Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Dec. 11, 2003 December 11, 2003 Share 1 -- TOUR-MALINE? Sceptre Ireland's 7-night motorcoach Treasures Tour--priced from $739, net, per person, for two departures, on Feb. 11 and Feb. 18--includes roundtrip airfare; five dinners, including a farewell gala at Dromoland or Ashford castles; breakfast daily; and all sightseeing, admissions and transfers. As of next year, the tour will feature both a driver and a guide. Accommodations include one night at the Fitzpatrick Hotel, Bunratty; two nights at Killarney Towers Hotel, Killarney; one night at Faithlegg Manor House, Waterford; two nights at the 5-star Jury's Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin; and one night in a deluxe, 5-star Castle [Dromoland or Ashford]. WHAT'S MORE: In other news, Sceptre Ireland published its 2004 brochure--available to agents only--highlighting more than 50 escorted excursions, and customizable tours from a collection of 400-plus hotels, castles and manor homes and more than 2,500 B&Bs. In addition, the 4-night Sights and Sounds pub tour is now offered year-round, priced seasonally from less than $500, net. Contact Sceptre at (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptreagent.com.ON THE UP AND UP: Hotels affiliated with the three-property Sinnott Hotels chain are being upgraded. A four-star, boutique inn, the Brooks Hotel in Dublin, is completing a $14 million expansion that included the addition of 20 guest rooms, including several designer "Feature Rooms;" a new restaurant, Francesca's; the Jasmine bar; a guest lounge; two executive boardrooms and a fitness suite. On tap for this month is a new Screening Room mini-cinema. Meanwhile, the Connemara Coast Hotel in Galway has refurbished two guest floors and its gym, and has added "Sli na Mara," a scenic walkway to the seashore. Sinnott Hotels pays 8% commission. For more, visit www.sinnotthotels.com.DO-IT-YOURSELF: For self-sufficient clients, consider accommodations from home-rental firm SelfCatering Ireland, which offers 2,500 rental options, from luxury furnished homes to log cabins and traditional Irish cottages. On the news front, the company is launching developments in Kerry, Galway, Cork and Dublin in 2004, and has taken over management of the 81 units at Clifden Cottages, in Clifden, Co. Galway, which is under renovation. SelfCatering Ireland pays 5% to 10% commission. For more, visit www.selfcatering-ireland.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (011) 353 533-3999.TOO-RA-LOO-RA-LOO-SPA: Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts signed a deal to manage a property slated to open in June 2005 as the Radisson SAS Resort & Spa Cavan on the historic Farnham Estate in Co. Cavan. The historic site, on 1,300 acres of parkland, will see an investment of about $60.5 million. The project will include a 158-room hotel, a golf course, and a spa and wellness center with 30 treatment rooms, as well as meetings' facilities and several restaurants. For more on Radisson SAS resorts and hotels, visit www.radissonsas.com.A LITTLE HELP: Ireland's tourism ministry awarded grants totaling some $695 million to three attractions under the country's new Tourism Product Development Scheme, administered by tourist board Failte Ireland. Funds were directed to Silverline Cruisers in Banagher, Co. Offaly, for three new charter cruisers; Mevagh Diving Centre, in Carrigart, Co. Donegal, for a new dive center with equipment; and the 10º West Watersports Centre, Elly Bay Belmullet, Co. Mayo for expansion of facilities and equipment. Tourism minister John O'Donoghue said further grants were imminent. For more information on the tourism development unit, visit www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie.AFTER PURCHASING BRIAN MOORE INT'L TOURS from the bankrupt Far & Wide Travel, president Ronan Ryan said the company will give agents a $50 commission coupon for every $50 in commission that was left unpaid by any Far & Wide operator at the time of its bankruptcy. In turn, each new booking with BMIT will qualify the agent for redemption of one of the $50 coupons in extra commission. For details, call (800) 982-2299.