If your email reader cannot read HTML, please go to http://tsanews.topcities.com to view this newsletter. Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter
Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, June 2003 Issue


Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
www.wahmwebhost.com/tsanews
travelalerts@wowmail.com
FAX: 775/264-7063
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2003 
All Rights Reserved.
June Hotel Specials
Brussels -- Van Belle Hotel 81.82 Euro
Malaga -- Beachside Las Vegas Hotel 81.66 Euro
Berlin -- Hotel Tiergarten near center city 114.66 Euro
Copenhagen -- Hotel Osterport in Embassy Quarter 125.68 Euro
Vienna -- Karolinenhof Hotel close to Danube 68.00 Euro


In This Issue:

  • Lost, Delayed and Damaged Luggage
  • Delta Shuttle Offers Double Miles
  • Hotel Discounts Don’t Increase Revenue
  • San Carlos Hotel Preview Package
  • Get Closer to Wildlife at Yellowstone
  • The World at Half Off
  • Hit the Road with $25 Gas Credit
  • "Salute Savings" for Military Personnel
  • Comedy of the Absurd Remarks
  • Tips for Planning a National Park Vacation
  • Travel Clinic Update by John G. McCandlish
  • SWEEPSTAKES
  • Take to Skies With Best Western Travel Card
  • Toronto Extends Welcome Rate
  • Acapulco Struggles with Untreated Wastewater
  • France Means Business:Specials for Americans
  • US Airways FREE, FREE, FREE

  • Lost, Delayed and Damaged Luggage

    According to past statistics, air travel can increase but complaints about baggage increase twice as much. Roughly the airline industry mishandles about 6 out of every 1000 bags. That may not sound as an impressive statistic unless the bag that is lost belongs to you. Your only consolation may be that the amount airlines must pay you for your lost luggage has doubled from $1,250 to $2,500.

    Forewarned is forearmed. Here’s how the airlines handle cases of lost, delayed or damaged luggage.

    Damage - If your suitcase arrives smashed or torn, the airline will usually pay for repairs. If it can't be fixed, they will negotiate a settlement amount based on the depreciated value of your suitcase - which can amount to nearly nothing. The same holds true for belongings packed inside. Airlines may decline your damage claim by insisting it was inadequate packing, rather than their rough handling. Carriers may also refuse to pay for damaged items inside the bag when there's no evidence of external damage to the suitcase. But airlines generally don't refuse liability for fragile merchandise packed in its original factory sealed carton, a cardboard mailing tube, or other container designed for shipping and packed with protective padding material. When you check in, airline personnel should let you know if they think your suitcase or package may not survive the trip intact. Before accepting a questionable item, they will ask you to sign a statement in which you agree to check it at your own risk. But even if you do sign this form, the airline might be liable for damage if it is caused by its own negligence shown by external injury to the suitcase or package.

    Delayed bags - On many occasions, you and your suitcase won’t connect at your final destination. The airlines track down about 98% of the bags they misplace and return them to their owners within hours. In many cases they will absorb reasonable expenses you incur while they look for your missing belongings.

    If your bags don't come off the conveyor belt, report it before you leave the airport. Insist that they fill out a form and give you a copy, even if they say the bag will be in on the next flight. If the form doesn't contain the name of the person who filled it out, ask for it. Get a phone number for following up (not the Reservations number). Insist that the airline deliver the bag without charge when it is found. Airport employees are allowed to disburse some money or goods at the airport for emergency purchases such as clothes or toiletries. The amount depends if you are away from home and how long it takes to track down your bags and return them to you. If the airline does not provide you a cash advance, it may still reimburse you later for the purchase of necessities.

    Ask what articles they will reimburse you for and keep all receipts. If sporting equipment is delayed, the airline may pay for the rental of replacements. For clothing or other articles, the carrier may only reimburse for a portion of the purchase cost, assuming you can use the new item in the future. You may get more if you agree to turn the articles over to them. The airline won’t reimburse for fresh foods or any other perishable goods ruined because their delivery is delayed. Airlines may be liable if they lose or damage perishable items, but they won't accept responsibility for spoilage caused by a delay in delivery. Airlines are liable for provable consequential damages up to the amount of their liability limit (see below) in connection with the delay.

