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.
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 www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.com.
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 www.flyzoom.com.
" 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 www.rezidorsas.com.
" 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 www.solmelia.com.
" 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 www.glainternational.fr/En.