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Topics Include: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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Click here for the Jamaica Tourist Board Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Jamaica Tourist Board in one place.
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For more information visit www.visitjamaica.com
Guests Include:Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board, Miami, Florida, USA.
Topics Include:Paul Carty, Managing Director, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland.
In the heart of central Dublin and set in the middle of the Guinness brewery this 1902 building features seven levels of interactive exhibits
Travel Expert Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams speaks with Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse which is an interactive museum experience on the grounds of the Guinness Brewery in central Dublin, Ireland. Paul says his last name comes from Mayo where his father is from and that there aren't that many "Carty's" in Ireland. Stephanie says she is "crazy about Mayo" and the N17, and that now with new roads it's easy to get from anywhere in Ireland to Dublin within a few hour's drive.
Paul Carty says that the Guinness Storehouse just won a major award at the World Travel Awards in Sardinia, Italy, where they took home the prize for Europe's leading tourist attraction. He says they were up against some very stiff competition including Buckingham Palace in London, England, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and the Coliseum in Rome, Italy. Stephanie Abrams says that she always thought that the Guinness Storehouse was a "must-see" spot on the European tourism map and that the award recognition comes as no surprise. Paul Carty agrees that the recent award confirms it. Stephanie says that she can't imagine travelers going to Ireland and not stopping to visit the Guinness Storehouse because "it is the most glorious, fun, interesting, educational experience, and I don't drink much alcohol, so you don't need to be a drinker to do it, but if you happen to be [a drinker] there's a party there for you." Paul agrees that you don't need to be a drinker to enjoy the two and a half hour experience with wonderful entertainment and a spectacular 360 degree panoramic view over Dublin city.
Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse says that about one and a half million people visit the Guinness Storehouse each year and that approximately 93% of them are from overseas with the largest proportion originating from the USA comprising about 25% of the total. Visitors from the UK and continental Europe are the second and third largest proportion of visitors.
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams remarks that the Guinness Storehouse is very easy to walk to from Dublin city center since the main brewery is in the city center itself. Also, she notes that that if you happen to be staying at The Morgan hotel it's very convenient and an easy walk, having made the trip herself. On her visit to the facility she was very lucky to be given a private tour by her friend Mark Leslie, a frequent contributor on the "Travelers411" Radio Show and the "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show. Stephanie warns that visitors to popular attractions are in for a shock when they arrive to find a very long wait in line for admission. Many attractions now offer a "fast pass" or reservation mechanism that allows visitors to simply bypass the long waits and notes that in many cases accompanying a tour bus group is a good way to cut wait times. If staying in Dublin she mentions The Morgan hotel, part of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, as a place where fast passes may be made available to guests for visiting the Guinness Storehouse.
Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams asks Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse to give listeners a floor by floor description of what they will find on each level of the Guinness Storehouse. She remembers that on her visit one of the fun things to do at the Guinness Storehouse was being able to send an email postcard to people using an interactive kiosk. She says this was quite a while ago, so visitors may not have been as savvy with internet technology as they are today, but back when she visited it was very nifty. Paul says that exhibit has been changed, but that there are some wonderful new features waiting for visitors.
Paul tells us that the Storehouse is located right in the center of the Guinness Brewery and the entrance is flanked by a "gigantic" waterfall, "enormous" barley pit along with other ingredients like yeast and hops on display and that the building has seven total floors including spaces for a tasting area, coffee shop, interactive advertising exhibit, the art of Guinness and philanthropic work. He says that another highlight is that the building is shaped like a huge pint glass and visitors migrate to the top level during their visit because they are walking through the exhibit path on a slight upward gradient.
Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse says that a whole new floor has been dedicated to the history of Guinness advertising with interactive exhibits and artwork on display. The Guinness Academy exhibit teaches visitors how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, where they will receive a certificate if they succeed in a perfect pour and can send a photograph, free of charge, to their friends. He says that on the fifth floor there are three restaurants to choose from to enjoy great meals with a fantastic chef as well as lots of food cooked with Guinness and served with Guinness. Stephanie asks Paul if there were restaurants at the facility when she first visited in 2007 and he confirms that there was only one restaurant at that time, but now there are three restaurants, all on the fifth floor, as well as a coffee shop on the ground level.