    If you can't resolve the claim with the airline's airport staff, keep a record of the names of the employees with whom you dealt, and hold on to all travel documents and receipts for any money you spent in connection with the mishandling. It's okay to surrender your baggage claim tags to the airline when you fill out a form at the airport, as long as you get a copy of the form and it notes that you gave up the tags. Call or write the airline's consumer office when you get home.

    Lost luggage -- Once your bag is declared officially lost (the time period varies among airlines), you will have to submit a claim. This usually means you have to fill out a second, more detailed form. If you don’t complete the second form when required, you can delay your claim. Missing the deadline for filing can invalidate your claim. The airline will usually refer your claim form to a central office, and the negotiations between you and the airline begin. If your flight was a connection involving two carriers, the final carrier is normally responsible for processing your claim, even if it appears that the first airline lost the bag. Airlines don't automatically pay the full amount of every claim they receive. First, they estimate the value of your lost belongings (as listed on the claim form). Like insurance companies, airlines consider the depreciated value of your possessions, not their original price or the replacement costs. If you're tempted to exaggerate your claim, don't.

    Airlines may completely deny claims they feel are inflated or fraudulent. They often ask for sales receipts and other documentation to back up claims, especially if a large amount of money is involved. If you don't keep extensive records, expect to negotiate with the airline over the value of your goods. Generally, it takes from six weeks to three months to pay you for your lost luggage. As a settlement, the airlines may offer free tickets on future flights in a higher amount than the cash payment. Ask about all restrictions on these tickets, such as "blackout" dates and how far before departure you must make a reservation.

    Limits on liability -- If your bags are delayed, lost or damaged on a domestic trip, the airline will pay up to $1,250 per passenger. When your luggage and its contents are worth more than that, you may want to purchase "excess valuation," when you check in. This is not insurance, but it will increase the carrier's potential liability. The airline may refuse to sell excess valuation on some items that are especially valuable or breakable, such as antiques, musical instruments, jewelry, manuscripts, negotiable securities and cash. On international trips, the liability limit is set by a treaty called the Warsaw Convention. Unless you buy excess valuation, the liability limit is $9.07 per pound ($20 per kilo). To limit its liability to this amount, the airline must use one of the following procedures:

    1) The carrier weighs your bags at check-in and records this weight on your ticket. The airline's maximum liability to you is that weight multiplied by $9.07 (per lb.) (or by $20, if the weight was recorded in kilos).
    2) Instead of weighing your luggage, the carrier assumes that each of your bags weighs the maximum that it agrees to accept as checked baggage, usually 70 pounds (32 kilos). This yields a liability limit of about $640 per bag.

    This international limit applies to domestic segments of an international journey, even if the domestic and international flights are on separate tickets and you claim and re-check your bag between the two flights. Keep in mind that the liability limits are maximums. If the depreciated value of your property is worth less than the liability limit, this lower amount is what you will be offered. If the airline's settlement doesn't fully reimburse your loss, check your homeowner's or renter's insurance, it sometimes covers losses away from the residence. Some credit card companies and travel agencies offer optional or automatic supplemental baggage coverage.


    Delta Shuttle Offers Double Miles

    Delta Air Lines offers SkyMiles members double miles for paid Delta Shuttle flights between New York's LaGuardia and Boston's Logan International airports and between LaGuardia and Washington's Reagan National airports through June 30, 2003. In addition, members flying between Logan and Reagan National airports on paid Delta Connection flights will receive double miles during the same promotional period. With these bonus offers, members will earn a total of 1,000 SkyMiles per paid segment.

    This offer is available only for tickets purchased at http://www.delta.com. To participate in this double miles offer, your must enroll prior to travel at www.delta.com/skymilesoffers or by calling 800/558-3358 and entering code 4027. Member accounts will be automatically credited with the bonus miles four to six weeks after their travel date.



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    Hotel Discounting Doesn’t Increase Revenues

    Hotels often discount room rates during slow times, in the belief that lower rates will increase revenues. They won’t, according to the preliminary findings of a study at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

    What’s more, hotels are at a greater risk of lower revenues because the Internet has enormously exacerbated the problem of discounting room rates.

