Archive for March, 2021

Grand Bahama Island Expands Airport Facilities for Travel Restart

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, March 18, 2021 – Grand Bahama Island has taken a series of major steps in preparation for the day when US travelers regain their confidence and once again venture forth.  As their nearest and most familiar neighbor, Grand Bahama Island is ready to welcome them back!

In a recent visit to tour and inspect the temporary terminal facilities at the Grand Bahama International Airport, Directors and Member Hotel Managers of the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board saw firsthand the additional work being carried out to address in the short term, the needs of air passenger service to the island.

The temporary airport facility at the Grand Bahama International Airport has doubled in size to over eight thousand square feet and is now better prepared to service both international and domestic travel markets. This significant expansion and upgrade of the facility allows for better handling of baggage, an additional 250-seat departure area, and the efficient processing of visitors through Immigration, Customs and Baggage Claim in the arrivals terminal.

The plan for the overall redevelopment of the Grand Bahama International Airport is nearing the final stages, as the Government completes its negotiations with the Hutchison Group and the Grand Bahama Port Authority to acquire ownership of the airport.   “We are pleased that the Government has received high interest from companies who want to have a public/private partnership (PPP) in the redevelopment of the airport,” declared State Minister for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson.

“Attracting sufficient airlift and proper marketing of the island is critical to its success, and we are extremely pleased that post-Dorian and post-COVID we still have investors who are willing and able to come and invest in GBI.”

Grand Bahama’s stakeholders are pleased with and encouraged by the progress on the airport, observing that the additional work that is nearing completion directly addresses the deficiencies that were pointed out by previous users of the facilities.

Marco Gobbi, General Manager of the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Resort, which has consistently operated on Grand Bahama for the past 30 years, confirmed that his ownership remains committed to the island.  “In our opinion, the temporary airport facility is adequate for processing air passengers to the island.  We are confident that as we work towards rebuilding demand for our property, further improvement of the airport facilities will happen.”

The Viva Wyndham Fortuna is reopening on April 25th, and the team under Gobbi’s direction is working hard to meet that goal amidst the changing marketplace conditions, the latest being the new requirements for entry into the United States.  “We will be making some special opening offers, and perhaps also include the rapid test in our packages to make it more attractive for our visitors from the USA,” stated Mr. Gobbi.

Sean Basden is Vice President of Taino Beach Resorts & Clubs, which is the largest Bahamian owned and operational resort on Grand Bahama Island. A time-share Resort with approximately 5,000 members, the property is comprised of approximately 160 timeshare units that consist of one- and two-bedroom condo units. Basden shared that in addition, the 66 hotel units at the Flamingo Bay Resort, one of the three Taino Beach properties, are completely open, including its Marina facilities, with 25 Boat Slips and a good client base that comes mainly from the South Florida market. Continuous upgrades to all the units have been underway, despite the fact that the property has not benefitted from any external assistance programs in the wake of both Dorian and COVID.

“Our Staff Members have benefitted from the Government’s unemployment program, and I must say that it has been a great help to them,” said Mr. Basden. “Our focus is on keeping up the standards of our property, to ensure that we are open and ready.  We have enjoyed great support from the local market and domestic visitors from the other islands.”

On March 25th Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan resort will be reopening, “We are delighted to welcome back our many legacy guests after 12 months of Coronavirus induced closure, and to all, we say, we are back!” stated Chairman, Michael Scott, QC.

“On behalf of myself and the Board of Directors, we are truly thrilled to welcome you once again to our world-class resort. The added safety and security protocols will assure you a safe and happy experience, giving you the peace and serenity our resort offers as well as enticing you to indulge in our many amenities and experiences; whether it be lounging on the beach, spear fishing, golf, the thrill of deep-sea fishing or just simply exploring the beautiful Island of Grand Bahama.”

Special promotions geared toward domestic tourism, such as golf packages, weekend getaways and “staycations” for residents of Nassau, the Family Islands and locals, will be available.

