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A New Ritz Carlton Coming to Puerto Rico | CaribbeanTravelNews

The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company will open Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in December 2012 in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico. The 114-room property will be located on a secluded, three-mile outcrop along Puerto Rico’s Caribbean coastline and encompass 1,400 acres.Accommodations will include 100 guest rooms and 14 one-bedroom suites, all located directly on the beach, and Su Casa, an original plantation hacienda renovated to its original 1920s style as a five-bedroom beachfront VIP villa available for weddings and private parties. The resort will be the company’s first Reserve property in the Americas.

Mark your calendar for a future vacation to Puerto Rico & the new Ritz Carlton Reserve. I’m sure they will be offering amazing introductory rates that can be paired with the already cheap ticket prices to the island. Puerto Rico is a hub for American Airlines Caribbean locations so American is always a good source for some of the best airfare rates. (Laura)

Enjoy Hotel & Airfare Discounts in Top Beach Locales with Vacations by Marriott’s Summer Packages

Vacations by Marriott is making it easy to have a memorable beach vacation. The Summer Beach Vacation packages feature discounts on hotels & airfare in nearly three dozen popular beach destinations.

This summer the beach beckons, and Vacations by Marriott is answering the call. Making it easier than ever to get away on a great beach vacation, Vacations by Marriott is featuring new Summer Beach Vacation packages that feature special discount offers, free nights and other value-laden amenities like breakfast for two during the stay.

Don’t let these incredible specials slip away. Visit, make a reservation by August 3, 2011, and take advantage of this epic Summer Vacation Package offer. Here is a sampling of the beach vacation deals being offered:

    •     Hotel savings of up to 60% when flights and hotel are booked together on
  •     Four-night vacations with round-trip airfare starting at just $525 per person (sample pricing is at Miami’s South Beach Marriott, with airfare from Washington DC-Dulles)

Choose from one of Marriott’s many beautiful hotels and beach resorts in nearly three dozen different destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, Costa Rica, California and Panama, including the following:


  •     Wailea Beach Marriott, Maui
  •     Waikiki Beach Marriott, Oahu
  •     Kauai Marriott Resort, Kauai
  •     Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Big Island of Hawaii
  •     Courtyard Waikiki Beach, Oahu
  •     Courtyard Kauai, Kauai
  •     JW Marriott Ihilani, Oahu


  •     Frenchman’s Reef Marriott, St. Thomas
  •     Curacao Marriott, Curacao
  •     St. Kitts Marriott, St. Kitts
  •     Courtyard Isla Verde, Puerto Rico
  •     Marriott Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  •     Aruba Marriott, Aruba
  •     Renaissance Curacao, Curacao
  •     La Concha Renaissance, Puerto Rico
  •     San Juan Marriott, Puerto Rico


  •     JW Marriott Cancun, Cancun
  •     Marriott CasaMagna Cancun, Cancun
  •     Marriott CasaMagna Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta

Costa Rica 

  •     JW Marriott Guanacaste, Guanacaste
  •     Los Suenos Marriott, Herradura


  •     Panama City Marriott, Panama City


  •     Eden Roc Renaissance, Miami Beach
  •     South Beach Marriott, Miami Beach
  •     Sanibel Harbour Marriott, Fort Myers
  •     Harbor Beach Marriott, Fort Lauderdale
  •     Courtyard Miami Beach, Miami Beach
  •     Clearwater Beach Marriott, Clearwater Beach

To book one of Marriott’s summer beach vacation packages, or for more vacation ideas, visit Vacations by Marriott at


St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands: Fort Frederik

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I came across these amazing photographs by Steve Simonsen while browsing local photographers this afternoon. Painted a brilliant red the historical Fort Frederik, welcomes cruise ship passengers and tourists alike to discover St. Croix’s history. The landmark was named after King Frederick V of Denmark, who purchased the Danish West Indies in 1754.

