One Happy Island, One Happy Couple

Divi Owner Spotlight

We hope that you will enjoy a new monthly feature highlighting the story of a Divi Resorts owner.   Each month we will spotlight a different owner and tell their story of vacations on the islands.

We are pleased to announce that our first spotlight is a long time Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort owners Eugene and Patricia Connors.

Gene and Pat are a fun loving, retired couple with close ties to family and friends and many stories to tell.  The couple is originally from New York and for years searched for warm vacation spots in the south to escape the cold northern winters.  After a few disappointing vacations, they told their travel agent they wanted a place with guaranteed great weather.  She suggested Aruba.  “Where is Aruba?” they asked.  The couple fell in love with the island during their first trip in 1979 and bought their first time share unit at the Divi Dutch Village in 1988, because they preferred the low rise resort.  Today they own several weeks and spend much of the winter on the tropical island.  Gene has observed that there are many more people traveling to Aruba than when they first started vacationing there.  The Connors’ believe they are partly responsible for that because they tell everyone they meet that Aruba is the only place to vacation.

While visiting Aruba, Gene and Pat can often be seen lounging on the beach and swimming in the blue tranquil ocean.  Afterward they head to one of their favorite spots Bunker Bar.  Located at the Divi Tamarijn, just steps away from their vacation home, Bunker Bar offers beautiful sunset views and a chance to catch up with friends.   They also enjoy the romance of dining on the beach surrounded by soft white sand, palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze and water lapping on the shore.   If asked, Gene and Pat would recommend a sailing excursion, snorkeling or dining at Madame Jeanette’s.

The Connors’ will tell you that family and friends are important in their lives.  After more than thirty years of traveling to Aruba, many of their fellow travelers as well as the native Arubans they see every year have become very close friends – part of their Divi family.  That is why in 2008, a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party thrown by fellow owners and Divi staff was extra special.  The couple later celebrated on their actual anniversary day at Chalet Suisse, which they do every year, where they are always taken care of by Benny, the manager.

Thank you, Gene and, Pat for being loyal Divi Dutch Village owners.  We wish you many more years of vacations in paradise.

Mmmmm…Bonaire Delight Dessert!

Remember us telling you a few weeks back that the Bonaire team was competing in the Taste of the Caribbean? Well here’s the award winning recipe for the “Best Caribbean recipe” (Henk Schenk Award) AND the high honor of being “Most Creative Caribbean Dish” of the competition at the Taste of the Caribbean 2013! Enjoy!

Bonaire Delight Dessert

Mix you ingredients together for your normal carrot cake then add dates and raisins to it. Next, make a mousse with heavy cream and a coulli made from fresh mangos.

Shape the cake into the desired shape and pour the mouse on top of that in to the mold before the gelatin does its work. Let the composition set in a cooler for about 3 hours

For the “salad,” blacken the red peppers and clean them. Marinate the pepper in a simple syrup for about 15 minutes and then dry in an oven on 100 degrees for about 15 minutes. Dice  80% of the peppers and blend the rest into a sauce. Next, cut the fresh mango the same size as the peppers and marinate it in a simple syrup with a scotch bonnet added.

Make small “sticks” from a standard tuille batter with cacao added to that and bake in on oven on 175 degrees

For presentation paint the  ‘Pepper sauce”  with a wide brush on the plate. Place the carrot cake and mousse just outside the center on that paint. Put the salad on top of that and finish of with 2 cacao sticks.

Enjoy this sweet dessert!

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.

The Great Cover-Up

Alas, there is proof.  Sunscreen can help keep you looking younger.  A four and half year Australian study study concluded that broad spectrum sunscreen slows down photo-aging.  (That’s the medical way to say wrinkles from sun exposure.)  Knowing that we will look younger may be the ticket to using sunscreen properly and often, many doctors say.  Because reduced skin damage also means lower risk of skin cancer, the results are important for our health as well as our vanity.  So, lather it on.

We’re getting educated about sunscreen in another away:  new labeling rules recently took effect. No longer can marketers use the words “sunblock”, “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” Sunscreen packaging must now note a time limit for sun protection exposure.  Also, a product with an SPF lower than 15 now carries a warning that it will not protect against skin cancer.   Read about the new sunscreen rules and the benefits of skin protection.

All this seriousness about sun exposure, I predict, is going to bring hats back into fashion big time. Long ago, women always wore hats.  Once upon a time, porcelain skin was a sign of refinement, so hats were part of every summer outfit.

For all those people who say they don’t look good in hats, well, you won’t look good if you don’t wear one…and your sunscreen. Helen Kaminski is my favorite hat designer and styles abound for both men and women.

It figures that these great hats would come from Australia. Most designs have a tight weave that keeps the sunrays from filtering through.  Plus, many are packable.  The better to go traveling to the sunny Caribbean with, my dear.

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!