Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Dec. 16, 2004

CURFEW LIFTED: The three month-old curfew in Grand Cayman was lifted last week by Gov. Bruce Dinwiddy. The 6 p.m to 6 a.m. curfew, first put in place on Sept. 14 after a state of emergency was declared due to massive devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan, was gradually reduced as conditions improved. Right before the curfew was lifted on Dec. 9, the curfew ran from midnight to 5 a.m. Cruise ships have returned to the island; many properties, shops and restaurants have reopened. Still in short supply are taxis and rental cars, although many visitors rent bicycles to pedal around the flat island. Cayman Airways will launch its weekly Boston-Grand Cayman service on Dec. 17.

PACKAGE DEALS

" US Airways Vacations' Puerto Rico is Fun program must be booked by April 11 for travel through April 14. Packages include roundtrip air, transfers, accommodations with daily breakfast at a choice of 11 properties in and around San Juan, transfers, discounts on attractions, hotel meals and car rentals. For details, call (800) 455-0123.

" Classic Custom Vacations' 2005 Caribbean portfolio includes 13 new resorts, bringing the firm's total to 135 premier properties on 20 islands. The new additions include the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, opening next October; Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa, Jamaica, opening Feb. 10, and Paradisus Puerto Rico, the island's only all-inclusive resort, which opened last March.

LODGEPODGE

" A $5 million, 5,000-square-foot casino is planned adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma on Emerald Bay in the Bahamas. The casino, which will be operated by Pinnacle Entertainment of Las Vegas, is expected to open in late 2005, pending government approvals and the execution of a final lease arrangement.

" Couples Ocho Rios completed a nine-month, $1.6 million restoration project in time for the high season. New features include eight redecorated penthouse suites, a new air-conditioning system, refurbishment of three tennis courts, a new deck for the pier and the purchase of three new guest buses. For details, visit www.couples.com.

" In Antigua, Galley Bay's 14 Gaughin Cottages now have their own splash pools with rates from $750 per couple, per night on an all-inclusive basis. For details, visit www.eliteislandresorts.com.

ROLODEX

" Puerto Rico's incumbent governor Sila Calderon appointed Lilly A. Oronoz to the post of executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Oronoz, who formerly headed PRTC's legal division, will remain in office until the next administration takes office, which could be as early as Jan. 2 if the third recount of the governor's Nov. 2 election is completed on or before that date. Oronoz replaced Milton Segarra, who took over from Jose Suarez this fall. Puerto Rico aims to increase occupancies to 80% this winter and attract more than five million visitors in 2005, Oronoz said.

" Geoff Tucker has been named general manager of the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort in Barbados.

" Ramon Sanchez joined the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau as vice president of marketing. Sanchez formerly was sales and marketing director at the Paradisus Puerto Rico Beach & Golf Resort in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

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