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5 Caribbean Islands Where You Can Go Beyond the Beach – The New York Times

A third of Grenada, about 100 miles north of Venezuela, is agricultural, with top exports including nutmeg, cocoa and mace, with cinnamon, turmeric and other spices also being cultivated.

Many farms on the oval-shaped island were once devoted primarily to nutmeg, a top export and so important to the country it appears on the national flag. However, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 destroyed most of the nutmeg trees (as well as much of the island) and cocoa, whose trees mature faster than nutmeg, is increasing in importance.

Introduced to Grenada by French settlers in 1714, raw cocoa for centuries was exported overseas for processing. But Grenada pioneered tree-to-bar chocolate in the region, with a former New Yorker named Mott Green establishing the Grenada Chocolate Company in the late 1990s. The island now has five chocolate factories, along with many cocoa farms, that will educate visitors on the various processes harvesting, drying, fermenting and more required to make chocolate and other cocoa products.

At Belmont Estate, a 400-acre, 300-year-old farm in the north of the island, travelers can tour the fields and cocoa processing facilities, and end their visit at the on-site restaurant which serves organic vegetables grown on the farm as well as the local cocoa tea.

Kim Russell, co-owner of Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate, calls cocoa tea an acid trip on chocolate. (His version includes coconut milk and a drop of rum, for enhancing the chocolate flavor.) He also offers tours of his farm and factory, but its much more informal. Visitors should plan, he said, to eat a lot of chocolate and listen to me talk for two hours.

If you dont have a car, St. Georges, Grenadas picturesque capital known for its brightly painted buildings and scenic harbor, offers the chance to learn about the islands sweet chocolate history at the new Tri-Island Chocolate Factory Cafe, where visitors can make their own bars, and The House of Chocolate, a small museum, boutique and cafe.

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5 Caribbean Islands Where You Can Go Beyond the Beach - The New York Times

The 10 Best Adults-Only Hotels in the Caribbean for 2020 – Caribbean Journal

The Caribbean is filled with great adults-only hotels but the vast majority of them are all-inclusive.

For many, thats great, and an adults-only all-inclusive vacation can be wonderful.

But not everyone is seeking an all-inclusive experience; some want the independence and bespoke feel of a traditional EP hotel, without sacrificing the privacy and seclusion of an adults-only property.

Of course, finding an adults-only hotel that isnt all-inclusive isnt easy. But thats what were here for.

Weve narrowed down our favorite adults-only hotels in the Caribbean, all oozing with personality and character, all most exclusively of the boutique variety, and all featuring inspired design, character and cool.

Here are 10 adults-only hotels to try in the Caribbean right now.

Rock House Harbour Island, The Bahamas One of the regions coolest hotels of any variety, this 10-room charmer has an oh-so-cool bar, a colorful, clubby pool deck and what is arguably the best restaurant in all of Harbour Island, a destination that is one of the true it getaways in the Caribbean (thats part of a generally outstanding food and beverage program, including some seriously good rum). It goes without saying, then, that the hotel also has its own beach club on the world-famous Pink Sand Beach. In other words, its a must.

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The 10 Best Adults-Only Hotels in the Caribbean for 2020 - Caribbean Journal

Caribbean tourism threatened by the region’s first cases of COVID-19 – Global Voices

A Carnival cruise ship docked at the Jamaican resort town of Ocho Rios in 2018. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

As anxiety grows over the spread of COVID-19 outside China, the Caribbean region is becoming increasingly nervous. As of March 3, 2020, three cases of the coronavirus have been confirmedin St. Martin and St. Barthlmy, and another in the Dominican Republic small nations that remain vigilant as authorities fine-tune already existing response measures.

There are concerns, however, that some island territories are ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak on the scale of COVID-19. As at the time of publishing, there were 95,079 known global cases, with 51,432 recoveries and 3,249 deaths, but the figures are constantly changing.

On Twitter, journalist Jacqueline Charles, who reports for the Miami Herald, wondered whether Haiti could cope with the fallout should the virus spread across the border from the Dominican Republic:

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are not limited to the health sector; despite the silver lining of massively reduced carbon emissions from China since the lockdown over the illness, there have also been negative repercussions for international trade, travel and the global economy.

On February 28, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) upgraded its coronavirus risk for the Caribbean from moderate to high, urging health authorities of CARPHA member states toshift their mindset from preparedness toreadiness and rapid response and continue to do everything necessary to strengthen their capacity to respond to the possible importation of cases.Member states were also encouraged to increase their surveillance capacity and urgently adapt national pandemic preparedness plans to deal with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which represents 15 member states and five associate member states, had planned a special emergency meeting in Barbados to discuss a regional strategy, but since the confirmation of the three COVID-19 cases, a virtual meeting took place instead. During the session, which was streamed live on Facebook on March 1, CARICOM Chair and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley announced a regional protocol to handle the virus, following advice from two earlier meetings among regional health officials.

The Caribbean cruise industry experienced a boom year in 2019. In Jamaica, cruise ship passengers made up over 1.5 million of the 4.3 million visitors to the island, but now the industry is beginning to struggle with the fallout from COVID-19. Jamaica's Ministry of Tourism has reportedly downgraded its projected earnings.

Several cruise ships have either been delayed in ports or turned away altogether, because of concerns over passengers showing symptoms that could be associated with the virus. In other cases, passengers from high-risk countries have not been allowed to disembark.

On March 4, a cruise ship carrying hundreds of passengers who boarded in St. Martin (where at least one case has been confirmed) was allowed to dock at Port Royal a port near Kingston, which received its first cruise ship with much fanfare back in January. News reports are hinting at some developing tension between the country's health and tourism ministries over the issue, with Minister of Health Christopher Tufton stressing in a radio interview that the government will not take any unnecessary risks.

There is so much at stake for the cruise line industry that representatives attended the March 1 CARICOM meeting to help ensure that the agreed protocols embraced security and health concerns, and that there would be structures in place to facilitate proper communication between regional governments and cruise operators.

Some cruise lines, however, are beginning to push back against the interim regulations imposed by Caribbean governments. MSC Cruises, which had a ship turned away from both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, finally docked in Mexico, where President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obradorcommented: We cannot act with discrimination. Passengers turned out to have simply had the flu.

Jamaicas tough stance on cruise ships has also upset operators like Carnival Cruises, who withdrew stops in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands over the past week.

However, many social media users agree that the restrictions are warranted under the current circumstances, as public health comes first:

The nerves continue. Another Jamaican tweeted:

Given the situation, Caribbean Airlines, the main regional carrier, is also reviewing its health and safety measures. In Trinidad and Tobago for instance, passengers from flights originating in countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reported having to pass through an infrared scanner before being allowed to enter the country.

Caribbean citizens have begun, somewhat reluctantly, to limit social contact and avoid the customary hugs or kisses of greeting between friends and family, and handshakes between colleagues and business associates. Well-known Jamaican broadcaster Fae Ellington declared:

Meanwhile, the overall economic impact on small island economies remains to be seen. Despite assertions by Jamaicas Minister of Finance, Nigel Clarke, that there were no cancellations of tourist bookings from the United States (which represents approximately 75 percent of Jamaican visitors), Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, did not appear sanguine in a radio interview towards the end of February. Private sector representatives who are expecting price rises also do not appear confident. The many small businesses and attractions on the ground that depend on cruise ship business are particularly anxious, with one noting that the major losers are the people of Jamaica, the taxi drivers, the vendors.

One Jamaican Twitter user expressed anxiety over COVID-19's potential impact on tourism, a major earner of foreign exchange for the island:

Another shared:

As the Caribbean braces itself for additional cases of COVID-19, however, economic impacts are not the priority. The region is not taking any chances with the illness, which has, thus far, already claimed thousands of lives across the globe.

