Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: August 18, 2005

MARRIOTT INTERNATIONALS CARIBBEAN portfolio -- which includes 7,000 rooms in six lodging brands comprising 21 hotels and resorts in 10 destinations -- will add additional properties to the portfolio, according to Ed Fuller, president and managing director. In San Juan, these include the 248-room Renaissance La Concha Hotel, the former La Concha Hotel on Condado Beach, which will open in late 2006; and the Courtyard by Marriott Miramar in the Miramar section, which will open later this year following renovation of and conversion from the existing139-room Excelsior Hotel. The 450-room JW Marriott Hotel Dos Mares in Puerto Rico will open in 2008 while the 128-room Courtyard by Marriott Santiago in the Dominican Republic is slated to open next year. Fuller said the long-delayed opening of the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, damaged during construction last year by Hurricane Ivan, is now set for late this year.  Meanwhile, the 309-room Grand Cayman Marriott, which completed a $15 million renovation after the hurricane, reopened 200 rooms in June and will have the rest back in operation by the end of the year, he added. Regarding the rest of the Caribbean, "the potential for more hotels is impressive, and we are looking at several sites, Fuller noted.

MARRIOTT also launched three new Escape! packages, valid through Dec. 15, at eight Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance resorts that cover romance, family and do-it-your-way programs. The Anniversary in Paradise packages, which debut Sept. 5 at select Marriott and Renaissance properties, offer couples who honeymoon at one resort a 20% discount on their first anniversary at another resort. In addition, the Kids Spa packages, in effect at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, will be introduced at other Marriott properties as well. For details, visit www.marriott.com

LODGEPODGE

" Sandals Dunns River Golf Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios, Jamaica is closed through Dec. 18 for a $14 million renovation program that will include a redesigned lobby, an upgrade of its 250 rooms and suites and the addition of Sandals signature Red Lane Spa. Guests who were booked at Dunns River are being accommodated at the nearby Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort or at other Sandals properties. For details, visit www.sandals.com.

" Riu Hotels & Resorts purchased the Aruba Grand Beach Resort & Casino and will rebrand and manage the 171-room property as the all-inclusive Riu Aruba Grand. The purchase marks the hotel firms entry into the southern Caribbean. Spain-based Riu Hotels owns and operates 110 properties worldwide, including 24 in the Bahamas, Florida, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and now Aruba. For details, visit www.riu.com.

 

UNITED VACATIONS will offer new service and packages to the Caribbean, effective Dec. 16, as well as expanded service from Chicago (O'Hare), Denver and Washington (Dulles). New service from Washington includes five weekly flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica; four nonstops a week to Nassau, Bahamas, and to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and two weekly flights to St. Maarten. Expanded service from Washington includes two additional weekly flights to Aruba, for a total of four, and three more weekly flights to St. Thomas, for a total of four. Expanded service from Chicago to Montego Bay includes one additional flight per week, for a total of three a week, and one more to St. Thomas, for a total of three a week. United Vacations will continue to offer three weekly flights each to Punta Cana and Aruba and one weekly flight to St. Maarten from Chicago. Packages include roundtrip air, accommodations, transfers and 24-hour traveler assistance. Book through www.vacationaccess.com or by calling (800) 328-6877.

OOPS!

" The three-night Lady Luck package offered through Dec. 15 at the Martineau Bay Resort & Spa on Vieques, Puerto Rico, is priced at $550 per person, based on a group of four. An incorrect price was listed in the Aug. 11 Caribbean E-letter. To book the package, call (866) 716-8108 and ask for the Lady Luck poker package.

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