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T&T Heats up with Festivals, New Meetings Space and Hotel Deals this Summer

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image004PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – June 9, 2015 – Rated the “happiest” Caribbean nation for the second time by the World Happiness Report, the dual-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago is sizzling with hot hotel deals, a thriving culinary scene and a diverse mix of cultural events this summer. With a 20 percent increase in US arrivals recorded in the first quarter of 2015, the destination is gearing up for summer with a selection of new restaurants, hotels, festivals and deals for US travelers.

New Meetings & Convention Space
Shaw Park Complex, Tobago
Set to officially open in July 2015, Tobago’s Shaw Park Complex, situated in Scarborough, is a first-rate multi-functional facility with theater, indoor sport, conference and convention amenities designed to cater to the needs of international, regional and local event organizers. The facility features a main hall that seats 3,700 and six other meeting/lecture rooms, ranging from 150 to 286 seats and will address four pillars of development including business, tourism, culture and sport. For more information, visit www.shaw-park.org, call (868) 461-4112 or email shawparkcomplex@gmail.com.

Hotel News and Updates
Bacolet Beach Club, Tobago
Bacolet Beach Club, one of Tobago’s premier boutique hotels, recently completed expansions that include the addition of the “West Wing” building. The addition features 15 luxurious, marble tiled suites and an infinity pool overlooking the hotel’s private bay. Each room’s private veranda offers panoramic views of the nearby sea and Bacolet Bay. Rates start at US $220 for the Bay De Luxe rooms, based on double occupancy. Rates include transfer from airport (four night minimum stay), full American breakfast, taxes and Wi-Fi. For more information, email info@bacoletbeachclub.com or call 868.639.2357.

Courtyard Port of Spain, Trinidad
Marriott’s Courtyard Port of Spain recently upgraded one of its suites to include a full kitchen complete with the replacement of the carpet in the bedroom and living room. The upgraded suite now features Pergo flooring, a stainless steel refrigerator, dishwasher, electric counter top stove, and a range of small appliances, dishware, tableware and cutlery. The suite also offers a Jacuzzi tub and a large balcony overlooking the poolside terrace. The one bedroom suite can comfortably accommodate a couple or a small family, as a pull-out sofa is available in the living area. For larger families, an adjoining guest room with two queen beds is available. Rates start at US $359 for the suite, based on double occupancy. The hotel is also offering 20 percent off standard room rates for stays June 15 – September 15, 2015 with a booking window of May 15 – July 30, 2015 and a two night minimum. Guests can also take advantage of 10% off dinner at the main restaurant of the hotel during their stay. For more information, visit http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/poscy-courtyard-port-of-spain/.

New Restaurants and Entertainment
LUCE Sushi Bar & Lounge, Trinidad
Located on the restaurant level at Hilton Trinidad, LUCE is no longer the best kept secret in Port of Spain. Known for its inspiring presentation and bursting flavor, LUCE officially opened XXX. With breathtaking views of Queens Park Savannah and lush Northern Range, some have been referring to it as “the little oasis.” LUCE features floor to ceiling glass panels and an outdoor terrace and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. For daily updates and menu highlights, visit www.facebook.com/LUCE.

Buccaneers Beach Bar & Grill, Tobago
Situated on the shores of Stonehaven Bay at Grafton Beach Hotel, Buccaneers is the only restaurant and “liming spot” on the beach in Tobago. Conveniently located just 15 minutes from Crown Point, Buccaneers features signature cocktails and a fantastic beach inspired menu complimenting the atmosphere of the island and its local cuisine. Guests can watch the sunset while enjoying happy hour cocktails from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.buccaneersbeachbar.com.

Zoe Snorkeling Tours, Tobago
Owned and operated by popular Tobago waterman Duane Kenny, Zoe Snorkeling Tours is all about personalized service. Pickup locations vary based on the guests’ preference with tours starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 12 p.m. Guests can relax and enjoy the ride of the comfortable and covered 140 horsepower jet boat, complete with a swim platform on the back. The cost of the tour is US $80 per adult and US $40 per child under the age of 12. Price includes a three hour tour with snorkeling gear, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. For more information, visit www.snorkeltobago.com.

Cultural Celebrations and Festivals
Trinidad Fruit Festival
The fourth annual National Fruit Festival in Trinidad will take place at Nu Image Simplex Complex North Road, New Grant from June 19 – 21. This event is aimed at providing knowledge on local produce and focuses on the importance of maintaining local supply to meet international demands. In addition to featuring a variety of local fruits, the festival will host a Best Chow competition and aerobic challenge. Admission is free and prizes will also be given throughout the festival. For more information, call (868) 771-2473.

