MONEY'S 1994 TRAVEL CALENDAR The best-priced, best places to visit in each of the next 12 months
(MONEY Magazine) – So you're looking for adventure? Or a relaxing getaway with the kids? If you experiment with new destinations, off-peak seasons and schedules, your payoff will be terrific. Travel prices have jumped slightly -- 3.1% since last year -- but that's largely because of a 14.7% hike in air fares. Other travel costs are flat or merely tracking inflation, currently at 2.8%. And you can usually take advantage of airline sales that now pop up year round. Here's our guide to 1994's best travel values. All prices are per person, double occupancy, unless noted.
JANUARY Eco-enchanted isle. If you like your Caribbean wild, check out Blackbird Caye, a 4,000-acre private retreat in the Turneffe Islands near the world's second longest barrier reef at 180 miles (behind the Great Barrier Reef at 1,260 miles). A 1 1/2-hour, 32-mile boat ride from the Belize coast, Blackbird Caye is home to a small, environmentally sensitive resort of the same name with beachfront one-room thatched cottages, plus views of dolphins and sea turtles in their natural habitats. Rates include all meals and boat transfers from Belize City. Basic package: $1,100 for seven days; scuba package: $1,350; fishing package: $1,550 (713-658-1142). Taca International Airlines offers the best fares into Belize City ($696 round trip from New York City on weekdays; 800-535-8780). Ski Quebec. For some of North America's best ski deals, head for the Laurentians, 93 miles north of Montreal. For example: Le Club Tremblant in Mont Tremblant is a 115-condo resort area on the banks of Tremblant Lake. A three-night package includes a suite with a fireplace, all activities, breakfasts, dinners, packed lunches and a free shuttle to the more than 30- trail slopes of Mont Tremblant: $230; lift tickets, $38 extra (800-363-2413). Australia's west coast. A continent away from bustling Sydney lie Western Australia's endless-summer beaches and dolphin-filled bays. Qantas features two different three-day tours from Perth, each for $388. The $1,748 round-trip fare from Los Angeles or San Francisco permits one stopover in Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, Sydney or New Zealand, with additional stops for $150 each, provided you stay in Perth for at least seven days (800-227-4500).
FEBRUARY Nepal trek. Explore the snow-crowned Himalayas on Overseas Adventure Travel's two-week Real Affordable Nepal odyssey that departs Feb. 26. Starting and ending in Katmandu, groups of 15 spend four nights in comfortable hotels and eight days camping with meals prepared by Sherpa guides for only $1,241, plus $1,575 round-trip fare from Los Angeles on Thai Airways (800-221-0814). South Africa's new welcome. Now that Nelson Mandela has asked the U.S. to lift all economic sanctions, tourism in South Africa is expected to pick up. It's not too early to plan a trip: With its sumptuous parks and gardens, Eden- like climate and stunning setting at the foot of Table Mountain, Capetown ranks as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Stay at the 103-year-old, 159-room Mount Nelson Hotel for $216 a night (800-237-1236). Round-trip fare from New York City on South African Airways: $2,018 (800-722-9675). Mexican spa. If you want a spa where you can stretch out instead of pumping up, try the Balneario de Gogorron in Mexico's central highlands, an hour's drive south of San Luis Potosi. You'll find 107 degrees F natural thermal- water swimming pools, Roman baths and a big sunken tub in each of the 32 one-room cabins. Daily rates include three meals, and the spa welcomes children age 10 and up: $100 to $135 for two or three people (011-52-48-12-94-35).
MARCH Sun in the saddle. One of the last great Southwest haciendas, the 200-year-old Rancho de la Osa is 66-odd miles from Tucson in the high Sonoran Desert. There's horseback riding for dudes, bird watching for naturalists and a heated swimming pool for the saddle-weary. With meals and activities: $95 a night; Old West Dude Ranch Vacations (800-444-3833). Kids should be at least seven years old for riding. Fragrant Maui. Secluded Hotel Hana Maui, a three-hour drive through a rain forest from the island's teeming tourist area, is set in the lush town of Hana, known for its exotic flowers. The Hana Maui resort is a cluster of 35 luxury one- and two-room cottages set among coconut trees and blazing hibiscus near a black-sand beach; $305 to $425 per night (800-325-3535).
