Category Archives: Caribbean

Aruba Ariba!

Whether you see it printed on the menu or not, saunter up to any bar in Aruba, ask the bartender for an Aruba Ariba, and guaranteed, you’ll be obliged.  What makes the Aruba Ariba so ubiquitous?  It’s unique to Aruba.  And why?  Because every Aruba Ariba is made with coecoei, a liquor made from the sap of a local agave plant.  The deep red sap is then mixed with rum and cane sugar.  It not only adds a distinctive taste and color when used as an ingredient, coecoei also packs a punch with its 100-proof alcoholic content.

It surely must be a seductive cocktail because plenty of message boards evidence a search for coecoei by travelers once they return home from a trip to Aruba.   Sorry.  The only place to buy coecoei is Aruba.  So there you go:  another reason to go to Aruba.  (As if you needed another one besides sugary white beaches, blue skies, friendly people, endless activities or a beautiful place to do absolutely nothing while sitting under a palapa.)

Though the recipe varies a bit, the end result is universally described as delicious, refreshing and fruity – very apropos to the tropics.  A clear glass mug is recommended as an appropriate vessel in order to show off the rainbow of colors.  Make that a tall, clear glass mug to accommodate the liquors, liqueurs and juices.  Yes, you need all three to make a proper Aruba Ariba.

Here is the most often published recipe for the Aruba Ariba:

  • ½ ounce of vodka
  • ½ ounce of 151 proof rum
  • 1/8 ounce of coecoei
  • 1/8-ounce crème de bananes
  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • ½ cup of cranberry juice
  • ½ cup of pineapple juice

Directions: Pour into a glass.  Stir slightly. Splash with grenadine.  Top with Grand Marnier.  Garnish with a slice of orange.

I’ll have mine while enjoying the sunset from one of those cushy white couches at Pure Lounge over at Divi Phoenix Beach.

You can find other famous Aruba cocktails here at Visit Aruba.

Enjoy!

Divi Resorts Gives a Hats Off & Discount to Our Military

Did you know that Divi Resorts provides a 20% discount off its best-published nightly rates for the US, UK and Canadian military?  You bet.  We urge you to tell any veteran, disabled, reservist or active military person.  Our military personnel deserve our special consideration, along with a little rest and relaxation in the beautiful Caribbean.  The discount is available all year long at eight Divi Resorts, including those on Barbados, Bonaire, St. Croix, St. Maarten and select properties on Aruba.

While feasting at a BBQ this weekend or getting together with friends at a beach “up north,” spread the word.  Wouldn’t this be another good way to say “thank you?” Share the link for the Divi Military Special.  The discount can be booked anytime!

And, if you have the chance, join in a parade.  But wherever you are, when the clock strikes 3pm, observe the National Moment of Remembrance in silence and reflection for those who have perished during military service.

If you live near St. Louis, you can attend the 63rd annual “Good Turn,” at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, where local Boys Scouts and Cub Scouts decorate 189,000 grave-sites.  What a proud tradition, now in its 63rd year.  The cemetery has served as a burial landscape for soldiers since the Civil War.

And, is there a more stirring sight than seeing Arlington National Cemetery decorated with American flags at 250,000 grave-sites?  The flags are planted there by the 3rd U.S. Infantry, which also maintains a vigil to ensure each flag remains standing throughout the weekend.

Decoration Day is the original name of this day of tribute, when people used flowers to decorate the graves of those who fought and died in the Civil War.  A surviving general of this “rebellion,” as the general himself, John A. Logan, referred to the war, suggested back in 1868, that May 30th be a day of honor.   More than a century and many world conflicts later, the tribute has expanded to include all men and women who served in the US military.

The day of honor evolved to be called Memorial Day and as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday as well as a three-day weekend.

It’s worth noting that the late senator of Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, introduced a bill in 1989 to move the holiday back to the fixed date as a way to stress the true meaning of the day.  He reintroduced the bill in every Congress until his death last year.

Let’s be thankful for our three-day weekends, holiday BBQs and Caribbean vacations and remember on this Memorial Day those who have perished in service to their country.

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.

Chowder Down

Chowder isn’t just for New England.  And, it isn’t just for winter.   Wherever there is a sea, there’s chowder in some form or another. Whether on the coast of the Atlantic, Pacific or the Caribbean Sea, chowder chefs blend the flavors and bounty of both land and sea.   Chowder, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  Well, that’s going to be a challenge, as there are endless variations on the chowder theme, enough to have a competition.

This past year’s Taste of St. Croix featured impressive and, I might add, the always delicious, kitchen concoctions from over 50 restaurateurs, caterers and professional chefs.  Among the categories of the culinary competition was “soup/stew,” which always draws a number of creative interpretations of chowder.  Last year’s prizewinners had hinted at the possibilities of the palate-pleasing nature of chowder with pumpkin seafood and Crucian conch versions.

Chowder has always been a part of the weekly Seafood Fest at Divi Carina Bay for good reason: It’s a crowd pleaser all year long.   You never know until the first taste whether it’s wahoo, mahi or snapper that went from the boat into the pot that day. Carina Bay’s Executive Chef Thomas is determined to win the soup/stew category of the 2013 Taste of St. Croix with the Divi Signature Seafood Chowder.  If he wins, he won’t have to go far – the Taste is staged right outside his kitchen on the Divi beachfront.  As always, the competition is keen.  All the soups are tasty.  Who wants the recipe?

