Destination: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

In Praise of the Book Exchange

In Praise of the Book Exchange Photo by dreamsjung via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by dreamsjung via Flickr (Creative Commons)

As I’ve mentioned, I loved nearly everything about my visit to Bequia, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, last week—but today, finding myself craving a nice, lightweight paperback novel, one particular memory from the island stands out.

The book exchange was ubiquitous there. I’m used to seeing them around hostels and budget guesthouses, but in Bequia, they were everywhere—from my hotel lobby to the restaurant where I ate lunch one day, it seemed there was a shelf full of paperbacks waiting for a trade in every corner.

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A First-Hand Look at Some Desperation Deals

A First-Hand Look at Some Desperation Deals Photo by exfordy via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exfordy via Flickr (Creative Commons)

There’s been a lot of talk about tourism numbers contracting during the economic crisis, and plenty of observers—our own Rolf Potts included—have pointed out that for the budget traveler, with the travel industry running scared and handing out deals left and right, there’s no better time to hit the road than right now.

Still, until I arrived in Barbados this week and started making some bookings for a visit to Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent, I didn’t fully understand the extent of the bargains out there.

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Saving the Hotel Industry—With Models!

It’s not all Singapore Slings over at Raffles HQ. Nope, they’re also quite proud to have made the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. That’s Raffles Canouan Island behind Bar Refaeli. (OK, it took me a little while to get my eyes off the foreground. Apologies). The hotel is also offering a package simulating the experience the models had, complete with a tour of the property where the shoots took place. Without the models on hand, it doesn’t have quite the same luster, but it’s still an interesting concept.

But is “Bar Refaeli writhed here” reason enough to visit a hotel? Unless you’re a creepy, creepy person, it is not. As nice as Canouan is—that is to say, nice enough to host a of bevy models—Raffles’ get says more about the Swimsuit Issue than anything else. It’s very hard for hotels, especially high-end hotels, to break through these days when the news is mostly bad and super deluxe amenities all start to sound the same. Having a supermodel or two in your back pocket can’t hurt, especially when Americans still stop and pay attention to SI’s annual fleshfest even as the rest of the magazine industry plummets. The lesson here? Make the Swimsuit Issue twice yearly, to save the hotel industry.

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