Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: April 24, 2007

OFFICIALS BROKE GROUND on a 7,300-foot runway and international airport terminal on the island of Mayaguana, a sleepy Bahamian outpost 350 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas Out Islands, about 50 miles west of the Turks and Caicos. Mayaguana, the least developed and most isolated island within the Bahamas' family of islands, was uninhabited until 1812 when several groups of islanders from the Turks and Caicos rowed over to it. Its population today stands at 259 inhabitants. Accommodations include a 16-room inn and an even smaller guest house. That's all about to change. The first phase of the development project, which is a joint venture between Boston-based I-Group and the Bahamas government's Hotel Corp. of the Bahamas, will include a luxury boutique resort; restaurants; a spa, a yoga facility and a fitness center; a marina village; private villas; and four designated nature preserves. Perry Christie, Bahamas' prime minister, said that Mayaguana, which has been "long forgotten, neglected and forsaken, can now rise and take its place at the national table as a full partner." The new airport will have facilities for customs and immigration and will be able to handle 737s and 757s. Currently, Mayaguana is served by BahamasAir on three flights a week from Nassau and Freeport as well 15-minute air taxi flights to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Neither a timeline nor a dollar amount for the development has been released.

LODGE PODGE

" The Crane Resort & Residences on the southeast coast of Barbados has completed the first seven phases of a nine-phase, multi-million-dollar redevelopment program that includes a multi-tier, 1.5-acre pool complex, according to owner Paul Doyle. The 40-acre property, which opened in 1887, is considered one of the oldest, continuously operating resort hotels in the Caribbean. The resort will open two new buildings in June housing 56 suites ranging in size from junior suites to three-bedroom units; the existing 18 oceanfront rooms in the Marine Villa, the original hotel building, have been redone. When completed, the Crane Resort will offer 202 rooms and suites, some of which will be offered as private residences at different times during the year. Still to come are a spa, lighted tennis courts and the Crane Village Town Center, which will feature a choice of gourmet and casual restaurants. For details, visit www.thecrane.com.

" The 524-room all-inclusive Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay in Jamaica has teamed up with several U.S. wholesalers to offer savings of up to 50% on the hotel portion of air/hotel packages for travel through June 30 and again from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. A minimum three-night stay is required in either standard or superior room categories. The property also relaunched its Risk-Free SunSpree hurricane guarantee from June 1 through Nov. 30 (also offered at the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba), which guarantees rebooking without penalty for guests unable to travel due to airport closures; if a hurricane interrupts hotel operations for more than 24 hours, guests on property receive a certificate for a free future stay. http://montegobayjam.sunspreeresorts.com.

CRUISE ARRIVALS in St. Kitts are forecast to increase more than 70% in 2008 as compared to 2007 due to the addition of the Carnival Destiny, which will be the first cruise ship to call there on a weekly, year-round basis, according to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. The ship will bring in more than 130,000 passengers next year to St. Kitts, beginning with its first call on Jan. 10. The ship will spend a full day in port on each call. "We are approaching the 400,000-annual-passenger milestone in the growth of St. Kitts' cruise tourism industry," said Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism, sports and culture. He said the destination is concerned about seasonality, sustainability and the quality of the visitor experience and expenditure as the growth continues. One measure that has been taken to help handle the anticipated growth of cruise and overnight visitors is the certification of more than 60 new taxi drivers in the past year. All drivers are required to pass extensive hospitality training prior to licensing. For island information, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

 

THE BARBADOS CONCORDE EXPERIENCE was unveiled April 16 in a $3.5 million, 28,000-square-foot facility at Grantley Adams Airport. The attraction includes a virtual flight school, a departure lounge, an observation deck, an inflight experience, a multimedia presentation and the aircraft itself. Barbados beat out more than 70 other countries to showcase the supersonic aircraft, which traveled at twice the speed of sound. Only 20 Concordes were manufactured -- six for development and 14 for commercial aviation operations. The Barbados Tourism Investment agency hopes to develop a permanent aviation museum in the near future to house the Barbados Concorde Experience, according to Anthony Ellis, chairman. The Barbados Concorde Experience is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $17.50 for adults and $12.50 for children 12 and under. Special group rates are available.

Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers

Phone: (201) 902-1924

[email protected]

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