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Free website for contractors ( we create the site for you ) with just a few clicks.  No complicated input.  Get requests from homeowners.  It’s that easy.  Open for Nova Scotia.  New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island coming soon.

Trip Calendar

Trip Calendar ( Tripcalendar.org ) is a cool new website that allows users to add their trip dates in a secure environment. Unlike Facebook where everyone knows who you are and where you live TripCalender.org hides your identity using a nickname.

Trip Calendar Login Page

One of the best uses of Trip Calendar is that you can add people you meet on a resort to trip calendar without adding them to your Facebook page.  This is safer for work etc. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

The trip dates are shown in a monthly calendar per resort or a roll call count down of who is travelling next.

Trip Calendar also has a smartphone web app countdown timer to your next trip in days or seconds.  You can create Travel business cards, postcards, add a trip report review, upload images for your use only or sure with friends, repeaters hall of fame, private message others and more.

New features added weekly.

Current Resorts

o Beaches, Turks & Caicos
o Beaches Negril, Jamaica
o Beaches Ocho Rios, Jamaica
o Breezes Bella Costa, Cuba
o Breezes Jibacoa, Cuba
o Breezes Varadero, Cuba
o Couples Negril, Jamaica
o Couples Sans Souci, Jamaica
o Couples Swept Away, Jamaica
o Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica
o Grand Lido, Negril, Jamaica
o Hedonism II, Negril, Jamaica
o Iberostar Dominicana, DR
o Iberostar Grand Paraiso, Mexico
o Iberostar Punta Cana, DR
o Punca Cana Princess, Punta Cana, DR
o RIU Negril, Jamaica
o RIU Palace Punta Cana, DR
o RIU Palace Tropical Bay, Jamaica
o Sandals Royal Carribean,
o Sandals Royal Hicacos,
o Temptation Cancun, Mexico

Grand Lido, Negril, Jamaica (Second Trip)


Back for the second time in just three months.  The second time was even better then the first.  They have added new floaters that are very popular.  These are the same type floaters that couples resorts use.

There is a cool calendar website that you can see who is going to Grand Lido called http://tripcalendar.org  .  It’s free to use and to help link up with others going to the resort.

Grand Lido Trip Calendar

You can also read  my review from our January 2014 visit here.

Main updates from our visit three months ago:

  • The check-in seemed a little faster.
  • No one complained of no hot water so it seems that issue was resolved.
  • The staff seemed even friendlier.
  • They added the very popular floaters (great move).
  • Added new beach chairs.

Interesting that Apple Maps has already updated their satellite photos showing the floaters.

You can see the floaters in the red circle on the CO beach.  Hundreds of fish beside this point will fish over a bagel.  Main beach is show by the yellow line.

You can see the floaters in the red circle on the CO beach. Hundreds of fish beside this point (blue circle) will fight over a bagel. Main beach is show by the yellow line and the crabs make their home in the yellow circle area.

Grand Lido is very unique from all the resorts in Jamaica and any where in the Caribbean.   I don’t think you will find a resort like this anywhere.  It’s not a new resort, it’s small and some people call it rustic.  So what makes it so special?  It has a private clothes optional beach.  Not like the nude beach at couples that is  separated from the main beach by a line in the sand but a private cove. Since it is not a nude beach but a clothes optional beach people are nude, topless and even wearing bathing suits.  This is definitely the key to Grand Lido’s success.

This time we had a room on the ground floor.  I usually don’t like a ground floor room but this was so nice to be able to walk out the patio door and be on the beach in just 20 feet.  We would sit on the deck each night and watch the sunset before going for dinner.  Our room was the same layout as the room in January 2014 visit.

Our Patio on the ground floor.

Grand Lido2 - Patio Deck

Views from our patio:

Don’t go to Grand Lido if you want crowds and loud music and lots of activities.  It’s a relaxed resort that feels a little like going to your own private cottage but with the benefit of never cooking, cleaning or doing all the upkeep to a cottage.  You can always get a beach chair or seat for dinner.

