SPONGEBOB SquarePants, the Nickelodeon character
that kids soak up 24/7, is a key component of a new partnership
between the Cayman Islands and the children's cable TV network. The
idea is to shore up the destination's position as a family vacation
market. Nickelodeon will sponsor many of the activities at the new
Cayman Islands Sea School for kids and parents, set for June 1 to
Sept. 6 on Grand Cayman. Free classes twice a week will focus on
the destination's marine environment; participants will receive a
"diploma" from SpongeBob upon completion. Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob
SquarePants: The Movie" opens in the U.S. Nov. 19 and a few days
later in the Cayman Islands.
STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS, under its
Sheraton banner, will operate the flagship property at San Juan's
new convention center, set to open next year. The 500-room, $175
million hotel will break ground at the end of the year with a
projected opening date in 2007. Hyatt and Marriott also were
selected as finalists in December, along with Starwood, to bid on
TOURIST OFFICE TIDBITS
• The Aruba Tourism Authority reminds its ACE (Aruba Certified
Expert) agents to fax their monthly tracking report forms no later
than the 15th of the following month (for example: the March 2004
production report form should be submitted no later than April 15).
Fax the form to (800) 434-5781; copies of the form can be
downloaded at http://email.aruba.com/production/rewards.html. Based
on production, ACE agents are eligible to earn co-op ad and
promotion funds, free room nights and travel to Aruba.
• The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. and four of its wholesale partners --
American Airlines Vacations, Classic Custom Vacations, Continental
Vacations and Delta Vacations -- will award four-night trips for
two to Puerto Rico with air fare, hotel and rental car to the
agents who book the most room nights in March for travel from April
12 to Aug. 1 for a minimum of three nights. Winners also receive
$500 spending money in the form of a pre-charged American Express
card. For details, visit www.gotopuertorico.com.
GOOD NEWS FOR GRENADA: Visitor arrivals in
January increased to 59,448, a 59% jump versus the same month a
year ago. The figure includes overnight stays and cruise
passengers. While stay-over visitors from the U.S. increased more
than 8%, cruise passenger arrivals jumped more than 91%.
• The third incarnation of Pan Am will debut May 27 when it begins
scheduled service from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Port of Spain,
Trinidad; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic;
and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The carrier already offers charters
from Fort Lauderdale to Port of Spain.
• Continental will launch daily nonstop service between Newark and
Punta Cana June 10, subject to government approval. On the same
date, the carrier will offer nonstop service four times a week
between Houston and Montego Bay, Jamaica, and then on to Port of
• US Airways will launch nonstop Saturday service June 12 between
New York [LaGuardia] and St. Thomas. The carrier currently operates
16 weekly flights from its Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C.,
gateways to St. Croix and St. Thomas.
• Delta's new routes from New York [Kennedy] include Santo Domingo,
Dominican Republic, beginning June 1 and San Juan beginning April
• The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau named Ana Maria Viscasillas
acting executive director; the slot had been vacant since Jorge
Pesquera left the post last month to head the Aruba Hotel &
Tourism Association. Viscasillas has been with the bureau for 10
years, most recently as vice president of marketing.
• Viola Albert, restaurant manager at Bolongo Bay Beach Club in St.
Thomas, was named Employee of the Year by the St. Thomas-St. John
Hotel & Tourism Association. The award makes Albert eligible
for the Caribbean Hotel Association's top employee honor, which
will be presented at CHA's annual industry conference June13 to 16
in Puerto Rico. Albert has been with Bolongo for 30 years.
• Hilton Caribbean named Charles Muller general manager of the
Hilton Santo Domingo, which opens this summer, and Marilyn Snoper
general manager of the Hilton Barbados, which opens late this