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#39719 - 05/24/01 12:06 PM Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
RobM Offline
Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat
Well, my wife and I just got back from our honeymoon on Ambergris on Saturday night, and as a thank you for all the information I got from lurking the boards for the past few months, I figured I should let you know about my trip...
Overall, I loved Belize. The people were AWESOME. Both the locals and the other tourists we met. It seems like there is still a lot of continuing clean-up/repair from Keith, and we did not find the supermarket until our last day (our fault). But we had great weather, plenty to do with a healthy dose of doing absolutely NOTHING, which we definitely needed. Just for the record, I would probably not stay at C.M's again, which I will explain further on. Maybe we are over-reacting, I will let you be the judge...
Flew out of Newark, to Houston, to Belize City on Continental. Then took Tropic Air to San Pedro. My first time in a puddle jumper. A little nervous as the weather was rainy with thick clouds (the ONLY bad weather day of the trip!), but got their on time with no problems...from the airport, Captain Morgans got us a taxi to Fidos and took us by boat the rest of the way. We were there by the middle of the day and got a Beliken for my complimentary drink. Damn fine beer...
For the trip home, reverse the order! Tropic was running a little bit late, but we still we able to catch our connecting flights without any hassle...
Wow. Some of the meals we had were as good as anything we've had. We eat out a lot in NYC, so we are probably pretty snobby about food. But Rendezvous, Victoria House and Elvi's served up some great stuff. The first place we ate at was Buena Vista, which is the C.M.'s resort restaurant. We had the dinner buffet. It was awful. The people who work there are very nice, and tried, but the food was lukewarm (this is at the start of the trip - we were starving and got there when it opened), overcooked and ended with us picking at our plates and making plans to eat elsewhere. And not cheap either at BZ$50 per person...things were not looking good...
But in B.V.'s defense (and to our relief) their breakfasts (included in our package) were very good - good portions, well cooked and timely service. Just as a note, service was included, and they just went up from 10% to 15%. Came with a fresh fruit plate. Only caveat is eat it quick, because there were flies everywhere as soon as they set the plates down. The tip we were given was "find the windiest table and sit there"
Anyway, we had one more dinner there and a lunch or two, all out of sheer lethargy. Nothing to write home about, and in comparison to the other places that we ate, they came in last...
Capricorn: It was not as good as I had hoped. We ate there two nights. I had the sun dried tomato pesto (excellent), but the chicken crepe was basically a glorified chicken potpie. My wife had the snapper (and she discovered she does not like snapper - no reflection on the dish itself). However, faced with eating at B.V. again, we came back. I had the steak (alright, but nothing special) and my wife had the Basil and tomato pasta, which she really enjoyed. So much so that we came back for lunch, only to find that the kitchen was closed (Wednesday is the Chef's day off). But they still do snacks, so I had some mozzarella and tomato (lots of garlic, yummy) and the wife had peel and eat shrimp, which she liked. I really shouldn't be so hard on Capricorn - the people were great, friendly and quick service, and the food was alright. I guess I just got my hopes up from the rave reviews on the board. For the record, I would eat there again.
Elvis: Wow. Service was excellent with food to match. Got there early, with a seat by the window. We had the fried conch fritters and crab bisque to start. Very, very good. I ordered the Mayan chicken, and wondered, "What the hell was I thinking?" when the waiter brought out this plate with this pile of green leaves on a plate. But once I opened up the leaves and tried the chicken I was hooked. Absolutely incredible. My wife tried the fried chicken and promptly declared it to be the best fried chicken she ever had. Ended the evening with Flan and vanilla ice cream.
Rendezvous: Very good. Very cozy. I had Thai beef salad to start, which was very spicy and flavorful. I then had Pad Thai and I cannot remember what my wife had, but we both enjoyed our food. Wife had some of the house-produced merlot, which was also pretty good. Rendezvous just hired/is boarding/I am not exactly sure/ a new chef, a very nice guy who's last cooking gig was for the CEO (?) of American Airlines. Very personable, and made everyone Grande Marnier Soufflés for dessert. My wife was in heaven. This was our most expensive dinner (without tip somewhere around US$75 without tip), but still worth the money.
