Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: November 10, 2005

TWO POWERHOUSES in the gaming and hospitality fields have partnered with Bahamas-based developer Baha Mar to create what is billed as the largest single-phase development in the Caribbean, located in the Cable Beach area of Nassau, Bahamas. Harrahs Entertainment and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, together with the developer, will offer a 1,000-acre, mixed-use resort project, whose first phase represents an investment of $1.6 billion and a room count of 3,550 units. Construction will begin in 2007 with the first phase scheduled to open in 2010. Plans call for four hotels, including the only collection of four Starwood brands at a single resort, and the debut of the first Caesars Hotel project since Caesars was acquired by Harrahs last June. The hotels comprise a 300-room W, including 100 condo units (W Hotels first Caribbean venture will open next year on Vieques, Puerto Rico, a total renovation and upgrade to the former Wyndham Martineau Bay Resort); a 300-room St. Regis, also with 100 condos; a 700-room Westin; and a 700-room Sheraton. In addition, there will be a 1,00-room Caesars Resort Hotel and a 95,000-square-foot casino, both to be managed by Harrahs Entertainment. A planned renovation to the existing Wyndham Nassau Resort also will add 350 rooms, bringing the total number of on-site hotels to six. Starwoods Bliss and Remede luxury spas are planned at the W and St. Regis properties, respectively. Also in the plans will be extensive sports facilities, a 20-acre water park, a Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole golf course and a Caribbean Village with restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and 200,000 square feet of meetings space. For details, visit www.bahamar.com

IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, a new resort development, marketing initiatives, a redesigned Web site and a continued commitment to preserving the eco-systems and environment marked the launch of the British Virgin Islands' new branding campaign. The BVI's slogan of "Nature's Little Secrets" remains unchanged. "This was introduced as our position in 1991 and we haven't changed it. It will remain the foundation of our marketing efforts, while we share the secrets of our destination with the world," said D. Orlando Smith, BVI chief minister and minister for tourism. Plans for a $65 million luxury resort on Scrub Island, a 230-acre site just off shore from Roadtown, Tortola, also was unveiled. The developers, Mainsail Management Group, based in Tampa, along with Scrub Island Development Group, broke ground on the resort in October; opening date is targeted for the fall of 2007, according to Joe Brown, Mainsail's vice president, sales and marketing. The property will include hotel rooms, condominium units, and a 150-slip marina. Beef Island also is expected to anchor a luxury resort, although details were not revealed. Smith said the BVI will continue to market and promote the BVIs dominance in the sailing world as well as focus on its water sports offerings, including diving, snorkeling, fishing and surfing.  For details, visit www.bvitourism.com.

OPERATOR OFFERINGS

" Delta Vacations expanded its Caribbean product line with the addition of air-inclusive packages to Antigua and Barbados. Antigua programs go on sale Dec. 31 for travel beginning Jan. 4; Barbados programs went on sale Nov. 8 for travel beginning Dec. 8. The increase brings to 13 the number of destinations served by Delta Vacations. All packages pay 15% commission. In addition to the new packages, Delta Vacations will further expand with the launch of new Delta services to destinations, already offered by the operator: Atlanta-St. Maarten, daily service, Nov. 25; Atlanta-Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, daily, Nov. 25; Atlanta-St. Lucia, service will expand to daily, Dec. 1; Atlanta-Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, service will expand to daily, Dec. 1.

" Gogo Worldwide Vacations and American Airlines offer discounted air-inclusive packages to more than 200 properties with savings of up to 35% on programs booked by Nov. 30 for travel Jan. 2 to March 10. Four- and five-night packages start at $599 per person, double, and cover roundtrip air from New York/Newark, accommodations, taxes and transfers. For details, visit www.gogowwv.com

 

TAKEOFFS

" Spirit Airlines will start nonstop daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, beginning Dec. 10.  Introductory fares start at $49 each way but must be booked on www.spiritair.com by Nov. 21 for travel Dec. 10 through Feb. 9.

" Bahamasair will offer a daily flight from Fort Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour, Abaco in the Bahamas, effective Nov. 17. For fares and schedules, visit www.bahamasair.com.

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