Montserrat Festival Celebrates 50 Years

Get ready for a good time in Montserrat this Christmas holiday as the gorgeous Caribbean island gets set to celebrate its 50th Montserrat Festival.

It’s called Montserrat Festival 50 and islanders are hoping that it invites in many new visitors, as well as a ushering in a great homecoming, welcoming home many of Montserrat’s own who have gone to live in other places.

Montserrat Festival 50 runs from December 14th, 2012 to January 2, 2013, fifty years after the cultural celebration got its start in 1962. The highlight will of course be the traditional St. John’s Day village festival held on December 27th, and its many musicians and masqueraders.

There are also all kinds of other activities, both for islanders and for people visiting for the very first time.  You can sign up for a workshop to learn to make the national dish of goat water stew and stone oven bread.  You can take part in calypso competitions, village meet ups, parades, and even a national cake and wine show.

Another festival highlight will be the 50th Gala to honor pageant queens and calypso kings and queens.

On New Year’s Day, the entire island will be rich with the sounds of mas bands, with more than 15 groups already registered to perform.  Some are even coming from as far away as the United States.

Whether Montserrat is your favorite place to vacation, or it will be your first time getting to know this unique and vibrant Caribbean island; consider booking a Montserrat villa soon to be a part of Montserrat Festival  50.

Accommodations will be tight across the island as thousands of people make the journey home to celebrate their history, culture and heritage, so arranging your villa Montserrat early is a great way to make sure you can be a part of this incredible Caribbean celebration.

What to Eat in Jamaica

One of the best aspects of any visit to a Jamaica villa rental is experiencing the rich flavors of this wonderful and diverse island.  Settlers who have come to Jamaica over the centuries have always brought their traditions and their culinary expertise with them

From the Spanish conquistadors to the British plantation owners, and from the African,  Chinese and East Indian slaves and laborers to the millions of tourists who flock to these sunny shores; everyone has left a taste imprint on Jamaica.

Book a Jamaica villa rental and come hungry, because we have lots to delight you with as you eat in Jamaica.  From the Spanish background, we have the fish, often served in a vinegar and onion mix.  From the English, we got our iconic patties; fluffy pastry turnovers packed with spiced meats and potatoes.  From the original Arawak Indians and from Africa, we got our spices, blended into a delightful mix called “jerk”, used to flavor meats and fish.  From the Chinese and East Indian immigrants, we developed our love for curries.

While your Jamaica villa will come with its own kitchen, make sure you go out for the occasional meal to sample what the island has to offer, or better yet, arrange for a local chef to come to your Jamaica villa and teach you how to work with all the incredible fresh ingredients this island provides. Enjoy homemade ackee and saltfish, the national breakfast of Jamaica. Taste fresh coco bread right out of the oven.  Sample curried goat, with a generous serving of tasty duckanoo for dessert.  Of course, don’t miss out on a freshly made patty and some jerk chicken, grilled over an open flame, and seasoned with a mix of peppers, allspice, nutmeg and thyme.

Book a Trip to Award-Winning Jamaica

If you are looking to plan the perfect vacation, it may interest you to know that at the recent World Travel Awards gala, award-winning Jamaica came out a big winner!

The ceremony itself was held here at the Sandals resort in Montego Bay, which was fitting for the number of awards that Jamaica claimed.

Jamaica claimed the big award, being named as the Caribbean’s Leading Destination for the sixth year in a row.  Jamaica’s tourism board also took home the title of Leading Tourist Board in the Caribbean for the fifth year in a row.  This island was also named Leading Cruise Destination.

Then, there were places within Jamaica that were named as award winning.  The Montego Bay Convention Center was named the Caribbean’s Leading Meetings and Conference Center.  The Sangster International Airport was named the Caribbean’s Leading Airport.  Negril was named the Caribbean’s Leading Beach DestinationOcho Rios was named the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port.  The Port of Falmouth was named the Caribbean’s Leading Tourism Development Project.

That’s not all!  The island also took home the Caribbean Achievement Award and the Caribbean’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination.

The island’s tourism minister, the Honorable Edmund Bartlett says the wins were pay back for all the hard work that award-winning Jamaica has put into promoting its charms to the world’s tourism markets.

There were hundreds of awards given out, both regional awards and country awards, recognizing all the incredible tour operators, villas and resorts, and tourism boards all across the Caribbean.

Why not book a trip to Jamaica to see for yourself why the island and its attractions keep winning awards.  A stay at a Jamaica villa rental at the Tryall Club Jamaica is the perfect way to experience the island that so many have declared the best of the best.

Spend Your Vacation Trying Some Jamaican Dogsledding?

Anyone who remembers the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics fondly remembers the Jamaican bobsledding team.  Having never seen snow, this team of incredible underdogs won the hearts of the world after competing in this fast-paced winter sport.   They did not officially finish the race, crashing on the course instead, but their story went on to becoming a popular Hollywood movie, Cool Runnings.

Now, there’s another Jamaican taking up the call of unusual winter sports, and there’s a way you too can enjoy the thrill while enjoying Jamaica villa rental.

