Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: November 8, 2001

DESPITE HURRICANE MICHELLE'S windy swath through parts of the Caribbean Nov. 4 to 5, major damage was averted and cleanup was quick. Here's the rundown:

• Cayman Islands' dive operators resumed normal schedules Nov. 7; cruise ship terminals in George Town sustained damage, but repairs were quickly completed on one terminal, and an alternative dock is being used while repairs are completed on the second facility. Storm surges flooded the tanks at the popular Turtle Farm attraction on Grand Cayman, which is closed indefinitely; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman had no damage.
• Bahamas' Ocean Club on Paradise Island expects cleanup to be completed by Nov. 14. Until then, guests are being accommodated at Atlantis' suites or rescheduling their vacations. Sheraton Grand Resort Paradise Island will reopen in mid-January after lobby and waterfront repairs are completed.

AIRLINE NEWS:
• Spirit Airlines will launch twice-daily year-round service Nov. 22 to San Juan from Detroit via a connection in Fort Lauderdale. Promotional fares start at $109 for travel Dec. 1 to 17 and Jan. 8 to 31. Tickets must be booked by Nov. 15.
• Northwest launched daily round-trip service from Memphis, Tenn. to Montego Bay Nov. 1, replacing service from Tampa, Fla. to Montego Bay, which was discontinued Oct. 28.
• US Airways began daily nonstop service between Philadelphia and Barbados Nov. 3.
• Air Jamaica postponed the start date of its Washington (Dulles)-Montego Bay service from Nov. 15 to mid-2002.

VISITORS to the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive a $200 American Express travelers check upon arrival and the fourth night free when three nights are booked as part of the Stay and Play, We'll Pay promotion. Travel must be booked through one of six participating wholesalers between Nov. 10 and Dec. 15 for travel from Dec. 1 through March 31. The promotion is a component of the $6.5 million Sea to Shining Sea campaign.

SANDALS RESORTS plans to reopen the 130-room Beaches Inn Resort in Negril by Thanksgiving under a new name: Beaches Club Resort. The resort was closed Aug. 31 for renovations. Sandals' chairman Gordon "Butch" Stewart said the decision means there will be only one property under the Inns brand: Sandals Inn in Montego Bay. Sandals Inn, which is closed, will reopen Dec. 10 after a three-month renovation. Sandals does not plan to do away with the Inns brand, according to Stewart. Meanwhile, Sandals launched a new TV ad campaign featuring the song "What the World Needs Now Is Love." The campaign will run on national cable channels through Dec. 12 and resume after the holidays.

PUERTO RICO stepped up its multifaceted promotion effort to spur arrivals from the mainland U.S. As part of a six-week incentive program, agents who book Puerto Rico is Fun packages between Jan. 13 and Feb. 23 for travel from Feb. 2 to April 15 are eligible for cash prizes from $100 to a grand prize of $10,000. Other efforts include Fly Free to Puerto Rico, which offers visitors two free roundtrip tickets for every hotel room booked for five nights or more through one of 10 participating wholesalers. The promotion is a joint effort with American, ATA, Continental, Delta and Spirit. The offer runs through Dec. 15 for travel from New York, Newark, Chicago (Midway), Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

BARBADOS' tourism initiatives include a $15 million budget for a revised TV and print campaign; increased support for wholesalers, operators and airlines; a relief package for the hotel industry, and more travel agent training. An expanded fam schedule calls for five trips from New York, six from Miami and two from Los Angeles by the end of the year.

THE CURACAO TOURIST BOARD closed its offices in New York and Miami on Oct. 18 and no longer has tourist board representation in the States. Tourism Solutions, a Miami-based sales and marketing firm, now handles consumer and trade inquiries. Curacao's toll-free number, (800) 3-CURACAO, and the Web site, www.curacao-tourism.com, remain the same.

VIVA RESORTS has joined the growing list of hotels offering complimentary vacations to New York City rescue workers. The inclusive hotel firm is offering 100 four-night stays at any of its six resorts in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Mexico. The deal is valid through Dec. 23 for up to two adults and two kids (ages 12 and under) per room.

THE ARUBA MARRIOTT RESORT & Stellaris Casino completed a $4.2 million renovation of its 413 guest rooms and suites. View the redone rooms at www.offshoreresorts.com.

ST. LUCIA'S Rex Resorts announced dates for two reopenings. The 140-room Papillon reopens Dec. 1, and the 96-suite Royal St. Lucian welcomes guests Dec. 15.

ARUBA'S inclusive Bushiri Beach Resort is renovating its 155 guest rooms and suites in time for the high season. For reservations, visit www.bushiri.com.

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