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Face-lift for Nashville grande dame

February 23, 2003|Times Staff

One of the grande dames of hostelry, the Hermitage Hotel across from the state Capitol in Nashville, has reopened after 10 months and $17 million worth of renovations that its owner hopes will earn it five diamonds, AAA's highest rating.

It's no idle wish.

The company, Historic Hotels Nashville, earlier upgraded the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va., into five-diamond territory. Like the Hermitage, it had a previous rating of three diamonds.

At the Nashville hotel, which dates to 1910, the lobby's stained-glass ceiling has been restored, the facade has been renovated and guest rooms have been refurnished and fitted with marble tubs.

There are a new fitness center, 24-hour room service (butler service on request) and DVD players and free high-speed Internet access in each guest room. Frequent guests get their own storage trunks.

The Art Deco men's room, a favorite of country-music videos and deal-making legislators, has been upgraded, but its green-and-black brick glass decor remains, a spokesman said. The Capitol Grille's new chef is Sean Brock, formerly of the Jefferson. Rooms start at $210 per night. (888) 888-9414, www.thehermitagehotel.com.

Grand Princess plots new course in the Caribbean

The Grand Princess, scheduled to sail the Mediterranean this summer, will be repositioned to the Caribbean instead, Princess lines has announced.

The 2,600-passenger Grand Princess had been scheduled to make 11 trips of 12 days and two transatlantic trips but instead will sail in the eastern and western Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Its sister ship, the Golden Princess, will continue its Mediterranean schedule.

If the repositioning has affected your travel plans, contact your travel agent or call Princess' customer service department at (800) 421-1700.

Alaska sled race moves north to find more snow

Anchorage--For the first time in its 30-year history, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will start in Fairbanks, Alaska, instead of the Anchorage area because there's not enough snow in the Alaska Range.

The renowned 1,100-mile race westward to Nome, Alaska, is expected to begin March 3 in Fairbanks after a token ceremonial start March 1 in Anchorage, about 360 miles to the south. Officials say the new route more closely follows the one used in 1925 by dog teams delivering lifesaving diphtheria serum -- the run that Iditarod honors.

-- From Associated Press

DEAL OF THE WEEK

A package for spring skiing

Spend a ski weekend at Mammoth from April 4-6 on a tour that includes transportation, lodging and a four-course dinner Saturday night for $219 per person.

Bus departures will be Friday evening, April 4, from Orange County, the South Bay and the San Fernando Valley. Participants share townhomes, with couples occupying private bedrooms and singles sharing lofts. Transportation will be provided to the ski slopes and back Saturday and Sunday. Lift tickets (not included) can be purchased for $57 per day.

On Saturday evening, the group will tour a microbrewery and then dine, with various beers served.

For information, contact Pacific Sports Tours, (310) 798-1234, www.mammothski tours.com.

FREE FOR THE ASKING

Seeing Santa Fe and its splendors

If Santa Fe, N.M., is in your plans, take along a copy of the 2003 visitors guide. It covers museums, galleries, concerts and theater as well as dining and lodging. For a copy, call (800) 777-2489; write to Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 909, Santa Fe, NM 87504-0909; or log on to www.santafe.org and click on "Visitors Guide."

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