Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: January 16, 2002

A 15% COMMISSION is offered by the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, Miami, on its two-night Unlimited Golf Package valid for stays completed by Jan. 31. The cost is $578 per person, double, including a Garden Resort room, unlimited golf or a select spa service, one introductory golf clinic, a daily full breakfast and use of the fitness center. Tax and service charge are additional. The package must be booked directly with the hotel. For information, call (877) 80-DORAL.

GREATER FORT LAUDERSAILS, focusing on the Fort Lauderdale area, is the latest consumer promotion launched by visitor interests and American Express. The first 1,500 personal cardholders to book a qualifying vacation at an American Express retail agency will receive a $100 American Express Gift Cheque per booking. They also get a credit of up to a $150 on their card for travel completed in 2002. The offer requires use of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, taking a multiday cruise from Port Everglades and staying two nights at an area hotel. The components must cost at least $1,500 and be offered by a tour operator or cruise line. The booking deadline is Jan. 31. Some 830 American Express locations are participating. For information, call (800) AXP-3410.

MEANWHILE, Dan Marino, former Miami Dolphins all-pro quarterback, can be seen in 30-second NFL playoff game TV spot commercials on Jan. 19 and 20. The ads are sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. In the commercials, Marino, who lives in Weston, near Fort Lauderdale, boasts about the area's 23 miles of beaches, golf, entertainment, and weather. His message ends: "You should stay in a hotel." Two of the four commercials already aired on Jan. 12 and 13. The ads were set for Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Tampa.

HOTEL UPDATE:
• Ground was broken in Fort Lauderdale on the $135 million, 197-unit St. Regis Resort, Starwood's most luxurious brand. The opening is projected for fall 2003.
• The 60-room Watercolor Inn, a project of the St. Joe Co., Jacksonville, and its Arvida subsidiary, will open March 1 in Sea Grove Beach, near Destin. The boutique hotel, with beachfront balconies, will be the focal point of the new Watercolor gulf resort and residential community. Reservations will be taken starting Feb. 20 at (866) 426-2656.
• The 337-room Orlando International Airport Travelodge opened. Formerly it was the Sheraton Four Points. It has eight meeting rooms, high-speed Internet access from rooms, a courtesy airport shuttle, a discounted buffet breakfast, theme park transportation, a restaurant, nightclub, lobby bar and two Jacuzzis. For information, call (800) 525-9055.
• After several delays the 189-room La Playa Beach Resort, Naples, held a "soft" reopening on Jan. 15, with 120 rooms completed and a $189 minimum room rate. Another 29 rooms open next week, while a tower with 40 rooms will open in March.The boutique property underwent a $45 million renovation since it closed in mid-April.
• Ron Albeit was promoted from resort manager to general manager of the 474-room Registry Resort, Naples, which is operated by Boca Resorts Inc.

THE ORLANDO-Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau elected Randy Garfield its chairman for 2002. He is executive vice president of sales and travel operations for Walt Disney World and president of the Walt Disney Travel Co.

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