JNR Spotlight: Fastest Growing Caribbean Destination

The Turks and Caicos Islands, located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, are known for their year round warm temperatures and soft, white sandy beaches. Until recently these islands were not well known but in the past year the number of visitors traveling to Turks and Caicos have grown by 50 percent. Most of these tourists arrive by cruise ship while some came in by air accounting for a record high of 1,407,313 total travelers in 2014. Most of these visitors are U.S. citizens rounding up to about 80 percent of all total guests to the islands. So why is this destination suddenly in high demand?

Director of the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board, Ralph L. Higgs believes that accessibility to the islands is a huge contributing factor to the rapid growth in 2014. These islands located just beyond the Bahamas are an easy two and a half hour flight from Miami and offer travelers a new tropical destination to consider.  Getting there has become extremely convenient with a direct flight from many major gateways in North America such as JFK in New York and Logan International Airport in Boston. Travelling by cruise ship to Turks and Caicos was ranked fourth out of 28 Caribbean destinations with an increase of 24.8 percent.

In addition, the unusually cold weather in much of the U.S. last year may have played an important role in the increase in visitors. In an average year these islands have 350 days of sunshine, perfect for lounging by the pool or taking a nice stroll along the beach.

Typically, Caribbean cuisine is not at the forefront of decision making when booking an island escape.  Turks and Caicos are changing this perception though now offering over 20 restaurants featuring world-renowned and award-winning chefs.  The islands have also become host to the Caribbean Food & Wine Festival, which offers epicurean delights and draws in visitors from around the world.  This festival is designed to host dinners and tasting events on a small scale allowing the guests a chance to interact directly with top chefs and winemakers.  Typical to the Turks and Caicos relaxed reputation, this boutique festival keeps the focus on culinary talent while keeping the scene at a manageable size.

Some say the 230 miles of ivory sand on the islands are home to the best beaches in the world.  This laid back destination offers crystal clear waters and colorful coral reefs for beachgoers to enjoy as well as spectacular limestone caves and diving and snorkeling opportunities.  The Turks and Caicos are not the place for a lively nightlife but if you are in the mood for evening bonfires and an overall relaxing atmosphere, these islands are a tropical paradise destination leaving visitors with lifelong memories and experiences.

Now midway into 2015, Higgs anticipates continued growth while incorporating stronger and better marketing strategies. He believes the destinations strong branding and location keep Turks and Caicos on track for another solid yearly performance.  We would love to bring your group to these lovely islands.  If you would like to learn more about Turks and Caicos please contact JNR. We are happy to set up a time to talk about your organization’s needs. Give us a call at 800.343.4546, or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Tatum Dumont

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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: “Regent Palms Turks and Caicos” by C.C. Chapman is licensed by CC by 2.0

The Virgin Islands: Which Island Suits You?

The Virgin Islands are located in the heart of the Caribbean. People from all over the world travel here for their superb beaches and breathtaking ocean views. Passports are not required for Americans to reach this scenic destination, although it is recommended for easier travel. There are three main islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands, all with exquisite features.  Which island best fits your desires for a nice getaway?

  • St. John

This island is the smallest of the three and consists of 75% National Park land. St. John matches the British Virgin Isles in tranquility and is a nature lover’s paradise. It is the least developed island with bumpy roads and only a handful of stores. The beautiful surroundings are calming and peaceful creating a relaxing atmosphere for all visitors. St. Johns holds numerous festivals throughout the year ranging from bike and boat races to live music shows. If you are looking for a soothing vacation away from a busy city life then this is the place for you.

  • St. Thomas

With an endless amount of activities on this island you are bound to be entertained. It is home to Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Full of excitement and adventure, St. Thomas offers shopping, sightseeing, snorkeling, dining and much more. This Island has the oldest synagogue in use in the U.S. today and contains the oldest building in the Virgin Islands. If you love history and culture then this island is the perfect spot.

  • St. Croix

From its diverse landscape to its calm and relaxing beaches, St. Croix is the largest and most popular destination in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The strong Danish influence of towns Christiansted and Frederiksted create a laid-back experience for tourists. Every two years at Buck Islands Reef on St. Croix visitors have a chance to spot the endangered Hawksbill turtles that grow up to three feet long and over 200 pounds. This island offers endless underwater opportunities and sets the scene for a true tropical delight. After exploring this magnificent location you will not walk away disappointed.

These three islands offer a variety of leisure, so the perfect fit for you is inevitable. Every spot is absolutely beautiful and leaves a lifelong impression. The soft sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, swaying palms and warm breezy weather make the U.S. Virgin Islands the perfect vacation spot for anyone looking for some fun in the sun.