According to the National Park Service, Fort Frederik was constructed in the mid-18th century by the Danish government to protect its interests in the Caribbean and to defend the western end of Saint Croix against incursion from other European powers. Fort Frederik was the focal point of two important events that led to the dissolution of the slave-based economy of the Virgin Islands. In 1848, Emancipation Revolt ended slavery in the Danish West Indies, but inaugurated a 30-year period of serfdom based on contract labor that ensured continuing control by plantation owners. Later in 1878, escalating tensions erupted into the Labor Riot and Fireburn, which ended the contract labor system.

The fort has served as a jail, police station, fire station and courthouse since the purchase of the Virgin Islands by the U.S. in 1917.

It was listed as a contributing property in the Frederiksted Historic District in 1976.  It was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.  It was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

Fort Frederick has a display related to the Fredensborg, a ship that was part of the “Triangle Trade” from Europe, to Africa and St. Croix and back to Europe. The ship sank just off coast in Denmark; the first mate saved the ship’s log. At the Fort are records about the sale of the slaves which occurred in St. Croix.

Located at the North end of the town of Frederksted, South of junction of Mahogany Road and  Rt. 631 or just north of the pier in Frederiksted. Fort Frederik Museum has an admission fee of $3.00 adults. Under age 16 admission is free. The museum is open on Saturdays only during cruise ship visits. 8:00 a.m. until 4:00.

About Steve Simonsen Photography

Based in the Caribbean in the U.S. Virgin Islands, on the island of St John for the past 20 years. Stock and assignment photographer; year-round access to the Caribbean. Digital services. Digital HD video topside and underwater.

  • Specialties include underwater, villas and resort properties, aerial photography
  • Currently producing documentary on the endangered Leatherback turtles that nest on Sandy Point St Croix.
  • Member ASMP, Lonely Planet Images
  • PADI, NAUI Diving Instructor
  • Underwater Naturalist
  • Photography Workshops topside and underwater.
For complete bio information and samples of published works click here: Steve Simonsen Published Works and Bio

Follow Simonsen Photography on Facebook.

For more information contact: Janet Simonsen, P.O. Box 980, St. John, USVI 00831

Telephone/Fax: 340-775-4485



The Simple Life –

Delicious havens where you can dig your toes into the sand while you dine.

Yacht or not, here are more delicious havens where you can dig your toes into the sand while you dine.

Flying FishboneAruba

You won’t find many locals at this dinner-only spot; it boasts no activities besides world-class sunset watching, and it’s a 30-minute cab ride from the nearest resort. And yet the Flying Fishbone is always packed. The reasons are twofold: The seafood—heaping platters of calamari, sea bass, and curry-spiced shrimp—is landed by the fishermen next door, literally, and six tables are set into the water, allowing guests to dine with warm water lapping at their ankles (297-584-2506; entrées, $24–$60).

Lone StarBarbados

A deeply glamorous vibe—and clientele—deftly mask the fact that this St. James spot was once a garage. Now a four-room inn and beachside restaurant, it has crisp blue awnings, white tablecloths, and a slick crowd of Europeans. In a destination known for inspiring indolent days, the Lone Star actually motivates people to plan in advance: Tickets to its New Year’s Eve After-Party (with a band and DJ) go on sale in September (246-419-0599; entrées, $18–$45).

Mullins Restaurant & Cocktail BarBarbados

Known for piping out a constant stream of reggae and calypso, this quintessentially low-key beach shack in St. Peter is one of the island’s busiest lunch spots. It’s near the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.–designed golf course, a trampoline worth commandeering on Mullins Beach, banana boat rentals on the bay, plus rock climbing and turtle tours. While the crowd doesn’t descend just for the flying fish sandwich, it is a draw, as is the Cajun-spiced mahimahi at dinner (reserve one of 50 spots), and the rum punch: It’s three parts strong (rum), two parts weak (water), and one part sour (lime juice)—per local proportional wisdom (246-422-2044; entrées, $25–$62).

