Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: December 19, 2001

$20 MILLION sought by Gov. Jeb Bush to beef up tourism advertising in light of post-Sept. 11 losses, was approved by the Florida Legislature during its special session. The funds must be matched by the private sector in order to be used, starting in January. Visit Florida's ad agency, Fahlgren Benito Advertising, Tampa, began enlisting the support of cooperative advertising partners. Austin Mott, president and CEO of Visit Florida, said that the funds will complement and expand upon the current effort to bolster in-state and regional drive market visitation, eventually progressing into more distant domestic and international visitor markets.

THE WESTIN DIPLOMAT Resort & Spa in Hollywood was forced to postpone its opening from Jan. 10 to Jan. 31 after a pressurized heating distribution pipe leaked. The hot water leak caused sprinklers to activate, which in turn caused water damage to fabric and finishes in meeting and conference facilities on two floors.

A 15% COMMISSION policy was announced by the 300-room Sonesta Hotel & Suites Coconut Grove, opening April 1. It applies to all room, suite and package bookings involving stays during April and May, when introductory rates will start at $145 per night per room, subject to availability. For information, call (800) SONESTA.

THE DAYTONA BEACH Area Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site, www.daytonabeach.com, lists a number of hotel- and motel-rate deals for stays through Jan. 31. Offerings that are commissionable are labeled as such at the bottom of each listing. Among the commissionable offerings are these:
• Best Western Mayan Inn, $122 for any three nights Mondays through Thursdays; $144 for Friday through Sunday nights. For information, call (800) 443-5323.
• Treasure Island Resort, rooms from $47 per night. For information, call (800) 543-5070.
• Radisson Resort Daytona Beach, rooms from $65 per night under rate code J-Freedom. For information, call (800) 333-3333.
• Plaza Resort & Spa, (part of Oceans Resorts) offers a Freedom Rate from $69 per night. For information, call (800) 874-7420.

AIR SERVICE UPDATE:
• Midway Airlines, with $10.1 million in federal aid, plans to reinstate service Dec. 19 out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., on several routes including those to Florida. Starting Dec. 19 it will offer roundtrips to Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, with one-way fares pegged at $49 through Jan. 6; that fare will be available on a more restricted basis, between Jan. 7 and Feb. 10. Between Dec. 19 and Feb. 10, one-way fares (via Raleigh-Durham) from Boston, New York or Newark to the Florida cities will start at $79 one-way.
• Delta will add a midday roundtrip between Daytona Beach and Atlanta. The new flight will operate from Jan. 31 to April 8. This brings the total number of daily Delta and Delta Connection flights serving Atlanta to eight.
• Air Tran will add Baltimore-Washington service as follows: to Orlando, Dec. 19; to Fort Lauderdale, Jan. 17; to Fort Myers, Feb. 5 and to Miami, March 5.

PENSACOLA'S annual Mardi Gras will be celebrated between Jan. 11 and Feb. 12. There will be a traditional street party, parades and festivities, but not the overflow crowds found in New Orleans, visitor officials said. The Jan. 11 kick-off party is at Seville Quarter, a Bourbon Street-style establishment in the heart of Historic Pensacola. The festivities culminate on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12, with a downtown parade. For information, call (850) 434-6211 or the Pensacola Visitor Information Center at (800) 874-1234.

GROUP DEAL: The Wyndham Miami Airport Hotel extends a $109 special group rate on stays through March 31. The property has 400 rooms and eight bi-level suites. To secure this rate, a booking of at least 20 rooms over one night or 10 rooms over two nights, is required. According to Meire Ramos, senior sales manager, agent commissions on this group rate are negotiable. For information, contact Ramos at (305) 870-8153. The hotel's Web site is at www.wyndham.com/miamiairport

THE GAYLORD PALMS Resort and Convention Center, opening in Kissimmee, Feb. 2, tapped Tucson, Ariz.-based Canyon Ranch's SpaClub division to operate its wellness and fitness facilities; spa, and beauty salon. The 20,000-square-foot spa complex will offer 25 massage, body and skin care treatment rooms; workshops on healthy living -- including stress management, and a fitness facility with cardiovascular and weight-training equipment, steam rooms and saunas.

THE 36,000-SQUARE-FOOT Golf Clubhouse opened at the Boca Raton (Fla.) Resort and Club. The structure houses a full-service operation with a pro shop; a casual restaurant and bar overlooking the Resort Course, and locker rooms with butler service. The Resort and Country Club courses recently underwent a $10 million reconstruction.

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