Grand Isle and Exuma Steal Spotlight steals spotlight at boat show

Luxury resort commands dominant presence in lounges and at exclusive soirees; Exuma unscathed by hurricanes and open for yachting business

Grand Isle Resort and the island of Exuma stole the show at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show earlier this month, as many other yachting destinations in the Caribbean struggle to get back on their feet.

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Often referred to as the “Yachting Capital of the World”, and the largest show of its kind, the 59th annual show, running from Nov 1 to Nov 5, offered widespread coverage to Grand Isle Resort in some of the event’s most exclusive lounges and parties. The top luxurious resort and second-home community in Exuma had a presence at both the Aim Media Pavilion and the Winward Club Pavillon.

Representatives of the resort mingled with thousands of yachting and boating enthusiasts, while offering a classic Bahamian cocktail, the Goombay Smash.

In the evenings, Grand Isle took part in exclusive, invite-only parties, including the VIP Superyacht Soiree on Nov 3. Presented by Ocean Independent and DAMEN, dockside at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, guests received the red carpet treatment upon arrival, with Grand Isle offering a beautiful booth at the event’s entrance.

“This year it was exciting for Grand Isle and Exuma to have such a significant presence at the show,” said Claudette Pagano, a representative for GIV Bahamas Inc.

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“We were fortunate to remain unaffected by recent hurricane and continue to provide a first class destination to tourists, investors, motor yacht, boat and plane owners. Exuma was quite the buzz at the show. Everyone is looking forward to an exciting season.”

The show was especially timely given the devastation of Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey. While each hurricane impacted many different destinations in a variety of ways, a handful of popular yachting destinations in the Caribbean, such as St. Barts and St. Maarten, were greatly impacted by the storms.

With this in mind, yacht owners and yacht charters are seeking alternate destinations for the season, such as Exuma, which was completely untouched by the devastation.

Exuma, with its 365 islands and famously clear and blue water, is already a popular and world-class yachting destination. While unfortunate for those impacted by the storm, recent hurricanes have provided an opportunity for a new generation of boaters to discover the unparalleled beauty of the Exumas for the first time.

Grand Isle is also unique due to its very close proximity to Emerald Bay Marina, a mega yacht facility just outside the resort and second-home community’s gates.

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The opportunity to capture new business was not lost on other tourism stakeholders. Exuma was indeed well represented at the show, with other properties in Exuma, such as Peace & Plenty and February Point, also having a presence in the lounges.

“We are definitely expecting more yachting traffic in Exuma this season,” Pagano added.

Exuma Classic set to tee off this January

GIV Bahamas, an official sponsor, is pleased to offer a complimentary foursome for the tournament, which includes a golf tutorial with legendary pro Greg Norman

For the second straight year, Emerald Bay will play host to a major golf tournament played on one of the most beautiful courses in the world.

Meandering around the mega yacht marina and a breathtaking oceanfront peninsula, the Emerald Reef Golf Course is now home to the Great Exuma Classic, the first event on the Web.com tournament calendar. The Web.com Tour includes all of the golf stars of tomorrow, and from January 10 to January 16, 2017, these athletes will battle it out alongside the most clear and radiant water in the world.

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“We are excited to once again kick-off the Web.com Tour season at Sandals Emerald Bay with the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic,” said Catherine Clifton, Tournament Director at the Great Exuma Classic.

“Last year was one of the most challenging tournaments in Web.com Tour history which is a testament to the course designed by Greg Norman. Excitement is starting to build towards this year’s event where we will now have two days of Pro-Am play before the tournament begins on Saturday, January 13th and our fans, sponsors and players will be in for an exciting week along the sapphire-blue waters that define the Exumas.”

The tournament will be fully televised on NBC’s The Golf Channel when the first round begins on January 13, until the winner hoists the trophy on January 16.

Back by popular demand, The Great Exuma Classic also features a full Pro Am calendar of events. As an official sponsor of the tournament, GIV Bahamas Inc. is pleased to offer a complimentary foursome to any lucky golfers seeking an incredible experience in the Exumas. The package, valued at US$12,000, includes a round of golf for four players with a Web.com pro, airport transfers, a full-day excursion up the Exuma Cays, tournament parties, luxury gift packs for each golfer and most importantly a golf tutorial with legendary PGA pro Greg Norman.

“The amazing golf course at Emerald Bay is one of the elements that sets us apart from other resorts in the Caribbean,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc. “We are very happy to support this tournament, which will be staged in Exuma for years to come.”

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GIV Bahamas. is giving away a Pro Am package on a first come, first serve basis. Accommodations and flight are not included.

GIV Bahamas. is the largest owner of villas at Grand Isle Resort. The most luxurious second-home and resort offering in the Exumas, Grand Isle will once again be in the centre of the action in January, with much of the course surrounding the gated community, which also features a full service restaurant, infinity pool, spa and one of the best beaches in the world.

Grand Isle Resort has already reached nearly full occupancy ahead of the 2018 Great Exuma Classic.

Anyone interested in attending the tournament or taking advantage of a complimentary Pro Am Team can immediately contact Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., at jeffrey.todd@givexuma.com.

