Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: November 27, 2002

THE ISLAND ROCKET catamaran is the latest venture of Floribbean Hospitality Group, Coconut Grove. By Thanksgiving Day it expects to launch commissionable day sailings between Miami's Bayside Marketplace and Coconut Grove's Dinner Key Marina to the Holiday Isle resort in Islamorada, Florida Keys, where an optional overnight package will be available. The 50-foot catamaran has 130 airline-type seats. Fares for the three-hour trip will be $48.50 one-way; $89.50 roundtrip, including snack and beverage service. For information on agent vouchers, call (305) 445-8456. The related Web site is www.firstladycharters.com.

OVER PRESIDENTS' DAY weekend, Feb. 15 to 17, the Washington Mutual Coconut Grove Arts Festival will take over the heart of the Coconut Grove enclave of Miami with more than a mile of contemporary art displays. Properties offering packages during the event include the Sonesta Hotel and Suites, three nights from $399 per person, double, with breakfast, (800) SONESTA or Web site www.sonesta.com/coconut_grove. Also, the Wyndham Grand Bay Coconut Grove has an Art Lovers Weekend plan available nightly for $299 single or double, (305) 858-9600. The Web site is www.wyndham.com. Other Coconut Grove hotels with special rates are the Mutiny, Mayfair House, Hampton Inn Doubletree and Grove Isle Resort, The festival's Web site is at www.coconutgroveartsfest.com.

LODGEPODGE
• A rare opportunity to earn 15% pay on new bookings for December -- including the Christmas period -- is offered by South Seas Resort, Captiva Island. The override applies to Harbourside hotel rooms or any one-bedroom units occupied between now and Jan. 1. For information, call (866) 61-SHELL.
• A fall 2003 reopening is planned for the 91-room Victor Hotel, in South Beach. The Art Deco property, to be managed by Hyatt Hotels Corp., is undergoing a $48 million restoration and expansion on behalf of owner ZOM Development, Orlando. In related news, Hyatt named Ilan Segal as general manager of the Victor. Most recently he ran Island Outpost's the Tides and Marlin hotels, both in South Beach. For pre-opening information, call (305) 269-4747.
• Another Art Deco property, the Brooklyn Hotel, just reopened in South Beach at 320 Euclid Ave. as a condo property. Built in 1937, it has undergone $3.2 million in renovations since 2000 under new owners Chapman Ducote of South Point Capital and Kristin Nevin of Ducote Designs. Boutique Hospitality Group, Miami, is running the condo hotel which has 17 one-bedroom suites. Ken Svejkovsky, the managing director, also is handling sales. Most recently he was a consultant for hotels in Hawaii. Rates range from $149 to $349 per night depending on season and type of suite. For information, call (888) 362-8889; the Web site is at www.brooklynsouthbeach.com.
• The former Lagoon Resort, under the new ownership of Jim and Leslie Rhyne, reopened in the Keys as the 25-unit Coconut Cay Resort and Marina. Agents earn 10% pay on rooms, which are priced from $99 per night, and on two-bedroom cottages with kitchens, which cost $199. The resort is on a peninsula extending into Florida Bay and can be found near Mile Marker 50.5 bayside, south of Marathon Airport. For information, call (877) FLIP-FLOP. The Web site is at www.coconutcay.com.
• Also in the Keys, the former 79-room Hampton Inn , Marathon, switched flags and is now the Best Western Inn and Marina. For information, call (305) 743-9009.

SPECIAL EVENTS
• Grande Illumination, a colorful re-enactment of the 18th century period when St. Augustine was part of the British Empire, will take place Dec. 7 and 8, providing an entertaining and educational blend of pageantry and history.
• Winterfest Boat Parade, Dec. 14, features holiday-light-festooned yachts and other vessels plying the Intracoastal Waterway. For information on related events, call (954) 767-0686. The Web site is www.winterfestparade.com.
• Accents on Winter, Dec. 5 to Jan. 18, is Tallahassee's annual celebration to commemorate the site of the first Christmas celebrated in North America more than 450 years ago. Highlights include tours of sculpted gardens, plantation homes and an 1880s farm.
• The ninth Annual Holiday Tour of Historic Inns in St. Augustine is set for 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. There are 23 participating bed & breakfasts, all ablaze with lights, vintage ornaments, handcrafted heirlooms and innkeepers in period costume.

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