Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: July 31, 2007

THE 450-ROOM, $120 MILLION, all-inclusive Riu Palace Aruba unfurled its flag on Aruba's Palm Beach on July 24, marking the Spanish hotel firm's debut in the destination. The resort, which is built on the site of the former Aruba Grand, features two pools with interconnecting Jacuzzis, five restaurants, several bars, a spa, a casino and an array of water sports and activities. "Already, demand from the North American and European markets has exceeded our expectations," said Luis Riu, chairman and owner of Riu Hotels & Resorts. In the Caribbean region, the firm also has properties in the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. For details, visit www.riu.com.

JAMAICA'S PRIME MINISTER Portia Simpson Miller will face her first electoral challenge when national elections are held in Jamaica on Aug. 27. Simpson-Miller, who was elected to her post last year after former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson stepped down, called for elections at a rally that drew thousands of supporters from her People's National Party, which has been in power since 1989 and is seeking an unprecedented fifth term in power. Simpson-Miller called for calm ahead of the elections and said that a repeat of the violence that marred previous elections could hurt the destination's tourism industry. "Every year we spend millions to promote Jamaica on television across the world as 'one love'," she said, referring to the late musician Bob Marley's message of peace and social justice that has become Jamaica's promotional theme.

GRAEME DAVIS, vice president of operations for Starwood Resorts Caribbean and South Florida, stepped down as chairman of the board of the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association. Davis, who held the post for three years, cited a hectic travel schedule and time commitment as his reasons for stepping down. During his tenure, the association developed the Cooperative Marketing Initiative, enhanced relationships with the St. Croix Hotel & Tourism Association, lobbied legislators on issues affecting members and provided leadership for the more than 300 association members. Richard Doumeng, general manager of Bolongo Bay Resort in St. Thomas and a past president of the U.S.V.I. Hotel & Tourism Association, will serve as interim chairman until elections in 2008.

TAKEOFFS

" JetBlue Airways will launch daily nonstop year-round service between Fort Lauderdale and Ponce, Puerto Rico, effective Nov. 5. Ponce will be JetBlue's 12th destination served nonstop from Fort Lauderdale.

" Spirit Airlines also will launch Fort Lauderdale-Ponce daily service Nov. 1. In addition, the carrier will introduce daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Grand Bahama on Dec. 13.

" Tiara Air, a privately-owned Aruban airline, began six weekly, nonstop roundtrip flights between Aruba and Bonaire on July 20 aboard a Shorts 360 aircraft with 33 seats. For details, visit www.tiara-air.com.

LODGEPODGE

" The 234-room Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort on the northwest coast of St. Lucia will debut a new room category when it completes construction on 12 two-bedroom, oceanfront suites next March. Each of the 1,400-square-foot units will feature a Jacuzzi pool, Internet access, flat screen TVs, DVD players and a full kitchen. The suites will sleep four; guests will be offered the option of splitting the suites into a one-bedroom unit with studio accommodations when needed. For details, visit www.windjammer-landing.com.

" Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada streamlined its Web site [www.spiceislandbeachresort.com] with more images and information in sections that cover the resort, accommodations, the owner's profile, environmental practices and activities. Also included are sections on Grenada history and travel information; dining and spa services; a photo gallery; and rates, reservations, wedding specials and packages. Still to come is an e-brochure.

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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