Monday, September 28, 2009

Island Paradise - Cozumel

This weeks feature island paradise is the Mexican jewel and tourist mecca - Cozumel. Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite the Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. Cozumel is a popular tourist destination renowned for its scuba diving and snorkeling.

The island was struck directly by two Category 4 hurricanes during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. First to arrive was Hurricane Emily in July. Despite Emily being a powerful storm, it was the slower moving Hurricane Wilma that caused the most destruction when it hit the island in October. The island's tourism suffered greatly in Wilma's aftermath, which meant that other destinations in the Caribbean region benefited from increased arrivals. Despite this, the island's tourism industry has recovered well.

Cancun, McCarthy says, is a new place for the second time. Created from the low jungle in 1974 as Mexico's first master-planned city, Cancun's re-creation today from Hurricane Wilma includes more than renewed hotels and refurbished beaches.

Look for three new PGA-rated golf courses, marinas and nautical opportunities for the first time ever at the hotel-oriented Puerto Cancun or at Malecon Cancun with commercial and residential developments.

If three million visitors, a busy international airport, 142 hotels and supporting shops and restaurants, four-lane highways, hospitals and city infrastructure can happen here, they say, it can happen all over Mexico.

Feature Hotel - Cozumel Palace

Not too long ago, Cozumel Island was revealed to the world with all its charm. Now adventure travelers, divers and nature lovers are discovering Cozumel Palace, the stunning resort bathed by the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Experience the true meaning of luxury and fun. Enjoy the amenities and attention to detail from the moment you arrive. You will be flabbergasted!

It is here where Cozumel Palace, with its 175 guestrooms, invites travelers to enjoy the facilities and amenities of an all-inclusive property. At only 10 minutes from Cozumel’s airport, the resort is a showcase of refined taste and friendly service in an unbeatable location. We invite you to sample the varied cuisines at any of the three restaurants or savor your favorite cocktail at the swim-up bar; or you may decide to stay in your room and take full advantage of its amenities: the double Jacuzzi, a drink from the liquor dispenser and the 24-hour room service. The resort also welcomes children. A kids club, a children’s playground and pool will certainly keep the little ones entertained while you enjoy a massage at any of the spa treatment rooms. We strive to provide you with the best. Come to Cozumel Palace and experience what a vacation should be!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Island Paradise - The Bahamas

This week’s island paradise is not one, not two, not even three, but a chain of serenely beautiful and extravagantly gorgeous Bahamas islands. The Bahamas, officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an English-speaking country consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 rocks. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of the United States of America, north of Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the Caribbean Sea, and northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Islands
Nassau/Paradise Island - You’ll find the capital city, Nassau on New Providence Island, neighbor to Paradise Island. Offering a distinct blend of international glamour and tropical ease, this unique island pair gives you the freedom to do everything or nothing at all. So, kick back. Enjoy.

Grand Bahama - You can look forward to a memorable mix of historic charm, modern attractions, and ecological wonders on your visit to Grand Bahama Island. There’s truly something for everyone. The warm welcome you’ll receive is just extra insurance that you’ll return again and again.

The Out Islands - These hidden gems come in the form of small remote villages and a simple way of life. Here you’ll find some of the world’s most stunning beaches, dive sites, and fishing sites – a welcome surprise if you’re looking for that perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.

Things to Do on Water
Unless you’ve been here, you really haven’t experienced the underwater world. You see, these islands are the only places on Earth where the water is so clear, it has a visibility of over 200 feet: The Islands Of The Bahamas. The ocean water surrounding the Islands Of The Bahamas is incredible in its variety of hues and its clarity. You can easily spot dolphins, explore shipwrecks and coral reefs and be amazed by schools of colorful fish. Whether you’re into boating, sailing, diving, snorkeling, fishing or kayaking, this really is the best place in the world to do them all.
Just to name a few things to do, you have: Beaches, Boat Sailing, Diving, Fishing, Snorkeling, Water sports.

Things to Do on Land

Here, the fun doesn’t end the moment you step out of the water. That’s the beauty of The Islands Of The Bahamas. At every turn, there is something exciting to discover. The activities on our 100,000-square-mile tropical archipelago are just as varied as our underwater ones. There are historic plantations and forts to explore, close encounters with West Indian flamingos, Bahamian cuisine to feast on, casinos to test your luck and championship golf courses with your name written all over them. With so much to do, you’ll never run out of ways to enjoy your days on our islands.
There, we have: Attractions, Birding, Dining and Entertainment, Gaming, Golfing, Private Flying, Spa and Wellness, Nature Hiking and Tours.

