DER adds spa, ski plans to winter holiday roster


ROSEMONT, Ill. -- DER Travel Services here expanded its winter holidays roster with new ski vacations in Austria and Switzerland as well as more spa offerings in Austria and Germany.

New Austrian programs feature Igls, near Innsbruck and Lech.

Prices with air, transfers, dinners and breakfasts and accommodations at the 80-room Bon Alpina in Igls and the 30-room Brunnehof in Lech run from $872, to $1,622, double, depending on the season.

Gary Haverkamp, director of product development for DER, noted that Austria's prices were about 30% lower than Switzerland's and comparable to those at Colorado ski resorts such as Breckenridge. Overall, Haverkamp said, prices in Austria and Switzerland stayed the same as last year.

Austria was the leading ski destination for DER last year, Haverkamp said, a trend he expects to continue this year. He acknowledged that some skiers "prefer Switzerland because it offers more consistent conditions, whereas Austria has some of the fastest slopes." "I think one reason our clients like Austria is because it has several resorts, such as Innsbruck, Kitzbuhel and Salzburg, which are close to towns or cities with nonskiing activities such as nightlife, sightseeing and shopping."

He predicted the Salzburg Ski As You Please program would be DER's best seller because it lets clients spend seven nights in one of Austria's most historically rich cities while skiing as much or as little as they prefer. The program, with accommodations at the 140-room Novotel in the city center, is priced from $990 to $1,275, double, depending on the season. The plan includes air, accommodations, daily breakfasts and dinners, a rental car, a casino visit, museum entrance fee and a classical concert.

Last year, DER's Switzerland programs did not do as well as Haverkamp had hoped, which he attributes to the lesser-known names of the resorts that were offered. "Americans like to go where they recognize a name, so places like Yverdon and Montana, while wonderful, didn't fare well," he said.

This year's selection adds St. Moritz, Davos, Villars and Grindelwald. A seven-night package at the 170-room Hotel Laudinella, 900 feet from the ski lifts, is priced from $1,212, double, including daily breakfasts and dinners, accommodations and air.

DER also expanded its winter spa offerings to include the 70-room Hotel Weismayr, a 19th century resort in Badgastein, while also featuring five German spas, such as Bad Brueckenau in the Bavarian Rhon Hills and Freiburg Sud. Prices per night, per person, double, including breakfast range from $72 at the German spas to $115 at Hotel Weismayr.

In its selection of spas, DER was careful to pick resorts that had a history with the American market, Haverkamp said. This year's winter brochure also features Swiss rail tours for independent travelers, golf packages in Cintra, Portugal, and three properties on Spain's Costa del Sol.

DER Travel Services, Phone: (800) 782-2424, Fax: (800) 282-7474, Web:

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI