Bahamas Travel Spotlight: Junkanoo – The Bahamian Way to Celebrate the Holidays


The Bahamas is the quintessential Caribbean escape, brimming with lavish resorts, azure waters and unparalleled traditions that keep any traveler in the “island state of mind”. Sprinkled across the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas include a unique cluster of over 700 Cays and isles that blend to become a playground for the rich and famous as well as a haven for family friendly timeshares and world-class resorts.  Visitors can indulge in a variety of activities including fishing, diving, boating and any aquatic pursuit under the sun! Bahamians are fiercely proud of their country, and a great time to visit this beautiful set of islands is during their most celebrated time of the year, Junkanoo.

Junkanoo is a centuries old tradition on the islands celebrated each December as a holiday festivity across the various Cays. Dating as far back as the 18th century, Junkanoo initially began as a three-day holiday break for slaves in the Bahamas over Christmas and has evolved into one of the largest and most celebrated inclusive annual holiday events in the Bahamas.

In the Bahamas today, the contemporary Junkanoo occurs each Boxing Day, December 26th, and each New Years Day, with the largest and most prominent celebration held in the capital city of Nassau. The focal point of the Junkanoo celebration is the prolific parade throughout the city of Nassau, appealing to travelers enticed by an exuberant nightlife.  The parade begins at 2am and runs for a full eight hours of non-stop fun. The parade has been rated one of the top ten best events to experience in December according to Touropia, and it is easy to see why.  Sophisticated and intricate costumes abundantly applaud the culture of the islands as masked men and women march through the streets to the beat of drums and the sound of the iconic cowbells.

Traditional Bahamian food is prepared as viewers support the thousands of performers dancing through the streets in merriment and commemoration of the unique splendor that is the culture of the Bahamas. Every country has an inimitable method of rejoicing in the holidays, and the Bahamas is no exception.  The entire collection of Cays embrace the island charm while simultaneously observing its historic roots.

As a traveler who desires a tropical retreat during the frigid holiday months, the Bahamas is a perfect location to jet set to as December commences.  The unrivaled experience of taking part in Junkanoo is a time honored tradition in the Bahamas and enjoying the holiday culture in a country such as this is not to be missed.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

 

Photo: “Nassau Junkanoo Festival” by Mathieu Fortin is licensed under CC By 2.0

Richard Branson Thinks Hospitality and Tourism Industry Can Tackle Global Water Crisis

The Hospitality and Tourism Industry is significant to our interests here at JNR. It is the field where we join other companies to deliver our incentive travel programs, meetings and events. Branson believes in this industry, driving change in environmental, health and economic issues is also good for business.

The issue the Hospitality and Tourism Industry is being called to address: providing the world access to safe and clean water. Through this transformation, the industry stands to benefit across its triple bottom-line: people, planet, and profits.

A recent article published by Richard Branson describes the severity of the global water crisis.

“Every year, more people die from water-related diseases than killed from all forms of violence, including war.”

One billion people lack access to safe water. Last year, one billion people traveled. Why not leverage the power of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry to solve the world water crisis?

Branson, no stranger to humanitarian projects himself, has formed a partnership with his company Virgin and WHOLE WORLD Water, an organization that is attempting to unite with the Hospitality and Tourism Industry to create solutions that drive change on water issues.

The company has been helping hotels, resorts restaurants and hospitality groups filter and bottle their own water and then use a percentage of the proceeds to support local water projects. Approximately 200,000 plastic bottles will be saved annually by implementing this program on Necker Island (Branson maintains a home there) alone.

Branson feels the hospitality industry plays a major role in fixing this problem and that it could set an example for other industries to follow:

“It is estimated that with scale, the hospitality and tourism industry can contribute $1 billion per year or more to help eradicate this problem. United, the industry has the opportunity to set a precedence for other sectors to follow.”

JNR is dedicated to helping our clients implement CSR programs in conjunction with our travel programs and events to preserve and improve our planet and the lives of those who inhabit it. Please send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com today to discuss how you can create a change within your programs.

