Travel Weekly's Europe E-letter: Nov. 24, 2004

DOLLARS, SENSE: The ever-weakening U.S. dollar hit new lows against the euro, British pound and other major European currencies. On Nov. 18, the greenback bought just 0.76 euros, 0.54 pounds sterling, 1.16 Swiss francs and 6.89 Swedish kroner. But the recovery in U.S. travel to Europe seemed to continue apace, largely thanks to low air fares and an upbeat domestic economy. Analysts estimate the recovery, which began in June 2003, continued into October with a 12.6% jump in transatlantic air traffic and an estimated 6% rise in travel by U.S. citizens specifically.

HOW SWEDE IT IS: Norwegian Coastal Voyage was named exclusive U.S. booking agent for Sweden's Gota Canal Steamship Co., the only line operating overnight cruises on the Gota Canal linking Stockholm and port city Gothenburg. NCV is offering an early-booking discount of $200 per cabin through March 1 on seven-day and nine-day, air-inclusive cruise tours departing from June 7 to Aug. 24.  The tours, at $2,280 to $4,030 per person, double, also depart New York from May 14 to Sept. 12. To reserve, call NCV at (800) 323-7436 or (212) 319-1300; for brochures, call (800) 666-2374. For more information on prices and Gota Canal cruise tours, visit

WELSH AIRBITS? The poop in Wales is that Canadian low-cost, transatlantic carrier Zoom Airlines will launch nonstop service into Wales' capital city of Cardiff from one of its seven Canadian gateways. Tourism officials in Cardiff -- eager for a nonstop flight from anywhere in North America -- said they had pitched hard for the new Continental Airlines service out of Newark, won by nearby Bristol, England. But the word is the new Cardiff nonstops will fly out of Toronto, giving U.S. travelers in states near Ontario a new U.K. option. Air fares start at about US$165 one way. For more, see

" Rezidor SAS Hospitality signed a franchise agreement to open a Radisson SAS hotel in Biarritz, France. Currently a Crowne Plaza, the 150-room hotel will be re-branded in January. Rezidor SAS operates four Radisson SAS hotels in Paris -- Champs Elysees, Disneyland Paris and Charles de Gaulle and Roissy airports -- and three others elsewhere in France. A fifth Paris property, at Porte de Saint Cloud, is under development. Rezidor SAS also is converting the year-old ES Hotel in Rome into the city's first Radisson SAS property. After refurbishment, the 235-room, 27-suite city-center hotel will reopen as the Radisson SAS Rome in early 2005. Rates start at about $290 per night. Visit
" Hard Rock International and Sol Melia Hotels and Resorts are teaming to convert the 201-unit Tryp Reina Victoria Hotel in Madrid into Europe's first Hard Rock Hotel, to open in late 2005. The project is a joint venture with Lifestar Hoteles Espana. For more on Sol Melia, visit
" A $42 million Marriott opened in Yerevan, Armenia, after eight years of renovations. The five-star, 225-room Armenia Marriott Hotel -- KGB headquarters when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union -- now offers nightly rates of $85 to $185. The hotel boasts Yerevan's first hotel "mod cons," such as voicemail, cable/satellite TVs, in-room movies and air conditioning. For more information, call the hotel direct at (011) 374-159-9000 or fax (011) 374-159-9001.  To book, call Marriott at (800) 228-9290.
" GLA Hotels in Paris is offering guaranteed U.S. dollar rates through Dec. 31. The three GLA properties are the Lancaster, Montalembert and Bel-Ami. Call (888) GLA-8380 or visit


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