ohpsalms_island_hopping

Island hopping with Omar

OMAR HAMILTON knows about having a good time. In fact, his desire to have a good time prompted him and a few friends to start taking trips over the Memorial Day weekend in the United States.  “I actually came up with the concept in my bedroom eight years ago,” Omar said. “It started with about 25 friends, and it has since taken on a life of its own.”      Since that inaugural trip, Omar and his friends have travelled to places like Jamaica, Aruba, Mexico, just having fun away from the United States. Their trips became so popular that as each year passes, more and more people join their weekend jaunts.      Then Omar had other ideas: get sponsorship, and make the trip part of his business ventures.     Omar, an event planner and former student of Howard University, has planned a fund-raiser for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, and also worked extensively with Camille McDonald of America’s Top Model fame.  So when he realized that the numbers of people were increasing for this year’s trip (to Barbados), which he dubbed Limin’ In The Sun, he decided to solicit sponsors, and Mount Gay and Fireball came on board.     “This year’s trip to Barbados was our biggest group so far . . . 170 people,” Omar said proudly. “Everyone loved the island so much we’re working on a trip for Crop Over.”    Omar handles all the planning, all the logistics for each trip, and organizes hotel accommodation and airfare for all those travelling in the group.  “New people have to fill out an application with the group and also provide a reference as well,” Omar said. “Your reference is responsible for you, and you must have one.”  So how does someone organize a trip for 170 people and have it come off without a hitch? Well for Omar, it’s easy as long as he maintains control of everything.   “I’m a bit of a control freak, but it’s easier if I’m the one dealing with the hotels, the tour operators and the parties involved,” he said. “All people really have to do is pay their money and show up and have fun.”   For Omar, choosing the islands is really like a returning home.  His family hails from Jamaica, so he is very familiar with life in the tropics.   “I’m the only one in my family who was born in New York,” he said.    But among the scores of people descending on Barbados was Omar’s brother, who came over from Jamaica to enjoy the weekend’s festivities.      “We had a full itinerary, with a trip on the Jolly Roger and a catamaran cruise. Mount Gay even hosted a private reception for our guests, and last Saturday we had a beach party sponsored by Turtle Beach and Fireball,” Omar said. “This was our best trip to date.”      Omar’s efforts weren’t lost on the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), which was pleased with the contingent of visitors that he brought to the island.      “You don’t usually get a lot of Gen-Xers and Generation Ys of African American descent from North America,” said BTA chairman Adrian Elcock. “A taste of Turtle Beach is a good segue for fostering good relationships.”     While Omar was pleased with the turnout and the fact that the guests had a good time, the group also made a donation to the Blackman and Gollop Primary School.     “Each person had to bring one book, which we donated to the graduating class of Blackman Gollop Primary School,” Omar said. “We donated 400 books and two Kindles to the school.      “We’re fortunate that we live in a world where as professionals we have the experiences and the resources we can share and give back, so why not share your blessings?”

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