Universal to launch destination resort in Spain

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ORLANDO -- A destination resort called Universal Mediterranea is growing around the landmark Port Aventura theme park, which reopens March 15 in Spain's Costa Dorada region for an extended season.

According to Fred Lounsberry, senior vice president of the Universal Studios Recreation Group in Orlando, two 500-room hotels and a water park will soon open as well at the site, which is about an hour's drive south of Barcelona.

Universal, which has run the Port Aventura theme park since 1997, is an investor in the complex, that until now consisted only of the theme park.

Port Aventura features sections themed to different areas of the world, such as the Meditteranean, the western U.S., Mexico, China and Polynesia.

This season, the park will remain open through Jan. 6, 2003. Days of operation, however, will be limited in November and most of December to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It will be open daily during Christmas week.

Lounsberry said that the first hotel to open in the complex will be the Hotel Port Aventura. The property will feature meetings space. While the soft opening will coincide with the park's reopening, reservations will not be accepted for arrivals before mid-April.

The second property is the Hotel El Paso, featuring a beach on the Meditteranean Sea. Its soft opening is set for June 1, but reservations will not be accepted for stays until July 15.

Also opening in June will be Costa Caribe, a water park.

While North America is not yet a major market for this growing resort complex (unlike Barcelona), business from U.S. agents is welcome, Lounsberry said.

Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands and Russia are the source of most guests, he added.

For details on the new attractions, agents can log onto www.universalstudios.com and visit the Port Aventura pages under Theme Parks/Spain.

From the U.S., bookings should be made with Universal's Spain-based personnel -- Anna Benages or Elana Masdeu. Their phone number is (011) 34-977-779110; fax: (011) 34-977-779082.

The email address is [email protected].

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