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Discovering Alpine EuropeJune 1, 2007 By: Jennifer Merritt Home-Based Travel Agent
A trip to the Alpine region can be a versatile vacation for seasoned travelers looking for a different spin on Europe
The Alpine region might be best-suited for high-end clients or active families, as the Alps offer plenty of luxury accommodations nestled in its ski slopes. New hotels pop up regularly, the airlift is easy and most major tour operators offer itineraries there.
Book clients for an Alpine stay at a private chalet or in a room or suite at one of the region's many properties, which include a variety of hoteliers from Best Western to boutique hotels.
Opening this month in the lakeside village of Velden, Austria, Schloss Velden, a Capella Hotel (www.schlossveldencapella.com), is said to be a renowned landmark in Austria's Carinthian region, which houses Lake Woerth, the largest Alpine lake in Europe. The property houses 66 rooms and 45 private residences, and all offer views of the surrounding lake, gardens and mountains. Schloss Velden also has its own beach club and private marina. Agents can contact Kit Pappas, vice president of sales for Capella Hotels and Resorts, at 404-649-7032.
Switzerland's Zurich Airport (www.zurich-airport.com) tends to be the gateway to the Alpine region. More than 120 airlines operate there, and it serves as a hub for Swiss International Air Lines (www.swiss.com),
British Airways (www.britishairways.com),
Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) and Air France (www.airfrance.com); all carriers connect Zurich with more than 50 countries. United States-based operators include Continental Airlines (www.continental.com),
Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com),
United Airlines (www.united.com) and US Airways (www.usairways.com). Clients looking to fly in style can book through Emirates (www.emirates.com).
For clients who prefer a summer Alpine stay, Globus (www.globustravelagent.com) takes guests through a 16-day tour of the Alpine countries, which begins in Frankfurt and travels on to places such as Munich and Salzburg. Trips depart through mid-October. Pricing for the land/cruise tour starts at about $2,100, depending on a client's departure date. Commissions are granted on a sliding scale, which is based on how much Globus product the agency—not the individual agent—sells.
For skiers, snowboarders and adventure seekers, Alpine Adventures (www.alpineadventures.net) can customize the ultimate trip to one of the more popular destinations in Alpine Europe: Zermatt, Switzerland. Some ski slopes there have trails that rise more than 12,000 feet, while others are close enough to Italy that you can ski to Cervinia for lunch, the company says. Alpine Adventures offers deals and vacation packages to Zermatt, but their specialty is customized tours, so agents should call for pricing. Agents can call the Fort Lauderdale, FL-based company at 800-755-1330. They offer commissions of 10 to 12 percent, depending on an agent's consortia affiliation.
For those who love to shop, Gutsy Women Travel (www.gutsywomentravel.com) offers a 10-day Christmas Markets Danube River Cruise. Despite its name, Gutsy Women Travel's sea and river cruises are appropriate for both women and men. On this trip, guests sail from Regensburg, Germany, to Vienna, Austria, with plenty of port time to browse the famous markets in the Alpine cities along those banks. Plus, this trip includes a bonus two nights at the Hilton Prague hotel (www.hilton.com). The trip departs November 24, 2007, and is priced at $1,779, not including airfare, taxes and fees, port charges, optional excursions and tips. Commission is 10 percent.
For a different twist on Alpine Europe, offer clients Avanti Destinations' (www.avantidestinations.com) "Austria Wine and Spa Package" in the town of Langenlois, just north of the Danube River, and Vienna. This three-day getaway can be booked at any time and is priced at $718 per person, which is based on double occupancy, not including airfare. This covers just about every amenity a guest would need, from a stay at the Loisium Hotel (
www.loisiumhotel.at), to a one-hour massage and three wine tastings at a nearby wine museum, as well as taxes and service charges. They offer 10 percent commission with volume overrides for participating organizations. For more information, call 800-422-5053.
Travcoa's (www.travcoa.com) "Magnificent Alpine Lakes" journey offers a longer luxurious stay in the Alpine region. The 12-day trip meets in Geneva, Switzerland, and travels by train to Milan, Italy, where guests will end their trip. In between, they'll enjoy such perks as views of the Matterhorn mountain range, explore medieval castles and view Leonardo DaVinci's "The Last Supper." Departure dates for 2007 are August 19 and September 9. Pricing per person is $9,395, not including airfare. Trip dates for 2008 are August 22 and September 19. Call 866-591-0070 for pricing. They offer 10 percent commission.