Celebrating the New Year in Caribbean Style

New Year’s Eve festivities are different in cultures all around the world, and that’s part of the beauty. When the clock struck 12am on January 1st, 2016, people in the Caribbean celebrated the fresh New Year in true Caribbean style.

San Juan
People in San Juan, Puerto Rico flocked to the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino to dance Latin salsa, relish R&B tunes and simply enjoy the spirit of the massive crowds. The hotel’s New Year party was called “Illusions,” and there were more than 3,000 party people in attendance at the event.

Grand Cayman
Starting at 7pm on New Year’s Eve, fireworks erupted in Camana Bay, a fabulous town center in Grand Cayman filled with a variety of things to do (read more), restaurants to eat at, shops to visit and mroe! After the family friendly light show, adults headed to the ‘No Resolutions’ party where they viewed another set of fireworks at midnight. Following the night’s festivities, many people continued the celebration by taking part in the Westin’s champagne beach brunch on Seven Mile Beach on New Year’s Day.

Bermuda has its own distinctive New Year tradition. While people in New York, New York in Times Square eagerly anticipated the ball dropping, people in St. George, Bermuda waited for — you guessed it — the onion to drop. The party wasn’t only about the onion dropping, however. It was also a lively event that was full of live music and fireworks galore.

Jost Van Dyke
Jost Van Dyke is a tiny island that’s part of the British Virgin Islands. It’s only roughly three square miles. It’s home to Foxy’s Bar, which is the site of the famed party known simply as “Old Years Night.” Jost Van Dyke was definitely the ideal destination for people who wished to celebrate the fresh start of a near year on a gorgeous beach at night. The party was great for people who enjoy drinking, eating delicious food and simply socializing with others. Some of the beverage and food highlights of the event included both lobster barbecue and fruit cocktails.

Aruba’s New Year celebrations were also very memorable. Palm Beach is a popular tourist draw on Aruba. It’s also the site of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, a great place for people who wanted to check out the island’s mesmerizing sky light show. This was a terrific New Year option for families as it was also totally suitable for young children. Gorgeous lights weren’t the sole New Year’s Eve attraction at Palm Beach, however. People on Palm Beach also got the chance to enjoy dancing, live music and incredible food. Children at the event had the opportunity to participate in a variety of fun activities for youngsters.

Many people in the Bahamas visited Nassau’s Graycliff Hotel to experience an elegant and sophisticated New Year dinner party. The eight-course dinner was a true feast, with a variety of mouthwatering culinary options such as orzo risotto and Bahamian lobster.

Companies Making It Easier to Own a Yacht

Yachts are one of the first assets people aspire to when coming into wealth, and it used to be a lot harder to own one. Now, businessmen like Andrew Farkas and Jason De Palma have made owning a yacht a lot easier through companies like Island Global Yachting and Vantage Yacht Club. Here are the companies that are changing the process of owning a boat:

Island Global Yachting (IGY):

One of the most difficult aspects of owning a yacht is figuring out where to dock it. Island Global Yachting is a company focused on acquiring, managing, and servicing luxury-yacht marinas, making it easier for yacht owners to find quality locales in the Americas to dock their luxury yachts. Founded by Andrew Farkas in 2005, IGY has built a network of luxury marinas and has its own Anchor Club, the only marina loyalty program for yacht owners. Andrew Farkas developed the idea for the company from his love of yachts and sailing, and has seen the company grow to a total of 14 yachts in the Caribbean and Americas.

Vantage Yacht Club:

Founded by Jason De Palma, Vantage Yacht Club aims to provide an affordable option for people wanting the experience of a private yacht without the hassle and responsibilities. with a variety of membership options, the Vantage Yacht Club allows members to reserve a boat as much or as little as desired. The Vantage Yacht Club offers many different yacht styles to choose from including yachts ranging from 18’-62’. The company is also able to arrange charter management and the buying and selling of a personal boat.

