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Briefs: 'Scuba Caribbean' a guide to best dive vacation spots

If you're planning a spring break or summer trip to go diving in the Caribbean, a new guide called Scuba Caribbean could help you explore new destinations.

The book, by Mary Peachin, notes that "the region's diving is as diverse as the islands themselves. Below the sea, an underwater photographer's wonderland of colorful reefs and marine diversity awaits." Terrain ranges from "steep, bottomless walls" to "cliff overhangs, caverns and swim-throughs." Some areas offer visibility greater than 100 feet, but Peachin writes that low-visibility areas, often rich in plankton, may have their own attractions, attracting whale sharks and manta rays. Other underwater attractions: shipwrecks, diving with trained dolphins and watching migrations of whales and other sea creatures.

Each chapter includes a general description of the destination's history and some basic facts, along with a list of diving spots. In Jamaica, for example, recommended dive sites include Airport Wall, the Pit and Windowmaker's Cave near Montego Bay; the Arches, Deep Plane, Gallery and Throne Room near Negril; and Prospect Reef, Stingray City and the Ocho Rios Drop-Off near Ocho Rios.

The book is $24.95 from the University Press of Florida.

Grand Canyon curio shop gets second life

A century-old gift shop at the popular South Rim of the Grand Canyon has been converted into a visitor center that incorporates the building's history.

The family-owned Verkamp's Curios gift shop closed in September after operating at the Grand Canyon since 1906.

The closure ended the Verkamp family's three-generation run at the canyon that began with its patriarch selling souvenirs out of a tent in 1898.

Now the Verkamp's Visitor Center has displays that explain what it's like to live at the Grand Canyon and the Verkamp family history.

The Grand Canyon celebrates its 90th year as a national park on Feb. 26.

New brand from Hilton: Home2 Suites

Hilton Hotels has announced the launch of a new extended-stay lodging brand called Home2 Suites by Hilton.

Construction is expected to begin on the first Home2 Suites hotel in the next six to 12 months.

The company said it has received applications for franchises of the brand in New York City; Baltimore/White Marsh, Md.; Charlotte, N.C.; Jacksonville, N.C.; Gadsden, Ala.; Alabaster, Ala.; Elko, Nev.; and three hotels in San Antonio, Texas.

Home2 Suites' design includes sustainable elements like recycled flooring and plumbing that conserves water; complimentary breakfast; a walking and exercise course and fitness facility; an indoor pool; and outdoor communal space with grills and areas to socialize. The room design will include a "working wall" with modular pieces that include workspace, closet and storage.

Each property will have an average of 108 guest rooms, 80 percent studios and 20 percent one-bedrooms.

Home2 Suites will be a mid-priced brand. Hilton expects Home2 Suites to include 100 properties by the end of 2012.

Associated Press

Briefs: 'Scuba Caribbean' a guide to best dive vacation spots 02/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:30am]
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