Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: March 21, 2002

HUGH RILEY has been named the Caribbean Tourism Organization's new director of marketing for the Americas, replacing Michael Youngman who steps down from CTO at the end of the month after heading its worldwide marketing operation for 11 years. Riley, who will be based in CTO's New York office, has spent the past 20 years with the Barbados Tourism Authority and was its director of marketing and sales, North America from 1997 to 2001.

HEINZ SIMONITSCH, managing director of Half Moon Golf, Tennis & Beach Club in Montego Bay, Jamaica for the past 39 years, will officially retire on June 30. During his tenure, the resort grew from 30 rooms to 419 rooms and suites and 32 Royal Villas. Simonitsch rebuilt the resort after two hurricanes, oversaw construction after a fire destroyed the main buildings and added a 40,000-square-foot shopping village and conference area. Simonitsch also founded an all-age school for 135 students and served as chairman of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association for five years and of the Caribbean Hotel Assn. for two.

THE SHERATON GRAND RESORT Paradise Island, Bahamas, will reopen May 1. The 340-room beachfront property has been closed since Nov. 6 after being damaged by Hurricane Michelle. Alfred Gorlick, general manager, said the closure enabled the resort to upgrade the lobby, two of four restaurants and exterior landscaping. "We are returning it to the way it was after we completed our $10 million renovation less than two years ago," Gorlick said. Re-opening rates start at $69.50 per person per night, double, through Dec. 21. Inclusive and honeymoon plans also will be offered.

VACATION EXPRESS is adding St. Maarten/St. Martin as a destination beginning May 17 and will offer charter service on Mondays and Fridays from Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando and Washington (Dulles). The Atlanta-based operator will offer three-, four- and seven-night packages.

• TNT Vacations pays a 1% commission bonus on top of its standard 10% commission for air-inclusive bookings made and paid between March 20 and March 26. For details, call (800) 262-0123 or visit
• Funjet Vacations offers savings up to 35% on its air packages booked by March 28 for travel from April 15 to Aug. 31. Rates cover roundtrip air, transfers, room and hotel taxes. Call (800) 558-3050 or access through or major GDS systems, using the FUN code.

• The auction date for the eight-suite Guana Beach Resort on Great Guana Cay near Abaco in the Bahamas has been rescheduled from May 13 to May 25. For details, visit the Web site at
• The 31-unit Horned Dorset in Rincon, Puerto Rico, opens 22 new suites at the end of May.
• Bonaire's newest hotel is the 20-unit Bellafonte Chateau de la Mer oceanfront condo facility three miles from Kralendijk. Accommodations include studios, one- and two-bedroom units, each with a kitchen, balcony or patio, air conditioning and cable TV. For information, visit
• Jamaica's inclusive Franklyn D. Resort and FDR Pebbles, both in Runaway Bay, offer refunds on airline tickets between June 15 to Aug. 30 and Oct. 18 to Dec. 19. Guests staying five or more nights get a $500 refund; a four-night stay earns a $300 credit. For information, call (800) 654-1FDR or visit
• Long Bay Beach Resort & Villas on Tortola, British Virgin Islands, pays 18% commission on all bookings through June 30. To book, e-mail [email protected].
• The 150-room Sea Castles Beach Resort in Montego Bay closed its doors March 2.

• Air Jamaica will increase its service from Orlando to Montego Bay and Kingston from four flights a week to daily service June 20. On the same date, the carrier will up its service between Boston and Montego Bay from five weekly flights to daily.
• BWIA will launch its own tour operation April 15, featuring hotels and destinations served by BWIA and LIAT, its regional partner, in the Caribbean. Conrad Aleong, president and CEO of BWIA, said the move is part of a plan to expand the carrier's market to include more leisure sales.

• Belize's Lobsterfest, June 22 to 23, will include a fishing tournament, a bike race, a Blessing of the Boats ceremony and lots and lots of lobster. Call the Belize Tourism Board at (800) 624-0686 for info.
• Sandals Eighth Annual Ultra Awards will be held May 16 to 19 at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa. This event was originally set for last fall but was postponed after Sept. 11. The Ninth Annual Ultra Awards will be held later this year at the new Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club in Ocho Rios, scheduled to open June 1.

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