Check out Global Voices special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

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Caribbean tourism threatened by the region's first cases of COVID-19 - Global Voices

Is This The Next Big Vacation Spot In The Caribbean? – Forbes

From the rum punch, to the white sand beaches and the turquoise blue waters ideal for snorkeling, its no secret the Caribbean is the consummate vacation host. But, as an alternative to the tourist-heavy, well-established Caribbean hot spots comes a newcomer to the vacation scene: Michs, which is located along the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic.

About 90 minutes from the airport in Punta Cana, this chilled-out destination is just now emerging on the radars of tourists, thanks in large part to a newly opened highway that shaved an hour off the drive time from the airport, making Michs a more feasible vacation spot.

Club Med Michs Playa Esmeralda opened in late 2019, offering four boutique villages within the ... [+] resort.

In late-2019, Club Med Michs Playa Esmeralda became the first resort to open in the area, debuting its eco-chic, all-inclusive 93-acre beachfront property thats surrounded by a verdant palm grove. Next up, Four Seasons is planning Tropicalia, a 169-room oceanfront resort with luxury residences.

Unlike the big hotels youd find in Punta Cana, though, Club Med gave its resort which is the brands first full Exclusive Collection resort to open in the Americas a boutique hotel vibe by divvying the property up into four distinct villages. The family-friendly Explorers Cove is close to the kids club; punchy colors and tropical gardens define Caribbean Paradise and Emerald Jungle is a zen, adults-only space. The most exclusive space is Archipelago, an ultra-luxe, adults-only village where 750-square foot suites come with private pools and ocean views.

Bursts of bright color fill the lobby at Club Med Michs Playa Esmeralda.

In a sense, Club Meds newest Dominican Republic resort feels much like a hideaway. With that in mind, here are a few of its best-kept secrets.

Kids (and anyone else with a sweet tooth!) will feel like theyve stepped into a real-life Candyland once they figure out the passcode to enter this chocolate-themed speakeasy. Inside the decadent Secret Chocolate Room is a chocolate fountain, plus cakes, candies, and ice cream. The resort has a partnership with Xocolat, a Dominican chocolate company that creates its treats with the islands cocoa beans.

The Secret Chocolate Room is like a real life Candyland.

Club Med Michs Playa Esmeralda has plenty of excursion options, ranging from a trip to the scenic El Limn waterfall, a cascading 170-foot fall that you can swim underneath to a whale watching getaway from January to March when humpbacks migrate from Canada to the warmer waters of Saman Bay. But, an especially unique trip is one that winds you up to the top of nearby Montaa Redonda, which translates to rounded mountain. Once there, youll be spoiled with 360-degree views of the regions lush landscape. Several squeal-inducing swings are atop the mountain and are just the prop you need for a jaw-dropping Instagram photo. Those who are afraid of heights can relax in a hammock.

Take a swing on Montaa Redonda, which provides panoramic views (and a great photo for your ... [+] Instagram grid).

Sure, most resorts have volleyball nets and tennis courts. But a unique Club Med amenity? The circus equipment. Trained staff will help you get the swing (no avoiding that pun) of the flying trapeze. Or, let loose on the trampoline.

Take a break from the beach and try your hand a the circus arts.

Other entertaining ways to break up those lazy beach days include archery, trying out a yoga class in the Treetop Wellness Canopy, playing bocce ball or kayaking. But something unique to the resort is jet surfing, and the amateur-approved surfing option is a breezy way to explore the coastline.

A new water sport to try: Jet surfing.

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Is This The Next Big Vacation Spot In The Caribbean? - Forbes

Spotlight On The Caribbean: Changing Weather – Global Finance

Guyanas oil bounty could benefit the whole region, but climate events threaten tourism.

The patchwork of more than a dozen countries that make up the Caribbean zone are more open for business than in the past and have seen their economic prospects improve, although they are still exposed to climate risks and other headwinds. The whole regionincluding Guyana and excluding Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republicshould enjoy 5.6% GDP growth in 2020, according to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac). This positive projection is due in considerable measure to the impressive 85.6% growth rate expected in Guyana as production kicks off on the largest crude oil discovery of recent years.

Guyanas bounty could generate wealth for its neighbors as well through trade and other business. Exxon Mobil is already exploiting the Liza field, which has a capacity of 120,000 gross barrels per day (bpd) through the end of this year. Production from the Stabroek block is expected to achieve 750,000 gross bpd by 2025, when five floating production, storage and offloading facilities are slated to be fully online.

The transformation of this small country, which has been a gold producer, is anticipated to be huge. As an Amazonian country, Guyana is also engaged in environmental protection: a key requirement for new investments. A green state will emphasize the preservation and protection of the environment and the promotion of renewable energy, ecotourism and value-added production, President David Granger said last February.

Most of the Caribbean states, including Guyana, have implemented reforms making it simpler for medium and small domestic companies to do business, the World Bank notes. And while most of the region still needs to remove obstacles to entrepreneurship, Puerto Rico and Jamaica have made progress in this area. Most Caribbean states have undertaken tougher management of their public accounts, says Daniel Titelman, chief of Eclacs Economic Development Division, and have reduced their public debt: a path he hopes they will continue on in the future.

However, the improved macroeconomic landscape must compete with the regions main vulnerability: devastating natural events exacerbated by climate change, like the hurricane that devastated the Bahamas last year.

The regions exposure to climate risks continues to require strong policies, says Alejandro Werner, director of the Western Hemisphere Department at the IMF, in the funds January Latin America and Caribbean regional outlook report.

Tourism is especially sensitive to climate events. The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association is expecting a profitable year, especially in countries that were affected by the disasters of 2017 and have since rebuilt and bolstered their infrastructure to withstand future storms. Antigua and Barbuda are projected to grow 6.5% and Grenada 4%.

But the Bahamas, still recovering from last Septembers tragedy, will suffer negative 0.6% growth, according to Eclac. The Cuban economy, weakened by US bans reinstated in 2017 and implementation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, rendering foreign investment in the island risky, will grow only 0.5%. Cuba is also facing an oil shortage, as US sanctions against Venezuela have deprived the country of more than 50% of the fuel it needs.

Projections for the regions commodities-exporting countries are not so dire: They at least will improve their growth performance over last years 2% drop. But with prices and demand for oil and gold going down, Suriname should grow just 1.7%, down from 2.1% in 2019.

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Spotlight On The Caribbean: Changing Weather - Global Finance

Curried Cabbage, the Perfect Caribbean Vegan Recipe – Caribbean Journal

Sometimes trying to stick with a vegan diet, you can hit a wall trying to come up with new and exciting things to cook. Today was one of those days for me. It didnt help that my fridge and cupboards were like Old Mother Hubbards, so there wasnt much to choose from either. A giant head of cabbage, a couple of small potatoes, some red and green peppers and half dead okra was about all I could find during the fridge shakedown.

I remembered my mom would prepare cabbage very simply by steaming it in an inch or two of water with just a sprinkling of salt as a side dish. I guess it could be considered poaching since the cabbage is actually partially in the water but lets not get lost in specifics. The end result would magically have an underlying sweetness one would not expect from the product or the techniques simplicity.

Since I didnt have much else to work with, and my belly was screaming for attention, I decided to take that magical simplicity and build on it to create a slightly more elaborate version and make it the star of the show since there was no other talent available.

Rather than just water, I decided to add red split peas (quick cooking split peas) and curry powder to make a thin dhal; fortify it with some vegetables and aromatics, then add the cabbage to slowly steam (or stew at this point) and hope it would still impart the inherent sweetness it is supposed to reveal using this cooking method.