Tobago Dragon Boat Festival
Held at Pigeon Point Heritage Park on June 22, the annual Dragon Boat Festival offers locals and visitors alike many activities, including dances, magic shows, music, boat racing, dragon dances, food and much more. More than 20 teams from both islands compete for titles as thousands of residents and visitors cheer. The festival showcases the island’s beauty and gives patrons a chance to sample delicious local Creole and Chinese cuisine. For more information, visit http://visittobago.gov.tt/festivals.

Tobago Heritage Festival
Beginning July 16 with celebrations coming to a climax in a J’ouvert and street parade on Emancipation Day (August 1), Tobago Heritage Festival is one of the most important festivals of the year for the island. Both Trinidad and Tobago have extensive cultural backgrounds, from European to African to Amerindian, creating a very unique and diverse culture. Tobago Heritage Festival celebrates traditions that are mostly African, with eclectic events and dances hosted in various villages throughout the island. Tobagonians from various communities have used this celebration of culture to educate and entertain both visitors and local youth. The main event each year is the traditional “Ole Time Wedding,” held in the village of Moriah. This mock marriage ceremony highlights the influences of European culture on the local population featuring a colorful procession of the satin-garbed bride and top-hatted groom while guests dance in the streets. For more detailed information, visit http://www.gotrinidadandtobago.com/resources/documents/13/tnt-festivals.pdf.

Tobago Blue Food Festival
One of the most unique food expositions in the Caribbean, the Blue Food Festival is an annual festival where local chefs and creative, indigenous cooks come together to share their knowledge, cooking secrets and tasty blue creations with commonly-used local ingredient dasheen, the Caribbean root vegetable that actually turns blue when cooked. On October 18, 2015, guests will be treated to cooking demonstrations and competitions, samples of local chefs’ creations, and entertainment by popular local performers.
Diwali
A large percentage of Trinidad & Tobago’s population consists of East Indians and a significant amount are Hindus. The nation’s Hindu festivals, customs and traditions form an integral part of society. The celebration of Divali, also called Hindu Festival of Lights, is the perfect time for travelers to immerse themselves in Hindu religion and culture. Its formal event, Yagna, showcases a traditional ambiance of Indian décor, film, music and food. The highlight is Divali night, November 11 this year, when earthen lamps made of artistically designed bamboo arches and plantain trees, called deeyaas, are lit across the country. For more information, visit www.gotrinidadandtobago.com.

Hotel Packages
Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre, Trinidad
Nestled in the foothills of the Northern Mountain Range, less than ten minutes outside Port of Spain, Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre caters to both the leisure and business traveler. Valid for the month of August 2015 only, take 30 percent off with rates starting at US $90 for single occupancy and US $100 for double occupancy. All rates are inclusive of taxes, breakfast, wireless internet, and a complimentary cocktail evening. For more information or to book, email marketing@cascadiahotel.com with attention to Barry Bidaisee.

Coco Reef Resort & Spa, Tobago
With 135 rooms, suites and villas, Coco Reef Resort & Spa offers easy access to the three most magnificent beaches in Tobago: Store Bay, Pigeon Point and Coconut Bay. This summer, the resort is offering a number of enticing deals for travelers. From May 1 to December 20, for $3,000, guests can enjoy transportation to and from ANR Robinson International Airport, deluxe ocean view accommodations with a private patio or balcony for five days and four nights, daily breakfast buffet, nightly dinner at Tamara’s Restaurant or Bacchanal’s Bistro including one glass of wine per person, five total spa treatments per person (spa manicure, spa pedicure, Swedish massage, sun repair facial and sun repair facial treatment), nightly entertainment, complimentary watersports and night/day tennis. This rate is based on double occupancy. Also valid May 1 to December 20, Coco Reef Resort guests can enjoy the exclusive web package for two. At $2,800, this package includes transportation to and from ANR Robinson International Airport, a 50-minute Swedish massage per person, ocean view accommodations with a private patio or balcony for five days and four nights, complimentary breakfast and lunch, unlimited beer, house wine, local rum drinks, vodka, gin, scotch and sodas, day/night tennis and complimentary watersports. For more information Coco Reef Resort & Spa, visit www.cocoreef.com.

Kapok Hotel, Trinidad
Locally owned and located just outside of Port of Spain, Kapok Hotel is offering every fifth night free for travel July 1 – August 31, 2015 with a booking window of June 1 – 30, 2015 using promo code SUMMER. Rates start at US $138.00 for standard room category. Offer available only on www.kapokhotel.com or stay@kapokhotel.com.