There were six other “best” categories in the Taste of St. Croix: appetizer, entrée, dessert, beverage, local fare, presentation and vegetarian.  And while judges were behind closed doors sampling, assessing and ranking entries, 1500 guests outside on the Divi beachfront were sampling the same.  No worries, there are always plenty to go around.  And, by the way, last year the St. Croix Central High School afterschool cooking class won best vegetarian dish.  That certainly bodes well for St. Croix’s culinary future.

In addition to Thomas and his staff, 40 other Divi Carina Bay personnel were hard at work with 114 volunteers to help make the Taste a sensational event this past year.  It’s a very big party and one you shouldn’t miss next year.  Same time. Same place. It’s a great night to chow-der down.

A Caribbean vacation in summer? Yes, let’s go!

Did you know there are over 7000 individual islands in the Caribbean?  Who’s ready to spend a few days on one this summer? The Caribbean in summer?  Yes!  It’s when the best deals are.  Especially after April 1, when kids eat and stay free at Divi Resorts.  June is when most Divi Resorts offer the lowest rates, but there are deals all summer long.  Vacation dollars go further, spacious suites are available and there are plenty of palapas for a quiet snooze on the beach.  There are also as many activities in summer as in season.  This is sounding like a vacation made in heaven.  But, it’s the Caribbean.

So, just where should you go for a Caribbean beach vacation?  I’m giving an “A” to Aruba.   First of all, there are few worries about hurricanes.  Aruba is technically out of the hurricane zone.  The temperature is only slighted elevated in the summer months due to the ever-present trade winds.

Aruba has too many temptations to list.  But, just consider these:

Divi Village, Divi Aruba Phoenix and Divi Dutch Village offer all-suite accommodations, an ideal set-up for families.   Not only are the suites spacious with modern amenities, but also they feature fully equipped kitchens. That’s handy for keeping kids satisfied with a little snacking and refreshment throughout the day, and an excellent way to stretch the family’s vacation dollars.   ‘Because you will want to do this vacation again next year.

If the brood is just too tired to go out at night, it couldn’t be easier to settle in for a night at home.  Slide open the balcony doors, plop onto a comfy couch and hit the remote for the flat-screen TV.  You can also gather ‘round the dining room table for board games.

Staying in won’t feel like a letdown after all there is to do during the day.  If you opt for the Druif Beach area, you’ll have your pick of multiple pools (enough to choose a different one just about every day), lighted tennis courts (weekly tennis clinics, too), poolside games and beach walks every afternoon, a water sports center with enough free activities to keep families entertained no matter how long the stay.   Aruba’s only 30-foot rock climbing wall is located on the Divi beach.

There are more than a dozen restaurant choices for the entire family when you do feel like dining out together.   (Remember:  kids eat free April 1 through December 21st.) Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort also has a nine-hole golf course and pro shop.  Parents might also like an evening at the Alhambra casino, which can be reached by a free shuttle bus from the resort.

Over at Phoenix Beach, the curvaceous pools are a big hit with families, as is the cool and comfy Pure Beach restaurant.  For a convenient diversion, go across the street and roam the Butterfly Farm.  Buy one ticket and go multiple times.

It’s just a shame you have to go home at some point.  I guess that’s why it’s called a “vacation.” Be sure to check out Divi’s discounted Summer rates!

All Dressed Up and Someplace to Go – It’s Carnival Time!

Oh, how they love a good party in St. Maarten.  Carnival, the annual festival that has more music, rhinestones and feathers than a Grammy Awards show, is now going on in St. Maarten.  And, it’s going on and on and on.  The island has been partying for two weeks already, and they are not done yet.  But, almost.   The festivities end today.

According to Carnival connoisseurs, St. Maarten has one of the best celebrations in the northeastern Caribbean. There are events day and night.  A festival village is the hub, but parades fan out through the downtown of Phillipsburg.  There are also beauty pageants, numerous heart-pumping concerts, lots of food and costume competitions.  The latter is serious business.

After all, Carnival is THE biggest event of the year on St. Maarten, so it is no surprise that the fashions come out for the occasion.  Front Street, the parade route, turns into a red carpet of sorts with revelers strutting the stuff of the Caribbean’s finest Carnival designers.  There’s every color of the rainbow and then some, plenty of feathers, rhinestones, fringe, beads, netting and towering headdresses three feet high and three feet wide.

Planning what to wear next year begins nearly the day after Carnival ends this year.  Creative minds get sketching, colors envisioned, fabrics ordered, and soon nimble fingers are sewing, beading and spangling for months.

And, that’s not all.   There has to be make-up to go with the outfit.  Revlon commissioned Sandra Hordatt, a top Carnival costume designed based in Trinidad, but who works throughout the Caribbean, to develop some Carnival make-up looks last year. Stunning, we think you’ll agree, but judge for yourself with these make-up pictures.

And, here’s something else we’ve learned.  On Carnival Info, a website which tells you everything you didn’t even know you didn’t know about carnivals around the world, you can order a costume custom made for you.

And, now that you know the dress code, mark your calendar for April 2014.  There’s a party going on.

Since Carnival comes at a very popular time of year for vacations, book a stay at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort well in advance.  It’s never too soon to plan accommodations or party attire!