WINTER ESCAPES: Five-star Dublin property The
Merrion is offering getaway deals for fall and early winter. The
Weekend Winter Warmer Package is available until Jan. 31 for a
minimum of two nights [starting Fridays and Saturdays). It's priced
at about $149 per night, double occupancy, with no additional tax
or service. The deal includes Garden Wing double-room
accommodations, full Irish breakfast and a welcome bottle of
champagne. Art-minded clients might take to the one-night Love
Letters Package, which includes double or twin Garden Wing
accommodations, full Irish breakfast and two tickets to the "Love
Letters: Dutch Genre Painting in the Age of Vermeer" exhibit at the
National Gallery of Ireland. Love Letters is available through Dec.
31, at about $131 per person, with no additional tax or service.
Commission on both packages is 10%. To book, phone (011) 353-1
603-0600, fax (011) 353-1 603-0700, email [email protected] or visit www.merrionhotel.com.
NEW SPA: Speaking of escapes, the
award-winning, new Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa offers both spa
and adventure vacations in the mountainous west of Co. Galway.
Opened in 2001, the 22-room, $5.75 million resort--set on 300
acres--won't begin official U.S. marketing for another two years,
says general manager Michael Driscoll. But agents can get a jump on
competitors by recommending the spa to clients today. The
resort--with a planned expansion to expand to 60 guestrooms--offers
spa treatments, yoga and tai chi classes, outdoor activities, fine
dining and more. Delphi pays agents negotiated commissions on
sample rates ranging from about $114 per person, double, for one
night with breakfast and spa use, to $1,668 per person for seven
nights, seven lunches, six dinners and nine spa treatments. For
more rates and information or to book, phone (011) 353-954-2987,
e-mail [email protected] or visit www.dephiescape.com.
ALL-AGENT, ALL THE TIME: Sceptre Ireland has
gone all-agent, introducing net-rate pricing and halting direct
sales in favor of working exclusively through retailers--in
particular, its 218 Emerald Club preferred retailer partners. The
Lynbrook, N.Y., operator also recently joined the U.S. Tour
Operators Assn. As part of the shift, Sceptre tweaked its Web site
[www.sceptreireland.com], limiting log-in capability to
Emerald Club partners and other travel agents; it also added
retailer-locator functionality for consumers and posted a letter
that explains why it now sells only through agents. The firm also
said it will refer any consumer inquiries to the nearest Emerald
Club partner retailer. Under Sceptre's new net-pricing scheme,
agents can mark up Sceptre Ireland product as they see fit,
according to owner Bert Accomando.
LOOKING FOR GEMS: In related news, Sceptre
Ireland is running a series of nationwide recruitment trade shows
to promote the Emerald Club from Nov. 11 through Dec. 5. Seminars
will be held in Dearborn, Mich., Nov. 11; Minneapolis, Nov. 12;
Chicago, Nov. 13; Denver, Nov. 14; San Diego, Nov. 18; West
Hollywood, Calif., Nov. 19; San Francisco, Nov. 20; and Bellevue,
Wash., Nov. 21. East Coast seminars begin Dec. 1 in Newton, Mass.,
followed by Melville, N.Y., Dec. 3; Philadelphia, Dec. 4; and
Baltimore, Dec. 5. To register or for more information, call (800)
221-0924, ext. 323.
A DERRY GOOD YEAR: The unique walled city of
Londonderry in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland--once a hotbed of
sectarian tensions--is seeing strong growth in visitor numbers.
Arrivals from North America were up 7% this year through August,
and the prognosis for the remainder of the year looks good,
according to the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau. International
visitor numbers are up 26%.For more on Londonderry, which boasts
Ireland's only completely walled historic center, visit www.visitderry.com.
MORE TO THE STORY: See the Nov. 10 print
edition of Travel Weekly for full feature-length articles on both
Londonderry [with a "Room Key" review of the contemporary,
city-center Tower Hotel Derry] and the new Emerald Triangle hotel
partnership formed by three family-owned properties in the
Republic, first reported in the Oct. 30 edition of the Ireland