‘Pigs of Paradise’ to enter second edition in 2020

Hit book on the world-famous swimming pigs to feature expanded content; Photo contest to run until March 15

‘Pigs of Paradise’, the double award-winning book on the world-famous swimming pigs, will enter a second edition in 2020, the publisher has announced.

Skyhorse Publishing, based in New York, plans to release an expanded edition of the hardcover in November, including new photography and additional content on the pigs’ continued rise to fame. While the swimming pigs are already a household name for millions worldwide, the attraction has continued to evolve and grow, sparking new businesses and in many ways transforming the tourism product of The Bahamas.

“Nobody could have predicted just how popular the swimming pigs have become,” said T.R. Todd, author of ‘Pigs of Paradise’, who is also Director of Communications for GIV Bahamas Inc.

“Exuma will always be where it all started. This edition though will really delve into how the pigs have become so important for so many people in The Bahamas. It has become an attraction that has touched so many lives. So, in addition to new, great photos, we really want to update the book, so it represents the entire country.”

At last count, there are at least seven pig colonies in The Bahamas.

Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, and Nassau all provide the attraction for tourists, in addition to the two colonies in Exuma. Treasure Island, a private cay in the Berry Islands, have also spent millions to create a swimming pig attraction that is easily accessible to the millions of tourists passing through on cruise ships.

Other than sun, sand, and sea, the swimming pigs are a common denominator and an important symbol of the country’s tourism product. Earlier this month, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism announced that 2019 broke the record for the most visitor arrivals, with 7.2 million people arriving to these shores last year. More than ever, The Bahamas remains an appealing destination for those seeking a warm getaway. To promote this message, the Ministry of Tourism chose a very simple image – that magical pig, swimming in the most pristine water in the world.

 

“The swimming pig is our Mickey Mouse,” explains Peter Nicholson, President of GIV Bahamas Inc., who is also the Executive Producer of the film based on Todd’s book.

“First off, it was an accident – a fluke of nature. I think that is why it endures to this day. It was never intended to be a tourism sensation. It speaks to the nature of today’s tourists.  They want something truly unique, but also authentic.”

In addition to the expanded content, ‘Pigs of Paradise’ has launched a photo contest, asking the general public to submit their very best photos with the pigs for a chance to be featured in the second edition. The book is also working with well-known influencers, with followers running well into the millions.

“Obviously the swimming pigs are highly visual,” Todd added.

“And part of what has made the book successful is the fact it is equal parts great story but also highly illustrative. It is right at home on your coffee table as well.”

Photo submissions are ongoing. Anyone wishing to enter the contest must submit their photo to Atomic Lavender Social Media Management by March 15.

Write patricia@atomiclavender.com.

Shark Tagging returns to Grand Isle Feb 22 & 23

Limited spots available for this once-in-a-lifetime experience

The most exciting and innovative tourism offering in the Caribbean is returning to Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

Ever wondered what it would be like to see shark research and tagging “live”, and not on TV? Now is your chance to participate in an exhilarating Shark Tagging Adventure, while also doing your part to protect sharks and preserve our oceans.

We want to add you to our Shark Tagging list. The next scheduled trips are February 23 and 23. Availability is very limited.

Wondering what your excursion includes? Dr. Gallagher will be joined by other leading researchers, all of whom take guests step-by-step through the process of tagging sharks.  You will experience hands-on shark research with marine biologists, stepping into the shoes of a scientist, contributing to shark conservation, and so much more. Get ready for adventure!

To learn more about Grand Isle’s Shark Tagging Adventures, and book your spot, you can visit the resort’s dedicated page here.

Emerald Bay shines with Korn Ferry Tour

Grand Isle showcases luxury villa offerings at island’s marquee golfing event, as GIV Bahamas once again sponsors and fields winning team for Pro Am 2020

Emerald Bay once again shined bright earlier this month when it played host to the Korn Ferry Tour, an event that is rapidly becoming a can’t-miss staple in the Exuma tourism calendar.

The Emerald Bay Golf Course, an 18-hole, par 72 championship course designed by golfing legend Greg Norman, served as the centerpiece for a tournament that attracts an eclectic mix of up-and-coming talent and scrappy pros looking to get back on the PGA Tour.

On either side of Emerald Bay, book-ending a powdery, mile-long beach, was Sandals and Grand Isle Resort & Spa, both of which were jammed for the festivities. While some came as spectators, others arrived to participate in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Pro Am on Jan 9 and Jan 11th. These guests enjoyed cocktail parties, welcome gifts and a tournament where they are paired with a golf pro.

