Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Move to boost Bahamas tourism


Tribune Staff Reporter

LINKING the Bahamas to the world and the islands to one another is the key focus for the development of the country's largest industry, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said yesterday.

As promotions of the Bahamas in the $5.8 million 2009 Miss Universe pageant showing the islands as a chain of unique islands will be worthless if travel cannot be provided at competitive prices.

The current cost of air travel is so high customers can fly from Miami to Montego Bay, Puerto Rico or Las Vegas for the same price as a ticket to Grand Bahama, Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said yesterday, But a new promotion is advertising tickets to Grand Bahama from $19 one-way, and rooms at Our Lucaya are available from just $35 per night.And new aviation routes can bring up to 293,320 more airline passengers to Nassau next year, and 39,520 to Grand Bahama, that is a total of 383,280 more visitors flying into the country.

Plans are in place to reduce the cost of airfares by dropping airport landing and handling fees, and the $400 million renovation of the Lynden Pindling International Airport will make it an efficient centre where people can move easily to the Out Islands, the Minister said.

He added: "It's very important for us to get aggressive in terms of competing with what's out there.

"Affordable accessible air service is absolutely critical.

"Infrastructure is critically important. We have to put the infrastructure in place to make sure that the promotion works. "Imagine Paradise Island without the bridges? If we had to go by boats and the boats only go every six hours?

"Each of the airline flights is like a bridge, and if it was $1 all of a sudden we would all go. On the day we do that I am confident we are going to see some extraordinary changes."

Mr Vanderpool-Wallace is also keen to lower rates of accommodation and travel in the Family Islands to encourage domestic tourism, and he said that will follow when the number of visitors increases.

Tourists visiting Grand Bahama fell by 27.5 per cent last year, and by 24.9 per cent in the Family Islands in 2008, while air arrivals to the Bahamas dropped by 13.8 per cent. Keeping the tourism industry afloat during the recession are the cruise lines which offer affordable package deals from a fast increasing number of ports opening in the United States.

Around 70 per cent of cruises from these ports on the east coast of the US sail exclusively to the Bahamas, and Nassau has around two million cruise passengers dock at its port each year, with 19.9 per cent of visitors to Nassau and Paradise Island arriving by cruise ship.

Mr Vanderpool-Wallace is keen to net the potential revenue presented by these stop-over visitors by developing downtown Nassau and increasing opening hours for shops and restaurants.

He said: "We're not in the business of counting heads, what's most important is stop over visitor numbers.

"The total visitor number is irrelevant because we want to take more about the economy of the Bahamas rather than head count."

However the number of stopover visitors also fell last year and by the end of January had dropped by 63,000, with 33,000 less in the Family Islands and 25,988 fewer in Grand Bahama.

There are no solid projections of visitor numbers for the upcoming winter months because it is still not clear what shape the recession will take, or how long it will last, Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said.

In the meanwhile the ministry will continue to work behind the scenes, by opening a 1-800-Bahamas call centre, bringing in film crews to document the different islands, encouraging sports teams of all kinds to compete in the country, and working on reducing energy costs to be more competitive with other destinations in the region.

Move Over Shakespeare!

The Full Cast:  Top to bottom; Jessica Bain, Veronica Dorsett, Tazianna Elysee, Sophie Paine, Rico Thompson, Glaire Delancy, Jade Pinder, Clifford Bowe.  The troupe of eight play 60 different parts in the one hour performance.  The production includes scenes and stories from 14 different works of Shakespeare using original script, two Cole Porter songs, beat boxing and a rap!


 Sophie Paine, playing Theseus from Midsummer Night's Dream, considers the lover, the lunatic and the poet are all more strange than true.

 A new style of theatre is about to come to light in Grand Bahama on 10th and 11th October at the Garden of the Groves. A selection of some of the best scenes from Shakespeare will be performed in roving theatre-style by the Lucaya Youth Theatre Society (LYTS).

Katherine and Petruchio:  Played by Veronica Dorsett and Rico Thompson in a rather 'fresh' look at the comedy, Taming of the Shrew.

Three witches and Hecate - Swapping their cauldrons for cell phones, these four transform Fern Gully in Garden of the Groves into Fern Ghetto! Played by (L-R) Glaire Delancy, Jade Pinder, Jessica Bain and Veronica Dorsett.

It is a concept new to Grand Bahama and which promises to be a unique and interesting experience for its audience. Director, Jackie Dack, said, “This is a radical departure from traditional theatre in Freeport. During the one hour production the actors move around a performance-space of half a mile and the audience goes with them on their journey. Each specially chosen piece portrays a different aspect of human emotion with a new part of the garden becoming the ‘theatre’ for each scene.

Juliet and her Nurse played by Jessica Bain and Tazinanna Elysee.  Juliet's Nurse tells her the most devastating news about Romeo.

Hero from Much Ado About Nothing played by Jade Pinder.

“It is a great challenge for the cast to perform this show. They are forced to rely on the strength of their unamplified voices, are exposed to the elements and each one plays many parts - changing characters throughout. We have a troupe of highly trained, talented actors who have been in production for four months and are ready to make something really special happen.

“Performing Shakespeare in this incredible setting adds a new dimension to the drama. It brings an ‘edge’ to the work which heightens the entertainment value.”

