Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: April 14, 2005

WITH ONLY SIX WEEKS to go before the official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, forecaster William Gray of Colorado State University predicted an above-average season with 13 named storms, seven of which will become hurricanes, three will have winds over 111 mph, and at least one will strike somewhere in the Caribbean. As for the U.S. East Coast, especially Florida, which was pummeled last fall, Gray forecast a 53% probability factor of a hurricane making landfall. Gray also said that the storm seasons between 1995 and 2004 were the most active 10 consecutive hurricane years on record and he expects that 2005 will follow this active trend.

PORT ANTONIO, Jamaica,launched its long-expected official destination Web site at The site, designed to promote the small port city and its surrounding region as The Other Side of Jamaica, includes information on history and culture; accommodations; activities and attractions; travel tips, and dining options. The site also stresses the commitment in Port Antonio -- which has launched a campaign to earn Green Globe certification -- to ecology and sustainable tourism. The area, on Jamaicas northeast coast, is distinguished by small and/or historic hotels and resorts. The site features an online booking function for vacation packages and accommodations; an interactive map; and virtual tours of properties and attractions.

BEACHES RESORTS and Sesame Street Workshop extended their exclusive partnership for three years, to take effect when the current deal expires Aug. 31. New features planned are the addition of Sesame Streets Ernie and Bert to the furry cast of characters at the four Beaches resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos and the debut this summer of live stage shows twice a week at each property.

A NEW HIGH-SPEED ferry service now operates from San Juan to the islands of Culebra and Vieques in Puerto Rico. Departing from Pier 2 in Old San Juan, the Island Hi-Speed Ferry reaches Culebra in about one hour and 45 minutes and continues on for the 30-minute trip to Vieques. The ferry operates one roundtrip Mondays through Thursdays and two roundtrips on Fridays through Sundays. Roundtrip rates range from $17 to $73. Parent company Boston Harbor Cruises also operates the Virgin Island Fast Ferry between St. Thomas and St. Croix. For information, visit

" Baha Mar Development Co. Ltd. disclosed plans for a 2,700-room resort project in Nassaus Cable Beach area, covering 500 beachfront acres and representing an investment of $1.2 billion. Three existing hotels -- the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, the Nassau Beach Hotel and the Radisson Cable Beach Resort -- will be razed in two years to make room for a casino hotel, a convention hotel, an 18-hole golf course and a retail village by early 2009. However, the three properties will remain open for at least the next two years and will undergo extensive renovation and upgrading.
" Viceroy Anguilla Resort and Residences, set to open in 2007 on 27 beachfront acres along Meads Bay and Barnes Bay in Anguilla, represents the Caribbean debut of Los Angeles-based  Kor Hotel Group, which has nine high-end U.S. boutique properties. The Kor project features 31 luxury villas, each with its own infinity pool, and 100 residences, ranging in size from studios to three-bedroom units, each with a heated plunge pool. The accommodations will be offered for sale and as commissionable rentals. Other facilities include a restaurant, a lounge, an infinity pool, a spa, a kids center, meeting rooms, and a sports center. For details, visit


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