The end result was nothing short of amazing. Apart from being very budget friendly and exceptionally wholesome in its nutritional value, the flavor satisfied the savory element my stomach craved and was surprisingly filling.

Its also the gift that kept on giving, because re-heating it the next day for lunch revealed an even deeper flavor profile than the initial finish, with the dhal now thick enough to serve over steaming hot white rice or a hot roti.

Who said eating vegan, or on the cheap had to be boring?

Enjoy!

Curried Cabbage

1 Large Cabbage -quartered

4 whole new Potatoes

10 whole Okra, tip and tail removed

cup red Split peas (red lentils)

8 cups Water

3 Tablespoons Coconut oil

2 sprigs fresh Thyme

2 Tablespoons Curry powder

4 cloves fresh Garlic, minced

cup Onions, med dice

cup Tomatoes, rough chopped

cup red Bell peppers, med diced

1 teaspoon fresh Ginger, minced fine

teaspoon Scotch bonnet pepper, minced

Pinch of powdered Hing (optional)

METHOD:

In a large saucepan over medium heat add coconut oil. Add onions, bell peppers, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger and garlic. Saut for 1 minute then add curry powder and mix well for another minute. Add tomatoes, split peas, hing and water. Bring to a boil then add potatoes. Continue cooking for 15 minutes. Lower the heat and add okra and the cabbage. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, then turn the cabbage over to submerge the other side in the curry and continue cooking for 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly and serve, spooning the curry sauce over the cabbage along with the potatoes, okra and peppers.

OPTIONAL: Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and/or tamarind sauce.

Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel freelanced at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged the victor in cook offs against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS when he appeared on Tonys Table as well as ABCs Neighborhood Eats, NBCs The Today Show , Sirius Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFNs Chopped. The acclaimed and New York Times-reviewedRipe Kitchen and Baris Mr Spences first entrepreneurial endeavor.

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Curried Cabbage, the Perfect Caribbean Vegan Recipe - Caribbean Journal

This One Pirates of the Caribbean Line Plays on a Loop in My Head – Vulture

In which Hunter Harris attempts to exorcise the movie quotes haunting her brain.

Were not one nation under God, were one nation under this Geoffrey Rush quote. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Walt Disney

Unless we time-travel back to me being 17 and breaking curfew, Im not an actor. I cant look at a script and devise a perfect line reading. But I have another gift: I can watch a movie and get a certain line-reading stuck in my head for all of eternity, in this life and the next. I have written previously on one such line that I cant get out of my head, from Marriage Story. There, Adam Driver, biggest boy, confronts his wifes allegation of infidelity with a frown and the words You shouldnt be upset that I fucked her, you should be upset that I had a laugh with her! That Marriage Story line is obtuse and vexing and hilarious, the most unrealistic moment of a hyperrealistic romance. I have returned with another line that twerks around this noggin of mine. In Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, there exists a line that feels distinctly opposite: Its the most realistic moment in a high-seas fantasy. You best start believin in ghost stories, Miss Turner, Geoffrey Rush snarls. Yer in one!

I am brave enough to admit that we dont give this line enough credit. Even if it were printed on every American dollar bill, like the words In God We Trust, which I think are printed on dollar bills, it would not be enough. Add this line to our Constitution, stitch it onto a pillow, go as this line for Halloween! I dont think Im being dramatic when I borrow a quote from another good Keira Knightley period piece and say: This line from Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has bewitched me, body and soul!

In Black Pearl, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) plays Port Royal, Jamaicas first daughter. Like many a Disney ingenue, she is wealthy and privileged and a habitual line-stepper. At ten years old, shes onboard a ship that picks up Will Turner (another 10-year-old who will, in about ten minutes, turn into Orlando Bloom), at which point she pockets a pirate medallion around his neck, worried that her father will arrest her new crush for his criminal associations. For years, Elizabeth has kept this medallion tucked away, forgotten, until she dreams about it one night and decides to wear it around her own neck.

A decade after Wills arrival, in what seems like a total coincidence, pirates raid Port Royal. Elizabeth is kidnapped by the titular pirates on the titular Black Pearl, and its captain, Barbossa (Rush), explains to her the titular curse. (Because Elizabeth stole the medallion from Will Turner, she uses his surname as her own.) [This medallion is] one of 882 identical pieces [the Aztecs] delivered in a stone chest to Corts himself, Barbossa explains over dinner. Blood money paid to stem the slaughter he wreaked upon them with his armies. But the greed of Corts was insatiable. So the heathen gods placed upon the gold a terrible curse. Any mortal that removes but a single piece from that stone chest shall be punished for eternity. Elizabeth almost guffaws in disbelief. Of course she does! This is nuts! I hardly believe in ghost stories anymore, Captain Barbossa, she says. To this, his pockmarked skin grins.

Aye, he begins. Thats exactly what I thought when we were first told the tale. The pirates aboard the Pearl found the island, found the chest, and found the gold. Like the Bling Ring, they robbed it of every gold piece. The more we gave em away, the more we came to realize the drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, and all the pleasurable company in the world could not slake our lust. We are cursed men, Miss Turner! Like every woman who has ever had to endure the monologue of a man, Elizabeth Swann looks on, rather nonplussed by this information. They are cursed men, but we are cursed by men, so its hard to muster up a lot of empathy whether you are being held captive, as she is, or just a woman living in New York City, as I am.

And here is when it happens: Elizabeth makes a botched attempt to stab Barbossa with a steak knife and escape, but upon exiting the captains quarters, she finds herself among a skeletal crew. Not skeleton crew, like, understaffed. Skeletal crew, like, where there once were human men, there are now sentient skeletons dressed in tattered rags. Captain Barbossa points his index finger and walks out of the shadows into the moonlight, his body transforming to bones before our very eyes. You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner, he tells her. Yer in one!

Whats nutty is that Pirates of the Carribean has many quotable lines: The way Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, relatively pre-controversy) twists his braided beard and whines, But why is the rum gone?! The way an amber-eyed pirate peers into a hiding spot and says, Hello, puppet, the words twisted and mangled so that they come out: Ehlow, Pop-ette! Barbossa declines Elizabeths plea to return her to Port Royal, sneering, Im disinclined to acquiesce to your request. But its been 17 years since Curse of the Black Pearl was released enough time for these lines to learn to drive a car and apply to college and fight with their moms over how short prom dresses can be and its the ghost stories delivery that I just cannot get out of my worms-for-brains head.

Around 300 days ago, on April 10, 2019: I went public with a truth I hold to be self-evident: dont avada kedavra my ass, I wrote, but last night i came to the conclusion that u best start believin in ghost stories miss turner YER in one is better than YER a wizard harry i would make a poll but i know that im right and also its too many characters. Was it unwise to pit two powerful women a Pirates line and a Harry Potter line against one another? Perhaps! But I did it, and I was right to do it.

Did a former crush suddenly start watching your IG story again? Girl. You? Best start believin in ghost stories, Miss Turner. Because youre? In one! Did you just confidently lie to your local Apple Genius Bar technician, nodding your head and insisting that yes of course youve backed up your computer, and no you dont know how all that water got in there. You! Best! Start! Believin in ghost stories, Miss Turner! Because! Congratulations, theres a good chance youre about to be in one! If, on Christmas Eve, as is his tradition, Kevin Spacey releases another unhinged home video? We all better start believin in ghost stories, Miss Turner were in one!

