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Tropical Tidbits

by Sue C Travel

Bahamas bounces back with solar energy plans and new investmentsBahamas

bounces back with solar energy plans and new investments
Though there’s still much work to be done to get the islands affected by Hurricane Dorian back to ‘normal’, they are embracing the rebuild as an opportunity to do things differently. One way they are doing that is by looking seriously to solar powered “micro-grids” for energy, in fact the goal is to produce 30% of Bahamas energy from renewable sources by 2030. Royal Caribbean has also taken a keen interest in getting Grand Bahama back on the map quickly and have announced a $300 million investment in Freeport in tandem with new partner Holistica Destinations. Plans to update and expand the Freeport cruise terminal with a project called Harbour Village will include new visitor attractions including multiple shopping and dining venues, beach areas, excursion opportunities and more. They have also purchased the Grand Lucayan resort on the island and will turn it into a showcase 526-room hotel with a shopping village, spa and wellness center, a massive water and adventure theme park, and a 40,000-square-foot convention center. The new projects are slated to be finished winter of 2022. 


 New luxury Bahamas hideaway on South Andros  

You might have already seen this unique property being built on the pristine Bahamian island of South Andros if you’re a fan of HGTV’s Island of Bryan television series chronicling one couple’s quest to turn an abandoned hotel into a new luxury resort. Now, their dream is a reality with the opening of the Caerula Mar Club, a visionary-driven oasis of sublime tropical escape. The couple took great care to ensure that it was built in the most sustainable manner possible, and by only welcoming families with children over the age of 12, they can ensure it remains a peaceful retreat for those seeking romance. The boutique upscale collection of accommodations includes swanky clubhouse suites and private stand-alone villas, and the island is surrounded by the world’s third largest barrier reef and the greatest number of “blue hole” caves that offer superb diving and snorkeling ops. 


ToursByLocals is a genius concept 

I just happened upon this fab Canadian owned company ToursByLocals recently, and I love what they do. They supply well-vetted local tour guides to create personal private tours for you in a gazillion destinations around the world. And yes, they are offered in just about every island in the Caribbean chain, and all throughout Latin America, too. Learning about the culture, attractions, and history through local eyes is the best way to get to know a new destination, and you are welcome to advise them on what you’re interested in most if you don’t like their suggested tour. Maybe you want to beach hop to the best snorkel sites, do a local foodie trail, or go hiking in secret spots… the choice is yours, and they can also accommodate those with limited mobility if you ask ahead. Ideal for cruise visitors seeking to avoid those big crowded junket excursions, too. 


Secrets St. Martin now open

After a $63,000,000 USD renovation of the former RIU resort on lovely Anse Marcel Beach on the French side of the island, Secrets® St. Martin Resort & Spa opened its doors in March of 2020. Now the upscale, adult-only, all-inclusive offers 258 luxurious suites including Preferred Club swim-out options, and all guest receive their signature Unlimited-Luxury® treatment with gourmet fare and top-end spirits in several dining and bar options or via 24/7 room service. They also have a state-of-the-art convention centre, a huge ballroom, and a world-class spa. Also notable is their water circuit boasting the largest infinity pool in the Western Caribbean.


Cuba gets overwater villas

 Situated in the province of Ciego de Ávila of Cuba just 35 minutes from Jardines del Rey International Airport, Cayo Guillermo Resort Kempinski opened in March of 2020, and is touted as one of the most luxurious non-all-inclusive hotels on the island. The new resort offers 245 deluxe rooms and suites including the very exciting contemporary overwater bungalows called the Playa Pilar & Hemingway Water Villas. A gym, spa, and yoga space plus a kid’s club and tennis courts add to the allure, and the on-site drink and dining options are multiple and include a Hemingway Cigar Bar & Lounge in tribute to his love of this region.  


St. Augustine’s stylish new beachfront resort

Florida’s oldest city now has a new way to stay on its gorgeous Atlantic coast since Embassy Suites by Hilton opened the St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort just over a year ago. Located close to Anastasia State Park, a 1,600- acre nature preserve, activities include swimming, birdwatching and nature hiking there, and it’s close to the historic old city for easy urban explorations of St. Augustine’s most famous historic attractions. Signature dining on site and by the pool/beach, and free made-to-order breakfasts as well complimentary evening receptions, flexible event space, a fitness center and a 24/7 market round out the amenities of this modern and ethereal oasis of 175 spacious two-room suites and studio suites with ocean views and balconies. 


A different kind of bathing beauty?

Though there are islands in the Bahamas famous for having wild pigs that you can swim and snorkel with, the feral pigs of Playa PortoMarie in Curacao aren’t that energetic. In fact, the small tribe of porkers that often wander onto the sand there are quite content to simply hog some of your shade, slowly forage around for food, or simply bask in the shallow waters along the beach. And though sometimes they might summon up the energy to roll over and request a belly rub from a human, that’s about the extent of their workout. But they’re fun to photograph, and just one more reason to head to PortoMarie which is a stunning stretch of sand on aqua sea with a double coral reef ideal for snorkeling. There’s also a dive shop and a great beach bar on site, too. (Special thanks to Donna LeClair for the great pig photo.)