Travel Weeklys Europe E-letter: March 1, 2006

OSLO, NORWAY, is now the most expensive city in the world, replacing Tokyo, according to the latest findings from the Economist Intelligence Units worldwide cost of living survey. Reykjavik, Iceland, saw the largest jump in the relative cost of living over the last 12 months, moving into third place. Eight of the 10 most expensive cities in the survey are now in Europe, with 20 western European cities making the top 30. Moscow is the only city from eastern and central Europe in the top 30, coming in at No. 29.

CONRAD van TIGGELEN, director of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, has been elected chairman of the European Travel Commission, replacing Eugenio Magnani, former director of the Italian Government Tourist Board. While at the NBTC, Van Tiggelen initiated a multimedia campaign for several European capital cities showcasing their contemporary architecture, design, art, fashion and food and developed a similar campaign for eight European countries, focusing on art and architecture.

ROCCO FORTE HOTELS will open the Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt on March 1, representing the first of three properties currently under development in Germany. The 163-room hotel is built around the existing Villa Speyer and features a three-level spa with a 161-foot, indoor pool; an Italian restaurant; and a 3,228-square-foot presidential suite with an elevated dining room and separate kitchen. An additional two hotels will open in the next two years: the Hotel de Rome in Berlin, set to debut in September, and an as yet unnamed property in Munich slated to open in spring 2007.

THE FIVE-STAR ROME CAVALIERI HILTON, which completed a $50 million renovation last year, is racking up awards: the property was voted No. 1 Rome hotel by readers of Conde Nast Traveller Italia in its February issue, and La Pergola restaurant became the first hotel restaurant in Italy to win three Michelin stars. Also new are the double-tiered, 53,000-bottle, 2,500-label wine cellar and a collection of suites featuring leather multimassage chairs, tropical mist showers with chromo-aromatherapy, hydromassage minipools, private terraces and plasma flat-screen televisions.  For more info or to book, visit www.cavalieri-hilton.it/indexx.html.

TRAVEL TO EUROPE, a Lexington, Mass.-based wholesale tour operator, unveiled a dedicated Europe travel reference Web site for travel agents representing 19 countries, with another 15 being added this year. Access to the country pages is free to agents, but a fee-based TTE Europe Network membership includes higher overrides for select products, member-only information on featured destinations and access to one-day Europe Travel phone seminars. Visit www.agents-traveltoeurope.com.

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