If you would like to learn more about bringing a group to the U.S. Virgin Islands please contact JNR. We would love to set up a time to talk about your organization’s needs. Give us a call at 800.343.4546, or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Tatum Dumont

______________________________________________________________

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 in 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.

Costa Rican Spotlight: Five of the Best Beaches in Costa Rica

While there are many aspects that draw tourists to Costa Rica including the wildlife and culture, the pristine beaches are the main draw for a lot of tourists. Some love the buzz of a popular beach and all the fun activities that come with it, while others search for their isolated piece of beach heaven. We have put together a list of the Top Five Beaches of Costa Rica to help you navigate the over 800 miles of coastline.

Playa Avellana, Tamarindo

If the surf has brought you to Costa Rica, then Playa Avellana is a great choice. Known as “Little Hawaii”, due to the constant scattering of surfers in the water, this famous break sits on the northern end of the undeveloped beach and can see swells reach 18ft. For those more inclined to relax than thrill seek, head over to Lola’s Beach Bar, the main watering hole on the beach. Lola’s is named after the Bar’s pet pig who has been known to join surfers in the waves.

Cano Island, Corcovado Bay

A short boat ride off the coast of Osa Peninsula takes you to the protected biological reserve of Cano Island. Take a day tour over to the island and enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving with the sea turtles, dolphins and colorful fish that inhabit the vibrant coral reefs.

Playa Guiones, Nosara

Like Playa Avellana, Playa Guiones is another renowned surf spot. This beginner-friendly spot is known for its consistency. Keep in mind that this is a secluded spot and lacks many of the usual beach amenities. However, its natural beauty makes up for this.

Playa Virador, Papagayo

For those after a more luxurious day at the beach, Playa Virador is a good option. Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo resides within the 15 mile stretch of white sand coastline.  Here guests of the peninsula can enjoy Playa Virador with the comfort of the hotel amenities.

Manuel Antonio National Park

South of the town of Quepos lies the four beautiful and unspoiled beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. The lush tropical forest grows right to the edge of the beach where local wildlife, including sloths, are often seen by tourists. The national park draws surfers and sunbathers alike.  A limit is placed on the amount of people allowed to visit per day, letting you to find a quiet spot all to yourself – just make sure you arrive early in the day or you risk being turned away when they reach capacity.

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: “Surfer at Sunset on Playa Guiones – Costa Rica” by Chris Goldberg is licensed by CC by 2.0

 

Incentive Travel Spotlight: The Allure of a Pura Vida Incentive

What is it about the glamour that seems to be built into the words ‘Costa Rica’?  This country nestled at the base of Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, elicits feelings of mystery and exclusivity to most travellers on an Incentive Travel escape.  For the most part, these well-travelled individuals have explored the likes of Mexico, Hawaii and islands within the Caribbean, but making the journey just a bit further south is unchartered territory.  The draw of a Pura Vida lifestyle is instantly appealing and motivating making it a perfect destination choice for companies choosing an Incentive Travel location.

Aside from a year-round tropical climate, Costa Rica shares little else with her Central American neighbors.  One of the most stable and prosperous economies in Latin America makes for a very safe excursion.  This coupled with the reassurance of Resort brands like Four Seasons, Marriott and Westin, travellers are met with a sense of well-being and comfort that is not always guaranteed when traveling throughout the region.

What other mysteries does this country hold?  To start, 25% of the land is dedicated to conservation and protected National Parks.  Costa Rica is a land of extreme natural beauty.  With a priority placed on the commitment to preservation, visitors will forever be in awe of the lush green forests, pristine waterfalls and a plethora of unique animals like sloths, monkeys and over 50 species of hummingbirds.  Our travel programs always include local flowers in guest rooms, activities that bring our participants a first hand experience with Costa Rica’s natural surroundings and even fresh fish from the local waters caught and cooked in time for dinner.

When looking for things to do zip lining is synonymous with the Costa Rican landscape and a must do on all Incentive Travel programs.  The canopy of the jungle becomes your playground as you fly from platform to platform on tours ranging from 50 to 800 meters in length.  Tarzan swings, waterfall hikes and superman cables are just a few of the options you’ll be faced with as you take on this extraordinary adventure.  These aerial tours test your bravery as you soar through the skies getting a true birds eye perspective of this beautiful country.

One of greatest features of Costa Rica is its variety. With only a short amount of time spent driving across a country smaller than Lake Michigan visitors can experience volcanoes, rainforest, beaches, national parks, cloud forests and hot springs.  Over 800 miles of coastline give tourists plenty of beach space for a fun in the sun getaway and with water temperatures in the 80’s, there is no excuse for visitors not to dive in.  We tend to stay on the Caribbean side of the country but the beauty of this excursion is that you can see it all in a very short amount of time.

