Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: July 7, 2005

CONGRATULATIONS TO Anguillian hotelier Eustace Guish Guishard, general manager at Cap Juluca Resort in Anguilla, who was named Caribbean hotelier of the year at the awards ceremony that capped the Caribbean Hotel Associations recent Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference in Miami. Guishard, the 28th hotelier to receive the Golden Conch award, began his hospitality career at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel in 1977, returned to his native Anguilla in 1982, joined Cap Juluca in 1986 and was named gm in 1998. Named 2005 employee of the year was Dellarese Willimae Frazer, assistant restaurant manager at the Bimini Restaurant at the Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort in Nassau; supervisor of the year was Urban Augustine, watersports supervisor at Windjammer Landing Resort in St. Lucia.

OTHER CHIC AWARDS

" CHAs Green Hotel of the Year award in the small-hotel category (under 75 rooms) went to 3 Rivers Lodge in Dominica, while Sunscape Casa del Mar in the Dominican Republic took the award in the large-hotel category. Named association executive of the year for small hotels was Alice Thomas-Roberts, executive director of the Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association; Frank Comito, executive vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Association, took the honor in the large-hotel category. The winning team in the Taste of the Caribbean culinary competitions at CHIC was Team St. Maarten/St.Martin; the winning chef was Carlos A. Portela from the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa and Casino in Puerto Rico. Geert Maarten Van Mil won the pastry chef award, and bartender of the year was Rakeesh Madoo, Crews Inn in Trinidad.

" Peter Odle, general manager of Mango Bay Hotel and Beach Club in Holetown, Barbados, is the new president-elect of the Caribbean Hotel Association for the 2006-2008 term. Odle will succeed Berthia Parle, current CHA president and general manager of Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia, when she steps down next year.

DONT LOOK FOR TRAVEL from the U.S. to Cuba to open up any time soon. An amendment that would have relaxed current restrictions limiting family travel to Cuba was rejected in the House of Representatives on June 30 by a 211 to 208 vote. The vote came one day after lawmakers tossed out a similar attempt in the Senate to ease family travel to the island.  Aside from banning most travel to Cuba, under the Bush administrations current policy, Cuban-Americans also are restricted to, among other things, visiting family members on the island only once every three years. Previously, they were able to visit family members once a year.  Also defeated (233 to 187) were a proposal to ease restrictions on U.S. student travel to Cuba and an amendment (250 to 169) that would have lifted the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. 

TAKEOFFS

" Air Jamaica will reinstate its Saturday flights from Montego Bay to/from Bonaire on Sept. 3 [the carrier had announced in mid-May that it would discontinue the flights, effective Aug. 27.] Through Oct. 29, the flight will depart Jamaica at 11:30 a.m., arriving Bonaire at 2:30 p.m. The return flight will leave Bonaire Saturdays at 3:10 p.m., arriving Jamaica at 4:05 p.m. From Nov. 5 through mid-April, the flights will depart an hour later from both Montego Bay and Bonaire.

" United Airlines will launch a nonstop Saturday flight from Washington to St. Maarten Dec. 17. The airline, which already operates flights from Charlotte, N.C. and Philadelphia, will add the Washington flight for the upcoming high season to May 6, 2006. The introduction of this flight is part of United Airlines increased schedule to the Caribbean, which includes Aruba, the Bahamas and other destinations in the region.

CLARIFICATION

THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE TRAVEL INITIATIVE (WHTI), which is set to take effect Dec. 31, will require U.S. travelers to possess a U.S. passport for re-entry into the U.S. from the Caribbean.  The deadline for the submission of petitions and position papers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is July 31. The Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel Association, among others, ask that the playing field be leveled and the same introductory date of Dec, 31, 2006 that Mexico and Canada have been granted be extended to the Caribbean region. To date, only a handful of the 35 CTO member countries now require a valid U.S. passport for American visitors [other countries request proof of citizenship, such as an expired passport or valid drivers license]. The countries are: Barbados, Belize, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, St. Eustatius (Statia), St. Barts, St. Maarten, St. Martin, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The Dominican Republic, meanwhile, strongly recommends that U.S. visitors use a valid passport when traveling to the destination, according to the U.S. State Dept. Exempt from the WHTI are the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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