Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: October 17, 2002

FOUR SEASONS Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay in the Bahamas expects to open next May with 219 rooms and suites, 13,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course, four tennis courts, three pools and a Kids for All Seasons program. The site also will have estate homes, a Four Seasons Residence Club (time-share units) and 18 condominium units. Each room will have a balcony or terrace and in-room Internet access. Facilities will include a full-service spa and health club, a restaurant and poolside dining area and water sports. Vo Tomulich, director of marketing, envisions the first year's business as 65% leisure and 35% meetings. Low-season rates will start at $250 per room, per night, double; peak season rates, $495. For information, call (212) 605-0245 or visit the Web site at www.fourseasons.com/greatexuma.

PREPARING AGENTS for the day they can sell Cuba is the topic of one of the 60-plus seminars to be offered at the upcoming ASTA Congress in Honolulu Nov. 4 to 7. The first half of the 75-minute session, presented by Sue Wilder, a Chicago-based travel industry training expert, will focus on the island nation as a destination, couched with advice that the session is not about promoting travel to Cuba in violation of Treasury Dept. regulations but about Cuba's potential. The second half will feature a panel of individuals who are authorized to sell travel to Cuba to those who can go legally -- Cuban-Americans and those involved in educational or humanitarian efforts, for example. Delegates who attend this session will be asked to sign a statement indicating they understand the intent of the session and that they cannot sell Cuba.

LODGEPODGE
• A new management contract could be in the works for the 1,350-room Our Lucaya resort on Grand Bahama Island. Parent company Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. said it's weighing contract offers from hotel operators such as Starwood.
• St. Barth Properties is the U.S. representative for the six-suite Hotel Les Ondines Sur La Plage, opening Nov. 1 on Grand Cul de Sac Beach. For details, visit www.stbarth.com.
• Introductory offer for the 22 new villa suites at Horned Dorset Primavera in Rincon, Puerto Rico, is $890 per couple, per night, including breakfast and dinner, from Nov. 1 to March 15. Taxes, tips and service charges are not included in the rate. To book, call (800) 633-1857.
• The first phase of Grenada's Bel Air Plantation opens in February on the island's southeastern coast near La Sagesse Bay and St. David's Harbour. The property will have 11 gingerbread-style villages and cottages on 18 acres overlooking the Atlantic. When the second phase opens in 2004, Bel Air will have 24 units, two bars and restaurants, an art gallery, three pools and a four-acre park with butterfly and bird aviaries.
• Belize Yacht Club Resort on Ambergris Caye, Belize, pays 30% commission on its Web site rates at www.belizeyachtclub.com for new bookings arriving before Dec. 15.
• The St. Kitts Marriott Royal Beach Resort & Spa, a 471-room resort under construction on St. Kitts, delayed its anticipated opening until Feb. 22. It was scheduled to open Dec. 26.
• Club Med extended the booking window on its Second Person Flies Free promotion to Turks and Caicos and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 4. For information, call (800) CLUB-MED.
• Cobblers Cove, Barbados, reopened Oct. 14 after a six-week refurbishing. The resort's annual Culinary Festival is set for Nov. 20 to 23.

REINVENTING CARIBBEAN Tourism is the theme of the Caribbean Tourism Conference Oct. 28 to 31 at Our Lucaya Beach and Golf Resort, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas. The first general session of CTC-25, called "Fortifying the Brand: Successful Strategies for Times Like These," will be moderated by Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Panel members will discuss the success of various strategies used by national tourism bodies, hotels, travel agents, airlines and cruise lines to remain profitable during the current industry crisis.

FLY FREE To Paradise, a promotion to bolster January business, was introduced by Air Jamaica Vacations and Elite Island Resorts for bookings made by Oct. 28. Under the plan, the first 500 passengers booked on an inclusive, six- or eight-night vacation for two will get free air transportation. The Elite Island Resorts' properties involved in the Fly Free promotion include the Royal Antiguan, Grand Pineapple Beach, St. James's Club and Galley Bay resorts, all on Antigua, and St. James's Club Morgan Bay on St. Lucia. For information, call Air Jamaica Vacations at (800) 622-3009.

US AIRWAYS VACATIONS' winter Caribbean sale features savings up to 20% on the air portion of packages, valid for travel from Jan. 7 to April 9. Air/hotel vacations must be booked by Oct. 28. Caribbean packages include roundtrip air, accommodations, transfers, hotel taxes, service charges and international travel taxes up to $80.10. Book through VAX Vacation Access, major GDSs or by calling (800) 455-0123.

BERMUDA PREMIER Jennifer Smith turned minister of tourism duties over to Renee Webb, Bermuda's telecommunications and e-commerce minister. Webb succeeds former tourism minister David Allen, who died Sept. 26.

PENCIL IT IN
• Caribbean Tourism Day, Nov. 5, celebrations throughout the Caribbean.
• Bahamas World Music & Jazz Festival, Nov. 6 to 10, Nassau.
• Teens on the Greens Junior Golf Tournament, Nov. 26 to 30, St. Croix.
• 10th annual LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival, Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, Grenada.

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