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Briton's Bright Idea Resulted in a 40-Year Saga

February 18, 1990|HANK KOVELL | Kovell is a veteran journalist in seniors' interests

Some years ago there was a gentleman in Folkestone, England, who operated a small seaside hotel that suffered from low occupancy during the off-season.

He got the idea of offering inexpensive holidays exclusively to retired people from northern England. The man's idea paid off so well that he decided to develop a service for elderly travelers.

The firm that he founded, Saga Holidays, is observing its 40th anniversary this year. Ten years ago it expanded to the United States, where it is headquartered in Boston.

Saga has issued its 1990 Worldwide Adventures magazine, which features 67 tours that include Great Britain and Ireland, the Americas, Europe and Exotic Worlds. The latter encompasses Egypt and the Nile, India, Australia, a Kenya big game safari, Thailand and cities in Asia.

"Add-on" trips--visits of nine nights or less that may be added to tours booked into the same area--also are listed. Complete tour descriptions, components, departure dates and costs are detailed.

Tour descriptions are enhanced with thumbnail accounts of cities, geography, native animals, customs, historical facts and native art, all highlighted with brilliant color photography, artists' illustrations and maps.

For a free copy, write to Saga Holidays, 120 Boylston St., Boston, Mass. 02116, or call toll-free (800) 343-0273.

A quartet of what are described as "grand old hotels" caters to retirees and mature travelers in a popular vacation area near St. Petersburg on the west coast of Florida.

Package visits sold on a one-month basis include spacious rooms with private bath, full breakfast and dinner every day, weekly maid service, welcome parties, bingo and card parties, live entertainment with bands, in-house movies, laundry facilities and cocktail and theme parties.

These activities can be supplemented at modest cost with fishing trips, boat cruises and jaunts to area attractions and restaurants.

Prices are determined by season and choice of hotel. The most popular months are January through March, when monthly rates are $725 to $925 each for two persons sharing a room. From April through November the rates at the hotels are $700 per person double occupancy, or $825 single.

A two-week special is available April through November at $357 per person double occupancy, or $475 single.

For a brochure and reservation information, contact Senior Vacation Hotels, 7401 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33710, or call toll-free (800) 247-2203.

Another kind of Florida vacation, also on the state's west coast, provides mature travelers with a furnished home rather than a hotel. The Del Tura Country Club is a retirement community in North Ft. Myers a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Rental costs in one of the club's furnished homes vary with the season, size of the home and location. Monthly rentals for two persons are $600 to $1,900, and 10-day rates $350 to $950.

The price includes weekly maid service, linens, dishware and cookware, plus utilities, cable TV, washer-dryer and local phone service. Renters are limited to two adults per household. Minimum age for the guest of any renter is 18, although children are welcome for short visits.

Del Tura has a number of recreational opportunities, including a 27-hole golf course. Shopping malls, entertainment centers, hospitals and houses of worship are nearby. Del Tura is 140 miles from Orlando, 120 miles from Miami.

For reservation information or a brochure, write to Del Tura Country Club, 18621 N. Tamiami Trail, North Ft. Myers, Fla., 33903, or call toll-free (800) 237-8678.

In the Feb. 11 Mature Traveler column the wrong telephone number was printed for more information on the Senior HHonors discount travel program sponsored by Hilton Hotels. The correct number is toll-free (800) 445-8667, Ext. 901.

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