Fort Lauderdale: direct and alluring
JetBlue has opened up a whole new avenue for Barbadians to enjoy the beauty of South Florida –– Fort Lauderdale, to be exact –– with the addition of its direct flight from Fort Lauderdale to Barbados.
This week, a group of seven local media professionals and consultant to the Ministry of Tourism in Barbados, Hugh Foster, got the opportunity to explore the sites and scenes of sunny Fort Lauderdale, compliments of JetBlue, and hosted by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau.
The hospitality from start to finish was excellent bar none. From take-off to landing, we were treated like true VIPs. While for some leaving Barbados for JFK International in New York City at 2:55 a.m. would have been a stretch, for the media team it was a breeze. After all, some days such time falls within normal working hours for us.
Upon landing at JFK, the hospitality we received from JetBlue officials was phenomenal. We were whisked through the airport like we each held a diplomat’s passport, and taken to meet our connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale –– the last time someone travelling from Barbados would have to do such, given the new direct flight.
Upon reaching Fort Lauderdale, we were greeted by Jessica Savage, PHLCVB media relations director who was our host for the two days. She was an excellent one, her warm persona being on par with the lovely atmosphere of the city.
After been giving a few hours to recuperate at the Sawgrass Grand Hotel, we were taken on a water tour via water taxi that travels a portion of the 300 miles of the Intracoastal Waterway. While on the tour of Millionaires Row, we viewed the many yachts along the way belonging to millionaires from across the world, having it explained to us why Fort Lauderdale is referred to as the Yacht Capital Of The World.
Our final stop along the route was the docking at Las Olas Boulevard, a street for more of the high-end shops. We were then treated to dinner at one of the more upscale restaurants where we were joined by business development officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s Florida office, Seymour Bailey.
While there, Bailey stressed the importance of the inaugural flight, adding that it allowed Barbadians greater access to the Fort Lauderdale region. He also emphasized why it was important to have steady movement between the two destinations.
He said many people were not familiar with the Fort Lauderdale area even though it was about 25 minutes from Miami, a popular area with Barbadians.
On Wednesday, we had a packed day of touring that started with breakfast at the hotel.
We then headed to the Central Broward Regional Park, the only international cricket ground in the United States, which will host some of the upcoming cricket matches in the CPL. There, park manager Duncan Finch took us on a tour of the ground. He told us the park was all ready to host the matches and he was looking forward to having more Caribbean nationals come to watch.
Central Broward Regional Park is also home to a state-of-the-art performing arts centre which recently held its first concert, featuring Third World and Soca Queen Alison Hinds.
Michael Tipton, general manager of the park, said there were more concerts to come and he was looking forward to having more visitors from Barbados with the new partnership.
Afterwards, the team, along with Savage, headed to two of the city’s main shopping malls, Sawgrass Mills and Westfield Broward, where they introduced us to a host of shops that would attract any shopping lover –– again presenting the city as a viable option for shopping and recreation.
Wrapping up a successful and informative trip, the hosts definitely painted the perfect picture why Fort Lauderdale is a place of choice for upcoming vacations and should be considered, given the opportunity provided by JetBlue with its direct flights.