New properties, renovated park await visitors to Martinique

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Although tourism has taken a hit this year on Martinique, as it has throughout much of the Caribbean, new boutique hotels are signs that recovery could be in the cards for 2010.



Visitors to Martinique this winter have several new accommodations options.

While most of Martinique's 6,000 hotel rooms are scattered throughout the southern half of the island, the newPomme Cannelle Village is nestled in the north above the town of Le Precheur. The property, whose name means "custard apple" in French, is near Martinique's rain forest and hiking trails.

It offers 16 guest apartments with air-conditioning, kitchenettes and high-speed Internet. The target market is the extended-stay adventure traveler who wants to hike and explore. The rates are geared to weekend, 15-day and monthly packages.

A weekend stay in a one-bedroom suite starts at $210, double, from Dec. 1 through April 30.

Farther south in the capital city of Fort-de-France, the 24-room Hotel L'Imperatrice has reopened, following a total renovation. The hotel was built in the 1950s and named for Empress Josephine, Napoleon's wife and one of Martinique's most famous figures. Rates start at $180 per room, per night, double.

Outside of the capital city is the new La Suite Villa, which offers an infinity pool overlooking the Bay of Fort-de-France. Accommodations include six suites in the main house and nine Creole-style villas, available in two- or three-room layouts with a garden, covered terrace, outdoor shower, solarium and Jacuzzi.

Winter rates start at $420 per room, per night, double.

The property's restaurant and bar offers French-Creole specialties and showcases the works of local painters and sculptors.

Both Pomme Cannelle Village and La Suite Villa are members of Martinique's Hotel de Charme collection.

Walk in the park

A popular attraction on Martinique is La Maison de la Nature in the island's Morne Rouge central region.

The park reopened to the public in October, after an upgrade and installation of new signage and information kiosks. It is home to more than 100 species of tropical plants laid out along a two-mile hiking trail. Self-guided hiking itineraries are available, as are picnic areas.

Admission is free.

Tourism officials are hopeful that Martinique's properties and attractions, along with American Eagle's expanded airlift from San Juan, can bolster the sagging visitor numbers experienced this year. Overall numbers dropped 6.9% from January to July, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Visit www.martinique.org.

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