APRIL Holland in bloom. In springtime, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths carpet the Dutch landscape. On Travel Time's motorcoach tour (800-621-4725), groups of 22 spend seven nights in Amsterdam's first-class, 98-room Garden Hotel and enjoy guided day trips to gardens, palaces, museums, 16th-century villages and the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, the largest in the world. The $2,145 tariff includes 14 meals and all airport transfers for those flying KLM. Round trip: $700 from New York City or Atlanta, $800 from Chicago or Houston, $900 from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Cruise to antiquity. This month, the 600-passenger Stella Solaris heads for the western Caribbean for a seven-day cruise, stopping at Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Tours of the 1,000-year-old Mayan pyramids and temples are included. Sail from Galveston, an hour's drive from Houston's Hobby Airport; $873 to $1,971; repeat passengers get $200 off (800-872-6400). New Orleans Garden District. In the 1800s, the Crescent City's English- speaking gentry built their Greek Revival and Queen Anne mansions in the Garden District, which is at its loveliest in early spring. The tempting antique shops along Magazine Street and the throbbing French Quarter are both minutes away by trolley or bus. Stay on the St. Charles streetcar line at the Pontchartrain, the District's newly renovated grande dame ($130 to $180; 800-777-6193); the Columns, a 111-year-old mansion transformed into a European-style inn ($60 to $150; 504-899-9308); or the Park View Guest House, overlooking Audubon Park ($65 to $85; 504-861-7564). Family sail. Aboard the Big Red Boat's cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla. to the Bahamas, toddlers to teens enjoy supervised activities until 10 p.m. while parents choose from swimming, health clubs, casinos and cabarets. Four-day prices for staterooms with a double or queen-size bed and two twins run $505 to $565 for each adult and $255 to $315 per child, plus $62 per-person port fees (800-327-7113).
MAY Bluegrass biking. Antebellum mansions, antique shops and, of course, the deep emerald pastures of horse country roll by on this five-day cycling tour that departs from Lexington, Ky. and runs through Shaker Village and Harrodsburg. Various routes suit beginning, intermediate or advanced cyclists with nights at historic inns. Call Backroads: $1,045 plus $30 airport transfers and $109 cycle rental fee (800-462-2848). Or bring your own bike. Eastern Orient Express. Europe's restored Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express now has an equally retro-luxe cousin, the Eastern & Oriental Express. Launched last fall, the train chugs along from Phitsanulok, Thailand down the Malaysian peninsula to Singapore. Choose one of Abercrombie & Kent's seven-day tours plus two nights on the E&O and the others in luxury hotels ($2,658 with the E& O, including some meals; 800-323-7308). Rent a villa. Sun worshippers and bargain hunters can head to Portugal's southern Algarve peninsula, which features some of Europe's best white-sand beaches. In May, prices are 25% to 30% lower than in summer. A two-bedroom villa rents for $1,000 a week; a four-bedroom goes for $2,000; At Home Abroad (212-421-9165). Vermont fly casting. If something smells fishy, you've come to the right place. Brook, brown and rainbow trout are plentiful in the upper reaches of the Connecticut River, along the Vermont and New Hampshire border. The perfect base: Vermont Sportsman Lodge, a cheerful white-frame five-room inn with its own beach on Lake Seymour, 97 miles east of Burlington (two meals and shared bath; $50 a night for one; $95 double; no credit cards; 802-895-4209). For a fishing map and license information, call Vermont Fish and Wildlife, 802-241-3700.
JUNE D-Day's 50th. History buffs take note: From June 6 through Aug. 23, dozens of events, ceremonies and re-creations will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Allied landing in Normandy. Stay at the Chateau d'Audrieu, an 18th-century mansion on a 75-acre estate with heated pool. The 30-room chateau is a 15- minute drive from Omaha Beach ($160 for two, with Continental breakfast; 011-33-31-80-21-52). For total immersion, enlist in Riviera Rover's eight- night D-Day guided tour ($1,900, including air fare, three nights in Paris, breakfasts and four dinners; 713-520-0020). Pennsylvania's Cook Forest. About 60,000 acres remain of the primeval forest that once covered western Pennsylvania. You can hike, canoe and try inner-tube rafting on the Clarion River. The rustic eight-room and eight-cabin Gateway Lodge, 100 miles from Pittsburgh, provides a hospitable base. Rates are $90 to $165 a day, with some meals (814-744-8017).