To help safeguard both guests and staff members, Grand Lucayan implemented advanced safety protocols and best practices in response to COVID-19. Upon returning, all staff members will be administered daily temperature checks, required to be tested weekly and complete extensive trainings on precautions and preparedness, and will wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while on-site. In addition, social distancing guidelines and signage will be posted throughout the property, touchless hand sanitizing stations will be readily available and public spaces will frequently be disinfected.

Guests of Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan enjoy exceptional, crowd free amenities, including access to its progressive fitness facilities and 18-hole championship golf at The Reef Course, acclaimed as one of the world’s “Top 100” golf courses. In addition, the property presents visitors with easy access to a myriad of fresh air excursions, from biking along historic trails and birdwatching at the nearby Rand Nature Centre, to horseback riding along the sparkling shoreline or fishing in one of the world’s top sport fishing regions.

Known as “The Jewel of Grand Bahama Island,” Port Lucaya Marketplace, the largest shopping, dining and entertainment open air facility in The Bahamas, lies just a short walk from the property and presents cultural consumers with an endless supply of specialty stores, restaurants and bars. Nearby, the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) offers adventure travelers and eco-tourists a variety of expeditions, including informative dolphin encounters, thrilling shark feeding and cave dives in the extensive labyrinth of submerged tunnels at Lucayan National Park.

For more information on Grand Bahama Island please visit the official website of the GBI Tourism Board: www.grandbahamavacations.com;  follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/ visitGBI; Instagram: @visitGBI ; Twitter: @visitGBI .

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Nevis Invites Health-Conscious Travelers to “Just Be” In Nevis

Charlestown, Nevis, March 16, 2021 – The Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA) is focused on expanding its visitor base of health and fitness travelers with the launch of a new promotional video that highlights Nevis’ wellness destination experiences. Released on March 16th, the video is now available on the NTA’s website www.nevisisland.com as well as their social media channels. The video invites visitors to come, explore and enjoy a relaxing getaway and connect with the soul and spirit of this special island.

The new #JustBeNevis video will serve as a vehicle to showcase the distinctive aspects of the destination and target the growing health and wellness visitor segment. “As more and more travelers embrace healthy lifestyles and practices, Nevis affords visitors an ideal opportunity to escape from the stresses of everyday life and relax and rejuvenate in a lush, natural environment. This video helps us to position Nevis as the preferred wellness destination for guests seeking vacation experiences that focus on their wellbeing,” said Nevis Tourism Authority CEO Jadine Yarde.  “In addition to our exceptional resort spas, we also have a host of talented wellness consultants — massage therapists, yoga instructors, fitness gurus and nutrition experts, who offer personalized programs and curated experiences for guests.”

The video, which is just over a minute long, invites travelers to Just Be in Nevis, and showcases a number of activities for health-conscious vacationers. Breathe while enjoying beach yoga, Release the tensions and toxins during that body massage and other spa treatments, Transform as you practice your meditation rituals and Embrace those outdoor pursuits, against the backdrops of breathtaking scenery and panoramic views.

Several Nevisian wellness practitioners and locations are featured in the video, including the Nevis Hot Springs, where visitors can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the thermal waters; the Bac 2 My Roots Spatique, an eco-friendly Wholistic Spa and Juice bar offering a range of traditional healing techniques drawn from Africa and India; and signature massage treatments at the Myra Jones-Edith Kirby Jones Wellness Center.

To complement the #JustBeNevis wellness video, and generate a larger conversation around wellness and well-being, the NTA is inviting guests to share videos of their own best self-care practices, or how they incorporate wellness into their daily routines, on the NTA’s Instagram and Facebook platforms using the hashtag #JustBeNevis.  The most popular videos will receive a gift from Nevis, in appreciation for their support. A comprehensive “Wellness” brochure, with information on both traditional and non-traditional wellness and self-care experiences has been produced, designed to provide visitors with everything they need to know to create their perfect vacation in Nevis. The brochure will be available on the NTA website.

The NTA is also launching a monthly “Escape to Nevis” series this month, which will  air on their YouTube channel, and feature conversations with a variety of interesting and innovative Nevisian personalities speaking to different aspects of the destination. The first episode is focused on wellness, and will star Edith Irby, owner of the Edith Irby Jones Wellness Center, and herbal specialist Sevil Hanley, a leading  authority on the healing properties of locally grown roots and herbs.

