1988 Will Be Europe Year for TWA Getaway

Hughes is a 25-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

TWA Getaway has just launched its 1988 Club 60 program, specifically designed for the growing market of mature travelers 60 and over (and for their companions of any age).

For the first time, the lineup of escorted tours concentrates solely in Europe--which, based on past bookings, is the main interest area for mature travelers.

Considering the greater leisure time and flexibility of the mature market, the 14 tours are moderately paced, from 15 to 30 days.

To meet seniors' special economic needs, many travel savings and benefits are included, such as no-fee Bank of America traveler's checks by mail and free travel insurance.

Mature travelers also will get a free telephone call to the United States. In addition, those over 65 have the opportunity to sign up for the VSP senior pass, which offers unlimited domestic travel anywhere TWA flies for $1,399 per person, plus a round-trip ticket to most of Europe for an additional $399.

Passenger Warranty

All of the tours, which are operated by Travellers International, the exclusive land operator for TWA's Getaway transatlantic tour programs, carry the airline's warranty--the passengers' assurance that every element of the tour package will be delivered as described.

The 14 tours are available in two price categories: economical senior saver and first class. Tours also include four vacation types: Grand Tours (two-, three- or four-week overviews of the Continent); Regional Holidays (concentrating on individual areas or countries); Club 60 Interludes (an in-depth look at a particular area, with a minimum of city-to-city travel) and Tour-Cruise Vacations (combining a land tour and a cruise).

Club 60's program also includes three overview tours of Europe, four British tours, two Alpine tours, two Iberian vacations and Italian, Greek and Scandinavian vacations. Tour-cruise vacations include the Greek Isles and Turkey; the Greek Isles, Egypt, Israel and Turkey, and the Norwegian fiords.

Your travel agent should have copies of the handsome TWA Getaway Club Vacations brochure, which even makes good armchair reading.

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Econo Lodges of America, oldest and largest franchiser of economy lodging in the United States, issued 12,500 access senior citizens cards to mature travelers during just one month in 1987. Based on projections, some 150,000 new access cards will be issued in 1988 to guests 55 and older. Cardholders benefit from a 10% discount, guaranteed reservations and instant identification. The chain also offers worldwide access to its 400-plus properties. For information and a directory giving lodge locations, phone toll-free (800) 446-6900.

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For the first time, members of the 8th and 15th Air Forces of World War II have been invited by the Soviet War Veterans Committee, an official Soviet Agency, to "Return to Poltava," one of the principal air bases used in the shuttle-bombing operations against Germany.

Operating from sites in England and Italy, these airmen wreaked devastation on Nazi Germany, but because of their planes' insufficient fuel capacity to permit them to return to home bases, they would land in Russia, where they rested, refueled and rearmed for a bombing run on their homeward journey.

It was one of the remarkable military feats of World War II. Three Russian bases were involved: Poltava, Mirogorod and Piryatin. Poltava is still intact, but until recently it was in a zone of the Soviet Union that was restricted to foreign visitors.

On this 11-day visit to Russia, the group will leave the United States on May 2; the itinerary also includes Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev, with a complete program of sightseeing and other activities. Highlight of the visit, however, will be the reunion of these U.S. airmen and their families with Soviet World War II veterans in Poltava and each of the other cities involved. The land portion of the tour costs $954. Air fare is extra.

For more information and a free brochure, contact Galaxy Tours, P.O. Box 234, Wayne, Pa. 19087, phone toll-free (800) 523-7287.

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Though not strictly for mature travelers, Calico Tours offers a bonanza of bus trips ranging from a day trip to Long Beach or Santa Anita to overnight visits to Lawrence Welk Village, excursions to Death Valley, whale-watching in San Diego and Easter in Tucson, Ariz.

The firm offers a membership, although its trips are open to non-members as well. So if you're looking for a fun activity to fill in a leisure afternoon or weekend and don't feel like fighting traffic, give the company a call and ask for information on its upcoming offerings: Calico Tours Inc., 2265 Westwood Blvd., No. 247, Los Angeles 90064, phone (213) 478-5865.

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Hampton Inns offers new services for hearing-impaired travelers: a visual-alert system (VAS) at every Hampton Inn in the United States and a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) to talk via a toll-free reservation line at its nationwide reservation center. The TDD number is (800) 451-HTDD.

The system alerts deaf and hard-of-hearing people to the fire alarm with a knock at the door and telephone calls via a strobe light. The new TDD reservation line allows hearing-impaired travelers to make reservations at Hampton Inn hotels through visual communication.

The 3-year-old Hampton Inn chain recently opened its 150th hotel and maintains that its rates are usually 20% to 40% less than those traditional hotels in the same area. Guests receive a free continental breakfast, television with a free in-room movie channel and free local (toll-free) phone calls. Some inns also have swimming pools.

More than 40,000 mature travelers already belong to its LifeStyle 50 SM program, available to guests 50 and older and allowing up to three additional adults in a member's room at the one-person rate.

Guests may sign up for the program at the front desk of any Hampton Inn hotel, or call (800) HAMPTON for an application and directory.

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