Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: October 9, 2002

AN ANCHOR HOTEL for the 600,000-square-foot Broward County Convention Center at Port Everglades will be under consideration once more in January. The Broward County Commission will decide if the time is right to pursue a developer after at least two failures to get the elusive hotel built in recent years. A hotel with about 500 rooms was sought in the past. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, according to its president, Nicki Grossman, will be urging the commission to make the attempt because the center is losing out on business from those conventions that require an anchor hotel. With more than 3,000 rooms within a few minutes' drive, and with more rooms available further out, the center has been able to handle its current meeting business, she said. In fact, meetings attendees and collegiate and amateur sports events have offset declines in the leisure sector, she said. There are 90 conventions booked through 2006, she said.

ON SALE is the message from Orlando's International Drive Resort Area, which extends fall discounts on accommodations, attractions and dining. The I-Ride Trolley, operating from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, is itself a bargain, stopping at 94 locations, including some within walking distance of the Universal Orlando, Wet 'n' Wild and SeaWorld parks. Tickets are: single fare, 75 cents for ages 12 and older; seniors (65 and older), pay 25 cents. Children (ages 11 and younger) ride free with a paying adult. Unlimited-ride passes cost $2 to $7 depending on their duration. For information, check the Web site at and then look for I-Drive on Sale. An area guide with $250 in coupon savings also is available by calling (866) 234-7483.

AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO'S Islands of Adventure theme park, annual Halloween Horror Nights sales are going so well that walkup guests lacking prepaid tickets were turned away last Saturday night and, because attendance is capped, it could happen again. A Universal spokeswoman suggested that agency clients buy tickets in advance and arrive early to assure admission. The scary experiences run from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 7 p.m. to midnight on selected weeknights. The series of 21 nights will end Nov. 2. For information, call (877) 2-FRIGHT or check the Web site,

MEANWHILE, at Universal Orlando's Royal Pacific Resort, Tchoup Chop, the Polynesian restaurant run by New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse, is now slated to open in December, rather than during the fall.

THE MALL AT MILLENIA, opening in Orlando on Oct. 18, is participating in commissionable shopping packages with the Peabody Orlando, Westin Grand Bohemian and Marriott's Orlando World Center. For information, contact Sally March, tourism manager, (407) 363-3555, Ext. 207. The related Web site is found at

AT AMELIA ISLAND Plantation near Fernandina Beach, the Falcon's Nest aviation-themed entertainment bar with 250 seats, will stage its grand opening on Nov. 8. The property's Holiday Light Celebration is set for 7 p.m., Nov. 29. For information, call (800) 874-6878 or check the Web site,

• The Outside Sales Support Network will hold its National Conference and Trade Show Dec. 8 to 10 at Universal Orlando, where the Royal Pacific Resort will play host. For information, call (888) 331-3592 and press option #2. A $99 nightly room rate is available.
• The 2002 First Coast Ham Jam, a festival featuring contests involving pork barbecues, is set for World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Oct. 31 to Nov. 3.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI