Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: November 28, 2001

NOBLE HOUSE Hotels & Resorts, Kirkland, Wash., postponed from Dec. 8 to Jan. 2, the reopening of its 189-room La Playa Beach Resort in Naples, which is completing a $34 million renovation. The property has been closed since mid-April. From Jan. 2 to 10, reduced rates will be in effect: $289 per night for pool view units; $339 for beachfront. Thereafter, peak rates of $399 and $459, respectively, will apply. For information, call (800) 237-6883.

THE CARIBE ROYALE All-Suites Resort, Orlando, extends a $92 nightly Bounce Back rate for stays through Dec. 31. Guests receive a certificate to repeat their stay during 2002 for the same $92; should agency clients rebook directly, the hotel will protect the agent's commission, according to Scott Flexman, director of sales and marketing. (Agents generate up to 40% of the hotel's guests.) Long-term, the hotel, which has 1,218 one-bedroom suites and 120 two-bedroom, two-bath villas, will increase its meeting space from 65,000 square feet to 145,000 square feet by late 2003. At that time, or in early 2004, the Caribe Royale's parent, Sierra Land Group, Glendale, Calif., is to break ground on its adjacent Orlando Grande Hotel, which will have 800 to 1,100 suites. For information, call (888) 238-8300.

SOME 850,000 SPECTATORS will be on hand Dec. 15 in Fort Lauderdale for the 30th annual Cingular Wireless Winterfest Boat Parade in which 100 small vessels with holiday decorations vie for prizes. A fireworks show, which will be presented by Nokia, is part of the event. The yachts and other boats will ply their way from Port Everglades up the Intracoastal Waterway for 10 miles. For information, view the Winterfest Web site, www.winterfestparade.com.

SILVER SPRINGS, near Ocala, also stages a Lighted Boat Parade as part of its ninth annual Festival of Lights. Activities are set for Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, Dec. 7 and 8, and Dec. 14 to 30. The hours are dusk to 8 p.m. Admission is $9.95; $6.95 for guests under 4-feet, 8-inches tall. For information call (352) 236-2121. The Web site is www.silverpsrings.com.

ZION'S HOPE, the Orlando ministry that has operated the Holy Land Experience theme park there since last February, filed suit in Orange County Circuit Court to prevent Orange County from collecting more than $28,000 in taxes, based on the religious-oriented park's appraised value. Zion's Hope charges $17 admission, and runs a gift shop and food concession on the grounds. As a nonprofit religious organization, Zion's Hope's regular income (donations) is exempt from taxes, and it believes that its theme park operation also should be exempt.

THE I-RIDE TROLLEY expanded its routes within Orlando's International Drive tourist sector. Now covered are Major Boulevard and the South International Drive corridor down to the Orlando Premium Outlets. The service also links SeaWorld, Wet 'N Wild, Universal Orlando and the convention center. Single fares are from 25 to 75 cents; daily passes cost $2; three- to 14-day passes cost $3 to $14, respectively. Children ages 11 and younger ride free and travel agents get 15% discounts on bulk purchases of 100 or more passes. A related guide and coupon book are available by calling (866) 243-7483. The Web site is www.internationaldrive-orlando.com.

DISCOVER AIR will operate public charters to the Florida Keys over two weekends and expects to run more flights in early 2002. Initially, flights will operate with 19-passenger Jetstream 32 propjets on Dec. 7 and 9 and Dec. 14 and 16 between Orlando-Sanford, Key West and Marathon. Roundtrip fare will be $299 and agents will earn 10% on sales. Caradonna Caribbean Tours, an Altamonte Springs, Fla., wholesaler, plans fishing, diving and weekend escape packages to the Keys using Discover's flights. For information, call Discover at (866) 359-3247 or Caradonna, (800) 330-3322.

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