If you've ever had the urge to live the good life on a Greek island, Constantin Mavrikis is waiting in the wings. Mavrikis, born in Greece, is steering American travelers to homes/villas on a dozen of the best-known islands in the Aegean. Beach houses on Skyros and Corfu. Others on Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Paros, Amorgos, Crete. Rates from $65 U.S. a night for a one-bedroom hideaway to $175 for a two-bedroom bungalow (kitchen, bath, swimming pool, tennis court). Mykonos, with its whitewashed homes/churches, is an island favored by other Americans. Book for a week or the entire summer. Mavrikis also provides maid service, rental cars, airport pickups.
Constantin Mavrikis, Complete Vacations Inc., 38 West 39th St., New York 10018, or call (212) 944-7909.
A Small Hotel
There's no question, Bruges is Belgium's most romantic village. A network of canals, flower stalls, a colorful marketplace, ancient homes. The Pandhotel is a good choice for travelers looking for a touch of elegance. Only 18 rooms with baths, color TV. This is an old house that's been renovated. A handsome lobby-lounge with crystal chandeliers, a cozy bar. In a quiet section of Bruges near the canals. For $289 U.S. (two nights, two persons) you get lodging, a daily breakfast buffet, a guided tour of town, tickets to the top museums, dinner in one of Bruges' best restaurants (wine included), a gift and a canal trip.
Write to Pandhotel, Pandreitje 16, Bruges, Belgium.
Scottish Country House
Shieldhill Manor is an 800-year-old Norman manor between Edinburgh and Glasgow that's been restored by a couple of Californians (Christine Dunstan, who owns the Cheshire Cat Inn in Santa Barbara, and ex-travel agency exec Jack Greenwald). They spent a year putting Shieldhill in shape. Nine rooms, all with private baths. Some with wood-burning fireplaces, four-poster beds, Jacuzzis. Guests are pampered. Terry-cloth robes, special soaps, hair dryers. Travelers relax over coffee in an oak-paneled lounge. The resident ghost rattles through the house. Shieldhill was built in 1199. A member of the prestigious Romantik Hotels & Restaurants group. Rates (double occupancy) run 79/119.
Contact Andrea Dunstan in Tarzana at (818) 345-7704.
Ireland has an ambitious campaign under way to attract new travelers. Incentives include a $50 rebate for car rentals between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15. This is a government deal in cooperation with the Car Rental Council of Ireland. Book in advance or wait till you get to the Auld Sod. Renters must take a car for at least seven days. Travelers booking fly-drive packages qualify for the rebate. The cost is being shared by the government in an effort to attract off-season travelers.
Contact the Irish Tourist Board, 757 3rd Ave., 19th Floor, New York 10017, or telephone (212) 418-0800.
Italy has produced a handy guide (78 pages) that's filled with general information for travelers. Contains summaries on the country's 20 regions. Names airlines that serve Italy, tells about customs regulations, currency, tipping, banking hours, climate. Lists flea markets, sightseeing, guide services, advice on papal audiences, addresses for villa/apartment rentals, youth hostels, museums, art galleries. There's a calendar of events (music festivals, concerts, art exhibitions) and a section that tells how to secure tickets for musical/theatrical events. Other sections cover golf, tennis, yachting, riding, fishing, winter sports.
Free copies from the Italian Government Travel Office, 360 Post St., Suite 801, San Francisco 94108.
Travel Health Service
A group of Santa Monica physicians is specializing in health services for travelers. Operating as an official vaccination center, they provide required/recommended vaccinations. Travelers fill in a questionnaire to determine health risks they may face overseas. Details are fed into a computer using the latest advisories from the Centers for Disease Control, the State Department and the World Health Organization. Patients are given an 80-page (pocket-size) health guide written by one of the physicians. Medical kits also available. Tips on jet lag, motion sickness, exotic diseases. Destinations covered by the medical group range from Angola to Zimbabwe.
For questions about fees/consultations, contact Travel Health Service c/o Santa Monica Physicians, 804 7th St., Santa Monica 90403, (213) 395-5588.
Cheaper in Japan
It's difficult to imagine anything being cheap in Japan, but the nation's tourist office has produced a leaflet listing nearly 200 "inexpensive" restaurants in 16 cities. Japanese, Chinese, Western-style meals (even a Golden Arches and a Shakey's listed). These restaurants are scattered from Sapporo on Hokkaido to Kagoshima on Kyushu Island. Besides naming restaurants, the JNTO leaflet gives addresses/telephone numbers of tourist information centers. Free copies from the Japan National Tourist Organization, 624 S. Grand Ave., Suite 2640, Los Angeles 90017. Telephone (213) 623-1952.