AMERICAN EXPRESS is going after the affluent
travel market with its new Extraordinary Caribbean Escapes program,
launched Sept. 1 and valid through Dec. 31, 2003, with five
wholesalers and 40 resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central
America. The program features high-end resort packages and
value-added components worth $250 or more, such as couples'
massages, spa treatments or golf outings. American Express
cardholders who book by the end of this year receive double
Membership Rewards points. Wholesalers are Air Jamaica Vacations,
American Airlines Vacations, Classic Custom Vacations, Gogo
Worldwide Vacations and Travel Impressions.
SEPTEMBER is Travel Agents Month in Puerto
Rico, according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. and the Puerto Rico
Hotel and Tourism Assn. Agents with valid ID or IATAN numbers are
eligible for discounted nightly rates ranging from $39 to $69,
double, at 52 hotels and paradors islandwide. Agents who are
certified as Puerto Rico Travel Experts receive the highest
discounts. For a list of participating properties, contact PRTC at
• Curacao posted a 6.9% increase in U.S. visitors from January
through May, compared with the same period a year ago, according to
figures supplied by the Curacao Tourism Development Board.
• Grenada posted a 10% jump in U.S. visitors in the second quarter
of the year, compared to the same period in 2001. First-quarter
increases topped 16% over a year ago. Total number of U.S. visitors
from January through June were 20,530.
MERMAID Fast Ferries launched year-round
interisland ferry service between St. Croix and St. Thomas, with
two 90-minute crossings a day aboard the Norwegian-built Calypso I.
Roundtrip fares on the 357-passenger catamaran are $50 on the
Ensign deck and $65 on the Admiral deck. Another company, V.I. Fast
Ferry, plans to resume its seasonal service between the two islands
in November aboard its 600-passenger Salacia catamaran. Roundtrip
fares are $65 for residents and $75 for nonresidents.
• Miami-based Tecton Hospitality, which recently signed a
management contract with the Hotel Excelsior in San Juan, added the
84-room Water Club, also in San Juan, to its portfolio. The
beachfront boutique property -- the former Colonial Hotel -- opened
last December, following a massive renovation and redo. David
Kurland is vp and managing partner of both hotels.
• Agents booking Bolongo Bay Beach Club, St. Thomas, through Nov. 1
earn 10% commission plus Bolongo Bucks cash bonuses of $50 to $150
for bookings made through the resort's toll-free res number. Travel
is valid through Nov. 1. Agents can book clients on the resort's
semi-inclusive Continental Plan or its inclusive program. To book,
call (800) 524-4746.
• ATA Vacations has Saturday departures this winter from Chicago
(Midway) for seven-night air and hotel packages to the Occidental
Grand, Aruba, from $1,059 and Treasure Island, Grand Cayman, from
$929. Three-night programs departing Thursdays to the Shaw Park
Beach Hotel, Jamaica, start at $494. Prices are per person, double,
and valid for travel from Jan. 6 to Feb. 28. Taxes are extra. Book
through VAX VacationAccess at www.vacationaccess.com.
• September is Travel Agent Month at Viva Resorts' six inclusive
properties in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Mexico with rates
from $40 per person, per night, double, for travel through Sept.
30. Agents must present a valid Iatan or ARC number at the time of
booking. For reservations, call (800) 898-9968. Also, all bookings
through Dec. 23 for travel from Sept. 1 to Dec. 23 earn 15%
• Club Med's 264-room Columbus Isle property in the Bahamas, which
has been closed since last October, will reopen in December. New
weekly charter flights will depart from New York (JFK) starting
Dec. 7. Inclusive seven-night air and land rates this winter start
at $1,410 per adult, $934 for ages 2 to 15.
THE JAMAICA Tourist Board will kick off a $2.6
million cable TV and consumer print ad campaign Sept. 23, according
to Fay Pickersgill, director of tourism. The ads will continue the
modernized "One Love" theme, featuring the Bob Marley classic
performed by contemporary Jamaican artist Abijah, that began airing
this spring in a $2.5 million campaign. Three agent fam trips,
hosting up to 200 agents each weekend, are planned in October to
Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios.
• US Airways will launch daily flights between Charlotte, N.C., and
San Jose, Costa Rica, in January.
• Delta Connection began jet service between Orlando and Nassau,
Bahamas, using Bombardier CRJ regional jets.
• Antigua-based Caribbean Star Airlines received the approval of
Trinidad and Tobago's Air Transport Licensing Authority to
inaugurate up to five daily flights linking Barbados, Trinidad and
PENCIL IT IN
• Independence Day, Sept. 21, Belize.
• Divali Hindu Festival of Lights, Nov. 4, Trinidad and Tobago.
• Reggae Marathon, Dec. 7, Negril, Jamaica.