Irish eyes truly smiling
After reading Andrew McCarthy's article ["Optimism Is in the Air," Sept. 30], I was most pleasantly depressed. Having just been to Ireland in June, it snared my heart, and I long to return. The photos chosen provided the perfect contrast of present and past, and let nobody suggest these were doctored: It truly is that green. An entire series could be devoted to this wonderful country, whose inhabitants sing when they speak, and whose actual songs are as evocative as the country itself.
I just returned yesterday from a week in Ireland and enjoyed this story. I last visited Ireland in the early '90s. This trip we saw the Irish character McCarthy describes: Dublin was bustling. We had a lovely dinner at Il Posto next to St. Stephen's Green. Watched a glowing bride emerge from a Bentley to take her walk down the aisle in the chapel in Kilkenny Castle. Climbed the 89 steps to the top of Trim Castle for an amazing view of the countryside after the sun broke through the clouds — with the truly hysterical Irish guide describing the difficulties of living in the place in the 12th century, including why it was better to be right-handed than left (although the lefties are smarter!).
Had a fantastic dinner at the Mustard Seed in a B&B, near Adair. Stayed at Ashford Castle and spent Sunday afternoon in the jammed Crowe's Nest pub in Cong, where to the dismay of the locals the County Mayo team lost the All Ireland Gaelic Football final. The Guinness was flowing, and the people everywhere were the same friendly and helpful folks I remember from my last visit. Charming.
Regarding "Surprise — There's a 'Resort Fee' to Pay," by Catharine Hamm, On the Spot, Sept. 23: I've been waiting for someone to mention another reason "resort fees" may have become so prominent, but no one has mentioned it, so here it is.
As cities have cut funds for tourism promotion or convention center improvements, funds for such things have to be found through other means. In some cases, that means is a "tourism improvement district" funded by adding a percentage to the local hotel room tax that's dedicated to those tourism activities. When levies are approved, the higher the room rate, the more hotel tax is collected and the more special districts can raise with their percentage of that tax.
However, if the hotel doesn't raise the room rate but instead adds a "resort fee" to the room rate, it typically isn't subject to the hotel tax. Therefore, the hotel can keep the room rate the same but take in more revenue from resort fees, parking fees, Internet fees, etc.
In today's world, everyone wants a deal, and hotel operators aren't immune to that.
Regarding legroom on airplanes ["Upgrade for Comfort's Sake," by George Hobica, Sept. 16]: I have found an easy, free way to get a little extra legroom on airplanes — remove all items except the emergency card in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of you. I put these up above on the carry-on shelf and often gain as much as 2 inches of legroom.