Wellness tourism is a multi-billion-dollar industry and according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a non-profit global research firm focused on the global wellness industry, the projected market size of the global health and wellness market in 2020 was $4.94 trillion and could reach $5.54 trillion in 2022.

For more information on Nevis wellness experiences visit the Nevis Tourism Authority website at  https://nevisisland.com/wellness. Feel free to follow us on Instagram (@nevisnaturally), Facebook (@nevisnaturally), YouTube (nevisnaturally) and Twitter (@Nevisnaturally).

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Montserrat Celebrated in the UK on St Patrick’s Day

Speaker raises first flag to the British Overseas Territories the British Overseas Territory of Monserrat is being celebrated by the Speaker of the House of Commons with the raising of the country’s flag in New Palace Yard.

The tiny island, which sits just south of Antigua, celebrates St Patrick’s Day on 17 March – the same day it commemorates the nine West African slaves who lost their lives after a failed rebellion in 1768.

In fact, Montserrat, which has a population of less than 5,000 people, is the only nation in the world outside Ireland that treats St Patrick’s Day as a national holiday. This stems from the fact that the majority of the island’s early settlers, who landed in the 17th century, were predominantly of Irish origin.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it was important that the UK Parliament marked the ceremonial days of the British Overseas Territories. “Now more than ever is the time to celebrate and commemorate Montserrat, particularly as many Montserratians now live in the UK as a result of a volcanic eruption that destroyed the southern side of the island, including the capital Plymouth, in the mid-1990s,” he said. “I want to nurture our relationship with the overseas territories, and this starts in a small way by recognising and respecting these countries that mean so much to us by the raising of flags on their national days.”

The Hon. Joseph E. Farrell, Premier of Montserrat, said: “The Government and people of Montserrat are delighted at having our island’s flag raised at New Palace Yard on 17th March 2021. This is indeed an auspicious accession, especially on St. Patrick’s Day when both Montserrat and Ireland celebrate a shared history and rich heritage.”

Montserrat, which is 11 miles long and seven miles wide, was named by Christopher Columbus in 1492. He believed the pear-shaped island resembled the land around the Spanish abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat. A self-governing overseas territory within the Commonwealth, Montserrat’s head of state is the Queen, who is represented by an appointed governor.

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Airbnb and the CTO Collaborate to Promote Tourism 2021

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (17 March 2021) – As part of its global efforts to work with governments and tourism agencies to support responsible travel and local economic growth, Airbnb announced its partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to promote its member countries across Airbnb’s vast global community. This collaboration is designed to amplify the Caribbean’s recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by promoting safe, responsible travel to the region.

As part of this partnership, Airbnb is launching a marketing campaign that includes the rollout of a series of email newsletters and a landing page highlighting the CTO’s member countries and their respective protocols for safe travel during this time. Airbnb has also pledged to share data with the CTO, including travel trends, to facilitate informed marketing decisions during this recovery period.

The promotional landing page for this partnership will be unique to others worldwide. It will integrate 18 countries from the English, French and Dutch Caribbean, promote homes in each destination, and links to each country’s website.

“With the Caribbean continuing to re-open, we’re helping to usher in the safe return of travel to this wonderful region by shining a light on the many places to see and things to do,” stated Carlos Munoz, Airbnb Policy Manager for Central America and the Caribbean. “We’re also excited to promote the important economic impact driven by hosting on Airbnb.”

This partnership is one of the many initiatives in the CTO’s ongoing programme to help its members rebuild tourism in their destinations. “The partnership with Airbnb will help us to promote the region responsibly by providing our members with a platform to showcase their destinations while at the same time highlighting the health safety measures that each has implemented to ensure that visitors can enjoy a safe Caribbean experience during this time,” shared Neil Walters, Acting Secretary-General of the CTO.

This partnership joins previously announced collaborations with organizations, including the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), the National Parks Foundation and Bermuda Tourism Authority.