Gov. throws weight behind Pompey

D’Aguilar says third-annual event, from October 6-9, ‘ticks all the boxes’ as it expands into National Heroes Day Weekend celebration

The Bahamian government threw its weight behind the third annual Run for Pompey earlier this month during an official press conference in the nation’s capital.

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From left: Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., Dashwell Flowers, Vice President at BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Ltd, Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Pauline Davis-Thompson, two-time gold medalist and patron of Run for Pompey, Kevin Taylor, co-founder of Run for Pompey and Diane Phillips, founder of Diane Phillips & Associates. PHOTO: Jason Mcdowall / Bahamas Local

With an office in the Ministry of Tourism buzzing with reporters, the new Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dionisio D’Aguilar, declared Exuma “the most beautiful place on the world” and told the press core that Run for Pompey “ticks all the boxes” of a worthwhile event in The Bahamas. The annual race, held on Great Exuma from October 6 to October 9, is not only an authentic celebration of local history and culture, but an important driver of sports tourism in the area.

The event also raises money for an annual scholarship and all students run for free.

“The images of running along the waterfront with the clear blue-green-turquoise  waters of Exuma in the background are priceless,” D’Agulilar said.

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Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Aviation.   PHOTO: Jason Mcdowall / Bahamas Local

“That is the kind of publicity that happens organically and no amount of money that you throw at it can equal its impact and the impressions it makes. It feels real and because it does, it feels inviting.”

He praised Run for Pompey in its promotion of the Family Islands, the economic stimulus it creates as well as its ode to arguably the most important hero in Bahamian history.

In 1830, Pompey, a 32-year-old slave, defied a transfer order on Exuma that would have separated 77 men, women and children from their families. While his rebellion was eventually squashed, it is widely seen as a key moment in the Bahamian fight for freedom.

To commemorate his memory, Run for Pompey features races for all ages, skill levels and abilities, including the 2K “George Town Dash”, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon and the country’s only 50K ultra marathon. All races are professionally timed. Past events have attracted hundreds of runners from various countries, including Canada, the United States, the UK and The Bahamas.

Perhaps biggest development this year will be the involvement of the National Family Island Regatta Committee. Regatta, the largest event

in Exuma, which takes place every April, will take over all entertainment in the park after the race. Runners and festival-goers can expect a junior regatta in Elizabeth Harbour, with music, food and a bar.

For the third year in a row, legendary “Golden Girl” Pauline Davis Thompson will serve as Run for Pompey’s patron, draping medals around each and every neck at the finish line.

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Gold Medalist, Pauline Davis-Thompson, patron of Run for Pompey. PHOTO: Jason Mcdowall / Bahamas Local

She also provides a special keynote address at Grand Isle Resort & Spa’s pasta night for runners the night before the race. Davis-Thompson was also in attendance at this month’s press conference to offer remarks, along with Dashwell Flowers from BAF Financial and event co-founder Kevin Taylor.

The event is supported by three-time title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Limited.

“This event presents a unique blend of history, sports and tourism,” said the Hon. I Chester Cooper, President of BAF and MP for Exuma & Ragged Island. “It’s also great for the economy of Exuma. I commend the organizers and sponsors for creating this exciting event for Exuma’s calendar. Hopefully the participants and their guests will return again and again to enjoy all that Exuma and its Cays has to offer.“

Run for Pompey is also thrilled to announce a new sponsor of the event. Aliv, the emerging telecommunications company, will become a valued supporter of the weekend.

 

MRI Nassau, GIV Bahamas Inc., The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Grand Isle Resort, Sands Beer, Caribbean and Bottling Company, Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grill, Catch a Fire, Chat N Chill, BahamasLocal.com, SuerClubs Breezes, The Swimming Pig Store and Diane Phillips & Associates will all return as key sponsors of Run for Pompey.

“From the very beginning BAF, MRI Nassau, GIV Bahamas and all of our sponsors have been incredible in bringing this event to fruition,” said Kevin Taylor, co-founder and Race Director.

“We also want to thank our volunteers and Pauline Davis Thompson for her continued support. Run for Pompey is deeply rooted in both the community and the country’s youth. We couldn’t pull it off each year without everyone’s generous support.”

In keeping with the event’s strong sense of community, Run for Pompey recently awarded its second Pompey Scholarship to Demi Rolle of L. N. Coakley High School in Exuma. The annual scholarship, paid for through proceeds from the race, supports a local student each year in his or her ambition to attend college or university.

Jeff Todd, co-founder of the race and Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., believes it is the event’s authenticity that has led to its success.

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Jeff Todd, co-founder of the race and Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc.

“What I really love about this event is not only does it draw tourists to the Bahamas and to Exuma, but it really celebrates something that’s real,” Mr Todd said. “And I think people travel for the things that are culturally relevant, things that are historically relevant and things that are real.”

