Category Archives: Barbados

Divi Owners: Michael Smith and Diane Renfroe

Michael Smith and Diane Renfroe are not unlike a lot of other Divi owners when they get to their home away from home: They get out and explore their surroundings.  They have plenty of time to do just that.  This retired husband and wife power couple from Washington, DC, he, a former business executive and she, a former tax attorney and partner, come to Divi Southwinds for eight weeks every Winter.  During their two months on Barbados, they always rent a car to tour the island.  Exploring is still a fresh adventure even after eight years, be it a new beach discovery or the Barbados culinary scene.

Others might say a morning walk on the beach is invigorating, and the Smith Renfroes wouldn’t disagree, but they also call it the most romantic moments of their annual Caribbean vacation. They are especially fond of a number of beaches found on the south and west coasts of Barbados.

But their absolute favorite thing to do?  Feasting with relatives on the island!  I’m sure they’re feasting sensibly though, because the couple admits to being very weight and health conscious. (Eight weeks in Barbados sounds to me like a prescription for well-being.) They partake of the many great restaurants and nightlife in the St. Lawrence Gap, which runs through Divi Southwinds.  This unique cobbled street lined with some of the island’s best dining is one of the reasons Smith and Renfroe love their home at Divi.

Elsewhere on the island, Cin Cin heads their list of romantic places, offering good food served under the stars and with sweeping views of the west coast of Barbados.

For relaxing, they are both exercise enthusiasts:  Smith makes great use of the outstanding swimming pool at Divi Southwinds.   Renfroe walks, be it on a Barbados beach or around the 20 acres of grounds at Divi Southwinds.   She also loves genealogical studies, no doubt putting her expert research skills to work tracing the family tree, both the Barbadian branch and those up north.

Ownership at Divi is a real value, they say, expressing that they receive first class accommodations for a very reasonable rate.   Said, Smith, “The people of Barbados are friendly to visitors and are very progressive in their education and infrastructure.  The staff at The Divi Southwinds under the leadership of Alvin Jemmott continues to amaze me with the continual improvements.”  All that seems to add up to eight weeks in paradise.

Caribbean Weddings and Mini-Moons

I have a prediction:  in the not too distant future you will be invited to a destination wedding at Divi Resorts. I have it on good authority.  Today, nearly one in four weddings (24%) is now a destination wedding.  A favorite locale?  The Caribbean, of course.  Who can argue with the décor  – white sand met by turquoise water toped by brilliant blue sky?  And, balmy weather just makes stress melt away.  (You’ve had it happen.)  And another feel good is the hospitality of the region.  The people of the Caribbean just love hosting weddings.

The reasons for the rising popularity of a destination wedding are as plentiful as the items on a wedding registry.  A destination wedding offers adventure, it’s just more fun, and the couple can incorporate the honeymoon – or mini-moon, as the trend now is – into the wedding trip.  What is a minimoon? That is a brief vacation immediately following the ceremony with the extended, just-the-two-of-us vacation coming later.

“The idea of having a destination wedding is growing among our brides, and it goes hand in hand with the fact that most people no longer live where they grew up,” said Carley Roney, co-founder of XO Group Inc., whose brands include The Knot and Wedding Channel.

XO Group figures show that 66% of international destination wedding brides cite wanting a “special, fun, or exotic locale,” as a main factor for choosing to go abroad.  Other reasons include a desire to host fewer guests in a more intimate occasion and to celebrate at a location special to the couple.  And, we have a hunch it’s also because there are expert wedding planners at the ready in places like Aruba just waiting to take care of all the details.

You can also add deals and discounts to the reasons to do a destination wedding in the Caribbean.  Divi Resorts’ launched a very enticing deal for wedding couples. The special treatment includes free accommodations for the betrothed, an amenity-laden vacation for them and their wedding party and a free seven-night anniversary stay.  Plus massages, champagne and flowers, too.  The special promotion gives the happy couple the option to try a different Divi resort for their anniversary.

Spread the word and you soon could be on some couple’s guest list for their destination wedding at Divi Resorts. We hope so.

Breathless

You may already know about this, but it was a first for me: free diving.  That is diving without a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or in other words, no oxygen tanks and breathing tubes. Using scuba gear would be too easy, and “unnatural,” say those who free dive. I only discovered free diving in conversation (not by actually doing it) when I was told that Carol Schrappe, one of the world’s best free divers, Brazilian record holder (242 feet!) and considered one of the top 15 female athletes in the world, was a guest at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino in Bonaire. The resort is a magnet for divers from all over the world, so the staff of Divi Dive is accustomed to having divers around all the time. But, the presence of Carole Schrappe at the property created a buzz. She is aqua royalty, known and admired the world over.

The Bonaire Tourist Authority recently invited her to come to learn about the island. Naturally, that included introducing her to Bonaire’s many sensational dive spots. Schrappe did many free dives while in Bonaire, many right at the Divi Flamingo. “I loved this place. It’s unique and perfect for free diving,” she said. “I’ll be back for sure.”

