Travel Weekly's Europe E-letter: November 23, 2005

STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS is adding a second Ireland property in spring 2006, to be situated in Cork on the southern Irish coast. The Sheraton Fota Island Golf Resort & Spa is under construction on the site of the Fota Island Golf Club, which hosted the Irish Open in 2001 and 2002. The 133-room hotel will feature a full-service spa, several restaurants and a whiskey bar. Ireland's only wildlife park is situated on the island, as is Fota House, an 18th century hunting lodge and gardens. The first Starwood property in Ireland, the Westin Dublin, opened in 2001.

CYCLING CLASSICS, a tour company that specializes in expert cycling trips in France and Spain, unveiled a program designed for Lance Armstrong wannabes. The weeklong excursions will be timed to coincide with the 2006 Tour de France and will allow skilled cyclists to actually ride on segments of the racecourse. A six-night guided program, priced at $1,940 per person, double, will run from Les Deux Alpes to Alpe d'Huez and also features the Col de Galibier. A self-guided version costs $1,210 for seven nights. Both tours depart July 14. For more information, call (800) 960-2221 or visit

IN OTHER SPORTS TRAVEL NEWS, EuroGroups, a division of the Rail Europe Group, kicked off a Spain Soccer Sampler package for amateur groups that want to test their mettle against local Spanish soccer clubs in Seville and Madrid. Participants play two matches, watch a first division game and practice in designated facilities. The package includes roundtrip transatlantic air fare, seven nights' accommodations in four-star hotels, daily breakfast, two lunches and three dinners. Transfers, taxes and service charges also are included in the rate, which begins at $1,989 per person, double, with air from New York, not including air taxes and security charges. Other gateways are available. For more, call (800) 337-2577 or visit


WINTER MAY BE LOW SEASON for much of northern Europe, but not so for Finnish Lapland, which draws visitors during what the Finnish Tourist Board calls the Lively Season. To help agents sell Lapland, several tour operators have packaged tours around such draws as Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi and the SnowCastle in Kemi. Three-night packages range from between $699 and $759, including air on Finnair from New York; rates are per person, double. For details on tours, contact Continental Journeys at (800) 601-4343; Nordique Tours at (800) 995-7997; or Nordic Saga Tours (800) 848-6449. The Finnish Tourist Board can be reached at (800) FIN-INFO or


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