Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Feb. 19, 2004

CLUB MED failed in its legal attempt to block the Feb. 27 nationwide release of Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Club Dread." The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami denied the request by the resort chain for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the movie company. Mark Wiser, Club Med's vice president of marketing, cited "trademark issues" and maintained that the movie title "is too close for comfort to our name and brand. We want the name modified so there is no linkage to Club Med." The film -- the third by a five-man comedy group called Broken Lizard -- is set on a booze-soaked island resort, owned by a has-been rock star. According to the movie's trailer, the nonstop resort party takes a turn for the weird when "dead bodies start turning up faster than you down a rum punch." The wacky cast of characters attempts to solve the murders so "they can restore the happy hour to this tropical bacchanal."

NEW TOURISM MINISTER for Cuba is Manuel Marrero Cruz, formerly executive vice president of Gaviota Tours, an inbound tour operator based in Havana. The 40-year-old Cruz replaced 54-year-old Ibrahim Ferradaz Garcia, who was minister of tourism for three years. Ferradaz Garcia "will be assigned other responsibilities," according to a report from Cuba's Council of State.

BY THE NUMBERS
• Curacao's stopover visitors from the U.S. increased 2.8% last year over the previous year, to 40,019. This is the third consecutive year for Curacao's growth from the American market.
• The Bahamas welcomed a record 4.41 million visitors last year, a 4.3% jump over 2002. The higher tourism figures, which include both air and sea arrivals, continue a several-year growth trend, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
• St. Lucia visitor arrivals, which jumped 9.3% last year over 2002, included a 4.3% increase in arrivals from the U.S.

LODGEPODGE
• Melia Caribe Tropical on Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, added 40 one- and two-bedroom suites along the links of Cocotal Golf & Country Club's 27-hole championship course near the resort. To book, call (800) 336-3542.
• Grand Lido Negril in Jamaica opened Munasan Japanese restaurant, its sixth restaurant at the resort.
• SunSwept Resorts in Grenada and St. Lucia now offer a Preferred Travel Agents program with three booking incentives. For bookings through Nov. 30 in specific room categories, clients receive a room upgrade, subject to availability. For each seven-night, double occupancy booking before Nov. 30, agents receive $100; for each seven-night, single occupancy booking at The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia and LaSource in Grenada, agents receive $50. Agents must register to qualify; call (800) 544-2883 for details.
• Island Outpost's new Web site at the old address [www.islandoutpost.com] features "a true representation of what each of our nine resorts has to offer," said owner Chris Blackwell. The site appeals to "our flip-flop, laptop clientele," according to Blackwell. The site showcases an individual page for each resort with location, directions, room details and rate and package info.
• To celebrate its 48 new luxury suites, Pelican Bay at Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, offers the fourth night free when three are booked and travel is completed by April 30. Agent commission is 20%. For details, visit http://pelicanbayhotel.com.

TAKEOFFS
• New air service to Nassau, Bahamas, includes weekend flights on American Eagle from North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham Airport and on US Airways from Boston; US Airways also added a Saturday flight from New York (LaGuardia). Hooters Air has four flights a week from Atlanta; Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; and Newark through its Myrtle Beach, S.C., hub. Meanwhile, Continental will launch daily service from Houston to Nassau March 3.
• Caribbean Sun will offer nonstop daily flights between St. Thomas and Antigua March 1. The carrier services Puerto Rico from Antigua and will offer service between Puerto Rico and St. Vincent "very soon," according to chief operating officer Paul Moreira.
• Air Jamaica added a fourth weekly flight to Bonaire from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Service is offered Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, nonstop service to Grenada from New York (Kennedy) on Air Jamaica is now offered three times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

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