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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, August 2007 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2007 
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Purchase the Perfect Pair!Purchase the Perfect Pair!

AAA Jewelry Outlet has the perfect pair for that perfect look. The 16 inch long freshwater pearl drop necklace is enhanced with four cubic zirconia stones. Stones and pearls are enhanced by a sterling silver chain and sterling settings. But that’s not all. You get a matching set of pearl and cubic zirconia earrings for a complete look. Parties, picnics or in public, you can wear this always-in-style set anywhere and look ravishing.

Other stores sell this ensemble for $150 or more. Our price, a mere $75 for both the earrings and necklace. Hurry, we only have a limited supply. AAA Jewelry Outlet.

In This Issue:
View from Balcony, Caravelle Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC

view from balcony Caravelle Resort

  • MSC Cruises' 'Sweet' Suite Deal Returns
  • Pod-like cabins at London's Gatwick Airport
  • Flexible Fares for International
  • Summer in Orlando Package
  • 50th Anniversary St. Francis Inn Promotion
  • Discounts To $1,400 on 5 Barges
  • Pirate Master Contest, Win a Trip to Dominica
  • Find Value by Renting Park Models
  • Best of Barbados Fall 2007
  • Bare Naked Bargains at Hidden Beach Resort
  • Bahia, Brazil Package
  • Go Blue Ridge Card
  • Summer Savings from VIA Rail Canada
  • Club Med 777 Savings
  • New Orleans Marriott Family Discounts
  • Fr,ee Things to Do in New York City
  • Resort Report - Caravelle Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Autumn Savings in Tuscany, Cinque Terre

  • MSC Cruises' Sweet' Suite Deal Returns

    MSC Cruises again offers savings of up to 60 percent on balcony suites on the MSC Lirica during select sailings of the 2007-08 Caribbean season, including two holiday itineraries.

    This limited offer is available on new bookings, on a space-available basis, through Sep. 30, 2007.

    Cruise only prices for MSC Lirica's seven-night itineraries begin at $999 per person, double occupancy and at $1,349 for the 10-night itineraries; government fees and taxes are extra.

    Each Category 11 suite offers a balcony, seating area with sofa bed, king-sized bed and bathroom with tub.

    MSC Lirica sails Caribbean and Panama itineraries roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. The "Suite Deal" is available on 10-night select deep Caribbean cruises Dec. 4, 2007 through Mar. 9, 2008; select 10-night Panama cruises Jan. 19 through Mar. 19, 2008; and seven night Caribbean cruises Dec. 14, 21 and 28, 2007.

    The deep Caribbean and Panama itineraries include port calls at Cayo Levantado MSC Cruises’ private island in the Dominican Republic.

    MSC Cruises.

    Pod-like cabins at London's Gatwick Airport

    If you’re weary at London’s Gatwick Airport, you can rent a small cabin for a quick nap or a night’s rest.

    Called Yotel, the hotel in the South Terminal says it will provide a “first class hotel experience at affordable prices” for about $50 for four hours in a standard cabin. The price per hour thereafter is about $10 per hour in a standard cabin. Premium cabins are available.

    The cabins, 46 in all, come equipped with private bathrooms; fr.ee Wi-Fi and wired Internet access; and entertainment systems.

    You can book cabins for four hours or more. So if you are delayed or have a long layover, this option gives you a chance to relax, shower and nap without leaving the airport. Room service, ordered by television, is available 24 hours a day.

    Yotel or (011) 44-207 100-1100.

    Give a Jaguar -- An Amber Jaguar -- The remarkable face of a jaguar is hand-carved onto a lovely piece of cherry amber that's 33x20 mm in size. The dramatic pendent hangs on an ultra-chic 18" natural-colored leather necklace cord with a sterling silver clasp. Boy will this turn heads.

    High-style boutiques and jewelers charge $500 or more for this glam piece. It's yours for only $125 plus shipping & insurance. Click here to order.
    At the home page, click on the amber category.

    Flexible Fares for International Travel

    The International Air Transport Association, an international industry trade group of airlines (IATA), is looking for approval to give U.S. and Canadian travelers the option to buy international tickets where you can change itineraries or switch flights to a different airline.

    To do this, IATA needs Transportation Department approval for what it calls Flex Fares since the DOT decided more than 50 years ago that airlines weren’t allowed to negotiate the level of certain fares at IATA tariff conferences.

    The new Flex Fares are already offered within the European Union.

