Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Place New - Lion Rock & Mongoose

So after getting some chores out of the way Saturday, I suggested we head to Spice Mill to people watch, since we hadn't been to Cockleshell beach in quite a while. The plan had been to get our beers at the Lion Rock Bar, which is still charging $5EC/$2US and then wander the beach, maybe socializing with others at Spice Mill. That was the plan. Lion Rock was closed! Hmm.

The lack of people on the beach made it obvious that there weren't any cruise ships in and a lot of businesses don't bother to open on such days. That said, Lion Rock's been on Cockleshell for a looooong time and have a good local following, so I didn't think they'd be closed too. Well, who knows, but it didn't really matter because there weren't any people to watch anyway. Now you'll note the little palm frond "umbrellas" on the beach.

And the sign.

Good thing the shade is free! There sure wasn't a whole lot of it!

Now take a look at this beach. Where the heck is everyone??

We wandered over to a rather subdued Spice Mill for a couple of beers while we debated plan B and couldn't believe we paid $7.50 for the darn things. I know Reggae Beach bar charges that too. That's nuts and a real example of businesses using the VAT as an excuse to jack prices up beyond reason (that is quite an increase and markup). Then when I ran across the rates to use their beach stuff (couches, beds, chairs, etc), I was shaking my head too. You want to save costs instead of passing them onto customers? Don't have 3 bartenders on when there aren't any cruise ships in!

So let me just say this, Cockleshell is a really pretty white sand beach and the water is usually pretty calm with a nice sandy bottom. Reggae Beach Bar is fun for its animals and has a lot of water toys (like jet skis) to rent; and Spice Mill is a hip, nice step up from most of the other "shacks" on the beach with comfortable seating and has some great food. If you want to enjoy any of those things, then paying a bit of a premium for the goodies isn't necessarily a bad deal. But if all you're going to do is throw yourself on the beach and veg with a bucket of beer, then you're better off going to S Friar's beach or Frigate Bay/The Strip where everything is cheaper (ok, the sand is tan on those beaches, but surely that's not a deal breaker). And that's what we did (sort of).

I had wanted to try out the cute little Mongoose bar on S Friar's for some time now, so we headed that way. First, we stopped off at a home that's been built on the peninsula and is having a pool installed. We're friends with a couple of contractors involved and wanted to see how things were going. One of them (related to the home owner) gave me a tour of the inside of the house and I was just in awe of everything. All the materials were organic and modern - bamboo, glass, stone - amazing photos on the walls, architecture serving as art, comfortable furniture. Seriously, there wasn't one thing from the light fixtures to the plumbing to even the landscaping that I didn't like and the views were fantastic as well. The cool pool (figuratively & literally) and surrounding deck is going to be the pièce de résistance. Yep, I've found my dream home. I didn't take any pictures for obvious reasons, but you'll just have to trust me on this. I absolutely must recommend Razo Inc. (based in Canada) if you're thinking of building, wherever you are. If you're in St Kitts/Nevis and want a pool, you can't go wrong with Fibre Zone Pools, a venture started by David of Indigo Yachts.

Still amazed at what's possible when you have money, taste, and good contractors, we headed to Mongoose and were pleased to see they were open.

We ordered a couple of beers, at $5EC thank-you-very-much, and then had a great 2-hour conversation with Mongoose/Ivan - the owner of the place. Ivan is a really knowledgeable, level-headed Kittitian who made talking about island and U.S. politics/issues interesting and easy. When I told him about a story I was working on about foreign funding and some possible foul play there, he wanted to see my source because he said it sounded "fishy." I'm going to take him up on that actually.

I highly recommend you send some business Mongoose's way. I love places where the proprietors are genuine and friendly (Ottley's Plantation, Wingfield Estate, Palm Court Gardens, some Frigate bars, etc.) and if you do too, then Mongoose should be put on your list. The bar is well stocked and the kitchen should be up and running in a couple of weeks. Bathrooms are on the way too. There are chairs on the beach and provide a less hectic place to crash if looking for some serenity.

Of course, you can always grab a cooler of even cheaper beer (or whatever), bring along a couple of beach towels, and go to whatever beach you want for free!

Nope, not a bad way to spend a weekend at all.