THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, in conjunction
with Performance Media Group, will launch an incentive program for
agents called CaribRewards on Dec. 15. The program will track
individual agent bookings and reward those agents -- who sell
inventory in a CaribRewards' participating property -- with "Agent
Miles" that can be redeemed for merchandise, vacations from
participating Caribbean suppliers, client gifts and/or gift
certificates. More than 34,000 agents and 25 boutique and chain
hotels on 16 islands are enrolled in the program. Mark Murphy, PMG
president and CEO, said "CaribRewards is not a booking engine ...
[but] an agent loyalty program whose goal is to drive more bookings
to the Caribbean by rewarding individual agents for selling
participating (or featured) hotels." For details, visit www.caribrewards.com.
A DEAL between a developer and a citizens group
in St. Thomas cleared the way for a $150 million redevelopment of
the former Yacht Haven Hotel and surrounding waterfront property
near the cruise ship piers in downtown Charlotte Amalie. The hotel
has been an eyesore on the waterfront since being damaged by
Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. The agreement between Insignia
Nautica-USVI and the Save Long Bay Coalition, which had challenged
Insignia's Coastal Zone Management permit, commits Insignia to
improving a park and public housing near the hotel and adding more
pedestrian walkways from the waterfront to downtown. The
redevelopment project will raze the derelict hotel and build a
160-slip marina, a yacht club, a 120-room hotel, a conference
center and retail and office space.
MOST AMERICANS, who may have visions of
sampling Cuba's beaches and visiting Hemingway's Havana haunts, can
hold off on their Cuba travel plans for now. Congressional
conference committee negotiators nixed a provision in an
appropriations bill that would have permitted unrestricted tourist
travel to Cuba. President Kennedy initiated the travel ban 40 years
ago, and President Bush promised to veto the Transportation and
Treasury appropriations bill if the Cuba travel measure reached the
... AT HALF MOON MONTEGO BAY in Jamaica, a
recent $8 million facelift included demolition of the Hibiscus Wing
to make room for 68 new rooms and suites, each with a verandah or
balcony, data port internet access, an electronic safe and other
amenities. The rebuilt wing, which will open by the end of the
year, features an enlarged main pool with a swim-up bar and
waterfall. The resort also opened a teaching facility for the David
Leadbetter Golf Academy at the pro shop and expanded the outdoor
function area at the Half Moon shopping village.
... MANDARA SPA, the resort spa division of
Steiner Leisure, an international spa services provider, will build
and operate a 7,000-square-foot luxury spa with 11 treatment rooms,
a meditation area, and a fitness center at the 600-room Westin Rio
Mar Beach Resort in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The facility is slated
to open next fall.
... MEXICO-BASED PALACE RESORTS plans to open
an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in 2005.
The firm recently took over the former Renaissance Grand Beach
resort in St. Thomas -- renaming it Grand Bay Palace -- and
converted it to an all-inclusive property.
... BUCUTI BEACH RESORT in Aruba broke ground
on phase two of its 39 new Tiara Suites, which will open in
... THE CARIBE HILTON in San Juan has set
December 2004 as the completion date for 168 lagoon villas in the
264-villa Paseo Caribe development. Once the second phase is
finished in December 2005, the Caribe Hilton will total 910 rooms,
making it the island's largest property.
• The 30-minute cable TV show that is a component of the new
Caribbean Escapes Collection, a by-invitation-only select list of
100 deluxe properties on 25 Caribbean islands, will air in 225
cities starting in April to showcase the collection's destinations
and resorts. We mistakenly reported in the Nov. 13 Caribbean
E-Letter that the show would air in just two cities.