    Flex Fares will let you change airlines after you buy tickets; develop and change complex itineraries within a single ticketed price, even if you change while traveling; and include an unlimited number of stopovers.

    Under the new fare-setting method, IATA each year would calculate an average fare for each market in each class of service and then add a 10 percent premium. The one-way fare would be 75 percent of the roundtrip price.

    Airline participation in Flex Fares is voluntary and open to any carrier.

    Less than seven percent of transatlantic trips involve flying on non-alliance airlines, according to the most recently provided DOT statistics. An IATA spokesperson said that seven percent is still a significant number and many travelers would choose Flex Fares because of the flexibility the product would provide.

    As an example, if you fly Atlanta-Paris-Frankfurt on Delta and Air France and plan to return that way, you could change in Frankfurt with options including flying nonstop to Atlanta on Lufthansa, through Montreal on Air Canada or through London on British Airways.

    IATA said it expected usage to be lower in the U.S.-Europe market because there were a lot of nonstop flights between cities and expects higher usage to the Middle East and Africa, where there are fewer direct or nonstop flights.

    Summer in Orlando Package

    The Rosen Plaza in Orlando offers an affordable summer vacation with a "Summer Sizzle" package. Room rates start at $79.95 per night.

    The "Summer Sizzle” package is available Aug. 12 to 23, Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 and Sep. 21 to 25, 2007 and includes a breakfast buffet. The rate is based on double occupancy and is subject to availability. Tax and gratuity are extra . This offer cannot be combined with other offers or group rates. Reservations are required at least three days in advance and can be made through the hotel prior to arrival.

    Rosen Plaza or 800-627-8258.

    50th Anniversary St. Francis Inn Promotion

    To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, the St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine’s oldest historic inn, offers a two-night midweek stay with the first night at 2007 rates, from $129 to $189 and the second night at the 1957 rate of $29.

    The promotion runs through December 2007, not including weekends or holiday seasons.

    The rate includes breakfast daily, an evening social hour with wine and hors d’oeuvres, evening chef’s desserts, use of the swimming pool, fresh flowers and sherry in each room, use of bicycles, tickets to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, admission to Anastasia Athletic Club, Barnie’s coffee, fresh baked cookies all day and fr.ee parking.

    St. Francis Inn or 904/824-6068.

    Fr-ee Fun San Diego
    This savings-packed FR.EE brochure features almost 40 Fun, Fr-ee Things to do in San Diego. When heading to Southern California, attend concerts or visit a State Historic Park and keep that cash in your pocket.

    To get your Fr-ee Fun San Diego brochure, for a $1 handling fee, click here to send us an email.

    Discounts To $1,400 on 5 Barges

    Barge cruise line French Country Waterways increased its Oct. 21 and 28 discounts to $1,400 per person on its cruises in Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy, Champagne and the Upper Loire Valley. The all-inclusive, six-night cruises on five upscale eight to 18-passenger barges, originally $4,895 to $5,995 per person, double occupancy, are now $3,495 to $4,595, a savings of nearly 30 percent.

    Barges give an intimate view of the changing landscapes, culture and history as they ply tree-lined canals through rolling countryside dotted with medieval villages, fields and vineyards. During fr.ee time passengers can share a bottle of wine, relax on the sundeck, and walk or bicycle along canal towpaths. Hot-air ballooning is optional.

    The totally renovated, 12-passenger Nenuphar takes in the historic region of Champagne; the eight-passenger Princess sails in Alsace-Lorraine; the eight-passenger Horizon II makes its way on the Canal de Bourgogne in Burgundy; the 12-passenger Adrienne meanders along the Upper Loire, gateway to châteaux country; and the 18-passenger Esprit explores Burgundy’s Côte d’Or wine region.

    Cruise rates include a suite or deluxe stateroom, French cuisine served with estate-bottled wines at lunch and dinner, open bar, dinner ashore at an acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurant, tours and excursions, bicycles, personal service by an English- and French-speaking crew, and escorted transfers between Paris or Strasbourg and the barges.

    Although each barge has its own character, all have a sundeck, lounge and dining room, stocked bar, library of books and games, and bicycles.

    French Country Waterways or 800/222-1236.

    Pirate Master Contest, Win a Trip to Dominica

    In celebration of their partnership with CBS Television Network’s series, “Pirate Master,” Dominica is hosting an online contest through Aug. 31, 2007, with a trip for two to Dominica as the grand prize.