Newton Marshall is a Jamaican who is making a name for himself in the highly competitive world of dog-sledding.  In 2009, he entered the world famous Yukon Quest, and became an instant celebrity.  When he finished the gruelling dog race in 13th place, everyone realized this was no publicity stunt.   Marshall was a serious contender.   Since then, Marshall has also competed in Alaska’s famous Iditarod dog race, and has become a real inspiration to young Jamaicans.

The whole project is the brainchild of Jamaican Danny Melville, who is the founder of Chukka Caribbean Adventures.  He was in Edmonton, Canada looking for dune buggies, when the idea struck him that dog sledding could be a great opportunity for his island home.

If you think you might enjoy a little Jamaican dogsledding while at your Jamaica villa rental at the luxury Tryall villas, don’t worry!  Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers its own version of Jamaican dogsledding adventures.  The company also runs plenty of other exciting excursions all over Jamaica.  Whether you feel like zipping through a tropical forest on a zip line, driving an ATV through the jungle or exploring beautiful ancient caves, you can book all kinds of exhilarating escapades in Jamaica.

An Environmental Triumph in Montserrat

Something interesting is happening here in Montserrat!  All over the island, researchers are now crossing their fingers and listening closely for an old sound to be heard again in the island’s tropical rainforest.

In the past year, Montserrat scientists have released more than 100 of the world’s largest frogs back into the island’s ponds and forests.

In 2009, a deadly fungus nearly wiped out the mountain chicken frog.  The situation was so dire that teams of scientists harvested dozens of young frogs and frog eggs, and airlifted them to labs in Sweden and the UK in an effort to save the native species.

Today, those frogs have grown up, and are back again living in their natural habitat. Now, mating season has just started, and everyone is waiting to hear their distinctive mating call – a unique whooping cry made only at night.  That sound could mean the frogs are looking to breed, and that means the species may survive, and even thrive, again in the lush mountain forests.

Montserrat is one of the most beautiful and untouched islands in the Caribbean, famous for its lush greenery and lack of large-scale development.

Start planning your own Montserrat holiday so you can explore this natural paradise.  There are excellent choices for the perfect villa Montserrat for you and your family, where you can plan to spend you days hiking through the woods, playing on the beach, or even just sitting by your private pool, listening for frog calls on the gentle night breeze.

Foodie Vacation in Montserrat

One of the most enjoyable parts of any vacation is getting out to explore the new and exciting flavors of a different culture and country.   Nowhere in the Caribbean is this exploration more fun than here in Montserrat, where the Caribbean, European and African histories of the island come together to create a completely unique blend of taste experiences.

The gorgeous island of Montserrat has a long history of being a refuge to all kinds of people.  Arawak and Carib tribes, Irish and African slaves, Spanish, British and French settlers; Montserrat today is a blend of many cultures, influencing and adapting to this stunning tropical setting.

Like everywhere, the culture and the influences of history show up in the food of Montserrat.  From its Caribbean surroundings, you can find fresh fish and seafood, fresh coconuts, breadfruit, pumpkin, bananas, pineapples and vegetables.  From the colonizing countries come fresh goat, pork and chicken.  From the African heritage come the spices, such as curry, pimento, hot peppers.  From the Irish, comes the love of mutton.

When it’s time for dinner in Montserrat, you can expect the national dish, goat water stew (freshly made stew with goat meat, homemade dumplings, tomatoes, carrots and potatoes.  You may also enjoy fish soup, coconut scallops, or jerk shrimp.

If you want to head out for lunch on Montserrat, try Tina’s Restaurant on Brades Main Road for incredible dumplings.  On Wednesdays, head to Oveston House for an excellent barbecue buffet.   For a romantic dinner, try Ziggy’s Restaurant in Woodlands, which serves excellent steak and seafood outside on pretty pergolas surrounded by tropical forest.  Wherever you go, call ahead for a reservation.

Of course, in any villa Montserrat, you can make your own meals as well, taking advantage of the incredible variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood all right at your fingertips on a stunning foodie vacation in Montserrat.

New Flights to Tortola Villas

Tortola villas may not be the easiest vacations to get to, but they are so worth the effort, and it just got a little easier!

The USVI seaplane and air shuttle service, Seaborne Airlines has announced two more daily flights from San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International to Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport in Tortola, and seats are already on sale.

The airline is also upgrading its flight service to Tortola, bringing in the Saab 340B jets, which can seat up to 34 people, meaning more room on the flights.  This is just the first phase of a planned expansion servicing Tortola, San Juan and USVI as well.

There are no direct flights available into BVI from the U.S., Canada or Europe, so travelers must connect through somewhere else, such as San Juan.

While it’s not as easy as a direct flight to your vacation, stays at Tortola villas are well worth a small stop along the way.

This pretty British Virgin Island is home to Cane Garden Bay Beach, which is said to be one of the best, and one of the softest, in all of the Caribbean.  As well, its famous coral reefs and hundreds of fascinating shipwrecks draw scuba divers and snorkelers from around the world.

