MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- Half Moon Montego Bay, 50 years old this month, celebrates its golden anniversary with rates from 1954.

Guests who stay four nights at Half Moon get the fifth night at the property's 1954 grand opening rate of $50 per room plus a $50 food-and-beverage credit per adult, according to Richard Whitfield, managing director.

The same rate is in effect for guests who stay six nights and get the seventh at the $50 rate plus a $100 food and beverage credit per adult and complimentary breakfast.

The '50s-era rate is available from March 1 through April 15 and again from May 1 through Dec. 14. Kids under 12 are free when sharing a room with adults and also receive a 50% discount on any meal plan.

Whitfield said there is a single-parent rate in effect and free nanny services for up to three hours daily.

The resort's Take Me to the Moon rates are priced from $499 per room, per night, double, from March 1 through April 15 and drop to $399 from May 1 through Dec. 14, including all meals, drinks, transfers, taxes and service charges.

"Half Moon's owners are as committed to this property and staff as in 1954 and to maintaining its status as the most complete Caribbean resort," Whitfield said. "More than $8 million was spent last year on construction and refurbishing, the first complete renewal since Half Moon opened."

Whitfield termed the timing of the project as "excellent, because 2003 was a turning point in the right direction for travel."

"We ended the year 25% over 2002 figures, and our January '04 occupancies increased 25% over last January," he said.

New at Half Moon:

• Three blocks of beachfront suites and cottages, known as the Hibiscus Wing, were demolished to make room for 68 new rooms and suites in 19 buildings, furnished in contemporary Caribbean style.

The units, which range in size from 970 square feet to 1,020 square feet, have modern bathrooms, large verandas and balconies, data port Internet access, a television and VCR (large-screen TVs in the suites), a minibar, coffeemakers and electronic safes.

New at Half Moon is an enlarged main pool complex that features a swim-up bar, two Jacuzzis and a massage pool with a waterfall. The rebuilt Hibiscus Wing has an enlarged main pool that extends to a swim-up pool bar, two Jacuzzis and a massage pool with a waterfall.

• Walkways were removed from the beachfront side of the resort to ensure privacy for guests. Beach access is now along paths that parallel the guest units.

Half Moon's two beaches, which were once separate, are now one; four groins were constructed to re-create and build up the two beaches.

• The resort's Golf Pro Shop was expanded to encompass the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and to add two meetings rooms at the site.

A two-year, $750,000 project gets under way this year "to upgrade and modernize the 18-hole course and extend the practice facilities," Whitfield said. "We will close nine holes this summer while working on the course, and the second nine holes next summer."

Also planned is a tunnel under the road leading to the golf course for easier access for golfers.

• At the Half Moon Shopping Village, site of the resort's conference center and ballroom, the outdoor piazza area was enlarged for street parties and group functions.

Three craft vendors have stalls in the village, although only one vendor is permitted on the beach.

Two more duty-free shops also opened in the village, which Whitfield said "draws many guests from other hotels in the area, as does our Sugar Mill restaurant."

The construction project also included a large wedding gazebo, a footbridge, ponds and fountains.

Still to come is an upgrade of the resort's tennis program, according to Whitfield.

For details, visit the Web site at www.halfmoon.com.jm.

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

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