05 JUL 2013: When it comes to the Caribbean there are so many choices. So many island countries each offering its own unique blend of culture, cuisine and customs. Here are five fabulous sunspots that you and your clients will definitely enjoy.


No cruise ships, no high rises, no all-inclusives, no fast-food and only one stop light helps set this island getaway apart. The other is its mass appeal.

Celebs have known this for years. I caught up with Dale Pusching, director of sales with the Anguilla Tourist Board who said on a FAM last year, the lovely Sofia Vergera the femme fatale Gloria from the hit TV show Modern Family was on the island. “She showed up everywhere we went,” she says on one of the many star sightings.

Prepare for some hotel refurbs and new developments when you arrive too. The island’s Malliouhana got a redo and is now managed by Auberge Resorts, CeBlue Villas is the island’s newest and first shared ownership resort and Cap Juluca completed an extensive upgrade.

Don’t forget the hot culinary scene. Dale adds Anguilla has arguably more restaurants per capita than Toronto. “There’s only a population of 15,000 on Anguilla but we have 120 restaurants. We have more restaurants per capita than Toronto.”


Crop Over’s big, Ri-Ri the Bajan ambassador aka Rihanna is highly beloved ... and what about the food scene?

Deborah Millington with the Barbados Tourism Authority happily declares Barbados as the dining Mecca of the Caribbean. “Oh yes! There’s international cuisine, and of course coucou and grilled flying fish, our national dish. It’s prepared similar to polenta but we have ochre, a nice smooth consistency and served with lots of gravy.”

Need something to wash down all the cuisine? Deborah adds the Barbados rum industry around since 1703 can’t be beaten. Clients can purchase the island’s signature spirit duty free and save big.

UNESCO also has lauded historic Bridgetown and the Garrison, a UNESCO world heritage site last year. “We hosted over 300 (international) travel agents on a FAM trip in June and took them to all the sites, the live mess hall, and saw the amazing cannons dating back to the 1700s. They are all surrounded around the garrison and over by the Hilton,” she smiles.

If that’s not enough, picture a changing of the sentry ceremony harkening to Buckingham Palace’s own changing of the guard pageantry taking place at the Garrison.

Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)

Canada’s unofficial 11th province (though they might have to fight Florida for that title) is seeing big changes as the country has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 20 years.

In the old days there was a population of under 10,000 and a few resorts but fast forward and see several luxury brands like Aman Resorts and Parrot Cay. The latter luxe resort from COMO Hotels added three new chic two-bedroom beach houses. Celebs Bruce Willis, Christie Brinkley and Keith Richards are known to have vacation homes there.

Watch next year as several major brands are expected to break ground says Dr. Ewing listing JW Marriott, Waldorf Astoria and the West Caicos project which he says was originally under Ritz Carlton.

“The Shore Club, a new condominium project on Long Bay Beach and several cays are looking at also being developed,” the premier adds.

Hotelier J. Kelly Sullivan, a Mississauga expat living in TCI for 20 years, has three properties geared to the savvy traveller who doesn’t want to spend big bucks but still wants a nice place to stay.

What sets his properties apart from the rest he says is a cool limited time summer offer that nobody else has. Dubbed the “free night sunny and warm guarantee,” clients who encounter rainy days or temperatures less than 24 degrees Celsius, Kelly says, “They’ll automatically get that day comped. If it’s raining all day you get a credit (a rebate). No one else is doing it. Florida can’t do that, most of the Caribbean can’t do that,” he says but due to the arid conditions of the TCI (just see the plethora of cacti) they can.


Trinidad and Tobago (TT)

A towering monkey statue of Hanuman Murti has been nominated as one of the eighth wonders of the world by VirtualTourist.com and CNN just nominated Pigeon Point Beach as one of the world’s best 100 beaches, the other new development are its attractions.

Outdoorsy-minded clients who like an adrenaline rush will enjoy zip-lining overlooking Macqueripe Bay.

Some big wigs visited TT too. The Chinese first couple arrived in June.

Shelley-Ann De Gazon, senior marketing specialist with the Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Development Company says the wife of China’s president paid a visit to the stunning hummingbird sanctuary Yerette and met with underprivileged kids at various children’s homes. United States vice-president Joe Biden visited in May for a bilateral meeting.

And that’s only the start on TT happenings. To vote on the world’s best 100 beaches see http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/28/travel/100-best-beaches and to nominate Hanuman Murti see http://www.virtualtourist.com.


US Virgin Islands (USVI)

I spot Brent Carnegie, vice president of CanLink Travel Representatives and Canadian rep for US Virgin Islands, sporting his signature smile as he rolls up his sleeves to give me some destination selling points.

“So many Canadians have been to so many Caribbean destinations so many times they’re ready to try something new,” he starts and adds, “they’ve done Cuba, the DR but not a lot of Canadians have been to the USVI. They are three islands with three completely different destinations in one.”

St. Thomas is big on action, duty free shopping, and satisfies culinary cravings. “Charlotte Amalie has the great Havensight Mall downtown and Main Street so go crazy, buy jewelry and electronics then you could relax by the beach.”

St. John is only 20 minutes away by ferry from St. Thomas. “It’s a world away, lush laid back with two-thirds of the island being a national park.”

Get the best of both worlds with lots of action on St. Thomas and relaxing in St. John.

St. Croix “you have a little bit of both.”

There are easy connecting flights, US currency, and of course same entry requirements as anywhere else in the US.


email icon facebook logo twitter logo


Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

comments powered by Disqus