Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: December 8, 2005

THE LONG-DELAYED OPENING of the $500 million, 365-room Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands will take place in three stages: on Dec. 15, the property will open 40 rooms, two restaurants, the Silver Palm Lounge and a pool bar; another 173 rooms will follow on Dec. 22, and the remainder will open on Jan. 7. In addition, the La Prairie Spa and the Ambassadors of the Environment childrens program will be operational during the holiday season. A nine-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course will open in February. The Ritz-Carlton, which broke ground in September 1999 on a 144-acre site that stretches from North Sound to Seven Mile Beach, originally was scheduled to open in December 2004 but its opening was pushed back a year due to damage brought by Hurricane Ivan in the fall of 2004.

OPENING RATES start at $929 per night, double, for oceanfront rooms but drop to $699 per night, double, in the waterway rooms, which open Jan. 7. Jean Cohn, vice president and general manager, said the hotel is sold out through Jan. 2 and advance bookings indicate a very strong first quarter. The hotel will host its first large group Jan. 8 and its first wedding will be held on-property on Dec. 17 (rumor has it, the nuptials of Tom Cruise and his expectant bride-to-be, Katie Holmes, could be the first couple to tie the knot at the resort.). More than 750 employees, selected from a pool of 14,000 applicants, will staff the hotel. For reservations and information, call (800) 241-3333 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com.

 

DELTA AIR LINES will launch daily nonstop 737 service from Atlanta to Belize Dec. 15, an expansion of its weekly Saturday service which began a year ago. The flight will depart Atlanta at 11:40 a.m. and arrive in Belize at 1:50 p.m. The return flight will leave Belize at 3 p.m. and arrive in Atlanta at 6:53 p.m.

LODGEPODGE

" Raffles Resort Canouan Island in the Grenadines launched its Flight Concierge program and private Raffles jet service to ease the transfer from Barbados or St. Lucia to Canouan. A member of Raffles' flight concierge team greets guests at the airport in Barbados or St. Lucia and escorts them to a private charter plane for the flight to Canouan Island, which takes about 45 minutes from Barbados or about 30 minutes from St. Lucia. The price is $375 per person and includes roundtrip air fare from Barbados or St. Lucia and ground transportation to the resort. In addition, the 156-room Raffles Resort also offers its own private, seven-seater Cessna Citation II jet to transfer guests to Canouan from as far as Miami or other points in the Caribbean. Rates vary depending on the location.For details, visit www.raffles-canouanisland.com.

" Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino broke ground on its $5.2 million, 15,000-square-foot oceanfront spa, which will feature two Swiss shower rooms, one couples suite, three treatment rooms and two facial rooms, as well as a fitness center, a salon and private lounges with a sauna, a steam room and plunge pool. The spa is on schedule to be completed next November.

PENCIL IT IN

" LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival, Jan. 27 to 31, Grenada. For details, visit www.grenadasailingfestival.com.

" St. Kitts 10th annual Music Festival 2006, June 29 to July 2, island-wide celebration. The festival is being held a week later than originally planned in order to accommodate the Cricket Test Match between the West Indies and India, to be held on St. Kitts June 22 to 26. The cricket match is one of several scheduled between now and 2007 leading up to the Cricket World Cup event, which will feature St. Kitts as one of the host venues. For details on the festival and the cricket competition, visit the Events Calendar on www.stkittstourism.kn.

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