Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: March 20, 2002

TO BOLSTER pre-Memorial Day business along the Florida Panhandle, Abbott Resorts is offering 12% pay on stays completed by May 22. The firm manages more than 2,900 vacation rental units from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach. In addition, Abbott introduced a weekend getaway special in April, with a free night provided with two or more paid nights at selected properties in the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area. For information, call (888) 909-6807 or check the Web site: www.abbott-resorts.com.

IN THESE DAYS of zero commissions from major airlines, Dollar Rent a Car continues its long-standing 15% pay policy on leisure rentals picked up Sundays through Tuesdays in Florida and booked by Dec. 11. There are five holiday blackout periods and the only locations not participating are St. Augustine and Stuart. For information call (800) 800-1000.

A KOSHER PROPERTY, the 91-room King David Hotel & Spa, opened in Boca Raton near the Mizner Park shopping, dining and entertainment complex. Run by Hostmark Hospitality Group, the hotel pays 10% on both European plan rates from $100 single or double per night, and American plan rates (three Glatt kosher meals), from $149 single and $219 double. H. Scott Ackerman is director of sales and marketing. Travelco of Maitland, Fla., and Gogo Worldwide Vacations are among tour operators selling the hotel, which formerly was a chain affiliate that underwent a major refurbishment. For information, call (866) 567-4377. The Web site is www.kingdavidofboca.com.

TWELVE WEST PALM BEACH-area hotels packaged May 1 to 5 SunFest activities this year. The annual event, promoted as "Florida's largest music and arts festival" is held along the Intracoastal Waterway, West Palm Beach. Headline entertainers will include Bonnie Raitt and the Doobie Brothers. One-day tickets for visitors not on a package cost $12 (advance) or $17 (at the gate). Five-day tickets cost $30 or $35, respectively. Groups of 25 or more qualify for discounts. The SunFest Web site is at www.sunfest.com.

UP-TO-DATE technology for security is now being tested at Orlando International Airport, but only passengers who volunteer to be "searched" with the new equipment will have the experience. Others are processed with less-advanced systems. The Advanced Technology Checkpoint Project includes three new systems for checking passengers and three other systems for screening their carry-on baggage. The new systems have the ability to detect weapons, bombs and drugs.

HOTEL DEAL: World Golf Village Renaissance Resort, St. Augustine, introduced a one-night Family Escape package valid for stays May 1 to Sept. 30. A family of four would pay $196 per night, entitling them to a room, a full breakfast and tickets to the World Golf Hall of Fame, Imax Theater, play on an 18-hole natural grass putting course and transfers to the private Serenata Beach Club. Tax and service charges are additional. For information, call (888) 740-7020.

ONE OF KEY WEST'S top visitor draws is Fantasy Fest. The 2002 dates are Oct. 18 to 27 and the festival theme will be Mystical Mornings, Monstrous Nights. The celebration resembles a merger of Halloween and Mardi Gras with masquerade balls, costume competitions, street fairs and lavish grand parade. Because this event tends to fill up hotel rooms, agents should try to book as soon as possible. For information call (800) LAST-KEY or check the Web sites www.fantasyfest.net and www.fla-keys.com.

A TOURISM MANAGER was named by the 200-store Mall at Millenia, opening Oct. 18 in Orlando. Sally March, who served with Reebok Int'l, where she was responsible for its domestic and international tourist marketing program, was named to the post. Earlier she worked for Orlando-based receptive operators serving groups originating in the U.K. She can be reached at (407) 363-3555.

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