“Here in Trinidad, proximity to South America adds a Latin twist to our Caribbean home, while our African and East Indian heritage is strong also,” says Gunda Busch-Harewood of Island Experiences DMC. German-born Gunda touts Trinidad’s openness to visitors from the world over. “The natural gas business is booming so we are not tourism-based,” says Gunda. “That means the welcome groups get is genuine.”
For Gunda, that welcome includes showing off as much of the “Rainbow Island” as time allows. The basic tour includes a visit to Port of Spain’s town square; the Victorian mansion-lined Queen’s Park Savannah; a drive to Pitch Lake, the world’s largest natural deposit of asphalt; and a stop at steel pan jam sessions with up to 50 steelband drummers. She also travels further afield to the rainforest-covered northern mountain range.
Gunda’s son Tano Harewood, in the business since toddling ahead on hikes to show groups his favorite spots, explains that Island Experiences’ main focus is culture and nature. “Once in the rainforest, I’m as blown away as any guests by the waterfalls and the beauty,” he says. His favorite sight is the 8-foot leatherback turtles.
Gunda also offers “Trinbagonian” cuisine programs mingling world flavors. Along with sampling of Port of Spain’s best restaurants, groups get an inside look at the kitchens. We like the kataifi-wrapped lamb at the 100-pax Chaud. Gourmet cooking classes are customized for teambuilding for 20, and you get a fun survey of world civilizations while eating.
Arveon Mills, sales manager for Trinidad & Tobago Convention Bureau, says, “We have a wide range of cultures converging in Trinidad & Tobago: East Indian, Chinese, Asian and Africa. So much of our food reflects our ethnicity.” Mills says to experience that, groups should work with DMCs to create customized tours and events along Ariapita Avenue in Port of Spain, filled with local diners such as El Pecos. “On a Wednesday evening you can find live entertainment at Sweet Lime,” she says. “On Fridays, you’ll find crowds bursting out onto the street at places like Mangoes or Squeeze.
For both day and night events, check out the new National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA), located near Queen’s Park Savannah. Theater capacity is 1,500 patrons.