WITH $17 MILLION budgeted for advertising and
promotion in 2002, Charles Turnbull, governor of the U.S. Virgin
Islands, predicted that tourism numbers will continue to rebound
after the Sept. 11 attacks. Speaking at the 9th annual Virgin
Islands Symposium in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Turnbull cited
tourism projects that include a $75 million expansion at the
Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, an $80 million investment to develop
Carifest theme park on St. Thomas and the construction of a
680-room resort with a casino and 18-hole golf course set for St.
NEWS FROM THE SYMPOSIUM:
• Indicators for the winter season show that the local hotel
industry was not hit as hard by fallout from the terrorist attacks
as first feared. Compared to 2001, hotel occupancies for St. Thomas
and St. John were down only slightly in January and February, while
March proved a bonanza month for several hotels on St. Thomas. St.
Croix was hit harder, suffering losses most months during the
• To boost off-season business, a new ad and promotion campaign is
set to launch next month to run through September. In addition,
August once again was designated as Travel Agent Month on St.
Thomas and St. John in which agents will receive three free nights
at a choice of 14 participating properties, discounts on
attractions and activities and discounted air.
• Meanwhile, Greg Thorne, with New York-based Inter-Island Tours,
said he has increased his commitment to the destination and will
distribute a new brochure with his programs to 3,000 U.S. agencies
this month. Inter-Island Tours "is committed to retaining our 13%
commission on air and land packages," he added.
MONDAY MADNESS has come to Our Lucaya Beach
& Golf Resort on Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas. The new
incentive program, designed to spur on agent bookings at the
resort, pays double commissions on all reservations (except group
bookings) made on specific dates to be announced throughout the
year. The first date in the series is April 29. The promotion is
valid on bookings made the entire day, for travel anytime. To earn
the extra pay, call (877) 687-5822 on the specified day and ask for
the Monday Madness Special. In the future, agents will be notified
about additional Monday Madness dates by fax blast shortly before
the booking date.
IN MARCH, Sandals and Beaches Resorts
registered its first year-over-year increase in bookings since
Sept. 11, according to Gordon "Butch" Stewart, chairman.
Reservations taken in March by Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Sandals'
largest distributor, jumped 30% over the same period a year ago,
reported Michael Norton, Gogo's vice president of Caribbean
marketing. The inclusive resort chain will open five resorts this
year: Beaches Boscobel in Jamaica on June 1; the first Sandals in
Cuba (450 rooms) in September; a hotel in Anguilla in July; the
former Hyatt Regency St. Lucia -- whose takeover is expected to be
completed this month -- reopening in mid-July as the Sandals Grand
St. Lucia; and the former Dragon Bay Beach Resort in Port Antonio,
Jamaica, opening in November as the Port Antonio Spa Village.
Stewart said Sandals has not yet decided if the Port Antonio
property will carry the Sandals or Beaches brand -- or perhaps none
so as to "better emphasize the destination rather than the brand."
Meanwhile, the 360-room, $62 million Beaches Whitehouse, under
construction an hour and 15 minutes from Montego Bay, is slated to
open in December 2003.
• The 300-room Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club & Resort on St.
Thomas will debut its 10,000-square-foot, $1.5 million Journeys Spa
in June, at which time the resort officially will change its name
to Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa. The two-level spa facility
will be the largest in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the first to
offer hydrotherapy treatments, as well as a full range of massage
and body services, a fitness center and salon.
• The 21-suite Grace Bay Club in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos,
offers two new summer packages and a new spa ritual plan, all valid
through Dec. 19. A three-night getaway program, offered from May 27
to July 1, is priced at $965 per couple, for oceanfront junior
suite accommodations, two dinners and daily breakfast. Guests must
arrive on Monday or Tuesday. For details, visit the Web site at www.gracebayclub.com.
• Sandy Lane resort on Barbados has a pair of value-added packages
with savings up to 30% through Oct. 31. Active Choice and Family
Fun plans feature 10 nights for price of seven nights, with nightly
rates from $210 per person, double, or five nights for the price of
four, with nightly rates from $240 per person, double. Nightly
summer rates start at $600 per room, double, with breakfast. The
resort will open a third Tom Fazio-designed golf course -- the
Green Monkey -- in November. For information, call (866) 444-4080
or visit www.sandylane.com.
• Coral Hotels & Resorts' new Guavaberry Golf & Country
Club opens in June in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic, near the
584-room Coral Costa Caribe Beach Hotel & Casino. Facilities
include the 18-hole, Gary Player-designed golf course; a clubhouse
with a gourmet restaurant; a bar; a pool; meeting rooms; and a pro
• Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, St. Lucia, created the
junior suite room category for families or couples traveling
together. The new suite consists of two bedrooms, each with a
mini-bar, cable TV, covered terrace and sun terrace. Nightly rates
through Dec. 20 are $275 per junior suite, including a free massage
for two adults at Windjammer's Serenity Spa. Discounted inclusive
rates are an additional $80 per day, per adult, and $40 per child.
Through May 15, there is a $100 food and beverage credit when seven
nights are booked. For details, visit the Web site at www.windjammer-landing.com.
• Divi Resorts scrapped the April 14 booking deadline for its Kids
Stay and Eat Free program, applicable to children 17 and younger.
Now, any bookings made and completed prior to Dec. 14 qualify. The
offer applies to stays at eight Divi properties. Not participating
is the adults-only Divi Heritage Beach Resort in Barbados. The
free-stay/free food offer is for each child sharing a room with an
adult, with food selections made from the children's menu. For
information, call (888) 432-1116 or check the Web site at www.diviresorts.com.
SUPERCLUBS' new Presidential Perks plan, now
available at Grand Lido Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, through
Dec. 19, includes a private concierge, a chef to whip up a
personalized dinner for two, daily spa treatments and
accommodations in an oceanfront penthouse suite. The package
carries a minimum booking of five nights or more; the price starts
at $2,500 per person, double. Agents earn a $500 cash bonus on top
of the regular commission. For details, call (800) GO-SUPER or
DISCOVER RESORTS International is paying 50%
commission on a first-time booking at 20-suite Samana Bay Village
on the Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic. To qualify,
stays must be booked by May 31 with travel completed by Oct. 14.
Rates range from $99 to $159 per night, double. A $199 per week
meal plan is offered and also qualifies for the commission. Also,
agents get a 50% discount on their first visit to the property
through April 2003. For details, call (877) 934-7268.
BEGINNING MAY 14, the Disney Magic will call on
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, on alternate Tuesdays and remain in
port for the majority of the day. This port call is part of Disney
Cruise Lines' seven-night Western Caribbean route, which departs
from Port Canaveral, Fla., and also includes stops in Key West,
Fla.; Cozumel, Mexico; and Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in
the Bahamas. For rates and details, visit www.disneycruise.com.
AMONG HOTELS offering packages or special rates
during the 15th annual Curacao Heineken Jazz Festival are the Avila
Beach Hotel, Curacao Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel and SuperClubs
Breezes Curacao. At Avila Beach, the four-night package starting
May 30 is priced at $999 per person, single or double, and covers
nightly tickets to the festival May 31 to June 2. For details,
visit www.avilahotel.com. Rates at Curacao Howard Johnson
start at $80 per night, single, or $85 per night, double. For
information, call (599) 9-462-7800. Through June 30, Breezes
Curacao features rates from $180 per person, double, with a minimum
stay of two nights required. To book, call (800) GO-SUPER or visit