JULY Rafting in the Yukon. This month, Canadian tour operator Butterfield & Robinson launches an 11-day rafting and hiking trip on the Tatshenshini River. It starts in the Yukon's capital, White Horse, in the Yukon mountains, and ends in an actual rain forest and glaciers on Alaska's coast. You'll spend nine nights in large, comfortable tents and two nights in White Horse hotels in groups as large as 24 ($2,755; 800-678-1147). Go native in Norway. Nearly endless daylight makes this country a must-see for July. Travel as Norwegians do -- on coastal steamers. Hop on the Bergen Line's 240-cabin Kong Harald, which pulls into picturesque ports and fishing villages from Kirkenes to Bergen. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has an 11-day air/sea package that includes shipboard meals and round-trip fare from New York, Seattle or Chicago; $1,780 to $2,570 (800-323-7436). Desert sojourn. Opened in 1986, eastern Nevada's 77,100-acre Great Basin National Park is remote and rarely visited. It offers unspoiled high desert and wooded mountains. Altitudes ranging 6,500 to 13,063 feet mean that midsummer nights average a chilly 57 degrees F. Drive into one of four campgrounds (with limited facilities), or trek into the primitive countryside to camp (702-234-7331 for information). Noncampers can bunk down at a nearby motel: the eight-room Silver Jack in Baker ($36; 702-234-7323) or the 20-room Border Inn on the Utah line ($27 to $37; 702-234-7300).
AUGUST Bay Area workout. Tour operator Backroads offers a weeklong athletic smorgasbord: running, swimming, indoor rock climbing, sailboarding, sea kayaking, tennis, aerobics and more. (No, silly, that's not just the first day.) Groups of up to 14 stay in deluxe San Francisco-area hotels and resort spas and eat -- guilt-free -- at top restaurants; $1,498, including meals, lodging, activities and instruction (800-462-2848). The luck of the Irish. Folkways Institute (800-225-4666) trips are true bargains. A three-week tour of the literary haunts of Jonathan Swift, James Joyce and William Butler Yeats is designed for travelers over age 55 in groups of up to 15. Stay in hotels and small inns from Dublin to Galway; $3,500 covers most meals and the round-trip fare from New York City.
SEPTEMBER Austria's wine country. Sample southeast Austria's scenic state of Styria, one of Europe's major wine producers. Along the way you can enjoy forest-covered hills, gold-domed churches and castles built into steep crags. Gravitate to Graz, the Styrian capital, and the Art Nouveau 98-room Grand Hotel Wiesler ($200; 011-43-31-69-0660). In the countryside, you can book at the 19-room Obermayerhofen, a fairy-tale castle ($120 to $235; 011-43-33-33-2503), or the seven-room Schloss Kapfenstein, a simple 11th-century chateau set on a working vineyard ($90; 011-43-31-57-2202). Fly Lufthansa after Sept. 15 for $870 round trip from New York to Vienna (800-645-3880). Colonial Marblehead. The oceanfront town of Marblehead, Mass., only 15 miles north of Boston, has retained its rich colonial character and offers an ideal weekend getaway. You can swim, rent a sailboat and join a walking tour of the historic district, where one 18th-century house is now the Harbor Light Inn; 11 of the 20 rooms have fireplaces ($85 to $185, with breakfast; 617-631-2186). Mediterranean crescent. Sailing from Lisbon to Istanbul is like crossing the sea of Western civilization. Royal Viking's 14-day cruise, departing on Sept. 3, passes through the Strait of Gibraltar, then calls on Malaga, Villefranche, Livorno, Rhodes and finally into the Dardanelles. The price includes a side trip to Rome and a full menu of shipboard activities along the way; $5,495 to $14,495, depending on cabin size and location (800-422-8000). Tycoons' club. During the 1880s, when the Goulds, Astors, Morgans and Rockefellers went hunting for deer, pheasant, quail or the wild boar flown in for the occasion, they stayed on Jekyll Island, Ga., where they built the exclusive Jekyll Island Club. After World War II, the club closed, but in the late 1980s, smart individual investors restored the clubhouse as a 134-room Radisson Hotel. You can swim, play tennis, golf and croquet, or bicycle through the historic town or across the island to the beach. Fall rates run from $90 to $220 (800-333-3333).
