Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2014

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Page 49 of 52

B M & T ••• Septemebr/October 2014 ••• 49 AREA GUIDES THE GREATEST MEETINGS CAN BE HELD IN PARADISE! BY REGGIE MURPHY The U.S. Virgin Islands, comprised of St. Croix, St. John and St, Thomas is located in the eastern Caribbean, just 1,100 miles southeast of Miami. Planners looking for an unparalleled destination will find plenty of choices in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Whether planning for a group of CEOs or an incentive retreat with spouses and children in tow, all of your meeting and recreational needs will be easily met. Diverse venues range from first- class luxury resorts to smaller, inti- mate hideaways, to elegant off-site locations for hosting functions. The islands' magnificent beauty and ambiance adds to the excitement of holding events here. Situated just two miles northwest of Henry E. Rohlsen Airport is the St. George Village Botanical Garden. This area is a 16.5-acre botanical gar- den on the site of a former 18th cen- tury sugar plantation on St. Croix island. The traditional meeting room is the large Great Hall, with its land- mark red roof, built in 1976; the Pavilion at the new Bodine Visitors' Center was opened in March 2006. Both rooms have "spillover" areas that can accommodate larger groups for receptions. Tours of the 16.5-acre Botanical Garden can be arranged for enjoyment of this very special venue during or following a meeting or event. Recognized as one of the Caribbean's most stunning and chal- lenging golf courses, St. Thomas' Mahogany Run boasts a dramatic trio of ocean front golf holes with a spec- tacular down-island vista suitable for weddings and special events. The accommodating, full-service staff is trained to meet the needs of groups of any size. Organized golf tourna- ments, an elegant banquet room with extensive menu offerings and modern meeting facilities make Mahogany Run Golf Course an ideal location for a vari- ety of corporate and private events. Some of the top hotels/resorts the islands have to offer are The Divi Carina Bay Resort, The Carambola Beach Resort, The Westin, Best Western Emerald Beach Resort, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, St. John Resort & Villas and The Palms at Pelican Grove. Once business con- cludes, the islands offer a stunning array of entertainment and recreation options, including yacht races, jet ski- ing, boating and a $1,600 duty-free allowance and discounts up to 40%. In the U.S.V.I. Carnival is the biggest party of the year, and each island has its own. St. Croix's Christmas Festival starts in December with an adult's parade on Three Ki ngs Day. St. Thomas's carni- val culminates in the final week of April. St. John's celebration is Fourth of July week. A month-long series of dazzling pageants and talent shows is held to choose royalty to rein over the festi- val. Fun events such as a boat race, Greased Pig Contest and Toddlers Derby entertain everyone at the fes- tivities. Other popular events held during Carnival are j'ouvert, a morn- ing jump up, a food fair presenting the islands' best traditional eats and a competition to crown the King and Queen of the parade troupes. A chil- dren's and adult's parade close the lively month with brilliantly costumed and decorated troupes and floats. Beverly Nicholson-Doty serves as Commissioner of Tourism for the U.S.V.I., a cabinet-level position. She oversees the Department of Tourism's advertising and marketing strategy, its national and international tourism-related efforts and product development. U.S. citizens don't need a pass- port to enjoy the islands. U.S.V.I. meetings are made easy with nonstop service on most of the major carriers from a variety of U.S. gateways. C o n n e c t i n g flights are avail- able to and from Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Miami and Atlanta via the San Juan hub. St. Croix Church • • • STATS • • • HOTEL ROOMS Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort 450 Sugar Bay Resort & Spa St. Thomas 294 Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas 180 Caneel Bay, A RosewoodResort 166 Carambola Beach Resort 151 Westin St. John Resort 96 Best Western Emerald Beach Resort 90 WHO YOU GONNA CALL? U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (800)372-USVI Photo Credit: U.S.V.I. Department of Tourism BEVERLY NICHOLSON-DOTY U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

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