    To enter the contest you must log on to the official website of Dominica and complete the questionnaire for the chance to win a vacation for two including airfare, hotel accommodations and select activities.

    Winners get a six-day/five-night stay for two people in an oceanfront room at the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica, select activities at Morne Trois Pitons National Park; Wacky Rollers Adventure Park; Dive Dominica; ATV riding; a 70-minute gondola ride on the aerial rainforest tram; roundtrip airfare from the United States or Canada; and ground transfers in Dominica to/from the airport.

    You must complete the entire online form . Entries are accepted through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31, 2007. Only one entry per person is permitted. The winner will be selected on or about Sep. 15, 2007 and will be notified via email no later than Sep. 30, 2007. The six-day/five-night hotel stay and activities are non-transferable and may not be sold or reassigned. All other expenses not specified above are not included and are the responsibility of the winner.

    Known as “The Nature Island” and between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean, the independent nation of Dominica (pronounced “Dom-in-eek-a”) is the largest and most mountainous of the Windward Islands. Adventurers and nature lovers enjoy the fre.e island’s eco-tourism options which include scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding, nature tours, hiking, trekking, whale, dolphin and bird watching, sailing and fishing.

    The U.S. State Department and the Department Homeland Security now require a passport or other accepted secure documents to enter or reenter the U.S. through airports from the Caribbean, including Dominica.

    Dominica or 888/645-5637.

    Find Value by Renting Park Models

    Ozzie Martinez has nothing against hotels. But he's found a better way to travel with his family. He stays in campgrounds with recreational park trailers or "park models."

    "A park model is like a cottage equipped with everything," said the 33-year-old Miami resident after spending a long weekend with his family at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee. "You've got a kitchen, a barbecue. And my kids really like the loft."

    Martinez is one of a growing number of travelers who stay in park model rentals when they travel.

    These 400 square foot units, which resemble small cottages, typically come in one- and two-bedroom models, with a living room, bathroom and kitchen with full-size appliances. Some units have lofts, which are popular with the kids. Most have front porches, so you can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.

    At Tropical Palms Resort, which has 115 park model rentals, units are clustered in groups of four, which gives you a sense of privacy and a chance to meet your neighbors without feeling crowded.

    And because park models are technically classified as recreational vehicles, they can be placed in campgrounds and RV resorts, offering a scenic vacation setting with more activities than is typically found at a hotel or motel.

    Martinez said staying in a park model in a campground setting is hard to beat. "It's like being out in nature with activities for the kids. We've got a volleyball court, a pond where you can fish. And you can ride bikes here, too," he said.

    And the price, he said, is less than one would pay to stay at a hotel. At Tropical Palms Resort, park models rent for about $100 a night, while popular chain hotels in the Kissimmee area typically charge $150 or more, said Jim Gran, Tropical Palms' general manager. "It's a great value," he said, adding that currently Tropical Palms offers packages which include tickets to Disney World, Sea World, Universal Orlando and Old Town.

    While many campgrounds and RV resorts across the nation offer park model rentals, you have to do a little research to find them.

    "That's because most people simply buy these units and use them as weekend cottages or vacation homes," said Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), the Newnan, Ga.-based trade group that represents nearly 50 park model manufacturers across the country. Roughly 3,900 of the nation's private campgrounds and RV parks developed a side business leasing their campsites to park model owners on an annual basis, including Tropical Palms, which currently has 125 sites available to park model owners.

    Tropical Palms' park models, which are placed on leased campsites in a separate section of the resort, start under $50,000, while lease fees are $6,300 per year. Forty-nine families currently own park models at the resort, which has another 76 sites available for park model owners.

    For information about park model rentals at Tropical Palms Resort contact Jim Gran at 800/64-PALMS. Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association or 770/251-2672.

    Face-It Luggage Tags -- Your Face on Your Luggage
    There's no mistaking your luggage with the Face-It Luggage Tag. The durable, laminated tag displays your face and the phrase "This Face Belongs With This Luggage."

    A Face-It Luggage tag makes it less likely for a stranger or thief to walk off with your luggage and helps you recognize your luggage at a glance in hotels or airports. Face-It Tags are also available for briefcases, portfolio books, backpacks, sporting equipment, musical instruments, bicycles and more. Face-It Luggage Tags.

    Best of Barbados Fall 2007

    The "Best of Barbados" is back for the fall, available for booking through Aug. 31, 2007 for travel Sep. 1 through Nov. 15, 2007. Savings start from $800 per couple.

