Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: September 12, 2002

FOUR TV ADS and an online booking site, powered by Expedia, signal the first phase of the $16 million Life Needs the Caribbean regional marketing campaign. The plan is administered by the Caribbean Hotel Assn. Charitable Trust, a public and private sector mix of governments, hotels, airlines and credit card firms to promote the Caribbean as a single destination. The TV ads air through Nov. 16 on 14 national cable stations and carry a "Call your travel agent" tag line, a toll-free booking number and the Web address at www.gocaribbean.com. Expedia plans to launch a travel agent booking link on the site by year's end. Eighteen Caribbean countries, 155 hotels, Air Jamaica and American Express have signed on as paid participants in the campaign. Countries pay into the plan in proportion to their visitor numbers; hotels are charged based upon number of rooms.

LODGEPODGE
• New opening date for the 21-suite Turks & Caicos Club on Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, is Dec. 1. Construction delays pushed the date from Nov. 1.
• Cocoloba Beach Resort, Anguilla, formerly Club Valtur, has new owners and management and offers rates through Dec. 14 from $90 per room, double. For info and reservations, visit the Web site at www.cocolobaresort.com.
• Gogo Worldwide Vacations and the Westin St. John Resort & Villas in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, offer a seven-night air-and-land getaway from $919 per person, double, through Dec. 15. Travel must be booked by Oct. 15; rates represent savings up to 40%. Included are accommodations; air from New York (JFK, LaGuardia, Newark), Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia or Hartford, Conn.; transfers; taxes; and service charges. To book, visit www.gogowwv.com or call (800) 808-5020.
• New at the 60-room Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos are two, three-bedroom villas with private pools and butlers, two treatment salons and a larger reception area. Rates begin at $450 per room, double through mid-December. Bruce Willis' nine-bedroom beachfront complex on its own bay will be in the resort's room inventory in January. The complex is divided among three villas. For reservations, call Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800.
• The opening date for the 294-room Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort is set for Sept. 22, pushed back from Aug. 15. Although the couples-only resort will open without a casino, the possibility of developing one has not been ruled out, according to a spokeswoman. The former Hyatt property had allocated space for a casino; Sandals initially plans to use that space for meetings and group functions.

BETTER THAN 10
• Windjammer Landing Villa Resort, St. Lucia, hiked commissions to 15% on all bookings made by Dec. 20 for any travel period. Agents also receive a voucher for their clients of a $50 food and beverage credit or a free 30-minute treatment at the resort's new Serenity spa. To book, call (800) 743-9609 or (800) 958-7376.
• The 850-room Nassau Marriott Resort and Crystal Palace Casino upped its commission to 15% plus cash bonuses for agents who book groups staying through Dec. 23. To book, call (800) 222-7466.

THE JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD said it accepted the resignations of Noel Mignott, deputy director for the Americas, and Yvonne Sawyers, an accountant. Also leaving the tourism board is Marie Deeble Walker, an advertising manager. The announcement followed the board's decision to audit its New York office after allegations of impropriety were made known to officials. In a statement, the board said it "wishes to reiterate its commitment to a policy of transparency in the conduct of its operations and to ensuring the greatest professionalism and effectiveness in its management systems and procedures, particularly in the face of severe global challenges for tourism and the imperative to accelerate the recovery process in the local industry."

AIR BYTES
• Pan Am has discontinued its twice-weekly service between Newark and Santiago, Dominican Republic; reduced its Newark-San Juan flights from six a week to two; and cut its flights to two a week between Sanford, Fla., and Freeport, Bahamas. Total number of flights have been trimmed from 16 a day to six a day and many employees have been furloughed, according to Dan Fortnam, vp-sales and marketing, who called the cuts "temporary."
• JRS Tours, based in Pittsburgh, will launch a "Jamaica shuttle" charter service from Cleveland and Pittsburgh to Montego Bay each Friday and Monday from Dec. 20 to April 25, aboard a 170-passenger MD-80 aircraft. For reservations, call Apple Vacations at (800) 365-2775.

A 9% DROP in air arrivals since last fall led the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) to boost landing and passenger fees by 35% at airports in St. Thomas and St. Croix, effective Oct. 1. VIPA executive director Gordon Finch said the measure is part of the Port Authority's 2003 fiscal year budget. The per-passenger fee will increase to $3.50 from $2.59.

PENCIL IT IN
• Aruba Music Festival, Oct. 11 and 12, Oranjestad, Aruba.
• Fall Sailing Festival, Nov. 2 to Dec. 22, Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
• Cayman Islands Food & Wine Weekend, Nov. 15 to 17, Hyatt Regency, Grand Cayman.

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