Perhaps this line appeals to me so much because, at present, we are living in a parallel universe that feels a little like a ghost story. Children are in cages. Our planet is dying. The Renegade dance is too hard for my brittle bones. Joker earned more Oscar nominations than The Farewell. Victoria never got a Jellicle name. Olive Garden has changed its motto from When youre here, youre family to Were all family here. Who will answer for all the raw chicken in the streets of Boerum Hill that one time? Why has it felt like Halloween since Christmas 2017? What Im saying is this: We are walking around in dark and uncertain times of political and personal turmoil. A ghost story this might be! I can only hope that somewhere, Rooney Mara is placing an order for pie.

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This One Pirates of the Caribbean Line Plays on a Loop in My Head - Vulture

Strengthening Caribbean regional integration – Caribbean Life

Ding Ding is deputy division chief, Caribbean 1 Division, Western Hemisphere Department (WHD) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), & Inci Otker currently works at the Western Hemisphere Department, IMF and is mission chief for St. Kitts and Nevis & Trinidad and Tobago and Division Chief of Caribbean III.

WASHINGTON DC, Feb 7 2020 (IPS) The Caribbean economies have long recognized the value of working together. Improving regional integrationfor instance, through more intraregional trade and policy coordinationcan help the regions small-size economies build greater resilience and scale, as well as enhance bargaining power on the global stage.

According to the latest IMF research, further liberalizing trade and labor mobility in the region can generate significant economic benefitspotentially over 7 percent of the regions GDP in 2018.

While policymakers of the Caribbean Community* (CARICOM) remain committed to further integration and progress has been made, the implementation of integration initiatives and policies toward the goal of a regional economic union has been slow and needs to be accelerated.

Work in progress

Compared to other well-integrated regions, like the ECCU and EU, the Caribbean lags. The integration indices, which measure the degree of intraregional economic and institutional integration, suggest that Caribbean communitys integration has proceeded in several waves, with periods of integration followed by slowdowns in progress, including in removing remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and constraints on intraregional labor movement.

Financial integration has proceeded faster with tightly-interconnected financial systems across the region, but capital markets remain underdeveloped and fragmented. Harmonizing economic and structural policies to support a single economic space is still work in progress, with lacking harmonization and coordination of investment codes, tax incentives, and macroeconomic policies.

Pain points

Why has progress in regional integration been slow for the Caribbean? A combination of institutional, political economy, and structural factors underlie the slower implementation of integration policies.

The lack of a regional body with powers and accountability that can help transform community decisions to binding laws in individual jurisdictions is a key impediment. A decision-making process based on unanimity principle, where each member retains its sovereign authority, also hinders progress.

In the absence of a facilitating regional architecture, cooperation must rely on well-aligned national interests and shared goals, but national incentives do not seem to be well-aligned for integration, with its potential benefits perceived by some as uncertain, potentially uneven, and only materializing over a long horizon.

Differing export/production structures and income and development levels make it challenging to harmonize economic and structural policies around well-integrated policy frameworks.

Some regional authorities attribute the slow pace of implementation to a crisis of will, as much as to wasteful duplication and slow progress in harmonizing legal and institutional frameworks and to binding resource/capacity gaps.

A worthwhile goal

The Caribbean authorities broadly agree that integration should remain a top priority and greater collaboration is critical to tackle common challenges. It is important to capitalize on this momentum.

Recent IMF research finds that further liberalization of trade and greater labor mobility within the region can generate significant benefits.

A 25-percent reduction in non-tariff barriers and trade costs within CARICOM and vis--vis non-CARICOM trade partners can boost trade and improve welfare gain for all membersat about $6 billion, or 7.6 percent of the regions GDP in 2018.

It can also help restructure economies from contracting to expanding sectors, resulting in a net employment gain across the region.

Way forward

Greater cooperation is the key to furthering regional integration in the Caribbean. While these economies small size and supply constraints may potentially limit benefits from economic integration, acting as a group can enhance the scale, bringing widespread benefits and helping the region further tap into global value chains.

That is, regional integration should not be an end-goal, but a means to an end of deepening Caribbean integration into the global economy.

At a time when momentum for economic integration seems to have stalled, close cooperation in high priority areas for the region can help demonstrate benefits of coordinated action and serve as a building block to the ultimate goal of full integration.

Key areas could include:

What is CARICOM?

*The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is comprised of twenty countries (fifteen Member States and five Associate Members), mostly island states in the Caribbean stretching from the Bahamas in the north to Suriname and Guyana in South America. It was established by the English-speaking parts of the Caribbean in 1973 with the primary objectives to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and coordinate foreign policy. CARICOM is the oldest existing integration movement in the developing world.

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Strengthening Caribbean regional integration - Caribbean Life

The Invention of the "Healthy" Caribbean – JSTOR Daily

As spring break season approaches, many U.S. students are planning vacations to the Caribbean. Yet as environmental studies scholar Mark Carey explains, visitors from the U.S. and Europe have had a complicated relationship with the region for centuries. Disease has been a particularly common concern.

Before the late nineteenth century, when the germ theory of disease began to be accepted by the public, Europeans thought bad air caused sickness (miasma theory). So, as Carey writes, opinions on the healthfulness of Caribbean destinations depended on the specific features of the land and its air quality. Many doctors associated marshes with fever, liver disease, and even simple unhappiness. On the other hand, wind was supposed to not only cool the body but purify the spirit and prevent sickness. One 1775 publication on animal husbandry claimed that the dry air found along hilly coasts was healthy, but when a meridian sun unites with a marshy rotten soil, in which the heavy rains stagnate, then it is impossible for a country to be tolerably healthy.

For instance, Europeans saw Barbados as one of the healthiest spots in the Caribbean, thanks to its rocky ground. Among the health-seeking visitors to that island was George Washington, who traveled there in 1751 to escape the northern winter.

Carey notes that Europeans also insisted that clearing land for farms improved the local climate. As one British doctor wrote in 1806, a place can only be made healthy by the unceasing toil of man. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this theory supported the idea that colonial governments should organize land use and economic activity in ways that were advantageous to Europe. Visiting Haiti in 1803, after the revolution, one Polish soldier complained that The air here is most unhealthy, especially since the time of the black revolt twelve years ago.

Through the nineteenth century, there was a widespread sense in Europe and the United States that Caribbean climates were dangerous. Its probably not surprising that the public felt that way, given the high rates of malaria among U.S. soldiers serving in the Spanish-American War and, later, among workers building the Panama Canal. But Carey writes that doctors worked to portray at least some parts of the region as healthful. In the late nineteenth century, a British surgeon suggested creating a health resort for U.S. residents on a hill in Jamaica, reasoning that yellow fever couldnt reach high elevations.

Attitudes shifted gradually. This was partly due to improved understanding of disease vectors and projects to reduce mosquito populations. Savvy marketing also helped. As early as 1865, the Church of England recruited missionaries to the Bahamas with a report touting the island climate. Over time, steamship travel made the Caribbean accessible for more tourists. A suntan fad that swept the United States in the 1920s contributed to the appeal, tying time in the sun to health. Carey writes that marketing material lured foreigners who sought not only relaxation and romance but also power over much poorer populations.

If that marketing campaign worked then, it hasnt necessarily outweighed the legacy of anxiety among travelers to the Caribbean. This spring, many of them will be following in a long tradition as they weigh the appeal of sun and sea with a vague fear of dangerous diseases.

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By: Mark Carey

Osiris, Vol. 26, No. 1, Klima (2011), pp. 129-141

The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science Society

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The Invention of the "Healthy" Caribbean - JSTOR Daily

Caribbean Health Agency Raises Virus Threat Level to High – The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (5 March. 2020) Having raised the risk level of coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Caribbean from low to moderate to high, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) yesterday encouraged regional tourism leaders to be ready to respond to possible importation of cases and local transmission.