With Pura Vida at its core, it is no surprise that Costa Rica ranks at the top of the Happy Planet Index.  Taking into consideration factors such as life expectancy, overall well-being and a highly favorable ecological footprint score, Costa Rica has some of the happiest people on the planet.  The pride for the country is so evident that it can even be heard each morning at 7am when every radio station plays Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera (Noble homeland, your beautiful flag)- the national anthem for Ticos and Ticas to sing along with as they start their day.

 

If you would like more information on how your sales organization can motivate with “the Pure Life” experience please contact JNR.  We would love to set up a travel incentive program custom tailored to your organization’s needs.  Give us a call at 800.343.4546, or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

 

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Barbara Williamson

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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: “Hold it Right There!” By Steve Corey is licensed by CC by 2.0

Cuban Spotlight: Cuba – One of the Most Intriguing Countries in the Caribbean

From tantalizing Cuban sandwiches to refreshing mojitos, this relaxed island is the largest in the Caribbean and offers a plethora of delicacies and history to explore. It has a fascinating colonial foundation while still maintaining a vibrant tropical vibe with its luxurious beaches and laid back island atmosphere. On the rise for international acclaim, Cuba is working to gain a place on the list of top travel destinations in both the Caribbean and the world.

Below is a list of the top 10 destinations complied with the help of My Travel Guide for tourists and corporate travelers alike in this beautiful Caribbean country:

  1. Havana: No trip to Cuba would be complete without a stop in the capital city of Havana. The splendor of this city comes from the charm of its colonial core and small town atmosphere, despite having 2 million people within its population. Although it is a growing metropolis, Havana is a city cautious about preserving its 1950’s heritage where retro cars and regal mansions still abound.
  2. Santiago de Cuba: The second largest city on the island, Santiago de Cuba is the site where the victory of the Cuban Revolution was proclaimed, making this town full of rich heritage one of the great historical and cultural hubs on the island.
  3. Veradero: Veradero is arguably the most popular destination for first time travelers to the island. It is often referred to as “Cuba’s Cancun”, where lavish resorts dot the bleached white sand and residents and visitors can enjoy an array of aqua activities.
  4. Holguin: Holguin is one of the few cities in Cuba that offers the best of both worlds in order to experience every dimension of Cuba’s unique geography. From Holguin, it is only a brief commute to either the beautiful beaches of Guardalavaca or to the dense backcountry to visit the La Mensura or Humboldt National Parks.
  5. Cienfuegos: There is no location like Cienfuegos in the Caribbean, as the entire town is designated a UNESCO Heritage Site.  Full of grand architecture and must see landmarks from the 18th and 19th centuries, Cienfuegos has been beautifully preserved for contemporary visitors to enjoy.
  6. Santa Clara: The city of Santa Clara is similar to Santiago de Cuba as it holds a vast amount of history to discover while on the island. The last and arguably most important battle in the Cuban Revolution (named for the city itself) took place within this site in 1958. Today, Santa Clara holds the mausoleum of Che Guevara, and a museum dedicated to his involvement in the Cuban Revolution.
  7. Cayo Coco: Cayo Coco is truly a vacationer’s dream. This secluded, small cay is located directly off the coast of the mainland and boasts the most lavish and exclusive resorts in Cuba. The most stunning and peaceful beaches in this nation are also found in Cayo Coco, making it an ideal locale for an incentive destination.
  8. Trinidad: Trinidad sits on the western coast of Cuba, and the entire town itself is a living museum. Tourists can enjoy a stroll down a cobblestone avenida to admire the colorful pastel houses or take a ride on the Baldwin Locomotive, a 20th century steam engine that takes passengers to the Valley of Sugar Mills.
  9. Pico Turquino: Pico Turquino is Cuba’s highest mountain, and the opportunity to trek to this peak should not be missed. It is a strenuous route, but the nature and history along its trails makes it well worth it.  Indulge in bird watching and let your imagination flourish as you discover abandoned wartime jungle headquarters.
  10. Cienaga de Zapata: The Zapata swamp is one of the most remarkable and untouched regions on the island. It is also at the top of the Caribbean’s largest wetlands, and is home to the endangered Cuban crocodile. Nature buffs will relish the chance to see some of the purest and unspoiled wilderness in Cuba.

While it once was a hotbed of revolution, Cuba is rapidly becoming a traveler’s dream.  From ardent conservation of historical landmarks and neighborhoods to its pristine white sand beaches and ocean resorts along the coast, Cuba is the epitome of a diamond in the rough. The reputation of this island oasis is drastically improving since the discord of the 20th century, becoming a land of immense opportunity for the incentive travel industry for many years to come.

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: “cienfuegos yacht club” by Mikel Ortega is licensed under CC by 2.0