0

DIANE PHILLIPS: Rainy days and rainy nights, what's a poor soul to do?

photo

Diane Phillips

By DIANE PHILLIPS

Funny the things that cause you to think differently about a subject that was staring you right in the face all along. It happened to me recently. Late last Wednesday, I was heading to Florida. There was a long line in Immigration at LPIA and since you are not permitted to use a cell phone in Customs or Immigration, I did the next best thing and struck up a conversation with the two men behind me. They were clearly visitors, casually well-dressed, probably in their mid-30s, almost definitely athletes and so healthy and fit that if I knew how to play numbers I would have bet California. (Can you do that?)

Anyhow, it turned out they actually were from California though one had played for the Boston Celtics and now worked for the team in a different capacity. I only take this time to describe them in such detail because, if you could design desirable tourists who might even consider buying a home or bringing their families to The Bahamas year after year, the designer visitor would look like these two men.

“How was your trip?” I ventured to ask.

“Horrible,” said one. “The worst ever,” said the next.

“What happened?” I asked.

“It rained,” they said.

Click, light bulb on.

“It rained?” I pursued.

“Every day,” they responded. You can tell this was not a very deep conversation but what it revealed was worth every syllable it contained.

Turns out they had come here for the big poker tournament at Atlantis. They stayed at one of the highest end resorts on the property. Entry fee was $10,000. One of the men lasted 45 minutes and the tournament was over for him. And so they had a week of rain, they said, in The Bahamas, again repeating that it was, in their minds, the worst vacation ever.

Never at a loss for words, I suddenly was. I couldn’t think of a thing to say that would not sound superficial or uncaring or thoughtless or stupid. And then I realised the reason I could not think of an answer is because there was none. They were absolutely right. The Bahamas is not a vacation paradise when in place of sunny days and balmy evenings, you get rainy days and rainy nights.

We could fix that. If sun, sand, sea and all other outdoor, fair-weather sport is Plan A, hotels, cruise ships, marinas, Airbnb and other short-term rentals could put together Plan B.

What does Plan B look like? It looks something like this.

For rainy days in Nassau (and you can substitute Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma…), try racing a car – it’s called race simulation – or flying a jet – also simulated. Take a tour and encounter pirates and historic figures in period costume brandishing swords and harbouring evil thoughts. Find haunted houses and gardens, coves and beaches that once were part of a famous movie scene. See where James Bond wined, dined and escaped death in the nick of time to win the affections of a hot and sexy blonde. Or where Daniel Craig followed in his footsteps or emerged from the sea in a highly memorable Speedo or where Johnny Depp fought the Pirates of the Caribbean before buying an island himself.

See centuries-old churches with histories on their walls that tell a tale of sailors’ daring and life at sea long before Pan Am flew its first plane to the shores of The Bahamas. Shop at a high-end jewelry store with rounded brick ceiling, once the munitions storehouse.

The forts of The Bahamas, and particularly Fort Charlotte in Nassau, are begging to be the staging ground for tales of piracy. Fort Charlotte is host to sporadic brief performances and those could and should be expanded and marketed. Period dress should be standard at all forts and staffers trained in the fascinating history of The Bahamas.

As for other rainy day activities, one of the most exciting is simulation. The new jet simulator is open near the Hilton and two motor sports simulators have just arrived in Nassau. A “driver” who pays about $1 a minute or a bit more can get behind the wheel of a fast car and virtually race against any driver on any pre-programmed course.

So that gentleman who felt there was nothing to do in the rain could have been sitting in Nassau virtually racing someone in Tokyo on a Le Mans track and if he didn’t win, he could try and try again until he came first. Apparently, these adrenaline-percolating simulators are great fun and highly addictive.

We could build an indoor karting track with electric go-karts, a sport that is growing in popularity. Tracks could be constructed in New Providence and Grand Bahama giving local kids, families and visitors a mutual playground experience. The smart operator will include a café, t-shirts and other retail and an entertainment centre plus a road safety component for educational purposes like the edu-karting program that currently takes place in some government schools.

Nassau cries out, too, for a proper race circuit. A 160-acre site was selected off Gladstone Road. I am not sure where that stands but imagine corporate packages and visitors from Baha Mar, Atlantis, the cruise ships and elsewhere being able to come to The Bahamas and get behind the wheel of a red Ferrari, a selfie opportunity if ever there was one.

Okay, so part of Plan B is still a work in progress but there is no reason to believe that every bit of it and more cannot be achieved. We are kidding ourselves if we think that we are a winning tourist destination and we make no provision for when the sun doesn’t shine.

According to quickly available data, April through August are the wettest months, though January of 2018 could give the traditional summer rains a run for their money this year.

That same data tells us The Bahamas enjoys an average of 53.5 inches of rainfall a year. Grand Bahama gets more, 60 inches, and Nassau less, some 47 inches a year though there are days when it feels like the year’s rainfall fell that day.

The driest spot is Matthew Town, Great Inagua, where on just about any day you could hang out with the flamingoes without running for foul weather gear.

Hotels could offer dancing lessons when it rains, or healthy cooking or antique shopping tips. They could show old movies.

With the way global warming is turning the world’s weather on its head we really should start thinking about “what if?”

Remember, those two Californian visitors returned home to tell their friends what a dreadful time they’d had. This is precisely the sort of marketing we can do without.

Given that there is some rain, even if just a shower, 130 days a year in The Bahamas and given that tourism is the engine that drives the economy and puts food on our table, don’t you think a Plan B is in order? Personally, it could give The Bahamas a distinctive edge and just think of the marketing possibilities.

Comments

Reality_Check 4 years, 7 months ago

Ms Phillips should pop another pill and The Tribune should seek better writers to fill its columns.

0

ThisIsOurs 4 years, 6 months ago

Not sure how to rate a good article versus a not good article. But I got the point. It's hard to find something exciting on a sunny day, it must be torture for the tourist when it rains. I've never even thought of it before. I don't like the simulators, why would I come to paradise to sit in a simulator? The indoor race track is "ok", but I'd prefer something cultural and some entertainment, I believe I heard Fred a Ferguson talking about a native show. maybe food entertainment could have that right down by the soccer stadium with the big screens. Oh I forgot that it's raining...well somewhere covered...That covers two days someone else can think of what to do for the other 5 days.

A mini ball? Something where they get to dress up for an evening of elegance? Entertainment has to be different to what they get at the native show though.

And of course every week we have a Junkanoo parade, a real one, not the 15 guys in scruffy costumes and one or two girls, a 200-300 strong year round entertainment group. How will they get paid? I don't know, I'm just throwing out ideas. 10 million per year to pay each member 36,000. That's a relatively high salary on average, you could half that and still give people meaningful employment.

To spread things out, you could give each person three months of work, so you would impact in total 1200 people. That way they keep their day job and get additional income of about 4000+

0

ThisIsOurs 4 years, 6 months ago

Added to the above, create Two native shows, completely different content. An outdoor complex built to account for the eventuality of rain. Show content is changed every year...well I leave frequency to the experts, but if it's not changing every year it better be content as exciting as a Broadway musical, not just the same old fire dance and obeah man

0

sheeprunner12 4 years, 6 months ago

Diane Phillips MUST be a MOT consultant ......... If not, she sure is on the shortlist now!!!!!!!!!!

0

Sign in to comment