Suggested Reading:

“From ‘Me’ to ‘We’: The Power of Corporate Social Responsibility in Incentive Programs”

JNR Program Participants Revamp a Mexican School

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Sir Richard Branson” by Jarle Naustvik is licensed under CC By 2.0

Gateway Canyons Resort Receives Top Honors in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards

And the Winner Is…

Nothing speaks more to people than awards.  In the movies, it’s the Oscars; in baseball, it’s the World Series; in swimming, it’s the World Championships and the Olympics; and in travel, it’s Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Award (among others).  I have to admit, even I am a sucker for prestigious accolades.  I am in the travel business after all, and I know firsthand how much impact a destination or a resort’s rankings can effect peoples’ perceptions.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about my experience at Gateway Canyons in Southwestern Colorado.  I have read countless reviews since my visit to the luxury resort in May touting the destination’s unparalleled adventures, Southwestern-style retreat accommodations, and fresh Colorado cuisine, and all I can do is smile because the secret is out.  Gateway Canyons is THE place to visit in Colorado.  This has definitely been a banner year for the resort.

Curiosity piqued?  The evidence is in the results of Condé Nast Traveler’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards where Gateway Canyons recently received top honors in three separate categories.  In the category of “Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World”, Gateway Canyons was ranked #12. In the category of “Top 25 Resorts in the United States”, Gateway Canyons was ranked #3, and in the category of “Best Resorts in Colorado”, the resort was ranked #1.

Congratulations to Gateway Canyons on receiving top honors from Condé Nast Traveler.  In fact, we say congratulations to all of our hotel and destination partners on a successful 2014.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Katharine Heinz

Katharine Heinz has been with JNR for nine years, first as a Desktop Publisher and now as the Planning Business Administrator. When she is not researching the next hot destination or hotel, she can be found at home enjoying her family.

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Mexican Travel Spotlight: Top Destinations

Few locations rival the country of Mexico in the realm of incentive travel and corporate meeting planning. With an abundance of world class resorts offering thousands of square feet of meeting space and services ranging from renowned spas and championship golf courses to crystal clear waters along private beaches, Mexico is truly an enticing destination for any company to consider for its next reward trip.

Mexico is an ideal locale due to its close proximity to the United States, easing the hassle of transportation and facilitating a worry free trip for a firm with an inclination for organizing an international program. Throughout the years, JNR has enjoyed several successful incentive trips to Mexico, and with its hospitable accommodations and excellent weather, it is a destination that is continually on the radar for an increasing number of clients.

One of Mexico’s most outstanding benefits is its privileged coastline on both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, providing multiple options for 5-star lodging for both west coast and east coast companies with an eye for this beautiful country. JNR has been fortunate enough to operate programs in some of the most exceptional Mexican locations, highlighted by Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and the stunning Riviera Maya.

Puerto Vallarta: Puerto Vallarta is a coastal town on the Bay of Banderas on the Pacific side of Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is a unique blend of landscapes for visitors to the city.  Hiking through a rainforest or lush jungle in the morning and relaxing on the golden sands  in the afternoon is all possible within the same day. Puerto Vallarta has become a tremendously popular vacation spot in recent years, as the number of gourmet eateries, boutique shops and remarkable accommodations has exponentially risen to accompany the colonial and historic vibe that the city is founded upon.

Cabo San Lucas: Los Cabos or Cabo San Lucas is a lively and energetic resort area on the tip of the Baja California Peninsula. With over 20 miles of white sand beaches, Cabo San Lucas is a wonderful destination for beautiful resorts and water activity aficionados. The turquoise blue waters and famous sea arches are a perfect location for sport fishing, wave running or whale watching, giving any company a plethora of options for its guest’s activities.  For the land dwellers, Cabo San Lucas has a lively night scene as well as multiple old town shopping experiences from vivacious downtown Cabo to the quieter San Jose del Cabo.

