Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: October 23, 2002

JUST IN TIME for Halloween, but available through Dec. 24, is a three-night package from the Pier House Resort & Caribbean Spa, Key West, featuring a tour of Key West's cemetery's more than 75,000 grave sites, and the Key West Ghost Tour (by lantern light) through the Old Town area. Rates are from $197 per person, double. Agents earn 10% on the room portion. For information, call (800) 327-8340. The Web site is www.pierhouse.com.

SEAWORLD ORLANDO added two enhancements to its famous Shark Encounter exhibit. Sharks Underwater Grill, a restaurant, offers floor-to-ceiling views of the shark collection, while Sharks Deep Dive provides visitors with a two-hour introduction to sharks, including an up-close experience inside a shark cage either as a scuba diver ($150 per person) or as a snorkeler ($125). For information, call (800) 327-2420 or go to www.seaworldorlando.com.

TAMPA RETURNED to the days of the electric trolley car on Saturday when seven trolleys from the TECO Streetcar System went into service linking downtown with the Ybor City tourist district -- a distance of 2.3 miles. The single, one-way fare is $1.25. Among ticket choices is a three-day unlimited ride plan for $9; if 200 or more tickets are purchased, the bulk rate is $6. For details, call Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, (813) 223-6831, group sales, or the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 826-8358, Ext. 70.

DELTA VACATIONS, operated by Certified Tours, offers a $10 per passenger bonus on new group bookings of 10 or more to Orlando for trips completed by June 30. The bonus will be paid on top of the markup an agent adds to the net rate. For restrictions and other information, call (800) 872-6260.

THE TOPPING OFF of the 350,000-square-foot Palm Beach County Convention Center was marked recently. The $80 million facility is set to open in early fall 2003 and so far 11 events, representing nearly $1 million in rental income, are on the books for the center's first year of operation. For information, call (561) 233-3000; the Web site is at www.palmbeachfl.com.

LODGEPODGE
• A commissionable, 30-day rate for extended stays is available from the Sonesta Hotel & Suites Coconut Grove. Rates start at $3,270 for a one-bedroom suite, until Dec. 21. Extended stay guests receive free local calls and limo airport transfers, and may opt for maid service and grocery shopping assistance. For more information, go to www.sonesta.com.
• The Crowne Plaza at Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise, offers a one-night Spotlight package for two through Dec. 30, covering room, breakfast, one drink and transportation to and from the Office Depot Center (formerly National Car Rental Center) where sporting events and concerts are held. Guests must show a ticket to a center event to qualify for the package rate, which is commissionable. For information, call (954) 851-1020.
• Boykin Lodging Co., a real estate investment trust, broke ground on a $24 million expansion of the Pink Shell Beach Resort, Fort Myers Beach. The White Sand Villas hotel condo addition will have 92 one- and two-bedroom beachfront units with gulf views; it is slated to open in fall 2003. Owners will have the option of renting their units through Pink Shell. For information, call (800) 237-5786 or check the Web site www.boykinlodging.com.

AIR TRAN Airways on Jan. 7 will add new daily nonstops between Pittsburgh and Orlando and Flint, Mich. and Orlando. Also, on Feb. 4, Air Tran will add nonstops between Philadelphia and Fort Myers, and between Baltimore/Washington and Fort Myers.

AT SOUTHWEST Florida Int'l Airport (Fort Myers), September passenger traffic was up 25% vs. the same month in 2001, when the terrorist attacks took place. September 2002 was off 5.4% compared with September 2000, according to the Lee County Port Authority.

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