Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: June 12, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS-BASED Chautauqua Airlines in November will become a Delta Connection carrier and begin operating many of the 84 daily intrastate and interstate flights now flown by Comair out of its Orlando hub. Chautauqua will use 37-seat Embraer regional jets on its routes, while most of Comair's 50-seat regional jets will be used on other routes outside Florida. Also, Comair's 30-seat Embraer turboprops are being phased out. In addition, there are long-range plans to nearly double the present service with new routes, whereby Chautauqua would link Orlando with Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.; Toledo, Ohio; and South Bend, Ind.

IN OTHER airline news, American on July 2 will add a second daily roundtrip flight to Miami from Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., near Hartford. For information, call (800) 433-7300.

• Hyatt Hotels will manage the reconstructed 91-room Victor Hotel in Miami Beach (South Beach) as a boutique operation when it reopens in fall 2003. Zom Development, Orlando, is spending $48 million to rebuild the property, which has been closed since 1984. The hotel is next to the Versace mansion.
• Sonesta named Alan Sonnabend vp and general manager of the Trump Int'l Sonesta Beach Resort in Sunny Isles, opening in late 2002. Previously, he held the same post at the Sonesta Beach Resort, Key Biscayne.
• Homewood Suites by Hilton opened a 94-unit property in Tallahassee at 2987 Apalachee Pkwy., with rates from $109 per night including a breakfast buffet. Discounts apply when five or more nights are booked. The extended-stay property is owned and operated by Kelco Management and Development, Weston, Fla.
• Ramada Franchise Systems, owned by Cendant, with 60 properties in Florida, introduced a related Web site,

TOUR DEAL: Travel Impressions through Aug. 31 offers a third night free on fly-drive packages with Delta and Alamo Rent a Car when two nights are prepaid. Among participating hotels is the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point south of Fort Myers. The package also covers a daily continental breakfast and one day's day camp activities. From Newark, rates are from $529 per person, double. For information, call (800) 284-0044.

SUMMER BLUEGRASS music festivals are set for Hernando County, north of Tampa, on these dates: June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17, all in Nobleton, at Nobleton Boat Rental, and over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, at Sertoma Youth Ranch, about eight miles east of Spring Hill. For travel information, call (800) 601-4580 or check the Web site

CLARIFICATION: The existing National Key Deer Refuge in the Florida Keys was expanded with the recent acquisition of about 20-acres of beach and water property on the ocean side of Sunshine Key. However, this acquisition does not represent the creation of a fifth National Wildlife Refuge for the Keys, as stated in the June 5 Florida E-Letter.

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