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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR OCTOBER 19, 1998


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: Shop where you stop on the road; the time of the season; Hyatt's Wholly German Empire; falling rates for fall travel; and more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Shop Where You Stop
Business travelers rarely have the time or inclination to shop on the road, but frequent travelers to Europe know it's getting to be the time of the year to make an exception. All throughout Europe during the month before Christmas, charming and quirky "Christmas markets" pop up outdoors in town squares and parks. They almost always house booths, kiosks and stalls of independent crafts people and artisans. The markets date back hundreds of years and are holiday staples in Central and Eastern European towns. You'll also find them in Brussels, Rome, and some other Western European destinations. The offerings vary from market to market, of course, but savvy frequent flyers will find bargains everywhere: tree ornaments, local jewelry and crafts, stocking stuffers, small pieces of furniture, and even specialty foods and fashions. One example: last year, at a Christmas market in Cracow, Poland, I purchased four exquisite glass ornaments in a rustic wooden box for about $10. The same item was offered by a major U.S. catalog retailer for $85. Need to know the location of the Christmas market in the European city you're visiting? Just check with your hotel concierge; he'll probably even have a few tips on the kiosks with the best goods. And make sure to bring your shopping list and leave a little room in your carry-on bag.

CYBERTRAVELER: The Time of the Season
Tens of thousands of Americans apparently detest Daylight Savings Time, which ends Sunday. Many of these anti-Daylight Savers camp out at the Standard Time website (www.standardtime.com), an interesting and obsessive mix of polemics and history. The web site also makes something of a case for why business travelers should join those committed to ending Daylight Savings Time. This one is worth a look if you've got the time to consider the more esoteric components of our lives on the road.

IN THE LOBBY: Hyatt's Wholly German Empire
The Grand Hyatt Berlin is scheduled to open today and its the fourth Hyatt International property in Germany, three of which have opened during the last six months. The Berlin hotel, located at the Potsdamer Platz, is part of a mixed-used development which includes a theater, a casino, several restaurants and a shopping mall. Each of the 340 rooms and suites have fax machines and mini-bars. Introductory rates, valid through February 28, are pegged DM280 a night (or $173 at 1.62 marks to the dollar). The Berlin hotel joins the 252-room Park Hyatt Hamburg, which opened in Germany's second-largest city April 15. It occupies the top five floors of the "Levantehaus," a 1912 warehouse which now also houses a shopping arcade and 31 apartments available to long-term guests. On May 15, Hyatt International opened a 268-room Hyatt Regency in Mainz, a popular convention and trade-show destination across the Rhine from Frankfurt. The first outpost in Hyatt's German empire, the Hyatt Regency Cologne, opened in 1988. For more information, call 800-233-1234 or surf to www.hyatt.com.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: Falling Rates for Fall Travel
More than 100 Westin properties around the world are participating in the "Westin ValueStays" promotion for stays from October 26 through December 13. Rates start as low as $59 on weekends and as low as $65 midweek. Some samples: $94 (weekends) and $144 (weekdays) at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver; $99 all week at the Westin William Penn in Pittsburgh and the Westin Regina in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; $59 (weekends) and $105 (weekdays) at the Westin Edmonton in Alberta, Canada; $125 all week at the Hotel Baltimore in Paris; and $105 all week at the Westin Stamford in Singapore. The rates require 7-day advance booking. For more information, call 800-WESTIN-1 or surf to www.westin.com.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.