Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter June 19, 2003

VIRGIN TERRITORY: Virgin Vacations is offering an Irish fly-and-drive/bed-and-breakfast package priced from $849 for trips Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, when booked by June 30. That rate -- per person, based on double occupancy for departures from New York (Kennedy) or Newark -- includes roundtrip air, six nights' accommodations and a seven-day rental of an economy, manual car, including taxes, unlimited mileage and insurance. Other sample starting rates from U.S. cities include Philadelphia, $949; Atlanta and Chicago, $1,099; Phoenix or Seattle, $1,149; Houston and Minneapolis, $1,269; and Los Angeles or San Francisco, $1,409. Travel agent commission is 10%. Other departure dates, gateways and car types are available. Call Virgin Vacations at (888) 937-8474.

CALLING ALL GROUPS: Sceptre Ireland is pulling out the stops to court group business. All groups that book with the firm can receive up to 50% of any co-op advertising expenses; also, each group that reaches the 25-person mark earns one free air-and-land package. And all specialized itineraries are always based on a net rate. The firm aims to quote group rates within one hour, with air schedule, hotel location and detailed itinerary, based on single and double occupancies and including any additional sightseeing and other activities. For more information, call (800) 221-0924, Ext. 306, or e-mail [email protected].

CELTIC HAPPENINGS: Celtic Tours appointed Robin Phillips as regional sales manager for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Phillips will promote Celtic's Ireland, Britain and European products while building and reinforcing relationships with travel agencies in the Southeast. Phillips most recently served for eight years as regional sales manager for the southeast at CIE Tours. In other news, Celtic added Germany to a destination roster that already includes Ireland, Britain, Italy, France and Greece. In co-operation with Singapore Airlines and the German National Tourist Organization, Celtic is offering two independent Germany summer packages from $439 per person, double, with departures through Sept. 30; agent pay is 10%. For more information, call (800) 833-4373.

TOP O' THE WEB: Check out Tourism Ireland's newly completed Shamrock Club destination specialist Web site at www.shamrockclub.net/register. Once you've joined, you can log onto the recently upgraded site for access to five online education and certification modules and other interactive features. For more information, contact Tourism Ireland's John Daly at (212) 418-0835.

THE ARTFUL LODGER: Chic Dublin hotels The Merrion and The Clarence offer the best of both worlds with a package pairing a stay at one hotel with a meal at the other. The Art of Travel package -- priced at about $206 per person, double, through March 31 -- includes one night's accommodation in a double or twin room at either hotel, complete with Irish breakfast, plus dinner for two at the brand-new Cellar Restaurant at The Merrion, or The Tea Room at The Clarence. Rates include VAT of 13.5%, and there's no service charge. Both hotels are well regarded by Dubliners for their art collections; for example, the Merrion boasts a private collection of 19th and 20th century Irish art. The overnight package includes a gift of an art catalog from either property. Commission information was not available at press time. For reservations, contact either the Merrion at (011) 353-1 603-0600 or [email protected], or the Clarence at (011) 353-1 407-0800 or [email protected].

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