The Tactical Traveler

FOR APRIL 5, 2000


This week: Weekend hotel promotions slash the price of rooms in high-cost cities; the Great White North is a bargain for business and leisure travelers; safety on the go: highways are better, skies are a bit more dangerous; the stars and sky headline in the Mauna Kea Summit & Star Adventure tour; politics fuel a decline in Austria’s foreign tourism; and more.

COST-CUTTERS: Weekend Bargains in High-Cost Hotel Cities
New York and London, the two most expensive hotel towns in the English-speaking world, continue to push lodging rates to record highs. In fact, about the only time to get a bargain--and that's a relative term in these cities--is to check in on the weekend.

In New York, for example, the "Weekend Shopping Getaway" at the superb New York Palace [] (800-NY-PALACE) reduces rates as low as $245 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Besides accommodations, the package includes a 10 percent discount at Saks Fifth Avenue []; free delivery of purchases to the hotel; and snacks at the store's café. The price is valid through April 30, then increases to $275 from May 1 through June 22. And at the Doral Park Avenue [](877-99-DORAL), the "Spring Flowers Weekend Package" starts at $199 a night until May 31. Besides lodging, it includes a 15 percent discount on one purchase from Macy's [] and a free Doral umbrella.

In London, the weekend rate at the posh Four Seasons London is about $400 and includes deluxe lodging, the 17.5 percent value-added tax and the service charges, a bottle of champagne, full English breakfast and parking. Across town, at the sleek new Four Seasons Canary Wharf, the weekend price of about $375 and includes the same amenities. Both hotels can be booked at 800-819-5053 or consult the Four Seasons website [].

ROUTE MAP: Off to the Great White North
The weak Canadian dollar, worth only about 70 U.S. cents, makes the Great White North a bargain for both business and leisure travelers. And the Canadian airlines are hoping to cash in on northbound traffic with three new routes, all launched earlier this week. … Air Canada [] now flies nonstop daily service from Denver to Montreal. Introductory fares on the Airbus A319 flights are as low as $239 roundtrip for travel until May 15; tickets must be purchased by April 10. … Canadian Airlines [] has begun nonstop daily Boeing 737 flights from Los Angeles to Edmonton. … Air Alliance [], Air Canada's regional carrier, has launched daily nonstop flights between Dayton and Toronto/Pearson using 18-seat turboprop aircraft. … One final note for members of the United, Air Canada or Canadian frequent-flyer programs: All three new routes have a double miles offer for first flight taken before August 31.

SAFETY WATCH: Life and Death on the Road and in the Sky
The nation's highways are safer, but the skies are a bit more dangerous, according to two new government reports. Fatality rates on the road dropped to 1.5 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled last year, a slight dip compared to the 1998 rate of 1.6. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [], the fatality rate peaked at 5.5 percent in 1966. The total number of traffic deaths were 41,245 last year and 41,471 in 1998. By contrast, a dozen people died in commercial U.S. airliner accidents last year, a regression from the zero-fatality landmark achieved in 1998. But the report, from the National Transportation Safety Board [] drew criticism from the National Air Disaster Alliance []. "What about the hundreds of foreign crashes where Americans are on board?" asked Gail Dunham, president of the Washington-based organization. "I think plane crashes are far more frequent than people realize."

VACATION STATION: Fiesta, Forests and Austria's Far Right
Fiesta San Antonio [], a 9-day, 150-event celebration, is scheduled for April 22 to 30. The 109th edition of the citywide event includes three spectacular parades, including one on boats that ply the San Antonio River. …Hawaii Forest and Trail [] specializes in nature hikes on Hawaii's scenic and diverse Big Island, but it has added a unique astronomical tour. The "Mauna Kea Summit & Star Adventure" is a sunset visit to the summit of the 13,700-foot Mauna Kea volcano, the site of one of the world's most important observatories. The 8-hour tour includes guides and costs $135. … The inclusion in the Austrian government of a far-right party whose leader once complimented Hitler has created a world-wide controversy--and a huge drop in tourism to Austria. According to the most recent figures, visits from foreigners have dropped by 5.5 percent. Most of the decline is due to a dearth of European vacationers, however. Tourism from the United States has actually increased by 9.2. percent since Joerg Haider's Freedom Party won government representation in February.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright © 1999-2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.