At the same time, the health agency assured ministers and directors of tourism and other senior tourism officials, that while there have been no cases of local transmission the two cases reported in St. Martin and one in the Dominican Republic were all imported it was working closely with member countries and Caribbean coordinating partners such as the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) on mechanisms to prevent further transmission from any possible imported cases.

The assurance came at COVID-19 information session for member governments coordinated by the CTO and facilitated by CARPHA. Yesterdays session was part of the CTOs programme of full engagement in the regional response to the COVID-19 outbreak, in collaboration with CARPHA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Global Tourism Resilience Centre.

The CTOs web site, http://www.onecaribbean.org provides updated information from member countries and links to the CARPHA site (www.carpha.org) which is monitoring the virus and providing regular, reliable updates.

The organisation is also utilising a range of sources to track the global and reported regional impact of the virus, which has affected 93,090 people in 76 countries (80,422 in China alone), according to the latest World Health Organization figures. In the meantime, travellers are advised to:

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Caribbean Health Agency Raises Virus Threat Level to High - The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer

Top 7 Jamaican & Caribbean News Stories You Missed The Week Ending March 6th, 2020 – Jamaicans.com

THIS WEEKS TOP NEWS STORIES

Top 7 Jamaican & Caribbean News Stories

CHARLES TO LEAVE POST AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE IN JAMAICAPearnel Patroe Charles, a veteran Jamaica Labor Party political leader and current Speaker the House of Representatives, will leave this post in a few weeks. As the veteran politician and trade unionist steps down, it will mean the end of his lifetime career in representative politics. It is expected that Parliamentary Secretary Robert Morgan will be the front-runner for the position.

GOVERNMENT PORVIDES GUIDANCE ON PREPARING FOR COVID-19Karl Samuda, Jamaicas Minister with Oversight for Education, has provided guidelines for parents and guardians of children who may show symptoms of the coronavirus, also known as covid-19. Samuda told parents and guardians that they should keep their children at home. He also warned that if the virus reaches a school, exams would be postponed. Samuda announced the guidelines at a meeting of Jamaicas National Disaster Risk Management Council, which was held at Jamaica House.

CARIBBEAN NATIONS IMPOSE TRAVEL BANS ON CRUISE SHIPSCruise ships in the Caribbean have had to be diverted as countries in the region implement travel bans in response to the risks posed by coronavirus. The cruise ships Carnival Horizon and Carnival Freedom, which were set to dock in the Cayman Islands and Jamaica were diverted when the companys CEO Arnold Donald failed to get timely assurances that the ships would be allowed to dock. Donald told Caribbean leaders that he needs more certainty about being able to call before maintaining the regular schedule.

CABINET APPROVES NATIONAL DIASPORA POLICY FOR TABLINGThe National Diaspora Policy (NDP) has been given approval, in its draft form. The Cabinet approval was announced on March 3, 2020, by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, made the announcement during her speech to the members of the Diplomatic Corps at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston. The address was part of the activities relating to Diplomatic Week 2020, which has as its theme Delivering a Decade of Resilience for All. The policy seeks to provide an institutional structure and path for meaningful engagement with the Jamaican Diaspora, a population dispersed among many different countries.

HOLNESS, BARTLETT BREAK GROUND FOR US$1 BILLION DEVELOPMENTJamaicas Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the countrys Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett broke ground on February 28, 2020, on a US$1 billion multi-resort development project known as Sugarcane Bay Jamaica. The project is located in Llandovery, St Ann, and is being developed by Karisma Hotels and Resorts on a site comprising 220 acres. It will bring 4,700 additional rooms to Jamaicas tourism sector.

13TH ANNUAL REGGAE MONTH DEEMED SUCCESSWhen the 13th staging of Reggae Month ended on March 1, 2020, with the final portion of the Jamaica Music Museums Grounation Series, the consensus was that it provided a spectacular showcase of Jamaicas music and musical talent and culture. The theme of the 2020 staging was Come Ketch di Riddim. The final event was held at the Institute of Jamaica and included the Prime Ministers Reception at Jamaica House. The 13th annual celebration of reggae encompassed many events hosted by Jamaicas Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport.

JAMAICA SCORPIONS CAPTAIN READY TO MEET TEAM GOALSJohn Campbell, the captain of the Jamaica Scorpions, is working to meet the goals of his team rather than his own personal milestones. The team is set to meet the Windward Islands Volcanoes during the seventh round of the West Indies Championships in Grenada. While Campbell only needs four runs to reach 3,000 Championship runs, he stated that his personal achievements come second after the needs of the team. He is focusing on getting the Scorpions return to a winning track and rise in the rankings.

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Top 7 Jamaican & Caribbean News Stories You Missed The Week Ending March 6th, 2020 - Jamaicans.com

Caribbean-style roti shop, On the Double, coming this spring to Union Market. – PoPville

From a press release:

Chef Eric Adjepong, a first-generation Ghanaian-American bringing West African cuisine to the mainstream, will open his first solo restaurant, On the Double, this spring. The fast-casual counter in Union Market will offer food of the African diaspora through the lens of a Caribbean-style roti shop, giving guests a more approachable introduction to African cuisine.

Adjepong initially made a name for himself as the citys own entrant into season 16 of Bravos Top Chef, where he finished third and became an instant fan favorite. He will also compete on the upcoming season of Top Chef All-Stars, airing March 19, where the idea for On the Double first took shape.

During one of the challenges, I decided to do my take on a doubles, a popular Caribbean street snack of spicy cumin and turmeric frybread traditionally served with chickpeas. It dawned on me that this simple, but unfamiliar, dish could serve as a great jumping off point to trace how ingredients have migrated from Africa to places in the Caribbean, like Trinidad and Jamaica, Adjepong said. While Id like to pursue a full-service West African restaurant down the road, my goal with On the Double is to showcase this food in a more accessible setting.

Adjepongs menu begins with a choice of baked roti or fried doubles as a base, topped with either rice or curried chana and aloo (chickpeas and potatoes), and finished with one of an assortment of proteins chicken yassa, curry goat, coconut curry shrimp, or stewed beef. The signature dish, or The Double as its dubbed, will be a version of Adjepongs Top Chef contender, served with crispy pancetta, chermoula, and calypso hot sauce. Jollof rice, fried plantains, collard greens, and other sides with African roots, as well as drinks like sobolo (hibiscus sweet tea) and tamarind lemonade round out the meal.

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Caribbean-style roti shop, On the Double, coming this spring to Union Market. - PoPville

Royal Caribbean Is Starting To Look Attractive – Seeking Alpha

Source

Shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) have fallen 37% from their recent highs. The shares have been under immense pressure due to the recent Coronavirus outbreak. Many fear traveling will come to a complete stop and any unnecessary vacations will be put on hold. However, many of these bookings are made in advance, so it is more than likely that the effects will be delayed. However, while there may be a period of softness, moving into the summer months the virus should see a decline in infection rate. This will help promote the feeling of safety and travelers will once again resume their bookings. While I expect an earnings hit, the important factor to remember is that ultimately, the virus will likely pass and investors would have had a great buying opportunity. We take a look below to see if the shares are now worth buying.

Royal Caribbean operates in an industry with few players. It has its largest peer Carnival Cruises (CCL) and a smaller peer Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) that are both public and compete in the space. Each has its strengths which make them appeal to their customer base.

Carnival Cruises owns and operates many brands besides its namesake. The Carnival brand itself tends to be more family-oriented and competes directly with Royal Caribbean. Norwegian is typically smaller and a bit higher priced for a more exclusive experience. It tends to appeal to a higher aged demographic.

