A poquito coquito, anyone?

by Divi Diva on April 11, 2014

Word is that that Vice President Joe Biden and his wife were spied on St. Croix a few weeks ago.  That marks their second visit in four months. Were they just doing what many of us were wishing for:  a quick escape from the endless winter?  And, are they just being patriotic going to America’s Caribbean island?  No. We know they are big fans of St. Croix.  The couple has spent every New Year’s holiday in the USVI since Biden was elected vice president in 2008.

Martha Stewart

File Photo: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

He wasn’t the only VIP who decamped to St. Croix for the holidays.  While little is known of the Bidens’ activities while there, Martha Stewart, on the other hand, told all on her blog about her family’s visit.  “I spent this Christmas on the beautiful island of St. Croix in the Caribbean.  Took lots of pics to share w/u on my blog,” began the first of many posts on The Martha Blog.

We hope that one day we report that the Bidens  – and maybe Martha, too – enjoyed themselves at the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, that annual week-long celebration of Cruzan food and drink.  I hereby suggest that Martha be a judge for the event’s restaurant competition, the Taste of St. Croix, which takes place every year at Divi Carina Bay Resort.  She certainly has the right qualifications.

Coquito

A coquito, a tropical twist on eggnog! File Photo: María del Mar Sacasa

It’s no surprise that while exploring St. Croix, Stewart found the local’s favorite lunch spot: The Chicken Shack.  On Centerline Road, near the midpoint of the island, it’s a mecca for spit-roasted chicken, ribs and pork.  It’s the place to enjoy a coquito, too, a tropical twist on eggnog.  The Chicken Shack is only open for lunch (10:30 – 5).  Now that Stewart has introduced you to coquito, continue on to the Cruzan Rum Distillery to stock up on Cruzan Rum.  (Tours: 9-4, M-F)  In the factory store, they’ll box a six-pack of rums for shipping as baggage.  No worries about an extra baggage fee – It won’t get charged.

If you’d like to try a coquito at home, here’s a recipe.

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Bonaire National Marine Park

by Divi Diva on April 2, 2014

Say happy birthday to the Bonaire National Marine Park.  This year marks 35 years of action to protect the 24-mile long island.  The goal has long been to ensure the aquatic environment remains just as it was in 1971.  As a result of its admirable foresight, Bonaire is hailed the world over as a diver’s paradise.

But, Bonaire isn’t just about water. And no longer is a vacation there just about diving.  Today, the Bonaire National Marine Park’s conservation efforts extend to protecting Washington-Slagbaai National Park as well as the Barcadera cave system.

Did you know you could go spelunking in Bonaire?  Put down your fins and check out the stalactites in the caves not far from Kralendijk.  If sporting fins while on Bonaire just seems more natural, there are guided snorkel tours through parts of the cave.

You also can get up close to nature by kayaking the island’s mangroves, another well-preserved area.  What exactly is a mangrove?  It is a tropical species of tree that performs a very important function in protecting the coastline. Data shows that where mangrove forests have been destroyed, tsunami damage has been more extensive.

Ready for another adventure on Bonaire?  Take a bike ride through Washington-Slagbaai National Park.  This vast area, nearly one-fifth of the island, is another valuable part of the local ecosystem.  Many bike rental companies conduct tours through the Kunuku (outback), following hundreds of miles of paths as well as along the coastline.  As you huff and puff you way up and down the terrain of the park, wild goats and donkeys will be leisurely grazing nearby.  Those gorgeous long-legged Bonaire beauties, pink flamingos – will be there as well.

Yes, Bonaire is gaining a new reputation as a well-rounded destination with a host of diversions for anyone who is up to it.  Undoubtedly, it is for the sporting type.

Which doesn’t mean that a Mango Colada or a Divi Funky Monkey isn’t always waiting for you at the Chibi Chibi.  Or there isn’t always a place on the Divi Flamingo dock to lay back and soak up a gentle breeze.  Ah, the Caribbean Ocean’s rhythmic sways below. While snoozing, letting the mind wander or, if need be, massaging sore muscles at The Touch Spa (which, by the way, is just across from the Chibi Chibi. How thoughtful is that?), proud Bonaireans are hard at work preserving the environment.  Thank goodness.  That is why you came, after all.

Ironmaning in St. Croix

by Divi Diva on April 1, 2014

Was a marathon on your list of goals for 2014?  Running 26 miles would top any New Year’s resolution to “get fit.”  Health experts say the key thing is to simply do 30 minutes of exercise several times each week.  So, as Nike says, “Just Do It.”  If you were in St. Croix in January, you saw the Nikes fly during the St. Croix Scenic 50. The 50 stands for 50 miles. Now that is truly going the distance.

