Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: June 3, 2008

AS PART OF AMR's plan to cut costs at its San Juan hub, American will reduce its daily flights from 38 to 18, effective Sept. 3. As of that date, American will no longer offer nonstop, daily service to San Juan from Baltimore/Washington, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, Orlando, Los Angeles and Washington Dulles. American will continue to offer nonstop service to San Juan from Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York Kennedy, Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn. In the Caribbean, American will no longer serve Antigua, St. Maarten and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with jet service out of San Juan.

AMERICAN EAGLE, meanwhile, will reduce its Caribbean schedule from 55 to 33 daily departures out of San Juan on Sept. 3. The regional carrier will eliminate daily flights from San Juan to Aruba as well as to Samana, Dominican Republic. Both destinations will continue to be served daily from Miami. American Eagle will continue to serve San Juan with daily flights to the following destinations: Anguilla; Antigua; Barbados; Bonaire; Canouan; Curacao; Dominica; Martinique; La Romana, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Santiago and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Guadeloupe; Nevis; St. Croix; St. Lucia; St. Maarten; St. Thomas; Tortola; and Trinidad. No cuts will be made in service between Miami and San Juan; specific schedules will be published shortly, said Peter Bowler, American Eagle's CEO. American Eagle also plans to move some of its 66-seat Super ATR-72 turboprops to Dallas and will ground its fleet of 34-seat Saab 340s.

SANDALS RESORTS will expand its five-star Royal Plantation brand with the 2010 opening of the 130-unit Royal Plantation Dragon Bay in Port Antonio, Jamaica. The opening will follow a $100 million expansion and high-end redevelopment program, scheduled to begin in eight months. Sandals has owned the property and site of the Dragon Bay Hotel for several years. The property will market itself as a spa with a hotel. Accommodations will include new construction on the site of the former hotel and villa units of the bluff side of the resort. Five or six styles of guest accommodations will be offered, from one-bedroom suites to five-star treehouses, according to Jaime Stewart, managing director of the Royal Plantation brand. The villas may be designated as an adults-only site, although Dragon Bay will accept children. The spa will not be one block of buildings but will be scattered throughout the property in different settings, including the caves on the bluff and in the Zen gardens.

THE 188-ROOM RADISSON ST. MARTIN Resort, Marina & Spa will open on Sept. 1, following completion of an $80 million makeover, according to Jeff Lesker, general manager. The landmark property originally opened as a Le Meridian in 1986 and then operated as L'Habitacion de Longvilliers in Anse Marcel in the northwest corner of St. Martin. Arriving guests can book a water taxi service from the airport to the property, a 25-minute boat ride versus a 45-minute cab ride. The price is about the same for each, $85 per person, roundtrip. Radisson also is offering a nightly water taxi service to nearby Grand Case for guests who want to sample some of the 60-plus restaurants and bistros. Breakfast is included in all rates; guests can purchase a lunch and dinner meal program that includes two or three meals in Grand Case. Resort facilities include the Carita Spa, two restaurants, a lobby tapas bar, a kids' club, meetings space and 1,600 feet of beach.

TROPICAL STORM ARTHUR jumped the gun by a day and made landfall May 31 near the Mexican port city of Chetumal and Belize's Corozal, one day before the official start of the six-month 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Officials are calling for 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes with two to five hurricanes a Category 3 or higher (winds above 111 mph), according to forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fortunately, Arthur quickly weakened to a tropical depression on June 1 after soaking the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico but still threatened to cause mudslides in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Arthur dumped rain as far south as Belize City and kicked up surf on Ambergris Caye in Belize. NOAA this year added the category of "probabilities" to its prediction, acknowledging that its long-range forecasts were way off in some recent years. The 21 storm names for 2008 run through Wilfred but do not include a Barack, a Hillary or a John. Last year there were 15 named storms and six hurricanes. In the Caribbean, the storms resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people. Hurricane Dean caused the postponement of national elections in Jamaica on Aug. 28, 2007, and damaged the cruise ship pier at Costa Maya, south of Cozumel, Mexico.

Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers
(201) 902-1924
[email protected]
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