Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Jan. 1, 2004

THE LONG-AWAITED, just-opened casino at the Westin and Sheraton at Our Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island features 35,000 square feet of gaming space outfitted with 400 slot machines, 21 game tables and a 110-person bistro and bar. The casino, operated by regional gaming firm Isle of Capri Casinos, also features high-limit slots and table-game rooms with VIP-lounge food and beverage services. The casino is open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily; slot machines operate 24 hours on weekends. For casino information, call (888) 687-4753; for more on the Westin and Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach and Golf Resort, visit www.westin.com/ourlucaya or www.sheraton.com/ourlucaya.

SUNSWEPT RESORTS' RENDEZVOUS in St. Lucia will offer an educational sales blitz this month in seven states. Wholesalers, airline representatives and tourist board partners will join the resort's sales staff in trade briefings and agent sales calls in Chicago and Boston from Jan. 12 to 16 and in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Philadelphia and Atlanta from Jan. 19 to 23. The all-inclusive resort recently completed a $5 million upgrade. For information, call (800) 544-2883.

LODGEPODGE
• Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood are the three hotel company finalists in the bid for the flagship property at San Juan's new convention center, set to open in 2005. A decision is expected by March, according to Jose Suarez, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.
• Beaches Resorts will waive its single supplement fee at various times this year in recognition of the growing single-parent market. The Single Parent Friendly Months, which kicked off last February, will offer fee-free periods for single moms and dads arriving at Beaches' resorts in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos in May and from Aug. 15 through Oct. 31.
• The all-inclusive St. James's Club, Morgan Bay, St. Lucia offers 30% off, including a free night, on seven-night stays through April 1. Rates, which start at $975 per person, double, cover accommodations; meals and drinks; water sports and entertainment; and service charges and tips. Visit www.eliteislandresorts.com to book.
• The 11-bungalow Southern Cross Club Fish & Dive Resort on Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands celebrates its 45th anniversary this year with several promotions, including a 45% rate discount from May through December on seven-night accommodations in bungalows #4 and #5. Amenities include air conditioning in each bungalow, a waterfront pool, two new 35-foot dive boats and a full-service fishing operation. The resort is the oldest on Little Cayman. To book, visit www.southerncrossclub.com.
• Hawksbill Resort Antigua became an all-inclusive resort Dec. 20, according to new general manager Richard Michelin.

CLASSIC CUSTOM VACATIONS was named as the top preferred supplier by GIANTS and also garnered the award for top yield performer for four separate Caribbean properties from Sandals.

JAMAICA welcomed its one millionth cruise ship passenger early last month -- a record, according to tourism officials. The Chicago couple, on their sixth cruise visit to Jamaica, arrived aboard the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. Gifts to the couple included a return trip to the island, courtesy of Air Jamaica; a free vacation at San Souci Resort in Ocho Rios; a swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios; lunch at Evita's restaurant in Ocho Rios; and a $2,000 gift voucher.

ALICIA KEYS will head the bill in the seventh annual Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, scheduled for Jan. 22 through 25 in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The festival's celebrity lineup also includes India.Arie, Nancy Wilson, Beres Hammond, Cassandra Wilson, Monty Alexander, Kenny Rogers, and Omar Cummingham. The late Johnny Cash, who had a home in Montego Bay, will be honored in a special tribute. Tickets are priced at $45 per day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and $20 for the Sunday program. A toll-free number with festival details is in effect Jan. 2: (888) 466-1811. The performance schedule can be viewed at www.airjamaica.com/jazzandblues.asp.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI