Here's a money-saver for readers in the market for inexpensive flights. A new Los Angeles-based travel service digs out the cheapest air fares available day by day and passes the information along free to you. Tom Rowland and Joan Zane sift through a maze of figures to compile the best deals. Here is one example: A San Francisco woman was quoted $303 by an airline for a one-way ticket to Raleigh, N.C. Rowland and Zane came up with a trip costing only $185. All it took was a change of planes in Newark instead of Atlanta. The Rowland/Zane service is called Farefinders. No charges, no obligation. Farefinders will also make your reservations for hotels, car rentals, etc. Write to Farefinders, 251 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211, or telephone (213) 652-6305.
Tailwind Tours is cranking up for another season. Bike trips through Northern California's wine country, Mendocino/Sonoma Coast, Point Reyes National Seashore, the Russian River, Santa Ynez Valley, the gold country of the Sierra, etc. These are quality tours. No shortcuts in service. Groups stay in Victorian homes, historic hotels, mountain hideaways and coastal resorts. Bikers travel 20/40 miles a day. Or you can wing it (wrap up extra miles) or save energy by hitching a ride in the van that carries the gear. Rates include shelter, breakfast, an "all-you-can-eat" buffet lunch daily. At dinnertime you're on your own except for two special occasions. Take your own bike and helmet or rent one or both from Tailwind. Prices from $199 for a three-day trip to the Solvang/Santa Ynez Valley to $499 for six days along the North Coast. Contact Tim Blake, Tailwind Tours, P.O. Box 65562, Los Angeles 90065, or telephone (213) 254-3363.
A travel guide featuring color maps of the 50 states, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico is a new giveaway. Another: An atlas with color maps of 14 European countries. Write to Best Western International, P.O. Box 10203, Phoenix, Ariz. 85064-0203. Specify whether you want the "North American Travel Guide," the "European Travel Guide"--or both. No postage necessary.
Ty Jurras, innkeeper at Chester House in Chester, Vt., tells us that Chester House was destroyed by fire in January. Asks readers who sent deposits in response to an article featuring Chester House and other Vermont inns to write to him for a refund at P.O. Box 218, Chester, Vt. 05143. Or readers may leave a recorded message by calling (802) 875-2871. The inn is permanently closed. Damage to the structure/antiques: $350,000.
Karen Murphy of the Hyatt Regency Maui slipped into Los Angeles the other day. Carried a message telling of three honeymoon packages: "Spirit of Romance," "Sweet Splendor" and "Regency Romance." (OK, maestro, a few bars of "I Love You Truly.") These plans include ocean-front rooms, champagne breakfasts, pineapples, complimentary evening cocktails, etc. Prices start at $450. Plans range from two nights to six nights. For other details drop a note to Karen Murphy, Hyatt Regency Maui, 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761-1990. Ask for a brochure describing these "packages for the lovelorn."
The 1985 editions of the immensely popular "Mobil Travel Guides" are in the bookstores. Seven regional editions cover 48 states plus Canadian provinces bordering the United States. Inspectors have rated 20,000 hotels/motels and restaurants. One to five stars each. Other details on visitor attractions, national, state parks. Bonuses include discount coupons, state and city road maps. On sale at your bookstore and Mobil service stations. Guides sell for $7.95 each. Worth every penny.
The Franco-American Cultural Exchange is looking for students who would like to spend a month with a French family this summer. Invitations are for July/August. Any student 12-32 years of age. The program costs $895. Figures out to less than $30 a day for the round-trip air fare, meals, lodging. A real bargain. Contact Penelope Walsh, Franco-American Cultural Exchange, 1081 Westwood Blvd., Suite 216, Los Angeles 90024, or telephone (213) 208-5542.
Seattle, Wash.--M.S. Pistey, Los Angeles: "A lovely B&B five minutes north of downtown Seattle, $30/$50: Chelsea Station, 4915 Linden Ave., North Seattle, Wash. 98103."
France--Barbara Snowdon, Redlands: Recommends the "charming Les Hotel Doctrinaires, 32 Rue Nationale, Quai General de Gaulle at the corner of Rue Rabelais, 30300 Beaucaire, France. Thirty rooms. A large double room costs around $23. Excellent dining room. This is near Arles, Avignon, Nimes (Provence).