Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: April 8, 2008

SANDALS RESORTS INTERNATIONAL introduced Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts as the fourth brand in its portfolio, joining Sandals, Beaches and the Royal Plantation Collection. Sandals called Grand Pineapple a "value-oriented" brand. Two existing resorts will be reflagged on June 1 with the moniker. The 180-room Grand Pineapple Beach Resort on Antigua's northeast coast will become the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua, and the 65-room Negril Gardens in Jamaica will become the Grand Pineapple Beach Negril. The new economy brand will target singles, couples, families and groups. All-inclusive rates, which will be between 35% and 55% lower than the prices at Sandals, Beaches and the Royal Plantation Collection, will cover accommodations, meals, snacks, unlimited drinks, watersports and entertainment. While the prices are lower, Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts "is not sacrificing service or standards," according to Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International.

THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC plans to invest approximately $1 billion in its tourism infrastructure by 2012, according to Felix Jimenez, minister of tourism. Major developments are taking place along the island's north and east coasts as well as in the south-central region, Jimenez said. Luxury brands along the east coast include Aman, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Westin. On the north coast, Cabarete, which is "an emerging destination for kiteboarding," according to Jimenez, will add a boutique hotel and bar/restaurant this year. In the south-central region, a convention center is planned for Santo Domingo. Cruise numbers totaled more than 300,000 last year, up 18% over 2006, and are expected to jump to half a million this year, according to Magaly Toribio, vice minister of tourism; the new Sans Souci Port in Santo Domingo is expected to formally open within the next few months. Tourist stopovers totaled more than 3.9 million in 2007, up slightly from 2006. Tourists from North America accounted for 48% of all visitors, with 34% from the US and 14% from Canada; Europe came in at 39% with the remaining visitors from Latin America.

PACKAGE DEALS
• Hotel firms and tour operators hope to cash in on the 08/08/08 date for destination weddings this year, as they did for 07/07/07. Elite Island Resorts' six properties on four islands will offer a complementary wedding package (regularly priced at $899) for couples who book a premium luxury category honeymoon stay of at least seven or 10 nights (depending upon the resort). For details, visit www.eliteislandresorts.com.
• Sandals Resorts, meanwhile, will unveil its 8/8/08 Infinity Wedding package, priced at $4,888 per couple, and its Eight Steps of Love package, priced at $888 per couple, on Aug. 8 at its 12 resorts in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua and the Bahamas. The wedding package includes floral decor by wedding planner Preston Bailey, an eight-course dinner for the bridal couple and six guests, a two-tiered cake, a photographer and music. The Eight Steps of Love covers breakfast in bed, a morning sail, a picnic lunch, a massage, a candlelight dinner on the beach and a photo session. For details, call (800) SANDALS.

PENCIL IT IN
• 18th annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), April 25 to 27, Kingston. For details, visit www.jhta.org/japex.htm.
• 12th Annual St. Kitts Music Festival, June 26 to 28, St. Kitts. Grammy winner John Legend will headline the event. Other artists include Billy Ocean and Kassav, the leading Zouk musical act. For details, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers
Phone:
(201) 902-1924
[email protected]
For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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