Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: March 13, 2002

MIAMI'S ORANGE BOWL Parade, a New Year's Eve fixture for 62 years, is history. The Orange Bowl Committee voted to discontinue it because of waning local financial support as well as reduced resident and tourist attendance. A replacement event is a possibility.

FOUR SEASONS HOTELS, Toronto, may construct a 400-room or larger upscale hotel in Disney's community of Celebration, according to published reports. A Four Seasons spokeswoman confirmed that the company would like to have a hotel in the Orlando area, but has not made any decision yet to build one. If the property is built, it would be Celebration's second hotel. On Nov. 30, 1999 Grand Theme Hotels opened the 115-room Celebration Hotel.

COMMISSIONABLE FAMILY packages are components of an Orlando-Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau cooperative consumer ad effort launched with Visit Florida. The ad themes are "Family Spring Break" and "Summer Time, Family Time." Television, newspaper, Internet and direct-mail are being used in air-origin cities in the northeast and Chicago plus southeast drive markets. Information on packages and rate deals is posted on the Web site www.orlandoinfo.com.

20% PAY is extended by Pelican Cove Resort, Islamorada, on stays of three nights or longer completed by April 30. For details, call (800) 445-4690.

THE 2005 SUPER BOWL already is here for cruise ship event management company Landry & Kling of Coral Gables, Fla. The company was retained by the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee to contract with cruise lines to provide the equivalent of at least 8,000 more rooms to handle fans attending the event. The nights are Feb. 3 to 7; the game is set for Feb. 6. The committee believes that eight to 10 ships will be needed -- all berthed within walking distance of Alltel Stadium. Landry & Kling handled dockside ship housing for the 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona, Spain.

ALL TOLD, Greater Jacksonville, encompassing Amelia Island, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach, has about 25,000 rooms. Meanwhile, by Super Bowl time, the 73,000-seat Alltel Stadium is to be expanded by another 10,000 seats, some of them in luxury boxes.

AIR BYTES:
•Delta Connection, Delta, and Delta Express are set to expand flights from New York to Florida. On March 18, Delta Connection will inaugurate service with three daily flights from New York (LaGuardia) to Jacksonville. On May 4, Saturday roundtrip service will be increased by Delta with one additional LaGuardia flight to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and two more to West Palm Beach. Also to begin are Delta Express' two additional flights from New York (Kennedy) to Fort Lauderdale, and one more between Kennedy and Orlando and Kennedy and Tampa.
•US Airways Express this month added one roundtrip flight between Washington (National) and Jacksonville.
•Pan Am affiliate Boston-Maine Airways on April 28 plans to start intrastate service between Orlando-Sanford and Naples and Orlando-Sanford and St. Petersburg.
•Despite the challenges of 2001, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport set a passenger traffic record, handling more than 16.4 million, a 3.5% gain compared with 2000. This was possible because of the 13.2% increase in traffic that was racked up during the first eight months of 2001 vs. 2000.

A 15% COMMISSION for agents -- and two adult tickets to a Universal Orlando theme park for clients -- are incentive giveaways when five-night and longer Vacation Home package stays are booked in a ResortQuest International private home in the Orlando area. The stays must be completed by Aug. 31. A three-bedroom home -- with private pool -- can be rented from $110 per night. For more information, call (800) 527-2262 or visit www.ResortQuest.com.

THE 4 MILLION American Express cardholders enrolled in the company's Membership Rewards program will be eligible to earn double points for patronizing participating hotels, attractions, retail outlets and restaurants in the Orlando area between May 1 and June 30. The offer will be promoted as a joint effort of American Express and the Orlando-Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

DAYTONA BEACH is likely to rebound fastest of all Florida tourist destinations from the effects of Sept. 11, the mild northeast winter and lagging leisure and international travel, according to Ernst & Young Hospitality Services Group in Miami. In its 2002 Florida Lodging Forecast, the advisory concern expected Daytona Beach to return to normal by June or July, in part, because its bike and race car fans can be counted on to fill hotel rooms. Steady corporate demand, the report said, should put Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville next in line for recovery. The firm said, however, that higher room rates and normal tourist traffic might not return to Orlando or Miami until next year.

NONETHELESS, occupancy of 93.3% was posted in January by the 254-room Ramada Miami Beach Resort vs. 94.2% in January 2001. The 2002 occupancy was 14 percentage points higher than the average for Greater Miami hotels that month, according to a hotel official, citing a Smith Travel Research report. The hotel official attributed the post-Sept. 11 rebound largely to increased domestic traffic, citing more guests using Amtrak, attractive rates (about 15% less than usual winter levels) and the slow return of international guests from Latin America and Europe.

THE SECOND WAVE of ads focused on Walt Disney World's 100 Years of Magic Celebration is coming soon. Plans include a tie-in with McDonald's and new campaigns with Smucker's, Hasbro and Coca-Cola. Agents can order collateral materials to accompany the promotions through their Disney sales managers or through the Web site www.disneytravelagents.com.

TOPPING OUT ceremonies were held in Orlando for the Grande Lakes Resort complex, which will include a 584-room Ritz-Carlton hotel, a Ritz-Carlton Spa, a 1,000-room JW Marriott and an 18-hole, Greg Norman-designed golf course. More than 100,000 square feet of meetings space will be available after both hotels open in summer 2003. Thayer Lodging Group is the hotels' owner; Marriott will run them.

HONORED: Steve Smith, gay market sales manager for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council (responsible for the Florida Keys), received the Gay and Lesbian Global Leadership Award last week during the Third International Conference on Gay and Lesbian Tourism in Hollywood, Calif.

SET TO OPEN: The 422-unit Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort Miami Beach was set to hold a soft opening this month, pending local governmental approvals. Its opening had been postponed several times.

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