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With Faberge Show, Las Vegas Glitters Beyond Its Casinos

June 16, 2002

Starting Aug. 30 you won't have to be a high roller to eyeball a roomful of jewels in Las Vegas. That's when the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art at the casino-resort opens "Faberge and the Age of Imperial Russia," with scores of the master jeweler's works. Tickets go on sale today.

The exhibit, drawing on the Kremlin State Museum and two private collections, includes three of the 50 imperial Easter eggs that Peter Carl Faberge fashioned for the czars' wives and the dowager empress. They are the 1900 Trans-Siberian Railway Egg, which took nine years to create and which contains a miniature locomotive and five train cars; the 1906 Moscow Kremlin Egg, the largest one, with a music box and a model of Uspenski Cathedral; and the 1908 Alexander Palace Egg, made of jade and rubies, with portraits of the five children of Czar Nicholas II.

Most of the more than 100 exhibit items, including cigarette cases, handbags, jewelry and prayer books, were designed by Faberge, gallery president Andrea Bundonis said last week. But there will also be period costumes, including the coronation uniform worn by Nicholas II.

The show runs through Jan. 26. Advance purchase of tickets is recommended. Call (877) 957-9777. Prices are $15 for adults, $12 for students and children 12 and younger. Starting Aug. 30, the gallery will have expanded hours, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Bundonis said.

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Jungle Luxury and Jaguars at Beach Resort in Belize

A small, exclusive beachside eco-resort has opened in Belize near the Cockscomb Basin National Park jaguar preserve.

The Kanantik Reef & Jungle Resort, under development for five years, consists of 25 thatch-roofed, air-conditioned cabanas on a private Caribbean beach 18 miles south of the town of Dangriga (formerly Stann Creek) and about 100 miles south of Belize City. Its name is derived from a Mayan word meaning "to take care," the owners say.

All-inclusive rates of $300 per person per day, double occupancy, include all meals (with Belizean beers and local rum); water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and sailing on catamarans; and daily guided tours such as bird-watching, canoeing, jungle hiking and visits to Mayan ruins and the jaguar preserve (four miles north of the resort). Fishing excursions are available at extra cost.

Guests can fly from Belize City to the resort's private airstrip or to Dangriga, where a resort driver will meet them, or they can drive about 2 1/2 hours from Belize City. Contact the resort for details.

The resort is owned by a private investment group whose principals include Italians Roberto Fabbri, a former custom yacht salesman, and financier Francesco Moscatelli. It is their first hotel venture, a spokeswoman said. (800) 965-9689, www.kanantik.com.

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Discount Air Ticket Seller Fined Over Surcharges

The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined discount air ticket seller Cheap Tickets Inc. $30,000 for failing to include fuel surcharges when it displayed air fares on the Internet and in newspaper advertisements. The company said it is now in compliance.

Omitting the surcharges, typically $20 each way, makes the fares appear less expensive.

In a recent consent order, the DOT stated that Cheap Tickets omitted the surcharges in newspaper advertisements in 2000 and from its online "Power Search" feature at www.cheaptickets.com. Company spokeswoman Dawn Lyon said the print ads were corrected in 2000 and the Web site in June 2001. She said the full price was always displayed before online visitors bought tickets.

The DOT has been cracking down on Internet sites. In March it fined Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) and Site59 (www.site59.com) on charges similar to those in the Cheap Tickets order. Earlier this month, it issued a notice reminding Internet travel sellers to avoid putting up banner ads that promote specific discounts, such as "Save up to 50%," without indicating which air fares the discounts apply to.

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Historic N.Y. Hotel Has New Name, New Look

The landmark Barbizon Hotel on New York's Upper East Side, which opened in the 1920s as a women's residence, is now the Melrose Hotel, New York.

Philadelphia-based Melrose Hotel Co., which bought the property last year, has finished a $40-million renovation begun by its previous owners, Mark Lahood, senior vice president of operations, said last week.

The hotel has added the Landmark Restaurant, which serves breakfast only, and the Library Bar, which serves lunch and dinner. The lobby now has a coffered ceiling, the 306 guest rooms have high-speed Internet access, and $1 million in tuck-pointing was finished, Lahood said. "There were tons of technology updates," he added. The hotel also has a four-story health club and spa, dating to 1998.

Special summer rates start at $169; regular published rates are $229 to $329. The hotel is at 140 E. 63rd St. at Lexington Avenue. (800) 635-7673, www.melrosehotel.com.

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Traveler's Notes ...

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