GIV Bahamas Inc., the largest owner of villas at Grand Isle Resort and a long time supporter of the tournament, fielded two teams in the competition, with one of them coming out on top as the 2020 champion.

“Grand Isle Resort has really woken my wife and I up to a place like Exuma,” said Doug Smith, a former player in the NHL and the owner of Doug Smith Performance.

“Both the resort, the tournament and Sandals were all first class. This island has changed us for the better and helped us clear our thinking. I believe it is the safety you feel in the hands of the Bahamian people, combined with the sheer beauty of the area. It was simply phenomenal.”

Doug Smith’s winning team, which included Craig Campbell, Ian Davidson and Jeff Todd, director of communications for GIV Bahamas Inc., was paired with surging pro golfer Adam Svensson. Prior to the tournament, participants in the Great Exuma Classic’s Pro Am are able to visit both Sandals Emerald Bay and Grand Isle Resort, taking advantage of the restaurants and amenities at both properties.

For Grand Isle, a special VIP party was hosted in one of the property’s four-bedroom penthouses, giving golfers a glimpse of the large, luxurious villas. While most guests come to Grand Isle as a resort guest, it also allowed golfers to see opportunities for home ownership.

“What’s great about this event is it really let’s people see everything Emerald Bay has to offer,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc. “Sandals is a great partner and we thank them, along with BD Global Sports, for their amazing leadership. GIV Bahamas Inc. has supported this tournament from the beginning and I’m so pleased to see it continuing to grow.”

Held from January 12 to January 15, The Great Exuma Classic is the first event on the Korn Ferry Tour, with US$600,00 in prize money up for grabs. The Greg Norman Signature Course, surrounding both Sandals and Grand Isle, is a true test for even professional golfers, with the back nine entirely on the ocean. As in past years, the tournament was televised on NBC’s The Golf Channel.

High winds made for challenging conditions for both the Pro Am and the first day or two of the Great Exuma Classic. In the end, it was Tommy Gainey, a 44-year-old journeyman who took home the top spot.

Gainey, who in the past has earned $5.6 million in 200 career starts on the PGA Tour, turned in a final-round 69 to finish the tournament at -11. Dylan Wu and John Oda tied for second with -7, followed by Will Zalatoris and Sean O’Hair at -6.

 

Shark Tagging returns to Grand Isle this February

Registration now open for an exclusive experience in 2020, allowing tourists to assist and participate in scientific research 

A truly unique and mind-blowing experience in the Caribbean is returning in early 2020 to Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

Shark Tagging Adventures, where you have the opportunity to learn and participate in crucial scientific research, will be taking place in Exuma for the last two weeks of February. After being greeted at Grand Isle reception, guests are transported to a boat where they receive an intimate briefing on why shark tagging is so important, and what adventures they will experience that day.

Of course, the anticipation can never quite live up the reality, when you eventually come up close and personal with one of the most majestic and misunderstood animals in the world.

“In the last year, this program exposed more than 100 people of all ages to the world of shark conservation. Tagging and releasing 67 sharks in the region, including tigers, bills, reef sharks and nurse sharks,” said Dr. Austin Gallagher, the renowned biologist, and shark expert.

Registration for February is now open. You can also fill out a form indicating another time of year that might work best for you. 

Dr. Gallagher will be joined by other leading researchers, all of whom take guests step-by-step through the process of tagging sharks.

“I have performed research like this all over the world,” Dr. Gallagher adds, who is also the founder of a nonprofit NGO called Beneath the Waves.  “The Bahamas is a protected area for sharks. And Exuma itself is such an amazing frontier – I like to call it the Serengeti of the Ocean. To expose everyday people to these animals and this research is special. Their faces light up every time. It never gets old.”

Covered by Forbes, Lonely Planet, Scientific American, and many others, this new tour took the Internet by storm in 2018. In addition to being a true unique experience, guests have been captivated by the opportunity to participate in and support genuine scientific research. 

Shark Tagging Adventures is a public-private partnership between Beneath the Waves and Grand Isle Resort & Spa, whereby Dr. Gallagher and his team receive a donation of at least US$500 for every person on the tour. This donation goes directly to protecting and monitoring The Bahamas shark population.

To learn more about Beneath the Waves and why sharks are so important to the future of our oceans, click here.

