Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter: February 6, 2003

A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY: Celtic Tours is pushing late winter travel to the Emerald Isle with an Ireland Country Style package, priced at $475 per person through March 31. The deal includes roundtrip flights on Aer Lingus from New York, Boston or Baltimore (for Chicago, add $85); six nights' accommodation in a choice of more than 2,900 farmhouses and guesthouses with private bath; breakfast; taxes and service fees; and car rental with unlimited mileage. Weekend and Dublin surcharges do not apply, and the deal includes copies of a travel guide and the "Ireland at a Glimpse" brochure (with discounts at 100 attractions). More expensive Ireland Country Style package rates may apply March 9 to 18, and rates rise to $789 per person for travel in April and May. Travel agent pay is 10%. Call (800) 833-4373; e-mail [email protected] or visit www.celtictours.com.

WEARING O' THE GREEN: Dublin luxury hotel The Merrion is peddling two St. Paddy's Day deals to potential paraders. The St. Patrick's Day Package, at about $124 per person, double, offers a welcome drink, overnight stay in a deluxe double or twin room with full Irish breakfast and free parking; grandstand tickets to the St. Patrick's Day Parade are also available at an extra $58 or so per person. The Shamrock Package, at about $289 per person, includes two nights' accommodation with breakfast, welcome cocktail, free parking and dinner for two; both offers are valid March 13 to 18. Agent pay on all packages is 10%. Contact The Merrion at (011) 353-1 603-0600, by fax at (011) 353-1 603-0700, via e-mail at [email protected] or at www.merrionhotel.com.

ERIN GO BRAGH: US Airways Vacations added Ireland to its vacation package roster in conjunction with the carrier's new service from Philadelphia to Dublin and Shannon, set to launch May 4 and 5, respectively. Irish packages include roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, hotel taxes and service charges, international travel taxes of $53.95, and continental breakfast daily. Three-night rates range from $628 from Baltimore and Washington and $1,013 from Charlotte, N.C., per person, double, for bed-and-breakfast stays, to $753 from Baltimore/Washington and $1,138 from Charlotte, per person, for stays at the Hilton Dublin. US Airways Vacations also offers Distinctive Vacations with Envoy Class air travel, and superior or deluxe hotels. Rates are valid for daily departures May 4 to June 9; base agent commission is 10%, with overrides for agent members of US Airways Vacations' Preferred Partnership Program. Agents can book through VAX Vacation Access at www.vaxvacationaccess.com, via Apollo Galileo USA's LeisureShopper, Worldspan Tour Source, Amadeus Tour Source and Sabre Tours under vendor code USV, or by calling (800) 455-0123.

POPPING A WHEELIE: Upmarket bicycling adventure operator Celtic Trails, which "pedals" all-inclusive holidays across western Ireland, relaunched its Web site. The updated site includes not only tour, accommodations and rate details, but customer testimonials and bike-route photos. Celtic Trails' cycling tours take in the counties of Clare/Galway, Mayo/Sligo and Donegal; accommodations--such as Belleek Castle, Markree Castle, Healy's in Pontoon, and the seaside Renvyle House at Connemara-are high-end. Meals range from hearty Irish breakfasts to gourmet dinners with wine; participants cycle on average 45 miles per day over Ireland's safest and less-traveled roads. Tours run April 27 to Sept. 27; per person rates of $1,995 include all meals; luggage transport; pocket-size maps; three- to four-star accommodation; and wine. In addition, bike rental is $100 per week. Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount; agent commission information was unavailable at press time. For more information, contact Paul McQuaid at (011) 353-87 249-2589, via email at [email protected] or at www.celtictrails.com.

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