Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: October 2, 2002

THE ASTRONAUT HALL OF FAME soon will come under the fold of Delaware North Parks Services of Spaceport Inc., the operator of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA. Delaware North intends to lease the Astronaut Hall of Fame building in Titusville, and purchase its contents, including its Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronaut memorabilia and interactive exhibits. The Hall of Fame ran into financial problems and had reverted to its lender, Southtrust Bank of Birmingham, Ala. Delaware North Parks Services said the attraction will be made part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and eventually will relocate there. For information, call (321) 449-4400 or check the Web site, www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

AUGUST MARKED the first time since the events of Sept. 11 that Greater Fort Lauderdale tourism posted growth in multiple key segments.


• Bed tax collections were up by 7.7% vs. August 2001.
• Hotel occupancy was up by 2.7%.
• The average daily room rate of $71.54, was a gain of 3.2%.
• Traffic also was up at both Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport and the Port Everglades cruise port.
Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, credited a strong cooperative marketing effort with area suppliers and Visit Florida for the recovery.

LODGEPODGE
• HEI Hospitality, Norwalk, Conn., acquired the 322-room Hilton Orlando-Altamonte Springs and placed it under the management of HEI Hospitality, a subsidiary. The hotel will undergo a $2 million renovation beginning at the end of the year.
• Prime Hospitality Corp., Fairfield, N.J. completed the sale of its Fort Lauderdale-17th Street AmeriSuites hotel to 17th Street Causeway LLC. The hotel continues to be operated as an AmeriSuites under a 20-year franchise pact. Prime Hospitality also will continue to manage the 128-unit hotel.
• Hyatt's Sunshine on Sale promotion features a fourth night free and a $100 credit at four Florida properties. At the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort (Orlando) it applies to stays through Nov. 17, while the same deal applies to the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six (Fort Lauderdale) and Hyatt Regency Key West Resort & Marina, but for those two the stays are through Dec. 20. At the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa near Naples, the third night is free and a $100 activity credit applies to stays through Dec. 20. Respective nightly rates (double) are $335, $219, $215 and $240. For information, call (800) 55-HYATT.
• Room renovations at the Starwood Hotels & Resorts-run Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin are planned; they will be completed during 2003.
• Meanwhile, the 325-unit Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel in Downtown Disney completed a $3 million renovation of its public spaces. Added were Internet stations near the breakfast area as well as a business center and a fitness room. For information, check the Web site www.orlandoresorthotel.com.
• The Vero Beach Hotel & Club offers a one-night Eco-Tourism package for $299, double, Oct. 16 to Dec. 23, covering a suite with a balcony or patio, breakfast buffet, a tour of McKee Botanical Garden and the hands-on Environmental Learning Center on the Indian River Lagoon estuary and other ecology attractions. For information, call (800) 841-5666.

DELTA CONNECTION yesterday launched two daily roundtrips on the Atlanta-Key West route using 70-passenger Bombardier CRJ700 jets. For information, call (800) 221-1212 or check the Web site, www.delta.com.

DAYTONA BEACH was voted Florida's Best Beach in a poll taken for the Best of Florida Awards conducted by Florida Monthly magazine. "We are extremely honored to receive this designation because it comes from our fellow Floridians who have year-round access to beaches throughout the state," observed Sharon Mock, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

THE 2003 OFFICIAL Tour & Travel Reference Manual now is available from the Orlando-Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For information, call (800) 215-2213 or order (at no cost) online at www.orlandoinfo.com/trade.

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