Grand Hall and Treasury Reopen in Vienna Palace

The massive baroque Grand Hall of Vienna’s National Library, with its gold-gilt columns and priceless books, and the Imperial Treasury, which houses the Austrian Crown Jewels, have reopened to tourists after being closed by a fire that gutted the Redoutensaal wing of Vienna’s Imperial Palace complex last November. That same fire also prompted cancellation of the Emperor’s Ball dinner, traditionally held there, and temporary closure of the nearby Spanish Riding School, with its renowned Lipizzaners. Until May 27, the Grand Hall is open daily except Sunday (admission about $1.40); during the summer (through October), it is open daily (admission about $3.70). The Treasury is open daily except Tuesday (admission about $5.50). Contact the Austrian National Tourist Office (310-477-3332) for hours.

Travel Quiz: What is the oldest European settlement in the Far East that is, coincidentally, accessible by ship?

More Than Security Blankets: The American Automobile Assn. has decided to require stronger security measures for AAA-rated rooms in hotels, motels and B&Bs;, a move that will affect approximately two-thirds of accommodations in the United States. Lodgings that do not meet the new standards will not be included in 1995 TourBooks. Beginning with its August inspections, AAA will require that rooms have deadbolt locks and peepholes in main doors leading to hallways, main entry doors that lock automatically or enable guests to lock them when leaving the room, doors to connecting rooms equipped with deadbolts, and sliding doors with effective locking devices. Secondary locks on entry doors, but not deadbolts, are currently required for AAA-approved accommodations. (Room theft is the most common hotel crime, according to a 1992 survey by Corporate Travel magazine.) The added security requirements will affect more than 19,000 properties in the United States and 3,000 accommodations in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean that annually are rated in the books.

Things That Go Bump: Despite the increased numbers of air travelers attracted by heavily discounted fares, U.S. airlines bumped fewer travelers against their will last year than in any year since the government started gathering statistics. Worth noting is that there actually were more passengers overbooked in 1992 than in 1991, but a greater number of those who were bumped volunteered to do so in return for free passes and other benefits.


Irish Immigration Documented in New Museum: A new Heritage Center opened this month in Cobh--the Irish port city from which about 2.5 million adults and children emigrated to the United States between 1848 and 1950. Part of the great wave of 6 million who left Ireland for the United States during those years, their stories are being told in galleries filled with photos, documents and multimedia shows at the new Cobh Heritage Center. Housed in the Victorian railway station at water’s edge in this County Cork city, the collection includes references to Cobh’s links with the famous and the infamous, including passengers on the Lusitania, which sunk just off the Irish coast. Also included in the museum is the Wall of Dedication, a monument celebrating the departures and names of Irish emigrants. For more information: (800) 989-7676.

Quick Fact: Seventy-six percent of 1,500 frequent travelers polled in a recent survey said they would not refrain from travel to a city or state because it was the target of a boycott. The survey, by the Travel Industry Assn., a nonprofit organization that represents the U.S. travel industry, was conducted in the wake of the boycott of Colorado advocated by gay and lesbian groups.

Not for the Rich Only: Guests at La Samanna resort on the Caribbean island of St. Martin can now avoid crowds and lines at the island’s Juliana International Airport. Two hours prior to departure, guests need only present their packed luggage, passports and airline tickets to a staff member, who will take the bags to the airport, check the passengers in, pay their departure tax and return with boarding passes and seat assignments. Just before departure time, guests are sent by cab to the airport--a 10-minute drive from La Samanna--where they simply board their flight. A spokeswoman for the American Hotel & Motel Assn. said this is the only such service she has heard of, but there’s no such thing as a free ride. Cost of the service is $25 per person plus the $15 taxi ride between the resort and the airport. Rooms at La Samanna, which reopened Nov. 1 after a five-month, multimillion-dollar renovation, run $440-$1,450 per night through April 18.

Downhill Racing With a Difference: The February/March issue of NewMobility, a 3-year-old magazine for wheelchair users and others whose mobility is impaired, assesses ski resorts for their facilities, accessibility, affordability, attitude toward disabled skiers and quality of programs and instruction. The magazine’s 10 best in North America, in order of preference: Winter Park, Colo.; Breckenridge, Colo.; Park City, Utah; Alpine Meadows, Calif.; Vail, Colo.; Crested Butte, Colo.; Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Whistler, B.C., and Loon Mountain, N.H.


Springing Up to Washington: A 32-page guide to Washington state, which includes garden driving tours, wildlife viewing spots and a spring calendar of events, is being distributed free as the third in a series of new handbooks to the state. Call (800) 544-1800 or write Washington State Tourism Development Division, P.O. Box 42500, Olympia, Wash. 98504-2500.

Comparatively Speaking: Most expensive U.S. cities for eating (per day) in 1991, the most recent year for which figures are available: 1) New York, $94; 2) Washington, $71; 3) Dallas, $69; 4) Boston, $66; 5) Chicago, $63; 6) San Francisco, $63; 7) Los Angeles, $56. (Source: Rochester Institute of Technology.)

Quiz Answer: The 6-square-mile island of Macao, about 40 miles west of Hong Kong, which became a Portuguese trading post in 1557.