Uncle Roddy’s Beach Bar & Grill, Barbuda

Clear days at Uncle Roddy’s yield views of Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis. Over a feast of grilled local lobster, you’ll watch these islands fade into a tie-dyed sunset, and you won’t be distracted by the whir of a generator, since the four-year-old spot is completely solar-powered. It’s open during daylight hours, but dinner requires reservations. Incidentally, the eponymous Roddy bartended at the famed ’90s-glam, Caribbean-based K Club resort: “I used to look after Princess Diana,” he says. If his cocktails were good enough for her, you can be sure that the Barbuda Smash—rum, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime, and bitters—is good enough for you (268-785-3268; entrées, $11–$28).

Time ‘N’ PlaceJamaica

This Trelawny thatched beach shack is way more low-key than what you’ll find in Montego Bay or Negril. In fact, it reads so charmingly authentic that it’s become a favorite backdrop for fashion photo shoots. Jerk beef—marinated for a week—is served alongside local vegetables. Recently, a cruise ship terminal in nearby Falmouth began disgorging guests, but you can still enjoy relatively serene walks along a two-mile stretch of beach that’s great for bird-watching. And there are nighttime cruises in a nearby bioluminescent bay (876-843-3625; entrées, $5–$20).

Foxy’sJost Van Dyke

For more than 40 years, Foxy Callwood and his wife, Tessa, have been throwing the Caribbean’s most rollicking party at this “mother bar of Jost Van Dyke.” The duo work hard to stoke the party fires: guitarists at lunch and happy hour, live bands three nights a week, and beach barbecues on Friday and Saturday nights that are a siren song to anyone in the BVIs with a yacht, dinghy, or catamaran. The menu revolves around the catch of the day—often landed by the staff and then grilled—and selections from the bar’s own microbrewery. Despite its reputation for rowdiness, Foxy’s is kid-friendly: There’s snorkeling, swimming, sailing, and soon a scale model sloop for teaching kids how to sail. “We had a giant trampoline out back,” says Tessa, “but the drunks kept falling off” (284-495-9258; entrées, $22–$35).

Pirates BightNorman Island

In the 1700s, a Spanish galleon crew buried 55 chests of silver here (it’s rumored that some still lingers). A century later, the island inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. People are still coming, but these days it’s for the Bushwacker (a sort of chocolate milkshake laced with liquor). Occupying a stretch of shoreline on an uninhabited 610-acre private island, Pirates Bight ferries in guests from 100-plus sailboats moored offshore (yachties radio in on Channel 16 for a table)—and then serenades them with live bands on Friday and Sunday. For extra credit, take the trail out back up Spyglass Hill for a breathtaking view of the sweep of the British Virgin Islands (284-442-2048; entrées, $20–$35).

William Thornton Floating Bar & RestaurantNorman Island

Anchored 200 feet offshore (accessible via dinghy or your own flailing arms), the Willy-T is tailormade for storybook pirates and wenches. It’s an anything-goes sort of bar with multiple decks for eating and drinking, and on any given day, a pod of leatherback turtles might drift by or a naked crew member from a passing sloop rappel aboard. Order standard Caribbean fare (conch fritters, chicken roti) to soak up the standard Caribbean drinks—rum punches, Painkillers, local beers (284-496-8603; entrées, $9–$24).

Bohío Bar, Puerto Rico

Named for the huts of the Taino Indians, the Bohío sits between the rooms and the pool at Rincón’sVilla Cofresí hotel. This is convenient for guests who put away a few too many Pirate Specials, a delightfully kitsch homage (they’re served in coconuts) to Roberto Cofresí, the infamous Puerto Rican pirate who is rumored to have hidden treasure in area caves. Pinchos are the big draw on the menu—this Puerto Rican street food standard is essentially a plate of marinated chicken or grilled shrimp on a skewer, and hunks of bread (787-823-2450; entrées, $5–$11).

