Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: February 9, 2006

ST. LUCIAN AUTHORITIES granted a gaming license for the islands first casino, tentatively scheduled to open in December in Gros Islet near Pigeon Island north of Castries. The casino will be open to visitors only as current legislation on St. Lucia bars residents from using the facility. The Treasure Bay Corp., a casino management company headquartered in Biloxi, Miss., will own and manage the stand-alone facility, which will feature approximately 300 slot machines and 20 gaming tables, according to Lee Ann Hunter, CFO. St. Lucia granted Treasure Bay the casino license last fall, Hunter said. We purchased the land in January and will start building very soon. We want to get it open before the Cricket World Cup in St. Lucia next spring. Treasure Bay leases and manages several other casinos in the Caribbean, including the Divi Carina Bay Casino in St. Croix, the Flamenco Casino in Bonaire and the Alhambra Casino in Aruba. The firm also owns and operates a casino in Biloxi, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina last fall and has not reopened. Casino employees in St. Croix will help in the staff training for St. Lucia.

CALABASH BAY will join Island Outposts collection of boutique hotels in the Caribbean Feb. 10, according to Jason Henzell, president of Island Outpost. The portfolio also includes Jakes in Treasure Beach, which is owned by Henzell, theCaves in Negril, Goldeneye in Oracabessa and Strawberry Hill in St. Andrew, all in Jamaica; and Pink Sands in Harbour Island, the Bahamas. Calabash, a 10-minute walk from Jakes, is comprised of one four-bedroom villa and a two-bedroom house, which can be rented as one unit or separately. A staff of four -- a cook, a gardener, a butler and a houseman -- plus a concierge come with the villa and house. Guests have access to Jakes two restaurants and bar as well as DVDs and a music library. Rates start at $800 per night for the villa and $250 per night for the house, plus 18.5% tax and service charge. For details, visit www.islandoutpost.com.

AMERICAN AIRLINES will continue serving St. Kitts with five flights per week via Miami through Sept. 4, a move Richard Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism, sports and culture, says will give visitors more flexibility in planning trips to St. Kitts, especially for special events. Some of the special events planned for the island include a cricket match on May 24, a cricket tournament from June 21 to 26 and the St. Kitts Music Festival from June 29 to July 2. The American Airlines flights drop to three a week -- Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays -- from Sept. 5 through Oct. 28 and resume the five weekly flights, adding Thursday and Saturday flights back in, from Oct. 29 through the next winter season. For schedules and fares, visit www.aa.com; for island information, visit www.stkitts-tourism.com.

PENCIL IT IN

" 10th annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) 2006, April 4 to 6, Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda. Keynote speaker Stelios Haji-Ioannou, creator/owner of Europes EasyJet, the Continents largest revenue-producing low-cost carrier, with a fleet of 100 jets and 30 million passengers last year. The company also operates EasyCruise, which sailed its first Caribbean season this year. Sessions will focus on successes in destination marketing and will re-examine the brand or not to brand issue. For details, visit www.caribbeaninvestment.org.

" 8th annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, April 25 to 29, Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino in San Juan. The conference, themed Keeping the Right Balance -- Economic Progress and Sustainable Tourism, will include general sessions, workshops and study tours. Workshop topics will focus on disaster management and preparedness; tourism, economic development and the environment; creating sector linkages; and financing sustainable tourism projects. Pre- and post-tours will be available in and around San Juan and elsewhere throughout Puerto Rico. Study tours will visit El Yunque Rainforest, Caguas town center, Pinones Nature Reserve and Humacao Nature Reserve. For details, visit www.onecaribbean.org and click on Information Centre and then Tourism Conferences & Events.

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