LUCIAS TOURIST arrivals in January jumped 20.7% over
January 2004, following an annual spike of 7.8% for all of 2004,
tourism officials said. The islands hotel product is on a roll as
well, with several properties set to expand room count, including
the Bay Gardens Hotel and its sister property Bay Gardens Inn,
which begin construction on the 80-room Bay Gardens Beach Resort
& Spa on Reduit Beach in June, with completion projected for
November 2006. The Landing breaks ground in November on phase one
of its $165 million resort project on Rodney Bay on the north
shore, with the first phase targeted to open in February 2007. The
19-acre site will feature yacht moorings and slips, a beach club,
water sports, helicopter transfers to/from major airports and
nearby islands, a restaurant, a spa and 500 villa rooms. The
84-room CocoPalm, the second of three properties of the
newly-formed Coco Resorts, opens in April in Rodney Bay. The hotel
will offer conference facilities, a restaurant, a bar and pool and
is adjacent to CocoKreole, its sister property.
AIRLINES and Smiths Ferries BVI Connection package offers
seaplane flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas that connect with
fast-ferry services from St. Thomas to Jost van Dyke and Virgin
Gorda in the BVI. Omer ErSelcuk, Seabornes chief marketing officer,
said that the timing of the connection allows St. Croix travelers
to depart St. Croix at 7:15 a.m., spend four hours on Virgin Gorda
or up to five hours on Jost van Dyke and return to St. Croix at
4:40 p.m. The package is priced at $175 per person for Jost van
Dyke and $185 for Virgin Gorda. Equipment rentals, food and drink
and a BVI departure fee of $5 per person are additional. To book,
call (888) FLY TOUR or visit www.seaborneairlines.com.
BONAIRE DIVE FESTIVAL, which began in 1997 as an annual
event for divers and snorkelers to experience the islands natural
treasures and to learn how to protect the reefs, is being
restructured this year to appeal to a wider age range and market
segment: young and old, divers and non-divers, tots to teens.
Therefore, the festival will not be held this year but will take
place in June 2006, according to the Tourism Corporation Bonaire.
However, a number of hotels offer special deals and packages
through June of this year, including Bellafonte Chateau de la Mer
[www.bellafontebonaire.com], Divers Paradise Bonaire
[www.diversparadisebonaire.com] and Harbour Village
Beach Club [www.harbourvillage.com]. For Bonaire information,
" Luana Wheatley was named to the new post of director of marketing
for the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association. For
the past nine years, Wheatley managed the destinations public
relations and promotional efforts, coordinated crises
communications, special event planning and media updates.
" Christiane Hansen was appointed general manager of the Beach
House on Barbuda. Hansen formerly served as manager of the
neighboring K Club Barbuda and held management posts at Club Med
Maldives in Africa and Spain.
" Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands named Andrew
Niedenthal as executive chef, responsible for all culinary aspects
of the resort, including its two restaurants, in-villa meal
preparation and personalized menu options for guests. Most
recently, Niedenthal was executive chef at Cheeca Lodge & Spa
in Islamorada, Fla.