Staff & Dinner Pictures

Bottom line:

Grand Lido is a great resort to meet people in a quiet relaxing atmosphere.  It’s an adult resort with no kids running around and feels like a home away from home.

Five Stars

 

Pebbles Smart Watch

I was watching The Pebbles Smart Watch during it’s very successful crowd funding complain  but was reluctant  to purchase due to the higher shipping costs for people in Canada and I wanted to wait for the other smart watches to be launched like Sony and Google.

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Since I waited I am lucky to use the Pebble with their new App store app and SDK version 2.0.

Setup

So easy it almost does it by it’s self.  Just load the app and and turn on the Pebble and click OK when asked.

Adding new watch faces and apps is super easy using the App.  Just click on any watch or app and it load it on the Pebble.  Very smooth process.  You can only load 8 apps or watch faces but the app stores your favourite in a locker so you can quickly reload them.

Notifications

The Pebble will show notifications for email, text messages, calendar events and phone calls.  Just about anything you need.  There is no setup to see the notifications.

The only issues is a known bug where email message may show up twice or more or in the wrong order and get a “Loading …” message for the remaining part of the email message.  You receive a few characters of the email and then it loads more text but sometime you get the “Loading …” .  It’s not a big deal but just an annoyance.

IMG_2286

Watch

The Pebble comes with several built in watch faces and an ever expanding list of free download watch faces on thier app store. It is very easy to add a new watch, just select the one you like and click ADD.  You can only add 8 watch faces or apps.  But its so easy to switch them in and out that it is not a problem.

App’s

Like the watch faces their is a every expanding list of new apps.  Stocks, weather, exercise etc.  Many of the newer watch faces also have some of their features too so it may be hard to decide your favourite.

Pebble Design

The Pebble seems to be the right comprise.  It has a battery life of 3 or 4 days.  The screen is easily seen in bright daylight.  It’s not a hires color watch that you can view pictures or movies but what it does it does well.  It coveres all the basics that you need in a watch including being water proof.

Five Stars

IBEROSTAR Costa Dorada, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The IBEROSTAR Costa Dorada, Puerto Plata is located 10 minutes from the city of Puerto Plata on the north coast of Dominican Republic. It is rated as a 5 star hotel with 498 double rooms and 18 suites and was renovated in 2011. It is a very nice resort for family with children under 10.  The lobby, grounds, pool and room are excellent.  Lot of entertainment for the younger traveller giving parents a chance to relax.  We travelled with our grandson who is 13 going on 17 so there was not as much for his age group but he was very happy to relax and be independent.

IBEROSTAR Costa Dorada

Overall 

There are 516 rooms in 9 buildings and two pools with exceptional gardens.  The layout of the nine three story buildings have four on one side with five on the other creating a wide garden down the middle to the beach front.  The grounds have a large fish pond with bridge and two water falls.  There are several water fountains around the court yard and grounds and you always hear running water.

They say two pools but it is more like four pools interconnected.  The grounds and pools are never crowded and you can always get a beach chair anytime of the day. They obviously have  way more chairs than guests.  We could always  get a chair on the beach or in front of the pool.

The lobby and main buffet were large and spacious, clean and fresh with covered walkways to get back to your rooms in case of rain.

Check-in

Check in was fast but then again we checked in at 9pm.  Only one other couple checking in at  that time.  They drive you to your room in a golf cart and take your bags.

Lobby

The lobby is large and impressive.  A bar off the side of the lobby and a court yard that has access to the stage and entertainment and two restaurants and buffet. There is also a beach buffet that has everything that the main buffet has but you don’t need to cover up.

Room

Rooms or the beds and furniture are very dated.  We had a double bed which is way too  small. When I called the front desk to ask for a room with a queen bed they delivered a blanket. After a few minutes of trying to explain to the handyman , he dragged in another complete bed. Anyway it worked out OK.  I find language is always a bit of an issue in DR but you have to go with the flow.  There is no dresser for your clothes and all the sun screen etc you take on vacation so you have to work out of your suitcase.  Just a long table like piece of furniture.  The room smelled a bit and the bed spread looked old (maybe just the design and small size of the bed) but after the second day I didn’t notice.  The beds were comfortable and there is a mini fridge stocked with pop, water and beer at no extra charge.  There is a flat screen TV with lots of channels to chose.

