Black Meetings and Tourism

Nov/Dec 2010

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Page 77 of 80

AREA GUIDES TRINIDAD & TOBAGO TWO CARIBBEAN GEMS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE BY DOSWELL INGRAM Trinidad is the business and industrial epicenter of the Caribbean, home to the world famousCarnival,and birthplace of the steel pan drum.Aside frombooming trade and commerce, heart pounding music, and vivacious culture, Trinidad gives businesses awide variety of options formeetings. Featuring easy access from major U.S. cities as well as most Caribbean countries plus unique cultural and eco attractions,Trinidad is the ideal location for company meetings, confer- ences and retreats. Trinidad’s two largest convention hotels feature luxurious accommoda- tions, outstanding service and generous function space. For instance, the newest property, the 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad, within Trinidad and Tobago’s redesignedWaterfrontDevelopment (an 8-acremixed-use development along the waterfront of Port of Spain), offers expansive state-of-the-artmeeting facili- ties with 43,000 sq. ft. of flexiblemeeting space,a 16,000-sq. ft.grand ballroomand a 10,000-sq. ft.multi-purpose facility. The Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center, the other industry anchor, is located in 25 acres of landscaped gardens with views of the capital city of Port of Spain. Overlooking Queen’s Park Savannah, the northern mountain range, and the beautiful Gulf of Paria, this Caribbean landmark is also conveniently close to the bustling business and shopping area of Port of Spain. This unique “upside down” hotel features 18 different event and conference facilities with over 40,000 sq. ft. Several smaller properties, like the Crowne Plaza Hotel (233 guest rooms, five suites, executive floors and 11 differ- ent event and conference facilities with over 23,000 sq. ft.), and theCourtyard by Marriott (119 sleeping rooms and three Youth playing Cricket, one of the sports played on the Island meeting rooms), round out the major offerings. A number of boutique hotels, like the 68-room Cascadia Hotel & Conference Center (five meeting rooms and one grand ballroom), and the 30- room Chancellor Hotel & Conference Center (conference facilities for up to 60 people), provide planners with even more options. Sending the clear message that T&T wants to expand their share of themeet- ings and conventions market, the TourismDevelopmentCompany (TDC) ofTrinidad&Tobago appointedChantel Ross Francois as head of the newly formed Trinidad & Tobago Convention Bureau (TTCB) inMay of this year.The TTCB, established in 2009 and now under the professional guidance of Francois, is focused on positioning the destination as the meetings and confer- ence capital of the Caribbean. Of course, no trip to Trinidad & Tobago would be complete without exploring the twin island nation’s rich culture. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting around Carnival time, you are in for a real treat. Months before Carnival begins, steelbands, composed of one to two hundred pan players, practice for parades and Panorama, the national competition.Women, kids and men of all ages and races can be found practicing in panyards where visitors can listen, eat and drink while the band practices into the night. Preparations for Carnival start months in advance. Fetes (parties), band launches (fetes to show off a groups cos- tume designs), steel band practice, cos- tume making and calypso tents (calypso concerts) start as early as three months in advance of the actual Carnival dates. With year-round beautiful weather, outdoor activities are also big here. Tobago boasts the Tobago Plantations Golf and Country club and the Mount Irvine BayGolf Course,whileTrinidad’s MillenniumLakesGolf&Country Club and St. Andrews Golf Club offer golf enthusiasts great choices. Several popu- lar beaches, like Maracas Bay and Las Cuevas Beach, both in Trinidad, and Pigeon Point and Englishman’s Bay in Tobago, feature a variety ofwater sports, including kayaking. Tobago, known as the ultimate divers den, also offers water adventurers fascinating coral formations, countless fish and invertebrates, and exceptional water conditions. Land lub- bers can occupy themselves with every- thing from bird watching and hiking, to biking and cave exploration. A valid passport is an entrance requirement,and there is a departure tax of $17 US on leaving the island. Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport and Tobago’s Crown PointAirport have daily flights fromAir Canada,American Airlines, American Eagle, BWIA and ContinentalAirlines. WHOYOUGONNACALL? Trinidad & Tobago Tourist Office (800) 816-7541 Black Meetings & Tourism November/December 2010: 77 Photo Credit: Trinidad & Tobago Tourist Office

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