Bob Soto's Diving Answers Hurricane Hype With Guarantee

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Reed Travel Features

GEORGE TOWN -- Hurricanes.

It's a word no one likes to hear, deal with, forecast, think about, encounter or experience.

Ron Kipp, president of Bob Soto's Diving Ltd., the oldest dive shop operation in the Cayman Islands, is fed up with hurricane-season media hype and sensationalism, which he claims damage the tourism season in the Caribbean.

To counter the hype, Kipp has gone on the offensive to assure divers that "hurricane season" (loosely defined as June 1 through Nov. 30) rarely affects the Cayman Islands, located in the western Caribbean and well out of the track that hurricanes traditionally follow.

Bob Soto's Diving has unveiled its Hurricane Protection Plan, described by Kipp as "the first guaranteed worry-and-hassle-free dive package in the Caribbean."

With this plan, divers "have run out of excuses for postponing a Cayman dive vacation this summer," Kipp said.

The new plan and the accompanying Cayman Gold package are the centerpieces of the dive firm's 40th anniversary celebration this year.

The Cayman Gold package offers a treasure chest of savings -- and solutions for those who voice an excuse for not diving during the summer.

The 1997 package is actually a repeat of the Guaranteed Dive Vacation, launched by Bob Soto's Diving in 1983 for a three-year run.

During the program, the dive firm offered uninterrupted customer service for 1,079 days (and nights) of Cayman Island diving.

The new package teams Bob Soto's dive staff of 40 and its fleet of eight dive boats with the dive-oriented, 281-room Treasure Island Resort on Grand Cayman.

According to Kipp, the plan's components cover the major concerns that divers have expressed about summer travel to the Cayman Islands.

"We've provided solutions and eliminated excuses for not booking a dive trip in the summer months," he said.

Probably the most innovative of the Cayman Gold features is its Hurricane Insurance Policy.

The policy guarantees that every guest who has booked the Cayman Gold package will be covered by a $1,000 insurance policy in the event that a hurricane reaches the Cayman Islands and events necessitate visitors' evacuation.

In addition, under the Guaranteed Dive program, the hotel and dive portions of the package will be fully refunded.

The Cayman Gold week-long package, valid from April 15 through Dec. 15, is priced at $899 per person, double, and covers roundtrip air from Miami on Cayman Airways, transfers, accommodations at Treasure Island, six days of diving with a two-tank morning dive daily or a one-tank afternoon dive, unlimited shore diving, a one-tank night boat dive and hotel tax and tips.

A five-night package is priced at $699 per person, double; a three-night dive getaway is $499 per person, double.

Nominal surcharges are available for roundtrip air travel on nonstop Cayman Airways' flights from Houston; Tampa and Orlando, Fla., and its one-stop service from Atlanta.

An optional meal plan is priced at $159 per person for seven nights, $99 for four nights and $79 for three nights.

The plan includes daily continental breakfast and dine-around vouchers for dinner at a variety of restaurants on Grand Cayman, such as the Lone Star Bar & Grill and D-J's Cafe.

Grand Cayman offers more than 150 different dive sites, many of which are only occasionally visited by divers.

Bob Soto's Diving features 22 different dive trips daily, including dives on all four sides of Grand Cayman, night dives, far North Wall dives, three-tank computer dive trips, shallow-site dives and programs that suit every level of diver.

The 281-room Treasure Island Resort recently completed a $3 million renovation program to its guest rooms and public areas. Facilities include a beach volleyball court, two pools, a poolside bar and grill, a lobby bar and the Swiss-run Top of the Falls restaurant.

The resort serves as the new headquarters for Bob Soto's Diving, which maintains a full-service dive shop and PADI facility on the premises.

For information and reservations, call Soto's at (800) 262-7686. The E-mail address is [email protected]

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