September 24, 2020

Caribbean Tourism News: What’s new in the islands?


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dominican_republic.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxBy Mark Stevens From the Star

A round-up of the latest developments, from new flights, to new hotels and unsung destinations

ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—Once a year the powers-that-be in Caribbean tourism, from country presidents to ministers of tourism to members of the media, meet in some impossibly gorgeous destination to discuss tourism initiatives, best practices, and, most important to the Canadian sun-seeker, what’s new in the islands.

At this year’s ’s State of Tourism Industry Conference, held in September at the Frenchman’s Reef and Morningstar Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas, representatives shared new ways of getting here, new places to sleep, new looks for old places to sleep and new things to do when visitors get here.

When it comes to getting here, stay tuned for the near-completion of an international airport on St. Vincent, a lush mountainous country just waiting to be developed as a premier ecotourism destination. Sometime after New Years’, you’ll be able to fly direct from Canada and the U.S.

Come New Years,’ Air Canada is making getting to paradise easier. On Jan. 1. they’re launching a non-stop flight from Montreal to Curaçao, and, in December, they’re adding a large-capacity 777 to their fleet that flies from Toronto to Barbados.

But they’re not just improving flying there. “We’ve added 50 new hotels to our Winter Sun 2015 lineup,” says Air Canada Vacations’ media liaison, Jennifer Ellis.

Westjet Vacations has also added new hotels to its tropical line-up, including Blue Residences, a luxury condo resort; Brickell Bay, an adults-only boutique hotel, and Divi Dutch Village, an all-inclusive resort, to its Aruba offerings.

Westjet will also offer the new Sandals resort in Barbados when it’s slated to open in late January, and they’ll also be presenting one phase of one of the Caribbean’s biggest new complexes, Baha Mar on Nassau in the Bahamas, which will eventually boast 2,900 rooms. Other newWestjet offerings this season include Cuba’s Melia Jardines del Ray in Cayo Coco, opening in January, and Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, scheduled for a February opening.

Back in St. Thomas, tourism representatives from The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, USVI, Anguilla, and British Virgin Islands all made presentations, singing the praises of tourism efforts on each island, introducing new initiatives and resorts:

beach2-500Cayman Islands: Boasting one of the best beaches in the Caribbean along with a diverse selection of gastronomic delights, the Cayman Islands showcase their cuisine in a partnership with the Ritz-Carlton in January, a four-day celebration called Cayman Cookout. They’re also proud of the fact that this year Parents’ Magazine rated them among the top 10 family-friendly destinations.

Anguilla: Known for icing-sugar beaches, laid-back locals and a variety of properties catering to all tastes and wallets, Anguilla is a favourite of the haut monde. Malliouhanaon Meads Bay, one of Anguilla’s best sunset beaches, is reopening. In it’s original incarnation Malliouhana was always Anguilla’s celebrity “go-to” property.

British Virgin Islands: If you really want to get away from it all, and also dine on the Caribbean’s best lobster, Anegada Beach Club in the British Virgin Islands is the place for you. The resort has added eight luxury tents. You’ll be roughing it without roughing it. This year Travel and Leisure voted BVI’s Virgin Gorda “Best Caribbean Island.”

Grenada: If roughing it doesn’t appeal, consider Sandals LaSource on one of Grenada’s most beautiful beaches. This is the first full winter of operation for this adults-only all-inclusive property.

: When it comes to the hottest destinations, 2014 numbers show that, for Canadians, the rates number one, followed by Cuba, then Jamaica.

Montserrat: Looking for something far from the madding crowd? As of September, only 404 Canadians had made landfall in Montserrat.

Turks and Caicos: Looking for the new hot spot? “Turks and Caicos is up 30 per cent in arrivals, so far this year,” Turks and Caicos premier, Dr. Rufus Ewing, revealed at the St. Thomas tourism conference.

In short, whichever island you choose to visit, there are a many reasons to book now, whether you’re returning to your favourite piece of paradise or seeking a new sun destination.

Especially as winter’s fury lurks just over the horizon.

To learn more about the Caribbean and other worldwide destinations, check out Mark Stevens’ travel blog,

Just the Facts

For a beginner’s guide to the Caribbean, check out , then click on the piece of paradise that strikes your fancy

For Caribbean packages from all-inclusives to boutique hotels, go to or Air Transat also offers deals and packages to the sun. Log on to or for offerings.

For other deals, package vacations, cruises and travel suggestions, check out and If you’re heart’s set on Cuba, hit

IMAGE: Local artist at Cabarete on the Dominican Republic’s north coast: Lush rainforest, towering mountains, local artisans and great deals all add to up to an enticing mix that supports the Dominican’s continued place of honour atop the list of Canadian sun-seekers’ favourite destinations. SHARON MATTHEWS-STEVENS

For more on this story go to:

IMAGE: Cayman Islands

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