You can also watch a video testimonial of past shark tagging guests here.

Ottawa fundraiser raises $23K for Dorian relief

While Exuma was not impacted by the storm, GIV Bahamas and the Bahamas High Commission teamed up to raise funds and awareness for those impacted

It has been more than 3 months since Hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas, widely believed to be the most destructive storm in the country’s history.

While the initial out-pouring of support has been significant, perhaps the biggest danger remains – this tragedy falling out of the news cycle, and consequently from our thoughts.

The category 5 storm, focused solely on Abaco and Grand Bahama, did not impact the majority of the country, including Exuma, which resides more than 300km south.

Nevertheless, GIV Bahamas, the largest owner of villas at Grand Isle Resort, partnered with the Bahamas High Commission earlier this month to keep the desperate need of Bahamians in the headlines. Last month, more than 100 people in the Ottawa community came together in remembrance, raising more than $23,000 for those impacted by Dorian.

“I have been investing in The Bahamas for well over a decade,” said Peter Nicholson, President of GIV Bahamas Inc, as well as The Foundation WCPD, a boutique financial services firm that helps wealthy donors give more to charity.

“Although our resort was not touched by Dorian, giving back is in our DNA, whether it is in Canada or The Bahamas. We wanted to stand with our friends at the Bahamas High Commission and really offer a unified show of support for what this country is going through.”

The Ottawa community did not disappoint.

In addition to coverage in the press (read Ottawa Sun column here), the business community came out in force.  50 Sussex, home of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, provided not only a gorgeous venue for the festivities but also a  discounted rate. Lou Lou Lounge provided the furniture. Meanwhile, an eclectic array of Ottawa restaurants donated their time and food through a series of interactive stations, including Restaurant 18, Bar Lupulus, Prohibition and Wandering Chef Catering.

Top Shelf Distillery offered welcome drinks for guests upon arrival, while Mark Motors Group generously donated the red carpet valet service.   The evening began with welcome remarks from Nicholson, followed by a greeting from His Excellency Alvin Smith, the High Commissioner of The Bahamas. The crowd was then treated to a  screening of ‘Pigs of Paradise’, the new, full- length film based on the award-winning book by Ottawa- based author T.R. Todd.

The film chronicles the origins and rise to fame of Exuma’s swimming pigs, an attraction that now generates millions for the Bahamian economy. Nicolson served as the movie’s executive producer, with Todd as the screenwriter Charlie.

Smith, a Bahamian who lives in Miami, Florida, was enlisted as the film’s director.

After the movie, guests were invited upstairs for food, drink and a silent auction, which helped raise a large portion of the $23,000.

A portion of the $23,000 will go towards NEMA and the Bahamas Red Cross. Meanwhile, the rest is earmarked for The Exuma Foundation to assist with the many Bahamians families from Abaco & Grand Bahama that have been displaced and are now re-starting their lives in Exuma.

Exuma Foundation, the largest nonprofit on the island, is currently building a shelter to house some of those displaced, while also running a breakfast program for the children arriving to school each morning with nothing to eat.

“The need in Abaco and Grand Bahama is tremendous, but we should not also overlook those that have fled those islands in search of a better life,” said Danny Strachan, Managing Director of the Exuma Foundation. “These funds will no doubt go a long way to having a direct impact on families here in Exuma. These families lost everything, but we can give them a chance to start over and have a better life.”

But beyond donations, the prevailing theme of last month’s event was far more simple – the best way to help The Bahamas, is to visit. Sadly, many people believe that all of The Bahamas was devastated. Organizers wished attendees to remember that most of the country remains open for business. Tourism is by far the main economic driver and source of employment for The Bahamas.

“Not everyone can afford a $5,000, $10,000 or larger donation,” Nicholson told the crowd. “But many of us will go on a holiday this year or next. Please consider The Bahamas. As Abaco and Grand Bahama recover, the rest of the country is waiting for you, and as beautiful as ever.”

 

‘Beautiful, relaxed, welcoming’ : Pompey ticks the boxes for tourists

Exuma Marathon, Featuring the Run for Pompey, attracted a record number of tourists seeking a gorgeous destination with a hint of health and wellness

We all travel for different reasons.

Some of us travel to see certain landmarks or cities, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Taj Mahal in India. These days, plenty of tourists will travel just to discover great food. And then you have those simply chasing a beach and warm weather, particularly this time of year as winter sets in.

