Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Feb. 27, 2007

RICHARD BRANSON, founder of the Virgin Group of companies, which includes Virgin Atlantic airline and Virgin Galactic, bought his second Caribbean island in the British Virgin Islands for $13.2 million and plans to turn it into a luxury eco-friendly, environmentally-savvy resort. The 124-acre Mosquito Island, named after an Indian tribe and not the annoying insect, will join the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio of select properties owned or partially owned by Branson. The island sits in North Sound and is about a mile from the 74-acre Necker Island, also part of VLE and which Branson bought in 1976 for $171,000.

MOSQUITO ISLAND, which can be reached by boat from Virgin Gorda, was the site of the well-known Drake's Anchorage Resort, which opened in the 1960s under Bert Kilbride who spent more than 40 years searching for underwater treasure near the island. Drake's closed in 1997, reopened briefly in 2000 and then closed permanently shortly thereafter. Although Branson has not released specifics or a timetable for opening Mosquito Island, the resort is expected to be powered by wind, wave or solar power, according to a Virgin spokesman. Balinese-style guest buildings will be built from sustainable materials; electric buggies will supply the transportation needs. For Virgin Limited Edition details, visit www.virginlimitededition.co.uk. For British Virgin Islands information, visit www.bvitourism.com.

TAKEOFFS

" With the Cricket World Cup on tap in the Caribbean region from March 5 through April 28 and hotel rooms at a premium on some islands, Air Jamaica has rescheduled several flights to enable cricket fans to fly to and from a cricket match on the same day. Revised schedules include flights from Fort Lauderdale to Kingston, Jamaica, on March 13, 19 and 23 and April 24. Special flights also are on tap from Barbados to Jamaica on April 24 and from Jamaica to Barbados on April 28. Packages, including match tickets, also can be obtained from Island Vacations at (888) 622-1658. For flight schedules, contact Air Jamaica at www.airjamaica.com.

" Spirit Airlines will launch seasonal nonstop service between Atlantic City and San Juan on May 3 and from Tampa to San Juan, effective May 4. The Atlantic City-San Juan flight will operate Thursdays through Sundays to Aug. 12 while the Tampa-San Juan flight will operate four days a week, on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, to June 13, and five days a week (including Thursdays) to Aug. 12. In addition, the carrier will launch service from Fort Lauderdale to Port of Spain, Trinidad, on or about May 1, pending government approval. For information, visit www.spiritair.com.

LODGEPODGE

" Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts will debut its Gran Melia brand in Puerto Rico on May 1 when it reflags its all-inclusive 486-suite Paradisus Puerto Rico, located in Rio Grande approximately an hour east of San Juan. The Gran Melia Puerto Rico, which will be a European Plan property (no meals included) will join the Gran Melia Cancun (Mexico) as the Caribbean's second Gran Melia resort. Enhancements will include The Level, a customized service for top-paying guests that will offer exclusive pool and beach areas, a personal concierge and other services. The resort also will open the Yhi Spa, Sol Melia's new spa brand. The 11,000-square-foot facility will offer health and wellness treatments. For details, visit www.solmelia.com.

" The latest Caribbean development venture for The Donald (Trump) also is one of the largest in the Caribbean. While Trump already has his name on the golf course and casino at the Raffles Resort on Canouan in the Grenadines, the Trump at Cap Cana project in the Dominican Republic will clock in at 30,000 acres and a mere $2 billion. The development, when completed, will feature more than 5,000 residential units, four luxury hotels, three Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses and a marina with 1,000 slips for yachts up to 150 feet long. The marina's first phase is set to open this spring. For details, visit www.capcana.com. For destination information, visit www.godominicanrepublic.com.

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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