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Sunday
Feb142010

Karaoke? Kara-NOT-ok!

Location: the Palms at Pelican Cove, St. Croix

By the time we adjusted to Key West, it was time to head for South Beach on Thursday the 11th. We were heading for our 3-day interlude between tropical locales, intended to give us a final taste of the urban before island living took over.

It took us all of 5 minutes to decide we didn't want to stay in Miami Beach. Neither of us had ever been there before, and though we were warned, nothing could have prepared us for the craziness. Walking along Ocean Drive, looking for a place to eat dinner, being accosted by augmented women in scanty outfits, with not even two molecules of self esteem to rub together... we were ready to go before we even settled in. On top of which, we were staying at the Betsy hotel, which isn't cheap, but somehow we were in the tiniest, darkest room ever. Turns out it was the Boat Show that weekend, so we were just screwed. 

But were we? We decided to go crazy and take a chance, and booked a last-minute trip to St. Croix. Of the three US Virgin Islands, it was the one I had wanted to visit, and it turned out American had two seats left on a direct flight on Friday afternoon, and we could take a little island-hopper on Sunday from St. Croix direct to St. Martin. After we waited on hold for half an hour (it's surprising how hard it is to get through to an airline when there is a second blizzard in one week hitting the east coast), we took a chance, and forked out the $$ to switch our flights.

The assumption we made, of course, was that we would be able to find a place to stay in St. Croix. We looked on Trip Advisor, and found the top rated hotel had availability via hotels.com, et voila! I admit, we were a little surprised since I had called the hotel and they said they didn't have anything, and it looked like no other hotels on the entire island had any rooms, but the confirmation email arrived from Hotels.com, and we were all set. How hard could it be to find a room on an island, right? Given my history with the travel booking systems, I should have known better...

Our flight was without incident, and we were thrilled to step off in St. Croix and feel the WARM BREEZE of a tropical paradise. It's a tiny airport, and very undeveloped island, which was perfect. We got our luggage and a taxi without incident and away we went. 

When we arrived at the Palms at Pelican Cove, the first words we heard were words you never want to hear upon checking in: "Don't let your taxi leave." Of course they didn't have any rooms. None. They'd been booked for the entire month of Feb for weeks. What's worse, that weekend was some agricultural festival, which is apparently a big deal there, and therefore none of the other hotels had any availability. 

That's when Joyce, our traveler fairy godmother appeared. She and her husband Chuck own the Palms. She came out and told me the bad news, but in the same breath, guided Steve and I to the bar, told the bartender to pour us drinks (which he did, generously), and said she'd find us a place to stay. Before we had finished our drinks (and yummy french fries), Joyce was back to let us know that they had found us a room next door, at the Hibiscus hotel. 

Now, in my younger years, when schlepping around Europe with a backpack, I wasn't what you'd call a discerning traveler, but I've since developed into, I admit, a bit of a hotel snob. We've stayed at some incredibly nice resorts. It's not that I require that level of luxury, it's just something I've come to appreciate. When we arrived at the Hibiscus, the hotel next door to the Palms, it looked a lot like a rundown motel that could easily have been the location for a horror movie. The kind of place I wouldn't even slow down near, much less where I'd stay. However, we were desperate, and it was getting late in the evening, and frankly we had no choice but to look on the bright side. We had a room. It was air conditioned, and even right on the beach, which was a nice bonus, and it was relatively clean. We breathed a sigh of relief, and after a couple of beers at the quiet restaurant/bar, headed to our room, we thought for a good night's sleep. 

Sleep? what's that? Somewhere around 9pm, they kicked up their weekly karaoke party in the bar. The bar that was not 50 feet away from our room, just across the beach volleyball court. The bar that was completely open to the outdoors, with no doors, windows or, and this most importantly, no WALLS. Karaoke? No. This was most definitely Kara-NOT-ok. Forget the fact that it was insanely loud, and we may as well have moved our bed into the middle of the bar, the raucous singers were HORRIBLE. Beyond horrendous. And they just gloried in it! They knew how bad they were, and you could clearly hear it in their voice, they thought that made them even better. Which, if I had been drunk and there with them, I might have found amusing, but I was not. The party finally wrapped up around 1am. We found out later that it could have been WORSE - apparently they used to keep going till 4 or 5am.

But here's the thing... as much as we were miserable and not sleeping, we were so happy to be in St. Croix. And, the next day, things got even better. Chuck (Joyce's husband, co-owner of the Palms next door), took me out for an incredible snorkeling tour of Pelican Cove. It was amazing - saw a 5-ft barracuda, schools of herring, lobster, all sorts of fish I can't even name anymore. Then, Joyce and Chuck invited us to be their guests at the Fur Ball, a benefit for (you guessed it) the local animal shelter being thrown that night at the Palms. Belly Dancers, hookahs, auctions, free food/drinks, oh my! It was a blast. More than anything, we just had a wonderful time getting to know Chuck and Joyce, our would-be-but-not-quite host and hostess. If there hadn't have been the booking snafu, we probably never would have gotten to talking, and that would have been a real shame. At the end of the day, sometimes the best part of traveling is the honest, authentic people you get to meet. 

It also goes to show, when things go awry, handle it with grace and goodwill, and the people who have the ability to help you, will. 

 

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    Lovely Website, Keep up the fantastic work. Regards.

Reader Comments (3)

I love you.

February 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucinda's husband

Mindy, I love this. The total anti-cruise-ship experience and attitude and true travel spirit! Thanks for sharing and I lived , wait, travelled, vicariously thru. you for just a minute tonight! ah, soak up some st. croix sun for us all!

February 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

OMG...I'm so sorry about this horrible experience, but couldn't stop laughing...
We miss you guys!!

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSunny

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