    The study’s findings may alter hotel market strategies, according to Hotel School Professor Cathy Enz, co-author of the study, “Price Discounting – Is It a Wise Strategy to Raise Revenues?” Enz is executive director of the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at Cornell’s Hotel School.

    “The prevailing wisdom is that reducing room rates entices new consumers to enter the market and buy more rooms,” reports Enz. “This has never worked for the hotel industry, and it won’t work in this era of proliferating hotel room discounts and Web-based travel deals, because new consumers do not enter the market in response to hotel discounting. Instead, existing consumers simply get more for less, and hotel revenues fall.”

    Articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal show how the Web can be used to find significant discounts for hotel rooms.

    While finding the lowest possible hotel room price benefits consumers, the problem for hotel operators is consumers are not traveling more as a result of the lower-priced rooms. If that development is not taken into account by hotel operators, they may continue to underprice their rooms, with disastrous results for an industry already hard hit by a drop in travel demand, warns Enz.

    The study is the first step in better understanding the impact of discounting on the lodging industry. The researchers analyzed industry-wide practices and came up with these findings:

    Discounting damages hotel revenues because it does not improve sales and fails to increase demand in most industry segments.

    The prevalence of pricing inconsistency on the Web may exacerbate the problem, as consumers are able to find lower prices for the same hotel room on a variety of Web sites.

    Hotel companies’ own promotions and packages, featuring discounted rates on premium rooms, may further erode revenue without adequately increasing demand.


    San Carlos Hotel Preview Package

    The new San Carlos Hotel, a four-star property in the heart of midtown Manhattan (150 East 50th Street), offers a preview package through Sep. 14, 2003.

    Opening in June 2003, the hotel will have 147 spacious and luxurious guest rooms including 83 deluxe studios, 20 executive suites, 42 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites. The penthouse suites will have a connecting terrace totaling 1,000 square feet and one of the penthouse suites will have a wood burning fireplace.

    The preview package includes: an executive suite for two nights, Continental breakfast for two each morning one-way Town Car transfer to JFK, Newark or LaGuardia airport or parking for two nights.

    Preview package rates are $230. per night, with a two night minimum stay.

    San Carlos Hotel reserve@sancarloshotel.com or 800/722-2012.


    New Technology Allows You to Get Closer to Wildlife at Yellowstone

    Yellowstone National Park, the first and oldest national park, gives you a front row view of its wildlife.

    Researchers at Yellowstone National Park are using advanced digital and remote control cameras to monitor the vast wildlife at the park. The cameras can operate under extreme conditions and from great distances -- allowing researchers to observe the wildlife without disturbing their natural habitat.

    Those cameras are also placing the public right in the middle of the herds at through the Internet. Pictures taken from the special cameras are posted on www.windowsintowonderland.org, giving the public viewings through online field trips. Those pictures will let nature lovers from around the globe explore Yellowstone in the comfort of their homes.

    Yellowstone National Park, established on March 1, 1872, was the first national park. Some 10,000 hot springs and geysers, the majority of the planet's total, are preserved in Yellowstone -- including the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Yellowstone is home to grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk.

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    The World at Half Off

    InterContinental Hotels Group Latin America re-launched their "Whole World Half Off" promotion with prices from $55 per room night, including a full-breakfast for two. The program, which runs until Sep. 21, 2003, will once again allow travelers from around the world to visit locations throughout Latin America and around the globe.

    During the promotion, your can stay at some of the world's top hotels in more than 60 countries at savings of 50 percent or more including breakfast. InterContinental Hotels has more than 135 properties in cities and resorts around the world.

    The offer is only available at participating hotels and includes a 50 percent discount on the hotel’s standard rate and breakfast for up to two people. The rate is per room per night and may be available only on certain room types and rate may vary based on room types available. Bookings must be made more than seven days in advance and alterations made to a booking within seven days of the start of your stay may forfeit the half off rate. A limited number of rooms available on this promotion, black out dates may apply and this promotion is not available to groups or with any other promotional offer.

