Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: November 17, 2005

THE CAYMAN ISLANDS will have 95% of its hotel room inventory, 65% of its condominium/apartment units and 76% of its guesthouse accommodations back in operation by next month, according to Charles Clifford, minister of tourism. Those percentages represent a combined total of 80% of all room stock that had been damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. By March 2006, the combined room total will be 93%, according to Clifford, who said that all references to pre-Ivan room stock would now cease. From today forward we will work with the room stock we have, we will develop strategies which will fill those rooms and, with our private sector partners, [will] encourage tourism investment in the Cayman Islands. Other initiatives announced by Clifford include: redevelopment of Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman, beginning next year; a cruise port development project to reduce congestion of ships and passengers in George Town, also on Grand Cayman; and to set up alternate ports on Grand Cayman when bad weather prevents access to George Town harbor. In addition, Clifford said that the government will aggressively pursue berthing facilities to give passengers more time onshore and easier access on and off the cruise ships.

THE ALL-INCLUSIVE ALMOND MORGAN BAY Beach Resort in St. Lucia (formerly the St. Jamess Club at Morgan Bay) will reopen tomorrow and is offering guests who book a minimum three-night stay by Nov. 30 discounts of 40% until Jan. 21. The special rates start at $150 per person, per night, double ($250 from Dec. 23 to Jan. 5) for a standard room, including all meals, beverages and taxes. Resort facilities include four pools, a fitness center, four restaurants, four bars, a Kids Club that caters to age groups from newborns to age 16, and a full-service spa. The 238-room resort will expand to 338 rooms by next fall. Almond Resorts also includes three properties in Barbados: the 161-room Almond Beach Club & Spa; the 330-room (expanding to 500 rooms by next year) Almond Beach Village and the 300-room Almond Casuarina Beach Resort, opening next spring.

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 up to 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 today. For fares and schedules, visit www.bahamasair.com.

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