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Crystal Cruises Launches New Close-to-Home Bahamas Escapes 

NASSAU AND MIAMI, MARCH 11, 2021 – Today, in a joint virtual press conference with the Honorable Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism & Aviation for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Crystal Cruises announced its plans to restart cruising with new close-to-home Bahamas Escapes beginning July 3, 2021 with a series of 16 seven-night, round-trip cruises from Nassau on its award-winning flag ship, Crystal Serenity. In addition to its Nassau itineraries, Crystal will also offer 16 seven-night voyages round-trip from Bimini beginning on July 4, 2021. With her new Bahamas Escapes cruises, Crystal Serenity becomes the first ship to homeport in The Bahamas, as well as the first ocean ship to sail from the Americas since the cruise industry’s voluntary halt in operations almost a year ago. In attendance at today’s press conference announcing the new Bahamas Escapes cruises were Jack Anderson, Crystal’s interim president and CEO, Minister D’Aguilar and Director General Joy Jibrilu, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

“Like our guests, we have been eagerly looking forward to the day we can welcome them back on board, and we’re thrilled that this day will come in The Bahamas,” Anderson said. “The new Bahamas Escapes cruises will allow travelers to enjoy luxury cruising now, as well as bring much-needed benefits to the local workforce, airlines, restaurants, retailers and hotels for pre- and post-cruise stays. The launch of these cruises will also drive economic growth to The Bahamas, which, like other destinations around the world, has been negatively affected by the global pandemic.”

“The Bahamas is ready and delighted to welcome cruise visitors back to the islands and to partner with Crystal Cruises in the effort to restore and help re-activate our tourism industry and protect jobs and businesses,” D’Aguilar said. “Crystal Cruises will go on record as the only cruise line offering Bahamas-only voyages that highlight the signature features and experiences travelers can find here in our islands, and the support that these cruises will bring to multiple communities within the country will be tremendous. We have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and healthy stay for all travelers, enhancing the innately spacious and outdoor-focused experience the islands provide. Guests will find ample room to roam and a warm welcome from the people of this unique destination.”

Anderson added, “We can offer these cruises with mutual confidence, thanks to the meticulous planning and health and safety protocols that both Crystal Cruises and The Bahamas have put in place, which Crystal Cruises’ sister cruise line, Dream Cruises, has successfully implemented in Taiwan and Singapore for over seven months with no incidents on board. The all-Bahamas itineraries allow us to sail without risk of border closures, and our North American guests to sail as close to home as possible.”

The Beauty of Exploring Again

Crystal Serenity will return to sailing with reduced capacity, providing guests a passenger space ratio that is twice that of contemporary cruise lines and allowing for the best social distancing aboard any cruise ship. The onboard Crystal Family will welcome guests back home to a shipboard experience that features spacious guest staterooms and suites and social areas; abundant choices for activities and enrichment; elegant surroundings and amenities; and most importantly, the genuine, personalized service provided by Crystal’s celebrated crew.

The new itineraries highlight the enchanting, romantic nature of The Bahamas and its islands, where guests will find a bevy of sun-drenched pursuits that showcase the destination’s ecotourism; thousands of miles of irresistible beaches and blue waters; scuba diving and snorkeling; world-class fishing; dining; resort experiences; and much more.

“Travelers’ sense of exploration has only grown over the past year, and the destinations featured on the new itineraries are ideal for unwinding and renewing the spirit, as well as adventures that remedy restlessness brought on by extended stays at home. Some of the destinations we are calling on are only visited by private yachts and our guests will have the opportunity to visit these idyllic places that are not on other cruise itineraries,” Anderson said.

Departing from either Nassau, a hub of art, nightlife, history, 17 spectacular beaches, colorful fish and ancient reefs, lavish resorts and straw markets, and home to the third-largest wine cellar in the world built by notorious pirate, Howard Graysmith; or Bimini, a Hemingway favorite known as the sport fishing capital of the world where cruisers can also enjoy the resort amenities of The Beach Club at Bimini, a private island oasis with a lagoon-style pool, hammocks, cabanas and cocktail lounge. In addition to Nassau and Bimini, Bahamas Escapes feature four idyllic Bahamian destinations:

  • Harbour Island, called the Nantucket of the Caribbean with its colorful New England architecture and famed for its Pink Sand Beach. The island is a former capital of The Bahamas and has been twice recognized as The Best Island in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure Guests can also discover Preacher’s Cave, Glass Window Bridge and Sapphire Blue Hole on North Eleuthera Island;
  • Great Exuma, the largest of the 300+ islands and cays of the Exumas, home to waters so stunning they can be seen from outer space and the famous swimming pigs. Guests can island-hop among pristine isles, snorkel gorgeous reef-fringed cays, escape to secluded beaches and hidden caves, enjoy an ATV adventure and dive clear waters;
  • San Salvador Island, featuring more than 50 dive spots and splendid beaches. Guests can hike up to Watling’s Castle ruins and gaze out at French Bay from the lookout tower; also they can visit the first landing spot of Christopher Columbus, marked by an iconic stone cross;
  • Long Island, an 80-mile-long island straddling the Tropic of Cancer and known for its white-sand beaches, technicolor waters and lush greenery. Guests can explore the geological and ecological exploration of Hamilton’s Cave and Dean’s Blue Hole and enjoy some of the bluest waters in the islands at Gordon’s Beach.

These ports of call are subject to final confirmation and enhancement and may also vary according to the captain’s discretion due to weather or other conditions.

For an extraordinary value, guests can extend their cruise vacations by choosing Crystal’s Extended Land and Hotel Programs feature that carefully selected shoreside partners to ensure a seamless vacation from ship to shore. For Crystal Serenity’s new voyages, these include Nassau’s SLS Baha Mar and Hilton Resorts World Bimini, where guests will enjoy luxury accommodations and daily breakfast, as well as the stylish amenities of each. Guests can also indulge in spa days, golf rounds, casino nights and a host of dining experiences in each tropical paradise. The pre- and post-cruise hotel programs in Nassau and Bimini start at $359 and $299 per guest, respectively, including transfers between the resort properties and the airports and all taxes and resort fees.

Comprehensive Health and Safety Measures

Crystal announced on February 18 that guests must be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship. This new requirement is in addition to existing, comprehensive Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, including negative COVID-19 tests for both guests and crew, reduced capacity, social distancing, nimble mask policy and health screening questionnaires.

In addition to the peace of mind provided by such robust protocols, Crystal is enticing travelers with compelling savings, reduced deposits and an extended final payment date to 60 days prior to first date of service, as well as other incentives. Best available cruise fares for the new Bahamas Escapes cruises start from $1,999 per guest, including $500 Book Now Savings and $500 air savings along with Best Available Savings by category. Guests will receive a $125 per person As You Wish shipboard credit with Crystal Society Savings doubling to five percent; new-to-Crystal guests saving 2.5 percent; and solo fares starting at just 125 percent. The company’s Crystal Confidence program offers a no-money-down deposit window until April 5, 2021, with a reduced deposit of just 15 percent due at that time as part of its Easy Book program. The Bahamas Escapes cruises open for reservations on March 18, 2021; and travelers with Future Cruise Credits and Future Cruise Payments may redeem them on these sailings.

The new Bahamas cruises will replace Crystal Serenity’s previously scheduled itineraries that were set to sail July 8 through and including October 19, 2021. Guests who were booked on these voyages have the option to transfer their bookings to one of the new cruises with an applicable 115 percent cruise credit based on cruise fare paid.

A leader in unrivaled luxury cruising for 30 years, Crystal Cruises distinguishes its ships and its voyages with fine details and nuances that make a big impact for discerning travelers. All-inclusive entertainment; diverse enrichment options; globally inspired dining, including Nobu Matsuhisa’s only seagoing restaurants; unlimited pours of fine wines, beers and premium spirits and an unwavering standard of genuine, personal service for each guest underscores the Crystal difference.

Photo Link: Crystal Serenity and The Bahamas

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