Weddings & Honeymoons

The declaration of love. The gathering of friends and family. Bahamians love weddings. Here, getting married is more than a special occasion. It is a celebration. You can't make a better choice for a destination wedding than one of The Islands Of The Bahamas. Our clear sky, powdery white sand and crystal-blue water make the perfect setting for your big day. To get you ready, even from afar, our professional wedding planners make planning stress-free. They can even tell you about special offers to help you stay within budget.

Atlantis Hotel

News ...

Usain Bolt Shatters World Record and Buys Bahamian Real Estate Paradise
August 20, 2009

Fresh off the heels of running the fastest 100 meters in the history of the world, posting a record time of 9.58 seconds, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt acquires real estate on the Bahamas island of Rum Cay.
"Who wouldn't want to live on Rum Cay? It is magnificent. What an incredibly beautiful place." - Bolt beamed. In what seemingly is becoming a trend, Bolt joins Carl Lewis, the US Olympic icon and once "the fastest man in the world," as the second world record holder to acquire land on this blissful Bahamian island.
Rum Cay, located just 345 miles southeast of Miami, is becoming a haven for athletes, entertainers and celebrities who hail from all corners of the world. An island with just over 100 inhabitants boasts two of the fastest men ever. Willis Harding, of Sunshine Realty states, "Of all the places in the world, I am amazed how many famous people are gravitating to Rum Cay. This place truly has something magical about it."
 The island is 35 square miles in size and is a second home to two world record holders and Olympic superstars. Both athletes have land in the Paradise Is Mine development of the island which provides the most spectacular vistas within the Caribbean. "Usain Bolt is now one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. For him to choose Rum Cay as his corner of paradise speaks volumes about the island. He could live anywhere he wants and he chose Rum Cay." - states Seth Kaufman, broker for Turnberry International Realty in Aventura, Florida. Turnberry International Realty markets Rum Cay within the USA for Bahamian Realtors. Turnberry is responsible for bringing Bolt to the island and is becoming a recognized resource for celebrity clients throughout the Americas.
"Rum Cay is a great place to relax. Just looking at the pictures is enough to put your mind at ease." states Bolt. One of the first things Bolt did after setting his recent world record in Berlin is close the transaction for the property on this Caribbean paradise. Given the current number of international luminaries flocking to buy property within the Paradise Is Mine section of Rum Cay, the island is truly expanding its reputation as the "Undiscovered jewel of the Caribbean." Kaufman went on to remark, "Its amazing how much notoriety this island is gaining so quickly."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Island Paradise - Tahiti

The Islands of Tahiti have something for every traveler, from sugary white-sand beaches to vibrant marine life, rugged mountains, and a colorful history. If you prefer a private island picnic near Bora Bora or a canoe delivered breakfast in your over-water bungalow, Tahiti is the ultimate South Pacific island paradise. This week, let me expose you to the magic and splendor of the Tahitian islands.
Tahiti covers over two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 118 islands spread over five great archipelagos. Many islands are crowned with jagged peaks while others appear to barely float above the breaking waves. 
The three archipelagos most sought by visitors are the Society Islands, comprised of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha'a; The Tuamotu Atolls or "Tahiti's Strand of Pearls", include the atolls of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava; and the Marquesas, or "The Mysterious Islands."

Tahiti’s Uniqueness

People - Embrace the warmth of your Polynesian hosts whose love for their islands is seen through music, dance, and flowers.

Overwater Bungalows - Enjoy the drama and comfort of the world's perfect hotel room while sleeping above soothing lagoon waters.

Cruising - Voyage within the legendary South Pacific aboard luxurious cruise ships, super yachts, or passenger freighter that travel between Tahiti's most beautiful islands.

Polynesian Spas - Experience true relaxation and rejuvenation at one of the many luxurious Polynesian spas while nurtured by the tropical ambience.

Snorkeling & Diving - Share the warm, crystal-clear lagoons and swift ocean passes with schools of impossibly-colored fish, docile sharks, and giant manta rays.

Romance - Celebrate a new romance or a special anniversary in the most romantic spot on earth.

Honeymoons - Discover how the seclusion and setting of these islands create one of the world's most desirable honeymoon destinations.

Here, around these South Seas isles, a romantic sunset sea sends giant curls of turquoise breaking onto the colorful reefs that protect the tranquil lagoons of warm, bright-emerald waters and white coral-sand beaches.

Getting to Tahiti
Easier to travel to than you might imagine, Tahiti's Faa'a Airport is under 8 hours by air from Los Angeles LAX airport, with daily nonstop flights and starting in the summer of 2005 – 3 non-stop flights a week from New York’s JFK airport. As far south of the equator as Hawaii is north, Tahiti is halfway between California and Australia, on the same side of the International Date Line as North America, and in the same time zone as Hawaii.

