Our first trip was January 2000. DW and I had been together for a year and this was our first real vacation together.
We stayed at the Manchebo before renovations. The Manchebo beach was amazing. Large and almost empty.
We took a Jolly Pirates cruise with snorkeling and rope swing. We had to walk/cab to restaurants as we didn't have a car. I remember eating at El Gaucho, LeDome, French Steakhouse.
It's hard to beat the weather, the water and the sights. A big factor in our wanting to come back was how we felt safe at all times, walking back to the hotel after dark, downtown, etc.
We were approached on the beach by a timeshare salesman for Paradise Beach Villas and decided to go for the goodies, swearing we wouldn't buy anything. We bought a week in the brand new building so we HAD to come back.