    Sample "World Half Off" room rates for Central and South America: Bogota $55, Managua $95, Santiago $149, Buenos Aires $109, Maracaibo $95, Santo Domingo $99, Cali $89, Medellin $75, Sao Paulo $149, Caracas $129, Panama $135, Tegucigalpa $135, Costa Rica $145, Rio de Janeiro $110, Valencia $109, Ciudad Guayana $129, San Pedro Sula $120, Guatemala City $137, San Salvador $103.

    InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.


    Hit the Road with $25 Gas Credit

    Through Sep. 30, 2003, at participating Florida or Washington D.C. area hotels and resorts, Hyatt guests paying an eligible rate, staying a minimum of two nights and requesting offer code DRIVE will receive a $25 `Hyatt Road Trip' credit. The offer is valid seven days a week and can be paired with most of Hyatt's already discounted promotional rates including AAA rates, senior citizen rates, packages, and promotional rates at Hyatt.com.

    Hyatt guests can take advantage of this offer at 18 hotels and resorts in Washington DC, Bethesda, Arlington, Crystal City, Baltimore and Maryland's Eastern Shore; and most of Hyatt's Florida properties including Key West, Miami, Bonita Springs, Orlando, Sarasota and Tampa.

    Hyatt Road Trip or 800/233-1234, cite offer code DRIVE to receive the $25 `Hyatt Road Trip' credit.


    “Salute Savings” for U.S. Military Personnel

    US Airways introduces "Salute Savings," a discount program for U.S. military, with special fares from $79 each way, based on roundtrip purchase.

    "Salute Savings" rates are available to active and reserve military and their immediate families through government-contracted commercial travel offices throughout the U.S. The fares are valid for tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2003, for travel completed by Feb. 12, 2004.

    Under the "Salute Savings" program, fares must be purchased roundtrip and are available for travel originating in the U.S. to destinations across the US Airways system, including Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    Tickets are non-refundable and must be purchased at least three days in advance of departure. One Saturday night stay is required, and a maximum 30- day stay is allowed. Seats are limited, and other restrictions apply. Fares are available to the immediate families of members of the Armed Forces when the member is part of the traveling party. An immediate family member is defined as a parent/guardian, spouse/partner, or child.

    For information on these fares, military personnel or their military I.D.-carrying family members should contact their commercial travel office.

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    Comedy of the Absurd Remarks

    Now that President Bush declared major hostilities in Iraq over and our troops are starting to come home, we can revisit the comedy of the absurd with a treasury of public relations quotes from Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, until recently Saddam Hussein's information minister.

    "My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all"

    "What they say about a breakthrough [in Najaf] is completely an illusion. They are sending their warplanes to fly very low in order to have vibrations on these sacred places...they are trying to crack the buildings by flying low over them."

    "God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis."

    "We went into the airport and crushed them, we cleaned the WHOOOLE place out, they were slaughtered"

    "I blame Al-Jazeera - they are marketing for the Americans!"

    "I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad."

    "Lying is forbidden in Iraq. President Saddam Hussein will tolerate nothing but truthfulness as he is a man of great honor and integrity. Everyone is encouraged to speak freely of the truths evidenced in their eyes and hearts."



    Tips for Planning a National Park Vacation

    Planning a national park summer vacation has never been easier. With the Internet, you can check availability of dates, research lodges and activities and learn about parks with just a few clicks of a mouse. Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC), operator of lodging, restaurants and activities inside Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, offers a few suggestions for planning a vacation at the park.

    Research the destination. Accommodations range from rustic to elegant. Information on each lodge is available at www.gtlc.com. Study the web site and determine what's most important to you. For example, Colter Bay Village offers affordable options with its rustic cabins and tent cabins, while Jackson Lake Lodge is a comfortable full-service property and Jenny Lake Lodge is known for its privacy and gourmet dining room. To learn more about the park itself, travelers should also visit the National Park Service web site www.nps.gov.

    Make plans in advance. Don’t assume that rooms are always booked far in advance. When rooms first become available, there is a segment of the population that is first to call. After the initial rush, reservations are often made by the rest of us. Be sure to ask about seasonal packages and last-minute offerings.

