JEAN-CLAUDE BAUMGARTEN, president of the World
Travel & Tourism Council, spoke at the recent Caribbean Hotel
Industry Conference in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and noted that
"several challenges ... limit the industry's full potential for
growth" in the region. Those difficulties persist despite the fact
that the WTTC estimated that Caribbean travel and tourism will grow
to 16.5% of gross domestic product by 2014, up from 14.8% in 2004.
Numerous issues, as cited in a 92-page WTTC "report card" on the
Caribbean that the organization released at the conference, need to
be addressed. These issues include: a lack of awareness among
government ministries about tourism's contributions to the economy;
development of a strategic plan that will generate public/private
support and implementation of an effective marketing campaign;
addressing the AIDS/HIV problem and crime; and creating a viable
Caribbean air transport system characterized by closer cooperation
among regional carriers.
AMONG OTHER DEVELOPMENTS at CHIC, Berthia
Parle, general manager of Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia, was sworn
in as the Caribbean Hotel Assn.'s first female president. Also,
outgoing CHA president Simon Suarez was appointed to oversee the
development of a Tourism Investment Fund.
• The Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa & Casino plans a $13
million facelift of its guest rooms, public areas, meetings rooms,
banquet space and Vineyard restaurant. Guest rooms will have new
furniture, plasma-screen TVs, safes with electrical outlets inside
so guests can charge their laptops while storing them, new bathroom
fixtures, and chair beds. The lobby will expand to include direct
access to the pool, and the casino will be equipped with new games
and slot machines. A second bar and restaurant, to be run by an
independent operator, will go up next to the casino.
• Almond Resorts in Barbados will unveil the final phase of its $10
million refurbishment project by the end of the summer season. All
rooms, suites, furniture, fixtures and recreation areas at both
Almond Beach Club & Spa and Almond Beach Village are being
upgraded as well as patios, pool decks and equipment in the fitness
centers at both properties. The Kids Club nursery at Almond Beach
Village will get a kids-only freshwater pool; bigger kids can take
advantage of a new waterfall and slide at the existing Kids Club
pool. For details, visit www.almondresorts.com.
• Sunset Beach Resort & Spa and sister property Sunset at the
Palms, both in Montego Bay, Jamaica, plan a $27 million expansion
in time for the winter 2005 season. New facilities at Sunset Beach
will include a themed water park with two water slides, waterfalls,
a meandering river, Jacuzzis, a fantasy mountain, a fort and pirate
ship; a second wedding gazebo; an upgraded children's facility; and
an expanded Banana Walk buffet dining venue. At Sunset at the
Palms, guest rooms, the dining room, beach bar and grill facilities
will be expanded and a treetop-level restaurant and spa will be
added. For details, call (800) 234-1707.
• Coral by Hilton's four all-inclusive properties in the Dominican
Republic offer four new packages targeted at the golf, honeymoon,
wedding and spa markets. The specialized plans provide add-on
values to Coral by Hilton's overnight rates that start at $89 per
person, double. The Golfers Getaway, for example, is an additional
$320 per person, per three-night stay (through Dec. 23), and
entitles guests at Hamaca Coral by Hilton and Costa Caribe Coral by
Hilton full access to Guavaberry Golf & Country Club, three
greens fees with cart, lunch, practice balls, club storage, and
roundtrip shuttle service. For details, visit www.coralbyhilton.com.
• The former Old Yard Inn in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands,
demolished last year to make room for an updated guest room and
apartment complex, will contain 77 studio, one-, two- and
three-bedroom apartment units when completed next year. More than
75% of the units will be in the rental pool; Carol Kaufman,
owner/director of sales said rates will be "moderately priced and
the facilities geared to families and extended-family groups."
Rates at the property, now called the Olde Yard Village, will range
from $1,800 a week for a studio or one-bedroom unit in the summer
season to $3,000 per week for a three-bedroom unit during the
Christmas holiday. Commission will be 15%. Each unit will have a
fully equipped kitchen and maid service; facilities will include
meetings facilities for groups up to 60; tennis and squash courts;
two pools; boutique shops; a Laundromat; and Giorgio's poolside
restaurant. For details, visit www.oldeyardvillage.com.
