Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: October 31, 2001

FLORIDA IS MORE than theme parks, palm trees and beaches, one surmises from the new advertising-promotional effort called Culturally Florida, which was undertaken by the recently formed Florida Cultural Tourism Marketing Coalition. Culturally Florida focuses on theaters, museums, art, architecture, history, ethnic organizations, science and discovery; small towns and music. Collateral matter includes a new Visit Florida-linked Web site: and two print publications -- The Travel Planner, which selected travel agents and others will receive, and The Guide Book, the main fulfillment piece. The marketing coalition is financially supported by American Express, Visit Florida and the Florida Department of State. The program was developed by these groups over two years in conjunction with various cultural organizations and convention and visitors bureaus.

FARE DEALS: Spirit Airlines on Dec. 14 will launch seasonal service from Chicago (O'Hare) to West Palm Beach with an introductory fare of $79 one-way. The fare is valid from Dec. 14 to Jan. 31, with some holiday blackout dates. Tickets must be purchased by Nov. 15. Meanwhile, JetBlue Airways on Nov. 28 launches Washington (Dulles)-Fort Lauderdale nonstops. The $49 one-way introductory fare must be purchased by Nov. 30 for travel completed by Dec. 15. Regular fares will range from $79 to $199 one-way. JetBlue on Nov. 1 also will add a second daily flight from New York (JFK) to Fort Myers and a third daily flight to West Palm Beach. More flights to those cities will be available starting in mid-December. There are $55 one-way fares between JFK and all Florida airports if the purchase is made by Nov. 7 and travel is completed by Nov. 30.

GAYLORD ENTERTAINMENT will change the brand of its Opryland properties to the newly created Gaylord Hotels flag. The move, effective immediately, means that Gaylord's 1,406-room hotel in Kissimmee, opening Feb. 2, originally as the Opryland Hotel Florida, will be renamed the Gaylord Palms. Customer research indicated the Opryland name was strong in Nashville and Texas, where other properties are situated, but it did not connect with the Kissimmee property.

TWO-FOR-ONE deals at Greater Fort Lauderdale's theatrical, art, opera and concert attractions are the latest fall/early winter tourist draws. The deals are part of a cooperative effort that also includes 620 hotels and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. For information, call (800) 356-1662.

THE PIER HOUSE Resort & Caribbean Spa, Key West, completed a $4.5 million, two-year renovation, which yielded among other things -- a new restaurant -- One Duval, specializing in New Calypso Harvest cuisine (Caribbean and Florida ingredients). Also added were two waterfront penthouse suites. The Havana Heights and Seabreeze suites are priced through Dec. 24 at $1,100 and $1,000 per night, respectively, quad.

THE PALMS SOUTH Beach in Miami Beach will hold its grand opening Nov. 29. The 242-room property previously was known as the Miami Beach Ocean Resort. The 242-room property is owned by Hans and Ursula Krause, who also own The National Hotel on South Beach.

INTRAWEST Corp., Vancouver, owner of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort near Destin, embarked on a major expansion which calls for 175 accommodations to be added by May, along with the 28-acre Village of Baytowne Wharf (with 42 retail, entertainment and dining outlets). Set to open in March 2003 is the 150-room phase one of the luxury Grand Sandestin Hotel and the 32,000-square-foot Baytowne Conference Center. Another 300 rooms for Grand Sandestin (in three buildings), will open by late 2004 or early 2005.

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