Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: September 19, 2002

US AIRWAYS VACATIONS expanded its Distinctive Vacations product line to include 16 destinations in the Caribbean, plus Bermuda and Mexico (Cancun and Cozumel). Distinctive Caribbean Vacations, which features first-class air on US Airways and upscale accommodations "opens up a new avenue for discerning travelers," according to Kris Potter, vp and general manager, US Airways Vacations. The Distinctive Vacations brand was rolled out for travel to Europe in 2000.

THE WORLD TRAVEL and Tourism Council is weighing in with its recovery predictions, saying that the Caribbean will experience a period of high growth in 2003 following this year's period of stabilization and recovery. The WTTC predicts a worldwide rebound next year, with the Caribbean region leading the pack with a 7.1% increase in tourism growth. Its research also forecasts that the Cayman Islands' tourism economy will grow by 6.2% -- the fastest in the region -- during the next 10 years.

AIR BYTES
• Seaborne Airlines added a midday flight between St. Thomas and San Juan, making a total of three roundtrips per day. Meanwhile, on Oct. 4, the seaplane carrier will launch daily service between St. Croix and Old San Juan's Pier 7, near the cruise ship pier. For fares and flights, visit www.seaborneairlines.com or call (866) 359-8784.
• Delta will add service from Atlanta to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, and St. Maarten, effective Dec. 1. The airline also will expand its Aruba service by upping its Atlanta departures and adding a new nonstop flight from New York (Kennedy). From Cincinnati, Delta will introduce daily nonstop service to Nassau, Bahamas.
• BWIA will inaugurate Thursday roundtrips Oct. 31 from Washington (Dulles) to Tobago, with continuing service to Trinidad. An introductory roundtrip fare of $350 is valid for flights booked by Nov. 15 for travel through Dec. 12. For information, call (877) FUN-BWIA.

AIR JAMAICA lost $70 million since the terrorist attacks last year and will require bridge financing, said Christopher Zacca, CEO and deputy chairman. Extra costs since last September included $6 million in insurance and $25 million in security upgrades. Chairman Gordon "Butch" Stewart said the carrier would comply with a FAA requirement that bulletproof cockpit doors be installed in all 20 of the carrier's aircraft by April. Each door costs $60,000, Stewart said. Although yields declined, Allen Chastanet, the airline's vp-marketing and sales, said Air Jamaica carried more passengers in the year since Sept. 11 than in the preceding year. Air Jamaica, meanwhile, will launch service to Belize in November and double its daily flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Chicago and Los Angeles early next year.

COUPLES RESORTS relaunched its third-night-free promotion at its two resorts in Negril and one in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, applicable to bookings made by Oct. 15 for arrivals Sept. 28 to Dec. 20 and Jan. 1 to 24. The offer was first introduced in March 2001 and reinstated last fall after Sept. 11. For information, call (800) COUPLES or visit www.couples.com.

LODGEPODGE
• The 21-suite Grace Bay Club in Providenciales plans a three-phase upgrade, according to new owners John Fair and Mark Durliat, whose portfolio includes the new Esperanza resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Enhancements at Grace Bay will include new soft goods, 30 more units, a spa and a second pool.
• La Cabana All Suite Beach Resort, Aruba opened Las Ramblas Terrace, an open- air tapas restaurant.
• The 12,000-square-foot Spa at Four Seasons Nevis will debut in early December with 12 treatment rooms, some of which will be set in outdoor gardens.
• Guests staying at the St. James's Club, Morgan Bay, St. Lucia, and playing 18 holes at the nearby St. Lucia Golf and Country Club receive complimentary greens fees. Roundtrip transfers to the club are $10; a mandatory cart rental is $27.50 per cart or $13.75 per golfer. For information, visit www.eliteislandresorts.com.
• Sandy Lane in Barbados became a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
• St. Barth Properties added 12 villas to its portfolio of 120 villas and hotels on St. Barts. To view the properties, visit www.stbarth.com.
• The 124-room Asta Beach Resort and the 48-room Allamanda Beach Hotel, both in Barbados, merged management, sales and marketing functions. Guests at Allamanda now have use of the recreational facilities at Asta Beach on Palm Beach. Renovation plans for 2003 include 24 new units at Asta Beach and replacement of soft goods in guestrooms at Allamanda.

PENCIL IT IN
• Florida Caribbean Cruise Assn. annual conference and trade show, Sept. 24 to 27, Cancun.
• Curacao Travel Expo 2002, Oct. 10 to 13, Willemstad, Curacao. Contact the Curacao Hospitality and Tourism Assn. at www.chata.org/travelexpo.html.
• Jamerican Film & Music Festival, Nov. 20 to 24, Montego Bay.

CORRECTION: JRS Tours is based in Miami, not Pittsburgh. Its toll-free number is (800) JAMAICA.

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