Tennessee’s Bargains For Visiting Seniors

<i> Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks. </i>

It probably won’t excite many mature travelers that they can get 10% off on an oil change and lube job at Parson’s Garage in Altamont, Tenn., all next month. And the $3 off on used tire sales won’t quicken heartbeats either.

But the examples do point out Tennessee’s statewide involvement in September’s Senior Class promotion.

More than 500 businesses across the state--mostly in accommodations, restaurants, attractions and retail stores catering to tourists--join in with discounts ranging from 10% to as high as 50% for travelers who are 55 and older.

“Since travelers in the over-55 age group make up the primary market following the Labor Day holiday, the Senior Class promotion is aimed at that particular age group,” explains Tennessee Tourism Commissioner John Wade.


Proof of Age

“The only requirement for travelers to obtain the special Senior Class discounts is proof of age,” Wade adds. He also points out that the promotion gets under way the day after Labor Day and runs through Sept. 30.

Although the discounts are statewide, from 10% off for sites at Slink Shoals Campground in Flatwoods to 10% off rooms at the Dumplin Valley Inn at Kodak, the largest--and better--bargains will be in Tennessee’s major tourist cities of Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Average hotel and motel discounts for those 55 and over are 10% to 20%, although there will be attractive rates at some of the state’s more famous hotels.


These include the venerable Maxwell House in Nashville, where the double rate of $49.95 for two will be well below the normal $83. And that includes a two-for-one-price breakfast at the hotel’s Pralines restaurant.

Welcome in Nashville

In Nashville, almost 40 hotels and motels join in the Senior Class discount, in addition to more than a dozen restaurants and such attractions as the General Jackson Showboat, Country Music Hall of Fame, many more private attractions and, of course, Opryland.

The theme park that evolved from the world-famous Grand Ole Opry will be open weekends through September (and on through Nov. 2). Senior discount is $2 off the regular admission of $14.95. There’s also a 10% discount at the Opryland Hotel adjacent to the park.

Some of the other enticing discounts for the Tennessee mature traveler include 50% off at the Admiral Benbow Inn in Memphis; 10% off room rates at Bed and Breakfast Host Homes of Tennessee scattered all over the state; a special $3.69 “Senior Meal” at the state’s many Morrison’s cafeterias, popular with mature travelers all over the South, and 10% price cuts at the many craft and gift shops of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, where Dolly Parton has opened her Dollywood.

A free booklet listing all Senior Class participants and the discounts each offers to those 55 years and over is available by writing to Senior Class, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, P.O. Box 23170, Nashville, Tenn. 37202. For those in a hurry, call (615) 741-2158.

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Jane Parker, who runs Retirement Explorations and specializes in tours to such retirement areas as Costa Rica, has put together a vacation/retirement inspection tour to Spain and Portugal. Two identical tours are scheduled, Oct. 11-25 and Oct. 25-Nov. 9.


Although the trips include such tourist destinations as Lisbon, Seville and Granada, the main object of the trips is to explore retirement living in the Algarve area of Portugal and the Costa del Sol of Spain.

In each area, seminars on the region will be held with realtors, doctors, attorneys, business people and many Americans already living there.

Cost of the tour is $1,940 per person from Los Angeles, based on two to a room. Parker will match singles if they prefer not to pay the additional $260 single supplement. Price includes all accommodations, a number of meals and social evenings with Americans living in the two countries, plus sufficient sightseeing to satisfy you even if you’re not looking for a retirement area abroad.

For information contact Retirement Explorations, 19414 Vineyard Lane, Saratoga, Calif. 95070, phone (408) 257-5378.