However, Tammy Sieminowski did not travel to Exuma this fall for any of those reasons.

Sieminowski, from Toronto, is a runner – an ultra marathon runner, to be precise. She had run a staggering 172 of them. With an average ultra measuring 50km, that’s 8,600km of competitive running or 5,300 miles.

To put that in perspective, that is nearly the distance of running from Toronto to Exuma and back – twice.

Earlier this month, Sieminowski made the Exuma Marathon, Featuring the Run for Pompey, ultra marathon number 173. 

“I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to run many races in a beautiful place,” Sieminowski says, who won the ultra marathon in the female category. “This race is high on my list as the most memorable events. The race was low key and super well organized, which is a rare combination. The volunteers were cheerful, encouraging, and helpful throughout the event. I’d like to thank the race organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and fellow runners for the wonderful race day.”

Held on November 9th, the fifth annual Exuma Marathon attracted a record number of participants from abroad and from the local community. More than 230 people laced up their running shoes and crossed the finish line. Distances appealed to every age and ability, with a 2K, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and ultra-marathon all available. Every participant receives the eagerly anticipated “Piggie Medal” as they crossed the finish line.

Of the 230 participants, more than 50 runners flew in for the race, from countries such as Canada, the United States, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, and France. While most tourists might not run an ultra marathon, Sieminowski represents a growing segment of the traveling public interested in sports tourism.

This traveler wants to take in the beauty of the destination, while also doing something active, or focused on their health or wellness. With many beautiful resorts, smaller crowds and an unmatched natural environment, Exuma fits this need perfectly.

“Today we saw a bunch of sea turtles, which is one of my favorite things to do in the world,” says Tim Murphy, an avid runner and the co-founder of BibRave, a running website, and community who participates and reviews races all around the world. 

“We didn’t have to book an appointment or pay a bunch of money. There is literally a beach where they hang out. That is a perfect example of what Exuma is like. You can explore on your own and have a very cool island experience.”

Murphy, who founded BibRave with his wife, Jessica, led a group of runners this year at Exuma Marathon. You can listen to a podcast of their experience here.

Murphy’s wife, Jessica, could not help but be impressed by Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

“We are staying in a three-bedroom villa, which is amazing because we have our own bedrooms and bathrooms, and a nice living area, two separate terraces, and a kitchen,” Jessica explains.

“So it made it easier for us to stay here for a long time because we did have those amenities to make it feel more like home.”

Grand Isle Resort, one of the official sponsors of the race, hosted dozens of runners over race weekend. Grand Isle offered a special package for runners, which included a pasta night the evening before, breakfast and a shuttle to take runners to the event in the morning.

The resort was joined by many other community partners and sponsors, led by BAF Financial & Insurance as the event’s longtime title sponsor. GIV Bahamas, Aliv, Atabey, Glinton Sweeting O’Brien, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Peace & Plenty, Caribbean Bottling Company, Breezes, BahamasLocal.com, Silver Airways, and the Exuma Foundation all contributed to the cause.

As in past years, the Exuma Marathon is entirely nonprofit. In fact, the proceeds from each race go towards The Pompey Scholarship, which awards $5,000 to a promising student on the island to assist him or her with college or university.

Also, due to the passage of Hurricane Dorian this past September, the race organizers donated an additional $5,000 to assist families on Exuma that were displaced by the storm.

Exuma was untouched by Hurricane Dorian, with the islands to the north – Abaco and Grand Bahama – getting hit. 

According to runners from abroad, it is the authenticity of the Exuma Marathon, and the community feels, that sets it apart from other sports tourism experiences. Running alongside them were hundreds of Bahamians from Exuma and Nassau, many of them students. Run for Pompey is an ode to Pompey, a slave on Exuma who lived in the 1830s. Pompey is famous in The Bahamas for leading a rebellion on the island when 77 men, women and children were scheduled to be separated and transferred off the island. Pompey’s rebellion stopped the order.

At the end of the race, participants could enjoy a cool drink from the bar, listen to the DJ spinning tunes, jump in the turquoise ocean or indulge in a true Bahamian breakfast of stew conch or stew fish.

“Beautiful, relaxed, welcoming,” Sieminowski describes it.

“The clear turquoise water is incredible, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of natural vegetation around the island. Locals were friendly and helpful, extending warm hospitality. I had not visited before, but Run for Pompey fit the bill perfectly.