"Travelers411" Radio Show - September 12, 2015
Trident Hotel, World's End, Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.
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Hour 1

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Hal McElroy, General Manager, Trident Hotel, World's End, Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

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For more information visit www.tridenthotel.com

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Hal McElroy, General Manager, Trident Hotel, World's End, Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

Hour 2

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Click here to listen to Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.

Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board, Miami, Florida, USA.

Get out of the cold and get into Jamaica

Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams welcomes Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board to discuss all things Jamaica. Stephanie and Donnie have known each other for quite a while and Stephanie hints that their relationship spans decades, though, is too polite to say how many years exactly. Stephanie says that she always thinks of Jamaica as the Jewel of the Caribbean and that Jamaica is the archetype and epitomizes what people think of when they conjure an image of the Caribbean, with its lush green forests, silky white beaches, waterfalls and romance.

Donnie Dawson also likens Jamaica to a precious piece of jewelry describing the Caribbean as "the necklace of the Americas with each island as a jewel in that necklace, with Jamaica as the diamond." Stephanie says she likes that saying and also is in total agreement, saying that while many Caribbean island beaches may be composed mostly of lava or may be almost as hard as a rock, Jamaica's beaches are ideal and soft as a pillow. Donnie says he always describes Jamaica as a "touchy-feely" destination, meaning by that, visitors "need to touch it; need to feel it; to get a sense of how delicious [the] island is" with lots to see and do and a remarkably hospitable people.

Donnie says that like Stephanie, he has traveled a lot and visited many Caribbean islands, but nowhere has he seen the variety and diversity of cooking styles that he finds in Jamaica. Donnie attributes this to Jamaica's unique ethnic diversity each bringing its own heritage and culinary offerings. He calls it a "kaleidoscope of cuisine".

Donnie says though he's not an agronomist, there is something special about Jamaica's soil that brings out the best in its herbs and spices and says for this reason Jamaican ginger [root] is the variety that Canada Dry uses in their Ginger Ale, because of its potency. Of the Jamaican All Spice which comes from the Pimento berry he says its "probably one of the best flavors you've ever had". Stephanie says she always used to think All Spice was a mixture of different spices, but in fact Donnie says there's actually an All Spice tree, called pimento, which has a berry which when dried looks similar to dried black pepper. Donnie boasts, "Stick a couple of berries into a stew or a curry and the flavor is abundant."

According to Donnie Dawson, what Jamaicans call Scotch Bonnet is similar to a habanero pepper and is "very spicy hot, but also has a superb flavor to it." He says that "to really cook with Jamaican herbs and spices, owed all to the soil, brings out all the flavor." Stephanie asks Donnie to "just refrain from any pejorative chicken comments", joking that she has a feeling that, "every time someone says jerk chicken there's a chicken calling that person a jerk", to which Donnie Dawson laughs out loud!

Stephanie Abrams says that while it's still only September in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, where her recording studio is located, winter is coming. She says there is a feeling of the cold air starting to come in and rhetorically asks listeners "what they could possibly be thinking?" if they, like she, is in what is soon to be the frozen north. Stephanie suggests that they plan to put a beautiful winter-months destination on their travel calendar to treat themselves to a bit of sunshine and warmth along with a great cultural experience during the coming cold season.

Donnie agrees and says, "that when its 10 degrees below freezing, with so much snow before your front door that you can't even open it; when you need to put on ten layers of clothes just to stand the cold outside that they should know that there is a warm, 80 degree beach welcoming you; there is someone putting some nice cocktail drink in your hand and a banquet of yummy food on the table waiting."

Stephanie describes Donnie Dawson as a wonderful person, one of the nicest guys on the planet and someone that exudes all that is Jamaica, saying that he is a wonderful ambassador for the island and asks him how long he has been working for the Jamaica Tourist Board to which he slyly answers, "too long". Stephanie presses Donnie on the question so he sharpens his answer to "quite a while" to which Stephanie laughingly responds, "okay, we'll let it go."
Jamaica has grown up, explains Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board, and says he's been a student of the progression of Jamaica. As a destination, current verse past offerings in the accommodations sector with "fabulous beautiful high end resorts with a more modern plant and improved facilities" as well as Infrastructure development and improvement has seen tremendous growth as described by Donnie. He mentions the Montego Bay airport and how it contrasts with the airport 20 years ago.