Royal Caribbean operates under its own name as well as the Celebrity, Azamara Club, Silversea, TUI cruises, and Pullmantur names. The company currently has 61 ships in its fleet with 17 more expected to be put into service in the coming years. In 2019 the company carried 6.5 million passengers up from 6 million in 2018. The expanded capacity of course helps increase revenues, routes, and service. However, demand needs to be present for the return on investment to be worthwhile.

Recently the company reported results that showed growth was still present. At first glance a miss on both the top and bottom line appear to make results look weak.

Source: Seeking Alpha

Revenue grew 8% which was quite healthy. While net income declined year over year, it was due to one time events such as hurricanes and the cancellation of trips to Cuba.

The company reported full year earnings of $9.54 per share.

Source: Earnings Presentation

This represented 8% earnings growth over 2018 earnings of $8.86. Quite impressive considering the cancellations of Cuba cruise lines and other impacts. The company should continue to see growth going forward however it has warned that the Coronavirus could impact earnings by $0.65 in 2020. We may even see these estimates get revised higher. Originally the company had guided for earnings of $10.40-$10.70 for the year. The good new is that if $0.65 is all that earnings are impacted, the company would still see a mid digit earnings growth number for the year.

The company has been steadily growing revenues and earnings for the last several years.

Source: 10K

It has 2020 goals of earnings per share of $20. This would be quite impressive given the short number of years away this is and the current price shares trade at.

Looking at the balance sheet, the company could work to improve its financial condition to be considered a safer investment.

Source: 8K

The company has less than $250 million in cash on hand and $8 billion in long term debt. The current ratio is astonishingly low at 0.15x. The company has to continue to make investments into its new ships and current ships to attract customer leaving it in a capital intensive position. This could become a problem should earnings be impacted for any extended length of time.

Looking at its 5 year historical average valuation levels, we can identify whether or not shares offer a discount compared to their own history.

Source: Morningstar

The shares currently offer a discount to their average P/S, P/E, P/CF, P/B, and forward P/E. However, some of these metrics could change as earnings guidance is impacted by the virus issue. If the virus sees containment, than currently shares offer an enticing entry point.

Compared to peers, we can see how valuation stands for Royal Caribbean.

Data by YCharts

Currently, Royal Caribbean trades at a premium to its peers, however, the valuation gap appears to be the lowest it has been in a while on some metrics. With P/S ratio and forward P/E coming down to almost the same levels as the less stellar operators in the space.

Lastly, looking at historical yield, we can identify if shares are offering an above average dividend yield.

Source: Yieldchart

Currently shares offer a 3.79% yield, this yield is so abnormally high that it can't be measured how often is was offered in the company's history. The average yield for shares is 1.72%. This means currently, investors can get a yield that is almost double the average. The dividend appears to be well covered as well with a payout ratio of around 30%.

Source: Seeking Alpha

The company has been raising its dividend for the last 7 years and at an attractive pace. Should this trend continue, investors purchasing shares at current levels could lock in a yield on cost of over 4%.

While the impact from the Coronavirus could be significant and results could become pressured, I believe it will be contained. Significant progress on vaccines are already being made and in time the issue will pass. for investors with a higher risk tolerance looking to take advantage of a negative situation currently, now may be the time. While it may be hard to time the bottom, starting to dip your toe in the water and building a position in this cruise line operator could be a good move. The shares offer below average valuation levels and an above average yield. While it may take time for shares to recover, an enticing dividend is paid to wait. I will look to possibly start a position in the near term.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in RCL, CCL over the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Royal Caribbean Is Starting To Look Attractive - Seeking Alpha

Finding Bequia secret is out on vacation paradise in the Caribbean – Worcester Telegram

"You're going to Bequia?" friends had asked, "to write about it?" The implication being they'd hoped to keep their vacation paradise in the Caribbean a secret. I, with a slight sense of guilt, was flying there to, well, "out" their idyll.

Bequia, from the air, gleams like an emerald drop in the variegated blue and green necklace of the remote archipelago Saint Vincent and Grenadines. All seven square miles of it is home to 5,000 people of African, Scottish and Island Carib descent. It's off the beaten track just enough to stave off hordes of tourists, but idyllic enough to beckon adventurous spirits.

Enter Bengt Mortstedt, the jovial Swedish-born former lawyer, and self-proclaimed "accidental hotelier." In the early 1990s he and his family were beguiled by Bequia while on a sailing vacation through the Grenadines. "It was unspoiled, a rugged beauty," he said. While walking the milelong Friendship Beach, a few years later, he spotted a For Sale sign in front of an old, closed B&B. The rest is history. On New Year's Eve 2009 his creation, the Bequia Beach Hotel, was born on nine acres fronting the sea.

The luxury hotel is refreshingly unpretentious: a modern take on colonial Caribbean architecture, known for its playful colors and relaxed charm. Mortstedt's model for the hotel riffs on the '50s, imbuing the property with the nostalgia of seaside resorts of yesteryear. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the collection of retro-style travel posters created by California's Kerne Erickson, placed throughout the property, speaks volumes on the realization of Mortstedt's vision.

Each of the 58 guest rooms, suites and private villas displays its own personality while they're united in designs that include four-poster beds cocooned in white voile canopies, vintage rattan furniture, contemporary bathrooms and spacious terraces. The panoramic view from my 700-square-foot Beachfront Suite embraced the beach: palms and thatched umbrellas anchored in the sand, while the island of Mustique rested on the horizon.

Interconnecting paths meander around gardens flush with flowers, shrubs and old growth trees tended by Matthew, master gardener. On Wednesdays, guests can follow him and his green thumbs on a horticulture tour. A section of the garden slopes up a hillside where one of the property's three restaurants, Blue Tropic, serves Italian food. Further up the hill is perched a selection of varied accommodations whose views are spectacular. The largest of these is the 4,860-square-foot Estate Villa replete with its own kitchen, infinity pool, two master bedrooms and two twin bedrooms. A butler and a chef at your service, if you please.

A second infinity pool, hillside, is available for all hotel guests, but each morning at 7, I chose to swim in the spacious pool a stone's throw from the beach. The first morning it rained cats and dogs but the pool water was warm and I was willing. Within minutes the sun emerged revealing a rainbow arching over the hills. Perfection.

Mortstedt and his son, Philip, have extended their reach to another area of Bequia, Princess Margaret Beach, where Jack's Beach Bar draws customers to curated cocktails and seafood well suited to any princess and her prince. While I lunched on fresh fish and Grenadine greens, kids and adults alike frolicked in the sea below.

The nine-seater Bequia Air VIP Transfer that flew me from Barbados to Bequia is owned by the hotel, so too the Star of the Sea, a luxury 114-foot yacht that guests can rent for private charters along the Grenadines highway of islands. One sunny morning, I joined a group on board and cruised serenely along the Tobago Cays. Near our yacht, a pod of orcas breached in unison until out of view. We snorkeled and swam with the turtles on a tiny Robinson Caruso-like island The yacht staff produced a sumptuous lunch and plied us with unlimited drinks as we wended our way back home into the sunset.

In no small measure, part of the comfort and charm of Bequia Beach Hotel is due to the 240-member staff. Their genuine caring is a gift to each guest. Most come from the island, some from neighboring shores and others from farther away, including five chefs who trained in Europe. After spending a couple of days exploring Bequia, I discovered that almost every member of the staff is a friend or a relative of almost everyone else on the entire island.