    Travelers can choose from 30 participating hotels and 15 on-island attractions such as snorkeling with giant sea turtles, touring one of six new museums, or catching an island safari.

    Barbados, most easterly of the Caribbean islands, is popular for its natural and historic attractions, beautiful beaches, water sports, golf courses, fine dining and nightlife.

    Best of Barbados packages start at $499 (depending on hotel choice) and include seven-night hotel accommodations (the seventh night fr.ee); daily breakfast; a $200 air credit per person on roundtrip midweek air on American Airlines, Delta Airlines and US Airways and roundtrip transfers; and 25 percent discount on participating ground activities.

    For a list of participating hotels, restaurants, and attractions contact the Barbados Tourism Authority or 800/221-9831.

    Make reservations throughAMEX, 888/AXP-0057, or Liberty Travel, 877/LIBERTY.

    Bare Naked Bargains at Hidden Beach Resort

    Hidden Beach Resort in Kantenah Bay, Riviera Maya, Mexico offers “Bare Naked Bargains.” Stay three to five nights at Hidden Beach and receive $100 off your final bill; stay six or seven nights and receive $150 off your final bill; or stay eight nights or more and receive $170 off your final bill. Rates begin at $205 per person, per night.

    All bookings must be made by Aug. 31, 2007 for travel through Dec. 23, 2007. Black out dates are Oct. 30, Nov. 2, 22 and 26, 2007.

    Hidden Beach is a luxury nudist boutique hotel in the Riviera Maya catering to adults looking to leave inhibitions and clothes behind. The 42-suite property features beach butler service, a gourmet-inclusive philosophy and swim-up suites where you can step off your balcony into a winding river pool.

    Hidden Beach Resort or Karisma 866/527-4762.

    Protect Luggage with Baggage Guard Seals

    The pre-numbered, one-time use plastic padlocks are the perfect way to protect your luggage since they cannot be reinstalled once removed. That feature lets you instantly know if someone tampered with your luggage. Yet when TSAs at airports need to inspect your luggage, Baggage Guard Seals can be easily removed. A package of 10 Baggage Guard Seals is still only $9.95.

    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.

    Bahia, Brazil Package

    Tam Vacations and Marriott Resort & Spa Bahia Costa do Sauipe, a beach destination in Brazil’s Bahia, offer a package for less than airfare alone.

    From Aug. 5 through Dec 9, 2007, a seven-night package with hotel and airfare on a Sunday direct flight from Miami starts from $895 per person, based on double occupancy. The package with a direct flight from Miami (Monday through Saturday) or New York is $995 per person, based on double occupancy.

    The package includes roundtrip airfare, a room at the Costa do Sauipe Marriott Resort and Spa, breakfast, two greens fees, a horseback riding outing, a half-day tour to the craft market at Praia do Forte, 20 percent off hotel spa services and transfers.

    Air from New York to Salvador da Bahia usually goes for $1,200.

    Tam Vacations or 866/627-2945.

    Go Blue Ridge Card

    Smart Destinations in partnership with the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area launch the Go Blue Ridge Card, an attraction pass that offers pre-paid access to 29 attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, plus discounts on dining and shopping.

    The Go Blue Ridge Card can be purchased in two, three and five calendar day increments. Once activated, the card is valid for access to the attractions for the number of days purchased.

      Pricing for the Go Blue Ridge Card is:
    • Two-day adult card (13 and older) $79, child (ages 3 to 12) $49.
    • Three-day adult card (13 and older) $109, child (ages 3 to 12) $79.
    • Five-day adult card (13 and older) $159, child (ages 3 to 12) $119.

    Additional savings are available by showing the Card. Discounts are available at restaurants, merchants and attractions.

    The Go Blue Ridge Card comes with a guidebook that includes maps of western North Carolina and describes each of the offers in detail to help you plan activities. You can purchase the Go Blue Ridge Card online, through any of Smart Destinations’ global distribution partners or in person at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, 36 Montford Street, Asheville, 828/258-6101. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Go Blue Ridge Card or Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

    Summer Savings from VIA Rail Canada

    VIA Rail Canada has summer discounts system-wide. VIA Rail offers an easy way to see multiple Canadian destinations in one vacation experience. Here are some ways to save. All prices are in Canadian dollars.