Victoria House: I would have to say that this was our favorite overall. Beautiful location, service was impeccable, food was delicious and the price was right. Based on our experience at dinner the wife and I agreed that when we come back to A.C., we would like to stay here. We had difficulty getting there, ended up being 45 minutes late for our reservation. Not a problem. They knew we were frazzled, and told us in no uncertain terms that "they would make us happy" And boy did they ever. They put us at a great table overlooking the pool. The chef came over and answered any questions, explained what different dishes were, and then went off to cook. The waiters one for drinks and once for food orders were both prompt and very nice. I had conch fritters to start. Where at Elvis they were like "conch fingers" these were cooked more like crab cake, and were excellent. My wife had gazpacho to start and was smiling happily and eating away. For an entree I had (something) Azteca, a chicken tortilla pesto dish that was outstanding and my wife had the cervices appetizer as a meal, which she also enjoyed. Finished with some great coffee, she had flan, I had chocolate ice cream, which came with homemade oatmeal raisin and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.
Besides those meals we grabbed food at Ruby's and La Popular bakery, and a few other places. We shopped at Rock's for groceries and a few other little stores for odds and ends.
Captain Morgan's: I don't want to be too critical, so I will start with the disclaimer that the staff was REALLY NICE, and quick to fix problems when they occurred. The place has a lot of potential, and I would believe that they are doing well investment wise, because it they are in the various stages of building 3 new villas (4 apartments to a villa). But the overall experience of the resort was tempered by a number of annoying incidents, which strung together made for an experience that we would like to avoid in the future. For those of you who either have already made plans, or are considering it, my suggestion is those if there is something that is wrong, speak up, and do it quickly. They will do their best to correct it.
Alright, so here is our experience at Captain Morgan's. We got picked up from the airport and brought to the resort by the activities manager, Roger. A very nice guy who was a help on the trip. We get to the resort, go to check in. We had reserved and paid for the honeymoon package; champagne and flowers upon arrival, 2 snorkeling trips, a trip to Altun Ha, Breakfasts, a massage for each of us, and a sunset cruise. We are asked for our voucher...our voucher? No one told us to bring anything...DOH! Anyway, we were reassured a little later that they would "honor" our agreement. Okay, whatever, now to our room. (We had upgraded to the villa for the kitchen)
We were in A3, which is currently the farthest left Villa if you are facing the resort from the shore. There are building two more to the left of it, one is fully framed and walled; the other is just marked out. The outsides of all the villas and casitas appear to be in good shape, almost all showing signs of recent construction/repair from Keith. We get to the villa and when we ask about the construction, are told they start around 7 am, but the don't work on Weekends (this was a Saturday, we would be there for a week).
Our bags are already there, and we are told to stop by and arrange our trips when we get a chance. So finally alone, we take a look around and...hmmmm. No champagne or flowers...No stove. A microwave, a sink, a toaster and a small fridge. On a huge plus side there was a freestanding water cooler with a 5-gallon bottle of Crystal water for those who find the smell/taste of desalinated water objectionable. There was an electronic safe on the counter too, but it does not work. There were blinds missing in the living room (hello!!! we are a honeymooning couple!!! Privacy is a necessity!). A few windows were missing screens.
But the rooms were clean, the bed was big enough, and overall the apartment was good sized. Hardwoods abound, wicker furniture. When we asked about the blinds, we were told there was nothing they could do. No blinds in stock. We used a towel. They did come and repair the wall mounted hair dryer (no plug). And Janice Young (a charming bartender who was as nice and thoughtful as anyone we ever met) overheard about the champagne, and when we got back to our room, there it was waiting for us. Things were looking up...
