Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: November 22, 2001

RESORT DEVELOPMENT GROUP Grupo del Caribe launched Cap Cana, a multibillion-dollar project near Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, that, according to a spokeswoman, will turn a 30,000-acre parcel of beachfront land into a "year-round tourist destination." Nicklaus Design, a group headed by golfer Jack Nicklaus, is contracted to develop three golf courses for the resort area. In addition, Cap Cana will feature a marina, private residences and luxury hotels, the spokeswoman said. Grupo del Caribe manages the country's major airports and more than 5,000 hotel rooms in the Dominican Republic.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS, is the venue for the Heads of Government Tourism Summit Dec. 8 to 9, which will bring together prime ministers and heads of state from more than 33 Caribbean countries for the second time since the events of Sept. 11. Discussion topics include status reports on additional security measures, the fallout in regional tourism since Sept. 11 and the outlook for the winter season. At the October meeting, an $18 million budget was approved for advertising and promotion of the region for the winter season.

JAMAICA will host the ASTA Southern Regional Conference 2002 from May 2 to 5. Participating hotels include Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club, Wyndham Rose Hall and Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall. Conference officials expect 800 agents and suppliers from the Missouri Valley, Florida and the Southeast.

MAHOGANY RUN GOLF COURSE on St. Thomas reopened following extensive renovations to all 18 holes of the 6,022-yard golf course. As a result of the renovations, the 15th hole of the course doubled in size and now has a 6,000-square-foot green. Tee times run from 7 a.m. to 4:52 p.m. For more information, contact the course at (800) 253-7103.

ROCKWELL TOURS offers 20% commission on all land-only bookings through Jan. 31. Commission is earned on the air portion of bookings according to the individual airline's commission policy. For details, call (800) 526-4910, visit the Web at www.rockwelltours.com or send an e-mail to [email protected].

AIR BYTES:
• Grand Bahama Vacations will begin twice-weekly, direct air service from Pittsburgh to Nassau on Jan. 16. The flights will depart Sundays and Wednesdays through May 12 on Laker Airways aircraft.
• Continental Airlines will begin nonstop, Saturday service from Houston and Cleveland to Nassau on Dec. 22.
• Vacation Express will debut charter service between Orlando and Aruba on Dec. 22. Flights depart Saturdays, with connecting service from Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville and Washington.
• Mexicana Airlines launched twice-weekly, one-stop service between Mexico City and Santo Domingo. The service will operate Thursdays and Sundays with a stop in Cancun.

LA SAMANNA, an Orient-Express property on St. Martin, will drop its rates for groups by 50% from January through August. The offer is available to meeting planners who book 20 or more rooms for Sunday-through-Wednesday stays at the 81-room resort, 10 minutes from the capital of Marigot.

WYNDHAM INTERNATIONAL will expand into the Cayman Islands next month when it introduces its Summerfield Suites brand with the conversion of an existing property. That property, currently the Sunshine Suites Resort Grand Cayman, has 130 suites and is located in the center of the Seven Mile Beach area.

MORE CAYMAN HAPPENINGS:
• Cayman Turtle Farm on Grand Cayman, which sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Michelle Nov. 4, has reopened for business. The admission fee for adults has been reduced to $5 per person; children ages 12 and under are now admitted free of charge. For information and hours of operation, call (345) 949-3894 or send an e-mail to [email protected].
• The Wet Fest has been rescheduled for Dec. 1 on Seven Mile Beach. The event will feature water sports, games and entertainment.

BEACHES ROYAL PLANTATION Golf Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, was awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award last month. The 80-suite resort opened last February.

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