Calypso Cafe, Puerto Rico

Rincón—and specifically Maria’s Beach, home of this long-tenured spot—is known as the Caribbean Pipeline for its unparalleled waves. In fact, a lunch pit stop might coincide with a surf competition (wintertime swells can reach 25 feet) or breaching humpback whales (from January through March). The fare—from grilled tuna teriyaki to carbloaded rice-and-bean burritos—doesn’t vie for attention with the green flash at sunset, which surfers, locals, and tourists alike huddle at the bar to see—the wait made easier by a medley of dangerous punches and frozen cocktails (787-823-1626; entrées, $9–$16).

La Parrilla, Puerto Rico

From outside, there’s nothing to distinguish this humble cinder block business from its similarly clad neighbors along the beach in the northeast coastal town of Luquillo. But inside, the invariably friendly proprietor, Ricardo Alvaro, delivers some of the island’s most inventive fare. Red snapper is stuffed with seafood paella and then steamed in butter, cilantro, and lime, while pineapple is diced, grilled, and served with shrimp, rice, and a seasoning of curry powder and piña colada mix, an improbable combination that’s sweet, spicy, and salty all at once (787-347-3865; entrées, $8–$50).

Anse la Raye Fish Fry, St. Lucia

Every Friday night in this west coast fishing village, the main drag, Front Street—conveniently adjacent to the water—transforms into a full-on party from 7 to 11 p.m. Hundreds of locals and visitors turn out for seafood and booze, all consumed at makeshift tables along the beach. Look for the vendor nicknamed Cece, a grinning lady who is renowned for her choice pieces of straight-from-the-sea fish, begging to be washed down with swigs of local Piton lager or the award-winning Chairman’s Reserve rum mixed with Coke or coconut water.

Spinnakers Restaurant & BarSt. Lucia

By day, it’s a casual Rodney Bay lunch spot; by night, it’s all gussied up for a bustling dinner crowd of visiting yachties and resort guests. They’re primarily there for the creations of St. Lucian chef Magdalene Emmanuel, who, with more than 20 years of kitchen time under her belt, is a master of both Caribbean and Continental cuisine. She distills a seemingly endless array of catch-of-the-day options into three basic treatments: char-grilled with lemon or garlic, pan-fried with ginger butter, or baked in foil with tomato and cheese. Meanwhile, anyone capable of downing three pints of beer (a.k.a. the Yard of Ale) in one chug gets his or her name on the blackboard. House record: 12 seconds (758-452-8491; entrées, $9–$31).

Rhymer’s Beach Bar, Tortola

This flamingo-pink Cane Garden Bay mainstay may be nearly 30 years old, but it’s lost none of its allure: The conch fritters—made with a closely guarded blend of spices—are fabled, as are the shrimp sautéed in a garlic butter sauce. The eponymous rum punch is practically nutritious, since it contains a veritable farmers’ market worth of fresh tropical fruit (284-495-4639; entrées, $17–$50).

Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill, Water Island

Follow the locals—and the day-trippers from St. Thomas—to this golf cart turned lunch truck, which frequents the palm-ringed sandy cove of Honeymoon Beach. Former caterer Heidi Erwig serves casual midday meals (12-ounce cheeseburgers, steak sandwiches, beef tacos) and Saturday dinners where she sets up candelit tables on the beach. If your schedule allows, swing by on a Monday night, when she shows a movie on the beach, with one-dollar popcorn for the kids (340-690-0325; Saturday dinner, $25).

Joe’s Beach Bar, Water Island

While children frolic in the sand at this Honeymoon Beach–located boat trailer turned bar, parents congregate at tables to sip Lime in the Coconut (made with Virgin Islands– produced Cruzan rum, this drink’s name leaves little to the imagination) and wait for the glorious sunset. Sundays, when the bar hosts an informal potluck, are particularly popular: 100 to 150 locals (the island population is 200, which shows how pivotal this joint is) and sailing enthusiasts from around the world bring chicken, burgers, and hot dogs to cook on Joe’s grill. Don’t be alarmed when it goes dark: Local law dictates lights out at 11 p.m.(340-514-6722).