OCTOBER Midwest peak. The distinctive red and ocher sandstone formations of the Wisconsin Dells, 60 miles from Madison, are best during the first half of October, when autumn colors peak. Hikes and river tours allow you to observe wildlife and learn about ice age geology. For distinctive lodging, reserve the four-room Seth Peterson Cottage, a Frank Lloyd Wright original ($195; Sand County Vacation Management; 608-254-6551). The new 110-room Copa Cabana Resort Hotel & Suites caters to families, with indoor and outdoor pools: $45 to $225 (800-364-2672). Jamaican classics. Far from the West End singles scene, several of Ocho Rios's classic resorts have recently undergone facelifts. All-inclusive packages: a week at the haute-luxe 111-room Sans Souci Resort & Spa with meals, wine, some activities and greens fees at nearby Super Clubs Golf Course: $1,665 to the penthouse suite's $2,470 (800-859-7873). One outstanding bargain: the simpler Hibiscus Lodge, with tasty local food and 26 guest rooms for $76 to $100 a night, breakfast included (809-974-2676). Some 500 feet above sea level, the 40-acre botanical nurseries at High Hope Estate are worth a visit. Plus, the seven-bedroom Great House rents by the week with a staff of seven and use of a 12-seat van, for $1,435 a person, including all meals and drinks (800-925-5300).
NOVEMBER Fantasy island. On the southern half of Bahamian Exuma National Land and Sea Park, Soldier Cay, the hideaway of a wealthy Alberta oil family, offers a private island escape -- and we're not talking Gilligan. With three four-room houses and a staff of four to seven to pamper guests, the Cay accommodates one party of up to 10 people. Winter weekly rates cover food, drinks and all activities, including use of sailboats and glass-bottom boats ($11,200 for one to four; $16,800 for five to eight; and $21,000 for nine or 10 people; 809-359-0285). Ancient Pompeii. The preserved ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, south of Naples, still intrigue thousands of visitors each year. Naples' museums house the art that once graced nearby ancient provincial cities. For a convenient Naples location and a breathtaking view of the bay, book the high-end Hotel Vesuvio ($210; 011-39-81-764-0044). If you prefer to avoid the noise in Naples, stay across the Via della Salle from Pompeii's ruins at the modest 25- room Villa Laura ($75; 011-39-81-863-1024). Amazon tree house. Built on stilts over the Rio Negro parallel to the Amazon River, Ariau Jungle Tower's 136 rooms are set amid treetops filled with monkeys and brilliantly plumed birds. You can take daily canoe tours, visit villages and eat local fresh tucunare fish. The $450, four-day package covers everything, including transfers from Manaus, 35 miles away (800-544-5503). Round-trip fare from Miami on Varig Airlines is $798, starting Aug. 8 through Dec. 9 (800-468-2744).
DECEMBER Ski Montana. Skiing is spectacular in northwestern Montana from November until May, at prices about half those of tony Colorado resorts. Two top spots: Glacier National Park and Big Mountain. Fly into Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Mont. and drive 60 miles to Glacier or 20 miles to Big Mountain. The Izaak Walton Inn (406-888-5700), built in 1939 in Glacier Park, caters to cross-country skiers, with 31 rooms ($72 to $92) and four refurbished cabooses ($425 for a three-night-minimum stay). Near Whitefish, Big Mountain is a downhill resort with nine ski lifts, 61 runs, three hotels and 150 condos (800-858-5439). Through Dec. 16, five-night packages run $318 to $387, including lessons and lift tickets. With Ted Turner and Jane Fonda as well as Kiefer Sutherland and Carol Burnett now homesteading in Montana, the Aspen/L.A. crowd may not be far behind. Book soon. Old South Christmas. North Carolina's daytime temperatures average 55 degrees F this month, pleasant enough for golf. The venerable Greek Revival- style Pinehurst resort offers weekend deals throughout December, complete with seasonal decoration -- such as the 400-square-foot gingerbread village in the lobby. Three days, including greens fees, breakfasts and dinners run $256 (800-487-4653). Asian holiday cruise. Ring in the new year on Seven Seas' 12-night Pacific cruise (800-285-1835). The 172-passenger Song of Flower departs from Bali, Indonesia on Dec. 21, with stops at the port of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, the coral atoll of Lizard Island (part of the Great Barrier Reef) and then Cairns, on the Queensland, Australia coast, arriving on Jan. 2. You can expect holiday hoopla, such as theme parties and special meals. Prices run about $6,400. The solo traveler premium is 25% (steep, but not as much as the usual 50% that cruise lines charge singles), or $8,000.
BOX: MONEY'S TRAVEL CALENDAR
BELIZE SOUTH AFRICA GREECE BALI NEPAL AUSTRIA CALIFORNIA FRANCE NORTH CAROLINA AUSTRALIA GEORGIA IRELAND ARIZONA CANADA THAILAND JAMAICA NORWAY PORTUGAL ALASKA