    Review the reservations online and with a reservations agent. While it is convenient to log on and look for availability, there is no substitute for having a real human being with whom to bounce ideas back and forth.

    Be flexible and persistent. Travelers willing to arrive before or after their planned date are much more likely to be successful than those who set their arrival and departure dates in stone. Persistence pays for those who keep calling. Those people who reserve rooms the first day are also the most likely to need to change their plans.

    Plan and book some activities in advance. Those reservations agents are not there for the sole purpose of booking a room. They know the park well and are trained to work with visitors to help plan the best vacation that meets individual needs and goals. The reservations agents also know that activities are often more than 95 percent booked in advance and many sell out. Also, plan your airport transportation in advance. Grand Teton Lodge Company offers airport shuttles from the Jackson airport to the park lodges. Arrangements must be made in advance.

    Grand Teton Lodge Company or 307/543-3100.



    Travel Clinic Update by John G. McCandlish

    As the world becomes a smaller place and travelers come into contact with more foreign destinations, our bodies encounter many unfamiliar and potentially hazardous substances. The most important job of a family doctor is to treat their local patients. Most family physicians do not stay current with disease trends in other countries and are not equipped to help travelers, especially those departing to the Third World or very remote areas. The doctors and nurses that staff travel clinics are usually well traveled themselves and they understand the possible dangers that travelers will encounter. One excellent example of this type of pre-departure resource is Kate Gerges, Certified Nurse Practitioner, at The Ohio State University Travel and Immunization Clinic. She provides education and medical advice tailored to one's specific itinerary. In a recent interview, Ms Gerges outlined her personal three-prong approach to healthy travel: comprehensive counseling, accident prevention, and disease prevention.

    Users of a travel clinic obtain the most current medical travel information available because travel clinic staff receive weekly updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and from the World Health Organization (WHO). Travelers should visit these web sites as well. The WHO website (www.who.int/en/) provides information on evolving outbreaks and details common signs and symptoms of emerging diseases. The CDC site (www.cdc.gov) lists both general and specific information on destinations broken down by geographic region. It is also wise to visit the U.S. State Department site (www.travel.state.gov), as it will include travel advisories for political reasons. Currently, these sites are full of information on the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus. Ms. Gerges echoed the WHO warning to avoid all nonessential travel to China as much is still unknown about the virus, and current treatments are proving only moderately successful.

    Strong proponent of cautious travel, travel clinics advise their clients to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Oftentimes, these policies are included as a supplement to a tour package. A good travel insurance policy should at least include major medical, evacuation, trip cancellation, and returning one's remains back to the U.S. Check with your local travel clinic for their recommendations. United States consulates and embassies are also useful should an accident occur, as English-speaking persons are always on staff. Diplomatic personnel can also provide recommendations on where to find the closest high-quality medical care. A savvy traveler will be equipped with a complete medical travel kit should an unfortunate situation arise. The kit should include: bandages, an ice pack, ace wraps, rubbing alcohol, and a variety of over-the-counter medications.

    One of the most important aspects of a travel clinic is its role in helping the traveler prevent diseases while abroad. The practitioner will verify that all inoculations are current and up-to-date and will provide vaccinations against diseases endemic to the traveler's destinations. Typical family physician offices do not carry these rare vaccinations. The travel clinic will also provide you with proof of your vaccination (such as a Yellow Fever Certification card). These documents need to be kept with your passport. Travel clinics suggest carrying all prescriptions in their original, labeled containers, and a copy of the written prescription from your physician. Ms. Gerges also offered some practical advice to avoid traveler's diarrhea brought on by contaminated food and water. Make sure that all meat is thoroughly cooked and only eat fruits that can be peeled. Carbonated beverages and sealed, bottled water are always safe. Be aware that people in some countries (e.g. India) refill bottles with tap water, rendering them unsafe. In these cases, boil all water for 10 minutes to remove contaminants.

    Some insurance plans will cover part or all of the office visit and the needed vaccines for healthy travel. All major cities have at least one travel clinic.

    Travelers in Columbus, Ohio can call the OSU Travel and Immunization Clinic at Rardin Family Practice at 614/293-2668.


