Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Nov. 20, 2003

ALL ABOUT IRELAND: It's not too late to sign up for Sceptre Ireland's "Irish Educational Seminar" series in several Northeast cities next month. According to the Lynbrook, N.Y.-based operator, attendees will be "empowered" with info on the best net costs, widest product selection, advanced delivery systems, and enhanced marketing support. Breakfast seminars--to run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.--are scheduled at the Marriott Newton in Newton, Mass., on Dec. 1; The New Yorker in New York City on Dec. 2; the Huntington Hilton in Melville, Long Island, N.Y., on Dec. 3; the Philadelphia Marriott in Philly on Dec. 4; and the Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore on Dec. 5. To reserve a seat, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptreagent.com.

MERRY XMAS FOR CLIENTS: Aer Lingus is offering the "gift of Ireland" this holiday season with flexible, reduced Quick Trips online fares on its Web site for travel Jan. 9 to March 31. When booked by Dec. 23, one-way fares to Dublin and Shannon start at $99 for travel from Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Chicago and New York [Kennedy]. The rates are non-commissionable, but Aer Lingus offers clients increased flexibility, with one name and one itinerary change allowed between date of purchase and Jan. 5--and there are no mandatory Saturday-night stays. Other restrictions do apply. Visit www.aerlingus.com and click on "From the USA" for more information.

HOTEL OF THE YEAR: Ireland's Automobile Association (AA) named the five-star Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork its Hotel of the Year for 2003-2004. AA managing director Pat Kiely said the deluxe hotel "focus[es] on superb quality and offer[s] the visitor standards that compare favorably with the very best in the world." Hayfield Manor, one mile from Cork City, offers 88 antique-furnished guest rooms and suites; an Irish-French fusion restaurant with organic foods; and the Manor Spa, with exotic treatments, an indoor pool and heated outdoor Jacuzzi. The property pays 8% commission to agents. To book, call (011) 353-21 484-5900 or e-mail [email protected]. For more information, visit www.hayfieldmanor.ie.

ANOTHER WINNER IS... Irish tourist board Failte Ireland awarded its 2003 Irish Welcome Awards national title to Martin Guilfoyle, a Co. Kilkenny tour-coach driver nominated by U.S. travel agent Mary Ann Coon, of Tickets to Travel, Wauconda, Ill. More than 2,300 nominations from 34 countries were received for the award, designed to recognize Irish "tourism champions." Guilfoyle, a driver with Bernard Kavanagh & Sons coaches, was selected from six finalists; he also received the first-place Transport and Tours category award. Awards were given in eight categories. Coon, a member of Tourism Ireland's Shamrock Club destination specialist program, won a 2,000-euro travel voucher (worth $2,400) for nominating the winner. For the full story and other winners' names, go to www.bordfailte.ie/article.asp?id=83.

TOP O' THE CLUB: In other Shamrock Club news, Hillarie McGuinness was named to head the program at Tourism Ireland's New York offices. McGuinness succeeds former program manager John Daly. For more on the Shamrock Club, visit www.shamrockclub.net/register.

TOWERING AHEAD: The Tower Hotel Group broke ground on the new, $29 million Castleknock Hotel and Country Club near Dublin. The four-star, 144-room property, due to be finished in December 2004, will feature a $9.4 million, 18-hole golf course, extensive meetings facilities, a 60-foot swimming pool and spa/gym facilities. The hotel will be the seventh in the Tower chain, and its third four-star property. Booking inquiries are being taken for 2005. Contact Lorraine Allis at [email protected] or (011) 353-1 873-0199. For more on Tower Hotel Group, visit www.towerhotelgroup.com.

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