...3am Monday. Dogs barking, growling, fighting. Right under our window. I get up, go out for a smoke and check on the commotion. Five dogs that apparently live on the construction site (wild, not put there by C.M.'s) are fighting. I turn on the flashlight, they run away. I go back to smoking. They come back, running, barking, and start up the stairs to me. I chase them back down and decide to go back in. The rest of the night they are at it, I just lie in bed and wait for the sun to rise (gorgeous sunrises, by the way.)
The next morning, first thing, we ask to be moved. We are told that they would, just pack our bags and as soon as the guest checks out that morning, the room will be cleaned. We finally get in around 4-5pm. Bedroom (where the bathroom is) is locked, finally the guy with the keys takes my suggestion and hopped over the wall and opens it up (no ceilings...all rooms look up to a very simple and attractive sloping thatch roof.
This room is much nicer. Has a stove. All the windows have curtains. An alarm clock in the bedroom with a CD player!!! A huge improvement overall from our first room, though technically the two were supposed to be identical. Now, not to point fingers, but if earlier in the day the resort manager stopped by to move into our old room...where did he come from?
One day we decided to make some grilled cheese on the stove. Stove doesn't work. Open the cabinet underneath.... no plug... what is it with unconnected appliances???!!!!
The only other problem that I remember was when we went to Victoria house for dinner. Staff told us that they had arranged with island ferry to take us down there. Our reservations are for 7:30. We catch the 7:05 (Belize time) ferry, only to find out that they had no idea what we were talking about. By the time we get to Fidos, and talk to them, call Victoria house, get a cab, and get down there, it is close to 8:30. Very frustrating way to spend your last evening in paradise.
So in short, we will try someplace else next time. Some of the staff was great- Janice, Marlin (sp?) and Enrique (sp?) (Bartenders), Roger (activities manager) and Aaron (Boat pilot) stand out. The housekeeping staff was also on top of their game. It is just that things were managed poorly, with little foresight. We hear of people unable to get into their rooms because their keys were not right, huge differences in the quality of rooms that were priced the same. All little things, true, but put them together and it can make a difference.
I have to say that the excursions that were booked by CM's were done very well. We went out with Joe (forget the company name) for our two snorkeling trips - Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley, and Mexico Rocks. Joe was friendly, knowledgeable, and grabbed a couple of nurse sharks and some rays for people to touch. At Mexico rocks he swam with us and pointed out lots of different fish...
Our Altun Ha excursion was with "Searious Adventures" and our guide was Ricky. This was phenomenal. Ricky was very personable and happy to talk about everything and anything. Could answer any question you had (and encouraged it.) While piloting the boat though the mangroves stopped to let us take pictures of all the things he pointed out...orchids, bats, a small crocodile, even an otter of some sort. He was able to point out different plants, and knew a lot about the places we stopped, and did it all with a smile and a joke.
After visiting Altun Ha, (which really blew me away) we went to Maruba resort for lunch and a massage. Very lush, very comfortable, great food, and Viper Rum!!! Back through Bomba where we bought some woodcarvings, which was a lot of fun. This was an all-day trip that seemed to fly by in a heartbeat.
We did our sunset sail with Hustler. I do not remember the two guys names that crewed the boat, but they did a wonderful job. Sailed south down past San Pedro while watching the sun, then sailed back up gazing that the stars. Plenty of rum punch to be had, and with 4 other couples, there was plenty of room on the catamaran for everyone to relax.
Some odds and ends: While we were staying there, we met a group of travel writers, which were being hosted by the government of Belize for a week (?) of sightseeing. They stayed at Captain Morgan's one night, and I knew they were going off to Maruba next. They all did some diving and snorkeling and seemed to enjoy it, and did a golf cart tour around San Pedro. None that I met were with "mainstream" magazines, one worked for magazines targeted towards travel agents, another; airline employees, and a third "Let Live" magazine (which you can find at General Nutrition Centers). I think there were eight or nine of them, I would assume all working for different people.
Well that's it for now. I hope this helps people, and doesn't overly worry people who are already booked into places that I may not have liked. And thank you to everyone here. This board has been a great help in making our honeymoon the most we could ask for....