St. Croix Ironman

Test out your Ironman Resolve in St. Croix!

What better way to see St. Croix than running over its rugged mountains and along its beautiful shoreline? Or so say the race promoters.

St Croix is about 84 square miles, which makes it the largest of all the US Virgin Islands. (It is nearly two and half times bigger than St. Thomas.) Its terrain is varied:  hills, rain forest and flatlands – probably one reason why the St. Croix Ironman is a key event in the Ironman series. Thirty finishers this year will go to the big kahuna:  the World Championship in Hawaii.

This year, the St. Croix Ironman competition is May 4. It has long been known as a battle between the racer and the course.  A 1.24-mile swim in Christiansted harbor starts the endurance test, followed by the 56-mile bike portion and concludes with a 13.1 mile run ending downtown. The exact course varies from year to year, but it often goes past Divi Carina Bay Resort, offering participants a beautiful vista from the high points on the road leading to the resort and providing Divi guests a chance to encourage the racers.

If you’re wearing that new Fitbit you got for Christmas, wave your arms a lot as the participants hustle by.  The device tracks arm movement, so you’ll be upping your daily activity count and calories burned, which will get you just a wee bit closer to your own fitness goal.

If inspiration struck as you were watching, head back to Divi Carina Bay for some paddle boarding in the bay.  Or, you can just relax.  The hotel has an Ironman Special (No fitness test required.) for participants, spectators or those simply in need of a dose of Caribbean sunshine in May.

Take note:  this package goes the distance.  Book five nights and stay two more nights – for free.

Time to Save Money On Travel

by Divi Diva on March 28, 2014

Did you resolve to save more money this year?  US News says more people are making financial resolutions than a few years ago.  But vowing to be mindful of expenditures doesn’t mean one can’t resolve to have more fun and travel more – both good goals.  There is a way to be wealthier and happier as well as healthier in 2014.  (Remember:  Vacations are recommended for good health.) 

Divi Divi Tree Aruba

File Photo: Courtesy of Joel Collins.

Here are a six ways to save money on travel in 2014:

  1. Go against the flow – The great rush to the Caribbean is in winter, but the hot deals are in the off-season. You’ll escape the crowds, temperatures are only slightly elevated during summer and chances are there are big discounts on airfare, too. Make it a family vacation because kids stay and eat free at Divi Resorts from April through mid-December.
  2. Best things come in twos – Booking a packaged vacation not only streamlines the reservation process but results in maximum savings. Divi’s new booking platform, Divi Vacations, provides the lowest price on rooms at the resorts, even exceeding published best available rates when booked separately, and assures best pricing on airfare from major airlines.  Depending on the season, customers will save from $150 to $345 per trip.
  3. Let’s be friends – Divi Facebook page includes occasional contests (Wow! Winning would really mean a savings!), and news about special offers, such as diving deals at Divi Flamingo Beach in Bonaire. Followers also receive announcements for limited time airfare discounts to the islands from major hubs.
  4. Suite deal – For family travel, nothing beats a suite. A one-bedroom with a pullout couch easily accommodates a family of four. (See savings tip #1.)  Even better, a family can take meals and snack time in their own kitchen. In St. Maarten at the Divi Little Bay Resort, the on-site grocery will stock the refrigerator and pantry in advance of arrival.
  5. Kid’s play – Look for resorts providing free kids or family activity programs. The new Divi’s Treasures of the Caribbean program at all Divi Resorts engages the entire family in treasure hunts, sandcastle building, movie night, souvenirs, T-shirts and more.
  6. Pack light – Avoid the extra baggage fees.  After all, most time spent on a Caribbean vacation is in a swimsuit.

Got any money-saving travel tips you want to share?  Post your own ideas for travel tips at the Divi Resorts Facebook page.  (Remember Tip #3 — Deals are waiting there.)

St. Maarten Carnival 2014

by Divi Diva on March 25, 2014

Pack your feathers and your sequins.  Get your party face on.  Let’s go!  The good times are getting ready to roll in St. Maarten. It’s carnival time!

They’ve done this before.  44 times, in fact.  2014 is the 45th annual St. Maarten Carnival, and by now, according to many observers, they have perfected the party. This one lasts 24 days with all manner of celebration; however, the big pageants, concerts and parades (and food, always food) move into high gear on April 21st. The revelry culminates in a big parade April 30th and again on May 1 in downtown Phillipsburg (just a 15 minute walk from Divi Little Bay Resort). The festivities officially end when King Momo is burned on May 5.

