Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Dec. 2, 2004

GOOD RIDDANCE to the 2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which officially ended its six-month run on Nov. 30. The season began with Alex in August and tapered off with Lisa in October, but will forever be remembered for Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. From Grand Cayman comes news that the Caribbean Utility Commission hopes to complete restoration of customer service by Dec. 1. The island-wide curfew, while still in effect, now runs from midnight to 5 a.m. New opening date for the 365-room Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is October, and the 69 luxury Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, adjacent to the main hotel, will open in June. The resort was originally scheduled to open this month; although it had no structural damage from Hurricane Ivan, resort officials wanted to ensure that the $400 million resort had not been compromised. The Western Casuarina Resort & Spa reopened 300 of its 340 rooms for Thanksgiving as well as its restaurants, spa, pool, beach and Red Sail Sports operation; the remaining guest rooms will open by Dec. 15.  Red Sail Sports Grand Cayman also resumed operations at the Courtyard by Marriott and will reopen at the Hyatt Beach Suites in mid-December, at Rum Point late this month and at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort in late February. For information, visit www.caymanislands.ky.

CAYMAN AIRWAYS took delivery of its fifth 737 aircraft. The 737-300 will be in service on weekly Boston-Grand Cayman nonstop service, which takes off Dec. 17. On Nov. 27 the carrier launched a new nonstop Saturday service between Miami and Cayman Brac, which continues on to Grand Cayman. Cayman Airways also reopened its Sir Turtle Lounge at the airport on Grand Cayman. Amenities include Internet access, cable TV, telephone service and beverages and snacks. For details, visit www.caymanairways.com.

GRENADA: Meanwhile, Grenada's recovery efforts include restoration of electricity to more than half the island; projections call for full service by the end of February. Point Salines International Airport is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with service on BWIA and Air Jamaica from U.S. gateways and on LIAT and Caribbean Star from various Caribbean islands. American Eagle's daily flight from San Juan departs at 6:20 p.m., effective Dec. 2, and arrives in Grenada at 8:50 p.m. Cruise calls resumed last month; for November and December, a total of 78 calls are expected. The Calabash Hotel reopened with all of its 30 rooms and 60% of its staff. The resort had been closed for remodeling and suffered only minimal damage from the hurricanes. Laluna and the Flamboyant Hotel plan to reopen by the end of the year, Blue Horizons will reopen in January and Coyaba Beach Resort next October. For further information, visit www.grenadaemergency.com.

COTTON HOUSE on Mustique reopens on Dec. 15, following completion of a six-month renovation project that included the addition of the new two-bedroom Cotton Hall Residence with a private pool, eight plunge pools added to the existing Grenadine Suites, and refurbishment of all guestrooms and baths. Also, a new larger pool for all guests was added. For details, visit www.cottonhouse.net.

ST. CROIX welcomed Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Voyager of the Seas this week during a four-hour "bunkering stop" in Frederiksted from 8 p.m. to midnight while the ship refueled. Passengers were greeted by a Caribbean Cultural Fair with bands, traditional dancers and 15 or so cultural vendors selling local foods and crafts. Tourism officials said the port call "sent a signal to other cruise lines that Royal Caribbean is interested in St. Croix." MSC Opera has several scheduled stops planned in St. Croix this winter. Large cruise ships stopped calling in St. Croix in 2002 after cruise officials complained about the crime problem on the island as well as little demand from passengers.

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