Summer Travel Tips to the Caribbean Islands –

From the best last minute deals to the top destinations—this is what 7 travel experts have to say about traveling to the Caribbean Islands this summer.


Rick Seaney from

What do you think will be the best summer deals for Caribbean island travel?

“JetBlue and others have added quite a bit of lift to the Caribbean lately. Airfare is not as good as it’s been, but typically the resorts are much cheaper than they were. There are some decent deals in the $450 to $500 range. I even saw some special deals on American to Barbados in the $280 to $300 range for a little while on a new route. You have to be a deal hound right now.”

When is the last minute for travelers looking to take a Caribbean island summer trip?

“One tip to everybody: if you just shopped one day earlier you’d save a ton of money. Last-minute deals tend to be with packaging sites, with a hotel and air together where you don’t know what either one of them costs, where price is opaque. You don’t know who’s discounting, air or resort, but typically both are.”

Where are you going this summer?

“We are looking at Atlantis. It’s a possibility. If you want Atlantis in June, you’re going to have some kids around. I’ve been to the Caribbean dozens of times and enjoy it greatly, the laid-back attitude. I’m definitely a beach goer.”

Gabe Saglie from

How do you get a good travel deal for a Caribbean island trip in the summer?

“One of the best destinations for last-minute opportunities is the Caribbean islands. This year we’ve seen even in peak season some pretty good deals; that becomes much more prevalent in early summer months. One sticking point this particular summer is going to be the airfare. It’s volatile. Low-cost carriers have been releasing last-minute airfares, releasing on a Tuesday and you have a couple days to take advantage of it. Also look at some of these all-inclusive resort packages that are offering some pretty impressive bargains because of how affordable these resorts are becoming in the summer season. Look at companies specializing in Caribbean vacation packages. When we deconstruct a package, piece it together ourselves, 9 times out of 10 these packages do offer an amazing amount of value.”

Have you seen more Caribbean resorts offering air credits?

“Yes, I think it has become more prevalent than we’ve seen in the past. Airfare credit becomes an extremely effective way to offset the airfare costs. Because on the other side of airfare, resort rates are pretty darn impressive, particularly for June and July, and people can consider a vacation they may not have before.”

Do Caribbean destinations with direct flights still offer better deals?

“Yes, the frequency and convenience of direct flights is something to be said. Odds are better you’ll find an airfare bargain to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, where one flight can get you there. Others where it’s more difficult to get to will require more of an investment.”

When is the last minute to book a Caribbean summer trip?

“I’m definitely someone who doesn’t rule out that a couple days before you want to take off, bargains will exist. Odds of a Caribbean resort being available are pretty good. You may want an oceanfront suite but 2 to 3 days out may have to settle with an oceanview room. You have to cast a bit of a wider net with last minute deals. But by being flexible on options, that 11th hour front, not necessarily that one island, one resort, one particular day. A week or two out on the resort front, availability has been quite good.”

Angela Lyda from

Which Caribbean island destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“We have seen plenty of deals for summer travel in the Dominican Republic, and we don’t expect that to change any time soon. There are several reasons that make the Dominican Republic a deal destination this summer. One being that over the last few years, the Dominican Republic has been on a building boom and a lot of new resorts have opened — both high-end properties and budget-friendly hotels. This means that there are typically plenty of open rooms year-round, especially during the off-season. And with so many rooms available, the resorts are forced to offer compelling deals to get consumers on their beaches. Additionally, the weather from mid-June to July is hotter than other times of year and this often drives tourism down. During the main summer months, temperatures range from the high 80’s to low 90’s. However, if you travel in the beginning of June, you can typically avoid the hottest times of the year, but still get the great summer savings.”

Any specific tips on finding such summer Caribbean island deals for accommodations and airfare?

