Category Archives: Resorts

In the words of Captain Kirk, Boldly go…

Remember William Shatner’s narration at the start of each Star Trek episode, describing the mission of the Starship Enterprise “…. to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”?

I was reminded of those words when speaking recently to Jim Gatacre, founder of the Handicapped Scuba Association.  Jim was recalling his first scuba trip to Divi Flamingo Beach Resort in Bonaire.  He told me that Divi Flamingo Beach Resort was a “pioneer” for being one of the first Caribbean resorts (if not, the first) to not just welcome, but seamlessly accommodate handicapped scuba divers.

Merriam-Webster’s definition for pioneer is: “a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thoughts or activity or a new method or technical development.” Well, that puts Jim in the pioneer category, too. He started his organization in 1981 with a mission to bring a new world and a new life to wheelchair bound people through scuba diving. Then and now, Jim boldly takes people where they haven’t gone before – under the sea. Today the HSA teaches diving, trains people to be dive buddies for disabled divers and certifies instructors to teach diving to people with disabilities all over the world.

Only two years after founding the HSA, the group sponsored its first guided dive trip outside the US.  The destination was Bonaire, chosen for its clear, calm, warm waters teeming with aquatic life. To make the trip a reality, his fledgling organization sought hotel donations for trip participants. Divi Flamingo Beach Resort was the first to respond, and with four free vacation stays. Knowing that diving would be the easiest thing his group would do while in Bonaire, he made a request of Divi management: build a few ramps.  He still marvels at their response to do whatever it took to make the trip a success.

In the intervening thirty years, his organization has returned to Divi Flamingo Beach Resort at least 27 times.  (He can’t remember exactly, he said.) The water around the island of Bonaire is still crystal clear, but the hotel has changed – continually improving as a destination for handicapped divers year after year.  In Gatacre’s words, “Divi started good and they stayed good.”

Gatacre conferred another title on Divi, that of leader.  “Divi Flamingo Beach Resort has been an inspiration to a lot of other destinations to improve their facilities for wheelchair bound travelers.” The hotel together with the dive operation, Divi Dive, prides itself on accessibility on land and sea and playing gracious host for a memorable vacation experience. “When we leave Divi Flamingo Beach,” Gatacre said, “we always feel like we are leaving friends behind.”   Lots of people feel the same way.

Back in 2010, Divi invited NBC News to Bonaire to share the story of some young men from Texas who took up scuba diving for its physical and psychological benefits after paralyzing sports activities.  It’s a wonderful story told by NBC correspondent Jenna Wolfe.  You’ll like it as much as the Today Show hosts did.

Recipe Time with Cruzan Rum’s new Rum

The run for the Triple Crown is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to mint juleps until next year.  In fact, the Crucian Contessa, our favorite St. Croix foodie and home cook, has given us good reason not to:  a new mint julep recipe using the new passion fruit-flavored Cruzan rum.

Her concoction was inspired by big news on St. Croix.  In April when Cruzan Rum released its new passion fruit rum, everyone in St. Croix was also all abuzz about two Cruzan jockeys making a run for the roses in the Derby this year:  Victor Lebron and Kevin Krigger.  Krigger was hoping to make history, becoming the first black jockey to win since 1902.

The Crucian Contessa gives a twist to the mint julep not only with the passion fruit-flavored rum but also with piloncillo, which is an unrefined sugar commonly used in Mexican cooking.  It is made when sugar canes are crushed, the juice collected and boiled, then poured into cone-shaped molds to harden.  (The name means “little pylon.”)  The result is a smoky, caramelly and earthy sugar that adds far more flavor than refined sugar.  The Serious Eats food blog extolls the virtues of flavoring both sweets and savory with piloncillo.

Mix up a pitcher of the passion fruit mint julep and then toast the goodness of St. Croix: The Crucian Contessa’s delicious recipes featuring the island’s bounty, the local jockeys making it big on the racing circuit, Cruzan Rum, what some say is the best rum there is and of course Divi Carina Bay, St. Croix’s only all-inclusive Resort.  You can enjoy Cruzan Rum there – it’s included in the all-inclusive package.  For an interesting excursion on your next visit, take the Cruzan Rum Rum distillery tour.  It ends with a tasting in their gift shop where the entire portfolio of Cruzan Rum is sold.  The staff will box purchases, safe and ready to go as luggage.  Best of all, it doesn’t count as another piece of luggage.

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!

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.

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!

What’s Your 2013 Travel Resolution?

Did you make resolutions for 2013?   Did the list include:  Be a better person, work smarter, be more organized and take more vacation days? It might come as a surprise that those four resolutions are connected.  Workplace experts highly recommend taking vacations.  Yes, that was an “s” on the end of the word “vacation.”  Vacations recharge the batteries, replenish the creative juices and make a person more productive at work, according to those who study workplace behavior.  So, think of it this way: vacations are a good thing for you and your business.

Planning is key. January is a good time to sit down with the calendar and map out optimum times to be away from work and accommodate the whole family’s activity and school schedules.  There are also early booking specials that help stretch the vacation dollar.  (Was “find ways to save money” a resolution, too?)

Divi has a few vacation ideas for you in 2013.

  • Be part of the yachting set that will gather in St. Maarten-St. Martin for the island’s Classic Regatta, March 29-31.  Divi Little Bay’s Regatta Package gets you a discount on a room; a sail on a catamaran to watch one of the races and VIP passes to opening and closing festivities.  So party with the yacht crews during one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful sailing events. Ever done that before?
  • Or meet on the beach with “top chefs” at this year’s Taste of St. Croix.   Noted chefs from across the US descend upon St. Croix to cook up a party each night of the six-day St. Croix Food & Wine Experience.  The Thursday night event is the Taste of St. Croix, held under the stars on the beachfront of Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort. Planning ahead is absolutely crucial as tickets sell out to the Taste of St. Croix in less than 30 minutes (1200+ tickets gone in minutes).  Get a guaranteed ticket by booking a three-day stay by January 30th.
  • Need a photo for next year’s holiday card?  How about dressing up for the Carnival parade in Barbados in August during Barbados’ famed Crop Over Festival?  Last year, Divi Southwinds provided costumes for guests to join in the fun.  Watch the website for details of this year’s plans.
  • Is 2013 the year you learn to golf?  Make an tee time appointment with a golf pro at the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort in Aruba.  Golf in the morning, relax at the beach in the afternoon, and fine dine at night at the resort’s gourmet restaurant, Windows on Aruba.  Is there a better way to spend a vacation day, or two, or ten?