The 18th edition of the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) conference took place in May in Bávaro, Punta Cana. Organized by the Dominican Republic’s National Hotels and Tourism Association (ASONAHORES) and Ministry of Tourism, the country’s most important tourism fair saw an all time attendance high with a 26% jump in the number of registered delegates, including 1,000 more appointments than in 2016. This edition also celebrated Viva Wyndham Resorts’ three decades in the hotel industry.
Destination weddings are big business in June with agents selling romance to clients looking for picture-perfect weddings on the beach, tropical honeymoons, and time away from the fray to celebrate an anniversary. Popular with couples who prefer to skip the hordes on the other busier islands, this petite isle across the channel from St. Kitts is romance-central, framed by the sea the color of a Tiffany blue box.
Skip the crowded beach, give the heave-ho to sand between your toes and opt instead for a refreshing dip in a resort pool. For clients who prefer a day at the pool over a day at the beach, pool royalty runs the gamut from pools on rooftops to infinity varieties with edges that seem to disappear into the ocean or the sky. Put a new spin on an old splash and take a leisurely lap around a cool pool in
Held this year at Atlantis Paradise Island and organized by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board and the Paradise Island Tourism Development Association, Caribbean Travel Marketplace is the region’s largest gathering of tourism suppliers and buyers. Two days of meetings saw a surge in interest from fifteen new buyers including Fiesta Travel from Bulgaria; France’s Island Consulting; Caribbean Blue from Ireland and Russia’s Luxury Resorts Collection. “These business appointments set the tone for meetings, groups and vacation packaging for the entire year,” said Frank Comito, CEO of CHTA. “Some of these companies are expanding into the region which is an indication of demand for the Caribbean’s diverse product.”
Pointed southeast of the Bahamas and 575 miles south of Miami, Turks and Caicos Islands are a sunny collection of seven main islands and forty smaller isles and uninhabited cays. A British Overseas Territory, the island chain is easy to get to with plenty of flights from the US and a breeze to sell for travel agents with clients looking for top-shelf resorts, fine dining, funky beach bars, historic sites like the former cotton plantation called Cheshire Hall, superb diving, temps in the eighties and the island’s crowning glory; miles of white sandy beaches that front the sea blindingly bluer than a Tiffany gift box.
Brand new on the picture-perfect island across the sea from St. Martin, The Reef sits pretty on the less-trodden beach fronting Merrywing Bay. A short golf cart ride away from its bigger sister, CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa; the seaside resort is also a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Stylishly designed with 80 suites in four beachfront buildings, the beauty on the Bay also comes with two tennis courts and a pair of restaurants: The Yacht Club and Breezes on the beach.
The late afternoon sun casts long shadows on the arches and balconies of Havana’s Spanish Colonial buildings. As I ride between them and the aqua-colored sea in a bright red, 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, a breeze brushes my face. Nothing has changed much since the late 1950s. Sure, there are a couple of modern buildings and monuments but that’s about it. I feel like I am in a time warp.
The agenda was ambitious at the annual State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) held this year at the Hilton Barbados Resort. The pre-eminent tourism gathering in the region, the conference was organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in collaboration with Barbados’ Ministry of Tourism and International Transport and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI). With the theme Honouring Our Legacy, Defining Our Future, the week-long event was action-central for tourism influencers from hotel and airline executives and resort owners to directors of tourism, government officials and travel agents.
Addressing a record 520 delegates, Richard Sealy, minister of tourism for Barbados, reported an impressive spike in visitors to the Caribbean. He said, “The region recorded 28.7 million arrivals in 2015, which means we are on target to reach 30 million which is a very healthy state of affairs.” Echoing his optimism, Hugh Riley, secretary general for the CTO added, “The Caribbean is on track for another banner year. Our task now is to ensure all key metrics keep pace with arrivals.” SOTIC 2017 will take place next fall in Grenada. www.onecaribbean.org
It’s easy like Sunday morning at the Riu Republica, fronting the beach called Playa Arena Gorda in Punta Cana. East of the gigantic Hard Rock Hotel, the new all-inclusive is one of eight Riu Resorts in the Dominican Republic; 6 in Punta Cana and 2 in Puerto Plata. With an investment of $140 million, the sunny playground is also the first adults-only in the Riu Classic category, joining the family-friendly Riu Naiboa and Riu Bamboo.
With election fever at high pitch and candidates crisscrossing the country wooing voters to their side of the aisle. The eyes of the world are on the 2016 race to the White House. Front page news and fodder for water cooler conversation in all fifty states. Our political history has a Caribbean connection. From a hit show on Broadway and a villa owned by a billionaire candiate to a plantation house once slept in by the first president.