Royal Yachting Association (RYA):

Due to the efforts of the Royal Yachting Association, it is possible to charter a ship from anywhere in the world if you obtain a Yachtmaster’s certificate. The association controls the certification and instruction of sailing, windsurfing and powerboating and aims to make sailing more accessible through education programs. RYA offers 5 different certificates in its boating school, providing craft and basic training. These certifications not only help you feel more comfortable in your own boat, but provide the credibility to be able to charter a boat from other locations.

11 Travel Tips Italians Want You To Know

Over 46 million tourists visit the boot-shaped peninsula each year! They come from all over the world, and many return again and again for a magic that only Italy can deliver.

As Samuel Johnson said, “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.”

Italians are very kind, and extremely patient (unless they’re driving). They are the guardians of some of history’s most magnificent treasures, and they are used to sharing them. However, there are a few things Italians want Americans to know before you arrive in their country:

1. Dinner: It’s between 7:30-9:00 p.m. Pressing your hungry face to the restaurant’s window at 6:00 p.m. will not change that. Calling for a reservation, and dressing up for dinner, however, will be appreciated.

2. Skin: Not shown so much in Italy. Short skirts, daisy dukes and halter tops do not epitomize the classical fashion taste of Italians. So cover up, unless, of course, you really are at the beach.

3. Bread: It won’t be served with oil and balsamic vinegar (unless the restaurant caters to Americans), so resist asking the server to provide them. Also, bread is not to be eaten with pasta. It’s used to “fare la scarpetta” or “make a little shoe”, to clean the plate of sauce. To do so in a restaurant is a debatable point, so I will let you make that decision! Basically, bread is provided to accompany an appetizer.

4. Simplify Your Schedule: Leave time to wander the crooked, ancient streets on your own. Often, just a few blocks from the main attractions, day-to-day life is unfolding. Leave the crowds. Pause to listen to a street performer. Plan some time where you can get off the well beaten path for a gelato, coffee, or traditional meal with the locals. Besides, if you over schedule, you just get grumpy.

5. Afternoon Closings: This still surprises and perplexes Americans. Many shops will close down for the afternoon from 1:00-4:00 p.m., especially outside the city center. Italians go home to enjoy lunch as a family and relax. Try it!

6. Taxis: You need to call for a taxi, or go to an actual taxi stand. You cannot hail a cab on a street in Italy, although it’s amusing to watch Americans try! The taxi service in Florence is amazingly efficient and punctual, especially when compared to the post office.

7. Italian: It’s what is spoken! Learning a few words and common phrases will make a big difference in your experience. Rather than launching immediately in English, and assuming you will be understood, it’s polite to ask, “Parla l’Inglese?”

Finish out the list of 11 Italian Travel Tips here.

Source: Huffington Post Travel

Restaurant Spotlight: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Michael Schwartz certainly knows how to entertain. The chef and owner of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is pleasing the stomachs of those in Miami, Grand Cayman and aboard the Royal Caribbean International one meal at a time. All of his dishes are made with the most delectable and organic ingredients to the area of the restaurant.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink- Miami
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink opened in the Miami Design District in 2007. The Miami Design District is an area filled with culture, design, art and fashion. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink fits in great with the atmosphere and vastly contributes to the culture of the area. This neighborhood bistro has a main dining room, a bar room and a small entry bar, which features a raw bar every Monday through Saturday from 3pm to 5:30pm.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink- Grand Cayman
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink opened in Camana Bay, a town in Grand Cayman, in June of 2010. The restaurant was voted Cayman’s Favorite Restaurant in 2013 at the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s 2013 Taste of Cayman Food and Wine Festival. This Cayman Islands restaurant (http://www.camanabay.com/the-town/grand-cayman-restaurants/) has quickly become an island favorite for both locals and those who are traveling to Grand Cayman on vacation. Similar to Schwartz’s Miami restaurant, all of the dishes here are top of the line, organic and homemade. The menu also changes seasonally, which ensures the usage of the freshest in season ingredients. The inside of the main dining room has an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven, which contributes to the atmosphere.

