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THE OPULENT express. . .top of the line tours

March 20, 1988|SHARON DIRLAM | Times Staff Writer

This is our dreamer's column.

There are few of us who wouldn't enjoy the life style of the rich and famous (or even the ordinary rich).

So even if the bank account is low, we can pretend, can't we?

An ultra-luxurious vacation on the lush Caribbean island of St. Thomas is designed especially for loving couples. They'll waste not a moment fretting at the price tag of $10,326 per couple for seven nights of blissful comfort and seven days of pure pleasure.

The sense of being completely taken care of begins when they step off the plane. They'll be picked up at the airport by helicopter and whisked away to the Stouffer Grand Beach Resort, where they'll be ensconced in a two-bedroom town house complete with Jacuzzi and fully stocked bar (including Dom Perignon champagne, of course).

Their private helicopter will also take them one day to a secluded island for a private gourmet lunch. Another romantic interlude will be a gourmet dinner served in their suite by a tuxedoed waiter. And their private helicopter will stand by again to take them to Puerto Rico for dining and gaming.

While some couples may choose to sleep until noon, bask on the beach or take long strolls, others may decide to learn scuba diving in private lessons and then go for an escorted dive, or take a ride by private motorboat to the Baths of Virgin Gorda. A chauffeured limo stands ready to take them on sightseeing tours of the island and shopping expeditions. On another day, they may go for a sail on a private skippered yacht.

And if they can't tear themselves away after a week of pleasure and fun, extra nights are available to them at $340 (per person) a night for as long as they wish to linger. High season is through mid-April. After that the price drops to $9,500 per couple. Air fare is extra.

Meanwhile, 90 people will sign on for "world cruises by private jet," the 11th year of the popular excursion offered by Hemphill Harris Travel Corp.

For the flights, an American Trans Air L-1011, which normally seats 344 passengers, is refitted with 90 first-class seats, spacious lounges and a stand-up bar. Guests are accompanied by the same cabin crew throughout their journey and are served fine cuisine, champagnes and vintage wines.

Golfers are catered to on the September excursion, a 28-day itinerary featuring exclusive and celebrated clubs in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bali, Bangkok, Delhi, Nairobi, Rabat and Edinburgh. Golf courses include Gleneagles, St. Andrews, Royal Hong Kong, Royal Nairobi and Delhi Golf Club. Tournaments and lessons are conducted by pros who will accompany the tour. Non-golfers will have plenty of shopping, sightseeing and other activities. The price, per person, is $28,000.

At the same price is the original 35-day itinerary, in October, to Fort Lauderdale, Rio de Janeiro, Easter Island, New Zealand, Bali, Beijing and Xian in China, Hong Kong, Delhi, Tanzania and Monaco, and including a weeklong cruise in French Polynesia aboard the beautiful Wind Song.

Hemphill Harris promises passengers the finest luxury accommodations available at each destination, unrestricted a la carte dining in the passenger's choice of restaurants, all excursions, admittance fees, tips and other extras.

Speaking of large, impressive planes, an Air France Concorde flight between New York and Paris is featured on a "Supersonic Special to the French Open" offered by Jet Vacations June 1-6. The French Open Tennis Championships will find the Concorde travelers seated at center court for both the women's and men's semifinals and finals. For $3,750 a person they'll also get accommodations at the four-star Inter-Continental Hotel, daily continental breakfast and a designer scarf. Voila!

Also for the tennis set, the great tradition of Wimbledon continues to attract the world's top tennis players, this year June 20 to July 3. Pat Cash and Martina Navratilova will defend their titles. The "Traditional Wimbledon" program provides VIP hospitality with fine catering, wines and champagnes, along with the best seats.

A reserved table for luncheon, refreshments during the afternoon, traditional tea and other privileges are included in the rate, depending, of course, on whether you pay the minimum, $950 a day, or the maximum, $2,200 a day. Arrangements are by TravelTix International, a division of Humbert Travel. This doesn't include hotel accommodations, but the firm will help you with those arrangements as well.

"Brideshead and Beyond" is a tour designed in the grand manner inspired by Evelyn Waugh's novel, "Brideshead Revisited." Travelers will spend a day in the Royal Enclosure at the Ascot Races, with gentlemen in morning dress and ladies in picture hats and gloves.

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