Florida Briefs: Charles Group to bring Holiday Inn brand back to Miami Beach

Charles Group Hotels has rebranded the Best Western Beach Resort in Miami Beach as a Holiday Inn. The change follows a $2 million renovation of the 253-unit property, which is being marketed as the Holiday Resort.


The rebranding marks the return of Holiday Inn to Miami Beach, as the previous Holiday Inn in the city was torn down last summer to make way for a W-branded condo-hotel.

Rooms and suites at the Holiday Resort offer ocean views, free wireless Internet connections, in-room safes, coffeemakers, irons, hair dryers, telephones with voicemail and cable TV. Suites have microwaves, refrigerators and wet bars.

Meanwhile, Best Western still can be booked in Miami Beach; the Best Western South Beach is in Miami Beachs art deco district.

For more on the Holiday Resort, visit www.charlesgrouphotels.net/beach/index.html or call (305) 532-3311.

More than parrots

Miamis Parrot Jungle Island will change its name to Jungle Island this summer to widen its appeal and better reflect its other animal denizens.

The new name will debut on June 1, along with a greater emphasis on the attractions big cats, orangutans, serpents and other animals.

Parrot Jungle opened in 1936 south of Miami. It moved to Miamis Watson Island in 2003.

For more on the park, visit www.parrotjungle.com.

Green sightseeing

Key West has a new visitor attraction: the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, a 6,400-square-foot interactive center that lets visitors experience the Keys underwater environment without getting wet.

The $6 million center, located in the Truman Annex, is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The center features interactive, touch-screen modules, as well as text and audiovisual presentations about hardwood hammocks, mangroves, patch reefs, sea grasses, the deep shelf and Dry Tortugas National Park.

Visitors can walk through a replica of the Aquarius Undersea Lab, a manned underwater research habitat near Key Largo, and listen to recordings from the lab. Interactive video tours of the Keys underwater environment are also available.

Admission is free. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

United upgrades at Disney

United Vacations is offering customers who purchase aWalt Disney World Resort vacation a free theme park ticket upgrade valued at $100 per person.

Bookings made by Feb. 18 will receive a 3-D Magic Your Way ticket with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More option at a Magic Your Way base ticket price.

The promotion is valid for travel from April 15 through June 2. Customers must purchase a minimum three-night stay at a Disney resort. A sample three-night stay at Disneys All-Star Resorts starts at $644 per person, double, from Washington, Newark and New York.

For reservations, call (800) 328-6877 or visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com.

Kid stuff

The new Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has launched an Ocean Explorers program for children age 6 and older.

Among other activities, the resort offers fishing clinics, snorkeling, kayaking, introductory scuba, golf clinics, water taxi excursions on the Intracoastal Waterway, beach games and trips to local museums.

For information and reservations, call (800) HILTONS or visit www.fortlauderdalebeachresort.hilton.com.

Jorge Sidron is Travel Weekly's Florida editor. E-mail him at [email protected].

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