FUMER: Smoking has been banned
throughout France's high-speed TGV (trains à grande vitesse) rail
network -- even in bar cars. Smoke-free trains have been gradually
introduced on most of Europe's "premier trains" services, such as
Eurostar, Thalys, Elipsos and Eurostar Italia, according to U.S.
railpass distributor Rail Europe. Fabrice Morel, president of Rail
Europe, said the TGV smoking ban was yet another move to increase
the competitiveness of high-speed trains with the European airline
industry. For more on French TGVs, or to book a ticket or railpass,
contact Rail Europe at (888) 382-7245 or log on to www.raileurope.com.
HOTEL.COM: German extended-stay
hotel operator Derag Hotel and Living launched an apartment-rental
Web portal at www.appartementhotels.com to enable booking of
European properties owned by different accommodations companies.
Travel agents earn 10% commission on all bookings at the site,
which offered 17 hotels in 11 cities in Germany, Austria and
Swizterland. Derag Hotel and Living itself operates 10 four- and
five-star properties, with 2,200-plus rooms, in seven European
cities. The newest Derag hotel will open in Bonn, Germany, early in
2005. For more information, call international toll-free at (011)
8000-136-9999 or send an e-mail to [email protected]; alternately, visit www.derag.com.
PLEASE: The Mandarin Oriental
Hotel Group said it will manage a new luxury hotel now under
development in Prague, the Czech Republic. The 98-room Mandarin
Oriental Prague -- to open in early 2006 -- will be housed in a
14th-century monastery in the city's historic, central Mala Strana
district. The hotel will feature a spa and fitness center;
restaurant, bar and lounge; and meetings and banquet facilities. It
will be the chain's fifth property in Europe. For more, see www.mandarin-oriental.com.
HAPPENINGS: For info on what's
happening in Helsinki, Finland, this winter -- or, as the Finns
choose to market it, "lively" -- season, check out the new Helsinki
City Tourist and Convention Bureau events Web site at www.hothelsinkiteam.fi. Examples of site listings? The
Winter Circus Nauru, performing until Jan. 6 at the Cable Factory;
the St. Thomas Christmas Market, through Dec. 19 in Esplanade Park;
and the International Ice Sculpture Competition on Jan. 17 to 18
and Jan. 24 to 25 at the Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari Island. For
more, contact the Finnish Tourist Board at (212) 885-9700,
[email protected] or www.visitfinland.com/us.
INN?: Cendant Corp.'s Hotel
Group, Parsippany, N.J., struck a deal with Russian firm Hermitage
Hospitality to franchise Days Inn hotels in Russia and 14 other
countries of the former Soviet Union. The franchise pact covers the
Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as all 12
countries that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States, from
Armenia to Uzbekistan. Moscow-based Hermitage Hospitality plans to
develop more than 45 Days Inns -- designed to generate more than
$195 million in revenue -- over the next five years. For more, see