Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: June 9, 2005

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION (CTO) selected Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of tourism in the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, as its new secretary general, a post that has been vacant since Jean Holder retired last fall. Vanderpool-Wallace, who has held the Bahamas tourism post for the past 12 years, will assume his duties this month and will move from the Bahamas to CTO's headquarters in Bridgetown, Barbados. The selection of Vanderpool-Wallace is widely viewed as a strong endorsement by the CTO members of the Bahamas' strong tourism management principles. Announcements are expected shortly from the Bahamas regarding Vanderpool-Wallace's replacement. CTO said its search committee will shortly begin the process of selecting a deputy secretary general. CTO's annual Caribbean Tourism Conference [CTC-28] will be held in the U.S. Virgin Islands from Oct. 22 to 26.

LODGEPODGE

" W Hotels will debut in the Caribbean with the W Vieques-Martineau Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico in the fall of 2006. Although Wyndham Hotels and Resorts will terminate its management contract at the 156-room resort on July 8, the property will remain open while W Hotels renovates, trains staff and adds 20 villas and concierge services. W's moniker will go up on the hotel when it formally opens for business next year. The island of Vieques is eight miles off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.

" Almond Resorts, with two inclusive properties on the west coast of Barbados, doubled its holdings with the acquisition of the 267-room Casuarina Beach Resort on Barbados and the 338-room Morgan Bay Beach Resort [formerly St. James's Club Morgan Bay] on St. Lucia. Both properties will be all-inclusive family resorts and will carry the Almond name. The resorts close this week for extensive renovations and refurbishments. Almond Morgan Bay Beach Resort will open on Nov. 15, and Almond Casuarina plans to open in early 2006. For details, visit www.almondresorts.com.

THE BEST OF BARBADOS program will return this fall with savings on flights, accommodations, dining and car rentals from Aug. 20 through Dec. 20. Included in each package of seven or more nights is one free night, a $250 airfare credit per person, complimentary daily breakfast, discounts on island activities, a free one-day car rental when three days are paid, and a 15% shopping discount on purchases of $25 or more, adding up to a total savings of more than $900 per couple. Ten attractions and restaurants are participating as well as 26 hotels. The Best of Barbados program, first launched in July 2002, "has proven to be the most successful travel promotion in the Caribbean," according to Bill Silvermintz, vice president of marketing for the Americas at the Barbados Tourism Authority. "It addresses the real needs of the long-stay visitor---airfare, accommodations and appetite." For details, call the Barbados Tourism Authority at (800) 221-9831 or visit www.visitbarbados.org.

SUMMER SAVINGS

" The U.S. Virgin Islands' annual Summer Super Saver program offers a $200 air fare credit per booking, a coupon booklet for free gifts, on-island discounts and savings up to $500 for bookings of five or more nights made by Aug. 15 for travel by Aug. 31 to 23 participating properties in St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas.  Participating tour operators include American Airlines Vacations, American Express Vacations, Changes in L'Attitudes, Delta Vacations, Future Vacations, Happy Vacations, Inter-Island Tours, Island Resort Tours, Liberty Travel/Gogo Worldwide Vacations, National Leisure Group, Orbitz, TNT Vacations, Travel Impressions and US Airways Vacations. For details, call (800) 372-USVI or visit www.usvitourism.vi.

" Cayman Islands' Summer Splash travel package, available through Nov. 15, offers free air fare, accommodations, meals and activities for kids, including the Cayman Islands Sea School program with SpongeBob SquarePants. Highlights include one free night when five are booked, free air for kids on Cayman Airways, a 50% discount on a pre-purchased family dive package, free eats on the kids' menus at participating restaurants, and a $150 American Express Gift Cheque when the Summer Splash five-night package is purchased with an American Express card. The package also can be booked as a land-only program or with other carriers' special packages, including American, Continental, Delta and US Airways. For details, visit www.caymanislands.ky or www.divecayman.ky.

AIR JAMAICA VACATIONS' new fall sale offers savings of $200 to $460 per couple on air-inclusive vacation packages to more than 50 hotels and resorts in Jamaica. Bookings must be made by June 24, 2005 for travel from Sept. 1 to Dec. 9 with blackouts at Thanksgiving. Agents earn a base commission of 13%. Book Air Jamaica Vacations through www.vaxvacationaccess.com; select AJV on Tourlink, Tour Source, LeisureShopper, or AgentNet; or call Air Jamaica Vacations at 800-622-3009. 

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