31This time the 'Black Friday' special helped, and I was able to secure a room without single supplement at a very good price. I was at this village a year before at the same period, and I knew what to expect. I also knew the CDV from Turkoise, and that many GOs from Turkoise would be there. I flew with Spirit to FLL, only because this was the only airline which could connect me without risk. The Spirit agent at the check-in had no knowledge about the CM charter, and I was given quite a hard time before the supervisor intervened. Luckily the plane arrived FLL on time, and the flight to San Salvador was smooth (free soft drinks too!). The plane, Airbus 319 had few passangers. The CM traffic GOs greeted us before the passport control with a smile and the bracelets. I knew both of them, and I felt that I was at home (this was my 41st CM trip). My luggage did not arrive, but this did not bother me at all, since I had the bar, the food, the room ( which I did not absolutely need), and I believe clothing is always optional at CM ( it arrived the next day via Nassau: now I was able to follow the dress code). The village is one hour ahead of the local time. I bypassed the orientation to pick up a drink ( welcome cocktails are unfortunately non-alcoholic). A survival bag was waiting for me at the reception( I was impressed by the efficiency of communication between the traffic and the reception), which included a nice 45 t-shirt. I stayed at the shared cabin 78/79, which was away from the any pathway, it was quiet and private. There were two separate rooms, two bathroom sinks, one shower,one toilet. Each room had a safe deposit box. One room seemed a little larger, it had a refrigerator and a coffee maker. There was bottled water in the room, the tap water was drinkable. There were many GOs I had met at Turkoise (3/2010), Sandpiper (8/2010) and one from last year.There was no chage in the village setting. The food was great, better than Cancun ( 4 trident, 10/2010), many specialties everyday, and unexpectedly numerous Turkish specialties. The two specialty restaurants were open, but not everyday. I ate at Watling's one night; I would recommend it. The service was good, better that Turkoise. The corkage fee was listed at the menu at Watling's, but it stated 'up to $20', so I sense a flexibility. It was not specified at the main bar (verve bar), but in theory it was there. Shots (any kind, no exception) however were not served ( a new finding-unlike Cancun). I heard that this was now also true at Turkoise ( Why?!)I recommend packing shot glasses if this is important.The GOs were asked to be at the cocktail hour (7:15 PM) at the Verve lounge, which created good ambiance. There were decent appetizers. I recommend sagria prepared by the bartender Amelia (enhanced with the apricot brandy), one day it was the proposed bar drink, although it was always my choice for Zumba and dance lessons. A Northern California couple was there for two weeks to give dance classes, and we also performed on the stage ( an embedded GM show). These dance classes were on the daily program only on one of the seven days (?).There was step class everyday (a popular activity), Zumba and cardiokickboxing (except Wed). The Zumba instructor had special interest in yoga so there were two sessions everyday (except Wed). Scuba and snorkeling was popular. Jetski was available (extra cost). People took excursions or rented a bike. The lighthouse and presumed Columbus landing sites are the major attractions. Very few shops are present at the adjacent shopping center or at Cockburn Town ( 35-40 min from the reception by foot at moderate speed). A significant crowd attended the power walk on the days I participated. The sports awards ceremony was on Tue during the cocktai hour. What I saw was diving certificates given to the departing GMs (quieter ceremony than last year). The dance instructor said we could not get medals because the village ran out of them. Unfortunately the outside portion of the Verve bar was not open: we had to be inside to experience the bar mbiance ( such a loss not to be outside during Bahamian sunset) to save on manpower. There was a true show every night (average or above average), similar to the European zone. I had not seen this last year, nor in Turkoise or Sandpiper. The Lady Gaga show ( Bad Romance) was a hit, a gift from Turkoise ( I saw the Turkoise performance on youtube). The original disco was closed. Six nights the 'disco' was at the verve lounge until 1 AM ( it stopped exactly at 1 AM, like an atomic clock), one night at the beach bar. A small but persistent group kept the night moving. There was no dinner around the pool during the white night, due to the possibility of rain (the weather was nice that night). The GOs did their job well, they were neutral at the introduction; if the GM was festive, most (but not all) would follow. The evening crazy signs were done in moderation. Sundance was no more that two dances (except the departing Sat, due to my lobbying), the leading GO and the DJ were religious about the number (why so rigid?). The GO clothing was so uniform and spottless that at one Sundance I thought they were posing for the Travel and Leisure Magazine. Madison, YMCA, Soleil de Tropique were the most repeated dances (last year it was Li Tourner). The Paris charter arrived on Wed, the Montreal charter on Thu, the FLL on Sat. The planes of both Paris and Montreal charters then departed for Cuba, not for Punta Cana or Turkoise ( new for 2011) On Wed Jan 19 210 people left, 220 arrived, on Thu Jan 20 35 left, 45 arrived, on Sat Jan 22, 65 left, 64 arrived.
The environment outside the village did not change much. The expected museum was still not open. I was told by a local GO that, the Bahamian goverment sends $100,000 to the island each year for house repair, and the elderly managers return a significant portion of it, with the intention of keeping the status quo. Unfortunately there were potholes in the roads. I did not see any sign of construction at the expected CM condo site, however the beach is as good as it can get at this location. The historic tour of the village is not on the daily schedule now, it is done based on request (but if A GM does not know that it is available, how can it be requested?). The garden of Supichai next to the maintenance building is worth visiting. Daily programs are available at the reception (in English and in French). I did not receive them in my room. My silver member gift was a locally made rolled soap. There was no reception for gold and silver members this week (due to the few # of guests in this category). CDV was visible and available. The village was clean and well kept. There was no 'complaint' box, any comment can be given to the reception in a sealed envelope to submitted to the CDV. Preshow announcement were made in English and French, each by a native speaking person ( a good approach, first time I saw this).
The dresscodes and the buffet were: Jan 15 Sat elegant/gala: Jan 16 Sun 45T-shirt and jeans/Bahamian; Jan 17 Mon all white/mediterranean; Jan 18 Tue black&/French; Jan 19 Wed black&white/Asian; Jan 20 Thu white&colors/Italian; Fri Jan 21 cappucino/safari, Mexican. The nights were beautiful, especially after 1:30 AM when almost everybody had left the common areas. Swimming in the pool or at the ocean at that time is commendable. There was security but it was not visible. The check-in at the departure was done in the village; the boarding passes were given at the airport. At the departure mint candy was given, I offered the GO a CM wrapped candy ( which I had taken from Kemer). This was a hit, since they had not seen it before.
This is a beautiful and elegant village. Despite the presumed low key ambiance (which can be overcome with the right mentality)I strongly recommend any CM lover to visit this place ( check specials , Black Friday etc.) before the condos are built and the beach is clutter