Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: May 20, 2004

THE TURKS AND CAICOS Islands Tourist Board will open its first-ever offices in New York and London in June, according to Ralph Higgs, deputy director of tourism. The tourist board currently has an office in Fort Lauderdale. Tourism personnel will share the space with officials representing the investment and real estate end of the Turks and Caicos economy. Higgs said, "The exposure to and the visibility of our tourism and investment products are key to maintaining and increasing our market share." The office openings follow a plan laid out by Michael Eugene Misick, chief minister of the Turks and Caicos as well as minister of tourism. U.S. visitor arrivals by air last year to the Turks and Caicos were 130,000, up 10,000 over 2002, while the cruise sector jumped 15% over the previous year; a new port facility is scheduled to open on Grand Turk in November 2005. The tourist board will launch a trade and consumer marketing campaign next month that may feature a new tagline to replace the "Beautiful by Nature" slogan now used.

SANDALS is taking its "Watch Us Grow" agent seminars on the road this summer. Agents will be updated on property improvements, developments, and changes at all of the Sandals and Beaches' resorts. For information, call (800) 48-SPECIAL.
• In the Northeast, the schedule is: June 14, Long Island, N.Y.; June 15, New Jersey, Exact location TBA; June 16, Philadelphia; June 17, Pittsburgh; June 22, Rochester, N.Y.; and June 24, Boston.
• In the South, the schedule is: June 16, Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Va.; June 17, Baltimore; June 17, North Carolina, Exact location TBA; June 23, Nashville; June 24, Atlanta; June 29, Orlando; June 30, Miami/Fort Lauderdale.
• In the Midwest, the schedule is: June 22, Missouri, Exact location TBA; June 23, Michigan, Exact location TBA; June 24, Illinois, Exact location TBA; June 29, Wisconsin, Exact location TBA; and June 30, Minnesota, Exact location TBA.
• In the West, the schedule is: June 16, Phoenix; June 22, Los Angeles; June 23, Denver; June 24, Dallas; and Houston, Date TBA.

LODGEPODGE
• The four Coral by Hilton all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic feature new Teen Time programs for the 13-to-19-year set this year. The programs include Teen Time Tee-Off at miniature golf courses three days a week through Dec. 31, and Teen Time Dance-Off, nightly from June 1 through Aug. 31 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Kids' programs are available as well for kids from 8 to 13 years old (Cool Kidz) and those ages 4 to 12 years (Coralin Kidz Paradise). On the resorts' Family Fling program, valid June 1 through Aug. 31, kids 12 and under stay, play and eat for free when sharing a room with parents. For details, visit www.coralbyhilton.com.
• Grace Bay Club, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, is adding 38 two- and three-bedroom luxury villas to its inventory of 21 luxury suites. The new villas, in four separate buildings adjacent to the resort, will open in September 2005. Also on tap for the resort are a new spa and fitness center, a new beachfront pool and grill, an expansion of the Anacaona restaurant and a new reception area and entry court. For details, visit www.gracebayclub.com.
• Henna tattoos are just one of several treatments and services available at Biras Creek Resort's new Spa by the Sea on Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Other treatments include sunless tanning emulsions, body scrubs with natural sea salt crystals and massages. Daily resort rates start at $525 per suite, double, with meals, afternoon tea, and transfers by private launch. Spa services are extra. To book, call (800) 223-1108.
• The Wyndham Aruba Resort Spa & Casino partnered with Pleasant Holidays to offer discounted rates on bookings made by July 30 for travel June 1 through Dec. 19. Five-night, land-only packages with accommodations and transfers start at $455 per person, double, for a savings of $561 per couple. To book, visit www.pleasantagent.com.
• Sandals is offering a European Plan option at its Royal Plantation Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- the new name come July 1 of Royal Plantation Spa & Golf Resort by Sandals. Plans call for two meal options: a European Plan (breakfast only) and an all-inclusive Royal Plan. The EP plan will include room, continental breakfast, use of tennis courts, golf privileges, transfers, taxes and service charges. Guests sign for everything else and settle at checkout. The Royal Plan includes everything except spa treatments. The EP option will affect only Royal Plantation. The Sandals and Beaches brands will continue as all-inclusive, a spokesman said.

PENCIL IT IN
• Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual Caribbean Week, May 31 to June 5, New York. Events include a Caribbean Fair and the Do It Caribbean Wedding June 2 at Bowling Green Park in lower Manhattan. Caribbean musicians and performers will entertain throughout the week at different venues. For information, visit www.caribbeanweekny.com.
• Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, June 13 to 16, Wyndham El Conquistador Resort, Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The annual conference will include the Taste of the Caribbean 2004 culinary competition with chefs and bartenders from 11 islands who will prepare and serve a three-course meal for 25 people in four hours, using only the ingredients in their "mystery baskets." For details, visit www.cha-chic.org.
• Eighth Annual Bonaire Dive Festival, June 5 to 19, Bonaire. Philippe Cousteau, Jr., grandson of legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is the featured speaker June 7 and 14 at Captain Don's Habitat and also will lead guided dives during the festival. Other activities include barbecues and music, an underwater treasure hunt, A Taste of Bonaire food and cultural festival and a mangrove excursion. For details, visit www.bonairedivefestival.com.

CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER! TravelWeekly.com congratulates Gay Nagle Myers, editor of the Caribbean E-Letter, for her selection as this year's recipient of the Marcia Vickery-Wallace Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism, chosen by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Candidates for the award are selected from both business and consumer press.

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