    VIA 1 Promotional Fare, the train’s equivalent of first class, offers access to its lounge, pre-boarding privileges, at-your-seat meal and beverage service and pay per use Wi-Fi access. For travel between Toronto and Montréal or Toronto and Ottawa, the special fare is $149.Other special VIA 1 fares are available through the Québec City - Windsor Corridor.

    Discounted Fare in Comfort Class - Through Sep. 9, 2007, you can travel in Comfort Class (economy) from Toronto to Montréal or Ottawa for a one-way fare of $59.

    Kids Travel Fre.e - Until Sep. 15, 2007, if you are older than 18 years and purchasing a senior, student, or adult-fare ticket in VIA’s Comfort Class (economy), you can bring a child age two to 11 for fr.ee. Available on every VIA train system-wide, the "Kids Travel F.ree" program makes family travel more affordable.

    Seniors - Bring a friend for f.ree - Now a permanent fare plan system-wide, VIA’s Senior’s Companion fare allows passengers age 60 and older traveling in economy class to bring a companion for f.ree. When you purchase your ticket at the regular senior’s fare, you will be allowed one companion of any age to travel fr.ee. For August in VIA 1 class, and in sleepers year-round, your travel companion receives a 75percent discount off the regular adult fare. Tickets must be purchased five days or more before departure and are subject to limited availability. There are no restrictions on the age of the companion; be they spouse, friend or grandchild.

    Half-Price Saturdays - Each Saturday until Sep. 1, 2007, passengers can "half it both ways" when traveling the Windsor to Québec City Corridor. With Saturday Savings, travel in economy class receives a 50 percent discount on trips where the regular, full economy adult fare is $78 or less. Travel times between these destinations are generally less than three hours each way. No advance purchase is required, but the number of seats offered on this discount is limited.

    VIA "Flexi Fares" - are based on a one-way fare and have conditions and restrictions throughout the VIA network. Depending on availability, economy class passengers may choose from regular fares, discounted fares or supersaver Flexi Fares. VIA’s Supersaver fares offer a deep discount and appeal to people who will not make changes to their tickets, once purchased. Discounted fares, with discounts and some flexibility, are the choice for budget-minded travelers who may want to make changes to their plans, if required. Passengers who want complete flexibility with no service charges for changes or cancellations should request regular fares.

    VIA Canrailpass - The 2007 Canrailpass provides access to the entire VIA system. Included in this pass is 12 days of unlimited travel during a 30-day period. It allows you to make as many stops as you want during your journey. Passes start at $837 for adult, while children, students and seniors are $753. Pass prices are reduced if you travel after Oct. 16, 2007.

    VIA Rail.

    Cheap Tix Chart
    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theater productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets. Click here to order the Cheap Tix Chart from On The Go Publishing.

    Club Med 777 Savings

    Club Med offers a 777 deal including seven-night all-inclusive stays for $777 per person. Book by Aug. 18, 2007 for travel Sep. 2007 through Feb. 2008 to the following resorts:

    Cancun Yucatan, Mexico (Children’s programs from 4 – 17 years)
    Caravelle, Guadeloupe (Children’s programs from 4 – 17 years)
    Ixtapa Pacific, Mexico (Children’s programs from 4 months – 17 years)
    Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Children’s programs from 4 – 17 years)
    Sandpiper, Florida (Children’s Programs from 4 months – 17 years)
    Buccaneer’s Creek, Martinique (Children accepted, no special programs)
    Turks and Caicos, Turkoise (Exclusively for adults 18 years and up)
    Columbus Isle, Bahamas (Children accepted, no special programs)

    In celebration of more than 40 years of childcare experience, children also benefit from Club Med’s 777 offer.

    Club Med 7-night all-inclusive escape for children ages 2-3 years for $333.
    Club Med 7-night all-inclusive escape for children ages 4-15 years for $444.

    In addition to Club Med’s 777 deal, Club Med is also currently offering two additional deals.

    Club Med Sandpiper Family Plan - Families can take a seven-night vacation from $1,999 for a family of four, available through Aug. 31, 2007. Located in Florida, the children’s club is for children ages four months to 17 years, water sports, a tennis academy, flying trapeze, and more.

    Escape with your better half and enjoy a 50 percent discount off a seven-night vacation for the second guest when accompanying a full paying adult in the same room. The special is available through Aug. 31, 2007 at Buccaneer's Creek, Martinique; Cancun Yucatan, Mexico; Caravelle, Guadeloupe; Columbus Isle, Bahamas; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Turkoise, Turks and Caicos.

    Club Med or 800/CLUBMED.

    New Orleans Marriott Family Discounts

    The Marriott Hotels of New Orleans offer family-friend discount getaways, including visits to museums, the aquarium and zoo, and sight seeing. All packages are valid through May 2008. Ask for rate code EARX

    Louisiana Children's Museum Package at New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center provides savings of 44 percent. The package includes accommodations for four, breakfast for four, four tickets to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Rates start at $159 per night. Price of vacation without these savings is $285.

    Four Legs or Fins Package at New Orleans Marriott provides a savings of 40 percent. Package includes accommodations for four, breakfast for four, choice of four tickets to Aquarium of the Americas or the Audubon Zoo. Rates start at $169 per night. Price of vacation without this deal is $285.

    Aquarium Package at the JW Marriott New Orleans provides savings of 22 percent. Package includes accommodations for four, breakfast for four, four tickets to Aquarium of the Americas. Rates start at $189 per night. Price of vacation without this discount is $245.

    New Orleans Marriott or 866/530-3763.

    Fr,ee Things to Do in New York City

    New York City offers a variety of fr,ee events citywide throughout the summer.

    Here are four places and activities that are fr,ee to everyone: Shakespeare in the Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, Passport Fridays at Corona Park and SummerStage.

    These four are examples of the varied selection of activities-from live musical concerts to ethnic dances to outdoor cinema that can be found all across the five boroughs.

    Shakespeare in the Park and SummerStage, both located in Central Park, run until Sep. 9 and Sep. 16, 2007, respectively. The Passport Fridays program at Corona Park runs through Aug. 24, 2007. Socrates Sculpture Park is open year round from 10 a.m. to sunset. The current outdoor cinema program runs until Aug. 29, 2007.

    Click here for nformation on deals and promotions around NYC.

    Silky Travel Jewelry Roll
    A must have for travelers. Our silky travel jewelry roll comes in a random assortment of single-color jacquards, solid colors and two-color brocades. This handy travel jewelry roll measures 8 1/2 x 11 inches when open and closes to a compact 8 1/2 x 4 inches. Our exclusive design offers a place for everything with one deep pocket, a ring bar and three zippered compartments. Price $40. Click here to order from On The Go Publishing.

    RESORT REPORT – Caravelle Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC – Photos and Article by Kay Douglas

    IN A NUTSHELL: This large oceanfront resort encompasses nine separate buildings, with a variety of accommodations, with over 600 suites, efficiencies, and one-, two- or three-bedroom condominiums. There are pools for each building, with a large indoor and several outdoor pools in the main resort building, and multiple spa tubs of varying sizes. Amenities include a concierge service, business conference facilities, a mini mart, an ice cream shop, the Marco Polo Pool Bar & Grill, and the Santa Maria Restaurant, featuring American cuisine. The resort also features a small game room, fitness center, laundry facilities, and gift shop.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Showing up at peak arrival time on a Friday night in late March, we had a short wait for check in but were soon ensconced in an efficiency unit on the 14th floor of the main building. While we weren’t overly impressed by the concrete cavern-like ambience of the ground floor of the main building, with its corridors debouching onto a crowded parking garage and slow elevators featuring tinny radio-station music, we were pleasantly surprised by the standard of decoration in our room, which was definitely a cut above the tired tropical themes of countless beachside hotels. Attention to detail in the furnishings was evidently part of the recent eight million dollar renovation. Particularly nice touches included an upholstered headboard, a flat-screen TV, new carpeting, marble counter tops, and a firm bed with good quality linens and matching draperies. Our balcony commanded a fine view of the Grand Strand. A small kitchen with spotless refrigerator, stove, sink and microwave was set along one side of the hallway leading into the main room. Soundproofing between rooms and the outer corridor was of a good standard, too.

    WHO WOULD ENJOY IT: The Caravelle appeals especially to families, and kid-friendly features include a seasonal Kid’s Club, a new “Wild Water” pool, and a lazy river ride. It’s also a good spot for family reunions, girlfriend getaways, and wedding parties. It’s suited for those who want both the self-sufficiency of a condominium and the amenities of a resort. Since it offers a variety of reasonably priced golf packages, the Caravelle is very popular with golfers. In fact, the Caravelle was the first to offer the hotel-based golf package in Myrtle Beach some fifty years ago.