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Tobago
With 178 deluxe oceanfront guestrooms and 22 suites, all complete with breathtaking ocean views, three oceanfront swimming pools, a PGA designed 18-hole golf course, a PADI 5-star dive center, tennis, spa services, kids club and variety of excursions, Magdalena Grand is offering 25 percent off for travel now through December 18, 2015 with a four-night minimum stay. This offer includes two free rounds of golf and must be booked by July 31, 2015. For booking information, email reservations@MagdalenaGrand.com or call (868) 660-8500.

Plantation Beach Villas, Tobago
With six luxurious villas, each outfitted with modern amenities that provide stunning panoramas of the Caribbean Sea, Plantation Beach Villas is ideal for family vacations, romantic getaways and group reunions. Planation Beach Villas is offering a “Stay for 7, pay for 5” special, which is valid on reservations booked through November 2015 for travel during the months of June, September, October and November 2015. Rates start at US $440 per villa per night for a group of four guests or US $550 per villa per night for groups up to six guests. For booking information, email plantationbeach@tstt.net.tt or call (868) 639-9377.

Villas at Stonehaven, Tobago
With 14 spacious villas set on the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, Villas at Stonehaven borders a protected bird sanctuary nestling in 260 acres of forested hills. Stonehaven is running a summer special of 20 percent off rates valid for stays from June 1 – July 15, 2015. For stays from July 16 – November 30, 2015, guests can take advantage of 15 percent off the room rate. To receive either of the offers, room must be booked by June 30, 2015 using booking code Sum15. Rates start at US $330 per night for two adults and one child in a One Bedroom Luxury Ocean View Villa. For more information or to book online, visit www.stonehavenvillas.com.

About Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago is located in the southeastern region of the Caribbean. With its careful approach to tourism, the dual-island nation offers a distinct blend of culture, eclectic cuisine and an assortment of eco-adventure activities. Trinidad, the ‘cultural capital of the Caribbean,’ is home to the world famous Carnival and the birthplace of the steel pan drum, the only new acoustic instrument to be invented in the 20th century. Tobago, sister island to Trinidad, is the quintessential Caribbean island with secluded beaches, quaint villages, private villas and award-winning eco-attractions that include the Main Ridge Rainforest, the oldest protected reserve in the western hemisphere and the six-time award winner for World’s Leading Ecotourism Destination by the World Travel Awards. For more information on Trinidad & Tobago visit www.goTrinidadandTobago.com or www.visittobago.gov.tt.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Cuban Nationals Apprehended in Bahamian waters

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#TheBahamas, June 24, 2021 – A group of Cuban Nationals are currently being detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Center after they were apprehended in the south west Bahamas by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.

The fifteen individuals were captured after being sighted on Anguilla Cay on Tuesday 22 June. They were taken aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter, CHARLES SEXTON, and handed over shortly after 7:00 pm to the Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Jataro McDonald.

The Cubans were subsequently brought into the capital early Thursday morning, where they were handed over to the relevant authorities. The Cuban Embassy has since been notified. 

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to maintain a vigilant presence while patrolling and protecting the territorial waters of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and working with other law enforcement agencies.

Photos shows: Cuban nationals shortly after their arrival at the Defence Force Base, Coral Harbour on Thursday June 24, 2021. (RBDF Photo by Petty Officer Al Rahming)

 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and view our Youtube channel)

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS GOVERNOR ASKS FLORIDA COUNTERPART TO CONSIDER VACCINATION CHECKS FOR CRUISE PASSENGERS

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Governor Albert Bryan Jr. cites concerns around unvaccinated cruise passengers arriving in the Caribbean

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (June 11, 2021) – Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Albert Bryan Jr. has made a plea to his Florida colleague, Governor Ron DeSantis, to honor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and reconsider the state’s legislation, which could impact the health and wellbeing of millions of Caribbean residents when cruises to the region resume.
As increasing numbers of Americans receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Bryan believes that ensuring the cruise industry reopens with vaccinated passengers is essential to the tourism economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean.
Congratulating the Florida governor for his commitment to health, civil liberties and economic revitalization, Governor Bryan called for an exception – one that would enable vaccination checks for outbound passengers on cruise ships, which do most of their business on the open seas and directly impact the multiple Caribbean islands they visit.

