JAMAICA'S PRIME MINISTER Bruce Golding ordered Riu Hotels to halt construction on its 701-room Riu Montego Bay, citing a breach of building regulations. The hotel was scheduled to open Aug. 29. The stop order stated that Riu had breached the law by constructing an unapproved fourth floor, which violated the three-floor building permit originally issued by the Parish Council of St. James, the parish were Riu is located. The 65-acre Riu site is adjacent to Sandals Royal Resort & Private Island and three miles east of Sangster Airport. The three-floor limit applies to hotels in that area because they are within the flight path of aircraft landings and takeoffs. Riu agreed to cooperate with Jamaican authorities in their investigation of the breaches of the building permit. At the same time, Riu launched its own internal investigation of the matter.
WYNDHAM HOTELS & RESORTS is on the move in the Caribbean. Slated to open early next year is the 251-unit Wyndham Cacique Royal on Pirate's Bay on the west coast of Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. The island currently has less than 100 guest rooms in small inns and guesthouses and drew fewer than 1,000 stayover visitors in 2007, according to the tourist board. The small island, reached via a 19-minute flight from Providenciales, jumped onto the radar screen of cruise lines when its modern cruise facility opened last year and brought more than 300,000 cruise visitors to the island in the first nine months of operation. Wyndham's flag also will unfurl over St. Croix next year, and a new Wyndham property is planned for an area south of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In addition, Wyndham is in discussions with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to manage the former Hilton Tobago Golf & Spa Resort. Hilton terminated its management contract with the property earlier this month.
TOURIST ARRIVALS to the Dominican Republic totaled 1.3 million visitors from January through March, up 8% over the same period last year, according to figures released by the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic. Felix Jimenez, tourism minister, predicted that by 2012, the DR will receive 5 million visitors a year, which will be a 1 million increase over expected 2008 totals. Analysis of the first quarter indicated a 9% jump in the U.S. market, while the U.K., Belgium, Spain, Russia, Mexico and Peru also registered double-digit and higher increases. Punta Cana, on the island's east coast, remained the most popular destination in the D.R. for its visitors. The region's international airport received approximately 44% of 2008 first-quarter arrivals. The second most visited airport was Las Americas in Santo Domingo, with close to half of the remaining arrivals, followed by Puerto Plata n the north coast.
PENCIL IT IN
• 12th annual St. Kitts Music Festival, June 26 to 28. Billboard-winning artist Mario will be among the premier acts. Tickets to the festival are $50 per person, per event, and will be available for purchase at www.stkittsmusicfestival.com.
• Dive Fest, July 11 to 20, Dominica. The festival celebrates its 15th anniversary this year with numerous events for novice and professional divers. Hotel packages are available; for details, visit www.dominicawatersports.com.
Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers
Phone: (201) 902-1924
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