Travel Weekly's Europe E-letter: July 6, 2005

ON TRACK: Rail Europe Group launched a new airline-style, point-to-point rail-ticket booking engine featuring live inventory of European trains at its trade-exclusive http://www.agent.raileurope.com Web site. New functionality includes: incorporation of seat reservations in overall ticket fares; online, side-by-side comparison of first- and second-class fares; and immediate confirmation of ticket purchase and seat reservations. Agent commission on point-to-point rail tickets ranges from 4% to 7%. For more information, call Rail Europe Group companies Rail Europe at (888) 382-7245 and DER at (800) 782-2424.

DELUXE (MEBOURG) WEB: The Luxembourg National Tourist Office unveiled a redesigned Web presence at www.visitluxembourg.com. The revamped site offers information on the nation and its regions; events and attractions; as well as maps, a calendar and links to relevant travel sites. For more information, contact U.S. director Brigitte Goergen at (212) 935-8888; by fax at (212) 935-5896; or via e-mail at [email protected].

MORE MADRID, LESS DINERO: The Madrid Card visitor pass now costs less while offering bearers more value, with free entrance to three new museums and three more attractions. Priced 10% less this year, the card now costs just 25 euros (about $30) for 24 hours, 35 euros ($42) for 48 hours, and 45 euros ($55) for 72 hours. The pass provides free entrance to 43 museums and other attractions; unlimited use of the Madrid Vision tour bus; 36 guided walking tours; 10% off show tickets; a free guide book and map; and discounts at shops, restaurants and more. The Madrid Card is sold in airports and train stations, and on Madrid Vision buses, as well as at other locations, including online at www.madridcard.com.

WINDOW SEAT: Continental Airlines (www.continental.com) launched previously announced daily non-stops between Newark and Berlin on June 30, in direct competition with SkyTeam alliance partner Delta Air Lines, which began similar service from New York (Kennedy) in May ...  also on the SkyTeam front, Air France (www.airfrance.us) the same day formally inaugurated its new daily Paris non-stops from Detroit -- main hub of SkyTeam partner Northwest Airlines --which actually began back on June 13; officials said that in the first two weeks of  operation, Air France enjoyed 81.5% and 93.1% load factors, respectively, on the route.

INN-SIDE STORY: The new 34-story, 235-room Swissotel Krasnye Holmy (www.moscow.swissotel.com ) -- set to open in Moscow, Russia, on July 18 -- is offering opening rates in Swiss Business Advantage rooms of 265 euros (about $320), plus $30 for double occupancy, per night with breakfast through Aug. 31 ... Red Carnation Hotels (www.redcarnationhotels.com) boutique property 41 (www.41hotel.com) in London is offering a "Showtime" theater package that combines one pair of tickets to hit West End musical Billy Elliot with king room accommodations and pre-show dinner, post-show coffee and dessert and full continental breakfast the following morning, priced from $509 per room, before tax, through Dec. 31; for more call (877) 955-1515 or e-mail [email protected].

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