Seaborne Airlines also offers a comfortable lounge and concierge desk at the San Juan airport, where you can take advantage of light refreshments and Wi-Fi access so you can send an email back home.

An interesting historic note about the airline: Seaborne Airlines first started as a sightseeing flight service in Alaska, but the owners got sick of the endless winters, so they resettled here in the Virgin Islands. Not a bad idea!

The Legacy of Jamaica 50

Now that the celebrations for Jamaica 50 are over, this island nation has no plans to let the party for its 50 years of independence stop just yet.

After the parades and parties, the attention now shifts to leaving a legacy for future generations.   The government has announced a number of long-term projects in the fields of arts, literature, education, and infrastructure that will help Jamaica mark its 50 years of nationhood for years to come.

There is a committee now set up, and a blueprint in place, to make these projects happen this year. From its initial planning stages, the celebrations of 2012 have always had a focus on the history and culture of Jamaica, and improving the world’s understanding of the island and its people.

Of course, the London Olympics provided a golden opportunity to bring Jamaica’s brand to a global audience, and now the legacy committee intends to continue the work. Some of the projects that will finish up this year are the setting up of a Golden Jubilee village right at Independence Park in Kingston, the establishment of smaller celebration villages across every parish of the island, and a television broadcast to link Jamaicans living around the world.

Now is one of the best times to start planning a Jamaica villa rental so you can explore what the island has to offer.   Thousands of Jamaicans and visitors flocked to the National Stadium on August 6th to celebrate Jamaica 50 and the island’s pride in itself, and you can still take part in that celebration today. There is a joy right now in the country that is infectious.

Plan a trip to the Tryall Club Jamaica and come catch the spirit of a country celebrating its freedom, its heritage and its spirit.  Come take part in the rest of Jamaica 50.

Caribbean Travel: Worth That Extra Step

There are so many reasons why people dream about a trip to the Caribbean.   Whether it’s for a perfect round of golf, the scuba dive of a life time, or an exploration of an island’s history; everyone planning Caribbean travel also wants relaxation, tropical beauty, and an escape.

However, many people just opt for the easy way out.  There are so many cheap and easy charter vacations and packages available, that it can be very tempting to just go for the one-stop-shopping.  Popular charter flights to the Dominican Republic are lovely, for certain.  However, because that’s what everyone else is doing, you’re exchanging cheap and easy for crowds.

What most people don’t realize is that the perfect dream of Caribbean travel, and a more private escape in that lush tropical paradise is just one added extra step.   Next time, why not consider beachfront vacation rentals?

It is true that there are no direct flights from the U.S. to some of the more exotic and beautiful islands of Montserrat, St. John, Virgin Gorda or Tortola, but it is still completely easy to get here.

There are many direct flights available to the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.  As well, there are lots of direct flights to nearby San Juan or Antigua.  From any of those places, it is easy to connect to your luxurious Virgin Gorda rental, pretty St. John vacation rentals, or villas in Tortola, by connecting flight, charter plane or boat.

If you’re interested in a secluded Montserrat villa, on what’s known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, hop a flight to Antigua, where the ferry to Montserrat leaves several times a day.

If you’re at all nervous about making your own travel  arrangements, don’t be. There are excellent travel agents in every neighborhood in every city, all of them willing, able and happy to make your flight plans for you, free of charge.

It really doesn’t take more effort to go to a travel agent than it does to click a few buttons on a website.  The payoff?  Instead of a crowded all-inclusive resort, where you have to get up at the crack of dawn to reserve a pool lounger, and stand in line for a buffet dinner every single night, you can plan to have a home of your own, with a private pool and a chef, all in a beautiful and exotic locale.

Yes, it can be a little more effort.  However, the rewards are endless.  You can find Caribbean travel at its best with tropical island villas all your own, in a setting that will take your breath away.

Watch Tennis in BVI

If you love watching great tennis, then the British Virgin Islands are the place to be in December 2012.

From December 9 to 13, Necker Island will play host to the 2012 Necker Cup, hosted by the island’s owner, Sir Richard Branson. This is the world’s most exclusive Pro-Am tournament, and amateurs can enjoy tennis in BVI and find themselves teamed up with Sir Branson himself.

The tennis stars coming will be announced soon. If you don’t make it into this tournament, but still want to play in the Virgin Island sunshine, you can also register for the Rosewood Little Dix Bay Legends Tennis Camp on Virgin Gorda, which is being held at the same time.  This camp is being hosted by Grand Slam doubles champions, Luke and Murphy Jensen.

No matter what your level of tennis, it will give you the chance to rub shoulders with some of the best players in the game for a little tennis in BVI. There will be lots of cocktail parties and an End of the World Awards Dinner and auction at the Rosewood Little Dix Bay, where anyone who takes part can meet tennis stars and Sir Richard Branson.  All of the profits from the evening will go to benefit Virgin United and other ATP and WTP charitable organizations.

If you are a die-hard tennis fan, or even if you are just starting out but love the game, now may be the time to consider British Virgin Islands holidays.  Why not plan to rent a villa Virgin Gorda this December, and take part in a truly memorable few days of tennis in the Caribbean sunshine.