Schrappe practices competitive apnea.  We’ve all heard of apnea, defined as the suspension of external breathing, but I’m pretty certain that most of us would not consider it a contest. But apnea competitors attempt to attain great depths, times or distances in a single breath.   Which is probably why free diving qualifies as an extreme sport. I will stick to snorkeling by the Chibi Chibi the next time I’m in Bonaire. If you’ve ever dined there, you know you can peer right over the railing and watch myriad and colorful fish swim by.

And, wouldn’t you know there is an association governing the sport, sometimes called breath-hold diving, and staging competitions around the world. Given Schrappe’s stature in free diving circles and her impression of Bonaire, an international competition is bound to come to Bonaire in the not too distant future.

I also learned that there are records showing that Greek and Roman armies employed free divers to cut anchor lines so that enemy ships floundered on rocks. Thank goodness those days are over (hopefully) and we can just considered this all good fun and sport. Some spear fishermen and underwater photographers use it, as do synchronized swimmers and mermaid shows. I even read that free diving is part of underwater rugby, underwater hockey, and underwater target shooting.  Huh?  Now, those do sound a little extreme.

Fantasia Will Rock It In Barbados

The R&B singer Fantasia, who rose to fame as an American Idol winner, is now one of those mononyms.  You know, like Beyoncé, Madonna and Cher.  And, her star power is just getting bigger. She’s been nominated eight times for a Grammy and dazzled audiences on Broadway and more recently in sold-out concert halls across the US as a special guest of Andrea Bocelli on his 2013 world tour.   The reviews have been fantastic.  Their beautiful rendition of “When I Fall in Love” has lots of fans on YouTube, as well as their duet of Canto Della Terra, sung entirely in Italian at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in June.

In September, Fantasia will assuredly knock it out of the park again when she comes to Barbados for one night only  – September 15 – at the Garfield Sobers Complex.  Barbados is abuzz.  The best seats in the house have been secured by Divi Southwinds, which is offering a package that puts you up close in the 5,000-seat performance space. The Fantasia Package includes two night accommodations, two reserved concert tickets plus breakfast for $379. What a nice sound that deal has to it! And, if two days in Barbados just isn’t enough (It never is.), Divi will extend the stay for $109 per night. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to book your vacation online!

Divi Does More for Kids!

Divi Resorts is expanding its children’s activities at six of its Caribbean resorts starting July 22nd.  The weekly schedule of free family events, called Treasures of the Caribbean, includes a treasure hunt, sandcastle building and movie night.

Every Monday morning starting July 22nd, children and their parents will follow clues (and the resort’s activities staff) around the Divi Resort property to amass a stash of keepsakes.  The real treasure at the end is a T-shirt, one that does special things:  It turns every kid into a member of Divi’s Pirate Crew.  And those crewmembers enjoy free refreshments – beverages and ice cream – throughout their stay at Divi.  It also earns them a salute from Divi staff each and every time they wear the shirt.

On Wednesdays, the big event is sandcastle building; souvenir bucket, shovel and great sand and ocean are supplied.

To kick-off the new Treasures of the Caribbean program Divi is hosting a contest to decide who can build the best sandcastle this summer at a Divi resort.  Pictures of the sandcastles will be showcased on Divi’s Facebook page (Divi does the posting and all the picture taking) and Divi will invite its Facebook followers to decide the best one.  The winning family gets another vacation, but this time it’s a FREE one.  (The contest gives new meaning to the term “vacation home,” wouldn’t you say?)    The winner can select any of the participating resorts for their free stay.

So let the fun begin! Join Divi’s Pirate Crew.  Hunt for treasure.  Build a castle.  Enjoy a movie on Friday night.

Need a little inspiration for the sandcastle you’re going to build?  Redbook Magazine gives a step-by-step on the basics.

Want to step up your game a bit?  Check out these architecturally awesome sandcastles collected by the folks at Popular Mechanics.

Get more details about the Treasures of the Caribbean, including participating Divi resorts, complimentary family photos, contest deadline and more here!

In Praise of Good, Clean Comedy

A Night of Laughter and Jazz Set for Divi Southwinds

Sylvia Moore is a minister, a minister of comedy.  She does stand-up for God.  Her stage name is Small Fire (formerly known as “Small Frie”), and she’s a big deal in the world of Christian comedy, a genre that’s described as “clean comedy with a cutting edge.”  Small Fire is familiar to television audiences, having been a featured performer on BET’s Comic Views, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, The Wayans Brothers Show and It’s Showtime at the Apollo.  She’s often introduced as the “Queen of Christian Clean.”   And, praises abound for her comic routines.

Laugh it up with Small Fire in person in Barbados next month during the island’s annual GospelFest.  She is half of an evening at Divi Southwinds billed as “Laughter & Jazz,” which marries comedy with unique jazz vibes of local, regional and international artists.  Canadian trumpeter Dave Brown and young Barbadian saxophonist Roman Greaves do the musical honors.  Tickets are $25 at the door.  Showtime is 8pm.   It promises to be a very entertaining evening.

For the full list of GospelFest events, visit Barbados GospelFest.

Divi Southwinds is proud to be one of the sponsors of the 2013 GospelFest, held this year from May 18-26.