Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: March 18, 2004

SESAME STREET'S Elmo, Zoe, Cookie Monster and Grover will appear at Beaches Resorts' four Caribbean properties this fall as part of a year-long agreement in which Beaches becomes the first resort company to underwrite the legendary Sesame Street children's program, effective April 4, with a prime-time special celebrating the show's 35th anniversary. Family packages and theme weeks in the fall will feature character breakfasts, story time, live shows and welcome gifts. Beaches Resorts also will be the show's on-air sponsor for a year, featuring kid-friendly, family-vacation, 15-second billboard-type commercials before and after each TV show. "It's a real departure for us in terms of the type of advertising message delivered," a Beaches spokesman said. The target market is the five-and-under set and their much-more affluent parents "who grew up on Sesame Street and now have their own kids," the spokesman said.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG, Sandals and Beaches Resorts rolled out its Travelers Collection by Samsonite, a set of up to five pieces of luggage with a retail value of $350 -- but free to clients who book stays of five nights or more between April 1 and Oct. 31 for travel between Aug. 15 and Dec. 19. The luggage will be delivered to clients prior to their departure date. Those who stay at a Sandals property receive the three-piece black set (a Samsonite tote, a 22-inch carryon and a 26-inch upright). The Beaches' set includes two blue backpacks for kids, complete with computer slots and Game Boy pockets. Concierge-level bookings include a "big" suitcase, said Kevin Froemming, president of Unique Vacations, Sandals in-house tour operator. The luggage is equipped with in-line skate wheels, is made from 1,800-count durable polyester fabric and embroidered with the Sandals and Beaches logos. The sets also will be available for sale on the resort chains' Web site and through the res centers. In addition, up to 500 "of our best agents" will get a luggage set for display in their offices, Froemming added.

LODGEPODGE
• Joining the 20-room Coco Kreole, which opened last fall in St. Lucia's Rodney Bay area, is a $6 million Coco Palm project on the grounds of Coco Kreole. The plan calls for a 74-room, 12-suite hotel with conference and boardrooms, a small spa, a pool area, Jacuzzis, a restaurant and a cafe. Coco Kreole's owner and managing director Allen Chastanet, formerly with Air Jamaica, said the new property will increase the presence of Coco Resorts in Rodney Bay Village, where hoteliers and restaurant owners have banded together to rebrand the area in a collective marketing package. For details, visit www.cocokreole.com.
• San Juan's hip Water Club now has a manager of desires and two agents of desires -- or concierges in standard hotel parlance. Arlyz Morales, manager of desires, said that she and her staff assist with dinner reservations and island travel, "but we encourage our guests not to limit themselves. We want to make their stay memorable." Memo boards for guests' desires are on the walls of each guest room, so that guests can request additional items such as more towels or shampoo. For details, visit www.waterclubsanjuan.com.
• The former Negril Cabins Resort in Negril, Jamaica, is operating under its new name, Sunset at the Palms. A rebranding program, a Web site at [www.sunsetatthepalms.com] and new logo also have been developed. The all-inclusive 85-room, treehouse-style resort is the sister property to Sunset Beach Resort & Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
• Bookings must be made by April 30 to take advantage of St. Thomas' Bolongo Bay Beach Club's wedding and honeymoon savings promotion, available to guests who marry at the resort and stay seven or more nights between May 1 and June 30. The resort, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, offers a 30% discount on the wedding portion plus a $30 nightly credit for accommodations. To book, call (800) 624-0113 or e-mail [email protected].
• New York-based Tishman Realty & Construction will invest $7 million to upgrade the 240-room Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel & Casino, which it co-purchased in February with Old San Juan Associates. The property will be rebranded as a Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Sheraton, marking the entry of Sheraton into Puerto Rico.

TOURIST OFFICE TIDBITS
• West Coast travel agents who visit Puerto Rico in May are eligible for discounted rates on air, car rentals and hotel accommodations as well as free admission to the Puerto Rico Art Museum in San Juan. Details can be found in the travel agent section of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Web site at www.gotopuertorico.com.
• The Cayman Islands appointed Pilar Bush, former deputy director of tourism, to the post of acting director of tourism. Bush is filling the post vacated by Lania Rittenhouse, who joined Norwegian Cruise Lines. A selection committee plans to pick a permanent director by July 1.
• The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board launched a program targeting small hotels, inns and villas in a move to more aggressively market and promote the destination's 70 small properties to the North American market, according to Russell Harrigan, board chairman. Later this year, a toll-free number and Web site will be launched for contact information on air and land packages sold via operators.

OOPS!
The new general manager of Hilton Barbados, which opens late this year, is Marilyn Soper. We apologize for the name misspelling in the March 18 Caribbean E-letter.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI