Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: March 9, 2006

VISITORS TO THE BAHAMAS spent more and stayed longer in 2005 than in 2004, bringing in a record nearly $2 billion in tourism revenue to the islands. According to estimates from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, based on information provided by the Dept. of Immigration and results of exit surveys, the ministry was able to compile the average visitor spending for the year. For the year, stopover visitors totaled 1.6 million, a 2.6% increase, and spent an average of $1,000 for each stay. Meanwhile, cruise passengers, who numbered more than 3 million in 2005, a 0.3% decrease, spent an average of $65 per passenger per visit. A further breakdown of visitor spending found that in the first six months of 2005, visitors spent, on average, $1,185 each, which represented $105 per person more than in 2004, or 9.7% more per visitor. While exact figures for the July-through-December 2005 period are not final, officials conservatively estimated that visitors spent at least the same amount as they did in 2004. Visitor spending for all of 2005 is forecast to be $1.841 billion, compared with $1.693 billion in 2004. Final tourism figures will be released in April, as will first-quarter visitor numbers for 2006.

LODGEPODGE

" Now included in the daily rates at Cap Juluca in Anguilla are the services of villa managers for guests staying in the resort's 18 villas. Also in the rates are butler services for guests staying in the private pool suites and pool villas and full breakfast at George's restaurant. Rates through Dec. 15 range from $380 to $1,520 for a one-bedroom guest room or suite, depending on the time of year. Cap Juluca also expanded its gym/cardio center and offers lunch delivery to guests on the beach by a beach attendant. For details, visit www.capjuluca.com.

" The first over-water spa in the Bahamas has opened at Kamalame Cay, a 19-room, 96-acre private island off Andros Island in the Out Islands. The 2,000-square-foot spa is in a two-story facility at the end of the 200-foot-long Kamalame Pier; its five treatment rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the views and sounds of the water below. Resort rates through May range from $740 for a cottage room to $4,800 for a four-bedroom villa; rates cover accommodations, all meals, house wines and liquors, use of snorkeling equipment, sea kayaks, and tennis. The resort is a three-minute ferry ride from the pickup point on Andros, which is a 20-minute drive from the airport. For details, visit www.kamalame.com.

THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC tourist card has a new, smaller look and apparently is more durable than the old cards, which were printed on paper. The new credit card-sized tourist cards, which can be purchased only upon arrival in the DR, continue to cost $10 but now have an electronic chip that is activated when the card is swiped at the airport. A new card must be purchased each time a visitor enters the country.

ROLODEX

" Joslyn Sylvester-Gairy was appointed director of the Grenada Board of Tourism by tourism minister Brenda Hood. Gairy, who will remain in her position as chairman of the Grenada Carnival Committee, earlier served on the foreign service staff at the Grenada U.N. Mission.

" Ken Dittrich was named managing director of Paradisus Puerto Rico in Rio Grande outside of San Juan, the destination's only all-inclusive resort, managed by Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts. Dittrich formerly held the same post at Paradisus Riviera Cancun.

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