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Rundown for the week of January 02, 1999

Wherever you travel, you'll find a place where people tend to gather. Whether it's a plaza, main street, town hall or city park, there's usually one special spot that is the center of social activity. Many of these places have achieved legendary status. You've surely heard of the Champs d'Elysee, Harvard Square, Rome's Colisseum. But the list would be incomplete without the Djemaa El F'nan in Marrakesh, Morrocco. The Savvy Traveler's Jim Metzner takes us on a tour.

Q & A I: New Year's Travel Resolutions
Rudy talks to listeners about their travel resolutions for the new year.

Ed Perkins Interview
1998 was a big year for travel. The airlines flew at close to 70 percent capacity and announced major alliances -- Delta and United, American and U.S. Airways, Continental and Northwest. And travel experts everywhere are already predicting a record year in 1999 for air travel, hotel occupancy and trans-Atlantic trips. We taked with Ed Perkins, former editor-in-chief at Consumer Reports Travel Letter, to help sort out what this means for travelers.

The Life of a Concierge
Most swanky hotels have a desk in the lobby marked "concierge." The person behind it is the hotel's ambassador of service. He or she manages the rest of the uniformed staff, finds you a rental car or theater tickets, sets up sightseeing trips, or whatever else you'd like. Who are these saints of service? Where do they come from? We sent reporter Judith Ritter, in Montreal, to find out.

Deal of the Week: Hotel Deals Abound
It's snowing a flurry of hotel deals this week, beginning with half price rooms in that most expensive of hotel cities, London. Usually, you'll pay more than $200 a night to stay at the three-star Kensington Palace. But if you book through a tour operator called Destination Europe, you'll pay $107, including tax and continental breakfast. Other hotels in London's center are on sale, too, including the four-star Kensington Park at $137 a night, half the normal price. These deals are good through the last day of March by calling Destination Europe at 800-835-1555.

Closer to home, the Fairmont Hotels in the U.S. are offering discounted rates until April 12th if you're a member of the American Airlines frequent flyer program. The chain has hotels in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Rates vary, from $89 for a weekend night in San Jose up to $259 for a weekend night at the Plaza in New York City. That's about 25 per cent off. There are also special rates on weekdays, too, but when I called to check, I learned those rates weren't available EVERY weekday. In Boston, the first weeknight I could get at the lowest rate was in March. So shop carefully and be sure to mention you want the "Exciting Rewards" rate. Fairmont's toll free number is 800-527-4727.

Q & A II -- General Questions
Rudy takes listeners' general questions about travel. He mentions:

Moving to American Samoa

  • The office of Congressman Faleomavaega of American Samoa can answer questions. Phone: 202-225-8577.
  • American Samoa is part of the Polynesian Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, made up of the larger island of Tutulia (19 miles long) and a number of smaller islands.
  • Tutulia is the best option. It has more lodging, but less seculsion and natural beauty. Stay away from the main harbor of Pago Pago if you can. You'll be blown away either by the dramatic rock formations that plunge into the ocean...or by the rancid smell pouring out of nearby tuna canneries. The western end of the island is less commerical and offers more appealing scenery.
  • The smaller islands are said to be more beautiful and alluring . You'll find national parks, rain forests, volcanic valleys, geological wonders like crater and cone formations, sweeping cliffs, sparkling lagoons, streams and waterfalls, coral reefs and untouched sandy white beaches. The trouble is, these places are so unspoiled that virtually no infrastructure exists, making it a great place to visit but a difficult place to live.
  • The website www.samoanet.com has a listing of the very few accomodations in American Samoa as well as other information about the islands.

Information on Phobias

  • Acrophobia: fear of flying
  • Aerophobia: fear of flying
  • Thalassophobia: fear of the ocean
  • Ochlophobia: fear of crowds

For more info: the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) has information on their website: www.adaa.org.

We also spoke with Dr. Michael Spevack, a clinical psychologist in Montreal who specializes in anxiety disorders.

Carry-On Luggage Postcard
1998 will go down as the year of the great carry-on debate. Some airlines started holding passengers to only one bag, other carriers stuck with two. But then again, sometimes they consider a purse or laptop computer a carry-on. There's no rhyme or reason to the restrictions, so just about everyone -- the Savvy Traveler included -- is confused about what will make it onto the plane. The latest news is that the country's flight attendants are asking the FAA to step in and set industrywide standards. The Savvy Traveler's Geo Beach sent us a postcard after seeing one garment bag too many.

Next Week on The Savvy Traveler...
What's a guy to do when his carry-on is bigger and far more delicate than he is?

"A string bass, you see, is as fragile as a violin and as bulky as an NFL linebacker. Not the kind of thing you can entrust to the airline baggage gorillas."

The hazards of carting a string bass cross-country. Speaking of hazards, we'll have tips on how to pack an emergency kit for all trips. And a book lover travels overseas to visit some old friends...the Bronte sisters.

"They are romantic, they are Gothic. As my mother-in-law said, every woman should have a Heathcliff in her life"

A literary journey to England, and your suggestions for the best place to ring in the year 2000. That and more so please come along for the ride in next week's edition of The Savvy Traveler.

For tapes of the show
If you want your very own copy of The Savvy Traveler, order an audio cassette. It's easy. Just call 303-823-8000. The price is $15. As Rudy says, it's a steal.

The Savvy Traveler Newsletter
The Savvy Traveler newsletter is now available. For more information, call toll-free, 888-SAV-TRAV (888-728-8728), extension 3, or e-mail mail@savvytraveler.org.

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