Cancun: Cancun is a world famous tourist destination on the Yucatan Peninsula that does not disappoint with its glamorous beaches, first class all inclusive resorts, modern attractions, and exuberant nightlife. Cancun has been on the map as a gorgeous destination year round with its ideal weather and surplus of distinguished hotels and spas. While it is known for being a spring break oasis, Cancun has a multitude of space for higher end travel and a large airport that allows for ease of travel in and out of the United States, as well as its proximity to the luxurious Isla Mujeres and historical Chichen Itza.

Riviera Maya: The Riviera Maya is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the entire country of Mexico. Straddling Highway 307 along the Caribbean Sea, the Riviera Maya encompasses some of the most striking locations including Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Xel-Ha, and Xcaret which boast arguably the best beaches in the world.  The Riviera Maya also includes the Island of Cozumel, which is celebrated for its reef where snorkeling and scuba diving adventures abound. The Riviera Maya is a first-rate location for international programs as this shoreline hosts more all inclusive resorts than any other region in the country and is close to the ruins of ancient Mayan civilization.

Mexico is a year round playground for sunshine and adventure, and in recent years it has become a mecca for corporate travel. JNR is no exception and has been going south of the border for both large corporate meetings and action packed incentives as Mexico meets multiple needs when planning any type of program. The international value for the domestic price tag cannot be beat, and Mexico continues to dazzle its guests, leaving any visitor to the country wanting to come back for more of its hospitality. For inquiries into setting up your own corporate program to any of these fantastic sites, visit JNR Inc for more information.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Puerto Vallarta” by Harvey Barrison is licensed under CC By 2.0

Mexican Travel Spotlight: Mexican Sugar Skull Recipe

JNR stays close to home this month, with a journey through the heritage and culture of Mexico. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, falls on the first and second of November and honors those who have passed. During these days, it is said that the spirits of the dead visit their families and loved ones. It is common for Mexican households to prepare altars with offerings for the deceased and to visit gravesites with gifts and decorations.

Rituals include making the deceased’s favorite food and serving it as an Ofrenda (Offering). These items may include tamales, Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread) and sugar skulls.

Sugar was first introduced to Mexico by the Italian missionaries in the 17th century and often used for decorations in churches as it was a cheaper alternative to the expensive European imports. Sugar skulls were incorporated in the Dia de los Meurtos rituals in the 18th century and have since been used to represent the souls of the departed. It is common for the skulls to bear the name of the deceased across the forehead and they are characterized by big happy smiles and colorful icing.

Today we are sharing a recipe for this vibrant tradition below.

Sugar Skull Recipe 

Total Time:     35 min

Prep:     10 min

Cook:    25 min (additional time for icing to dry)

Yield:   2

Level:    Moderate

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4” plastic skull mold

 

Icing Ingredients (additional required for decorating)

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Desired food color

 

Directions

Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine the sugar and egg white in a bowl. Blend mixture together with your fingers.

Pack sugar firmly into the front and the back sections of the plastic skull mold. Using a spoon create a shell that is ½” thick in the mold. Place baking pan behind the mold and invert the mold onto the pan. Tap the mold gently to release the sugar skull as you lift the mold off. If the mixture crumbles add more egg whites. Repeat the process to make the second sugar skull.

Bake the sugar skulls for 25 minutes or until the surface feels hard and solid when lightly touched. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Using an electric beater on high, whip the egg white and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar.

Join the front and the back sections of the sugar skull using the icing sugar as glue. Let stand for 1 hour or until the icing is firm.

Repeat directions above to make additional icing sugar to decorate sugar skulls. Add the desired color and amount of food die. Using a pastry bag with a plain tip, pipe icing onto the sugar skulls in desired decoration. Let stand for 1 hour or until icing is firm.

To store, wrap airtight.

If you would like to learn about how JNR can organize a magical incentive trip to Mexico, where participants can taste the delights of traditional Mexican food first hand, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

 

Other recipes to check out:

Indian Spotlight: Indian Vegetable Biryani Recipe

German Spotlight: German Honey Cookies

South African Spotlight: Bobotie Recipe

United Kingdom Spotlight: Yorkshire Parkin Recipe

 

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By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Sugar Skulls” by Alex Alonso is licensed under CC By 2.0