafe:

Cheeseburger $11.00. Good
Philly Cheese Steak $11.00. Good
4 Turks Head Lager @ $4.00 = $16.00
Total = 41.80 + tip

Dinners - We ate dinner out every night.

Gecko Grill - We decided on Gecko Grill for Cliff's 51st birthday. Of all the restaurants we went to, we thought they had the best entree food.

Cliff had the Saturday night special which consisted of a rib eye steak, veggies, salad and key lime pie for $30.00. Very good

I had the Beef Capillico which is sheared filet steak with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and shaved cheese. Very, very good. $16.95

Citrus Kamikaze Martini $8.00

Raspberry Martini $8.00. I've had better martini's elsewhere.

Ice Tea $2.50

Passion Fruit Creme Brulee $8.95. Creme Brulee is my all time favorite dessert and I like passion fruit, so you would think in theory this would be a good combination. In reality, it was terrible. I took 2 bites and couldn't choke down anymore. What a way to waste a good Creme Brulee.

After dinner, I asked the bar tender in the bar area if I could get a chocolate martini while we waited for a taxi to pick us up. He totally snubbed me, so I didn't get one.

Total = $81.24 + tip

Carter's Cafe - The dining guide indicated that Carter's Cafe served Mexican Food with beer specials on Sat/Sun. We went on Sunday night and was advised they no longer serve Mexican Food, but changed their menu to local Caribbean fare. Also no beer specials. We looked over the menu, which was mainly conch and fish dishes and decided to go somewhere else. We ended up at Bambooz.

Bambooz -
4 Turks Head Lager @ $4.32

Beef Chili Nachos $7.00. There was plenty enough for the both of us and they were quite good.

Fish and Chips $13.95. Very good.

Total = $42.05 + tip

Iguana Steak House - Monday Night Caribbean Bar-B-Cue - They had an outside all-u-can eat buffet set up and a live band. The buffet contained a salad bar with just tossed greens and salad dressing, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, corn on cob, beef ribs, jerk chicken thighs, and jerk fish. Dessert was either vanilla or carmel ice cream. The food was very good and the band was good also.

Buffet - $30.00 p/p = $60.00
2 Turks Head Lager @ $5.00 = $10.00
Total = $77.00 + tip

Hemingways at the Sands - We went on Tuesday night and got there at 5:45. We caught the last 15 minutes of the Manager's cocktail party for guest and residents. They restaurant and pool area was packed with people and several children running around. It looked like a smaller version of the Beaches Hotel. We ended up walking the beach from the Sibonne and cutting through Hemingway to get to the street and then walk on to the Salt Mills or Ports of Call during the week, and Hemingway was consistently packed with people. We were glad we did not stay there. Though the food was good, the portion size had to be smallest of any restaurant we eaten at the whole week.

Fish and Chips $9.95
Beef Skewers $10.25
Creme Brulee $7.50
Ice Tea $2.50
3 Turks Head Lager @4.50 = $13.50
Total = 48.07

Shark Bite - We ate there after the Reef Peeper Sunset Cruise. Shark Bite had to be the most cost efficient restaurant that we ate at the entire week.

Nachos $8.95 - The portion was huge and plenty for the 2 of us.

1 Pitcher of Turks Head Lager $12.00
Total = $26.19 + tip

Danny Buoys - Grannies Chicken Pot Pie $11.99. This had to be the best pot pie we have ever had. So good.

Fish and Chips $10.99. This was OK, but we had better at the other restaurants.

5 Miller Lite @ $5.00 = $25.00

Cheesecake $7.99. The cheesecake listed on the menu was not what we received. What we did get was not very good.

Total = $59.07

We were so impressed with the chicken pot pie at Danny Buoys we went back on our last night. Of course, they were out of it and would not have anymore made until the next day. So we ended up ordering something else.

Chili Cheese Fries $6.99. The portion was so huge a family of four could have easily shared it. It was pretty good.

2 Shepherds Pie $23.98. It was OK. Not nearly as good as the chicken pot pie. The description on the menu was not exactly what was served. We definitely should not have gotten 2. We could have easily shared it after the huge portion of chili cheese fries.

4 Miller Lite at Happy Hour price $2.50 = $10.00
2 Miller Lite at regular price $5.00 = $10.00

Total = $55.97 + tip

All-inclusive vs. non-all inclusive - Overall with food, tips and transportation getting to and from restaurants the cost was approx. $750.00. We usually spend around $900 to $1,200 on the AI part of a vacation package. Though it is nice to be able to try many different restaurants and try a variety of things, and this food was better than any AI we have ever stayed at, to us, it is still more cost efficient and convenient to go with an AI package. I talked to 4 couples in my age range, 1 single women a little older than me and 4 single women a little younger than me who were all staying at Club Med. All stated that the hotel was fine, the food was good and the AI package was worth it. We shied away from Club Med due to the bad reviews, but in the end, we probably should have stayed there instead just because we like AI so much.

Excursions -

Caicos Adventures Semi-Sub - We've done semi-sub trips at other destinations and enjoyed them. We toured over 3 reefs including Smith's Reef and "Fishy" Reef. Though we really didn't see that many fish, we did see 3 spotted eagle rays and 2 turtles. However, they wouldn't get close enough to the windows for a good picture. Overall the trip was enjoyable, even though there were several children from Beaches on the cruise. It's a good way to see a lot without getting wet.

