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Cotton Tree art classSure, snapshots and postcards make great vacation mementos, but for a truly unforgettable souvenir, why not capture your surroundings the old-fashioned way? At these three tropical getaways, guests can create their own paintings or sketches with the help of professional artists. Now that’s something worth hanging on the fridge when you get home!

Sketching Classes at Cotton Tree, Grand Cayman

Among Cotton Tree’s plethora of bespoke activities available on-site, the boutique hotel offers sketching classes with a local artist (see one of his sketches above). Each session goes through instruction for using a variety of media, such as pencils and water brushes, while teaching the basics of drawing everything from small objects to landscapes. (I participated in a class when I visited Cotton Tree last year – no previous artistic skills required!) Classes run from 2-4 hours; cost is $85/person/hour. www.caymancottontree.com


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Watercolor Classes at Jake’s, Jamaica

In a similar vein, offbeat Jake’s at Jamaica’s Treasure Beach presents watercolor classes for teens and adults with two local resident artists. Whether you’re an A+ art student or a total novice, you’ll enjoy painting scenes from island life. Times and locations are flexible, and family and children’s classes are also available on request. The classes will be offered through April 2. Adults sessions last 2-3 hours and cost $60/person/hour; children’s (12 and under) classes last 1-2 hours and cost $50/person/hour. www.islandoutpost.com

Artist-in-Residence Programs at the W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island

The Creative Retreats program at the W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island brings in artists from a variety of fields (sculpture, photography, architecture) to take up residence at the hotel and practice their craft while drawing in guests through interactive art classes and demonstrations. The first artist-in-residence, David “LEBO” Le Batard – known for his live painting during concerts with musicians like the Beastie Boys and Disco Biscuits – culminated his stay with a special exhibition of the works he created while there. Note Le Batard’s time at the W Vieques has ended, but a new artist should be arriving soon. www.wvieques.com

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