Some of the season's best vacation buys come from Ireland. For $102 you can book a thatched cottage for a full week at Donegal Bay. This is the cost per person for a party of five, including daily deep-sea fishing. Another for golfers is offered by the Conyngham Arms Hotel at Slane (bed, breakfast, dinner and golf for three days at Baltray, Bettystown and Royal Tara golf clubs for $152). For riders, the O'Sullivan Farm (in association with Killarny Riding Stables) has put together a deal that includes a room with bath, breakfast and dinner daily (plus a horse) for only $255 per week. Details from the Irish Tourist Board, 757 3rd, New York 10017 or telephone (212) 418-0800.
New Zealand Giveaway
Here's another bargain: New Zealand on $3 a day. This is the price for five nights' hotels in Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane in conjunction with Air New Zealand fares to New Zealand ($796) or Australia ($896). Offer is valid May 1-Sept. 30. Tickets must be purchased 14 days prior to departure. (Stopovers not permitted.) See your travel agent or call Air New Zealand toll-free (800) 262-1234 (continental U.S.A.) or (800) 521-4059 (Alaska and Hawaii).
Hawaiian Wedding Song
June is coming up, that month when couples with stars in their eyes begin thinking of wedding bells. Hawaii has several options. Entire productions are arranged by Peter and Bobi Fithian. Announcements, flowers, license, minister, priest, rabbi, guru. Peter and Bobi do everything but stand in for the groom. Write to the Fithians c/o Greeters of Hawaii, P.O. Box 29638, Honolulu 96820 or call toll-free (800) 367-2669.
Coco Palms Resort on Hawaii's Garden Island of Kauai has a new toll-free "heart line" for couples planning weddings/honeymoons. Ask for Moya Donahue at (800) 426-2779. Ceremonies are conducted in a chapel built for an old Rita Hayworth film. Rises in a huge coconut grove. Like the Fithians, the resort staff programs everything from flowers and music to a videoptape of the ceremony. Says Donahue: "We can even arrange for a helicopter to fly over and drop plumeria blossoms." Three-night wedding packages begin at $530.
Other weddings are produced at Kona Village Resort on the Big Island. One of the world's really romantic settings. Here again, they do the whole pineapple: wedding, pictures, flowers, cake, etc. Ceremonies conducted on the beach at sunset. Kona Village features thatched bungalows. The perfect setting for romance. No cars, no crowds. Just blazing sunsets and the fragrance of plumeria. Write to Kona Village Resort, P.O. Box 1299, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96745 or telephone toll-free (800) 367-5290.
For Train Buffs
A new booklet for train buffs gives the lowdown on the Istanbul Orient Express, the Polar Express and other trains operating on the Continent. The Polar Express covers 2,000 miles of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Nine sleepers (plus Vistadome cars that make this a spectacular journey). The Orient Express tour operates from Zurich to Istanbul. This booklet describes other trips in Switzerland as well as Alpine bus tours. For a booklet write to Europe Train Tours Inc., 17372 Chicago Ave., Yorba Linda, Calif. 92686 or telephone toll-free (800) 445-0191 in California or (800) 551-2085 outside the state.
Dozens of homes and apartments are listed by New Orleans Bed & Breakfast. They're scattered everywhere from the French Quarter and the Garden District to the lake front. Founder of this B&B operation, Sarah-Margaret Brown, says she's "found accommodations for corporate heads, backpackers, Girl Scouts, family groups." Lists apartments in the French Quarter with four-poster beds, lofts, balconies. In the Garden District she has an 1840s home "brimming with antiques and elegance" and another where champagne brunches are served on Sunday. She'll also put you up in an antebellum home overlooking Lake Pontchartrain where the proprietor serves a full plantation breakfast.
Write to Brown c/o New Orleans Bed & Breakfast, P.O. Box 8163, New Orleans, La. 70182 or telephone (504) 949-6705.
Mary Halpern of Montebello asks about villa rentals in the Caribbean. Try Travel Resources, P.O. Box 1043, Coconut Grove, Fla. 33133 (telephone toll-free (800) 327-5039). These people represent more than 200 villas in Jamaica alone. Hundreds more in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Barbados, St. Martin, St. Barts, Antigua, St. Lucia. Others in Mexico (Cozumel, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta) and Florida (Key West, Key Largo, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando).
Properties range from studio apartments to deluxe villas with swimming pools, maids, cooks, gardeners. Prices begin at about $450 per week. Clients range from student groups to families, honeymooners of every age. TR also arranges for car rentals and airport pickup. They'll also have the refrigerator stocked when you arrive if you so bid.