Romeo and Juliet stealing a kiss on the balcony.  Played by Rico Thompson and Jessica Bain.  "I would I were that bird!"

Jade Pinder as Prospero inviting us all to be cheerful as the revels now are ended.

The Lucaya Youth Theatre Society was set up earlier this year to increase access to the dramatic arts for all young people of Grand Bahama and is wholly volunteer run and non-profit. This summer Dack and co-director Bill Nelson designed and taught an intensive Shakespeare Summer School. The results were amazing. For example, at the end, a 15 year student said, “I can now understand my Bible,” as Elizabethan language had been properly decoded on the course. Many other teenagers who had never heard of Shakespeare were able to perform the work with feeling by the end of the course. A new sense of fun and passion was created surrounding some of the best works ever.

After the summer school, Dack and Nelson saw the energy and motivation were there to do more. They auditioned for a troupe of players based on both attitude and ability.

Dack said, “It is a privilege to work with this cast. They are hardworking, talented, respectful and motivated. The aim was clear. We will deliver the best quality production possible. We do the best we can with what we have and have fun doing it. I am truly proud of this cast.”

The cast of eight come from many different schools, including, BMES, Catholic High, St. Georges, LIS and Sunland. Rico Thompson is a graduate of Jack Hayward High School and now works at Keenimedia Ltd and hosts both the Casino Show and Island View television each week.

The ticket prices have been set at $15.00 so that people who want to see this show can. This has been thanks to the many sponsors who have backed this venture; AID, Allan McEwan, Coral Windows, GBPA, JS Johnson and Sanitation Services.

Tickets are available at Island Java and the Garden of the Groves. Further information is available by calling 374-2879 or

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If you were expecting Bruno - Forget about him!

'Bruno’ The latest movie by British actor Sasha Baron Cohen , which stars Cohen as a homosexual Austrian fashionista, has been banned in The Bahamas. For many who may have watched Baron in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America " which was a 2006 mockumentary comedy film directed by Larry Charles and distributed by 20th Century Fox, this will come as a great disappointment.

In Borat, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen starred in the title role of a fictitious Kazakh journalist traveling through the United States, recording real-life interactions with Americans. It seems that The ban may be due to the movie containing sexually explicit scenes and vulgar language and therefore The Bahamas film & Television Commission have decided to give Bruno the axe.

The Bahamas is not the only country which has banned Bruno. According to MSN Entertainment, the movie has also been given the axe in the Ukraine, Lebanon and Malaysia.

(Following Controversy which surrounded Borat before & during it's release. The Bahamas film & Television Commission It was denounced for having a protagonist who is sexist, homophobic and antisemitic (although the director, and both producers—including Baron Cohen—are Jewish), and, after the film's release, some cast members spoke against, and even sued, its creators. All Arab countries, except for Lebanon, banned it, and the Russian government discouraged cinemas there from showing it. It was released on DVD March 5, 2007 )

Monday, September 28, 2009

GBs Cristina Zenato to speak at Maine Divers Scuba

International Shark Expert Speaking in Maine 9/30/09

Eddy Raphael

Article from

Sharks hold a special fascination for humans, whether because of their ferocious power of because they are still in so many ways a mystery. New Englanders have been captivated this summer with sightings of Great White sharks along the coast of Cape Cod and Shark Week continues to be the most watched series on the cable networks.

But for all the emotion and fascination sharks elicit in people, even most divers have never encountered a shark up close and personal. That can’t be said about Cristina Zenato, who is the director of diving operations for the Underwater Explorers Society ( in the Bahamas. Cristina will be speaking on her career as the first female shark feeder and one of only two female shark feeder-trainers in the world at the Maine Divers Scuba Center on Cove Street in Portland on September 30th.

Eddy Raphael

Cristina’s presentation Understanding Sharks is being sponsored by the Maine-iac Divers club and hosted at Maine Divers Scuba Center.

There is much that is not known about sharks, but what is clear is that many people see sharks as apex predators not realizing that sharks actually keep second predators at bay. Each year humans kill upwards of a hundred million sharks, often for their fins which are considered a delicacy in Asia.

Eddy Raphael

Cristina has been in the forefront of shark research, including the tonic immobility in which sharks are literally hypnotized underwater. Cristina is one of the world’s leading experts on tonic immobility in sharks.

Cristina’s shark presentation is open to the public and is free. Divers and non-divers will find this presentation not only fascinating but also educational and fun!

In addition to her work with sharks and shark-feeder training, Cristina is also a dive instructor, cave diver and cave diving instructor.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Florida Panther Cheerleaders photo shoot at the Garden of the Groves

Cameraman, lighting engineer, production supervisor put the shot together to show off the beautiful setting at the Garden of the Groves Photo: Erika Gates

Grand Bahama Island - The "Icedancers" are returning to the Garden of the Groves this weekend for another photo shoot. The Garden had been the setting for photos for the Florida Panthers Ice Hockey Team's annual calender last year. The calender is sold during the Panther's home games at Bank America Arena and represents a wonderful tool for the promotion of Grand Bahama Island.

