Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Sept. 11, 2007

ROYAL PLANTATION AT FOWL CAY, Exumas, now the official name of the 50-acre private island, luxury retreat situated midway down the Exuma chain in the Bahamas, represents the latest chapter in Sandals Resorts' expansion plans for its Royal Plantation brand. The resort's Web site at www.fowlcay.com went live on Sept. 6; the property is accepting reservations for all dates. Fowl Cay was purchased last April from an American couple by Sandals' Chairman Gordon Butch Stewart, after he and his family vacationed there. The six two- and-three-bedroom villas on the site were built five years ago by the previous owners and will be supplemented by another "10 to 15 villas, half of which will be over-the-water structures," according to Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts. Three of the new villas will have four or more bedrooms and baths; the property is an all-inclusive resort and will offer its private butler services, available in its highest category rooms now at many of the Sandals and Beaches resorts.

 

OTHER NEW FACILITIES will include a signature spa at one end of the island; a marina for the use of resort guests; a beach restaurant to supplement the existing restaurant and bar in the main house; and a full range of activities for adults and children, Sandals said. Steve Huggins, an Australian who ran the entire operation on the Lady Sandals yacht before it was sold two and a half years ago, is the general manager; Owen Bain, previously the executive chef at Royal Plantation in Jamaica, is heading up the culinary team. Rates, valid through Dec. 31, start at $9,220 per week, double, in the one-bedroom Linden villa and at $10,083 in the two-bedroom Starlight villa. Rates for children five and under are $500 per night. All-inclusive rates cover accommodations, all meals and beverages, use of a golf cart and all facilities and tips.

MEANWHILE, EXPANSION PLANS for the Royal Plantation brand also include the 100-room Royal Plantation, Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos, scheduled to begin construction next spring on a 20-acre site located next door to Beaches Turks and Caicos in Providenciales. The resort, already two years in the planning stages, will mark the debut of the hotel firm's first condominium-hotel project. Next in line will be Royal Plantation, Bloody Bay in Negril, which also will be a condo-hotel resort, according to Adam Stewart, Sandals' CEO.

 

CAYMAN AIRWAYS will unveil an expanded passenger check-in system in Grand Cayman in the next few weeks, the carrier said, in a move designed to eliminate long lines at the airport. The new system will open at locations other than the airport for passenger and baggage check-in, including schools, auditoriums and shopping malls when needed. The carrier will deliver boarding passes to hotel guests flying out of Grand Cayman to expedite hotel check-out and airport check-in in one process at the hotel. The carrier also instituted a new hurricane fare policy, which offers a standard, one-way, economy-class fare from Grand Cayman during emergencies. In the event of an evacuation prior to a hurricane, rates (excluding taxes) are $120 to Kingston, Jamaica; $170 to Miami and $190 to Tampa. The carrier also permits three changes per booking during a hurricane and has voided any cancellation fees. Cayman Airways flew 38 flights and six charters during the two-day Hurricane Dean crisis in August, carrying a total of 5,400 passengers.

PENCIL IT IN

" Caribbean Small Hotels Retreat, Sept. 26 to 28, Barbados Hilton, Barbados, hosted by the Caribbean Hotel Association, in conjunction with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. For details, visit www.caribbeanhotelassociation.com/smallhotelsretreat.htm.

" 30th Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference, Oct. 19 to 24, San Juan, hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. The conference theme is "The Next Generation: Learning from the Past, Preparing for the Future." The agenda includes live video streaming of several conference events, a session on the impact of global warming on the tourism industry and workshops for agents on various topics. For details, visit www.onecaribbean.org.

Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers

Phone: (201) 902-1924

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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