 

To learn more about the Run for Pompey and register for the race, visit www.runforpompey.com

GIV Bahamas presents Tourism with ‘When Pigs Swim™’

Ministry of Tourism and GIV Bahamas celebrate partnership in global success of swimming pigs

In a powerful display of public and private partnership, GIV Bahamas Inc. presented the Minister of Tourism with an official copy of ‘When Pigs Swim™’, the film that helped ignite a transformational marketing campaign for the Exumas.

“Since the film’s release in September 2014, it has been incredible to see the swimming pigs grow from a niche attraction to such a global phenomenon,” said Jeff Todd, Director of Communications for GIV Bahamas Inc., who met Dionisio D’Aguilar, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation, following a press conference in Nassau.  “We believed the pigs were a sleeping giant in terms of their ability to market the destination. But without the support of the Ministry of Tourism, none of this would have been possible.”
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D’Aguilar received the full 15-minute version of the film, which has been re-produced for the first time since it screened at film festivals in The Bahamas and various cities in the United States.

The film was financed by Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc., and the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

Charlie Smith, the noted Bahamian director and former host of the popular show Electric Air, was hired by GIV Bahamas Inc. to bring the swimming pigs to life, with Todd serving as the screenwriter.

Beginning in December 2014, ‘When Pigs Swim™’ hit the film festival circuit in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, with some screenings featuring Junkanoo dance groups and even a piglet walking the red carpet. While the movie has been viewed millions of times in various forms online, the tipping point came when the Ministry of Tourism aggressively incorporated the pigs into their global marketing campaign.
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Swimming pigs can now be found in commercials, on billboards, websites, pamphlets and countless social media posts. Hotels and resorts quickly followed suit, as tourists flocked to the island to catch a glimpse of the unusual spectacle.

The swimming pigs also appeared on various news programs and reality shows, both in North America and in Europe, most notably The Bachelor and the Today Show.

“Exuma is the most beautiful place in the world. That is why I started investing there more than 12 years ago,” said Nicholson.

“While the swimming pigs help get people’s attention, people will stay for the beauty. I thank the Ministry of Tourism for lending their expertise and powerful marketing machine to Exuma and the swimming pigs. It has been a truly dynamic partnership.”

Meanwhile, there are signs the swimming pigs have grown even bigger than Exuma.

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Baha Mar, the new mega resort in Nassau, now features a high-end pub offering known as The Swimming Pig. Open 24 hours a day, and located right off the casino floor (the largest in the Caribbean), this venue has proven to be a hot-spot for the new development, featuring mounted photos of the pigs and Exuma’s famously blue water.

 
New pig colonies have also sprung on the Bahamian islands of Abaco and Eleuthera/Spanish Wells to meet the high demand among all tourists headed to The Bahamas.

What’s next for the swimming pigs? Their marketing potential seems to be limitless.

To learn more about the history of the swimming pigs and their rise to fame, you can pick up a copy of Todd’s new book – Pigs of Paradise: The story of Exuma’s swimming pigs – here.

Exuma voted top island by Travel + Leisure

Editor of top publication says tourists increasingly drawn by unique experiences

Exuma has been voted among the top islands in the world, according to Travel + Leisure, with a trend towards visitors seeking unique experiences rather than the conventional sun, sand and sea.

Unveiled as part of the publication’s ‘2017 World’s Best Awards’, Exuma came in eighth place, with readers raving about “pigs who act like porpoises”. The Bahamian Family Islands cashed in across the board, with Abaco and Eleuthera also meriting spots in the coveted ‘Top 15’.

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Exuma placed ahead of well-known destinations such as Turks and Caicos, St. Bart’s and St Lucia, but behind other places like St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Islands).

Anguilla top home the top spot this year.

“Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards provide a picture of what the world’s most discerning travelers find most satisfying in travel right now,” said Nathan Lump, the editor in chief. “What’s clear to me this year is how much they are drawn to experiences that aren’t just enjoyable but provide something richer – cultural immersion, mental and physical well-being, a true sense of adventure.”

Certainly, Exuma has adventure in spades.

These days, essentially everyone who comes to the island and stays in its many amazing resorts, such as Grand Isle Resort & Spa, will end up on the water for a trip of a lifetime. Tourists are treated to a “Bahamian Safari” of sorts, featuring giant iguanas, grottos, sandbars, celebrity islands, encounters with sharks and sea turtles, and of course, the world famous swimming pigs.
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The area also boasts world-class fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and yachting. Golfing is also available at the Emerald Bay golf course.

The Exuma Cays include 365 islands and span an incredible 210km (130 miles), making it an true, unspoiled wilderness just 482km (300 miles) from Florida.

On land, Exuma possesses many modern conveniences, but also an authentic island feel. Tourists are encouraged to hire a driver or rent a car to discover all of the nooks and crannies of the island. Exumians are known as warm and friendly, with the crime rate at essentially zero.

What it adds up to is exactly the kind of experience described by Lump, where discerning tourists are transported to a place that is far from the ordinary.

“In my mind, Exuma is number one on this list, but I’m happy to see us consistently recognized among the world’s best,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc. “The sky is the limit as we look to continuously improve our food, entertainment and hospitality options.”

You can view Travel + Leisure’s full list of islands and other winners here.