Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: January 23, 2002

DUE TO CONSTRUCTION DELAYS, Ritz-Carlton postponed the openings of its 115-unit Coconut Grove boutique hotel from early first quarter to late spring, while its 375-room Miami Beach (South Beach) property, scheduled to open in early summer, will now open in the fall.

AMELIA ISLAND PLANTATION announced a 15% commission policy for all new social and group reservations applicable to stays between now and Feb. 16, including its Spa/Golf package and All-Inclusive Package. The commission is not applicable to the tax and service fee.

THE SOUTH TERMINAL at Miami International Airport is now under construction. It consists of a concourse for Star Alliance carriers serving Miami -- Air Canada, Lufthansa, Mexicana, United and Varig. The $779.2 million project calls for 15 international and domestic gates; 1,650 seats, wider aircraft circulation areas capable of handling new and larger models; baggage claim areas and a baggage sorting system; a security screening system; a cruise and tour bus depot; 142 ticketing positions and some 50,000 square feet of concession space. Completion is projected for 2005.

IN OTHER AIRPORT NEWS, a new midfield passenger terminal is planned at Fort Myers' Southwest Florida International Airport, according to the Lee County Port Authority. The airport handled more than 5 million passengers last year. Site preparation work could begin in February for the $386 million, two-story, 28-gate facility. It would be completed during 2005.

THE AMERICAN BUS ASSN. reported that more than 2,200 travel industry personnel pre-registered for its Marketplace, which kicks off on Feb. 2, when the host hotel, the 1,406-room Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, also stages its grand opening. Of the total pre-registered, more than 500 are owners or employees of ABA member companies, setting an attendance record for that category. Meanwhile, even before its official opening, the Gaylord Palms was the envy of many Orlando hotels because it was sold-out the weekend of Jan. 18 to 20 thanks to a nationwide convention of representatives from the home interior and gift sector. The group formerly met at Gaylord's Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

HOTEL DEALS:
• The 27-room Hotel Ocean, Miami Beach, offers a "2-4-1" client incentive to build midweek business now through Nov. 15. Clients who stay at the South Beach boutique property any Sunday through Thursday and pay for one night at rack rate will get the second night free. Likewise, on two-night paid stays, such as on a Sunday and Monday, would yield free nights on Tuesday and Wednesday. Agents earn normal pay on the revenue nights. Nightly rates are from $200 to $600 plus 12.5% occupancy tax. The offer is subject to availability. For information, call the hotel at (800) 783-1725 and mention the 2-4-1 program. The hotel's Web site can be found at www.hotelocean.com.
• The Wyndham Casa Marina Resort and Wyndham Reach, both in Key West, offer the following Hot Rate deals for meeting groups using 10 rooms: through March 31, $179 per room per night at the Casa Marina; $169 at the Reach. From June 1 to Oct. 15, a $109 rate applies at each property. These rates are commissionable at 10%. For information, call (800)-WYNDHAM or check the Web site, www.wyndham.com.

JULIA FONDRIEST, president of Key West's Key Lime Inn, Budget Key West and Merlin Guesthouse, is the new chairman of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West for 2002. She succeeds Michael Proimos, general manager of Wyndham Casa Marina and Reach Resorts, Key West.

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