Florida Hotels, TV Tours Head List of Bargains

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

Though many California motels and resorts offer discounts, special promotions and package plans for mature travelers, those in Florida always seem to offer more.

Senior Vacation Hotels, for example, offers a budget-priced package throughout the year at four central Florida hotels for travelers 60 and older.

The deal is not aimed at the usual Florida two- or three-week, see-the-state tourist. It’s usually a minimum stay of one month during the winter.


That cuts the appeal for many from the West Coast. But it’s hard to beat the rates, which are $25 to $30 a day per person, based on two people sharing a room at the monthly double rate.

Singles have to add $175 to $200 more. And there are some smaller additional optional charges for corner or water-view rooms, plus a few suites.

The rates include all meals, an entertainment program and special daily activities. It’s often called the Club Med for seniors.

The hotels, like the guests they serve, are in the senior age range, but well preserved. They include Sunset Bay Resort and The Courtyard in St. Petersburg, the nearby Riverpark in Bradenton and Regency Tower in Lakeland.

The program has been offered for many years by the Levin family of St. Petersburg, with Stephen Levin taking over from his grandfather, Charles Levin, who began the idea with one hotel in 1948. It’s been expanding ever since.

“It’s been a very successful program,” Levin said. “Last year at this time we were filled, even with the addition of a fourth hotel.”


For more information and a color brochure showing the hotels, write to Senior Vacation Hotels, 7401 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33710, or call (800) 247-2203.

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NBC Studios in Burbank will offer a Senior Citizens Special during February that includes a “Mystery Soap Opera Tour” in addition to its regular behind-the-scenes tour.

The added special will let seniors take part in the making of a mystery soap opera.

Offered during February on Saturdays only, at 9 a.m. and noon, the tour costs $7.50 per person. Pre-paid reservations are suggested two weeks in advance for either groups or individuals.

For information on the special senior tour and other things to do at NBC, call Group Services at (818) 840-3555.

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Virgin Atlantic Airways has a Sixty Plus deal for seniors through June 15 that sets a $369 round-trip fare to London from Newark, N.J., or Miami.

The 30-day advance-purchase fare has a penalty for changes or cancellations during the period, but it also offers the chance to go by way of one gateway and return via the other. Travel agents have information and schedules.


Also on the transatlantic run, Alitalia has become a partner in the United Airlines Silver Wings Plus Travel Club. Club members (65 and older) get a 10% discount on Alitalia between the United States and Italy.