Paul Carty says that Guinness is famous for its advertising and the Storehouse has dedicated its third floor to sharing that history and mentions artist John Gilroy who created a series of cartoon type adverts such as "Guinness for Strength" depicting a construction worker character carrying a steel I-beam with one arm as well as many famous zoo character adverts such as the Guinness toucan. Paul says that Guinness was one of the few companies going into advertising at that time and the results are iconic and very worth looking at. Stephanie says she loves looking at all the ads and that she could easily spend an hour or two just going through them all.
Paul Carty says that the Guinness Storehouse building dates back to 1902. The Guinness family apparently sent some people to America where they visited Chicago and drew influence from the Chicago School of Architecture when designing the structure and chose to build with red bricks and use steel interiors as a result. Paul says the architecture in Chicago was informed by the famous fires that ravaged the city in the late 1800's. Paul tells that about a year ago American film star Tom Cruise made a visit to the Guinness Storehouse and Paul began telling him about the history of the building at which point Tom Cruise interrupted him saying that he knew all about the building and that in fact had filmed a portion of "Far and Away" outside of the building. Paul says that standing on the top floor of the Guinness Storehouse in the Gravity Bar is also a great start to an Irish exploration because it gives visitors a wonderful chance to get oriented with the layout of the city.
Show Host Stephanie says that she has witnessed numerous arguments between Guinness aficionados and bartenders, in the US, about how a Guinness should be poured, how much head there should be, etc. and entreats Paul to tell listeners the definitive technique on pouring a perfect pint. Paul Carty shares the secret of the perfect Guinness pour saying "first and foremost you must have a Guinness Glass" and that it is a two part pour. During the first stage of the two part pour it is important that you pour the Guinness at a 45 degree angle up to about 70% full at which point you should let it settle until it goes black and the nitrogen gives it a white head. After the Guinness has settled you then push the tap backwards and fill the glass until the head is just right size with the top of the head slightly protruding the top of the glass. He says that barmen should make sure they use the two part pour so when they put it in front of the customer it's black and white, not brown, indicating that it's settled. He says it takes 196 seconds for the first stage of the two part poured Guinness to settle properly. After that, you top it up with the second stage of the two part pour. The head on a perfect pint should be roughly ½ inch tall; "a nice decent size". Paul says that there's also a special method for tasting a Guinness, not all that different from wine tasting methods. He says that you should first taste a Guinness by taking a fairly decent gulp and breathing out with your nose after you swallow. He says you will get a lovely caramel chocolate flavor. As you drink your way down the perfect pint Guinness will leave "a lovely lacing where the Guinness clings to the glass all the way down to the bottom".
Paul Carty says that if on foot, pedestrians would gently climb in altitude as they walk to the Guinness Storehouse from Dublin city center. He says Dublin city is quite small so the coastline is always very close and that when visitors are in the Gravity Bar they can see the coastline very clearly since it is on the top level of the Storehouse and features a 360 degree glass paned view of Dublin and also that the bar is the highest point in Dublin.
While staying in Dublin, Paul Carty notes that there are several nearby coastal towns which may make for a good day trip and are easy to access in a short amount of time by using the DART system. Some nearby coastal towns include Dalkey, Malahide, with Howthe on the north side of Dublin. Stephanie Abrams describes Howthe as an old fishing village and suggests visitors stop into the Abbey Tavern owned by James Scott Lennon and St. Patrick's castle just up the hill which is owned by Ethne St. Patrick.
Paul says it's been too long since Stephanie's last visit and they want her back! He hopes very much that Stephanie's listeners come to visit the Guinness Storehouse where he assures them they will receive a warm Irish welcome.
Click here for the Guinness Storehouse Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Guinness Storehouse in one place.
Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Paul Carty.
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For more information visit www.guinness-storehouse.com
News and Updates from Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams
Guests Include:Paul Carty, Managing Director, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland.
Topics Include:Kerry Hing, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Park City, Park City, Utah, USA.
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Click here for the Waldorf Astoria Park City Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Waldorf Astoria Park City in one place.
Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Kerry Hing.
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For more information visit www.parkcitywaldorfastoria.com
Guests Include:Kerry Hing, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Park City, Park City, Utah, USA.