Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: January 10, 2002

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS is the theme of CHA Marketplace 2002, which gets under way Jan. 13 at the Cancun Convention Center. More than 400 Caribbean suppliers from 36 CHA member nations will meet with buyers from 35 countries around the world at the annual tourism marketing event. For the first time, the conference includes incentive and group buyers, meeting planners and dive shop owners. A complete schedule of events can be viewed at www.caribbeanhotels.org.

FLEDGLING TOUR OPERATOR IslandQuest Vacations, which opened for business Jan. 8 in Ridgefield, Conn., launched two seven-night packages loosely based on reality TV shows, complete with tropical locations, cash prizes and two teams of contestants. At week's end, the winner gets $7,000 or a chance to win $35,000 at what IQ describes as its annual Tournament of Champions. As an added incentive, the agent who books the winner will earn a $500 bonus from the operator. Package locales are the Buccaneer Resort in St. Croix and Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas' cruises from San Juan to the southern Caribbean. Details can be viewed at www.iqvacations.com.

LODGEPODGE:
• Cap Juluca in Anguilla opened an aqua driving range for golfers. The range is located in front of a lagoon, which is marked for yardage, and play is with golf balls that float in the water and are then driven back to shore by the breeze. Coming in March will be a putting green and two other practice areas for golfers. The resort provides complimentary golf clubs; the golf ball charge is $10.
• Nisbet Plantation Beach Club in Nevis introduced single modified American plan rates that start at $380 per night through March 31 and drop to $272 per night from April 1 to May 31.
• A key feature of the eight-cabana Portofino Beach Resort, which opened in Belize's Ambergris Caye in November, are two tree-top suites that rise on 10-foot-high stilts and offer guests an unobstructed view of the barrier reef.
• Sandals & Beaches Resorts invited a number of NFL players to celebrate Super Bowl weekend with resort guests at Beaches Turks & Caicos in the Turks & Caicos and in Jamaica at Beaches Negril, Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Dunn's River and Beaches Grande Sport. Package rates start at $94 per person, per night at Beaches Grande Sport for a three-night stay Feb. 1 to 4. For what it's worth, we're betting the St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers will have other plans that weekend.
• Bequia Beach Club in the Grenadines launched the Two for One for Two program, which offers couples who stay two or more weeks during peak season (January to April 15) a free 10-night stay during low season. The deal is valid through 2004. Details are available at www.bequiabeachclub.com.

ST. LUCIA'S new Web site can be viewed at www.stlucia.org. The site includes a virtual postcard service and links to numerous resorts.

CRUISE SHIP passenger arrivals in St. Thomas increased 4% last year compared with 2000. Figures for 2001 were 1,790,452.

THE BARBADOS TOURISM AUTHORITY launched a sweepstakes promotion that offers agents the chance to win the grand prize of a 2002 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7, valued at more than $26,000. Every booking through March 22 earns the agent 75 entries. Other prizes include a seven-night trip for two with first class air and a five-night trip for two with economy class air. Agents can register for the contest at www.barbados.org/sweepstakes.

CLUB MED PARADISE ISLAND is hosting 1,000 World Trade Center rescue workers, their families and families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks for six-night stays through Jan. 20. Club Med partnered with North American Airlines, Planet Airways and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for the all-expense-paid trips.

THE ARUBA TOURISM AUTHORITY launched the Aruba On Us promotion that offers $200 in travelers checks for on-island expenses as well as a value card for discounts on meals, entrance fees and activities. The promotion is valid on new bookings of five nights or more made through Jan. 31, or for the first 6,500 bookings. Travel is valid from Jan. 12 to March 31 and must be booked through an official Aruba tour operator.

AIR BYTES
• Air Jamaica flights between Montego Bay, Jamaica and Bonaire will operate Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, effective March 3. Until then, flights run on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
• Grand Bahama Vacations launches jet service on Laker Airways from Pittsburgh to Nassau every Sunday and Wednesday from Jan. 16 through May 12.

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