Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter May 29, 2003

THINGS ARE looking up for the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, the Bahamas. Owner Kerzner International said it entered into an agreement with the Bahamas government for a $600 million expansion of its flagship resort. The expansion will include a new 1,200-room hotel at Pirate's Cove; an 18-hole golf course; new water-themed attractions; an additional 50,000 square feet of convention and meetings space; an expansion of the One & Only Ocean Club; 120 additional two-bedroom timeshare units at the Harborside development; and new restaurants and shops. The expansion of the Ocean Club and construction of new restaurants and shops will begin in late 2004 and be completed a year later at a price tag of $100 million.

MEANWHILE, work on the largest portion of the Atlantis expansion -- the new 1,200-room hotel, golf course, attractions and convention space -- will start late next year and be completed by Christmas 2006 at a cost of $500 million. As part of the deal, the government will improve Nassau International Airport and the roadway system, extend the moratorium on new casino licenses on Paradise Island and New Providence by 20 years, extend casino tax concessions and exempt Kerzner International from certain import duties on construction materials.

LODGEPODGE
• The 156-room Wyndham Martineau Bay Resort & Spa, which is the newest and largest resort in Vieques, Puerto Rico, will debut its new spa and fitness center June 15. The property, which opened this spring, plans to unveil a small casino by year's end and an 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf course in two years, according to Ben Tutt, general manager. A Kids Club also will be in place by next fall.
• The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica, and Nike Golf Schools & Camps teamed up to offer the first ever Nike Parent/Child Golf School in the Caribbean. The action takes place on the resort's 18-hole White Witch golf course; participants can select two- and three-day sessions that include three hours of PGA-rated instruction, 18 holes of golf each day with use of a cart, all greens fees and lunch. Rates and additional family packages can be viewed at www.ritzcarlton.com; information on Nike golf schools is available at www.ussportscamps.com.
• Cost overruns of $23 million on the InterContinental Cayo Largo Resort in Fajardo forced Puerto Rico's Tourism Development Fund, a unit of the Government Development Bank, to initiate legal action against the owner, Cayo Largo Hotel Associates. The resort, about 95% complete, was to have opened last December.

THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS partnered with Jean-Michel Cousteau, founder of Ocean Futures Society and son of legendary Jacques Cousteau, to launch a marine center in Tortola to develop research programs on marine biology and oceanography. Ralph T. O'Neale, minister of tourism, said the partnership will "help establish the B.V.I. as a leader in marine life research."

PETER J. DOLARA, senior vice president-Miami, Caribbean and Latin America for American Airlines, is this year's recipient of the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be given at the 30th annual Governments of the Caribbean State Ball June 6 at the culmination of Caribbean Tourism Week in New York. Dolara joined American in 1971; under his watch, the Miami hub has become the largest international gateway in American's network with 9,000 employees and daily service to 51 destinations in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Past award winners include Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Earl Graves and former CTO director of marketing, Michael Youngman.

PENCIL IT IN
• Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, June 22 to 25, Barcelo Bavaro Convention Center, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The event will focus on the tourism outlook for the region, analyze Caribbean products and standards, examine methods of doing business in today's changing environment and discuss joint tourism marketing ventures. For details, visit www.cha-chic.org.
• Sea, Salsa and Sabor (Spanish for "flavor") Celebration, July 19 to 28, Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. The themed event includes cuisine and activities that focus on the Spanish Caribbean. Visit www.beyc.com for rates and details.
• Second Annual Music Festival, Oct. 10 and 11, Aruba. Visit www.aruba.com.

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