Garden of the Groves is becoming a popular choice for photo shoots internationally as well as locally. Recently the Garden and Grand Bahama Island received worldwide exposure while Miss Universe and eighty four contestants of the pageant were photographed by local and international press with the lush vegetation and water features serving as a fitting backdrop for such an event.
Popular local musician Willie Love is using the Garden as a backdrop for a musical video "Welcome to Grand Bahama" Photo: Erika Gates

Not only international photo shoots take place at the Garden but local promoters and artists make use of this tropical paradise to enhance their products. Singer and song writer, Willie Love, recently shot a promotional music video for the release of his latest CD "Welcome to Grand Bahama". In his mellow voice Willy sings......................" Garden of the Groves is a place you should go!"

And what a perfect setting the deck along the ponds and waterfalls provided for Miss Grand Bahama when she received her crown and was given the opportunity to conduct her first press conference there a couple of weeks ago!

Of course, any time there is a wedding at the Garden, hundreds of pictures are taken at numerous sites on the property that day. However, earlier this year we realized how much a wedding picture at the Garden meant to a newlywed couple from New York City. Their wedding ceremony had taken place in Nassau. The next morning they flew with their photographer to Freeport, got into a taxi that took them to the Garden and spent the morning posing for picture memories all around the Garden.They returned to Nassau that afternoon!

Couple from New York creating wedding memories at the Garden of the Groves Photo: Erika Gates

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism's Film Commission Department has registered the Garden of the Groves as a site for of international film productions. We are keeping our fingers crossed that some day this tropical paradise on the Island of Grand Bahama may become the backdrop for a major motion picture!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fishing this winter??? Do as they do on

Got wind of this post on the net, I've got to say, this site has amazing photos of extraordinary catches in the Bahamian waters.

Grand Bahama Tuna Fishing, Photo taken by Jhoecker from

Big Game Fishing for Small Pogy Fisher-woman Photo taken by pogymiles from

By Adventure Island Fishing

A great way to end up the Marlin season
We just wound up our Summer season of Blue Marlin fishing in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The boat is now back at our homebase in Stuart, FL. after a good ride back (700 miles) and we will sailfish from here until we head to Freeport/Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island in December.
Marlin fishing was great in July and August, we raised 20 fish, had 16 hook-ups and released 9 at the boat. Largest fish was 550 to 600 and average size was 350.

Not many boats were there as has been true everywhere but Capt. Ray (Get A Lot) had as good a run as we did this summer.

We look forward to the fantastic Wahoo fishing from Freeport/Lucaya over the winter. We'll be docked at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama. If you are planning a fishing trip anywhere this winter then you owe it to yourself to check out Grand Bahama Island, a first rate place, with a wonderful hotel variety, lots of restaurants and shopping and good air connections plus good value for money. Believe me, this is so much nicer than Nassau or any other place in the Bahamas, people are great and the infrastructure is beyond compare.

Please visit us at the web site or email me at

Keep your tip up!

Capt. Steve Cole

Friday, September 25, 2009

Port contracts foreign company to randomly test GBPC meters

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) has contracted a foreign company to carry out random electricity metering tests on homes around Grand Bahama next month.

This was revealed in a letter sent to certain members of the community to be on a team of observers "to witness a part of or all of the procedure."

The testing is being done in response to concerns raised by residents about the rates being charged by the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), said the letter, which was signed by Arthur Jones, director and vice president of the GBPA's Building and Development Services Department.

For the past two Fridays, a group of residents has demonstrated outside GBPC's office, protesting high power bills and the lack of reinvestment by the company.

According to the letter, the company contracted to conduct the testing, ITRON of West Union, South Carolina, will seek to verify that the in-service performance of the GBPC meters complies with the ANSI C12.1 Code for Electricity Metering.

Richard Pond, a quality control manager of ITRON Inc. is expected to arrive in Grand Bahama by October 19. He will meet with a team of observers, explain his meter testing procedure and report his findings.

The GBPC will supply some manpower to facilitate the procedure, while the GBPA will be responsible for approving the procedure and reporting the results of the exercise to the general public, the letter noted.

"The entire process from start to finish should last approximately five days, or terminate before October 25, 2009," it read.

The company will test a total of 200 Form 2S residential single-phase alternating current revenue watt-hour meters. 100 of those metres will be electromechanical and 100 will be electronic. The company will randomly select samples from GBPC's records.

The meter testing initiative was first announced by GBPA President Ian Rolle last week in an interview on ZNS TV-13.

"The Grand Bahama Port Authority has openly expressed our dissatisfaction with regards to their performance," Rolle said. "However, upon communication with the executives of the power company they also are meeting with consultants to find out what is going wrong in their infrastructure."

Rolle said the GBPA has challenged them to lower the cost of power for the island of Grand Bahama.

"We have ideas in terms of how to reduce the cost of power and we basically told the Power Company that we would actually benefit from the exercise... We will attract additional industry and everybody wins."

Nearly three weeks ago, Prime Minister Hubert Ing-raham also weighed in on the matter, saying that the government was concerned about the operation of the GBPC, and was considering whether or not the company should be regulated by the new authoritative body established by the government, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).

"We expected that they would have brought greater efficiencies to Grand Bahama's electrical generating supply and that has not happened," Ingraham said at the time.

"Secondly we are concerned that the original intent of Freeport was that the Port Authority would regulate the electrical supply operator and the water and the telephone operators here... Since that time, the Grand Bahama Power Company is now supplying electricity to the entire island of Grand Bahama."

