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Club Med Reopens Magic Isle on Haiti

January 07, 1996|DREW FELLMAN

While Haitians were electing Rene Preval as their new president and with United Nations forces still a presence on the Caribbean island, Club Med reopened its Magic Isle village last month. The resort--closed in 1987 during the violent overthrow of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier--welcomed almost 300 travelers from Italy, Canada and the United States who began arriving Dec. 21.

On one recent Sunday afternoon, the resort was an odd mix of military occupation and beach party as U.N. troops and civilians sunbathed and played volleyball--military fatigues and machine guns under nearby palm trees. While some of those who have visited Haiti recently sing its praises, there are problems. Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the western hempisphere and the U.S. State Department warns travelers to use common sense as they move around the country.

Magic Isle partially reopened Last May to host a summit of the Organization of American States and then remained open as a getaway for wealthy Haitians and U.N. personnel. But last month's tour groups were the first. Club Med spokeswoman Edwina Arnold said the hope is to attract Canadian and European couples, the same group that frequented the destination a decade ago.

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