Archive for the ‘BYOB Escapades’ Category

This is Cuba! A photographer’s dream. A culture junkie’s fix. This picture perfect island is located in Central America between Bahamas and Jamaica, some 90 miles south of Miami. Considered the largest Caribbean Island, Cuba has dramatic mountainous landscapes, dozens of miles of the world’s finest beaches with crystal clear waters and blinding white sand. It is a beautiful paradise with an amazing variety of flora and fauna as well as cultural and historical sites and activities. Despite the restrictions American citizens face with travel to the island, with everything Cuba has to offer it’s easy to see why tourism there is booming and attracting millions of visitors from different corners of the world every year.
Cuba is divided into 14 provinces, the most popular being Guantanamo, Ciudad de La Habana,  La Habana, Santiago de Cuba and Matanzas. Cuba can be visited all year-round.  The island enjoys a hot sub-tropical climate with average temperatures of 22-25 Celsius degrees in summer. There are two main seasons: the dry season runs from November through April, and the rainy season is between May and October.

Cuba is a melting pot of different cultures and races that reflect influences of the Spanish culture and African traditions. People in Cuba are warm-hearted and friendly, lively and expressive, and eager to share their culture with tourists who visit.  Cubans thoroughly enjoy popular forms of music and dance, including salsa and the cha-cha-cha which originated in Cuba. Cubans are also very enthusiastic about sports and other activities, baseball and boxing being amongst the most popular.

Attractions and Activities

Whether it’s your first visit or not, you will always find new adventures and activities to explore. Cuba has a lot to offer and provide the ideal vacations whether it be for singles, couples or families. If you’re in search of turquoise seas, pristine, glistening beaches, white sandy beaches, and a full contingent of water sports, including diving, snorkeling, sailing, cruising or fishing, Cuba is one of the best Caribbean treasures to explore.

Havana is Cuba’s vibrant capital and the leading cultural centre, boasting colonial style architecture and old hotels. Havana dazzles tourists with its beautiful sights, landmarks, museums and parks and is also the top getaways for shopping and eating in Cuba. Top attractions in Havana include the Decorative Arts National Museum, Cafe Cantante Mi Habana, and the Jose Marti Monument and Colon Cemetery, which artistic values make it one of the most important cemeteries in the world.

Manufactured very similar to the old and traditional art of cigar making, Cuban cigars are surely to taste one of life’s most generous luxuries. There are factories in Havana where visitors can see cigars still rolled by hand.  Havana cigars are tightly rolled bundles of dried tobacco, one end of which is always ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the smoker’s mouth and lungs. This key aspect is the difference between a quality product and a knock-off, so avoid buying them from people off the street.

For the art history lovers, Cuban museums are filled with a lot of culture and history and exhibit striking collections of fine arts, natural sciences, antique weapons, etc. The best known museums are Museum of the City (Museo de la Ciudad) and National Fine Arts Museum (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes), the former boasting several exhibits relating to archaeology, paintings and furniture of historic value, and the latter, the largest collection of Cuban plastic art and others.

Cuban Beaches are simply some of the best in the world. Most beaches are home to high-end beach resorts with pools, game rooms and fitness centers and an excess of land and water sports. Some of the best beaches include Verdadero Beach, where paradise meets adventure. It has fine restaurants, bars, museums, amusement parks night clubs and cabarets. Playa Sirena is the ideal for water enthusiasts, including incredible scuba diving and snorkeling experiences, swimming, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. There are two cays that feature good deep wall dives with a variety of soft and hard corals and a multitude of marine habitats. Apart from water sports, other activities you can engage in are jungle hiking in the rainforest, mountain biking, yacht cruising, canopy viewing, birding, river tubing, caving and much more.

More than you’d Expect

Despite the general assumption that Cuba is stuck in time, accommodation options in Cuba vary, giving you choice from all-inclusive hotels, honeymoon hotels, golf hotels, historic hotels, business and events hotels, family hotels, self-catering hotels, countryside hotels, city centre hotels and much more. Nearly all hotels feature the ultimate in convenience, service and luxury.

Hotel Santa Isabel is a boutique hotel, perfectly located in Old Havana, and is considered the most elite hotel in Havana. This fabulous hotel features 17 standard rooms with colonial-style furniture and with modern amenities, like air-conditioning, private balcony or terrace overlooking the Plaza de Armas (the cities most enticing square), Jacuzzi, mini bar, room service, telephone and cable TV, and 9 major spacious and welcoming suites. The five-star hotel features an excellent restaurant with fine culinary options and rooftop private patio.

Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa is an ideal example of beach resort offering maximum comfort for an unparalleled experience. This all-inclusive adult-only resort is located Verdadero beach and is ideal for weddings & honeymoons combo trips. Housing 434 elegantly appointed rooms in different categories featuring cozy ambience, and equipped with modern amenities and facilities. The resort boasts fine varied dining options, round-the-clock activities, private cocktail party, and 24-hour service. Recreation facilities include land sports and water sports.

Cuba also has popular chain hotels that such as the Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort & Spa. A five-star all-suite hotel boasting the utmost in elegance and the highest level of luxury in romantic surroundings for couples, this resort hosts 404 chic decorated suites,  5 restaurants serving an international menu, Caribbean, Italian and Seafood cuisine, 5 bars, three elegantly designed swimming pools, 4 jacuzzis, fully equipped fitness centre, sauna and steam room, several whirlpools, night club, as well as European Spa and beauty salon.

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Antilles’, Cuba is a Caribbean treasure waiting to be explored.

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You can now own a little piece of paradise! The Pink Pearl Island, which is actually a cay, is a 2 acre private tropical island. One of the seven pearl cays on the coast of Nicaragua. With a Caribbean and Spanish mixed culture, turquoise waters and white sandy beaches this is most definitely a hidden paradise.

Pink Pearl Island is situated approximately 3 miles off of mainland Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast,and is currently operating as a turnkey tourism business, or personal retreat. The island can be reached by boat from Bluefields or Corn Island airports within 2 hours, and is approximately 35 minutes from the nearest town. You can also charter helicopters but boat is usually preferred. With this purchase you would actually be buying the island, resort included.

The two-storey circular main house, situated in the middle of the island is equipped with a kitchen, shower rooms and a washing machine. There is a wrap around balcony upstairs that has a 360-degree view of the island. Accommodations include three round-thatched cabanas, each with two double beds, ocean views and private bathroom inside. There is also a ‘Fisherman style’ shack, with shower room which contains 4 bunk beds  and sleeps up to 8 people.

Bar/restaurant, called ‘Coconut Ice’ , which I’d rename if I were to purchase, includes a small kitchen area with freezer, bamboo tables and chairs. There is a workers’ cabin which has kitchen and bedroom space, a generator hut with a 5500w generator, a heart-shaped swimming pool with fresh water pump and night-light, cable TV and telephone service, and a pier placed at the front of the island to dock boats. And if that wasn’t enough, included in the sale is the 25 feet – 150 horse power Yamaha engine “Black Pearl” (I’d keep the name), speedboat for fast and convenient transport. Topping it off, there are NO mosquitoes or sand-flies on this island.

All this goes for $500,000 US dollars.  That will get you a 700sq ft studio in Manhattan.  When you look at it that way, this is a steal to be able to own paradise! Paradise and a Syiim bikini… could it get any more perfect ? 😉

photos from http://www.pinkpearlisland.com/  For more photos visit http://www.privateislandsonline.com/pink-pearl-island-1.htm

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After seeing our friends’ photos from their trip to East Asia, we started looking for the next big destination for our inspiration. Thailand and Indonesia seem to be standing out. Not only will we be in paradise but we are excited at the possibility to walk the markets and shop for accessories and fabrics for our next collection. Until that dream comes true and we’re actually on our way to Thailand, we want to share some amazing photos and places from our pals’ adventures that we hope to one day visit ourselves.

The Beach, Phuket

Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, located in the south of the country. The island is mostly mountainous with gorgeous beach and paradise-like breath-taking beach scenery. One of the most popular areas on Phuket is Patong known for its wide and long beach, nightlife and its cheap shopping. There are several coral islands to the south of Phuket, just a short boat trip away. The islands offer beautiful reefs for snorkelers and scuba divers to explore.

The Market, Bangkok

Bangkok has an endless selection of fabrics to offer. Everything from shimmering Thai silk and  cottons to exotic batik sarongs are readily available at Pahurat Textile Market, Silom Village and many other markets. A big trend in Bangkok is purchasing fabric and having garments custom-made for you at a tailor in a few days.

The Resort, Sawasdee Village Resort

Exquisite gardens and pool, Thai cooking classes, botanical styled rooms and free wifi are just the beginning of what this beautiful and intimate resort has to offer. According to Hoteltravel.com, the grand goal of Phuket’s Sawasdee Village is, it says, ‘to introduce you to the celebration of Thai culture with our charming traditional rooms set around our lush gardens and beautiful ponds … Our five star spa is considered to be the most exotic on Phuket Island featuring ancient therapies from India joined with world famous Thai massage’.

We can’t wait! There seems to be so much inspiration and materials awaiting us.

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