Ingraham also noted government's concern about the fact that the GBPC has not reinvested adequate sums of money into its generation and distribution system.

"The company has over the years taken its profits out in cash rather than reinvesting it into their operation," he said.

The service delivered by the GBPC also leaves much to be desired, the Prime Minister said, with the number of outages occurring in Grand Bahama being "far in excess" of those in other islands which are serviced by government entities.

"As we all know, it is government enterprises that are supposed to be less efficient than the private sector and so the Grand Bahama Power has not given us confidence now that the private sector by itself is the answer," he said.

Addressing the complaints by residents of Grand Bahama about the high rates being charged by the GBPC, Ingraham said this should not be such a major issue since the company is able to access fuel at a lower rate than the Bahamas Electrical Corporation.

"They don't pay any customs duty or the rest of it, they are able to service their suppliers outside the area in bonded vehicles and so that ought to account for something in terms of electricity costs here in Grand Bahama," he said.

Acknowledging that there are standard profits that utility companies are expected to make, he pointed out that there are also standard sums of money that ought to be kept for reinvestment in upgrades of plant and distribution systems.

"When the decision is taken for URCA to regulate Grand Bahama Power these will all be issues that will become relevant," he said.

"It will no longer be an in-house operation where they charge you what they wish and make announcements when they wish and cut you off on Friday when you can't pay them until Monday morning and have to spend the weekend in darkness."

UNEXSO and PADI team up to protect the reefs of Grand Bahama

By Eddy Raphael

Photo: Mooring Balls funded from PADI Project Aware, installed by UNEXSO 2009. From left top row- Cristina Zenato[diving supervisor], Jarvis Rolle[Padi instructor], Scott Rauch [Padi Instructor], Niall Christoffersen [Operations Manager]. Bottom left- Keith Hogarth [Padi Instructor]. (Photo by Eddy Raphael)

PADI, financially assists diving operations to purchase mooring balls, rope, and establish mooring pins on the sea floor, which provides a safe way for snorkel and dive boats to tie up without anchoring and subsequently damaging the endangered coral reef in the process.

UNEXSO has been actively pursuing mooring ball installations for over 20 years. Niall Christoffersen [Operations Manager] and Cristina Zenato [Diving Supervisor] of UNEXSO led this project and have made an on-going commitment to protecting the reefs of Grand Bahama.

Bahamas Real Estate Association chief challenges government & GBPA

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - The Bahamas Weekly presents herewith an exclusive video interview with William Wong; President of The Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) during his visit to the island September 22nd, 2009.

In this interview Mr. Wong defines BREA and he expresses BREA’s frustration with Grand Bahama Island’s unique circumstance being under the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA). in particular he challenges the GBPA’a right to issue real estate business licenses to persons he states “are not experienced, not trained as to what real estate is all about". He further states; "Therefore we have these unlicensed persons selling land in Grand Bahama who don’t know what they’re doing.”

The BREA President emphatically cries out to the government to step in and help them with what defines as " this vexing issue"…The Government really needs to step in and tell The Port Authority, the real estate act of 1995 gives the responsibility of the real estate business solely in the hands of BREA.”

Mr. Wong imparts information on the requirements needed for BREA membership including the examination structure; which is basically a six months course condensed into a one week time period.

The 700 members strong BREA chief also advises potential second home investors that now is the time to purchase real estate, as he praise the natural beauty of The Bahamas and the tremendous potential of Grand Bahama Island.

You will indeed wish to watch this controversial and enlightening video.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shark Free Marinas - Old Bahama Bay Marina

I came across a post this morning on Shark Divers.blogspot which was a great read. I have some friends on the Island who are trying their best to get certain restaurants on the Island to stop serving Shark on their menus. Seeing as we just had a Coastal cleanup day, and we are encouraging everyone to keep our waters clean and free from debris & litter and free of Lionfish, I thought I'd repost this.

"The Old Bahama Bay Marina, located at the West End of Grand Bahama, originally signed on the campaign in March, but made it official on Sept 10, 2009.

Management wanted to wait for all the right people to be there for the hanging of the signs. Nathan Moody( Director of operations) , Jackie Carroll ( General manager) , Sharon Whymms ( Marina attendant) and Luther Ferguson ( Director of transportation) joined regional associates Jillian Morris and Duncan Brake in hanging 2 signs at the marina.

GM Jackie Carroll was very excited about the movement and anxious to learn more about what she can do to help these magnificent animals.

This marina is also the location where most diving operations clear customs before they head to Tiger Beach, so their joining the campaign is a huge victory for sharks and for shark diving.

Thanks to Jillian Morris and Duncan Brake for their terrific efforts in Bahamas. If you are interested in working as a Shark-Free Marina Regional Ambassador like them check out this page. -LT"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gov't officials address casino concerns and outline changes to boost GB tourism

By: Sharon Turner/BIS

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Government Ministers, Gaming Board officials and management of the Isle of Capri casino and Hutchison Whampoa met with the casino’s employees Monday night, to address concerns regarding the November 1 transition in casino ownership to the Treasure Bay grouMinister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace and State Minister for Finance the Hon. Zhivargo Laing were among officials at the meeting, organised to answer questions and clarify points of concern held by workers in the transition period from employment with Isle of Capri to employment with Treasure Bay.

Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said, “We wanted to be sure that those persons who, for whatever reason may wish to sever their relationship with the company, [knew] that whatever severance is due them - even though there is no change in ownership of the company which is normally the conditions under which you would provide that severance - that we are prepared to provide them with that severance and to give them sufficient time to think about it, and decide whether they wish to take that option.”

Such a provision is part of the Government’s move to ensure the continuing operation of the island’s sole casino, which employs over 200 Grand Bahamians.

Employees who opt for severance would, as is standard, be required to re-apply with the new company and negotiate their respective terms of employment.

One of the main operational concerns expressed by employees was the relatively low volume of guests coming to the casino; a matter the Tourism Minister said is already being discussed in terms of the integration of operations between the casino and owners of the Our Lucaya Resort (Hutchison Whampoa), where the casino is located.

“It is very important,” he emphasised. “I said to them (the employees) that I have never seen a casino completely separated from a resort work, but fortunately even Isle of Capri in its latter days with definitely a new casino operator under consideration, were already having a conversation with the resort owners so that they have access to rooms on different terms and more favourable terms than I think has been in place before, because without getting into the complications of it, that is a very important part of the marketing capacity and capabilities of a casino operation.

“And so we see the management of Hutchison working much more closely to ensure they demonstrate that they understand that and put in place those packages and programmes that we believe will make a difference.”

The Government expects that difference to also be made through its public/private sector tackling of what was considered one of the more significant hindrances to Grand Bahama’s competitiveness in the tourism market – the high cost of airlift to the island.

Minister Vanderpool-Wallace pointed out that in addition to the cost of the Miami-Grand Bahama route failing to positively compete with other destinations from Miami like Cancun, Montego Bay or Las Vegas, the cost of airlift also gave rise to domestic competition from the destinations of Nassau and Paradise Island.

“So we sat with the private sector here and said this is something that we have to fix,” he noted, “and we have come to the point where the Government, the private sector; specifically the [Grand Bahama] Airport Company, Freeport Flight Services, Hutchison [Whampoa] have come and put a programme in place where the cost to fly to Grand Bahama has been reduced sufficiently for Grand Bahama to become much more competitive, not only against Nassau but against all of the others.”

It is a programme airlines have demonstrated their approval of by increasing and/or introducing airlift to Grand Bahama as of November 1.

WestJet will commence twice-weekly service to Freeport from Toronto, Canada, Delta Airlines will begin service four times weekly to Freeport beginning in December, Sprit Airlines has re-confirmed its commitment to Grand Bahama from Ft. Lauderdale and American Eagle has increased its airlift from two flights to four flights per week.

“So the airlines are beginning to tell us that the initiatives that we are taking, we believe, are initiatives that they think will make a difference in terms of improving the attractiveness of Grand Bahama,” Minister Vanderpool Wallace said.

Securing additional airlift is part of the dynamic equation of increasing both the volume of traffic to Grand Bahama as well as boosting its hotels’ occupancies; a goal the Minister says is being accomplished in part through new television ads showcasing Grand Bahama island.

“You would have seen very recently the Ministry of Tourism running Grand Bahama commercials,” he pointed out, “and that is something that we intend to resume in the middle of October so that we have this beginning in time for the November changes and improvement in airlift that we are going to have in a number of places.”

UNEXSO invites Rotary GB Sunrise Big Brother program to participate in International Coastal Clean Up on East End Beach.

Lifting the net into the truck

Jamie, Cristina & the Columbus house 
boys show off the trash pile

Cristina Zenato with Columbus house boys

Despite the bad weather, cleanup continues

On Saturday September 19th, UNEXSO invited Rotary GB Sunrises' Big Brother program to participate in International Coastal Clean Up on East End Beach. James Sarles from Rotary Club GB Sunrise and Cristina Zenato from UNEXSO led the team of 9 Columbus house boys through the bush to Mermaid Beach in East End Of Grand Bahama to participate in this World Wide Event. Hard Work but a Good time had by all. Thanks for the T-shirts UNEXSO !

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Miss Nikie Severe officially crowned Miss Grand Bahama at the Garden of the Groves

Miss Grand Bahama 2008, Kerel Pinder (left) and Miss Bahamas 1978 Lolita Armbrister-Monpetit assist Miss Grand Bahama, Niki Severe with her sash. Photo: Shavonne Strachan
The new Miss Grand Bahama Nikie Severe with the president of the Miss Grand Bahama Organization, Glenn Davis on September 11th at the Garden of the Groves. Photo: Shavonne Strachan

Grand Bahama Island - Miss Nikie Severe, who was the runner up for the Miss Grand Bahama pageant back in March 2009 was officially crowned at the Garden of the Groves on September 11th.

The new Miss Grand Bahama will represent her country as soon as next month in China for the Miss Friendship International; and will be in Columbia for the Miss Coffee International in January 2010.

On hand for the press conference and crowning was Glenn Davis, President of the Miss Grand Bahama Beauty Pageant Organization.; Prudence Gallagher of Bandolera (clothing sponsor); and Mr. Terrance Archer, CEO of Terreve College where Miss Severe has a free scholarship.

