Temptation' fever swamps travel agents
by: , Michael DeMocker, Newhouse News Service
AMBERGRIS CAYE, Belize
The second storm was named "Temptation Island." A month of filming the six-episode series wrapped just days before Hurricane Keith struck.
But it wasn't until the Jan. 10 premiere of the Fox TV show that the effects settled in with a hurricane of publicity.
Travel companies booking trips to this laid-back island off the coast of Belize are being deluged by emails and phone calls, mostly from potential vacationers enchanted by the beauty of the island, but some from those who fantasize about frolicking with a bevy of swimsuit clad models.
Vacationers from Portland are part of the rush, according to Leigh Young, the Latin destination specialist for Avanti Tours, a Portland wholesaler.
"We've seen a tremendous increase, one call right after another," she said. "I can't say it's because of the television show, but I've been selling Belize for 11 years and this is pretty remarkable. I know they must be watching."
Holly Cabiedas, reservations manager for Captain Morgan's Retreat, where the so-called monogamous men were housed on the show, said the hotel hired another person in its Cody, Wyo., booking office solely because of the response to the show. Captain Morgan's Web site (www.belizevacation.com) went from an average 200 daily visits before the show premiered to 2,000 after the premiere.
The resort just north of Ambergris Caye's main town of San Pedro is now booked weeks in advance. For those who can't reserve one of the thatched roof caritas, there's a $10 boat tour.
Agents at Magnum Belize Tours, which books stays at Mata Chica as well as Captain Morgan's, were too busy to be interviewed. The hotel, just north of Captain Morgan's, reportedly has had a tenfold jump in its Web site traffic (www.matachica.com) since the show's debut. Traffic on the island's Web site (www.ambergriscaye.com) jumped 40 percent in the days following the premiere.
Cabiedas, who said she watched the series that ended last week, says Captain Morgan's Retreat has no plans to transform its quiet couple- and family-oriented resort into a "Temptation Island" experience, despite several inquiries.
"I've already had people emailing, saying they'd like to recreate the show for friends who are getting married, that sort of thing," said Cabiedas. "They'll find out that kind of thing's not really welcome down there. Besides," she added, "we don't really have supermodels on staff."
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