Hi all,

Okay, we've been here a week, so I thought I'd make some observations about the changes here at our beloved CN. This is our 8th trip - we've also been to CSA and CSS.

When we arrived, there were literally MOUNTAINS of sea grass washed up on the sand. We were very surprised to see this much up on the beach, but we were assured this is merely the ocean cleansing itself. The staff worked tirelessly trying to get it raked up and disposed of. This lasted a couple three days, and the resort actually hired a backhoe to dig huge holes in the beach on each end of the resort, then they buried the huge piles of sea grass. The grass has all but disappeared by now, and the beach is again pristine and beautiful.

The beach is much more narrow than last year, probably 20-30 feet. So, of course, the swimming area is very shallow. It's only up to my chest as far as the ropes. The sea was very churned up from a storm, but it's back to its beautiful clarity now.

We've had a couple of rain showers, but nothing too bad. Let me warn you - the sand flies are AWFUL! Bring something with DEET and WEAR it and REFRESH it! Our first full day here, after a rain, I got over a hundred bites on my calves - ended up at the nurse! She had to call the doctor in, and I had to get a shot of antihistimine AND a shot of cortisone in my bum, plus prednisone and cream for a week. The burning and itching was awful. If you do get a lot of bites, don't hesitate to go to the nurse - total cost was $315, but it beats crying in bed!

Okay, I know you want to know about the FOOD! Let me tell you, I loved Misha's food, but Andre has stepped up his A game, and the food is better than we've ever seen. A new pastry chef has us noshing on the most tender baked goods and pastries. Seems like they're always fresh right out of the oven. Lobster night (we've had two now...) was the best we've tasted. Some new changes at breakfast - the scrambled eggs aren't on the buffet steam table any more, they're in a huge skillet on the corner of the omelet counter. Much smaller quantities, they are much better. Mushrooms a la creme yesterday for breakfast.... yum!

Lychee has a new head chef and a new menu - not sure if I like it as well. They still have the tasting platter, but have added a tempura shrimp and a pork satay to it. The entrees are ala carte - you order your meat, then match your sauce, choosing from three curries or stir fry style. Pad Thai is still there, but haven't tried it.

The repeaters dinner last Monday, held outside Otaheite, was phenomenal. Beef tenderloin and lobster, with a leek soup that was out of this world. GM Karen told us that this is the most repeaters they've ever had at one time - 200. That means literally HALF of the resort were repeaters. That really makes a statement, doesn't it?

Heliconia is changing their menus daily (I don't think they did last year). The beach grill is still having issues with getting the orders out on time and in the correct order. Andre was having to deliver plates to guests the other day to try and get caught up. I wonder why this is such an ongoing problem.

Elkie is still on maternity until after the first of the year. Some of the new trainees are wonderful, some are a bit surly at times - a mixed bag.

Housekeeping is a hit and miss. Sometimes they get there before 5 pm, and sometimes not.

Okay, off to the beach. The musicians are still all on the beach. Had a funny show the other day. The "dancing" guitarist and the ceegarette man teamed up for a song and dance "Ceegarette on the Beach". Hilarious.

Hope this tidbit helps tide you through till you get "home".