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The Mature Traveler

Rand McNally Book Rates Retirement Places

October 25, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 25-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

From statistics and mail received, it seems that many mature travelers are making their vacation holidays do double duty these days--using them to relax as well as help plan for retirement.

The newest reference available is the new Rand McNally "Retirement Places Rated" ($12.95), by Richard Boyer and David Savageau. It researches 131 places in 38 states that reflect the preferences of many mobile retired persons.

Although they do not by any means include every desirable retirement destination, they do include many of the nation's best and they represent the kinds of places that many people are choosing to retire to.

According to Savageau, co-author of the book, the best way to know what's available when you retire and avoid making a bad choice is to know all that you can about where you want to retire.

The book provides information about everything from climate to the post-retirement employment outlook but, cautions Savageau, it also helps you to visit any area you're considering so that you will know all you can firsthand.

What to Avoid

The three hazards to be avoided, Savageau points out, in judging a vacation destination's attractions as a retirement area are:

First, what you like to do and where you like to go on holiday as an escape when you're working can seem quite different, even boring, when you finally get to do it full time after retirement.

Second, people frequently vacation in a place when the weather there is ideal. Try to make at least one visit during the off-season, or at least look up in "Retirement Places Rated" the climate information before you choose it as a place to live. As pointed out in the book, bioclimatologists have established climate patterns, comfortable for people of retirement age, that differ from those for the population at large.

Third, consider the cost of living, your finances and the need to supplement pension income with part time or other work and the vacation area's job opportunities. Most people do not have the income to be totally independent of help from family members or jobs when they retire.

Helpful Hints

Among the helpful hints offered by the book is to subscribe for a short term to the newspaper of the retirement site you might be considering. After reading a month's worth, you can get an excellent idea of consumer prices, political issues and other matters on the minds of residents.

To measure health-care costs in each place, "Retirement Places Rated" looks at the amounts Medicare permits five typical specialists to charge their mature patients for specific services. These fees are then weighted by how frequently they are billed to older adults across the country. The physicians and their selected services are: family practitioner, internist, psychiatrist, orthopedic surgeon and ophthalmologist.

Personal Safety

Yet another important topic covered by the authors is personal safety scores at the retirement destinations. For each place the book averages the rates for violent and property crimes for the latest five years for which FBI data are available.

But because the authors view property crimes to be much less serious than crimes against people, they give them one-tenth the weight. Each place starts with a base score of zero and points are added according to researched indicators.

According to the book, the overall No. 1-ranked retirement destination in the United States is, surprisingly, the Murray-Kentucky Lake region of western Kentucky. It is also in the heart of a prime vacation area of lakes, forests and state parks.

The book is one of the best and most comprehensive we've seen on the subject and is more than worth the price of $12.95.

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Image Hotels of America is offering a 20% discount to mature travelers, one of the highest offered in the hotel/motel industry. Three Image Hotels operate in the San Diego area and by December, the Image Suites at Moreno Valley near Riverside and Palm Springs will be open. By the end of next year, the chain expects to have 25 to 30 hotels operating throughout the United States and Canada.

Features of the properties include nonsmoking rooms, swimming pool and spa, and van service is available to the airport and all other travel terminals.

At Point Loma, the Image Suites offer two-room suites, color TV with a VCR and access to the film library, wet bar, refrigerator and microwave oven. The adjacent bedroom has either king-size or two double beds, remote color TV and balcony.

For further savings, mature travelers receive a 20% discount off the menu items year-round at Ringles by the Bay, also owned by Image Hotels of America.

Rates for the Encinitas property range from $34 to $75. Rates at Mission Bay range from $39 to $85 and rates at the suites hotel in Point Loma range from $49 to $75 (deluxe rooms) and $69 to $95 (suite rooms). For reservations, phone toll-free (800) 828-8111.

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