Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: September 29, 2005

THE ARUBA HOTEL AND TOURISM ASSOCIATION (AHATA) launched Meet Aruba, its new group marketing division, an initiative aimed solely at the group, meetings and incentives markets. Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of AHATA, said the divisions goal is to be recognized as the best group marketing entity in the Caribbean. We aim to have a direct sales focus with clear accountability in terms of leads, bookings and room nights. Pesquera also said that the group and meetings markets have great potential to double room night contributions to Aruba. The Meet Aruba team includes Scott Wiggins, executive director, who also will maintain his main post as AHATAs senior director of sales and marketing; Charly Ibarra, director of business development based in New York, who will promote specific niche meetings markets, such as the African American, Hispanic, and religious and educational segments; Donna Del Gallo, who will work with community and corporate markets in the northeast; and Mayline Menendez, who will focus on corporate and incentive markets in the south. Meetings facilities in Aruba include new ballrooms at the Marriott and Wyndham properties, a convention center at the Renaissance Aruba and several smaller venues. Pesquera said a comprehensive overview of existing facilities is planned. For Aruba information, visit www.aruba.com.

 

AIR JAMAICA will reduce the free baggage allowance for economy passengers from 70 pounds to 50 pounds per bag, effective Oct. 6. Passengers can check two bags, weighing up to 50 pounds a piece with a total dimension of 62 inches, free of charge. Bags between 50 and 70 pounds will be charged $25 per piece. Luggage over 70 pounds will not be accepted as checked baggage and will have to be shipped as cargo. First-class passengers can still check two bags up to 70 pounds each free of charge. Carry-on items will be restricted to two pieces free of charge. Passengers will be allowed to carry on a third piece only if there is space within the cabin, but will have to pay $75 for the extra piece. The carriers said the changes are in accordance with current industry standards, which mandate stringent weight requirements.

 

LODGEPODGE

"Almond Morgan Bay Beach Resort, the newest member of Almond Resorts, will open on St. Lucia Nov. 15 with special rates of up to 40% off on bookings made through Nov. 30 for travel to Jan. 21. The discount drops to 30% for travel from Jan. 22 to April 24. Sale prices start at $150 per person, per night, double, and carry a three-night minimum stay requirement. The property will open with 238 rooms and expand to 336 by fall, 2006. To book, visit www.almondresorts.com.com and include booking code MGABAYOP.

" On the heels of its $45 million renovation and expansion, Grace Bay Club in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, opened its new hotel school for its employees and community members. Facilities include a training area, a reference library and lounge. Each of Grace Bays 90 staff members will attend the school for a month-long series of classes in hospitality and tourism services. Training courses are available to employees free of charge and to the general public for a fee. For details, visit www.gracebayclub.com.

PENCIL IT IN

" 1st annual Kalalu World Music Festival, Dec. 1 to 4, Samaans Park, Choc Bay, St. Lucia. Performers include Hugh Masekela, Idrissa Diop and Emeline Michel, among others.  For details, visit www.stlucia.org.

" 2nd annual Cayman Jazz Fest, Dec. 1 to 3, Grand Cayman. Artists include George Duke, Al Jarreau, Ravi Coltrane and Yolanda Adams. To book, call (8800) GO-TO-GCM.

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