Island Tours
There is no better way to gain a sense of everyday Tahitian life and experience the culture of French Polynesia, than passing through the small villages on a circle-island tour. As nearly every island has a coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour. Explore the island interiors on a 4x4 safari, guided nature hike, or horseback ride. Skim across the lagoons on a motorized canoe, sailboat, or powerboat. For dramatic views above the islands, take a helicopter tour.

Polynesian Spas
Tahiti is now a world-class spa destination with many of the resorts offering new luxurious spas. Surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty and floral fragrances, there is no better setting for relaxation. Enjoy fresh-flower baths, herbal rain showers, or even a body wrap in banana tree leaves at Hélène Spa as shown in the photo. You can also rejuvenate your romance at the spas aboard the cruise ships including the Parisian-influenced private Spa Villa for two on the m/s Paul Gauguin.

Unique Cruise Ships
A wide variety of cruise products set sail in these romantic isles. Each week, luxurious cruise ships offer first-class meals and balcony cabins, Tahitian-owned "super yachts" sail deep within the smooth-water lagoons, a passenger freighter voyages between 17 ports, sailing catamarans offer small groups or families a vacation at sea, and barefoot cruising creates an environment for the independent and adventurous. Something for everyone on cruises found nowhere else on earth.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Island Paradise - St. Lucia

This weeks feature island is the exotic and picturesque St. Lucia. Located in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia is the sort of island that travelers to the Caribbean dream about-a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.

In natural beauty, St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal peaks, the Pitons, soar 2,000 feet up from the sea, sheltering magnificent rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish. Brilliantly-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot. The rain-forest is broken only by verdant fields and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, and papaya trees.

St. Lucia is an ideal dream getaway for weddings and honeymoons, family vacations, soft adventure such as diving, snorkeling and sailing,  and for events such as Jazz and International cricket.

Feature Attraction - Soufriere Sulphur Springs
Soufriere's backdrop of the Pitons, sea and rainforest provides a picture perfect setting for a visit to this laid-back and relatively undeveloped town in the south of St. Lucia. Considering that its name is French for "sulphur," it should be no surprise to discover the wealth of hot springs and mineral baths. Other great spots to visit include Diamond Botanical Gardens, a slew of pretty beaches and the bike trails that wind through sugar plantation Anse Mamin. Rent a car to see the town.

Feature Hotel - Harmony Suites
This hotel has a British colonial style 2 storey buildings set in a semi-circle surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens. Warm and intimate atmosphere that is unobtrusive. Among the facilities, is a beautiful fresh water pool with pool deck and lounge chairs, for your sunbathing and relaxation. A wide variety of freshly caught and expertly prepared seafood, as well as our highly recommended Caribbean and European cuisine is served daily beneath the elegance of our gazebo styled waterfront restaurant. 

Friday, September 4, 2009

Caribbean Tourism Holding Up Well

Despite the ravages of the global recession and falling yields, Sandals boss Gordon 'Butch' Stewart is of the view that Caribbean tourism is holding up well, particularly in Jamaica.
Chairman of Sandals Resorts International Gordon 'Butch' Stewart.

He attributes this to the region putting in place marketing initiatives and working closely with the respective governments to ensure that the tourism industry is suitably insulated from the fallout.

"The state of Caribbean tourism right now is a mixed bag. I think overall Jamaica has done better than all the islands because we were able to put significant airlift in place and aggressively undertake promotional campaigns," Stewart said in an interview with Caribbean Business Report earlier this week. "Generally we have been able to position ourselves in such a way as to insulate the industry - not perfectly, but just about better than everybody else."

In June this year, Jamaica's tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, in his contribution to the sectoral debate in Parliament, said: "In the first four months of this year, though most of the Caribbean is continuing to have difficulties, of the countries submitting reports to date, Jamaica is one of only three to have recorded growth."

The Caribbean is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world. According to statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), last year the contribution of travel and tourism to gross domestic product in the Caribbean was estimated to be US$39.9 billion. This represented 14.8 per cent of the Caribbean's total GDP. The contribution of the travel and tourism industry to employment is estimated to be 2,148,000 jobs, which represents 12.9 per cent of total employment in the Caribbean. Looking across the region, real GDP growth for the travel and tourism economy is estimated to be 2.1 per cent in 2008 and 3.3 per cent per annum over the coming 10 years.

By Al Edwards
Friday, September 04, 2009
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