Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Jan. 27, 2005

ST. MAARTEN has gone Wi-Fi in its downtown business district in Philipsburg, including the beachfront Boardwalk and the shops on Front Street. Visitors can access the Internet and E-mail from numerous locations within the WiFi network on the island. The service currently is free to all users. "We are proud to be the first island to benefit by this joint effort between Lucent and BelAir Networks," said Theo Heyliger, tourism commissioner. Other parts of St. Maarten will be included in the WiFi network later this year. St. Maarten recently completed its Front Street beautification project and its promenade upgrade. Car traffic now is routed around the downtown area rather than through it.

LODGEPODGE

" Grace Bay Club in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos has provided alternate phone numbers for agents and guests trying to contact the resort, which has been plagued with sporadic phone and E-mail outages for the past two months. Nikheel Advani, general manager, said the 22-suite property is investing $200,0000 in a new software system to improve resort communications. Agents who cannot reach Grace Bay at (800) 946-5757 or (649) 946-5757 should call Advani directly at (649) 232-5050 or Tina Lyra, director of sales and marketing, at (649) 232-5151. Agents also can call Judi Hurst in the US at (215) 361-8488.

" Grand Heritage Hotel Group, which manages or owns six US properties, has assumed management of Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. The 77-room resort, which features 100 boats. 70 moorings, an on-site sailing school, water sports, two restaurants, shops and beaches, will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation this year to its beachfront villas and main restaurant.

" Montpelier Plantation Inn in Nevis offers a seven-night getaway package for the price of six, including accommodations with breakfast, one dinner for two, a bottle of wine, a champagne picnic on the beach, a massage for two, transfers, tennis and snorkeling equipment, priced from $3,462 per couple in March. For details, visit montpeliernevis.com.

US AIRWAYS VACATIONS' Great Winter Sale, which offers savings up to 35%, must be booked by Jan. 31 for travel through March 14. Packages cover roundtrip air from Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, NC and Philadelphia, accommodations, transfers, taxes and service charges. Caribbean destinations include Crane Ridge Resort in Jamaica, Coconut Beach Resort in Barbados, Nassau Beach Hotel in Nassau and Ocean Bavara Spa & Beach Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. For details, call (800) 455-0123.

CLUB MED initiated a major overhaul at Buccaneer's Creek Village in Martinique, the first Club Med village in the Americas. The property, which opened in 1971, is closed until December for a multi-million dollar rebuilding and renovation project that will increase the room count to 293 rooms, including 44 new suites. Also new will be a spa, expanded restaurants and new bars.

BONAIRE raised more than $35,000 to provide aid to tsunami victims and survivors in Asia last month. The funds were raised with the assistance of all of Bonaire's radio stations working together under the name Hand to Hand Tsunami Fundraising.
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