Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: April 15, 2004

CRUISE VISITORS arriving at St. Kitts' Port Zante pier will be hard-pressed to miss an eight-foot-tall column that has a welcome message on one side and, on the other, an invitation to return and use Freestay Coins. St. Kitts is one of eight Caribbean islands participating in the Freestay Caribbean Coin program, a return-stay incentive promotion geared to encourage cruise passengers to return as stayover visitors. The coins -- and each island has its own coin design -- entitle the bearer to discounts at shops, hotels, restaurants and attractions. The St. Kitts coins resemble a gold doubloon and feature the Circus, a well-known landmark in the capital of Basseterre, on the front, and a toll-free number and Web site URL on the flip side for more information.

TAKEOFFS
• American Eagle will add a second daily flight from San Juan to Nevis from June 15 through Aug. 31. The flight, which will continue through to Antigua before returning to Nevis and San Juan, will resume its daily schedule Nov. 15 for the peak season. The carrier currently offers one daily roundtrip flight from San Juan to Nevis.
• Cayman Airways will complete its 737 fleet-conversion from one-class service to two next month when it launches its eight-seat Sir Turtle business class. Perks for business-class passengers will include priority boarding, upgraded in-flight services, mileage bonuses and access to the Sir Turtle lounge at Owens Robert Airport in Grand Cayman. Sir Turtle is the name of both the Cayman Islands' turtle mascot, featured on the Dept. of Tourism's logo, and Cayman Airways' frequent flyer program.

THE CARIBBEAN ESCAPES COLLECTION, a "by-invitation only" marketing program featuring upscale resorts in 25 Caribbean destinations, kicked off a Secret Agent Offers program for retailers. The electronic marketing program is distributed to more than 7,000 agents monthly; participating resorts (a maximum of 10 each month) provide agents with special offers, additional commissions, booking bonuses and links to resort Web sites. Agents can sign up to receive the monthly SAO electronic newsletter at www.secretagentoffers.com.

A NEW RESOURCE geared to help agents secure a greater share of the weddings market is the Caribbean Wedding Association (CWA). Founder Rebecca Grinnals said CWA's unified approach "will promote the Caribbean as a top option for couples seeking an island wedding experience." Membership benefits include education and certification programs; research and statistics; referrals via a Web site, which will launch this summer; an annual meeting; and co-op advertising and promotional marketing support. The CWA annual membership fee is $375. For information, visit www.caribbeanweddingassociation.com.

OBITUARY: Jeremiah Gumbs, the Anguillan hotel owner who led public opposition to Britain's plans in 1967 to combine Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis into one self-governing state, died in Anguilla April 8 at the age of 91. Gumbs argued before the United Nations that Anguilla's needs would not be fairly represented under the proposed tri-island plan. In a special referendum on July 11, 1967, Anguillans overwhelmingly voted for independence, later modified to a self-governing British dependent territory with its own constitution and elected officials. Gumbs and his wife opened Anguilla's first beach resort in 1962, what is today Rendezvous Bay Hotel and Villas on Anguilla's southwest coast.

ROLODEX
• Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort named Astrid Muller general manager.
• La Cabana All Suite Beach Resort & Casino in Aruba named Albert Lacle director of sales and marketing. Lacle replaces Adwina Arends, who is retiring after 14 years at La Cabana and more than 30 years in the Aruba tourism and hotel industry.

PENCIL IT IN
• Fourth Annual Soul Beach Music Festival, May 26 to 31, Aruba. Lineup includes Sean Paul, Chaka Khan, Wyclef Jean, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Call (800) TO ARUBA for details.
• Third Annual International Jamaican Jerk/Southern Style BBQ Cookoff, Sept. 19, Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Montego Bay, Jamaica. For details, call the resort at (800) 234-1707.

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