Great Britain: Hotel-Theater Packages Are the Ticket

London is home to more than 100 theaters, where in addition to long-running popular shows such as "Les Miserables" and "Cats," new shows are introduced regularly.

Clients are advised to buy tickets in advance for major shows. Fortunately, many tour operators or U.S. ticket agencies sell tickets for London theater, and some also offer commissionable or net-price hotel-theater packages.

The six-night Grande Finale plan offered through Applause is an example of hotel-theater packages available through the agents.

It includes hotel, private car transfers from Heathrow ($29 surcharge for Gatwick), tickets to two London shows of the client's choice, breakfast daily, service charges and VAT. There's a choice of 13 hotels, priced from $687 for the Tavistock Hotel to $1,515, for the Hilton Park Lane.

Following is a sampling of the agencies:

Applause, New York: (800) 451-9930.
Three- and six-night packages plus add-ons.

British Airways Holidays: (800) 247-9297.
The six-night London On Stage is priced from $779 to $1,319, depending on the hotel. The price includes roundtrip air fare from New York or Boston.

Edwards & Edwards, New York: (800) 223-6108.
The agency discontinued hotel-theater packages last summer, but it does pay travel agents $4 per ticket for tickets priced above $50. Best seating for musical productions such as "Phantom of the Opera" is priced at about $77 per ticket; dramas from $40 to $60. Tickets for the English Royal Opera cost about $120.

Keith Prowse, New York: (800) 669-8687.
This ticket agency last year began paying travel agencies a commission of 10% on purchases of individual tickets to London theater, opera, concerts, ballet and special events. In addition to booking apartment stays in London, Keith Prowse offers two-night Londoners hotel-theater packages with a choice of more than 30 hotels. The plans are priced from $169 through March 31. Add-ons and a Red Carpet evening featuring a private room at the theater are available.

London Theatre & More, Dallas: (800) 683-0799.
This firm tailors packages featuring London theater, concerts, ballet, Stratford-Upon-Avon and other cultural offerings. It will arrange accommodations, city tours, transfers and other tour components. Prices are net.

United Vacations: (800) 328-6877.
The airline's tour operation has expanded the roster of shows available through its London Theatre Evening Program. Packages include the London Shows & Dinner plan, priced from $99, with a reserved ticket to a performance of any of six shows and dinner voucher for a two-course meal at a choice of more than 30 restaurants. There's also a hotel package, priced from $254 for six nights, and add-ons.

Virgin Atlantic Vacations: (800) 862-8621.
A theater add-on is priced at $126 per person, including tickets to a premium show and backstage tour. One option is to add the theater plan to an air-inclusive plan, such as the three-night London Jaunt. That package includes roundtrip air travel from Virgin Atlantic's eastern U.S. gateways, roundtrip airport transfers, accommodations, breakfasts, service and taxes. The package is priced from $439, with accommodations at the Crofton Hotel, to $951, using the Grosvenor House. Apartment accommodations are also available.

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