    STAYING IN: Resisting the temptation to cruise up and down the main boulevard– a somewhat fruitless enterprise anyway as one section is very much like any other – we stocked our refrigerator with snacking essentials and gave ourselves over to the simple pleasures of beachside life, spending hours reading on the balcony and walking along the surf line. We started each morning with breakfast at the Santa Maria restaurant, which featured an omelette chef and otherwise unremarkable buffet. When we tired of the panoramic view from the balcony, we found an abundance of other roosts in lounge chairs on the green lawn between the beach and main hotel, not to mention cozy places poolside and spa-side.

    STEPPING OUT: While most of our days were deliberately languid and uneventful, evenings were another matter. For dinner, we’d invariably scout out one of the excellent local seafood restaurants in town. One evening we took in a show at the House of Blues (the Isley Brothers in fine form), while on another we checked out the action at Broadway at the Beach, visiting Ripley’s Aquarium. In our furthest foray, we spent an afternoon in Murrell’s Inlet at lovely Brookgreen Gardens, where the tulips and azaleas were in glorious full bloom. And, while neither of us is a golfer, we felt obliged to get into the spirit of things at one of Myrtle Beach’s many elaborate mini golf courses.

    BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: The Caravelle’s package rates are quite reasonable even in high season. For example, a three-night “Family Fun Package” runs $549 in mid-August and includes deluxe accommodations, daily buffet breakfast for two adults and two children, and two tickets per night to a choice of popular attractions. Golf packages, which include accommodations, breakfast, green fees, and a nightclub reception, range from $39 to $102 (double to quadruple occupancy). With Myrtle Beach’s mild climate, we found that our late March/early April stay provided balmy enough temperatures for barefoot beach strolling, sans summer’s crowds, and the rate was certainly right – around $100 per night. If we’d come midweek in January (granted, a chillier prospect), the rate could have plummeted to a mere $56. The resort offers 10 percent off normal rates for AAA and AARP members, too.

    RAVES AND RAZZES: Raves: With nine separate buildings and an almost bewildering variety of accommodation layouts, there’s something for almost every budget and taste at this resort. And each unit, regardless of size, has at least a microwave and refrigerator, if not a full kitchen. We also found the daily housekeeping staff to be exceptionally efficient and discrete, our room often cleaned in the brief period we were at breakfast. Another stand-out member of the staff was the concierge, Ron Brown. He provided an abundance of suggestions for activities and dining options and was of great assistance. I only wish we’d used his services earlier in our stay.

    Razzes: With all the attention to detail in our efficiency’s layout, we were surprised that there was no place to set a book or drink while lounging in the chairs on the balcony. A small end table would certainly remedy that. Another inconvenience was lack of internet access – wireless connections were available only in the lobby and in the bar adjacent to the main restaurant. Finally, neither of us could get the state-of-the-art DVD player to work, though had there been a manual to its operation anywhere in sight, we certainly might have mastered its intricacies.

    PRACTICALITIES: The Caravelle Resort is located north of downtown Myrtle Beach in the quieter hotel zone at 6900 North Ocean Boulevard. Click here for the hotel's web site or call 800/789-3082 for information and reservations.

    Autumn Savings in Tuscany, Cinque Terre

    TourCrafter’s five-day/four-night “Tuscany Countryside and Cinque Terre” package, which starts from $819, provides savings of 20 percent and a hotel base for sightseeing in Tuscany.

    The package costs $910 Sep. 7 to 30, 2007, or $819 Oct. 1 to 31, 2007, and includes roundtrip air from Boston and Philadelphia to Rome, four nights at the Tenuta La Bandita near Sassetta, four days’ car rental, daily breakfast, hotel service charges and taxes, and an excursion to an olive oil press and a winery, with tastings at both.

    Tenuta La Bandita is an 18th-century villa that has been turned into a four-star hotel. Located about halfway between Rome and Pisa, it is seven miles from the the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the vineyards of Bolgheri, and an easy drive to Florence, Siena and Pisa.

    The package can be extended to seven nights at Tenuta La Bandita for $245 or the Hotel Brasile in Rome for $299. Air fare add-ons are $80 for New York, $20 for Washington, D.C., $85 for Miami and Chicago, and $120 for Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. All package prices are per person, based on double occupancy, are subject to availability and do not include airport taxes or fuel surcharges. Reservations must be paid for within 72 hours.

    Tourcrafters or 800/482-5995.

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    Information & Credits

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

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