Assisting with the crowning was Miss Grand Bahama 2008, Kerel Pinder, and Miss Bahamas 1978, Lolita Armbrister-Monpetit.
Miss Severe is excited and committed to representing the organisation; her community and country to enhance the opportunities and exposure of young women through world of pageantry.

Official air travel throughout The Bahamas is provided by Western Air, a year membership at the YMCA to be trained by internationally acclaimed body builder and fitness trainer, Mrs. Charmaine McNabb; her official wardrobe by Traffic Bahamas and Bandolera Fasions for all pageant and public appearance; and her official shoe wardrobe by Escante Boutique. In addition her continuous etiquette and personal development program will be under the tutelage of our Organization member, former Miss Bahamas and International Model, Miss Lolita Ambrister.

Photo: Shavonne Strachan
Photo: Shavonne Strachan

Miss Grand Bahama enjoyed the beauty of the Garden of the Groves with her family and friends after speaking to the media.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Website for Garden of The Groves


FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA, SEPT 17, 2009 – The world-famous Garden of the Groves in Grand Bahama has launched an all-new web site to help keep local residents and visitors up-to-date on the activities and services at the popular island destination.

The new web site features a detailed event calendar, news about the Garden, and a beautifully finished illustrated map of the expansive 12-acre natural sanctuary, which can be viewed online or downloaded as a high-resolution PDF document.

The web site is located at:


Dozens of photos help give someone considering a visit to the Garden a taste of what they can expect to experience there. And regular visitors can also enjoy reliving past events at the Garden through the photo galleries throughout the new web site.

Erika Gates of the Garden of the Groves said that the new web site is an important part of the operation. “We know that so many of our visitors to the island want to plan their time here so we’re sure our new web site will help them do that,” Mrs Gates said. “Local residents also want to know when we have special events going on, so our web site will make it easy for people to plan their next visit to the Garden of the Groves.” The Garden of the Groves was first dedicated 36 years ago to honour the contribution of Mrs and Mrs Wallace Groves, the original founders of the city of Freeport. The facility thrived for decades but was severely damaged in 2004 when Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne devastated many areas of the island and left the Garden in ruins.

A new team was formed to determine and execute a new plan for the Garden, and with the financial assistance from the Grand Bahama Port Authority for the restoration the grand re-opening took place on October 30th 2008. The Garden of the Groves now includes new features such as The Garden Café, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day on a large wooden deck among the trees. New Garden Shoppes, housed in charming New England-style cottages featuring local crafts and products, are now in full operation, as is the Grand Bahama Labyrinth, and a newly expanded children’s playground area. The historic chapel has also been restored and air-conditioned, making it a beautiful site for local and destination weddings, renewal of vows, baptisms and memorial services.

Since reopening, the Garden of the Groves has been certified by the U.S. Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat, a testament to its vital role in providing a place for local wildlife to thrive.Other features on the new Garden of the Groves web site include more than a dozen ‘frequently asked questions’ and answers, details about becoming a member of the Garden, and contact information. The web site was designed and is hosted by local media and marketing company Keen i Media Ltd, and is located at

Motorists frustrated by changes at junction on Sunrise Highway


A redesign to the junction at Sunrise Highway and Britannia Boulevard is drawing concern from motorists who argue the modification is an inconvenience and a traffic headache, but officials say it is only temporary.

The thoroughfare opposite Our Saviour Lutheran Church has been the scene of several traffic fatalities and a number of serious traffic accidents in years past and a decision was made to provide a temporary solution to the problem until a design for a permanent one is approved.

In that vein, a concrete island was installed at the junction which prevents motorists exiting the East Sunrise Shopping centre from making a right turn onto East Sunrise High-way. It also prevents motorists travelling north along Britannia Boulevard from making right turns onto East Sunrise Highway.

Motorists travelling north along Britannia Boulevard must turn left, travel west onto Sunrise and make a U-turn on Sunrise to travel east and motorists exiting the East Sunrise Shopping Centre can only make a left turn on en-tering East Sunrise Highway.

Displeased with this new configuration, concerned motorist Fritz Thompson pointed out to the media yesterday how vexing the thoroughfare is to motorists, es-pecially during and just after school hours.

"Motorists aren't aware of what is happening and are getting caught in positions where they want to turn right and realize that they can't," Thompson pointed out.

He revealed that it is forcing motorists to make a number of U-turns on Sunrise on a highway that doesn't have the provisions to do so, especially when traffic is heavy.

"The solution is, I guess, a safe roundabout they have modified in the last couple of weeks and while they have solved one problem in one area they have created a massive problem in the other," he said.

Thompson said he has made several phone calls to get some answers, but has been unsuccessful.

The Freeport News contacted Grand Bahama Port Authority City Manager Troy McIntosh, who revealed that the plan is to construct a roundabout at that junction to eliminate the amount of accidents.

"We've gotten a number of concerns from Road Traffic and police about the number of crashes they have had in that area. In fact, they have had three fatalities – two being pedestrian and one an actual passenger in a vehicle," he said.

Talks were to bring about a temporary solution at that busy junction to head off any more accidents or deaths, particularly in light of the reopening of school.

"We are currently designing a roundabout for Britannia," McIntosh said, pointing out that a number of the conflicts are right turns.

