Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: Sept. 16, 2004

HURRICANE IVAN ripped through the Caribbean last weekend and is scheduled to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast today. Tropical storm Jeanne, nearing hurricane strength, eyed the northeastern Caribbean on Wednesday. Meanwhile, relief efforts are underway for the Cayman Islands, Grenada and Jamaica; information is posted on each destinations Web site: www.caymanislands.ky; www.grenadagrenadines.com; and www.visitjamaica.com. In addition, the Caribbean Tourism Organization [www.onecaribbean.org] and the Caribbean Hotel Association [www.caribbeanhotels.org] have spearheaded relief efforts. Caribbean Star Airlines launched an initiative with a number of musicians who recorded a song dedicated to Grenada; proceeds from the sales of the CD and $2 from each Caribbean Star ticket sold in the next two months will be earmarked for Grenada relief. Cayman Airways is operating emergency relief flights on a limited basis into Grand Cayman; Air Jamaica flew 30,000 pounds of supplies into Kingston, Jamaica, on a special relief flight Sept. 13. The airport there, as well as in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is open for business. 

HERES A PARTIAL RECAP:

" Cayman Islands. More than half of the 15,000 homes on Grand Cayman are uninhabitable due to flooding and roof destruction; the Department of Tourism offices, as well as most public buildings in George Town, were severely damaged; there is no word yet on the status of the cruise port; and many resorts suffered substantial damage and flooding, although the Hyatt Regency on Seven Mile Beach housed 82 guests after the storm (they were taken to shelters the night of the storm). We had a lot of flooding but no structural damage, said Victor Lopez, divisional vice president. Owen Roberts International Airport is open, but flights are limited. The Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman fared better; electricity has been partially restored on Cayman Brac, and islanders are helping in the relief efforts for Grand Cayman.  Relief supplies also can be dropped at Tortuga Rum Co.s Miami warehouse at 14202 Southwest 142nd Ave., which is a staging area for relief agencies and air freight companies. For information, call (877) 486-7884.

" Grenada. The 32-room Blue Horizons Garden Resort will be closed for four to six months, and the 66-room Spice Island Beach Resort will close for a year for repairs. Deposits at both resorts will be refunded when banking institutions are back on line. Air Jamaica, Air Caribes, LIAT and Caribbean Star resumed limited flights during daylight hours until runway lights can be restored. LIAT is running four daily flights from Trinidad, Barbados and St. Vincent into Grenada. There is no public transport at the airport, such as taxis or buses. Ambassador Dennis Antoine said that the islands damage is incalculable. Grenada has been battered and shattered, but we will rebound with help. A list of immediate needed supplies is posted at http://grenadaconsulate.org.

" Jamaica. The cruise ports in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios reopened Sept. 15, and the cruise schedule will be back to normal next week. Air Jamaica extended its deadline for penalty-free reticketing due to Hurricane Ivan to Sept. 30. Damage reports reveal that resorts in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio -- all on Jamaicas north coast -- weathered the storm well. The Sandals properties and Beaches Boscobel are open or will be by Sept. 18. Ritz-Carlton, Round Hill, and Sunset Beach Resort & Spa are open; Sunset Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios will reopen as planned on Dec. 19 after new owners complete a major renovation. Half Moon Montego Bay will proceed as planned with its 50th anniversary celebrations Sept. 26 to Oct. 3. Sandals Negril, Beaches Negril and Beaches Sandy Bay reopen Oct. 1; Sunset at the Palms, Negril will reopen on schedule in November after planned renovations. SuperClubs Grand Lido Braco and Hedonism II reopen Sept. 19; Grand Lido Negril, which had severe roof damage, reopens Oct. 1; Couples Resorts in Negril reopens Sept. 19.

" St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Raffles Resort Canouan Island, which held its soft opening this summer, will reopen Nov. 1 and celebrate its grand opening Nov. 20; Palm Island Resort, a member of the Elite Island Resorts collection with properties on Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Tortola, reopens Nov. 8.

"Bahamas. Club Med Columbus Isle on San Salvador, Bahamas will reopen Dec. 18 when it completes storm repairs from Hurricane Frances -- remember that one?

PENCIL IT IN

" 12th annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Conference, Sept. 26 to 30, St. Kitts.

" 40th annual Ms. Travel Agent contest, Dec. 9 to13, Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Offshore Island, Montego Bay, Jamaica. Sponsored by American/Wolfe International Hotel Representatives, Sandals Resorts and Air Jamaica, the contest is open to travel agency salespeople who have been employed in a sales capacity for at least a year. Six finalists will be flown to Jamaica; the winner gets a four-night stay for two at any Sandals resort. Tatiana Kochkarova, XYZ Travel Group/American Express Travel Services in Toronto, last years winner, will crown the 2005 winner. For entry forms, contact A/WIHR, 1890 Palmer Ave., Larchmont, N.Y. 10583, (800) 223-5695. Forms and two photos are due by Nov. 1.

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