NEW YORK, NY – Martinique continues to roll out the red carpet for visitors in 2011 with enhanced attractions, new restaurants, and excursions highlighting the most recent additions to the island’s tourism product.
BALATA GARDENS AERIAL PATHS ( www.jardindebalata.fr )
Covering seven lush acres in the hills above Fort-de-France with more than 1,000 species of native flora laid-out over an intricate network of paved trails, the Balata Gardens have been a favorite stopping point for nature-loving visitors to Martinique for years. New for 2010, an aerial path has been added, giving visitors a breath-taking bird’s-eye view of the gardens and surrounding hills from wooden walkways suspended 50-feet in the air.
DEPAZ DISTILLERY OPENS “CHATEAU” TO THE PUBLIC ( www.depazrhum.com )
The plantation house of the famed Depaz Distillery has been opened to the public for the first time in 2010. The former master’s house contains a precious collection of colonial-era artifacts, archival documents, Creole period clothing, and antique furniture, providing a unique look at Martinique’s plantation history. Established in 1651, Depaz Rhum is made exclusively from fresh blue sugar cane seasonally harvested and produced on the picturesque Depaz Estate located near the historic northern seaside town of Saint-Pierre.
LILI’S BEACH BAR & RESTAURANT
Martinique’s newest hot spot to see and be seen, Lili’s is a chic beachfront bar and restaurant located at the La Batliere hotel in Schoelcher. New menu choices are served up daily under the auspices of Chef Johnny Vahey, a native of Ireland who apprenticed under renowned celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsey. Chef Vahey describes the cuisine as refined Caribbean/Creole with French accents and an emphasis on fresh, local products. The gourmet fare runs counter to Lili’s casual, laid-back setting, lending a uniquely alluring, tropical style epitomizing the French Riviera in the Caribbean.
Named in honor of Martinique’s famed poet, Aimé Césaire, this charming eatery located in downtown Fort-de-France features the culinary creations of Chef Harold Jeanville, formerly of Ti’ Foyaal and Lenotre in Paris where he worked alongside such culinary masters as Pierre Hermé and Alain Ducasse. The dynamic menu changes daily, ensuring a unique dining experience with every visit.
Le Gossip is the talk of the town among young, hip locals in Martinique. A restaurant, boutique, and art gallery all in one, Le Gossip regularly hosts fashion shows, poetry readings, speed dating, wine tastings, and more in a lively downtown Fort-de-France location.
Located on the second floor of the historic and newly-refurbished Hotel L’Imperatice, Le Josephine offers an elegant dining experience in the heart of downtown Fort-de-France. Dark wood furniture, stark white linens, and colorful stemware in greens and purples create a whimsically stylish setting befitting the hotel’s 1950s era heritage.
For US travelers, getting to Martinique to enjoy these new enhancements will be easier beginning November 18, 2010 when a new second daily flight via American Eagle resumes service from San Juan. Offering improved connectivity to flights between San Juan and the mainland US over the previous once daily service, the schedule for the new second flight is as follows:
AA Eagle Flight #4896 departs San Juan at 1:50 pm, arriving in Fort-de-France at 3:45 pm
AA Eagle Flight #4897 departs Fort-de-France at 4:15 pm, arriving in San Juan at 6:09 pm
Pre-existing American Eagle daily flights, which arrive in Martinique at 9:20 pm and depart back to San Juan at 7:35 am, will continue as usual.
HOTEL DEVELOPMENT & GUEST ACCOMMODATIONS
LA BATELIERE TO BECOME A RADISSON
By the end of next year, US travelers will also have a new, yet familiar address at which to stay when visiting Martinique as the conversion of the La Bateliere from an independent hotel into a Radisson is slated for completion in December 2011. The comprehensive renovation of the property will be carried out in two phases, enabling the hotel to remain open throughout the year with minimal impact on the guest experience. The result will be a completely new hotel upholding the high standards US travelers have come to expect from the Radisson brand all over the world.
ABOUT MARTINIQUE ( www.martinique.org )
The Caribbean island with French flair, The Isle of Flowers, The Rum Capital of the World, The Isle of the Famed Poet (Aimé Césaire) – by any one of its many names – Martinique remains one of the most alluring and enchanting destinations in the world. Named “Best Gourmet Island of the Year” in 2008 and 2009 by Caribbean World Magazine, Martinique is an overseas region of France that stirs the passions with distinctive culinary delights, awe-inspiring natural beauty, a rich cultural history, warm smiles, and so much more. Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, was born and raised here. Majestic Mt. Pelée and The Pompeii of the Caribbean, St. Pierre, is found here. The finest French products, from Chanel fashions to Limoges porcelain, are readily available here. La Route des Rhums, a tour of the world’s finest rum distilleries based on France’s famed Route des Vins, is offered here. A special place, to be sure, with so much to offer – Martinique c’est magnifique!