Donnie Dawson admits that "no one wants to hang out at the airport, but if you have to, you want to hang somewhere that's nice," saying that the revamped Montego Bay airport offers all the comforts and amenities of a first world airport, representing a brand new facility. Stephanie mentions the sabrams.com Jamaica Photo Gallery 018: "Montego Bay Airport" and says that most travelers conjure a particular image when they think of an airport which usually includes a huge sprawling climate controlled, sanitized, institutional structure. In the photo Stephanie is remarking on, in Jamaica Photo Gallery 018, it's an image of a section of the Montego Bay Airport called Air Margareta Ville. It looks like you are sitting at a resort, not an airport.

Stephanie says that the state of Jamaica's roads is fantastic, which is something she says no one would have said 20 years ago. She also implies that the United States government has under invested in infrastructure on their islands in the Caribbean region (hinting most likely at the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). Donnie says that transportation between resort towns has been made much more efficient with common travel times that used to be two hours long down to forty five minutes.

Stephanie says "there's a feeling when you arrive at the airport in Jamaica that you have just unzipped this outer blanket from your neck all the way down to your toes and let the blanket fall to the ground and step away from all the stress of your outer skin and soak yourself into Jamaica. In the modern world, there are so many more stresses with technology and getting through daily living and that Jamaica is one of the places people should go to unload all of that and 'just be'". "Jamaica has a sense of humor about life; don't take it all so seriously," Donnie says, "you have to be able to laugh at yourself."

Donnie says "Jamaica offers every variety of hotel; from small to mid range to luxury resort, name brands and offers something for every pocket of tastes." He says that while "all-inclusive" means all-inclusive, Jamaica has a lot to offer once travelers leave their resort including, according to his last count, over 150 activities ranging from zip lining, horseback riding in the ocean or climbing Dunns River Falls (in Ocho Rios) to name a few.
Donnie Dawson says that many people ask him "what makes Jamaica so special?" He tells us that "Bob Marley wrote that 'There's a natural mystic blowing in the air and if you listen closely you will hear.' That's Jamaica. 7000 foot mountains, [a] small area, only 4411 square miles, not a huge island. When you look on a world map you need to look really closely to find it. What has Jamaica given the world? Right now the world's fastest man (Usain Bolt) and woman (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce); A music form in Reggae Music, in Bob Marley."

It's not just the people or the place; it’s the combination of them that makes Jamaica so special according to Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams. She remembers one of her favorite experiences, river rafting on the Martha Brae. Stephanie says her audience knows that she is the "biggest chicken on the planet, and that this isn't wild water rafting, it was like a scene out of the Humphrey Bogart movie The African Queen (1951. Directed by: John Huston), like another world, peaceful." Stephanie gives a shout-out to King Richard, her guide on the Martha Brae river raft trip, who navigated the raft and also made the trip so memorable with his warmth and character.

More airlines are coming into Jamaica making it easier and more affordable to get into Jamaica, Donnie lets us know. He says the island is served by all legacy carriers and local carriers and mentions JetBlue, Southwest, United, Delta, American and US Airways as airlines with routes. He says, "You can get from any major city, town, or hamlet in the US to Jamaica in one day."

According to Donnie, Southwest is starting a new service from William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, with daily flights starting November 1, 2015 and Delta flies four times a day from Atlanta to Montego Bay along with increased winter daily service from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He says there is new American Airlines nonstop service from Los Angeles, California twice a week to Montego Bay. According to Stephanie and Donnie it's never been easier or faster to get to Jamaica.

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For more information visit www.visitjamaica.com

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Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board, Miami, Florida, USA.

Hour 3

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Janet Langsam, CEO, ArtsWestchester, White Plains, Westchester County, New York, USA.

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For more information visit www.artswestchester.org

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Janet Langsam, CEO, ArtsWestchester, White Plains, Westchester County, New York, USA.

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