The tub is a little small to shower in but lots of hot water.

There is a nice big patio deck with a table and two comfortable chairs.

There is no free internet in the hotel at all.  You need to purchase a password for an hour, day, 3, 5 or 7 days.  At first this was annoying but it is not a bad deal and you can use it in your room and good reception everywhere. We purchased the 5 day for $25.

Beach

The beach in front on the hotel was great.  There is even a few coral reefs ,waist deep and tons of fish.  The only downside to the beach is outside the control of the hotel.  To the right or left of the hotel is vacant land and the beach is not cleaned and is littered with garbage.  Lots and lots of garbage, pop bottles, plastic , everything.  There is also two streams running into the ocean one on each side with smelly water.  Maybe just algae or maybe more.  Lots of algae in the ocean around these streams too.  I felt there were more people to harass you on the beach than other places we have visited , wanting you to take a day trip or visit the market.

It’s a shame but I also notice this type of garbage in other parts of the island when your driving to the hotels.  It seems to be acceptable to throw your garbage anywhere.  You see many of the small local homes littered with garbage.  They should have returnable bottles at least.  You would think the locals would take it upon themselves to make sure the beach looks nice since they use it too.  This is the public access areas.  In Jamaica you would see the local vendors cleaning a part of the beach to make sure it looked nice where they were selling their goods. In Nigel the public access area was cleaner than some of the hotel areas.

(garbage on the beach)

Food

There was always great food.  There was a variety of food choices for everyone’s taste. Plenty of salad and fresh fruit and yogurt. The meat dishes were plentiful and everyday there was chicken ( yummy) , beef, steak, salmon and other meat choices. Pizza, pasta, hotdogs and hamburgers were also available. The deserts were out of this world!! There were 2 stations for all the food choices so no waiting in line. The beach restaurant served the same items as the main buffet but with out the need to cover your bathing suit.

Grounds 

The grounds are immaculate.  Lots of fountains and trees and plants with a fish pond garden and pink flamingo’s and  peacocks too.    Lots of lighting at night and never a bug.

One funny issue is the signs around the pool.  No topless.  I did see several men that went topless with big man boobs so I guess it’s not enforced. Strange since it’s hotel chain based in Spain. I though Spain was topless friendly.

Iberostar Puerto Plata - No topless at pool

Bottom Line

It’s a beautiful resort.  They need more servers in the entertainment areas.  I only saw two so you wait forever.  At Secrets there were 10 and always standing around the courtyard to wait on you with no more than a few second wait.  The same in the buffet.  We usually move our old plates to another table since they were not removed.

Also the beach is very steep.  It’s over your head in just a few feet from shore and walking along the edge is very sloped.  Also the lots on each side of the resort are public access and littered with garbage and two streams that smelled very bad feeding into the ocean.  It may just be pond water or polluted with much more.

No free internet anywhere.  Most Hotels have at least free internet in the lobby.

Four Stars

Grand Lido, Bloody Bay, Negril, Jamaica

Overview:

The resort is an older resort that was once the top hot spot in Jamaica to visit. It was recently sold and the new owners have said they will be spending 65 million dollars to upgrade the resort.  By today standards the resort is smaller than most with 210 rooms and lots of pillars in the way in the lobby.   This does make it less crowded and you can always get a beach chair or pool chair or get into  the À la Carte restaurants with no reservations.  This is a refreshing change of pace.

The resort has three areas, breach front, ocean view and cove view with is a cloths optional area. The beach front where rooms are located right on the beach with a grassy area between you and the beach but you are closer than any other resort I have been too.  Other rooms are located with an ocean view on the small cliff.  We stayed here and our patio deck was only about 30 feet from the ocean with a great view.  The other area is cloths optional.  It has three building and goes from the cliff area to the beach with their own private beach with no public access, pool and bar and both are cloths optional.

