The name Val d'Isere has always intrigued me. This is a ski resort in the French Alps. Miles of runs. Known for some of the best skiing anywhere on the Continent. Val d'Isere looks down on the world from an elevation of 6,000 feet. The first lift started operating in 1934. Since then the village has grown into one of those picture-post card beauties. Together with neighboring Tignes, more than 100 lifts line the mountains. Runs from steep and fast to nice 'n' easy. Dozens of inns, hotels. But here's something you may want to check out: a couple of restored farmhouses that have been turned into luxury ski homes. Views of the Solaise and Bellevard mountains. Free bus service. Proprietor David McCullum says he'll give you "unbiased advice" concerning the best ski guides, instructors, ski shops, restaurants. Rates from 15,000 to 30,000 francs per week ($1,698 to $3,396) for up to 10 guests. Contact McCullum c/o Mountain Lodges, 65 Les Andes, 73150 Val d'Isere, France, or telephone 79-06-20-77.
Here's an opportunity to play like John Wayne in one of those old Western flicks. Only in Germany instead of the United States. You ride a stagecoach along the lower Rhine between Krefeld and Xanten. (This is a few miles north of Duesseldorf.) Three days for about $160. A Friday-to-Sunday deal. The package includes a couple of nights in a hotel, several meals. Passengers don Old World clothing. As a result, the group looks something like the reincarnation of characters who roamed Germany during King Ludwig's time. Write to Verkehrsverein, Konigstrasse 170, 4150 Krefeld, West Germany. The local German tourist office (444 S. Flower St., Suite 2230, Los Angeles 9007l) can fill you in on other details.
You might also ask about a handy new brochure that's filled with tips on Hamburg. Tells all about "shore leaves for lovers, night owls, big spenders, artists, gourmets." Contains maps, other helpful information. Copies from "Anchor In Hamburg," 26 Broadway, Suite 911, New York 10004.
The Swedes have come up with a super saver, one-week package. Costs $495 for the round-trip flight to Stockholm from New York, a hotel for six days, breakfast daily, a sightseeing tour of the Swedish capital. Effective Tuesday, valid through April, 1986. One of the season's best buys. Involves a variety of activities. Everything from ice skating to cooking courses and a cruise through the waters of Stockholm. Contact the Swedish Tourist Board, 655 3rd Ave., New York 10017. Ask them to send you the booklet, "Stimulating Stockholm."
Australia Letters Subhed
Here's another cheapie: Australia/New Zealand, 23 days for $1,549. Figures out to about $67 a day, including the air fare from LAX, deluxe accommodations, visits to Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane, Auckland. Trips are offered by the Worldwide Discount Club, 1674 Meridian Ave., Miami, Fla. 33139. Same club offers other bargains. A week in France/Switzerland will cost you $779 with the round-trip flight out of Boston, hotels, sightseeing. Dozens of other low-cost offers. Cruising ($325 for a week in the Caribbean), car rentals (save up to 40%). Family memberships on sale. You receive a travel bulletin every three weeks telling about the latest bargains. Contact the club for other details.
Overseas travelers have been complaining of getting ripped off on phone calls to the United States. In most cases hotels are to blame. They tack on surcharges amounting to as much as 300%. Sometimes more. Example: One couple made a $39 call from Italy to the United States. The hotel added a $117 surcharge. When the couple objected the hotel threatened to call the police. Rather than fight, the guests paid. Now AT&T has come up with a solution called Teleplan, an agreement whereby certain hotel groups limit the amount that can be added as a surcharge. Agreements with hotel associations in Ireland, Israel, Panama, Portugal as well as Hilton International, Marriott, Inter-Hotels of Switzerland, Novotel Hotels in Germany/Austria, Regent International of the Orient. For a free brochure describing the plan call toll-free (800) 874-4000 or write to the International Calling Information Center, AT&T Communications, 500 Amsterdam Ave. N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30306.
Freighter buffs are looking forward to a new service to Hawaii, French Polynesia, Samoa. A rerun of Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific." Only you'll have to wait for a while. First sailings will probably be in September '86. Worth putting on your calendar, though. A total of seven ports of call. These will be 32-day trips out of Los Angeles, San Francisco. Year-round departures. Ships will carry 175 passengers. No age limit. All outside cabins. A few suites. Dress will be casual. Rates from $4,500, or about $140 a day. Details from Freighter World Cruises, 180 S. Lake Ave., Suite 335, Pasadena 91101.