Every Caribbean carnival has a King Momo, the fictional king of carnivals.  Though he takes different forms depending on the island, he is universally flamboyant and powerful. Thank goodness, he comes and goes.  After days and days of revelry, the burning of King Momo rids the island of its sins, leaving St. Maarten fresh and revived.   We’ll say.  You’ve probably noticed that the island’s tempo slows down a bit come May.

This year’s schedule of carnival events also includes some merry-making for another king, a real one – King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands. The Dutch kingdom around the world annually celebrates the royal birthday. This year is special because it’s the first to honor King Willem-Alexander, since his ascension to the throne last year. Pack an orange shirt, blouse, skirt, hat, pants or swimsuit, because donning the official color of the House of Orange is de riguer that day.

As for the other days during carnival – the fashion code is: the more festive the better. One of these years, I want to commission a costume (there are people in St. Maarten who work all year on designing and sewing them) and then reggae on down Front Street in the parade.

Who wants to join me?  Divi’s 800# for Little Bay reservations is 800.367.3484.

Mom of the Year Award

by Divi Diva on March 25, 2014

Just about every guest at a Divi Resort has a story to tell.  We heard one last week that we want to share.

Melanie Paiva and daughter Angelina in St. Croix.

Melanie Paiva and daughter Angelina in St. Croix.

Sharing – in the best sense of the word – is how Melanie Paiva got to Divi Carina Bay a few weeks ago. She has shared her life, her home, material goods and blessings with foster kids.

Last May, to celebrate Mother’s Day, the Steve Harvey Show announced a contest to find an exceptional mother for recognition. One of Melanie’s foster kids sent in a nomination, telling some of the reasons why her mother was deserving of the honor — as well as a seven day all inclusive stay at Divi Carina Bay in St. Croix, which Divi Resorts provided for the contest. The audience of the popular daytime talk show, which has nearly two million viewers, overwhelmingly agreed. They voted Melanie Paiva “Mom of the Year.”

Melanie and her husband became foster care parents after being unable to conceive. What started as foster care soon changed to adoption. Even after her husband died a few years ago, Melanie continued to open her arms and adopted two more children. She says it was her lifelong calling. We know of eight children who are very glad she followed the call.

This year, Mother’s Day is May 11.  What are you doing for mom?  A little Caribbean getaway would be nice, don’t you agree?  There’s always a special dinner planned at the restaurants at Divi Resorts to celebrate moms. Watch for postings on Facebook.

St. Maarten; Perfect For Weddings

by Divi Diva on February 27, 2014

Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine recently polled their readers and learned that St. Maarten is one of their absolute favorite spots for a wedding or honeymoon.  Ah, the sunshine, sparkling beaches, brilliant blue Caribbean, swaying palm trees, great shopping, and diversions.  And, the food – it’s the culinary capital of the Caribbean.  All of which makes St. Maarten a destination for lovers (and others, of course).

Dinner Atop Fort

St. Maarten, the perfect destination for your Caribbean wedding

Weddings are a year round thing, said Joan Samson of Divi Little Bay. There are nuptials at the resort nearly every week, she reports. Whether it’s an intimate, just-the-two-of-us ceremony or a wedding extravaganza for 100 guests, love is in the air there all year long.

Among those tying the knot at Divi Little Bay are cruise ship passengers, love struck by their days at sea. In truth, passengers wanting to get married in St. Maarten have to prearrange the ceremony, either by contacting Divi Little Bay directly or a wedding planner in St. Maarten. Chances are the local wedding planner will highly recommend Divi Little Bay to the love boaters. Among the reasons (besides secluded beach and lush, landscaped grounds, expertise) is the proximity to Philipsburg, where cruise ships dock. Couples usually have less than six hours to do a wedding before setting sail again. Missing the ship wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, but the 10 minute cab ride to and from Divi affords brides and grooms ample time to do the ceremony, enjoy the setting and even have a private meal on the beach, something Divi Little Bay likes to do to cap a day of romance.

The beachfront dinner is also part of the honeymoon special.  But, Samson says many guests see a couple dining on the beach and inquire if the set-up is just for honeymooners.  The answer is no.  Divi is happy to offer that to other couples.  It’s a love thing.   Call Divi Resorts either at 800.367.3484 or 721.542.2333 to arrange a just-the-two-of-us secluded table on the beach – any time of year.

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