GIV Bahamas News
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
From August 14 to August 18, Chef Alyn Williams to offer daily specials, live cooking demonstrations and a special four-course tasting menu
Grand Isle Resort and the renowned Chef Alyn Williams will once again join forces this summer for a limited engagement filled with gourmet food and interactive cooking demonstrations.
The former National Chef of the Year in the UK, who holds a Michelin star at his London establishment, The Westbury, plans to offer guests of Grand Isle a delectable menu of culinary treats for five straight days.
From August 14th to August 16th, Chef Alyn will prepare a special dish for guests, which can be ordered a la carte at the amazing Palapa Grill. And in a first for the resort, on August 17th, these dishes will then be prepared during live cooking demonstrations by the infinity pool, allowing guests to observe and ask questions as the chef brings them to life. While the elements are still being conceived, rumor has it that risotto, capellini, salmon ceviche and a meat dish harkening back to his English roots could be in the works.
In his highly decorated career, Chef Alyn has worked in some of the UK’s finest restaurants and served under several culinary giants, including Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsey. Many restaurants won a coveted Michelin star while he was in their kitchens, until finally, in 2011, he opened his own place and received the accolade just one year later.
But despite his refined palate and culinary pedigree, this chef has always been drawn to the simplicity and raw beauty of the Exumas.
“I have been coming to Exuma and Grand Isle for over a decade,” said Chef Alyn, who also plans to build in some much needed relaxation with his family. “It has always been a special place for us, so I really enjoy sharing my craft while also soaking in the area’s gorgeous water and beaches. I think the cooking demos will really give guests an added culinary experience that hopefully will form some really great holiday memories.”
The daily specials and cooking demonstrations all lead up to the finale, on August 18th, when Chef Alyn will unveil his final tasting menu.
Grand Isle will also offer its usual menu alongside Chef Alyn for the convenience of all guests. Room service is also available. Residents and tourists staying elsewhere on Exuma are also welcome to make reservations at Palapa Grill from August 14th to August 18th.
Peter Nicholson, President of GIV Bahamas Inc. and the largest owner at Grand Isle, befriended the English chef years ago during one of his many trips to the island.
For Nicholson, a varied and world-class culinary experience is absolutely essential to the tourism product.
“Grand Isle has always had some of the best food in Exuma,” he said. “So it is appropriate that Chef Alyn will put on this amazing week of festivities. Our company is focused on bringing an exciting culinary scene to Exuma and certainly this experience is an important step. These days, when people travel, food is an essential amenity. I want to thank Grand Isle and Chef Alyn for all their hard work in making this event a reality.”
EFC releases first pamphlet on philanthropic activities, with focus on community outreach, education and health
While some foundations only offer money to worthy causes, the Exuma Foundation of Canada (EFC) is different.
Since it was founded by GIV Bahamas Inc more than two years ago, EFC has sought to create community events and grass root initiative to not only provide financial assistance where it’s needed, but also inspire unity and positive change on the island itself.
This goal was a central theme during EFC’s recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), when board members invited the public and offered a report on its ongoing projects. The board also unveiled its first pamphlet, which reviews of all of philanthropic activities and goals to date (click the link on the newsletter home page to view).
Run for Pompey, now entering its third year, commemorates the life of a slave who led a rebellion on the island of Exuma back in 1830. The run – offering professionally timed races for all skill levels – brings together youth on the island and delivers the annual Pompey Scholarship to one student each year so him or her can attend college or university. Run for Pompey, running from October 6 to October 8, is fortunate to be supported by many wonderful sponsors.
Ride for Exuma, also going into its third year on February 10, invites philanthropists with a keen interest in cycling to Exuma’s world famous waters and beaches. Raising significant funds for the community each year, the event also brings the island’s youth together with the philanthropists from abroad. In fact, in addition to many other charitable gifts, Ride for Exuma is embarking on a cycling club in collaboration with L N Coakley High School.
Organizers of the event plan will add to the club’s stockpile of bikes, as EFC seeks to engage youth, promote education and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Following along these themes, EFC is engaged in a few other medium-to-long-term projects for the community.
Earlier this year, the foundation made a donation to the main Exuma Foundation as part of a basketball court and park restoration in downtown George Town (the main settlement of Exuma). While more funds will be needed for this project, the vision is to make this public meeting area a jewel once again of this community and revitalize a once flourishing basketball league for the island’s youth.
A second major project for the long term is the construction of the Marge Carlson Children Shelter. This initiative, undertaken primarily by the main Exuma Foundation, is being supported wholeheartedly by EFC. The foundation has already a made sizeable donation to the project and will continue to help finance it as the building begins to rise from the ground.
The Marge Carlson Children’s Shelter recently hosted a groundbreaking on the Exuma Foundation’s 10-acre campus. The new building will be owned by the foundation and administered by the Department of Social Services.
The Exuma Foundation, which has operated a school for the mentally challenged for years, will provide the first centre for at-risk youth on the island, with enough space for four boys, four girls, a common living space, an apartment for a qualified “house parent” and a permaculture garden.
