Travel Weeklys Ireland E-letter: Sept. 16, 2004

CAPITAL DIGS: Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts opened a $24 million property in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast, part of the city-center Cromac Wood Business Park, has 120 guest rooms and 8 suites outfitted in two styles, Nordic and urban. The hotel -- which boasts WiFi wireless Internet access propertywide -- has a restaurant and five meetings rooms. Radisson SAS also operates six hotels in the Republic of Ireland, in Letterkenny, Sligo, Athlone, Galway, Dublin and Limerick. For more, visit www.radissonsas.com.

ERIN GO METRIC: Motorists beware: Ireland has decided to go all-metric by Jan. 20, replacing roadway speed-limit signs now posted in miles with new ones in kilometers. Confusingly for drivers, road distances have been marked in metrics for years -- alongside speed limits posted in miles-per-hour. At the same time, speed limits on non-national or country roads will be reduced from the current 60 miles per hour (mph) -- or about 100 kilometers-per-hour (kph) in the new parlance -- to 50 mph, or about 80 kph. Full details can be found at the Irish transport departments www.transport.ie Web site.

TEE TIME: The 1,500-acre, 58-unit Mount Juliet Conrad resort -- a Conrad Hotels property in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, south of Dublin -- is gearing up to host the American Express World Golf Championships from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. This years tournament is expected to attract 140,000 fans. The resort boasts a Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole championship golf course, a par-53 putting course, practice greens and a three-hole academy course. River angling and courses at a new on-site fly-fishing school, trail horseback riding at the Iris Kellett Equestrian Centre, tennis, clay shooting, archery, and croquet are also available, as are walking trails and bicycles. The on-site spa and health club also has an indoor swimming pool. More information on Mount Juliet Conrad can be obtained at www.conradhotels.com or www.mountjuliet.com.

IRISH NOSH: CIE Tours International continues to serve up a four-night, air-inclusive escorted Irish sampler of a tour priced from $796 per person from New York (Kennedy), Boston or Baltimore/Washington. Departures for the Taste of Ireland trip are slated on Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays, from Sept. 2 through Dec. 9, and again from Feb. 10 to April 28. Rates include round-trip air; six-days motorcoach sightseeing; accommodations at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin (one night), Killarney Towers (two nights), and Great Southern Hotel, Shannon (one night), or similar; eight meals; tour and tasting at the Guinness Storehouse; tea and scones at an Irish farmhouse; and more. Land-only is also available from $529; for more on CIE -- which pays agents 10% on land and varying commissions on air -- call (800) 243-8687 or go to www.cietours.com.

ONLINE BYTES

" Planning an Irish self-drive for clients and wondering what to include on the itinerary? Check out the Irish environmental ministrys Heritage of Ireland Website at www.heritageireland.ie for details on the countrys protected historical sites and attractions, parks and gardens, and cultural venues. Information is also posted on the discount Heritage Card visitor pass and entrance fees at various sites. 

" Irish Railways, or Iarnrod Eireann, introduced online reservations for its first-class and Citygold services on the Galway, Limerick, Kerry, Cork and Waterford train lines. Reservations for standard class should be introduced at a later date, said railway officials. Visit www.irishrail.ie online.

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