He added that they were aware of the temporary setbacks and some inconvenience that would be caused by the redesign; however, the motoring public was asked to bear with the GBPA while the change is being made to allow them to make right turns again.

"We do understand during these economic times that they may not be pleased with such a solution but we're looking out for safety," he said.

McIntosh pointed out that they have strategically placed signs in the area and have been extremely aggressive with their public relations to getting the information about the changes out there to the motorists.

He is cognizant that motorists would attempt to follow the signs and then change their mind and make a right turn because they can actually do it.

"We're asking motorists not to put themselves in harm's way by making an illegal right turn," McIntosh noted, adding that the police is working with them to help ease of flow of traffic in the area.

Road Traffic Deputy Con-troller Basil Rahming noted that most of the accidents in the area were involving students and he is asking that motorists be patient with the new design.

"I believe that in the long run this will reduce the amount of traffic accidents occurring at this junction and while it may take some time to get used to the reconfiguration I think in the long term everybody will feel the safety benefits of it and begin to appreciate the redesign," Rahming said.

"In the meantime we would just like to appeal to motorists who are using this area to be extremely careful and pay proper attention to their driving, given the changes that have recently been effected."

The preliminary design for the roundabout is expected to be completed within a week and the roundabout is expected to be constructed by the beginning of 2010.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Annual Red Rose Charity Ball to be held November 7th

By Oswald Ellis

Freeport, Grand Bahama - The Red Rose Ball Committee has been at the centre of HIV/AIDS Awareness in Grand Bahama for the past Ten (10) years. On November 7th, 2009 at the Grand Ballroom Radisson at Our Lucaya, we will celebrate our 10th Anniversary of promoting and educating through the Grand Bahama AIDS Awareness Committee the successful message of “Prevention Now!” The main focus of the committee is the provision of much needed funding to GBAAC for ensuring that their goals of informing the general populous of HIV/AIDS on an Annual basis is achieved.

The Red Rose Ball Committee is well known for its ability to create the most enchanting evenings of entertainment, elegance and ambience at our Annual Ball. It is the most sort after gala event in Grand Bahama , garnering the attendance of the most affluent organizations and individuals throughout the Bahamas as well as our neighbouring Caribbean Islands and the United States of American. We have been privileged to have Ambassadors, Prime Ministers and Premiers, Global Medical Industry Leaders and more as our Honoured Guests many of who will be returning in support of our tenth year celebration.

Whilst we engage in this major accomplishment through your continued contributions, we will never loose site of our purpose for existing. The Red Rose Ball Committee remains committed to the task of erecting an education and support centre for the use of information gathering and dissemination to the residence of Grand Bahama as we continue to take the lead in keeping the promise to stop HIV/AIDS. It has been a long journey and we have asked much of you, therefore our obligation to you is to ensure that your faith in our ability to succeed in this next phase of the journey remains strong.

Be prepared to enjoy a bedazzled evening of surprises as we bring our theme alive under the umbrella of "An Evening at The Taj Mahal". Indian infused decor of silks and precious gems and dimmed candle lights, will greet you at every twist and turn, the entertainment will engulf your being and caused you to engage in a night of blissful dancing and lively conversations. The prizes that await you are jaw dropping; you should bring your wallets with plenty of cash. Your pallets will be satisfied with the scrumptious meal, so elegantly displayed on your dinnerware that it will be difficult to decide whether to eat it or wrap it in a golden bow, yes the Chef is that great.

I leave you these words of encouragement and gratitude for your kindness, a famous quote from Albert Schweitzer," I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives". See you at the Red Rose Ball...........

Radisson's Grand Bahama acquisition part of upscale strategy

By: Gay Nagle Myers
Fredrik Kourallus

Radisson Hotels & Resorts' recent addition to its portfolio of the Radisson Our Lucaya Resort, Grand Bahama Island represents a new market strategy for the hotel firm, according to Fredrik Korallus, executive vice president and COO.

Radisson currently operates resorts in Aruba and St. Martin.

"We are excited about the Grand Bahama acquisition," Korallus said of the former Westin property. "This marks our third AAA Four Diamond brand in the region and completes our Caribbean portfolio for now.

"Radisson is focused on building a vibrant new market positioning through the addition of major upscale properties, such as the oceanfront resort in the Bahamas," he said. "The facilities of the resort, combined with our passion to deliver distinctive 'Yes I Can' service, will give Caribbean travelers an exceptional hospitality experience."The 740-room Radisson is one of two properties in the Our Lucaya complex. The other is the 478-room Our Lucaya Reef Village, the former Sheraton Grand Resort.

The destination itself complements Radisson's existing portfolio, Korallus said. "Here in the Americas we need key destinations. Our primary focus has been to enhance our city properties in the U.S., particularly New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco. When an opportunity arises to do the same for the leisure and meetings and incentive markets, as it did in Grand Bahama, we seize it."While Radisson is targeting the U.S. market as its primary customer base for Our Lucaya, Korallus said the destination also "does well out of Latin America, South America and Europe. The strength of the Radisson brand in the Caribbean and globally will be key elements in building our future business success."

The news of Radisson's foray into the Bahamas is welcome news for the destination's tourism industry, which has been challenged by the economic recession and dwindling visitor numbers, as has much of the Caribbean region in the past year.

