HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The Caribbean Escapes Collection launched a by-invitation-only, luxury-based consortium last November that quickly grew to include more than 110 resorts in 24 destinations. It's on the move once again.

Glenn Harris, principal and founder, launched the collection's agent and consumer Web site (at www.caribbeanescapes.com) last month, calling the event "a milestone that provides a focused new service for information, multimedia and booking resources to facilitate travel to the region."

"Research indicates that 60% of affluent [travelers] research their trip via the Internet prior to making travel arrangements," he said.

Another aspect, according to Harris, is that the site will expose new up-market travelers to the Caribbean.

Features of the site include:

• An online booking portal for agents and consumers.

• Virtual tours of each destination and each resort in the program with panoramic images.

• Detailed property descriptions with room categories, rates and services and recommendations for shopping, dining, entertainment, golf and spas.

"The booking portal is critical," Harris said.

"Agents sign up and sign on, secure the booking and automatically receive a 10% commission check 20 days after the guest checks out."

Wholesaler and operator land packages, in conjunction with the hotel bookings, are available in addition to room-only bookings; Harris said that air and land programs will be offered at a later date.

"Agents have been very supportive of our product since its introduction," Harris said.

"They visited the informational Web site (www.caribbeanescapescollection.com) early on for hotel descriptions and information. The obvious step was to enable them to book the properties in our collection."

Harris said the next phase of development is the Caribbean Escapes Collection Luxury Travel TV show, which began filming June 13 in Barbados and will air early next year on Time Warner Cable stations in 87 markets in the U.S.

"There will be 15 episodes initially that will rotate and be shown four times a week year-round," Harris said.

The 30-minute shows will appear between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similar TV shows in Canada, the U.K. and Germany will follow next year.

The Caribbean Escapes Collection is composed of approximately 112 four- and five-star resort properties, and Harris said he has no plans to expand the count much above that.

"Right now, 85% of the high-end resorts in the Caribbean are in the collection," he said.

Coming out this fall is "Caribbean Escapes," an annual, oversized, four-color book that will feature full-page spreads on each of the resorts and island destinations. The initial print run is 50,000 copies, which will be placed in guest rooms in each of the resorts.

A thinner version of the same book will go on sale in Borders bookstores across the U.S. with a retail price of $40.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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