Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: January 24, 2002

AIR JAMAICA VACATIONS opens its new three-story Lovebird Terminal opposite Sangster International Airport terminal in Montego Bay Jan. 31. The new facility is for the exclusive use of departing Air Jamaica Vacations' clients who will be transported from their hotels to the terminal for check-in and then shuttled to the main terminal for their flights. Amenities include a roof deck, a check-in center on the ground floor and an air-conditioned second level with a restaurant, bar, souvenir shops, a Blue Mountain Coffee cafe with Internet access and a massage therapist. Neon colors dominate.

STATS:
• Belize tourist arrivals for 2001 totaled 133,774, up 1.6% over the previous year. Although December 2001 arrivals were down 7.7% from December 2000, the level of decline was below the 12% average decline reported by ASTA for the U.S. travel market, which represents 80% of tourist arrivals in Belize.
• Curacao's stay-over arrivals jumped 6.9% in 2001 to 204,438, the first increase since 1995. The U.S., Curacao's third largest market after Holland and Venezuela, had an 8.9% jump to 31,938, despite the negative impact of Sept. 11.

NINE ATHLETES will represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City next month. The USVI Olympic hopefuls, whose homeland temperatures average 82 degrees year round, will compete in the women's luge races, the men's two- and four-man bobsled races and the men's skeleton races. The skeleton sport, which returns to the Winter Olympics for the first time since 1948, is a solo race headfirst down the bobsled track using only body weight to maneuver the sled. The USVI bobsleds are designed to resemble silver hammerhead sharks; competitors will dress in silver and black uniforms with silver helmets adored with shark eyes and plenty of shark teeth. For information and schedules, visit www.saltlake2002.com.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR. Gearing up for Valentine's Day Feb. 14, many hotels are blanketing the market with packages that include romantic rubdowns, sunset sails, private picnics, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Packages include:
• Amore in Aruba at the Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort at the Aruba Sonesta Beach, from $310 per couple for five nights;
• Romance in Paradise at the Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort, Country Club & Ocean Villas in Puerto Rico, from $1,400 per couple for five nights;
• Romantic Getaway at Chenay Bay Beach Resort in St. Croix, from $215 per night, double for four nights;
• Two-night plans at Hilton Caribbean's eight properties, from $282 at Hilton Tobago;
• Romance package at Long Bay Beach Resort & Villas in Tortola, B.V.I., from $1,999 per couple, for seven nights;
• Island Intimacy Romance plan at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club in Nevis, from $3,625 per couple for six nights.

ST. CROIX'S Valentine Jump Up Celebration returns to Christiansted on Feb. 8 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Entertainment includes live bands, local dance troupes, a mocko jumbie parade and art exhibits along the waterfront. More than 100 local businesses will remain open late with discounts and prizes.

ACTUAL DATES have been set now for CTC-25, the Caribbean Tourism Conference that has been postponed from last October to February to May. Pencil in Oct. 27 to 31 at Our Lucaya in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. The event will combine with CTC-26.

DESTINATION BAHAMAS, a new tour operator that began business Jan. 14, rolled out an array of commissionable packages to resorts in Nassau, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. The firm is a separate arm of 15-year-old Paradise Island Vacations, an operator owned by Bahamas-based Sun International which operates, among other entities, Atlantis Resort & Casino in Paradise Island. The new operator's offerings will expand to include the Out Islands by June. Packages can be viewed at www.destinationbahamas.com.

STAR CLIPPERS' fleet of four-masted luxury yachts will be based in Barbados this summer instead of returning to the Mediterranean. Weekly sailings from May 5 through Oct. 27 start at the discounted rate of $1,785 per cabin, double. The route alternates with each Sunday departure; ports of call include Martinique, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Barts, Bequia, St. Kitts, Tobago Cays, Iles des Saintes, St. Maarten, Grenada and the Grenadines. Details can be viewed at www.starclippers.com.

LODGEPODGE:
• New E-mail address for Chenay Bay Beach Resort, St. Croix is [email protected]. The address is for agents, operators and consumers making inquiries or bookings.
• Hotel Kura Hulanda in Willemstad, Curacao, has joined the Leading Small Hotels of the World, a brand extension of the Leading Hotels of the World. The 100-room boutique resort opened Nov. 1, 2001.
• Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica is the venue for the 38th annual Ms. Travel Agent contest April 4 to 8, sponsored by Sandals Resorts, Air Jamaica and American/Wolfe International Hotel Representatives. Contestants must be currently employed by a travel agency in a sales capacity for at least a year; six finalists will be flown to the resort for the judging, and the winner will receive a four-night stay for two at any Sandals resort. Entry forms are available from A/WIHR at (800) 223-5695 and must be returned with two photos by Feb. 28.
• The 230-room Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club near Ocho Rios, Jamaica, will open its doors to families, couples and groups on June 1, following an $18 million renovation.

THE NEW VENUE for the third Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) 2002 set for April 11 to 13 is the Barcelo Bavaro Convention Center in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which opened last year. Previous conferences have been held at Casa de Campo in La Romana in 2001 and the Hotel Melia Caribe Bavaro in Punta Cana in 2000. For information, E-mail [email protected].

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