THE LONG-AWAITED CARIBBEAN TOURISM RECOVERY, which
stalled after the first quarter last year due to the war in Iraq,
may actually happen this year, according to year-end figures and
advance bookings tallied by industry leaders and hoteliers at the
24th annual Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace in San Juan
earlier this week. Simon Suarez, CHA president, reported that
region-wide tourist arrivals through August showed a 6% growth over
the same period in 2002. "Airlift to most destinations increased
this winter; consumer confidence is up; the euro is strong; the
economy is improving, and the weather is cold in the Northeast --
all these factors encourage travel to the Caribbean," Suarez said.
IN OTHER CHA NEWS:
• Puerto Rico hotel occupancies averaged 65% last year, close to
the figures for 2000, "which was a real boom year," said Jose
Suarez, head of the Puerto Rico Tourist Co. Meanwhile, Jorge
Pescara, executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau,
said that the new Convention Center, which is slated to open in
late 2005, will host its first two large groups in March and May
2006. The venue for CHA's Marketplace event in 2006 "may well be
the new convention center," according to CHA officials.
• Rich Cortese, regional vice president, Caribbean, for Wyndham
Hotels & Resorts, reported strong family and FIT bookings in
2003. He's hopeful that this year and next will see the return of
corporate, group and incentive business.
• The 228-room Hilton Santo Domingo opens in late spring in Santo
Domingo, Dominican Republic, targeted at the corporate market, and
the Hilton Barbados will open at the end of 2005 in Bridgetown,
• Tourist arrivals increased 20% and hotel occupancies 10% in 2003
in the Dominican Republic, according to its National Association of
Hotels and Restaurants. The U.S. continued as the lead market for
the destination, and Punta Cana was the most popular resort
• SuperClubs' executive vice chairman John Issa reported "positive
growth in our markets last year, and the economy seems to have
stabilized. Tourism looks good for us."
• Sandals teamed up with New York City's romantic Tavern on the
Green restaurant in an alliance focused on Valentine's Day and
matrimony. On Feb. 14, the first 25 couples to become engaged at
the landmark restaurant will be treated to a four-night honeymoon
at the Sandals resort of their choice in Antigua, the Bahamas,
Jamaica or St. Lucia. To book a restaurant reservation, clients --
and agents -- can call (212) 873-3200.
• In time for Valentine's Day, the Caribbean Hotel Association and
many of its member hotels offer special romance packages, which are
valid not only Feb. 14 but throughout the year. Details on all the
programs are available at www.caribbeanhotels.org.
• Peter Island's 13,000-square-foot Sea & Self Spa is slated to
open Feb. 1 and the resort's two deluxe villa estates will open in
March. Recently reopened are the four-bedroom Crow's Nest and
three-bedroom Hawk's Nest villas, following a $1.8 million
renovation. For details, visit www.peterisland.com.
SUPERCLUBS' 2004 Ultimate Men of Hedonism male
pin-up wall calendar gives new meaning to the term "eye candy."
Travel agents can claim their complimentary copy by calling (800)
GO-SUPER, Ext. 6620.
• Marie Walker, who was named regional tourist board director for
the Anguilla Tourist Board last month, will head up that
destination's first U.S. office, according to Amelia Vanterpool
Kubisch, tourism director. The office is expected to open in Armonk
in Westchester County near New York City within a month.
• Breezes Curacao named Adalberto Lugo general manager of the