Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter: Aug. 21, 2003

IRISH HOSPITALITY: Rezidor SAS Hospitality will open the Republic of Ireland's newest Radisson SAS hotels, in Athlone and Sligo, by the spring of 2004. The $41 million, 116-room Radisson SAS Hotel in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, is centrally located at Silver Quay, an exclusive development at a marina on the Shannon River. Facilities will include a restaurant, a bar, ballroom, and a health and fitness center with pool. Meanwhile, the Radisson SAS Hotel in Sligo -- with 132 rooms, a restaurant and a bar -- is just outside Sligo's city center; other facilities will include a state-of-the-art spa and health club with 20 treatment rooms and a large conference center. Currently, Rezidor SAS operates three hotels in the Republic: in Dublin, Galway and Limerick, with a fourth to open in Letterkenny this fall. In Northern Ireland, the company operates a hotel in Limavady, and a hotel in Belfast is scheduled to open in 2004. For more, visit www.radissonsas.com.

FORE YOUR EYES ONLY: Destination Golf, New York, put together a "Reader's Cup" package to Ireland's top ranges in partnership with Pub Links Golfer Magazine, which has 56 local editions across the U.S. The six-night deal -- available with air from New York or Boston (other gateways cost extra) or as land-only -- is priced from $1,475 to $1,995 per person; the single supplement is $275. Rates include luxury hotel accommodations, full Irish breakfast each morning; seven days with personal driver/guide; luxury motorcoach transport; five rounds of golf with greens fees and guaranteed tee times; a practice round on arrival; and a private whiskey tasting. Ranges include Dooks Golf Course, Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, and the Waterville, Ballybunion and Tralee golf clubs. Agent pay is 10%. For more, e-mail [email protected], call (800) 441-9329 or visit www.destinations-golf.com.

MORE FORE GOLFERS: Sceptre Ireland is paying 10% on its new, five-night Emerald Challenge golfing trip, priced from $1,999 per person, to Ireland's most famous courses -- such as Ennis Crone, Co. Sligo and Donegal Ballyliffin and Bundoran -- to run Sept. 8 to 14. The deal includes roundtrip air; accommodations at the Great Northern Hotel in Donegal; full Irish breakfast daily; two practice rounds of golf at Ennis Crone Co. Sligo (Rosses Point); competition rounds of golf at Donegal Ballyliffin and Bundoran; a gala awards dinner with a winners team trophy; and private car transfers. To book, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptreireland.com.

IRISH DRIVES: Destination Europe Resources (DER), Rosemont, Ill., is offering free upgrades on select car rentals in Ireland for bookings made and paid Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 for pick-up by Dec. 15. Free upgrades to the next category are available for economy, compact and intermediate manual-transmission cars. Prices for weekly rentals with pick-up by Sept. 30 are $147 for economy (receive a compact), $170 for compact (receive an intermediate) and $218 for intermediate (receive a standard); Oct. 1 to Dec. 15 prices are $125 for economy, $140 compact, $176 intermediate, all with upgrade to the next category. Prices include VAT, unlimited mileage and liability insurance; DER pays agents a minimum 15% commission. To book, call DER at (800) 782-2424 or visit www.der.com.

AND THE WINNER IS: Have any favorite hotel, tour operator, tour guide or other supplier partners in Ireland? Now you can lend them an official hand -- and earn the chance to win yourself a $2,225 Irish vacation -- by nominating them to tourism board Failte Ireland's second annual Irish Welcome Awards competition on line at www.irishwelcomeawards.com. In 2002, more than 1,300 entrants from all over Ireland received nominations from 29 countries worldwide for the award, designed by Failte Ireland to acclaim "the real warmth, friendliness and sense of fun that makes Ireland the favorite holiday destination for millions of visitors each year." Nominations are open to all those working in Irish tourism, as well as people from any walk of life who've "gone that 'extra mile'," according to Failte Ireland. Nominations can be submitted at www.irishwelcomeawards.com until Sept. 26 in the following categories: food and drink; visitor attractions and shopping; accommodations; transport and tours; and "other." Winners will be announced in November. Further details are available from the Failte Ireland Irish Welcome Awards office at Failte Ireland, Baggot Street Bridge, Dublin 2, Ireland, and at (011) 353-1-602-4130 and www.irishwelcomeawards.com.

DOUBLIN' UP WITH DUBLIN: Celtic Tours, Albany, N.Y., crafted "independent multi-city programs" for this fall that include flights and accommodations in two or more European cities, including Dublin, London and Amsterdam. For example, a combo Dublin-Amsterdam stay starts at $1,039 per person, including round-trip air from New York to Amsterdam, round-trip flights between Amsterdam and Dublin, two nights' accommodations in each city, and Continental breakfast daily. Extra nights are available from $84 per person in Amsterdam and $90 in Dublin. Agent pay is 10%; for more or to book, call (800) 833-4373.

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