Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: January 26, 2006

TARGETED FOR EXTENSIVE RENOVATIONS are the four former Wyndham properties in Puerto Rico (the El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa, Las Casitas Village, El San Juan Hotel & Casino and the Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino) as well as Rose Hall Resort & Country Club in Montego Bay, all of which became part of the new LXR Luxury Resorts collection of 23 properties in the Caribbean, U.S. and Europe last August when they were acquired by the Blackstone Group, a private investment firm. [Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Caribbean properties still include resorts in Aruba, Nassau, St. Maarten and St. Thomas and four Viva Wyndham resorts in the Dominican Republic.] LXR will invest more than $400 million in its portfolio over the next several years, according to Barry Lewin, president, with $50 million budgeted alone for the 570-room Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino in San Juan. Raul Bustamente, whose career spans 20 years with Hilton International, was named managing director of the hotel, effective Feb. 1, and will oversee the renovation project, due to start May 1 on a floor-by-floor basis. The Condado is currently the hotel closest to the new Puerto Rico Convention Center. The Sheraton, which will be centers anchor hotel, has not yet broken ground.

LODGEPODGE

" The Westin St. Lucia will be the centerpiece of the 554-acre Le Paradis, a new luxury condominium development on the eastern shores of St. Lucia. The 232-room, smoke-free hotel, set to open in March 2007, is located 20 minutes from Hewannorah International Airport at Vieux Fort on the southern tip of the island. Amenities will include an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course, a spa with 25 treatment rooms, a casino, conference facilities, a specialty restaurant and a lounge and bar. Future plans call for a 40-slip marina, a marina village and additional mixed-use components. For further details, visit www.leparadisstlucia.com.

" Costa Bonita Resort on Culebra, Puerto Rico, brought in New Jersey-based Key Management Group as its new management company, effective Feb. 1, to relaunch, reopen and rebrand the 164-villa resort. Although the $45 million property had a soft opening last summer, the restaurants and almost half of its rooms never did open. Walter Kohlross, president of Key Management, said the restaurants would open in six weeks and the resort would have a formal opening in May. Culebra is served by ferry service from Old San Juan and by air on Air Flamenco from San Juan. For resort information, call (877) 652-8858.

A BIMINI LANDMARK, The Compleat Angler Bar, a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingways, was destroyed by fire. The bar, which also housed hundreds of photographs and memorabilia of Hemingways, was a favorite haunt of the authors during the days when he stalked big game fish. It was said that his Old Man and the Sea novel was inspired by his fishing exploits in the Bahamas and Cuba. Hemingway worked on his To Have and Have Not in the 1930s during visits to Bimini, and he drank at The Compleat Angler in between fishing trips aboard his vessel, The Pilar.

ST. KITTS launched an eight-point, short-term tourism plan for 2006-2007 to help counter the effects of the end of 350 years of sugar production on the island last August. Richard Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism, sports and culture, said the key components of the plan emphasize St. Kitts sustainable tourism practices, heritage, culture, the hospitality of the Kittitian people and the islands ambiance. Skerritt also spoke of a $17 million airport expansion and outlined hotel projects under way, which include a $78 million project at Sandy Bank Bay by Auberge Resorts; the $140 million Kittitian Heights project with a golf course, a boutique hotel, villas, condos and an artists village; and the 300-room Cable Bay Resort and Villas development.

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