We've had excellent reports on the restored Hotel Union Square in San Francisco. Now management has posted a special offer of $59 a night (through March 31) that includes accommodations (single or double), free parking, complimentary champagne, continental breakfast. Regular rates begin at $72. The Union Square provides a number of extras: custom toiletries, evening turndown service and a concierge to answer your questions, assist with sightseeing, reservations. This is a small hotel (only 131 rooms). A good location: two blocks from the downtown airport terminal, about a block from Union Square, a couple of blocks from the Moscone Convention Center.
Hotel Union Square, 114 Powell St., San Francisco 94102. Telephone toll-free (800) 553-1900.
Will Royston and Susi Staunton have a peach of a beach home on the ocean in Cambria, the charming little artists' village along the Central California coast. Their cottage rises below Lodge Hill. A mesmerizing view. Tide pools to explore at low tide, and exploding surf at high tide. Sea otters, seals, cormorants. This is a modern two-story home with three bedrooms, two baths, two fireplaces (one in the master bedroom). Extras include a Jacuzzi, cable TV. From the photos we've seen it looks like the perfect hideaway for the couple with stars in their eyes. The rates: $100 per night double, $600 per week, or $150 a night for two couples, $900 weekly. Prices remain the same year-round.
In a postscript, Royston and Staunton told of buying the house "after seeing it only once," which indicates the magic. Contact them at 3216 Serra Road, Malibu 90265. (Both are affiliated with the J. Paul Getty Museum.)
New Zealand Farm Stays
Our pen pal, June Hawes of New Zealand Travel Hosts, writes with details on farm and home stays in her country. The price of accommodations range from $29 per person per night (B&B) to $43 per person (bed, breakfast and dinner). Hawes says she gives personal replies to all inquiries. She charges nothing for planning itineraries and answering your questions.
Hawes publishes a booklet describing farms and homes in Auckland, the Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier, New Plymouth and Te Awamute on the North Island, and Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Wanaka, Te Anau, Omaru and Marlborough on the South Island. Others at Hawke's Bay, Taupu, Clevedon, Otorohanga, Hunterville, Hawera, Masterton, Eketahuna, Gisborne, North Canterbury, South Canterbury, Akaroa Harbor.
Contact Hawes c/o New Zealand Travel Hosts, 279 Williams St., Kaiapoi, Christchurch, New Zealand.
If you're kicking around ideas for a summer vacation, you might want to check out a Windjammer Cruise. The Maine Windjammer Assn. operates 14 vessels through Maine's Penobscot Bay. These are week-long adventures. No planned itinerary. The captain sets his course according to the whims of the winds and tides. Each evening you anchor in a quiet harbor. During the day passengers row ashore to explore uninhabited islands, or ride the launch for a picnic lunch at a New England village. Other meals are served family-style on board the Windjammer. One night is given over to a down-east lobster bake on the beach (lobsters, clams, corn steamed in seaweed).
The statistics: $395/$520 per passenger per week (all inclusive). Ships sail June through September. For brochures, contact the Maine Windjammer Assn., P.O. Box 317P, Rockport, Me. 04856, or call toll-free (800) 624-6380.
Cebu Cruises is scheduling another series of voyages for nonsmokers to the fiords of British Columbia. A choice of eight- or 11-day journeys. This family-operated mini-cruise accommodates eight guests in four state rooms. Two cabins feature upper/lower berths, two provide double beds. Guests share a couple of baths on this 52-foot vessel. Besides the ban on smoking, alcohol is also forbidden on board. Passengers cruise one way and fly back by float plane. From Seattle, the itinerary takes in Washington's San Juan islands, the Gulf Islands, the Strait of Georgia. Nights are spent in fiords "as silent as a twinkling star."
The statistics: Costs are $920 per person (double occupancy) for the eight-day cruise, $1,210 for 11 days. Write to Cebu Cruises, 1017 168th Avenue S.E., Bellevue, Wash. 98008-6043, or telephone (206) 746-3414.
America's bargain hunters are zeroing in on Costa Rica. The cheapest destination in Central America. Hotels in San Jose run about $50 for a double, and cabins on the beach are $13/$17 per night.
Tomas Isador de la Ossa, the local director of Costa Rica's National Tourist Bureau, reminds Americans that his country isn't involved in the political problems with Nicaragua. Indeed, Costa Rica doesn't even keep an army.
"Costa Ricans aren't fighters," says de la Ossa, "they're dreamers." They have a healthy economy and let it be known that they court bird-watchers, rafters, divers and sun worshipers (a choice of Caribbean or Pacific Coast beaches).