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Jamaica’s Decision Shows No Island Can Resist a Casino
Jamaica’s recent approval of gaming is evidence that perhaps any Caribbean island could succumb to the temptation of the millions upon millions of tourism dollars casinos can bring to a country. But as one of the most impoverished destinations in the Caribbean, the decision had to be made.
For years, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic have been perhaps the poorest destinations in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic continues to build new casinos, with the latest coming in December in the form of Casino Dominicus, which Travel Agent had the privilege of visiting in March. So it only made sense that Jamaica would have them, too. After all, casinos are practical vacuums that slurp up foreign dollars and havens for tourists looking to throw away their pocket money and “invest” in the country. But for years Jamaica has been defiant in its decision not to take part in gaming ventures because of strict laws that forbade it. But as the country’s economic woes continue year after year, despite the destination’s successful tourism rate, something eventually had to give. And it finally did on April 22, as Jamaica became the latest Caribbean island to approve gambling. Agreements with two investors have already been approved: Tavistock Group, which is developing Harmony Cove, a 4,500-room, $5 billion upscale project, will offer gaming, as will the Palmyra Resort and Spa. Jamaica’s decision is now the most concrete evidence that no island can go forever without a casino, especially when surrounding islands are welcoming news ones every year. In Mexico, the entire country forbids casinos. But if a casino popped up in the Riviera Maya, you can bet your vacation money you’d seen one in Los Cabos soon after. And that is why the chain reaction in the Caribbean will go on until every island has some form of a casino, whether it’s a stand-alone casino or one inside a hotel. The last holdout to come around before Jamaica was St. Lucia, which saw a seven-year debate between the Church and the government finally end with the approval of gaming at the end of last year. The first casino in St. Lucia is slated to be built as early as 2009.
Aruba Hotel-Within-a-Hotel Slated to Open in September
The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino announced its new Tradewinds Club, a 59-room boutique hotel within the resort, slated to open by September. Travel Agent learned of the news Tuesday and thinks the club/hotel will add a little more spice to what has already been a hot spot for younger couples and singles traveling to Aruba.
During the resort’s current $40 million renovation, the necessary enhancements are being made to turn the 8th floor of the Aruba Marriott into the Tradewinds Club. The Tradewinds Club experience begins even before arrival, as a staff member will contact guests for confirmation of advanced reservations and airline information. Upon arrival to the Aruba Marriott, guests can bypass the main lobby and check in via the Tradewinds Club Executive Lounge, a private 1900-square-foot lounge area with a 200 square-foot terrace, accessible only to Tradewinds Club guests. For the duration of a stay at the Tradewinds Club, your clients can enjoy exclusive privileges throughout the resort such as vacation planning services, unpacking, pressing and packing assistance upon request and preferred spa and restaurant reservations made by the dedicated concierge staff. Visit www.arubamarriott.com.
Certified Vacations Launches New Luxury Line, Caribbean Included
The Caribbean will all be among the destinations featured in Certified Vacations’ new luxury product line called Select Escapes, available exclusively via Continental Airlines Vacations.
A similar ultra-luxury product will be introduced as part of the Future Vacations product line in summer 2008. Regions featured in the Select Escapes product include Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and the U.S. In The Caribbean, the specific destination will be the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and The Bahamas. The Select Escapes program brings together many notable names in luxury travel including Orient-Express Hotels & Trains, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Grand Luxe Rail Journeys, The Luxury Collection by Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Ritz-Carlton. Members of The Leading Hotels of the World, The Leading Small Hotels of the World and Small Luxury Hotels of the World are also featured. Visit www.certifiedvacations.com.
Spirit Announces New Flights to Trinidad and Limited-Time Special Fares
Spirit Airlines is launching daily, nonstop service from Ft. Lauderdale to Trinidad beginning June 12.
Flight 949 will depart Ft. Lauderdale at 8:55 p.m. and arrive at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad at 12:30 a.m.; return flight 948 will depart Trinidad at 1:30 a.m. and arrive in Ft. Lauderdale at 5:30 a.m. Spirit Airlines is offering special round-trip fares to celebrate the new service, which run as low as $163 and are valid for travel by October 10. Visit www.spiritair.com or www.gotrinidadandtobago.com.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay Gets New Spa
Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands recently debuted its Sense, A Rosewood Spa, which offers a collection of treatments, many of which utilize indigenous botanical resources from the island.
To help parents enjoy their spa time while giving the kids a spa experience of their own, Sense offers two classes for children (ages five and up)—Kids Move ‘N’ Groove and Kids Yoga—that introduce young guests to the health benefits of movement and meditation. Two- to four-and-a-half hour multi-treatment packages are offered. Guests can also enjoy treatments in the comfort and privacy of their own suite, under the stars, or on the beach by special arrangement. The spa is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. Visit www.sensespa.com.
The Latest Deals: Aruba Resort Offers Value For the Summer
The Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa introduced its new “Summer Fun Sale,” available for bookings made by June 30 for stays from now through December 18, 2008. Vacationers booking four nights in a guest, garden or partial ocean view room will receive the fourth night free, 15 percent off spa treatments and a $100 resort credit. Rates begin at $275 per night. Visit www.radisson.com/aruba.
The Latest Deals: Aruba Resort’s Sunshine Sale
The Hyatt Regency Aruba is offering its Sunshine Sale from now through December 20. The package includes a fifth night free, which is deducted at time of checkout. There is a five-night minimum length of stay required. Rate is per room per night; based on double occupancy. Room tax and resort fee not included. Additional charges apply to room-type upgrades. Additional guests may be subject to additional hotel charges. No refunds for any unused portion of package. Visit www.aruba.hyatt.com.