Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: June 10, 2007

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, representing 32 nations across the region, wants an extension beyond Sept. 30 of the temporary easing of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative for air travelers returning to the US, as announced by the U.S. government on June 11. CTO is urging a full waiver of these requirements until June 2009, when rules are scheduled to take effect for land and sea passengers. The Senate Appropriations Committee cleared legislation on June 14 that would push back the land/sea passport requirement from January 2008 to June 2009.

"THE EVIDENCE now is overwhelming that tourism and commerce in the Caribbean region have suffered considerably as a result of the WHTI passport rules, as was predicted by the U.S.'s own study by the Customs and Border Protection in 2006 as well as a study by the World Travel and Tourism Council," said Allen Chastanet, CTO chairman and minister of tourism for St. Lucia. Chastanet urged tourism ministers to call upon their heads of government to broach this proposal at the Caricom 20/20 Conference on the Caribbean taking place this week in Washington.

NEW PRESIDENT of the Caribbean Hotel Association for the 2008-2010 term is Enrique de Marchena from the Dominican Republic, succeeding Peter Odle of Barbados. Marchena, a lawyer by training, is the second Dominican to hold that post. (Simon Suarez headed the CHA for a two-year term from 2002 to 2004.) Marchena has been head of the Duty Free Shops Association of the Dominican Republic since 1998 and previously served as president of the Dominican Republic's National Association of Hotels & Restaurants from 2004 to 2006 and as president of the D.R.'s Tourist Promotion Council from 2002 to 2004. Marchena's announcement came during the annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Conference (formerly the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, CHIC) taking place in Miami this week.

LODGEPODGE

" The 72-room Bay Gardens Beach Resort on Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, is open for business, according to Berthia Parle, general manager and former president of the Caribbean Hotel Association. The formal grand opening will take place in December. The Kids Club, fitness center, all water sports and dive facilities will be ready at that time. The resort is the centerpiece of the Bay Gardens Resorts' chain on St. Lucia, which includes the 87-room Bay Gardens Hotel and the 32-room Bay Gardens Inn. Facilities at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort include the Hi Tide beachside restaurant, the Lo Tide deli and snack bar, two bars, a wedding gazebo and water sports. A Mediterranean-style restaurant will open later this summer. Rooms and suites feature Internet access, a CD/DVD player and bathrooms with tubs. The suites have a fully-equipped kitchen. Nightly rates start at $140 per room, double. The resort offers an optional all-inclusive plan in addition to its standard EP plan. Children 18 and younger stay free when sharing with adults. An introductory package though November offers daily breakfast and five nights for the price of four. For details, visit www.baygardensbeachresort.com.

" Raffles Hotels & Resorts will debut its second property in the Caribbean with the opening of the 100-room Raffles Tortola in the British Virgin Islands in 2010. Raffles Resort Canouan Island in the Grenadines reopened last November, following a $30 million renovation to upgrade the former Carenage Bay Beach & Golf Club, which opened in 1999. The 50-acre Tortola property on the island's northeast coast also will feature 250 Raffles Residences comprised of luxury villas, condominiums and estate lots. Resort facilities will include four restaurants and bars, three pools, a fitness center, two beach clubs and its signature Amrita Spa.

Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers

Phone: (201) 902-1924

[email protected]

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