Something new in Australia--the world's first floating resort. Opens in December along the Great Barrier Reef (44 miles northeast of Townsville). The Four Seasons Barrier Reef will combine a 200-room hotel with a nightclub, a couple of bars, a sauna and gymnasium. They'll even have a floating tennis court. Scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, yacht/helicopter trips. Details from Expanding Horizons, 17581 Irvine Blvd., Suite 115, Tustin, Calif. 92280 or telephone toll-free (800) 448-1101. (Outside California dial (800) 421-6461.) For other information on Australia, contact the Austalian Tourist Commission, 2121 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1200, Los Angeles 90067, phone (213) 552-1988.
A new fall package featuring Puerto Rico has been produced by Eastern Airlines in conjunction with Flyfaire Inc. Five- and seven-night trips from a dozen Western cities, including Los Angeles. The five-day package starts at $399 (per person, double occupancy); it's $439 for the seven-night version, including round-trip air fare, hotels. This offer is good through Dec. 15 with the exception of the Nov. 24-30 Thanksgiving period. Contact Flyfaire toll-free at (800) 367-1034, Eastern Airlines or the Puerto Rico Tourism Development Co., 3575 W. Cahuenga Blvd., Suite 248, Los Angeles 90068, phone (213) 874-5991). Ask the tourism company about Puerto Rico's country inns (rates start at $30 per night double). These inns are scattered across the island and offer exceptional atmosphere, peaceful surroundings.
A Letter from Britain
Neil and Joan Castle, proprietors of Allards Guesthouse in Gloucestershire, England, send along this note: "Would like to offer suggestions that may help American travelers get more enjoyment from planning and experiencing a holiday in Britain. First, use a map of Britain and identify the areas you wish to visit (the Cotswolds, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Dartmoor). Draw a circle of roughly 40 miles diameter around each. Find a guest house near the center of the circle and book accommodations for two nights. This way you will have no checking in and out on the second day. This is the day to obtain great benefits from this scheme. Discuss with your host where to go locally in the inner circle you have mapped out. The third day you leave that circle and head toward the next, with your host's advice on what to visit.
"We are often saddened to see the hectic rush of some of our guests who undertake too much distance too quickly. In selecting your guest house, get a copy of The Automobile Assn.'s 'Guesthouses, Farmhouses and Inns in Britain' and the Royal Automobile Club's 'Handbook and Hotel Guide.' We will be pleased to correspond with any reader who cares to contact us. We have connections in other parts of the country. (Would appreciate an international postal coupon to offset the cost of replies.)"
Address: Neil and Joan Castle, Allards, Shurdington Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England GL51 5XA.
Claire Packman has been in the villa rental game for years. In a recent note she tells about properties in Puerto Vallarta/Acapulco. Describes them as "lap-of-living luxury at bargain prices." One villa in Puerto Vallarta features six bedrooms, six baths, a cook and a maid. Price: $550 per night (low season), which figures out to about $46 per person when six couples set up housekeeping together. Another (four bedroom suites, swimming pool, tennis court and terrace overlooking the bay) rents for $605 per night.
In Acapulco, Packman is booking a five-bedroom villa with a staff of three ($685 a night). Other villas worldwide. Contact Packman c/o At Home Abroad, 405 East 56th St. No. 6H, New York 10022 or telephone (212) 421-9165.
Mike Thiel heads a travel club that specializes in villa rentals (Maine to Mexico, Maui to Mykonos). His Hideaways International publishes a guide that describes condos and homes as well as villas. Tells of a studio apartment in Paris in the $40-a-night range, a villa on Spain's Costa del Sol (sleeps six) for $500 a week/$1,500 a month. Or for $250 a week, vacationers can take over a two-bedroom home at Bantry Bay in Ireland. Hideaways lists a Victorian Mews house in London (two blocks from Harrods) that sleeps four, rents for $1,150 per week (cheaper after Jan. 1). Write to Thiel c/o Hideaways International, P.O. Box 1270, Little, Mass. 01460 or telephone toll-free (800) 843-4433.
In Mesa, Ariz., Don Wallace publishes a newsletter aimed at the business traveler and others "short of time." Emphasizes tips for anyone who "has the necessary funds to enjoy luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants." Tells of tours, cruises. Devoted a recent issue to inns in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania. An earlier copy featuring New Orleans named tour companies, and described sightseeing, hotels, restaurants. For a complimentary copy of The Weekender, drop a card to Wallace, P.O. Box 17129, Mesa, Ariz. 85212.