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    SWEEPSTAKES

    *****Delta Air & W Hawaii Sweepstakes -- Delta Air Lines customers using Online Check-In at delta.com to check-in for their flight earn the chance to win a Hawaiian getaway with roundtrip airfare for two and a six-night stay at the W Honolulu Diamond Head in Waikiki. Each time you check in for a Delta flight at delta.com through June 27, 2003, your are entered automatically in the Timeless Hawaii Sweepstakes. Winners will be selected by a random drawing.
    XXXXXXXXNo purchase, ticket or on-line check-in is necessary to enter. You may enter the sweepstakes, by hand-printing your name and address, including zip code, phone number on a 3" x 5" piece of paper. Mail your entry in a hand-addressed (#10) envelope to: Delta Timeless Hawaii Sweepstakes, P.O. Box 1585, West Caldwell, NJ 07007-1585. Entries must be postmarked by July 1, 2003 and received by July 15, 2003. You may enter as often as you wish via mail but limit one entry per mailing envelope.
    XXXXXXXXOnline Check-In allows frequent flyer members to check in and print boarding passes when and where it's suitable: at home or the office from a computer. Once at the airport, customers proceed directly to security with their photo identification and printed boarding pass, bypassing ticket counter lines entirely. Online Check-in is available between 24 hours and 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure for all United States-operated Delta flights. No purchase required. For more information on the Timeless Hawaii Sweepstakes, see the official rules below.

    *****Delta Sweepstakes to Greenbrier Resort -- A relaxing trip for two to West Virginia's luxurious Greenbrier Resort awaits the winner of an online sweepstakes at flyasa.com and eCityofTravel.com. The travel sweepstakes is provided by Delta Connection, eCityofTravel.com, The Greenbrier Resort, Avis, and the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
    XXXXXXXXThe winner will receive an exclusive travel package for two, including roundtrip air travel to Lewisburg, W. Va., on Delta or Delta Connection; two nights' accommodations at The Greenbrier Resort; a three-day Avis car rental; unlimited golf for two on any of The Greenbrier's three 18-hole championship golf courses; complimentary breakfast and dinner daily in The Greenbrier's main dining room; and one spa treatment per guest at The Greenbrier Spa.
    XXXXXXXXThrough June 20, 2003, you can enter at flyasa.com or eCityofTravel.com to win the Greenbrier Getaway Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes entries also can be submitted by mail to the Delta Connection Greenbrier Getaway Sweepstakes, Department A739, 100 Hartsfield Centre Parkway, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA, 30354-1356. Entries must include first and last name, address (street address, city, state and zip code) and home telephone number. Written entries should be submitted on a 4"x 6" postcard. All entries must be postmarked by June 20, 2003. The winner will be selected by random drawing.
    XXXXXXXXA winner’s list will be available within 60 days of date of drawing. To receive it, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Delta Connection Greenbrier Getaway Winners List, Department A739, 100 Hartsfield Centre Parkway, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA 30354-1356.



    Take to Skies With Best Western Travel Card

    Best Western International can help frequent travelers get a little closer to their next mileage goal with the purchase of a Best Western Travel Card(TM) through July 31, 2003. For every $100 Best Western Travel Card bought or re-loaded, 250 miles will be credited to the purchasers' American Airlines, Northwest Airlines and United frequent flyer accounts.

    To earn miles, airline members must also be members of Best Western's frequent traveler program, Gold Crown Club International, designate they are a mileage earner in their member profile and choose one of the participating airlines as their mileage earning preference.

    The Travel Card can then be purchased here. There is a $1,000 per purchase limit on the Travel Card, which equates to 2,500 airline miles. However, there is no limit to the number of purchases that can be made during this promotional period. Free standard shipping is offered on all Travel Card purchases.


    Toronto Extends Welcome “Cheers Toronto” Rate

    The World Health Organization has lifted its travel advisory to Toronto, Canada and the city is in celebration mode.

