Long Island firm offers dilettante's delights

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NEW SUFFOLK -- For East Coast groups looking to discover an "island destination" close to home and full of surprises, receptive operator Long Island Holidays here organizes commissionable day and overnight tours.

What's surprising about Long Island? For one thing, there are some 23 vineyards on the north fork that are open to groups, according to David Burns, managing director.

The operator's vineyard tours, $49 per person for day tours or $179 per person for overnight trips staying at the Southampton Inn, typically visit three wineries in a day, with lunch at Palmer Vineyards or Wolffer Estate (Sagpond Vineyards).

Long Island Holidays' new Art & Culture Tour of the Hamptons visits three cultural attractions each day and includes a vineyard tour and a wine tasting.

Day trips are priced from $69 per person, and overnight tours, visiting six sites, are priced from $179 per person.

On the Art & Culture tour, lunch is at the South Hampton Publick House, a casual dining restaurant that bills itself as the only brewpub restaurant on the east end of Long Island.

Another restaurant option for groups is Claudio's which was established in 1870 along the wharf of the fishing village of Greenport.

In Montauk, 110 miles east of Manhattan, groups can take a horse-drawn wagon tour, enjoy a Texas-style barbecue and be entertained by singing cowboys at the 3,000-acre Deep Hollow Ranch, said to be the oldest working cattle ranch in America, established in 1658.

"Groups can see roping, branding, calving -- whatever is going on that day," Burns said.

The Deep Hollow Ranch excursion is priced at $59 per person for the day trip and $189 for an overnight tour staying in Montauk at the Beachcomber Resort. Overnight tours include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Burns said he is working to promote group day tours to agents, mostly through direct mailings to regional ASTA-member agencies; to motorcoach companies; tour operators; and directly to groups.

Overnight group business, he said, reaches beyond the tri-state area to the Midwest, the Southeast and New England.

Long Island Holidays makes about 100 day trips each year to Long Island, Burns said.

Commission is 10% for groups of 40 or more. Groups generally hire their own motorcoach, Burns said, and can be met anywhere on Long Island.

Tour prices also include a local escort fee, tax and baggage handling on overnight trips.

For details, contact Long Island Holidays at (800) 905-0590 or e-mail [email protected].

The Web site is at www.longislandholidays.com.

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