Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter July 31, 2003

CAPITAL IDEA: Virgin Vacations hopes travelers "fall" for its Dublin Budget Fling this autumn. The six-night stay in Ireland's capital city, priced from $659 per person for travel Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, includes roundtrip air on Virgin Atlantic; a choice of budget, standard or deluxe accommodations; continental breakfast daily; and hotel taxes and service charges. Sample fares range from $659 from New York [Kennedy] or Newark, with budget accommodations, to $1,329 from Los Angeles or San Francisco, with deluxe digs; other departure dates and gateways are available. There is no commission on Virgin's "Fling" vacations; the company pays 12% on other "Preferred Getaway" deals. For more information, call (888) 937-8474 or visit www.virginvacations.com.

FOREWARNED, FOREARMED: Aer Lingus upgraded its Web site at www.aerlingus.com. New features include improved bookings options, allowing up to six passengers per reservation, and the booking of infant travelers; upgraded flight information and fare rules; faster processing times; and new search functionality that allows users to hunt for cheaper fares within seven-day windows on either side of requested travel dates.

BEST IN KNOW(-HOW): Irish tourism board Failte Ireland awarded the Leixlip House Hotel the board's "Ireland's Best" award for excellence in customer service. The Leixlip House Hotel, 20 minutes outside Dublin in Leixlip, County Kildare, joins 44 other hospitality and tourism businesses across the Emerald Isle that have won the prestigious award. It is designed "to promote and recognize establishments that have demonstrated a high level of service excellence and a strong commitment to the customer," Failte Ireland said. The Leixlip House Hotel, part of the Towey Group, recently became one of the first hotels in Ireland to make free wireless Internet access available in all guest bedrooms, conference rooms and public areas. For more information, visit www.leixliphouse.com or call (011) 353-1 624-2268.

E-MERALD ISLE: The Shamrock Club just keeps "reeling" them in. More than 60 travel agent delegates to Vacation.com's Fifth Int'l Conference and Trade Show attended Tourism Ireland's destination specialist seminar at the July 9 to 13 event in Hollywood, Fla., according to program manager John Daly. Those agents who missed the Florida event can check out the Shamrock Club Web site at www.shamrockclub.net/register, which offers access to five online education and certification modules and other interactive features. For more information, call Daly at (212) 418-0835.

JEWEL OF A DEAL: Sceptre Ireland hopes retailers and travelers take a shine to its Emerald Package, now available from $399 per person, double, for travel Dec. 1 to 15. The six-night, self-guided tour includes roundtrip air from New York, Boston, Baltimore or Washington; accommodations at a first-class hotel and any of 450 farmhouse bed-and-breakfasts with "Go As You Please" vouchers; rental car with unlimited mileage; full Irish breakfast each morning; sales tax, VAT and hotel service charges; and the services of local concierges. Upgrades to "Town & Country Homes" [bed and breakfast, ensuite] and/or rental cars with automatic transmission are available for $36 per person, per addition. The retailer pay is 10%. For more information, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptreireland.com.

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