Caribbean Connection: George Washington House open for business in Barbados

Theres now a George Washington House on Barbados. Yes, the first president of the U.S. was a Caribbean tourist. In fact, his only visit outside the U.S. was to Barbados in 1751 when he and his older half-brother and guardian, Lawrence, stayed for seven weeks at a plantation home called the Bush Hill House.

According to Washingtons diary, Lawrence was ailing with tuberculosis, and his younger sibling cared for him during that time.

The Bush Hill Tourism Trust, in collaboration with the Barbados National Trust, restored the house and outbuildings during a six-year renovation that culminated with the reopening of the site on Feb. 22 for tours and private functions.

The restored, Georgian-style house is furnished as a typical, 18th-century plantation residence. The site now houses a museum, a gift shop and a cafe. A performance stage for evening events and a landscaped wedding arbor also are on site.

The George Washington House is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 per person.

For more information, visit www.georgewashingtonbarbados.org.

Almond resort opens on St. Lucia

Almond Smugglers Cove, Almond Resorts second all-inclusive property on St. Lucia, welcomed its first guests Feb. 26. Smugglers Cove, a 357-room resort, is on the site of the former Club St. Lucia on the islands northwest coast, eight miles north of Castries, St. Lucias capital.

Facilities include five pools; a racquet club with squash court and seven tennis courts; four restaurants and four bars; a spa and fitness center; a kids club; and water sports.

For more information, visit www.almondresorts.com.

No ifs, ands or butts

Puerto Ricos smoke-free regulations took effect March 2, placing it at the forefront of Caribbean destinations with a comprehensive smoking ban.

The law prohibits smoking in public areas, including casinos. Hotel rooms designated as smoke-friendly are exempt from the ban, but hotels must post the new regulations in every guest room and properly ventilate and maintain rooms where smoking is permitted.

A reflagging in Puerto Rico

Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts will reflag the Paradisus Puerto Rico as the Gran Melia Puerto Rico on May 1. The resort is in Rio Grande, about an hours drive east of San Juan.

The resort, which will have a European Plan (no meals included in the daily rate), will join the Gran Melia Cancun in Mexico as the second Gran Melia in the Caribbean.

Enhancements to the resort under the Gran Melia banner include The Level, a service for top-paying guests that will offer exclusive pool and beach areas and a personal concierge. The resort also will open the Yhi Spa, Sol Melias new spa brand.

For more information on the resort, visit www.solmelia.com.

Gay Nagle Myers is Travel Weekly's Caribbean editor. E-mail her at[email protected].

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