A unique blend of British and African influences spread across a diverse nation of more than 700 islands, the Bahamas is a memorable destination that is well-equipped to host meetings. That was the message to attendees throughout the second half of Destination Caribbean
, Northstar Meetings Group
's hosted-buyer gathering of meeting planners and representatives of Caribbean destinations, hotels, CVBs and more.
Held at the SLS Baha Mar
resort, the second day's breakfast education session offered an overview of the history, culture and quirks of the Bahamas, care of Arlene Ferguson, former director of culture, heritage and entertainment of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation
as well as founder of educational organization Educulture Bahamas
"We are less than 50 miles from North America and we have the nerve to have our own culture," Ferguson joked.
She walked the attendees through how Bahamian laws, religion, holidays and love of tea grew from the Bahamas' centuries as a British colony, while its music, food, medicine and more grow from its people's African roots. This blending of cultures can be seen in the Bahamian celebration of Junkanoo -- a national cultural festival of all-night dancing, music and decorative costumes that takes place each Christmas (and which Ferguson has been an active participant since the age of four).
Helping to explain to attendees of the morning session why the Bahamas makes for an ideal meeting and incentive destination were Janet Cuffie, director, group sales - North America for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, and Shawn M. Sawyer, president and creative director of Bahamas DMC Cacique International
, who outlined how the organization could help groups create memorable events in the country. The breakfast was capped off by the arrival of Marita Ferguson, administrator of Children's Emergency Hostel, which takes care of dozens of local, underprivileged children. She was there to receive a table full of school supplies which had been donated by Destination Caribbean attendees, for which she thanked all those in attendance.
The local experiences did not stop there. Following a morning of one-on-one meetings between buyers and suppliers and a lunch hosted by the newly opened Rosewood Baha Mar
, Cacique International brought a group of attendees to downtown Nassau to tour local shops and the famous straw market. For the evening, dinner was hosted by Sandals Royal Bahamian
, which treated attendees to a performance by Junkanoo dancers before opening up its expansive buffet dinner.
The fun continued as attendees returned to SLS Baha Mar to celebrate the end of the event at BOND Nightclub, with many dancing until morning, waking up to either head back home or to continue their Bahamian adventure with a post-fam trip to one of the Out Islands of the Bahamas
, including Bimini, Exuma and Harbour Island.