Great value on a fabulous beach A review of Sibonne Beach Hotel

We just got back last night from our first trip to Provo. We stayed at Sibonne, which has GOT to be the best deal on the island. It's RIGHT on the beach, with some of the best beach frontage -- not crowded, with soft sand on the beach and soft sand under the water right in front of the hotel. (Some parts of the water have bits of scrub vegetation underfoot - not bad, but some parts were decidedly softer). We paid $137 a night for an Ocean View balcony room, including breakfast. (Every other place I checked was about $200 more A NIGHT).

I was expecting little for that kind of money, but the room was beautiful and very clean. The bed was brass with lovely mosquito netting (just decorative, we never saw a mosquito). Even the bathroom was very new with gorgeous tumbled tiles and a great shower. The cable TV has more than a hundred stations if you need that sort of thing, there was a great leather rattan chair in the room, lots of drawer space, a coffee maker, and a huge closet. I was very impressed.

I take exception, however, with the term "ocean view." Ocean "sliver" is more truthful. There are only two REAL ocean view rooms but they were taken. The others face a lovely lush courtyard.

The only problem I had with the room was that the air conditioner was loud. Most afternoons were cool enough, though, so we could nap with the air con off and the overhead fan on and the sliding door open to the breezes. That was heavenly.

At night the wind dies down, so we needed the air conditioner. I got used to it after awhile, but it was still a bummer. The other bummer was CONSTRUCTION! Right bang next to Sibonne. Our only peace was at lunchtime when the crew took off an hour. If it was just hammers banging it would have been all right, but they were working with some LOUD cement saws and jackhammers. We were so upset because one of the reasons we picked Provo was because of the peace and quiet we thought we'd be able to have in this relatively "undiscovered" island. It was like being on a beach in the middle of a turnpike. I was glad we hadn't spent the earth on this vacation, or I would have been very upset.

The other minor gripe I have with the hotel is that they give you beach towels when you check in -- and that's IT. You don't get new beach towels every day. We asked for new ones after four days but the front desk said they didn't have any more to give out. Hmmmm.

Also, this wasn't a problem for us, but might be for others -- there is NOTHING to do at this hotel other than lay on the beach. No kayaks or sail boats or floaties. You can walk down about a hundred yards to rent a kayak if you like. Also, the pool is VERY small. It's like a glorified bathtub. Again, not a problem for us because the calm beautiful ocean right smack in front of the hotel is better than a pool.

Now for the good parts: Service was fabulous at the hotel -- everyone is so friendly and eager to please. I fond the drinks at the hotel's bar to be the best we had on the island. Also, the hotel is the most charming to look at from the beach. It's very low, and the palm trees are higher than the hotel! It just looks so small and charming and quaint, like a real Caribbean hotel should. All the other hotels and timeshares look like monstrous Tuscan villas that do not go with the environment. They look very luxurious and nouveau riche, but not really what I want in the Caribbean.

Sibonne's Grace Bay beach is heavenly -- It's 12 miles long! So we took long walks every day, and that water is to die for. The last two days the visibility really improved; even without snorkeling gear we saw lots of fish, including two rays swimming right near the shore with us. The weather couldn't have been better, very sunny and breezy. Mosquitoes were not a problem at all. I got one or two no seeum bites at night, but fewer than what I get back home here in Washington D.C..

The food was fantastic everywhere we went on the island. I agree with others who've said that the free continental breakfast at Sibonne is meager. Bad coffee, watery bottled OJ and greasy mini croissants. We were never hungry enough in the morning to order from the larger breakfast menu, but others did and their food looked great. That said, dinners were amazing at Sibonne's Bay Bistro, their chef is so inventive and interesting. He's especially talented with vegetables. The first night I ordered the Provencal Vegetable Tart and it was divine. Another night I got the Tuna with thinly sliced fried onions on savory mashed potatoes and a lentil cake and it was amazing! It really was the best piece of Tuna I've ever had. My husband got the Red Snapper with Mango and that was fabulous as well. Appetizers are not very interesting or well done, but the entrees and desserts are superb. My favorite dessert was the banana tart with caramel sauce and homemade vanilla ice cream -- it's very delicate and flavorful.

Our favorite place to eat had to be Hemingway's, though, just a few steps away from Sibonne. You can't beat the atmosphere there -- it's right on the beach, like Sibonne's Bay Bistro, and they have great live music most nights. The lunches are amazing. My favorite was the grouper taco with mango and pepper salsa; my husband adored the Papa Burger. One night for dinner I paid way too much for a coconut shrimp dish that was just okay -- but my husband got the rib special at $16.95 and that was a steal. But we both agreed that the best dinner meal there is the lobser -- it's HUGE! And only $29! I loved it.

We also loved our meal at Grace's Cottage at Point Grace. I had a superb duck confit and my husband got an incredible Mahi Mahi. The bread was magnificent as well. Everything was perfect and romantic but it isn't on the beach and it was just too damn hot there that night. We were dying to leave just to be able to get back to the beach and catch a breeze!

I'm afraid we weren't too adventurous dining-wise. We just went to the places we could walk to by the beach at night. We were so lazy we never even got in a taxi! We did stroll by Beaches and thought how awful it looked! It has the smallest beach and everyone was just PACKED on it like sardines! It was such a relief to walk down a few meters to the much more peaceful Coral Gardens. We peeked into the Coyaba dining room there but we got so hot just standing there we didn't have the strength to go for dinner there. Again, it's not on the beach and there weren't any breezes blowing in there. Also, the very overpriced menu (even by Caribbean standards) didn't really grab us, although everyone we met said it was their favorite restaurant on the island.

Oh well, Next time!

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Sibonne Beach Hotel
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