“The bill you signed into law (which goes into effect July 1, 2021) may negatively impact the United States Virgin Islands and other port of call destinations in the Caribbean region,” said Governor Bryan, who highlighted CDC approvals for cruise ships to begin sailing this summer from U.S. ports with strict health and safety guidelines, such as the vaccination of 95% of passengers and crew members

With Florida serving as the nucleus and biggest embarkation point for cruises in the United States that dock in the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, the Governor indicated that “our ports … are in direct line of fire,” adding that while the two hospitals in the U.S. Virgin Islands are equipped to care for the Territory’s residents, they lack the resources to address a potentially larger public health crisis. “The lack of infrastructure puts us at a disadvantage for any crisis – health or mother nature. This is true of not only the Virgin Islands but most of the countries in the region,” the Governor penned.
With this reality, the governor expressed his concern for all citizens in the Caribbean region: “This is why I implore you to reconsider with a lens to the negative impact that your legislation may have on residents in the Caribbean … the cruise line and tourism employees, many of whom are of Caribbean descent, are now almost fully vaccinated and ready to get back to work.” 

“Please consider the exemption proposed above so … Caribbean (destinations) can feel safe on arrival and disembarkation of cruise passengers and crew. This will be a big win for the people of the Caribbean and the Caribbean expatriates that live in your state. It is my hope that you can assist us in moving in the same direction while respecting regional health liberties,” he affirmed. Governor Bryan has also shared a communiqué with the leadership of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) inviting support from regional leaders to work with the USVI in finding an agreeable path forward to welcoming cruise ships and their passengers back to the islands in as safe a way as possible.
About the U.S. Virgin IslandsFor more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel – including on-line check-in – making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.

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Turquoise Gold; how TCI’s slice of the Atlantic Ocean does more than boost Tourism

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#TurksandCaicos, May 18, 2021 – Dig ten feet down and you will find turquoise gold!  Hidden in the porous limestone bedrock of Providenciales is same stuff which has rocketed Turks and Caicos Islands to superstar status when it comes to luxury tourism.  It may surprise Provo residents that the enveloping commodity and pristine natural resource serves another practical purpose; it is the same safe, tasty, reliable drinking water flowing from our taps.

Turks and Caicos’ slice of the Atlantic Ocean is also the life sustaining water used to clean, cook, drink and grow gardens thanks to Provo Water Company, which has been supplying city water since 1997.

As the company commemorated its 10th year of Drinking Water Week, executives agreed to a throw-back to a decade ago with Magnetic Media and it is a refreshing story.

“Ten years ago we had probably 120 miles of pipeline, currently we have 136 miles and there is additional pipeline scheduled for the next two to three years in various areas. Communities like Five Cays, Blue Hills, Chalk Sound – just about everywhere and that is just additional pipeline that we’re putting in to make sure we can connect new customers,” said Robert C. Hall, the personable Managing Director of Provo Water Company.

Mr. Hall, during the interview, often referenced the company’s 20-year development plan; a plan which embraces the liberties of being wholly, a privately owned company. 

Just under a decade ago, Provo Water Company bought the Turks and Caicos Islands government’s 46 per cent stake in the water company for a reported $7.5 million; today it is a healthy set-up which in 2018 peaked at distribution of two million gallons of water in a single day.   

“We are looking at how we are going to supply the islands for the next 20 years and the major component of that plan is a second water plant on the northwest side of the island,” explained Mr. Hall at the Provo Water Company’s accredited laboratory overlooking western Leeward Highway. 

The 20 year plan obviously does more than look at expansion, it also considers contingency.

“The objective is to be able to supply the island from either director if that need arises.  So if we had a catastrophe in Grace Bay, we would be able to supply the island from northwest end and vice versa,” said Mr. Hall, who is an engineer by profession.

Ten years ago there were 3,500 consumers in the system; today there are 5,500 and technology is helping to manage these customers in Providenciales.  Provo Water Company does not tally per recipient of the service; they count their consumers by how many subscribers are signed onto the service.  Which means, there are far more households and businesses than reflected in 2021cumulative customer figure.

“We are able to produce just under four million gallons of water per day.  Currently we are using about – in this particular time – 1.1 to 1.2 million gallons per day.  So we’ve got built in capacity obviously to accommodate any growth in the short to medium term.”

Reverse osmosis of the salty ocean water is the process used to transform our turquoise gold into nourishing, drinking water; a process which requires its own story.  Suffice it to say, what is produced by source and sister company: Turks and Caicos Water, would be meaningless if there was nowhere to store it.

Right now, there are 2.5 million gallons stored at the plant in Grace Bay.  Another one million gallons is held at the storage tank near FortisTCI, the electricity supplier, off Leeward Highway.

“We are currently the owners of the land on the roundabout near CIBC, and there are some additional storage and pumping facilities that will be built there very shortly; we are hoping to start that this year. So that is a part of the project of trying to get water to and from both ends of the island.

We always have to be ahead of the curve, because the demand will always be there and the capacity to supply that demand has to always be ahead.”

In our series, we explore more advancements in the past ten years; including the biggest splash for Provo Water Company:  the introduction of artificial intelligence and technology.

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