Middle Caicos Tour with Silver Deep - We really enjoyed our day on this tour. The tour started by going over to Iguana Island. There is an extra $5.00 p/p charge to tour the Island. We only saw 4 Iguanas. Afterward, a hour and 15 minute boat ride to Middle Caicos to the Caves. The Caves were interesting and very hot. Next to Mudjadin Beach for lunch, swimming and snorkeling. Beautiful Beach. Didn't see many fish snorkeling. Lunch consisted of turkey wraps, fresh fruit of cantaloup, watermelon, pineapple and grapes, potato salad and orange bunt cake with sugar glaze. Pretty good. Next, we went to a reef in the open water by a shipwreck for snorkeling. The wind had picked up quite a bit, so the water was too choppy for snorkeling. The last stop was to a beach for shelling. There was numerous shells and a couple of people found some sand dollars. We didn't find any though. There were 10 people on the boat. Very nice trip.

Reef Peepers Sunset Cruise - We chose Reef Peepers because it's a glass bottom boat. We went over several reefs and saw a few fish. We also saw two nurse sharks sleeping, which was great. Got a pretty decent picture. This was supposed to be a wine and cheese cruise. They did have white and red wine, rum punch and sodas, but served chips and picante sauce instead of cheese. We cruised by Grace Bay Beach in front of all the hotels and watched the sun go down. There was us, one other couple and a 2 man crew.

Sun and Fun Guided Jet Ski Tour - This was a cool tour. It was us, one other couple and the guide for a 2 hour tour. We rode across to the South Side (I believe is what the guide said) He took us to a beach cave. We got off the jet ski and saw a toad fish swimming in the water. We went up into the cave where there is a wood and rope ladder to climb on top of the cave. Very nice views of the surrounding beach and water. Next we headed to a beach with shallow water to look for starfish. We found two. The water was very calm, warm and crystal clear. Then we headed back. The guide took pictures of us while on the tour. 1 for $10 or 3 for $27. You could get more, but the price when up. They burn them onto a CD-RW. We purchased 3 pictures. When we returned to the dock, there were some unhappy people squabbling over the price of just the jet ski rentals. Appears they felt they paid more than they should have for the gas refueling. We really enjoyed the guided tour and got to see more and go much farther than just renting a jet ski for a specific amount of time.

Sail Provo Full Day Snorkel with Lunch - I reserved this trip over the Internet on their web-site and was supposed to have gotten a discount of $108 p/p. When we called to confirm we were again told the price was $108 p/p. When we got to the Marina and paid, the lady charged us $112 p/p. I attempted to talk to the lady that we were originally quoted $108 p/p, but she wouldn't discuss it. We either paid the $112 p/p or not go, so we paid it. We were on the Arielle and there was only 8 of us + a two man crew. First stop was Iguana Island. Since we had already been there we opted to stay on the boat. We did see one Iguana walk out onto the beach and a school of sting ray swimming in the shallow water around the beach. I was able to get a picture of one before they all swam away. We did several stops for snorkeling including inside the barrier reef, which had the best snorkeling of any snorkel spot we been to. We also stop at one beach area to look for sand dollars. Again, we didn't find any, but one couple did. And, another beach stop just for swimming. For lunch they served cold cut meats and cheese with either white or wheat bread, fresh fruit of cantaloupe, watermelon, red and green grapes, swirl bunt cake with sugar glaze, sodas and rum punch. On the way back to the Marina, we saw two dolphins following the boat. Don't know if it was Jo Jo or not, but they were awesome. This was the first time we have ever seen real dolphins in person. They swam in the wake of the boat and then went directly under it. Got a few really nice pictures, but the pictures don't do the actual seeing of them justice.

Coral Gardens - We walked from the Sibonne to Coral Gardens. It's a pretty long walk and walking in the sand just makes you feel waited down, but it was worth it. We swam around the entire area of the red buoys and saw a few fish, but we didn't really see anything interesting.

Shopping - Thought the shopping was limited and souvenirs very expensive. $25 + for T-shirts and $20 + for picture frames. I have a picture frame collection from all our trips, so I bought one. Found better prices at the duty free stores at the airport. Purchased postcards, a beach bag, rum cake, a smaller picture frame and 2 coaster sets.

Transportation - Bottom line, you really need to have a car to get around even if its to get to the restaurants. We don't like to drive in unfamiliar areas or on the left side of the road, but here, we probably should rented a car just for the convenience. We used taxis a few times and the Gecko a couple of times. We walked to and from Salt Mills several times. From the Sibonne, don't walk the street around the fenced off area of the Mandalay especially at night as there are no street lamps working in that area. Walk the beach to Hemingways at the Sands and cut through their parking lot to the street. It's a shorter walk and lighted much better.

Weather - Absolutely perfect. Maybe a little too windy at times, but no rain. Our last 2 Caribbean trips it rained the full time we were there. Use lots of sunscreen and reapply after swimming. We used SPF 50 consistently and still got a pretty good burn.

Summary - We had a great trip and would recommend T &C to anyone looking for a quiet, relaxed beach vacation. We would probably wait to return in 5+ years after all the construction is complete. Maybe by then there will be an affordable AI hotel and better shopping, and nightly entertainment. We have a "to go" list of all the Islands we want to visit. Next on the list is Aruba, which we will be going to in September.

Pictures - I used 3 cameras. We have a Sony Mavica, and we recently purchased a Pentax Optio digital water proof camera and had a Fuji water proof disposable left over from our last vacation I wanted to use up. I am very please the Pentax Optio. It took really good under water snorkeling pictures. Two things I didn't like about it though was the shutter speed is delayed, so it was kinda hard capturing the fish in the picture when they are swimming. Also, it's hard to see what your taking a picture of in the LCD screen in and out of water. However, I discovered if I hit the zoom button, the LCD screen would become clearer. Overall, I am very happy with the camera and think the pictures turned out really good. The Fuji disposable has 27 pictures that could be taken. Of the ones we took, only 11 were actually clear enough to post on our picture site. All pictures can be viewed at:

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn.

Any questions, feel free to e-mail me at KR_LVN@hotmail.com.
KVR
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:34 am
Location: Midland, TX

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