“Look for package offers that bundle airfare and all-inclusive resorts. When travel partners combine airfare and hotel, they get access to exclusive rates, which allow consumers to get the most benefits for their money. And if you get a package deal that includes an all-inclusive resort, the savings are even better! Typically, these resorts include meals, drinks (including alcohol), entertainment, activities, and kids’ clubs. These properties tend to cost more, but in the end (if you compare paying a la cart for a week of meals, drinks and activities) you can save up to 50% on everything compared to hotels where you’re getting a room only.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, a few days?

“Last minute varies based on destinations, but for the Caribbean I would say 15-30 days out is last minute. When booking last minute, you’ll need to be a lot more flexible with where and when to travel in order to get the best bang for your buck.”

Tom Trotta from

Which Caribbean island destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“The Bahamas due to their $300 Air Credit Mexico due to lingering bad press  – Cancun / Riviera Maya in the Caribbean and Cabo on the Pacific Coast. Even the Dominican Republic should have good deals this summer especially in early June and late August.”

Any specific tips on finding such summer Caribbean deals for accommodations and airfare?

“On Priceline we have our “Best Package Rates” in packages which customers pick the hotel but the hotel assigns the room type and category in exchange for lower prices that have to be packaged with Air”. Some hotels only make these available for two travelers while others allow up to 4 adults in one room. Our package searches ask for the number of travelers so if these rates display for a triple or quad search, we’ve already filtered the results for this rule and you can book with confidence that your room will have two double or larger beds. Priceline also has a long term agreement with American Airlines so customers are assured of seeing them in our selection as they have been going up and down on our competitor’s sites and in legal disputes with some of our competitor’s GDS owners. Delta has also pulled their flights off of some mid-sized travel agencies. The majority of vacations purchased on Priceline to the Caribbean are include “Tour Airfares” which must be packaged with hotels and are cheaper than if you bought the Air separate from your hotel. These are not called out on our site but they are the majority of our sales to the Caribbean.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, one day?

“After Easter some of the best deals are available with long advanced purchase windows. But more are made available inside of two weeks and if availability remains can even be purchased up to the afternoon of the day of arrival (assuming you can make your flight on time)!”

Alexander Basek from

Which Caribbean destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“This year I would target Caribbean destinations where there is a lot of inventory. The more hotels, the better your chances of finding a deal. There have been a lot of discounts in Puerto Rico during the high season so I’d look for some offers there. JetBlue is adding intra-Caribbean capacity (between San Juan and St. Maarten) and although it doesn’t start until November, it may cause fares to drop in anticipation of their arrival, both in terms of a destination and as a connecting point to other parts of the Caribbean. I’d also look at Nevis, where the Four Seasons has reopened and is considerably less expensive than comparable properties on other islands—they have a three for the price of two offer, for example.”

Any specific tips on finding such summer Caribbean deals for accommodations and airfare?

“Six weeks out is still the best time to start looking for anything that might be a deal on hotels and plane tickets. I’d also look at areas you’re interested in now, to establish a base price that it costs in the high season. Then you can know just how good a deal the June and July offers are.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, one day?

“Generally speaking, 10 days—because of the 10 day weather forecast—is a great time to do last minute shopping for hotels. Hotels know that’s when a lot of guests wait to make their plans and try to entice those last minute shoppers with good offers.  Airfare, be ready to pull the trigger three weeks out. If possible, click through to see how many seats are available to get a sense of whether the fare may drop because the plane is empty.”

Robert Birge from

Which Caribbean island destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“KAYAK’s Explore feature would show you which areas in the Caribbean will have the best deals in June and July. Explore lets users enter a starting location, a month they’d like to travel, and any stipulations (such as budget) or activities (such as a beach or golf destination). Users are then presented with all of the locations worldwide that adhere to their preferences. For your purposes, you can zoom in to see more options and prices of flights in the Caribbean region.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, one day?

“We consider anything within a 2 week departure date of the time we send a deal email alert to be “’last-minute.’”