Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Jan. 22, 2004

PUERTO RICO'S pitching its capital as a meetings mecca with a new direct mail promotion to 13,000 meetings and hospitality planners in the U.S. and Canada this month. The promotion offers free tours of the 580,000-square-foot convention center under construction in San Juan, slated to open in the fall of 2005. The first 15 mailer recipients who deliver a qualified lead by April 15 win a "grand convention center tour" that includes roundtrip air to San Juan, first-class accommodations, dinner at a premier restaurant, a tour of El Yunque Rainforest or Rio Camuy Cave Park and helicopter ride over the construction site. More information about the Win a Trip to San Juan campaign can be found at www.prconvention.com/promotions.asp or by calling (800) 875-4765.

AGENTS CAN SCORE A FREE NIGHT in St. Thomas for clients who book Bolongo Bay Beach Club's Super Bowl package. Guests who book a minimum five-night stay on the resort's semi-inclusive Continental Plan stay for free on game night Feb. 1 (a $245 value). The package, which covers beachfront accommodations, daily breakfast, non-motorized water sports, and an in-pool scuba lesson, also includes unlimited beer, a beach barbecue, and one free square on the Super Bowl pool board on game day. Large-screen TV sets at Iggies Beach Bar & Grill will broadcast the action between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. To book, call (800) 524-4746 or email [email protected].

PALACE RESORTS, which operates the Grand Beach Palace in St. Thomas (formerly the Renaissance Grand) and five resorts in Mexico, is extending its bonus commission program through 2004. For stays of three or more nights, agents receive a $50 bonus per room; for every 10th room booked, they receive an additional $250 bonus commission. Reservations can be made through wholesalers, through the GDSs (use code VE) or by calling (800) 635-1836. Palace Resorts' Web site is at www.palaceresorts.com.

TAKEOFFS
• American will resume service Feb. 1 from Boston to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The carrier currently operates one daily nonstop between New York (Kennedy) and MoBay as well as two daily nonstops to the island's capital from Miami.
• Apple Vacations will launch weekly nonstop service from Chicago (O'Hare) to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Feb. 9 through March 29 via Condor Airlines. Flights start at $199 roundtrip when purchased as part of Apple's air-inclusive programs that feature 16 properties from moderate to deluxe and EP to all-inclusive. Programs must be booked by Jan. 31. For details, visit www.applevacations.com.
• Air Jamaica will return to Nassau and Grand Cayman Jan. 29 for the first time since the carrier suspended jet services to the destinations in 2002. Air Jamaica Express, which operated 37-seat, Dash-8 aircraft in the interim, will not operate those routes after Jan. 28. When flights resume Jan. 29, A321 jet flights will operate between Montego Bay and Nassau daily except Tuesdays and Thursdays; on the Cayman route, flights will depart Montego Bay daily except Wednesdays.

LODGEPODGE
• Gordon Campbell Gray, managing director of London's One Aldwych luxury hotel and Antigua's Carlisle Bay, which opened last month, plans a 70-room eco-resort near Kings Bay, Tobago. Construction is slated to start this spring.
• The Savannah on the south coast of Barbados and part of the Gems of Barbados hotel group was awarded the top producing boutique resort in the Caribbean by Expedia.com.
• Nisbet Plantation Beach Club on Nevis gives the seventh night free when six are booked for travel from March 1 through April 30. Rates on the Island Break package start at $1,425 per person in March and at $1,020 in April and cover cottage accommodations, daily breakfast, afternoon tea, multi-course dinners, free tennis and use of snorkeling equipment, complimentary laundry service and local phone calls. To book, call Island Resort Reservations at (800) 742-6008 or email [email protected].
• Caribbean Escapes Cooperative Marketing, which markets luxury travel to the Caribbean, added four upscale properties to its portfolio: Raffles Resort Canouan Island in the Grenadines; Hotel Kura Hulanda in Curacao; Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands; and LaLuna in Grenada. The firm, which launched last fall, will feature a total of 100 upscale resorts on 25 islands, plus top restaurants, golf courses, spas and boutiques. Selection is by invitation only. For details, visit www.caribbeanescapes.com.
• Rincon Beach Resort on the West Coast of Puerto Rico offers nightly rates of $199 per room, double, for bookings through Jan. 31 for travel through April 15. Commission is 15%. For details, call (866) 589-0009

ROLODEX
• Tatiana Kochkarova, YYZ Travel Group American Express in Toronto captured the 2004-Ms. Travel Agent award at Sandals Montego Bay resort last month. Sandals, Air Jamaica and American/Wolfe International Hotel Representatives sponsored the 39th annual pageant.
• Sandals Resorts Int'l named Peter Fraser general manager of the 77-suite Royal Plantation Spa & Golf Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

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