Successful Meetings SEPTEMBER 2006 The diverse nations and territories of the Caribbean are very busy these days. While some are repairing damage caused by last year's hurricane season, most are implementing improvements to airports and roads - getting ready for the infrastructural demands of the new luxury property and condo developments that are on the rise.
Essential Tool Box
CONVENTION CENTERS: Puerto Rico Convention Center, 152,700 sf of exhibit space, a 39,500-sf ballroom, and 36,200 sf of meeting space, largest accommodating 16,965 theater style.
Cancun Center, 77,900 sf of dedicated exhibit space, 37 meeting rooms, largest accommodates 3,000
PASSPORTS: The U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security recently announced the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will require all U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to carry a passport or other accepted secure documents to enter or reenter the U.S. from vacations or business travel anywhere in the Caribbean, effective December 31, 2006. This requirement is applied to all air and sea travel. For more travel information, please visit www.travel.state.gov
For listings of hotels and meeting facilities in the Caribbean, visit Facility Quick Search at www.mimegasite.com
The Big News
ANTIGUA North Sound A new stadium is being constructed to host the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup's Second Stage. The Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium will seat 11,000 permanently and up to 19,000 for the World Cup event.
ARUBA Palm Beach The 391-room Occidental Grand Aruba Resort, Aruba's first all-inclusive resort, opened May 1, 2006, featuring seven restaurants and a spa.
*This year, the 558-room Renaissance Aruba became a AAA Four-Diamond property.
*The 478-room Aruba Resort Spa & Casino will be reflagged a Westin later this year.
*The Riu Aruba Grand is closed for a $60-million renovation.
*The 360-room Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino began a $20-million refurbishment in Jun.
CURACAO Willemstad The 240-room Renaissance Resort is expected to open in 2008, featuring an artificial beach, a cinema, a casino, restaurants, and 8,600 sf of meeting space.
BAHAMAS Exuma The new, 72-villa Grand Isle Villas opened in Feb, adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel and Spa in the 500-acre Emerald Bay Resort. Grand Bahama Island The Westin Grand Bahama reopened Lighthouse Pointe after completing a four-month refurbishment that added new landscaping and replaced furniture and carpeting to 200 rooms and suites. Paradise Island Next year, Atlantis opens the luxury 600-suite Cove, completing Phase III of a billion-dollar expansion.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Punta Cana The 554 all-inclusive Paradisus Palma Real opened, featuring 12,447 sf of flexible meeting space, six breakout rooms, and an additional 12,876-sf multipurpose room for events.
*The 315-room Westin Roco Ki opens in Jan, featuring 20 bungalows, an 18,000-sf spa, and a Nick Faldo-designed golf course. Santo Domingo The 228-room Hilton Santo Domingo, which opened Jul 2005 with more than 17,000 sf of meeting space, received a AAA-Four Diamond rating this year.
JAMAICA Montego Bay The 430-room Sunset Beach Resort & Spa debuted the Pirate's Paradise Water Park, added a new beach bar and grill, and upgraded tennis pavilions.
PUERTO RICO San Juan A $175-million Sheraton is expected to open late 2008 as the Puerto Rico Convention Center's headquarters hotel, featuring a music hall for live performances, two ballrooms, banquet and meeting rooms, a full-service spa, restaurants, shops, and a rooftop pool. Meanwhile, landscaping around the convention center is expected to be completed by the end of 2006.
*The luxury 12-suite Hotel Cervantes opened early this year in Old San Juan.
*The 248-room Renaissance La Concha Hotel & Casino is expected to open by the end of 2006, featuring 15,000 sf of meeting space, a casino, three restaurants, and an oceanfront pool.
*The 570-room Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino has begun a $65-million overall upgrade.
*The 382-room El San Juan Hotel & Casino is beginning a $52-million renovation.
*The Phase III expansion of the 812-room Caribe Hilton is expected to add 122 guest rooms by Dec. Vieques The Caribbean's first W opens this year at the former Martineau Bay Resort, following a $200-million renovation.
NEVIS Charlestown In Jul, all Nevis ports received a security upgrade compliant with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code for maritime security.
ST. LUCIA Anse Chastanet Anse Chastanet Resort opened 24 exclusive Infinity Suites in Jun, each with a personal infinity pool and living area. A "resort within a resort," the suites have their own reception area, concierge service, and restaurant.
Cotton Bay Sunswept Resorts' 74-unit Plantation opened in Apr as the first five-star villa resort on the island.
Praslin Bay A 232-room Westin resort is expected to open Aug 2007, with the ability to accommodate up to 600 for meetings.
Reduit Beach The 120-unit Bay Gardens Resort & Spa is scheduled to be completed in Nov 2006. Rodney Bay The 23-villa Calabash Cove Inn & Sanctuary opens this fall as a five-star boutique resort.
USVI St. Croix Island Lynx Ferry Company now offers year-round ferry service between St. Croix and St. Thomas. St. Thomas The 200-room Ritz-Carlton will complete a $40-million expansion in Dec that will add an exclusive "club lounge" (featuring 55 guest rooms, 20 suites and two villas) and enhanced the spa.