Winter Travel: The Caribbean
Mustique Island By NIcole Cusick
Mustique Island is a private island of the archipelago that makes up St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is approximately two and half square miles, covering 1,400 acres. At its highest elevation the island has a view point of 500 feet giving way to a series of small valleys leading to pristine palm fringed beaches. The coconut tree plantations, added more than 50 years ago, give the island its thick and luscious vegetation. A once hidden gem, Mustique is a growing tropical destination.
Where to Stay: The Villa Collection Mustique has a collection of over a hundred unique and individual houses. Many of the villas are available to rent. House sizes range from the intimate two bedroom cottages, suitable for honeymooners and couples, to the 8-10 bedroom private estates.
The Cotton House Hotel The Cotton House Hotel, formerly the old cotton warehouse is the oldest building on the island. Converted by architect Oliver Messel, who designed many structures on the island, the Cotton House has 17 rooms, ranging from a presidential two-bedroomed suite with private pool and drawing rooms to single rooms. Both locations offer a full hospitality staff to help provide a relaxing experience. The team includes a cleaning staff, a kitchen staff to stock up on all of your favorite foods upon arrival, child care and spa professionals trained in various spa treatments.
Where to Eat: The Firefly The Firefly’s cocktail bar is famous for its legendary sunset views over Britannia Bay. Home to the Mustique Champagne and Martini Clubs, favorites amongst the island’s regulars, the restaurant serves a range of dishes using fresh, local ingredients with a Caribbean flair. They also serve pizzas, which can be delivered to you on the beach.
Basil’s Beach Bar & Restaurant In the heart of Britannia Bay, Basil’s Bar extends over the water and has been hosting an international crowd for over 25 years. In season, Wednesday night features a barbeque buffet dinner with live music. Sunday night features sunset jazz, followed by á la carte dining. Basil’s is home to the legendary Mustique Blues Festival in late January and early February, where A-list musicians come to play, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy world class music.
What to do in Mystique: Taking advantage of the beach is a must, but there are many other things to do in Mustique. For the adventurous, several water sports, nature and fitness trails, bird watching and horseback riding are all available. The island also supplies entertainment through an open air movie theater, local museum and island library.
Explore what else this hidden treasure has to offer and more at mustique-island.com.
Caribbean Tourism By Terry Robe
One of the most popular destinations for winter travel, the Caribbean is a region of surprising diversity. While the 30 members of the Caribbean Tourism Organization – from Anguilla to Venezuela – share a sea, theircitizens may speak English, Spanish, French or Dutch. To gain insight into Caribbean travel trends, The Georgetowner recently spoke with Sylma Brown Bramble, director of CTO-USA, Inc., the New York-based subsidiary of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
The Georgetowner: How important is the North American market to the region’s tourism? SBB: North America has delivered the most visitors to the Caribbean over the past several decades. In 2012, the region welcomed over 21 million long-stay visitors (not including cruise visitors) to its shores, 60 % of whom came from North America. As product offerings such as sports, faith-based, adventure, cuisine and multigenerational vacations continue to gain popularity, we expect to see an increase in the numbers. The Georgetowner: Many people think of cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts when they think of the Caribbean, but is this an outdated picture? SBB:** Absolutely. There is a wide variety of hotel choices in the Caribbean, from guesthouses to tony boutique properties to villas to time-shares to elegant luxury resorts. The Georgetowner: Is the Caribbean also a cultural heritage destination? SBB: Yes, our cultural heritage is intimately relevant to the development of tourism. Its authenticity and diversity can be found in no other destination. There are music and cultural festivals, such as the Music Festival in St. Kitts, the Reggae festivals in Jamaica and the Creole Festival in Dominica. Trinidad and Tobago is well known for Carnival, but in the Bahamas it is Junkanoo and in Barbados it is Crop Over. Our cuisine is another area that reflects our cultural heritage and in which there is much variety. In the French and French-influenced territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Martin, there is an unmistakable creole flair to the dishes. But in all local fare in the Caribbean there is a delicious infusion of locally grown ingredients with the influences of European or African ancestry. The Georgetowner:** What is meant by Leading Sustainable Tourism, CTO’s stated purpose? SBB: Because the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, we have an immense challenge and opportunity: to maintain tourist flows necessary to guarantee economic stability; to ensure the proper use of our resources for the benefit of visitors and locals and to see that the resources that currently attract visitors are protected and preserved for future generations. The Caribbean Tourism Organization, as the region’s tourism development agency, is the leading advocate for development issues, hence the purpose. CTO holds an annual Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development to share best practices and keep our stakeholders updated. So we live our purpose both in words and in deed.
Islands at a glance: Aruba Language: Dutch The 320-room Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, opened in November. The first international flights for Southwest Airlines, announced this week, include flights from BWI to Aruba (and also to the Bahamas and Jamaica), beginning July 1.
Barbados Language: English The SoCo (for South Coast) Hotel, allinclusive but intimate with only 24 rooms, opened in 2013. One of the newest and best-rated restaurants – in one of the Caribbean’s top dining destinations – is Chez Max.
Grenada Language: English Grenada’s carnival, SpiceMas, will begin in May instead of June in 2014 as part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the country’s independence. Spice Island Beach Resort is on Island Magazine’s new list of 15 of the World’s Greatest Escapes.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Language: English Two islands in the Grenadines – Bequia and Canouan – made a recent Huffington Post list of Caribbean Islands You’ve Never Heard Of But Should Visit. Saint Vincent’s new Argyle International Airport, designed to accommodate large jets, is scheduled for completion late in 2014.
Trinidad and Tobago Language: English “Voluntourism” opportunities are available between March and September, when up to 12,000 nesting leatherback turtles come to the beaches of Trinidad. Tobago recently launched a tablet and smart-phone app.