Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: May 16, 2002

GOOD NEWS from Anguilla is that the Sonesta Anguilla will remain open this summer, contrary to an announcement earlier this year that the 100-room resort would close from June through October as a result of decreased business after Sept. 11. Bookings are up and business has improved, according to resort officials, who also want to support the island's tourism growth and development strategies by keeping the property open. Summer Breeze special rates start at $129 per room, single or double, which represent a 35% discount on its off-season prices. For details, call (800) SONESTA or visit www.sonesta.com.

AMERICAN EXPRESS cardholders get a fifth night free and a Vacation Values card worth $1,870 for visitor discounts and services on Aruba when purchasing a five-night or longer package from Gogo Worldwide Vacations or Travel Impressions. Clients enrolled in Amex's Membership Rewards program qualify for double bonus points. Bookings must be made by June 30 for travel through Jan. 31. For details, contact Gogo at (800) 899-3999 or Travel Impressions at (800) 284-0044.

LODGEPODGE
• The Old Bahama Bay resort on Grand Bahama Island opened a meetings facility loaded with high-tech options for groups up to 100. Visit the Web site at www.oldbahamabay.com for details.
• Grand Cayman is featured in TransGlobal Vacations' packages from Minneapolis/St. Paul July 1 to Aug. 19 with air-inclusive rates on Delta Air Lines from $965 per person, double for seven nights at Treasure Island Resort. Up to two kids ages 17 and under stay free when sharing with at least one adult. To book, call (800) 338-2160; visit www.vacationaccess.com or book via major GDS's using the vendor code TGT.
• Sandals' newest property -- and the one with the longest name -- opens for business Aug. 15 as Sandals Grande St. Lucian Beach Resort & Spa on Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. The 280-room property is the former Hyatt Regency St. Lucia, totally renovated and refreshed by Sandals to the tune of $8 million to $10 million, according to John Lynch, executive vp-sales worldwide.
• Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club (the former Boscobel Beach Hotel) in Ocho Rios, Jamaica opens in July following a $30 million to $32 million renovation.
• Coral Sands Hotel, Harbour Island, Bahamas offers a fourth night free when three are booked, seven nights for the price of five and 10 nights for the price of seven from Aug. 1 to Nov. 27, excluding Labor Day weekend Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. Nightly rates start at $160 per room, double. To book, visit www.coralsands.com.
• Anguilla's Cap Juluca's seven-night Romantic Rendezvous includes massages, dinners and champagne from $3,585 for two through Dec. 18. Check it out at www.capjuluca.com.
• The Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios will open its first full-service spa in mid-June, offering a range of treatments and services at a new oceanfront pavilion. Spa director is Carolyn Jobson, who headed the spa program at Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica for nine years. For info, log on to www.jamaicainn.com.
• Kanantik Reef & Jungle Resort, Stann Creek in southern Belize, officially opened its doors April 26, offering nightly rates from $300 per person, double for all meals, taxes and activities, including dive and snorkeling excursions. For reservations, visit www.kanantik.com.
• Bolongo Bay Beach Club, St. Thomas offers Travel Agent Appreciation Rates through Dec. 15. Nightly rates are $75 (plus tax and service charges) per room, double for the semi-inclusive continental plan and $250 per room, double for the inclusive program. Agents must present a valid IATAN or ARC number when booking through (800) 524-4746 or via e-mail at [email protected].

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION will honor four individuals with Lifetime Achievement Awards at CTO's 29th annual Governments of the Caribbean State Ball May 31 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria. The award is presented to those who have made significant contributions to the region. This year's recipients are: John Bell, retiring (as of Dec. 31) CEO and director general, Caribbean Hotel Association; James Pepperdine, executive vp, Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown; Erick "Willy" Rotin, past chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Assn. (predecessor of CTO) and co-founder of the Hotel Assn. of Guadeloupe (posthumously); and Michael Youngman, former director of marketing, CTO. Past recipients include Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, Earl Graves and New York congressman Charles Rangel.

TO CELEBRATE CTO'S 50th anniversary, this year's ball also will honor 50 individuals for their contributions to Caribbean tourism. Of the 50 honorees, 33 have been selected by CTO member countries for achievements in their own nations in both the private and public sectors. An additional 17 individuals, active in regional tourism, have been selected by a panel of CTO representatives and institutions. Brenda Blackmon, a New York City television news anchor, will serve as master of ceremonies; the Royal Barbados Police Force Band will participate in the flag ceremony; and Byron Lee & The Dragonaires' 14-piece band will rock the house.

OBIE WILCHOMBE has been named minister of tourism for the Bahamas by the new prime minister, Perry Christie. Wilchombe succeeds Tommy Turnquest in the tourism post.

AIR BYTES
• American Airlines will launch year-round Saturday service from Boston to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, June 15. The carrier currently has several daily flights from the New York area that connect with its three daily flights from Miami to Provo.
• Air Jamaica's New York (Kennedy)-Kingston route will be supersized June 27 when it transfers a larger Airbus from its London route. The 294-seat A340 has 35% more seats than the A310, including 10 more seats in First Class and the addition of a Premium First Class with 12 seats.
• Martinair will end its twice-weekly Miami-Aruba service Oct. 31. The flights originate in Amsterdam.
• Spirit Airlines launched its new checkerboard blue airplane paint design, logo and signage May 9 when it began daily nonstop service from Orlando to San Juan.

PENCIL IT IN
• 30th annual Jamaica Air Carriers' Invitational Golf Tournament at Wyndham Rose Hall Resort & Country Club and Half Moon Golf, Tennis & Beach Club, Montego Bay, Jamaica, May 30 to June 2.
• Baha Men's "Move It Like This" concert weekend, sponsored by Grand Bahama Island Tourist Board, Royal Oasis Resort and Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort, May 31 to June 2.
• Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Country Club, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, June 16 to 19.
• SuperClubs Epicurean Escape, Grand Lido Negril, Jamaica, Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.

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