That observation came by way of a friend who has lived on the island for many years. Walking through the bustling town of Port Elizabeth, with its fruit vendors, souvenir shops and arts and crafts kiosks was remarkable. Not a minute would go by when she wasn't hugging someone, or another was offering her a new recipe or inviting her to a party. She'd introduce me and mention the Bequia Beach Hotel and immediately the response would be, "Oh, my cousin" so and so or "My brother" so and so works there. Driving up and down the hills of the narrow roads we'd encounter sheep, goats, chickens and tortoises, malnourished dogs, and again, her pals. This time the cars would casually stop in the middle of the road for a chat session. Relaxed has taken on a new meaning here.

We walked the Boardwalk in Admiralty Harbour, where the ice-cream parlor was at full scoop, and white sail boats bobbed in the bay. Climbed high in the hills to the more residential area of Mount Pleasant where the views are nothing short of spectacular. Coming back down to sea level, Lower Bay offers a popular beach where grabbing a fresh tuna sandwich, a cold beer and a plunge in the waves at Da Reef Restaurant and Bar is a Bequia ritual. Nearby is Dawn's, where at sundown we ate at the tiny restaurant owned by a petite woman named, not surprisingly, Dawn. Her smile and home-cooked food were equally enticing.

Despite expensive expat villas dotting the landscape, Bequia is by no means a wealthy island: hand-to-mouth existence for many. Whaling was an industry for years, with the Whaling Museum being a testament to that practice. It is still allowed, but is carefully controlled.

New enterprises are offering means of employment for the Vincentians, as citizens of Bequia are called. I met two young people in Port Elizabeth who are determined to help individuals learn new skills and nurture latent talents. Jessica Jaja is the manager of Bequia Threadworks, which offers free training in sewing, textiles and fashion design. Its aim is to create a stable economy sourcing sustainable materials. The store on Back Street sells clothes that are made onsite. Off the main drag of Port Elizabeth and behind the local bookstore is The Hub Collective run by Colin Peters. With similar purpose as Threadworks, the Hub, also a nonprofit organization, provides creative, entrepreneurial and self-development opportunities for all ages. Their gallery sells original, handmade crafts and art.

Back at the Bequia Beach Hotel, for my last evening, I sipped a cocktail at the open-air bar, dined on lobster with a family from Surrey, England, and listened to a band of local musicians perform late into the night. There's magic on the island, strangers become friends, Bequia's breezes burn into your memory and tourists will continue to come. Sorry, friends at home, I can't keep Bequia your secret anymore.

http://www.bequiabeachhotel.com

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Finding Bequia secret is out on vacation paradise in the Caribbean - Worcester Telegram

Caribbean islands: Things to know before you go – Newsday

In September2017, the Caribbean Basin was ravaged by two massive Category 5 hurricanes, first Irma, and then, only two weeks later, the even larger Maria.

Two and a half years later, all but the most damaged areas on the most devastated of islands are back in full tourist mode. But that doesnt meanall is as it was before the summer of 17, or in the case of the central Bahamas, before Hurricane Dorian struck lastSeptember. Large swaths still bear ugly scars, many villages are still struggling to rebuild, and many non-government-run attractions are still closed or only open on a reduced basis.

To help those thinking about coming on down, here are updates on the five most popular (in terms of numbers) destinations amongAmericans. For the most recent updates, check your potential island destinations government tourism website, and http://www.caribbeantravel.com. One caveat:They may be more interested in highlighting progress than pointing out recovery work that still needs to be done.

The Dominican Republic

Irma passed far enough to the north of the Dominican Republic to not have had any devastating effects. Maria, on the other hand, made landfall along the northeastern coast, but only as a Category 3 hurricane after having dissipated much of her strength in passing over Puerto Rico. Torrential rains led to widespread flooding there, but the storm passed far enough away from the Punta Cana mega-destination, where gusts only reached 60 mph, to only cause minor damage.

Jamaica

Located even farther south and west than Hispaniola (home island to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica was even further protected from the ravages of Irma and Maria by Hispaniola and Cubas high mountains. If anything, the two hurricanes were a relative benefit to Jamaica whose non-cruise tourist arrivals grew 4.6% in 2018 as determined sun seekers steered clear of demonstrably damaged goods.

Puerto Rico

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During her traverse of the island, Maria, which assaulted Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, caused an estimated $92 billion in damage and claimed nearly 3,000 lives. In several senses, it is accurate to say that Puerto Rico will never fully recover, and as if to prove it, nearly a quarter-million of its inhabitants have abandoned their homeland for the mainland, presumably forever. Two and a half years on, Marias effects are still omnipresent: 15% to 25% of the islands large trees were toppled (particularly devastated was El Yunque National Forest), with local-level rebuilding progressing slowly, especially in the rural interior. (Ongoing recovery efforts along the southwestern coast have been undermined by the recent spate of devastating earthquakes.)

But only a few luxury hotels remain closed, old San Juan has been scrubbed clean, and all the islands beaches are open, though access to offshore Vieques and Culebra remains spotty. As a result, tourism numbers are back up to pre-Maria levels, though some of that is attributable to the travel restrictions reimposed on rival destination Cuba by the Trump Administration. But theres another compelling reason for visiting Puerto Rico now: putting your vacation money to work in the slow, but ongoing recovery of this American territory.

Aruba

Arubas location below the Hurricane Belt in the southern Caribbean keeps it from being directly hit by anything other than errant, rogue storms. Irma and Maria were anything but that, and so Aruba, along with all the other islands off the coast of South America (Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, and Bonaire) were completely unaffected.

The Bahamas

Despite ominous predictions, both Irma and Maria skirted the Bahamas, inflicting only minor damage on some Out Islands. But in September of last year, another Category 5 storm, Dorian, scored a direct hit on the northern Bahamas, first on Abaco, and then Grand Bahama, where it stalled out for a full day. Devastation there was nearly complete, with 60% of the island being submerged. Other than a brief power outage, the main resort island of New Providence (home to the capital Nassau) and other popular islands farther south such as Eleuthera, Cat, and Long Islands, were unaffected. Recovery on Grand Bahama is moving along, but Abaco will remain closed to tourists for the foreseeable future.

The Virgin Islands

Irma scored a direct hit on all three of the main British Virgin Islands (Virgin Gorda, Tortola, and Jost Van Dyke) and St. John and St. Thomas in the U.S.Virgin Islands. Her evil twin then came along and picked off St. Croix. While destruction there was among the worst in the Caribbean, money and material began arriving in abundance shortly afterwardfrom the two parent countries, the result of which is arguably the most thorough (in terms of quality) recovery effort in the Caribbean. Two-thirds of hotels have reopened, but it will be years before the sparse natural vegetation recovers.

Other islands sustaining serious damage where recovery is still ongoing and would-be travelers are advised to check before they book: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Martin, and St. Barthelemy.

By Marshall S. Berdan Special to Newsday

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Caribbean islands: Things to know before you go - Newsday

Murder and White Privilege on a Family Holiday in the Caribbean – The New York Times

In 1995, on a nameless Caribbean island, an American family is on holiday. The Thomases are no better or worse than any of the other upper-middle-class white tourists who are also vacationing in sultry Indigo Bay, with its everywhere weeping pink blooms and brazen teal water. But the night before they are supposed to go home, the older of the couples two daughters, 18-year-old Alison, is nowhere to be found. Within a couple of days, her body is found dead in a nearby cay.

I started reading Saint X, the debut novel by Alexis Schaitkin, believing I was about to get yet another tale of a beautiful young woman and her mysterious death. And I was in no way averse to that; theres something mesmerizing about taking apart a persons last days, about being presented with an ideal, and then figuring out the truth of who the victim really was. And the book begins by offering what most novels of this kind offer a fetching, charismatic, somewhat volatile heroine. One who is pure enough that you feel the enormity of her loss, but slick enough to be interesting. We witness everything through the eyes of Claire, Alisons younger sister and our protagonist, who, looking back on the episode in adulthood, recognizes this duality: My sister was an innocent, blameless in her horrific fate. And it was all her fault.

