Firm stages ballet event itineraries


ATLANTA -- Capitalizing on growing luxury and cultural travel to Russia, Tour Designs here is offering commissionable packages to the annual Mariinsky International Ballet Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, next year.

"Russia's selling very well for us this year, and more individual travelers are going upscale," said Marylou Foley, president of Tour Designs, which has sold Russia since 1980. "In fact, we've consistently had some trouble finding [high-end] rooms," she added, noting that upscale and cultural travelers are proving a lucrative and dependable niche.

The festival at the Mariinsky Theater -- known in Soviet times as the Kirov -- kicks off Feb. 21 for 10 days of dance from Russian ballet companies and star foreign performers.

Performances include a reworking of Prokofiev's "Cinderella" and an evening of George Balanchine ballets.

Tour Designs' land-only itineraries combine evening performances and backstage visits with five-star lodging at the Hotel Astoria, gourmet dining and daytime sightseeing opportunities, among other perks.

The company is offering a choice of three itineraries to the ballet festival: an 11-night package to the entire event, priced from $4,699 per person, double, or $6,369, single, plus air fare; and two five-night tours priced from $2,299, double, or $3,120, single.

Tour Designs pays 10% commission and offers net rates on groups of eight or more.

Although only four Americans booked the tour in 2000, the first year it was offered, 10 went this year, and Foley said she can book up to 100 attendees for the Feb. 20 departure.

To book, call Tour Designs at (800) 432-8687, e-mail [email protected].

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