EFC is always seeking volunteers, donations, ideas and enthusiasm from like-minded Canadians. For more information on these programs, or to get involved, you can email Jeff Todd at Jeffrey.email@example.com
Third time’s a charm as Run for Pompey – October 6 to October 8 – welcomes a new sponsor and partnership with National Family Island Regatta
A senior at L N Coakley High School in Exuma became the second recipient of The Pompey Scholarship this week, with ambitious plans to study in Canada this fall and return to Exuma as a primary school educator.
Demi Rolle, whose favourite subjects include English and history, will join her friend Troyann Forbes, the first winner of this scholarship, at Acadia University on the Canadian east coast.
“I was really just stunned. Me? Really? When they called my name, I couldn’t believe it. It was really exciting,” Rolle said, who picked up her over-sized cheque at L N Coakley’s graduation ceremony, held at Sandals Emerald Bay last Tuesday.
“I plan to come back home [to Exuma], but I want to get that experience abroad as well and then perhaps open up my own pre-school when I return. I heard it is very nice in Canada and I have friends over there.”
Rolle’s big win is the end result of last year’s Run for Pompey, the second installment in an annual event that is rapidly becoming a fixture on the sports tourism calendar.
As the old saying goes, the third time’s a charm. The next Run for Pompey, taking place over National Heroes Day Weekend from October 6 to October 8 in Exuma, promises to be largest yet, featuring a new collaboration with the National Family Island Regatta. On October 7, or race day, runners from The Bahamas and abroad will be treated to a festival atmosphere in the park with a full bar, food stalls, Bahamians entertainment and a “mini-regatta” in Elizabeth Harbour.
Run for Pompey is also thrilled to announce a new sponsor of the event. Aliv, the emerging telecommunications company, will become a valued supporter.
The event is led by title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Limited and 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, SuperClubs Breezes and Diane Phillips & Associates round out Run for Pompey’s strong network of sponsors.
Legendary “Golden Girl” Pauline Davis-Thompson will serve as Run for Pompey’s patron for the third consecutive time, draping medals around each and every neck at the finish line. She also provides a special keynote address at Grand Isle’s pasta night for runners the night before the race.
“The level of support for this event has been outstanding,” said Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., who founded the race with Kevin Taylor, the owner of DreamKatcher Media. “With the race as its centerpiece, Pompey is growing into a weekend-long celebration of Bahamian history and culture. The fact it takes place on National Heroes Day Weekend only makes Run for Pompey more poignant. Registration is already very strong and we expect a huge turnout in our third year.”
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 first and 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.
Don Barr, the principal of L N Coakley High School, believes the history of Pompey is an essential ingredient in the event and the educational process.
“From the historical aspect of it, students know of Pompey, and the fact there is a whole committee and event surrounding it all, that in itself deserves praise,” he explained. “These scholarships means a lot to us. I believe it will inspire more students to do the same thing and follow in Demi’s footsteps.”
With two Pompey Scholarship winners now at Acadia University, the approach appears to be working, as students from Exuma continue to write their own page in the Pompey history books.
The donation will be paid directly to Acadia University on Rolle’s behalf by the Exuma Foundation of Canada.
To learn more about the Run for Pompey and sign up for the 2017 event, you can visit its website at http://runforpompey.com/.
Canada Talks on Sirius FM broadcasts hour-long show on the rustic magic of the Exumas and the polished luxury of Grand Isle
There is a certain authenticity about listening to a story on the radio.
In an age where we are constantly bombarded with images, video and flashing lights, the medium of radio, with its subtle sounds, still has the ability to create feelings and emotions in the listener that are more profound.
We craft the images in our mind.
Native Traveler, a new show on Sirius Radio – Canada Talks, channel 167 – took full advantage of this form of storytelling when producer Cara Ferguson and Chef Philip Pearce travelled to Exuma and Grand Isle Resort.
The show, which aired earlier this month, not only provided vivid sounds and descriptions of the island, but also offered candid interviews with locals on the history of Exuma and what makes this place tick. The nearly hour-long segment was appropriately entitled “Hidden Treasure”.
The show also included in-studio interviews with Cameron Hepple, District & Business Development Manager for Canada at The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, who spoke about the country’s overall tourism outreach in the Great White North. Hepple and Native Traveler first met back in January when Grand Isle Resort collaborated with the Ministry of Tourism at The Outdoor Adventure Show, held at the International Centre in Mississauga, just a short drive from Toronto.
Ferguson stopped by the booth to meet Hepple and learn a bit more about their upcoming trip to Exuma. Fast forward a couple months, and Ferguson and Pearce were on a plane to paradise.
Emerging from the clouds, Pearce describes the swirling blues and whites of the Exuma archipelago as a “painter’s palate”.
“I know I’m not alone in the excitement I’m feeling,” he said on the show. “My clothes feel too heavy. My head, lighter. My life from four hours ago in cold, wet Toronto begins to feel like an archaic mainland memory, sluggish and grey. Our wide eyes take it in from above and I can’t wait to walk out onto the tarmac, and feel Exuma all around me.”
For Pearce, it wasn’t the first time he had visited Exuma, or even the second, but he still felt that same rush.