Claire, who was 7 when the tragedy occurred, becomes obsessed with understanding not just what happened to Alison, but who she was. But around 70 pages in, the details of this family drama start to take a back seat to the larger story Schaitkin is really trying to tell (and this is where Saint X flowers): about a single death that affects an entire community.

Any death of course creates aftershocks among those closest to the deceased, but we rarely spare a thought for those on the fringes. Schaitkin does, demonstrating in no more than a few pages each how Alisons passing affects her various satellites: her teacher, roommate, a random man on holiday, an actor, the girlfriend of the suspect and so on. The connections are faint, the domino effect crystal clear.

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Murder and White Privilege on a Family Holiday in the Caribbean - The New York Times

Marriott Adds 10,000 Rooms to its Pipeline in the Caribbean and Latin America – FTNnews.com

Marriott International in 2019signed a record 10,000 rooms, across 15 brands and 17 countries and territoriesin the Caribbean and Latin America, marking the companys fourth consecutive year of record expansion in the region.

Last year, the company increased its portfolio in the region to 268 open properties and 55,195 rooms in 34 countries and territories.

In 2019, the company signed 2100 conversion rooms in the region, leveraging its four conversion-focused brands Tribute Portfolio Hotels, Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection and Delta Hotels by Marriott as more owners sought out the power of Marriotts brands and programs. In addition, Delta Hotels by Marriott signed its first deal in the region.

Last August, Marriott launched its all-inclusive program to bring several of its brands, scale and trusted service to this growing, global vacation segment. Less than six months after its launch, the company has signed seven management and franchise agreements for all-inclusive properties representing nearly 3,200 rooms. Among the all-inclusive projects in development are an 800-room Marriott Hotels resort in Jamaica and a 240-room Ritz-Carlton resort in Mexico. The company last year also completed its acquisition of Elegant Hotels Group, which consists of seven hotels and 588 rooms located on the Platinum Coast of the picturesque island of Barbados.

Catering to the next generation of travelers, the companys AC Hotels by Marriott, Aloft and Moxy brands continue to expand rapidly in the Caribbean and Latin America, signing a combined 1,284 rooms in 2019. These affordable lifestyle hotel brands deliver a fresh approach to the traditional hotel landscape and are built around the pillars of design, approachable service and vibrant experiences.

We had a landmark year for hotel transactions in the Caribbean and Latin America in 2019, fueled by the hotel development communitys demand for our leading business support and loyalty program, our attractive brands and strong owner interest in our new all-inclusive brand extensions, said Laurent de Kousemaeker, Chief Development Officer, Marriott International. With a growing pipeline of 146 hotels and resorts totaling over 24,000 rooms, we are poised for solid growth in this region, providing more opportunity to drive engagement with our loyalty members.

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Marriott Adds 10,000 Rooms to its Pipeline in the Caribbean and Latin America - FTNnews.com

Yo Ho, Yo Ho! This "Waters of the Caribbean" Candle Will Bring Back Disneyland Memories – POPSUGAR

If a pirate's life is the life for you, please take a whiff of Etsy's "Waters of the Caribbean" candle. Thanks to shop owners Mort and Co, you can get a candle inspired by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. There's no denying the signature smells that come with the park's rides, and although this specific candle makes no promise of a chlorine aroma, you should be able to detect salty sea air, ozone, citrus, plum, cardamom, amber, and dark musk during its 50-hour burn.

One customer described the candle as "wonderful" while another confirmed it "brings back the wonderful feel of the happiest place on Earth." Yo ho, yo ho, sounds like a relaxing life to me! If you're in the market for another candle to add to your collection, you can shop "Waters of the Caribbean" ($20) on Etsy.

Image Source: Etsy

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Yo Ho, Yo Ho! This "Waters of the Caribbean" Candle Will Bring Back Disneyland Memories - POPSUGAR

These Are The Highest-Rated Snorkeling Spots In The Caribbean (On Trip Advisor) – TheTravel

The Caribbean is home to over 7,000 islands, 26 countries,and has some of the most exquisite views in the world. With white-sand beaches, coral reef formations, and crystal clear water, theCaribbean has become a haven for travelers looking to immerse themselves in island living.

With pristine water conditions, water sports are extremely popularthroughout theCaribbean. Boating, jet-skiing, and diving are all favorites among travelers but snorkeling has got to be one of the most popular activities among tourists visiting theCaribbean. It's an up-close-and-personal way to see tropical fish, hover above the coral, and see the world from a fish's eyes. And while there are oodles of places to visit in theCaribbean, check out these five spots if snorkeling is at the top of the list!

The small island of Aruba shouldn't be defined by its size. It's home to some of the most glorious terrain and has more to offer than its beaches. There's a natural pool, cactus plantations, and even a National Park! However, if snorkeling is the end-game for a trip to theCaribbean, then be sure to check outThe Arusun: Aruba Catamaran Sail With Snorkeling in Aruba.

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With a five-star-rating fromTrip Advisorand over 600 reviews, this snorkeling trip was rated Travelers' Choice in 2019. Snorkeling aficionados will hop on a65-foot catamaran and explore theCaribbean Sea for two and a half hours. Two destinations worth traveling to in Aruba are the Antilla shipwreck and Boca Catalina Bay, which snorkelers will be able to see for themselves on this tour!

At the tip of the Dominican Republic, we can find the gorgeous region of Punta Cana. The country may be popular for its zip-lining through its lush jungle but snorkeling is also a top contender when visiting Punta Cana.

The Punta Cana Small-Group Sailing and Snorkeling Catamaran Tour is highly praised onTrip Advisorwith five stars and 700 reviews. For three hours, small groups make this snorkeling experience personal and informational, getting loads of attention from the instructors. Travelers will explore the depths of Cabo Engao, Bavaro Beach, and other spots while snorkeling. There's even a small break at a sand bar where they'll whip out a floatable bar!

The Cayman Islands consist of three islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Grand Cayman is the largest of the three and will be a traveler's meeting point when looking to join the Cobalt Custom Charters cruise to snorkel. This snorkel adventure was rated number two out of 94 tours in George Town on Grand Cayman and has a five-star rating onTrip Advisor.

This charter can last for up to four hours and will take snorkelers to the barrier reef, Starfish Point, andStingray City! You'll be able to swim with fish, see the starfish for yourself, and even swim around stingrays. It's a gorgeous area with almost 300 stellar reviews and ends with a drink at a local beach bar! Cheers!

St. Thomas is one of the many islands apart of the US Virgin Islands. St. Thomas is one of the bigger and more popular islands of the Virgin Islands and that's largely in part due to its stunning snorkel spots.

OnTrip Advisor,Turtle Cove Catamaran Snorkel and Sail Adventure at Buck Island is highly rated (five stars) and lasts for three hours. If there are any turtle lovers or admirers out there, this is the snorkeling trip for you. TheBuck Island National Wildlife Refuge is known for itsgreen sea turtles at Turtle Cove and snorkelers will be able to see them in their natural habitat (along with tropical fish, of course!).

On the island of St. John in the town of Cruz Bay,Palm Tree Charters takes snorkelers on the time of their lives. Out of 49 tours in Cruz Bay, Palm Tree Charters was ranked number one and has over 1,200 marvelous reviews!

Depending on the experience swimmers are looking for, there are hundreds of areas to pick from that this charter can make happen because it's a private charter. This means that snorkelers can have their freedom with amazing attention while exploring the Carribean Sea.

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These Are The Highest-Rated Snorkeling Spots In The Caribbean (On Trip Advisor) - TheTravel


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