The main buffet restaurant is only open for dinner on Monday and Friday.  This seems unusual but forced one to use the À la Carte restaurants which turned out to be a great idea and the À la Carte restaurants were great.

During our stay we had no hot water and asked to be moved to another room.  Others were not so lucky and this seemed to be the main complaint of most people.  At least five or six couples had the same issue.  Even with this issue the resort is so relaxing and had such a variety of friendly guests that it was easily one of our favourite vacations.  We plan to go back as soon as possible.

Drive to the Resort:

It is a long drive from the airport to the resort.  Count on two full hours or more if their is road construction.

Check In:

Very bad check in service.  It’s slow and complicated.  It would be better if they just let you go to the bar or buffet to eat and have you check back with them.

Beach:

The best beach in Jamaica if not the Caribbean.  Pure white power sand with gentle slope into the shallow water.  You can walk out into the water for 100’s of feet and still not be over your head.

The resort is located at the end of Bloody Bay on cliffs that over look the ocean and a long section of beach.

The resort is next to the couples resort that has a nude beach section.  You need to walk through the couples nude beach section to continue along the beach.  There is virtually a line in the sand, nude not nude.

At the far end of the beach near the RIU resort you can feed lots of colourful fish in knee deep water.  The water does not look as clean at that end of the beach due to less water movement and leaves falling and decaying.  At our end of the beach the water is crystal clear.

Rooms:

The rooms are a little dated but clean.  You don’t spend much time in your room anyway and I really don’t care if it’s new as long as it’s clean.

The balcony is very tiny on the second floor.  Just enough room for two chairs but we did sit out most evenings since there were no bugs at all to bother you.  Our room over looked the ocean and was only 30 feet from the waves.

Food:

There is one main buffet restaurant and three  À la Carte restaurants.  The food was excellent in every one.

  • Japanese Restaurant
  • Italian Restaurant
  • Mediterranean Restaurant
  • Ice cream and coffee bar
  • Jamaican Restaurant ( more like fast food ) 

Grand Lido

Bottom line:

This resort while has some short coming including the terrible check in process and the overall age of the resort, it grows on you.  It has a small resort feel where everyone is friendly and you keep running into the same people at different restaurants.

Even with the bad checking experience, hot water issues and dated resort it was one of our favourite vacations.  It’s a relaxing resort with friendly staff and fun guests with a great beach.

Five Stars

Why Apple Service is Number One

I recently had a problem with my iPhone where the off button stopped working.  My iPhone was out of warranty and when I checked at the Apple store they said it would cost $275 to replace the phone.  Not a bad price for a $900 phone but when my wife also had the same issue I though I would write Apple.  I didn’t complain or bitch but just said it was unusual to have two phones break.

About a week later I received a call from Apple to inform me that Apple would replace our phones and it would be absolutely free. The representative called a few days later to make sure I was completely happy with the service.  Two new phones.  Yes I was happy.

I have never received this type of service from other companies when my product was in warranty so to receive this level of service when it’s not in warranty shows why Apple is always number 1 in customer service.

Other information I found on Apple Service:

From Consumer Reports:

Apple bested its own scores from last year’s survey and walloped other brand-name computer manufacturers.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/04/apple-is-tops-when-it-comes-to-computer-tech-support/index.htm

Five Stars

Get an Apple adapter for only $10

Apple posted this on their website:

Starting August 16, 2013, if you have concerns about any of your USB power adapters, you can drop them off at an Apple Retail Store or at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. We will ensure that these adapters are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

A great way to get an adapter for only $10

Read more on their website

http://www.apple.com/support/usbadapter-takeback/

Punta Cana Princess, Dominica Republic

IMG_0866

Rooms were a split level , clean with lots of towels.

The grounds had peacocks running around and well maintained with a large pool.

The beach was great.  Very clean and not much seaweed around.

We booked this hotel when it was on sale and make it a great deal. Keep your eyes out for deals.