Michael’s Genuine Pub
In 2011, Schwartz struck a deal with Royal Caribbean International to have a seasonal menu onboard the Oasis of the Seas top restaurant, which is called 150 Central Park. This makes Schwartz’s brand of restaurants the first to have a gastropub aboard the Royal Caribbean ships at sea. The menu is well priced and consists of snacks, which all cost $4 and range from falafel to deviled eggs, charcuterie boards and delicious sweet treats for also $4. Schwartz has proven that you can eat great cuisine even while at sea!

New York Accommodations That Suit Everyone’s Needs and Desires

New York City has vibrant business and cultural activities that cater to the needs of residents and visitors of every nationality and occupation. They say that New York City is a city that never sleeps. That may be true, but New York also has an eclectic array of accommodations that pamper and delight the most discriminating person.

Soho-Manhattan area
For the creative person, the SoHo neighborhood is the place where art and culture come to life. Many art galleries line the neighborhood. The SoHo Grand Hotel’s architecture matches Manhattan’s skyline perfectly and has become one of SoHo’s enduring landmarks. Hotel Chelsea has also become a fixture in the neighborhood as part of a four hotel chain named after the iconic Hotel Chelsea. This legendary hotel is currently undergoing renovations to restore it to its original grandeur. Both hotels are conveniently located near art galleries, museums and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Left bank/McCarren-Brooklyn area
The hotels in this area of New York City cater more to business travelers coming from LaGuardia and JFK Airports. The left bank and the McCarren district in Brooklyn borough offer a relaxing, yet vibrant atmosphere for families and businesses to connect and unwind in this urban retreat. The McCarren Hotel and Pool, part of the Hotel Chelsea chain, offers enjoyable views of downtown Manhattan and McCarren Park. Manufacturers of readymade children and women’s apparel know the Park House Hotel in Brooklyn very well as they have hosted their trade show for years. The Park House Hotel caters to the vibrant Jewish community in Brooklyn and offers convenient access to various horticultural areas.

Queensborough/Long Island-Queens area
This area has just recently become more than a place to take off and land from via the nearby airports. It has become the place to go for world class tennis, International food and culture. Queens melting pot of cultures provide a variety of venues and activities for every nationality. The beautiful river views of Long Island city create the perfect respite for the weary traveler. Hotels in this area of the city are often cheaper and more convenient for the bargain hunter and budget conscious business traveler. Z hotel near the East River and steps from the Queensborough Bridge offers world class amenities and free transportation to Manhattan. Only Ruschmeyer’s, part of the hotel Chelsea chain, in Long Island offers more of a getaway in their rustic cabins nestled along the lake in Montauk.

The Bronxs-South and East
History and elegance is not something that comes to mind when this New York City borough is mentioned. However this borough does have a long history with the theater. The historic Bronx Opera House, now converted into a boutique hotel offers both elegance and comfort in a beautiful setting. Close to Yankee Stadium, the historic Bronx Opera House hotel is very convenient for baseball fans and other sports enthusiasts. There are many cheap hotels in the Bronx’s as this area mainly caters to the blue collar class and families who want to visit the Bronx Zoo.

Midtown-Manhattan area
Most tourists focus in on the Midtown area of Manhattan for several reasons. The Empire State Building is one of the most compelling reasons to stay here. History comes alive in the five blocks that cover Midtown Manhattan. One of the most interesting building in Midtown Manhattan is the Martha Washington hotel (part of the Hotel Chelsea chain, under CEO Ed Scheetz) built in 1903 for women who needed a place to stay. Today the Martha Washington caters to everyone. It is conveniently located close by Madison Square Garden and the Fashion District. The “Grand Dame of Madison Avenue”, the Roosevelt Hotel is a perfect place for the weary stockbroker and film enthusiast. The Roosevelt Hotel was featured in films such as “Maid in Manhattan” and “The French Connection.”

Florida Sets New Tourism Record

Florida experienced a record number of visitors in the first part of 2015 than any quarter to date.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion group, projected a total of 28.4 million people came to the state, up more than 6 percent from last year’s record number. The hotel room average daily rate increased by a strong 7.6 percent during the quarter and occupancy rose 3.7 percent as more hotels opened to serve the growing travel market.