Years ago, Pearce had been introduced to the area by Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas, who enlisted his culinary expertise for special events. On the show, Pearce reminisces about the “pioneering spirit on Exuma”, a certain authenticity and feeling that the rat race of the 21st century has been left far behind.
Pearce’s recent return to Exuma as a radio host, once again a guest of GIV Bahamas Inc. at Grand Isle Resort, began with checking into a luxurious villa, followed by a Goombay Smash at the bar. He walked down to the mile-long Emerald Bay Beach, just steps from the bar, and took a deep breath, “one I feel like I have been holding since the last time I was here”.
This trip was Ferguson’s first exposure to the island, but she immediately understood what made the island so special.
The duo left their luxurious perch at Grand Isle and hit the road, in search of experiences. They didn’t have to look for long.
“Very welcoming,” Ferguson said. “I have never felt that in all the countries I travelled to … such a genuine … they just accept you for who you are, and include you.”
From speaking with cab drivers, to local fishermen, to conch salad chefs, Ferguson and Pearce paint a beautiful portrait of Exuma that appeals to the senses. They describe the giant string rays that curl around your ankles, like “water cats”. During a trip to the Fish Fry, they encounter a mountain of conch shells on the beach, and fall into conversation with a local fishermen returning with the day’s catch. The Exumians show them the pen where they keep the conch, and how they prepare for the afternoon rush of tourists and locals seeking their fresh salads.
“And sure enough, at 4pm, 20 people showed up for conch salad,” Ferguson remembered. “When it’s gone, it’s gone.” Watch video here.
Similarly, both Ferguson and Pearce wonder how long a place like Exuma, in all its purity, can last. A sense of discovery followed them everywhere, Pearce explained. It has the feel of cottage country, tropical style, where the trip is defined by the experiences you have and the people you meet.
“It’s like the place has a secret, a story to tell, a buried treasure. And it’s up to you to find it,” he added.
Indeed, for many owners at Grand Isle Resort, it is exactly this originality and richness of experience that inspires them to make the island their second or third home. While Grand Isle provides all the amenities and luxury one could need, it is also a gateway to genuine adventure.
Be sure to read Phil Pearce’s blog post on his experience here.
For more information on the show Native Traveler and Grand Isle’s ownership opportunities, click here.
Multi-Billionaire Dona Bertarelli’s $200M project, the latest in her Ledunfly Hospitality Collection, to provide economic stimulus and play role in community building
Amid great expectations, a new resort development in the Exumas recently unveiled its name: Atabey.
Named after the Taino goddess, known as “mother of waters”, Atabey is expected to break ground on the islands of William’s Cay and Children’s Bay Cay this summer. These idyllic islands are located just off the coast of Berre Terre, the northernmost tip of Great Exuma, and only a short drive from Grand Isle Resort.
The new development, geared specifically to the high-net-worth, is the latest offering by Ledunfly Hospitality. Atabey joins an exclusive menu of properties, such as Park Gstaad in the Swiss Alps, Five Seas Hotel Cannes and Country Club Geneva.
This collection seeks a novel approach to luxury living, by focusing on meaningful experiences, authenticity, a sense of belonging and an unexpected individuality in unique settings.
“We aim to offer today’s discerning traveler what they desire: a life more thoughtful,” Dona Bertarelli, the founder of Ledunfly Hospitality, said in the recent announcement.
“My vision of modern luxury is to be completely at ease, sharing authentic experiences in truly special settings.”
A long-time visitor of the Exumas, and a passionate environmentalist, Bertarelli has the perfect canvas on which to paint her latest hospitality vision. The $200 million project has also assembled a dream team to help bring this development to reality.
The CEO of Ledunfly Hospitality, Grace Leo, is considered a pioneer in the design-led boutique hotel movement. With projects spanning across the globe, she recently opened the second Four Seasons in the City of London. Leo is a member of the Executive Committee of Leading Hotels of the World and has won many international awards.
Michel Neutelings, the Project Director of Atabey, brings a wealth of experience in the creation of multiple 5-star resort developments, perhaps most notably Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos. He served as the President of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association for four years, from 2013 to early 2017.
“In addition to providing economic stimulus for the mainland of Exuma, Atabey will play a significant role in community building,” he said.
Indeed, stakeholders throughout Exuma have kept a close watch as Atabey begins its emergence on the island’s scene.
Earlier this year, Neutelings held a town hall meeting at St. Andrew’s Church in downtown George Town, allowing residents, tourists and investors to ask questions about the upcoming development. Atabey continued this community outreach during the National Family Island Regatta in April, coming on as a silver sponsor during Exuma’s largest annual event.
Regatta had an expanded presence this year, with a large, dedicated area for pop-up food stalls and festival activities, as locals and tourists from abroad took in the usual compliment of native sloop races.
All of the Exumas eagerly await the next step for Atabey, when it officially breaks ground on the project as early as this summer. The development will welcome its first guests in 2020.
“Atabey and its team are world class,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc. and the largest owner of villas at Grand Isle Resort. “I have been incredibly impressed by their vision for Exuma, and we look forward to supporting the project in any way we can.”