LUXURY TOUR OPERATOR Island Destinations
unveiled its second annual 2004 Special Edition Summer Program that
highlights 14 resorts in 12 destinations and pays 15% commission on
refundable bulk air reservations. Highlights include the
seven-night Sea of Love package at CuisinArt Resort & Spa in
Anguilla, priced from $3,425 per couple through Sept. 6, that
includes beachfront junior suite accommodations, daily breakfast,
three lunches and three dinners at the resort's restaurants, a
one-day car rental, a couple's massage and other spa services. A
four-night package at Sandy Lane, Barbados starts at $800 per
night, double through Oct. 31, which covers a room upgrade, two $50
spa vouchers, daily breakfast and one lunch for two. For details,
• US Airways filed for approval to begin code sharing with
Bahamasair later this summer on its 20 daily flights between US
Airways' U.S. gateways and Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. The
relationship, which would encompass reciprocal frequent flyer
benefits, also would cover 28 intra-Bahamian flights, including new
US Airways' service to Governors Harbour, George Town, Treasure Cay
and San Salvador in the Out Islands. Bahamasair operates daily from
Nassau to 20 destinations in the Bahamas, four in Florida, and
service into Turks and Caicos.
• In addition, US Airways inaugurated flights between New York
(LaGuardia) and St. Thomas June 12. The weekly non-stop flights
depart Saturdays from LaGuardia at 8:45 a.m., arriving in St.
Thomas at 12:49 p.m. The return flight departs St. Thomas at 1:55
p.m., and arriving in New York at 5:50 p.m. Both flights operate
aboard an A319 aircraft with 124 seats.
• The reincarnated Pan Am is a work in progress. The carrier's plan
for twice-weekly summer service from Fort Lauderdale to St. Kitts
has been shelved for now because of problems that arose regarding
interline agreements, transfers and electronic bookings. St. Kitts
was last served by the original Pan Am in 1986. In other St. Kitts
news, American will launch nonstop flights three times a week from
Miami to St. Kitts, beginning Nov. 3, which will expand to five a
week Feb. 2.
• Continental launched daily service from Newark to Punta Cana,
Dominican Republic and four flights a week from Houston to Port of
Spain, Trinidad and to Montego Bay, Jamaica, also four flights a
PENCIL IT IN
• 2004 St. Kitts Music Festival, June 24 to 27, Fort Thomas Hotel
• Carnival 2004 (Vincy Mas), June 25 to July 6, St. Vincent.
Caribbean Star Airlines offers packages for two, four and six
nights from Antigua, Grenada and Trinidad from $436 per person for
air, taxes, transfers, hotel, tours and Carnival shows. For
details, visit www.flycaribbeanstar.com.
• CropOver, July 10 to Aug. 2, Barbados. Special packages are
available from various hotels including a six-night plan at the
Crane hotel from $1,210 per couple for accommodations, transfers,
one dinner for two and a welcome bottle of rum punch. To book,
e-mail [email protected]. For festival events, visit
• Grenada Carnival, Aug. 9 and 10, islandwide celebrations. Call
(800) 927-9554 for details.
• Music and Poetry Festival, Sept. 1 to 5, Providenciales, Turks
• Gogo Worldwide Vacations' president Michelle Kassner named Susan
Black executive vp-marketing. Black will spearhead marketing and
product development for all of Gogo's destinations and initiatives
as well as serve as a member of the firm's executive committee.
Prior to joining Gogo, Black founded and co-chaired the Travel
Commerce Conference Expo.
• Graeme Davis, general manager of the Westin St. John Resort &
Villas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has been named area managing
director for Caribbean, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Davis has direct responsibility for the St. John property, where he
will continue as gm, as well as for the Westin & Sheraton at
Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort in the Bahamas and Temenos
Anguilla, a St. Regis Retreat in Anguilla.
• Starwood Hotels & Resorts also named Bill Thompson as area
director of sales and marketing for the southeast region of the
U.S. for four Westin properties: the Westin St. John Resort &
Villas; Westin & Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort
in the Bahamas; the West Hilton Head (S.C.) and the Westin Savannah
• Caneel Bay resort in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, named Rik
Blyth managing director. Blyth takes over from Brian Young who will
move to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts' executive offices in Dallas.
Blyth, formerly with WTS Spa Services, is former general manager of
Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin
• Air Jamaica appointed Ursula Schleider director of marketing.
Based in Miami, Schleider will be responsible for the airline's
advertising, marketing and promotional programs in the U.S., Canada
and the Caribbean. She formerly held marketing positions with
Premier Cruise Line, The Campbell Group and Norwegian Cruise
CORRECTION: The June 10 Caribbean E-letter
erroneously reported that the Best of Barbados 2004 program offers
a $200 airfare credit. Actually, it's a $100 per-person airfare
credit, with a maximum of two adult credits per room.