    Toronto area Sheraton and Westin Hotels are also celebrating with a special weekend rate offer for leisure guests from the U.S. The package, called "Cheers Toronto", features overnight accommodations (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) with early check in option and 4 p.m. check out. A $20 food and beverage credit is applied to the guest room account upon arrival. "Cheers Toronto" is offered, subject to availability, until July 31, 2003 at $159 Canadian (approximately $110 USD) per room, per night. Guests showing their U.S. identification will receive a free one-hour Toronto Harbour cruise in Lake Ontario, courtesy of the hotel. The province of Ontario has declared a tax holiday on the provincial room tax, a further savings of five percent until Sep. 30, 2003.

    Starwood Hotels & Resorts at 888/565-7654.


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    Acapulco Struggles with Untreated Wastewater

    The crowded beaches of Caleta and Caletilla remain the heart of this famous resort and the most popular destination for Mexicans busing in from the capital for long weekends.

    Acapulco has a dirty secret that Mexico is only now coming to terms with in a dispute over environmental safeguards, beach business profits and the importance of confronting the truth. Caletilla appeared on a list of contaminated beaches, published for the first time by in February Mexico's federal environmental protection agency. It found unacceptable levels of pollution (unhealthy levels of coliform bacteria) at 16 beaches along the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

    Local hoteliers and restaurateurs trashed the government's findings and warned inspectors not to erect red warning flags on the beach. Federal officials say that Mexico has ignored the water quality at its beaches for too long and that the time has come to deal with reality. The new water quality tests are part of President Vicente Fox's campaign to be more open with public policy after previous political Party obscured inconvenient or damaging information.

    While crowds still show up, but many fear that the news could hurt attendance and business in the long term and the federal government has done little to fix the water problems. Locals insist that Acapulco has been singled out unfairly because of rivalries between Fox's political party and the opposition parties that control the city and Guerrero state.

    Among the worst were three beaches in Zihuatanejo Bay. Problems were also found at beaches near Banderas, Veracruz, Ciudad Madero, Huatulco, Lazaro Cardenas, Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Angel and Puerto Escondido.

    Locals point out that Acapulco has at least 30 beaches, and that only two of them made the list. Both of those were downtown beaches and not at the more internationally renowned resorts.

    Federal officials say they do not know the exact cause of the contamination at Caletilla. But they suspect wastewater from the congested area's $30-per-night hotels and fishermen who dump fish entrails into the water.



    France Means Business: Specials for American Travelers

    The French travel industry is rolling out the red carpet for American visitors throughout 2003. Everything from transportation and accommodations, to leisure activities are on sale.

    Air France offers rates from $354 to France. www.airfrance.com for more information.

    Select Concorde Hotels offer three nights for the price of two on weekend stays through Aug. 31. 888/759-7411 for reservations.

    Relais & Chateaux independent hotels offer three nights for the price of two or "four nights for the price of three at select properties in France through Oct. 15. Book by June 30. 212/856-0115.

    Sofitel offers a a "3=4" package at select properties in Paris, from June 27 through Sep. For every three nights purchased, one night is free. The offer is based on double occupancy and includes breakfast, but excludes taxes or service charges. 800-SOFITEL and the code "France."

    Click here for more offers. They are listed under the France Revisited: Let's Fall in Love Again section.



    US Airways FREE, FREE, FREE Promotion

    US Airways Vacations launches its Free, Free, Free promotion offering travelers specials with vacations to the Caribbean, including Bermuda and Latin America.

    For air/hotel vacations of five nights or longer booked by June 20 for travel through Nov. 12, 2003 to select hotels in US Airways Vacations' Caribbean destinations, travelers will receive: one free night at participating hotels, one free select tour, one free hotel gift and one free three-piece set of Samsonite luggage. The free luggage is available when you use a MasterCard card for the deposit and full payment by June 20.

    Caribbean vacations include roundtrip air on US Airways, hotel, roundtrip transfers, and hotel taxes and service charges. Two-night Free, Free, Free vacations rates at the Crane Ridge Resort in Jamaica start at: $369 from Boston, $415 from Charlotte, $336 from New York, $352 from Philadelphia and $367 from Pittsburgh or Washington, D.C. Rates are per person, based on double occupancy and are based on Monday or Tuesday departures July 7-Nov. 10, 2003. Hotel rooms and air seats are limited and may not be available at these rates throughout the entire travel period.

    US Airways Vacations or 800/352-8747.


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    The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.

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