NUMBERS for August 2005 have Irish tourism officials
seeing green, according to the latest statistics on overseas travel
from Irelands Central Statistics Office. Overall, visitor numbers
climbed 4.5% in August over the same period in 2004, including a
jump of nearly 7,000 from North America. The news comes on the
heels of a slow start in the first half of 2005, and based on early
returns for September, the upward trend is expected to continue.
ROCCO FORTE HOTELS is gearing up to reopen
Londons posh Browns Hotel, an historic property that has undergone
a 20-month, $33 million renovation. Set for a Dec. 12 debut, the
hotel revamped each of its 117 guest rooms with a mix of antiques
and high tech amenities. Also new will be a restaurant called
Browns Grill and a refurbished English Tea Room. For more, call
(800) 223-6800 or visit www.roccofortehotels.com.
LONG-AWAITED $110 million expansion of the Museo Nacional
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid was officially unveiled this
fall by the Queen of Spain. The museum, known for
its collection of 20th century art, more than doubled its
exhibition space, bringing the square footage to 904,000. Three new
steel and glass buildings house two large galleries, a library and
an auditorium, all of which are equipped with state-of-the-art
technology. Next on the horizon is a $38 million, four-year
refurbishment of the museums original building, set to begin later
this year. For more, call (011) 34 99 774 1000
or visit www.museoreinasofia.es.
COMMISSOINS on Brian Moore International Tours 2006
escorted tours start at 15%, with rates on independent and land
packages ranging from 12% to 14%. The newly launched brochure,
which offers 11 escorted tours with new itineraries in Ireland,
Scotland and combined Britain and Ireland, has been tweaked to
offer participants more independence. The company also added a
Britain Rail program, beefed up its hotel collection in Britain and
expanded its menu of self-drive vacations in Britain and Ireland.
The 2006 brochure has boosted its number of guaranteed departures
to 75 dates. Check out (800) 982-2299 or www.bmit.com for more.
64-ROOM Hotel Byblos Courchevel in the French Alps, set to
open for the winter season on Dec. 20, is luring winter sports
enthusiasts with a five-night Powder and Pampering package that
includes accommodations, an hour-long massage at the Byblos Health
Club, buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner and a four-day lift ticket.
The package is priced at $485 per person, per night, with a
five-night minimum. A three-night Courchevel Escapade special
costs $460. Both packages
run throughout the season, except for Dec. 21 to Jan. 14, 2006. For
more, contact (011) 334 79 00 98 00 or
log onto www.byblos.com.