Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: June 3, 2004

THE OWNER and management staff of the Best Western Manchebo Beach Resort in Aruba opted to operate the 71-room resort as an independent property and terminated their 25-year management contract with Best Western, effective June 1. Edgar Roelofs, director of operations for Manchebo, said the resort and Best Western had had a "mutual, longstanding beneficial experience, but we have chosen to set a new direction for the property." With the August planned opening of its new Caribbean Balinese-style spa facility, the resort will change its name to Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa. A new logo will be unveiled later this summer. The spa will offer massages, body scrubs and wraps, facials, wet room treatments, a steam room and a whirlpool. The resort, which is located on Eagle Beach, has two restaurants and a beach bar and grill, the services of which are included in its optional Club Pega all-inclusive program. Travel agents can continue to book through Ralph Locke Islands at (800) 223-1108 or the resort's Web site at www.manchebo.com.

PAUL MOREIRA, former president and CEO of Caribbean Star Airlines, left the company June 1 to return to Canada "to pursue professional interests," according to R. Allen Stanford, the airline's founder and chairman of the board. The Antigua-based carrier expects to appoint a new CEO shortly. Edward Gilkes, general manager, commercial, and Gerald Fredericks, vice president, flight operations and technical services, are handling day-to-day operations on an interim basis. Caribbean Star serves 13 Caribbean destinations with 88 daily flights on 10 aircraft and has carried more than 1.5 million passengers since its founding in January 2000, according to airline officials.

AMERICAN AIRLINES and AIR JAMAICA extended the booking deadline for their Caribbean fall fare package sales to June 18 from June 11. The packages, offered by a number of operators, features savings of up to 35% on air and land arrangements for travel from Aug. 16 through mid-December.

ARUBA'S tourism figures for April were up 20.5% over April 2003, and that was propelled by a 25% increase in visitors from the U.S. Year-to-date visitor numbers increased 16% compared with the same period in 2003, with a 17% jump in U.S. arrivals, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

TAKEOFFS
• Delta launched a daily flight from New York [JFK] to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 1. To celebrate the new flight, Delta offers double SkyMiles on the route through Aug. 31.
• Exuma and San Salvador airports in the Out Islands of the Bahamas received approval for night flights from the U.S. Although most airports in the Bahamas, with the exception of Nassau and Freeport, only operate between sunrise and sunset for safety reasons, Exuma and San Salvador have upgraded their airports to accept night operations. Other airports, including Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour, North Eleuthera and Rock Sound, also are upgrading.
• On Nov. 3, American will launch nonstop service three days a week -- Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays -- from Miami to St. Kitts. Effective Jan. 31, the flight will increase to five times a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. The flights originate at JFK with a stop in Miami.

TOUR TIDBITS
• Apple Vacations' seven-night all-inclusive packages from Charlotte, N.C., to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, offer discounts up to 50% off for travel through August. All-inclusive rates with air start at $500 per person, double, at the Barcelo Villas Bavaro and also include a 50% discount on greens fees. For travel through June, Apple Vacations offers a similar program from Tampa, Fla., with rates from $600 per person, double, at the Allegro Punta Cana by Occidental. For details, visit www.applevacations.com.
• Inter Island Tours' five-night fall sale packages to the U.S. Virgin Islands with roundtrip air on American must be booked by June 18 for travel from Sept. 10 to Dec. 14. Rates start at $589 per person, double, at Secret Harbor Beach Resort in St. Thomas, including roundtrip air from JFK. Add-on fares are available from most major U.S. cities. In addition, the firm has a special four-night package to the Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort and Golf Club in Puerto Rico that must be booked by July 10 for departures between July 5 and 11. The price starts at $449 per person, double, including roundtrip air on American from JFK or Newark, accommodations and taxes. Add-on fares available from most major cities. For details, visit www.interislandtours.com.
• TNT Vacations relaunched its Hurricane Protection Guarantee, a program similar to those operated by other firms doing business in or based in the Caribbean region, including Sandals and SuperClubs. TNT's plan, valid for clients who book Caribbean travel though Dec. 11, covers TNT destinations covered by its charter flights, even Aruba where hurricanes are basically non-existent. The firm will offer a free alternate charter vacation, including roundtrip air, at the same property or any other TNT Vacations resort of the same value or less for the same number of nights booked, irrespective of the number of days affected by the storm. For further info, visit www.tntvacations.com.

PENCIL IT IN
• 17th Annual Taste of Cayman, July 3 to 5, Grand Cayman. For details, visit www.caymanislands.ky.
• Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest Festival, July 18 to 24, Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex, Montego Bay, Jamaica. Air-inclusive packages are offered by Air Jamaica Vacations, www.airjamaica.com; Alken Tours, www.alkentours.com; Jamaica Reservation Service, www.1-800-jamaica.com; Sunburst Vacations, www.sunburstholidays.com; Reggae Jam Calypso, www.reggae-jam.com. Rates on land-only plans are available at www.reggaesumfest.com.
• 8th Annual World Creole Music Festival, Oct. 29 to 31, Dominica. For details, visit www.dominica.dm.

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