Rob & Claudia

#39720 - 05/24/01 12:42 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
B_b_f_b Offline
Rob & Claudia: great report, I think you were very fair in your descriptions and very thorough. Congrats on your marriage and it seems to me you remained pretty positive over the course of your honeymoon. I'm sure things could have been a lot better at Captain Morgans but you seemed to take it all in stride. Good luck to you both.

#39721 - 05/24/01 12:44 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
Big Frank Offline
Thanks for the report:>] Loved the detail and am sitting here smiling remembering my all too brief time there.

Peace, out!

#39722 - 05/24/01 01:06 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
lmarquis Offline
Thanks for sharing your report. I just returned myself last week and I loved A.C. Will be going back for next year's vacation. I have to agree with you, I was very impressed by Victoria House. Beautiful grounds! Congrats on your marriage.


#39723 - 05/24/01 04:21 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
AC Beach Bum Offline

Your report was excellent, very objective and extremely informative. You guys seemed to have maintaned a really positive outlook, despite some of the negitive occurances you had. It seems you were able to look beyond a few setbacks and enjoy all of AC for all it has to offer. Trip reports like yours are so appreciated!

Congrats on the marriage!

#39724 - 05/24/01 05:14 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
dedl Offline
Great report and thanks for the information. We will be staying at Captain Morgan's in July, and were wondering of you could answer a few questions...
1) The sunset tour, did you book that through CM's or somewhere else?

2) Does CM's have a phone that guest can use and receive calls?

3) Did you see any of the two bedroom villa's? We have looked everywhere for a picture or some description, but we can not find anything. Any information would be helpful.


#39725 - 05/24/01 05:15 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
Axeman Offline
Wow..thanks folks...very well put...everytime I hear a trip report I get excited about the next time I go...Next time ya go ...take a look at Coconuts...close to town..very simple rooms and not all that expensive...GREAT BAR..hehe
Thanks again..
Life May Be a Beach...I prefer Reefs...

#39726 - 05/24/01 09:37 PM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
Mary and Scott Offline
Great Report! ...We all need to hear the facts,and you were very gracious with any negative comments, always pointing out the other positive aspects. It helps all of us! Made us positively "AC homesick!" Thanks!
Mary and Scott

#39727 - 05/25/01 07:50 AM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
RobM Offline
The sunset tour was arranged through CM's, using hustler tours. They have a large catamaran which could comfortably hold seven-eight couples. I am not sure of the cost - it was part of our package.
I cannot tell you much about the phones, except that there are none in the rooms. They have phones at the bar and in the offices, and I would guess that there is some provision for calling out/getting messages.
I did see a two bedroom (though the window). It looked like they had combined two upper one-bedroom villas (which are comfortably sized in their own right) and also added a stairs (maybe to a loft?) It has a full balcony and a side porch with a jacuzzi (though i never saw any water or people in it.) It was in a good location away from the current construction/dogs. They are laying out the materials for a building next to it, so there might be construction by july. But do not let that bother you, as we (and most other guests) were up and eating breakfast well before the construction started.
One more thing. Bring CD's. Your room may or may not have a CD player (our first one did not, our second one did. Regardless, they were more than happy to play people's cd's at the bar...

hope that helps!

#39728 - 05/25/01 10:35 AM Re: Trip Report - Captain Morgan's Retreat. Long
dedl Offline
Thanks for your assistance. We have tried to get this information from Captain Morgan's, but one email address does not return our emails and the other is the reservation desk in Wyoming or somewhere. We try to investigate "most" things before hand so as not to be too surprised.

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