With air tickets that won’t cost a (tanned) arm and a leg, no shortage of beach chairs, reservations at the best restaurants easy to get, and hotels dishing up a myriad of booking incentives for travel agents, selling the Caribbean in low season is as rosy as a crimson sunset. A great way to audition an island before spending the big bucks for a Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation, Caribbean in the summer is a world away from buggy backyard barbecues and humid city nights at home.
Shopping is a vacation rite of passage for every traveler worth his or her sea salt. For something extra special for the folks at home, ditch the crowded malls and airport souvenir shops and look for locally-made. Whether you celebrate Mother’s Day on May 10, Father’s Day on June 21 or, lest we forget, National Chocolate Chip Day on May 15 (yes, a real holiday) or National Flip Flop Day on June 19 (always the third Friday in June for those keeping track), our cornucopia of creative gift ideas aims to please.
Few vacation experiences appeal to the entire family like an afternoon cavorting with the critters who call the Caribbean home. From swimming with the sharks in The Bahamas to staking out rare birds in St. Lucia and taking photos with the monkeys in St. Kitts, there is an animal-friendly island for everyone and an easy sell for travel agents.
Travel games. Check. Beach toys. Check. Sippy cups. Check. Add passports and sunscreen and pack up the brood for a beach vacay in the Caribbean. Keeping kids happy even while on a winter holiday can be a challenge but scoping out the best beaches before you head for the airport is the main ingredient for hassle-free family fun under the sun.
If sun loungers on endless stretches of sandy beaches, unlimited fine dining and starry nights aren’t enough, try a resort that caters to grown-ups without distractions like teen discos and crowded buffets. A Caribbean vacation without the kids is all about swapping pint-sized dinner plates for side-by-side massages on the beach.
Simply put, no resort chain knows the Caribbean better than Sandals. With fifteen properties on six islands (Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Bahamas and Antigua), the adults-only all-inclusives sit pretty on the calm side of every island fronting beaches that are protected by offshore reefs.
One-stop-shopping for vacationers who covet the convenience of a no-wallet holiday, the upscale resorts come with high-end perks like a Rolls Royce pick-up at the airport, gratis Wi-Fi and butlers who are delighted to unpack your luggage, deliver breakfast in bed and cater a candlelit dinner on the beach. Upping the all-inclusive ante, the properties offer tour desks, spas, diverse dining and unlimited pours from top-shelf bottles from Napa’s Beringer Vineyards. Courtesy of a host of incentives for travel agents, Royal Bahamian in Nassau and Emerald Bay in Exuma are perennially popular for clients shopping for an everything-included vacation.
There are weddings and then there are really great weddings and although taking the plunge in the Caribbean is reliably great, creative nuptials beyond barefoot on the beach come with pretty good odds that you’ll never forget your anniversary. Whether it’s the first time down the aisle, three times lucky or vow renewals, Valentine’s Day, or any day as the winter winds blow at home, it is the perfect time for a heart-pumping new beginning that comes with a laundry list of conversation starters once you get back home.
When you hear “Cayman Islands,” the words “offshore tax haven” probably come to mind. But the Cayman Islands are so much more than the shelter of unreported income it has come to be recognized for (although, as of last year, the country has eliminated tax loopholes for individuals; this does not apply to corporations - yet).
The single most important business generator for Jamaica’s tourism industry, Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) is an annual meet and greet between the island’s tourism suppliers and the wholesalers and travel agents who sell the destination. Sponsored by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the show is much-anticipated moving into high season. “As a signature marketing event combining business appointments and social functions, JAPEX offers the opportunity to buyers and suppliers to reaffirm existing partnerships and to also establish new ones,“ said Nicola Madden-Grieg, president of JAPEX.
Held this year in St. Thomas, USVI, the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) is the Caribbean’s leading tourism conference, bringing together movers and shakers from the public and private sectors. With the theme “Realizing the Vision: Positioning Caribbean Tourism for Major Change,” the annual event was organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in collaboration with USVI’s Department of Tourism and was held at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort. “The theme dovetails nicely with the organization’s own vision for Caribbean tourism, which is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination,” said Hugh Riley, secretary general of the CTO. “If we seriously put our resources together, we could certainly achieve the 30 million visitor goal that we have our eye on.” Last year, the Caribbean received 25 million stay-over visitors with arrivals up by 4.3 percent during the first half of this year. If the pace of growth continues at the current rate, the region would reach the target of 30 million visitors by 2017. www.OneCaribbean.org