Vacationers can beat the high cost of European travel by using a couple of Swissair hotel vouchers. You'll pay between $27 and $39 per person, double occupancy. (Rental cars for as little as $119 a week.) The hotel vouchers (guaranteed in U.S. dollars) are fully refundable. One program lists 150 hotels in Switzerland. The other books 368 hotels in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands. Everything from chalets to contemporary hotels. Along with the voucher program, Swissair has produced a 40-page booklet covering rail tours, motor-coach travel, Rhine cruises, independent hotel packages. Details from your travel agent or by calling Swisspak toll-free at (800) 424-3424.
Down on the Farm
Maine in summertime is New England at its best, particularly for those travelers vacationing on farms. Opportunities at 16 destinations. Everything from an 18th-Century farmhouse to a renovated country schoolhouse. This is a flashback to a gentler era. Storer Pond Farm has been in the same family since the early 1700s. Rises on 239 acres of woodlands/fields where guests swim/boat in a huge pond. Meals served family style. Other farms feature hiking trails, pastures with black Angus cattle. The directory contains rates/descriptions of farms along with a map of Maine. For your free copy of "Farm B&B/Vacation Directory," write to the Maine Publicity Bureau, 97 Winthrop St., Hallowell, Me. 04347.
Casa de las Chimeneas, a bed and breakfast in Taos, N.M., has been named one of the Southwest's "10 most romantic places." Rooms with kiva fireplaces, sheepskin mattress pads, down pillows. Baths with Mexican tile. The hacienda and garden are surrounded by an adobe wall. Cottonwoods spread their shade. Mountains spill musically in the courtyard. This 1,000-year-old art colony rises on a sagebrush-covered mesa at the 7,000-foot level, with a view of the 13,000-foot Sangre de Cristos Mountains. The Red River flows into the Rio Grande below the plateau. A full American breakfast is served, as are afternoon hors d'oeuvres, at rates ranging from $85 single/$95 double. A suite that accommodates four adults rents for $145 a night. Innkeeper Susan Vernon and her staff pack complimentary picnic lunches for guests booking rooms for three or more nights.
Casa de las Chimeneas, Box 5303, Taos, N.M. 97571. Call (505) 758-4777.
A Letter From Britain
Michael Blanchard (represents Rural Retreats in Britain) sends along this note: "We have a group of up-market holiday homes, mainly in the Cotswolds, as well as two in the Yorkshire Dales and one in Scotland. The holiday homes market in the U.K. often has too many restrictions on guests, the main one being that guests must arrive on Saturdays and stay for seven nights, which is of little use to overseas visitors who are usually arranging two or three nights in various centers in order to see as much as possible. We have solved the problem by allowing our guests to choose their own day of arrival and stay as short a time as two days. Rates in summer range from 123 to 216 (weekly rates start at 260). Rural Retreats is not a booking agency for private homeowners. Instead, the company owns all properties listed in the catalogue. Says Blanchard: "The furniture is mainly antique and has been expertly chosen by one of our team who used to work at Christie's." On arrival, guests are given a welcome hamper of wines. In some instances, dinner is delivered to your door.
Rural Retreats, Wells Farmhouse, Paxford, Gloucestershire GL55 6XH, England.
On the Road
Meanwhile, a company in Culver City is offering dozens of guided walks through Britain, May to October. Accommodations in country inns, guest homes. Four to 21 days. Prices start at $200 for the four-day walk, including accommodations, meals, guide service and transportation from pickup points. A choice of 20 regions, from the Scottish Highlands to the Yorkshire Dales. (In Cumbria, the group is provided shelter in the heart of the national park where William Wordsworth penned many of his poems.)
Details from Daphne Sturrock, The English Experience, 5600 Kensington Way, Suite 307, Culver City 90230. Telephone (213) 641-6004.
Skiing the Himalayas
It's the world's least-expensive skiing. In the village of Gulmarg in the Indian Himalayas, a full-day lift ticket will cost the equivalent of $2.20. For an extra $4 you'll be equipped with skis, boots, gloves, goggles. Gulmarg is about 30 miles from Srinagar. Round-trip fare by helicopter between Srinagar and Gulmarg is $40. This is the only ski resort in the Indian Himalayas. Geared mainly for the novice. Good cross-country skiing along with downhill skiing. A single room at the Highlands Park (all meals) is pegged at around $40 a day.
Details from the Government of India Tourist Office, 3550 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 204, Los Angeles 90010. Call (213) 380-8855.
Riding the Rails