These numbers delight Jeffrey Soffer (CEO of Turnberry Associates) whose company owns and operates the renowned Fontainebleau Miami Beach and Turnberry Isle Miami, along with Aventura Mall, one of Miami’s top destinations.

Tourism growth came from all corners of the globe with domestic, overseas and Canadian visitors all on the upswing. Last year, Florida hosted a record 97.3 million visitors and 2015 is on pace to exceed 100 million.

Visit Florida chief Will Seccombe said his goal is “to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world” (sun-sentinel.com).

Mr. Soffer would certainly appreciate that.

Top Travel Planning Tools for Summer Travel

Summer is just around the corner, which means many are making plans for their big getaway.

Planning a trip is exciting, but it can also be exhausting. Whether it’s finding the best hotel deal, keeping track of booking information or getting directions to wherever you’re going, there are a few easy-to-use resources that can cut down the stress.

Here are my five favorite travel resources, designed to make any vacation thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Hassle-Free Planning

One of the most stressful parts of planning a trip is ensuring you have all your information – hotel address, car rental information, restaurant reservations, etc. – in one place. TripIt is one of the best tools available. Just input (or email) your booking information, and you get a detailed itinerary – generated entirely by TripIt – that is accurate and easy to access. Your itinerary can be as detailed as you want, and it’s easy to share with family and friends.

Simplified Currency Exchange

When traveling abroad, trading your cash for foreign bills is a good way to get hustled.  Currency rates at money exchange booths are notoriously bad, and they’re entirely avoidable in this digital age. Try The Converted, an app for iOS and Android smartphones.  Its crisp and clear layout allows users to easily convert their own currency into the currency of the country they’re visiting. The exchange rates are updated daily, so it serves as a great baseline to make sure you’re not getting swindled. The app is also great for converting units – a function that should prove especially handy for American travelers who aren’t familiar with the metric system.

Navigation Know-How

Whether traveling near or far, it’s always a good idea to have a navigational aid, and one of my favorites is Waze. This free, easy-to-use app is a huge boon whenever I’m on a road I’ve never driven before. Not only does Waze give navigational directions (including spoken turn-by-turn instructions), but it also processes information from other Waze users to calculate the worst traffic spots and provide the fastest, most efficient routes for getting around. It can add hours of vacation time that you might otherwise spend in traffic.

Read the complete list here.

Source: foxnews.com

When to Go to Europe: Timing Your Trip

Some people have flexible enough jobs and lifestyles to cherry-pick when to take their vacations, but many others have less choice. Fortunately, Europe welcomes visitors 365 days a year — and each season offers a different ambience and experience.

In travel-industry jargon, the year is divided into three seasons: peak season (roughly mid-June through August), shoulder season (April through mid-June and September through October), and off-season (November through March). Each has its pros and cons. Regardless of when you go, if your objective is to “meet the people,” you’ll find Europe filled with them any time of year. (more…)

Soffer Transforms Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Turnberry Associates’ Jeffrey Soffer, frequently photographed alongside wife, Elle MacPherson, had a gut feeling about Fontainebleau Miami Beach. With its ideal oceanfront location and famed Morris Lapidus architecture, Soffer believed he could transform the aging property into one of the world’s elite destinations.

“It had all the ingredients. I knew in terms of clientele, that if I could build an oceanfront, Vegas style hotel on Miami Beach, it would outshine anything that had ever been built,” Soffer recently told Haute Magazine. (more…)

A First Timer’s Guide to the Canary Islands

Pre-conceptions are a funny thing. If someone told you about an archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa, an oasis that boasts superb beaches and perennial warmth, which is home to the world’s second largest Carnival, award-winning wines and Spain’s highest mountain, you’d probably want to visit.

If they revealed they were in fact talking about the Canary Isles, though, some of your thoughts might start to cloud with images of sunburned Brits, dodgy fried food and all-things tacky. (more…)