Radisson's expansion into the Bahamas was followed by the announcement that Sandals Resorts International will reopen the former Four Seasons resort on Exuma in the Out Islands on Jan. 22. Sandals currently has a resort in Nassau and another in Fowl Cay in the Exumas chain. READ MORE HERE

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fruit of the Earth

A few weeks ago,we posted an article by Susan Moir Mackey in which she discussed Neccesity being the Mother of Invention. This article generated a quite a few comments on The James Sarles Realty Facebook Page. A few of you wrote to let us know what steps you were taking in your households due to the rising cost of foods and also of your awareness of our environment and the little things are being done or not done to make a positive change. So I was really pleased when i came across this article in The Freeport News.
A Local resident, being pro active & making good use of his land & natural talent & also saving money. I know there are a few small farming co-ops on the Island, I will try & get some details and post later for those of you who would like to either join or simply seek advice.

Backyard farming growing success for local resident

As the government continues to encourage Bahamians to get involved in backyard farming, a resident of Grand Bahama says he is living proof that one can be successful at it.

Eighty-five year-old Nelson Chipman recently gave The Freeport News a tour of his yard in Fortune Bay, showing off his bountiful fruit trees and vegetable plants.

Among his prized produce was a 42-pound watermelon, just one of several of that size growing on the side of his home.

He also grows bananas, mangoes, peaches, lemons, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower and more.

Chipman said he began planting several years ago as a hobby and since then his garden has grown to where it now supplies much of his produce needs.

"With the economy so bad, we do it to cut expense. It feeds us now, it gives us all the vegetables and fruits we want."

Chipman attributes his success with his farming projects to simply showing some love to the plants. He said he spends a couple of hours a week tending to them.

"All you have to do is have the proper soil and water it and give it the love," he said.

"We go to the farm and we get chicken and cow manure and we mix it up and put a little miracle grow in it. All it needs is the proper attention."

Chipman said he is proud to show off his produce and hopes his story will inspire others to begin planting in their own yards.

"There's a lot of things we could do ourselves but we fail to do. We have a lot of yard and space but we do nothing with it. We should go back to the old days," he said.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rotary Club GB Sunrise Big Brother Program with The Columbus House boys

By James Sarles

On Saturday 12th of September, A group of young boys both past & present from The Columbus House for Boys and I went off on a day trip for a visit to the Dolphin Experience run by UNEXSO. A great time was had by all & a BIG Thank you to Linda Osborne and UNEXSO in Freeport Grand Bahama Island.

Remember, Every little helps, If you are interesting in sponsoring a day out or simply helping in anyway, please contact me at or email

 Jamie Sarles is Director of Rotary Club GB Sunrise Big Brother Program

Conde Nast Traveler Features Grand Bahamas "Prop Club"

Drinks with a View in the Bahamas

"There's nothing better than whiling away your day on a beautiful tropical island. Unless, that is, you also have a cold drink in your hand. We break down the best places to sip your troubles away"

Drinks with a View
Our top three places to get smashed while watching the sun set
1. The warehouse-like Prop Club is the best hangout in Our Lucaya, on Grand Bahama. Head straight to the outdoor deck with an ice-cold Kalik beer (242-373-1333).
2. St. Francis Resort, on Stocking Island, has fab views of Elizabeth Harbour and Great Exuma. Take it all in over a rum punch on its wide deck (557-9629).
3. Get a front-row seat to the parade of boats through Hope Town's harbor, in the Abacos, from the covered deck at Harbour's Edge. The pièce de résistance? The sun setting behind the white-and-red-striped lighthouse (242-366-0087).

The Bahamas in a Glass
There are countless versions of the Goombay Smash, the islands' famed signature cocktail, but our favorite is by chef Kent MacDonald, of the Runaway Hill Inn's restaurant on Harbour Island:
1 oz. white rum
1 oz. Ricardo coconut rum
1 oz. Myers's or Bacardi Select rum
1/2 oz. apricot brandy
6 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. orange juice
8 oz. ice
Splash of grenadine
Shake, and float a dash of dark rum on top if you dare. Serves two.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sharks & Dolphins, West End, Grand Bahama, by acclaimed photographer Stephen Frink

I came across this wonderful post on a blog about underwater photography & Diving by Stephen Frink, an established underwater photographer... I thought I'd share as the photography is so stunning AND it was all shot right here in West End, Grand Bahama.

"Stephen Frink is among the world's most frequently published UW photographers, and is a Canon EXPLORER OF LIGHT, the only marine specialist within this very elite group of photographers."
His post reads..."On the water in the Bahamas in the summertime ... ahhh ... one of my favorite places to be! Last week I had the opportunity to do a 4 day shoot with Stuart Cove off his luxury sportfish yacht, Lyford Lure. A friend of mine and I flew to Freeport, and Stuart and crew met us at West End.

West End is the launch point for the spotted dolphins at White Sand Ridge, Caribbean Reef Sharks at Eldorado, the shallow Sugar Wreck, and of course the lemon and tiger sharks resident at Tiger Beach. The diversity and quality of the photo-ops here is amazing, and being there with friends who share the passion for UW photography makes it all the better. "
 All images copyright Stephen Frink
Remember It really is 'Better in The Bahamas"
 Read his blog post HERE