Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: May 12, 2005

CLUB MED debuted its first upscale boutique resort in North America when it took the wraps off its Columbus Isle resort on San Salvador in the Bahamas on May 7. The opening coincided with the launch of Spirit Airlines direct service from Fort Lauderdale. The property, which opened in the early 1990s, completed a $5 million upgrade and joins two other properties in Club Meds new boutique line Le Riad in Marrakech, Morroco, and Cherating Beach in Malaysia.  Seven-night inclusive land rates start at $1,260, double. Public areas have been redesigned and new bar and lounge areas added. Upgraded amenities in the top room categories include new linens, flat-screen TVs, CD players, nightly turndown and priority luggage service. A new Rise and Shine amenity in all rooms includes The New York Times fax, a daily activity schedule and a gift, such as sunscreen or a book. For more information, visit www.clubmed.com.

TAKEOFFS

" American Eagles three daily flights between St. Thomas and St. Croix ended May 1 when the four-month, $2 million contract between the carrier and the U.S. Virgin Islands expired. Until final traffic and revenue numbers are evaluated, neither party will comment on the success of the seasonal service and whether the contract will be renewed next winter. Although American Eagle reported system wide traffic increases in the first quarter, and 26% in April alone over April 2003, figures were not available for the USVI. Travelers still have air options between the two islands, including Seabornes seaplane service and Cape Air.

" Air Jamaica pilots agreed to a 5.6% salary cut and other concessions as part of a new three-year contract that helps control costs and achieve economic viability, according to executive chairman Vincent Lawrence. Air Jamaica and its pilots had been in contract talks for two years.

FOR THE SECOND TIME in three years, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands will be the venue for the Caribbean Tourism Organizations (CTOs) 28th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference Oct. 22 to 26. Last years conference was held in Aruba. In other CTO news, Arley Sobers, CTOs former director of information research and management, assumed the post of acting secretary general until a permanent candidate is selected. Until recently, the post was held by Karen Ford-Warner, who resigned to return to Jamaica as head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Technology in Kingston. The secretary generals post has been vacant since September 2004 when Jean Holder retired after more than 30 years at CTOs helm. Pamela Richards, CTO chairman and commissioner of tourism of the U.S.V.I., expects to announce the selection of a new secretary general during CTO Week in New York May 29 to June 4.

US AIRWAYS VACATIONS Fantastic Fall-Inclusive Sale offers a $50 bonus commission for bookings of four or more nights through June 30 for travel Aug. 1 through Dec. 17 to participating all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Travelers save $100 on air/hotel vacations of four to six nights, and $200 for seven or more nights. To book, visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com in the US Airways Vendor Center within the Resource Center tab and use keyword Raise50.

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