Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Nov. 27, 2003

ST. BARTS effectively will be closed to air traffic next fall because of an airport renovation project. St. Jean Airport, famous for its 900-foot runway sandwiched between a mountain and the sea, will have its runway repaved and emergency landing lights installed for use during inclement weather. The runway will not be extended, however, and the airport will continue to restrict night landings. Although ferry services will operate from St. Maarten to St. Barts during the airport closure, expected to last all of September and October at least, most hotels also will close and renovate, repaint and redo, including the Hotel Guanahani. However, the Eden Roc Hotel, St. Barts' oldest hotel, will actually close its doors earlier, from March 31 to Nov. 1. The hotel purchased the adjacent Filao Beach resort as well and will convert Filao's 33 rooms into 14 beachfront suites, remove the pool, enlarge the beach and expand the beachfront restaurant.

V.I. FAST FERRY will resume weekend operations between St. Croix and St. Thomas Dec. 5, but passengers will pay a $2 head tax in addition to the $60 roundtrip charge. Initially, the V.I. Port Authority had planned to institute a $3 head tax, but later agreed to the $2 rate. The ferry service, which lost money last season and had threatened to cease operations if the tax was set at $3, will offer daily crossings [except Tuesdays] from Dec. 22 to April.

LODGEPODGE
• The 183-room Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay opened its doors Nov. 24, the resort chain's first property in the Bahamas. The Exuma property, 90 minutes by air from Miami, features Bahamian Colonial-style architecture, an 18-hole golf course, a full-service marina [set to open in 2004], a supervised children's program and a spa. Nightly rack rates after Jan. 4 start at $625 per room, double; packages are available. For details, visit www.fourseasons.com.
• Starwood Hotels & Resorts will debut a luxury resort and residential project called Temenos Anguilla on Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla in 2006. The resort will feature 97 rooms, 20 estate homes and 16 villas. The project is designed to be an extension of Starwood's upscale St. Regis hotel brand.
• Donald Trump will enter the Caribbean with a 135-villa development on Canouan Island in the Grenadines at the site of the 156-room Raffles Resort [formerly the Carenage Bay] slated to open in mid-2004. Trump Hotels & Casinos will manage the Villa Monte Carlo casino on the resort's property.
• The Paradisus Puerto Rico Beach & Golf Resort, a five-star all-inclusive, hasn't even opened yet, but has been approved for membership in the Leading Hotels of the World marketing organization. The 500-suite resort, about 35 minutes east of San Juan, was to have opened in December but recent heavy rains hampered construction. Paradisus is now slated to open in February.
• A hotel opening on Montserrat? Yep, Cedric and Carol Osborne will reopen their 12-cottage Vue Pointe Hotel Dec. 1 -- after carting off 1,500 truckloads of volcanic ash. Although the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano in 1995 shuttered most hotels in the southern half of the island, experts at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and elsewhere report that the dome stopped growing, which prompted the Osbornes to reopen. For details, visit www.vuepointe.com.

BUSINESS CARDS
• The St. Thomas-St. John Hotel & Tourism Association named Brian Young acting president, replacing David Yamada in that role. Young also is managing director of Caneel Bay on St. John
• The Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association tapped Alain Tiphaine as new president. He took over the reins from hotelier Rick Newman, who held the post for four years. Tiphaine also serves as general manager of the 55-room Villa Montana Beach Resort in Isabela on Puerto Rico's northwest coast.

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