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Wal-Mart, Thrifty team up for rentals



Published: Sun, August 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Wal-Mart, Thriftyteam up for rentals

Wal-Mart Stores and Thrifty Car Rental have signed an agreement to provide a "flat rate" for Thrifty cars booked through www.Walmart.com, reports Travel Weekly magazine.

Under the agreement, Thrifty will provide nationwide flat rates of $29.95 a day for compact cars and $39.95 a day for intermediate vehicles without mileage restrictions through Walmart.com. The agreement applies to airport and nonairport locations.

Thrifty said that if a lower rate is available at the time of booking, the customer will be guaranteed the lower price. In addition, Wal-Mart customers will be able to charge their rentals to their Wal-Mart credit cards.

Web sites postbeach closures

Wondering whether it's safe to swim at the beach you plan to visit on your next trip? Check the Internet before going.

Two environmental groups recently began posting beach closures around the United States on their Web sites, www.earth911.org and www.oceana.org.

The information is filed by the patchwork of county, municipal and state departments that monitor beaches in various locales, said Jackie Savitz, director of the pollution campaign for Oceana, a year-old private, nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., that promotes ocean conservation. "The plan is ultimately to cover the whole (U.S.) marine coast," she added.

Several hundred beaches were included in the program, said Alexia Emmermann, spokeswoman for Earth 911, a Phoenix-based clearinghouse for environmental data.

Reconfiguring rooms

Bed against the wall. A desk in the corner. A hutch with space for a television and clothing drawers.

It's the standard hotel-room configuration.

But the Hyatt Regency Chicago has another idea. Its 400 Great Rooms place the bed in the room's center, with an oversize desk on the reverse side of the headboard. The arrangement separates the space into living and work areas.

The Great Rooms have been added as part of the hotel's $50 million renovation.

For more information, call (312) 565-1234 or visit www.hyatt.com on the Web.

Snoop aroundin Schulz museum

The beloved "Peanuts" comic strip, drawn for decades by Charles M. Schulz, who died in February 2000, is getting a larger-than-life home in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The 27,384-square-foot Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center contains a re-creation of Schulz's studio, more than 100 original comic strips and several large-scale works.

Among these are a 26-foot-long bas relief that displays Snoopy's development as a cartoon character; a 51-by-57-foot garden labyrinth in the shape of Snoopy's head; a tile mural made of 3,588 "Peanuts" images; and a wall of Schulz's early drawings.

Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for ages 4 to 18, free, 3 and younger. The museum is open daily except Tuesdays; hours vary.

Call (866) 766-6792 for admission tickets through Sept. 2; otherwise, (707) 636-0908; or visit www.schulzmuseum.org on the Web.

Grand Canyon raftersreport illnesses

The Grand Canyon National Park urges visitors to the river and back country to be careful with sanitation after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness.

As of Aug. 1, 68 river rafters had become ill with flulike symptoms that included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that appeared to be caused by a so-called Norwalk-like virus, park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said. Such a virus can be spread from person to person by poor hygiene (such as failure to wash hands) or by drinking impure water, she said.

The park is working with health officials to determine the source of the outbreak, Oltrogge said recently.

Companies caterto disabled guests

Two major travel companies are making their trips more accessible to guests with disabilities.

Far & amp;Wide, a Miami-based corporation that includes 21 tour operators, is providing a wireless system to amplify guides' narration for hearing-impaired travelers. It uses an FM-system wireless receiver and headset to broadcast to participants up to 150 feet away.

The system is used on European trips, and the company plans to expand it to China and the South Pacific.

For more information, visit www.farandwide.com/loudandclear on the Web.

Princess Cruises has begun a shore excursion in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands using a trolley outfitted for wheelchair users. The two-hour sightseeing trip is operated by Accessible Adventures and costs $32 per adult and $22 for children.

The tour is available on biweekly Grand Princess sailings from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to the Caribbean. Call (800) 774-6237, or log on to www.princesscruises.com.

Ship line offers partial cruises

The Silversea's Silver Cloud is structuring its itineraries next year so guests can take an entire cruise -- or only the segments that interest them.

The service begins with the Jan. 3 sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For example, under the new program, called Personalized Voyages, passengers can choose an entire nine-night trip to Colon, Panama, or they may sign on for as few as five consecutive nights, embarking in Key West, Fla.; Cozumel, Mexico; Belize; or Costa Rica.

Passengers who take a partial cruise on the 286-passenger Silver Cloud pay a daily rate (determined by season and cabin class). Prices for 2003 sailings range from $345 to $795 a day, per person, double occupancy, with a minimum of five consecutive nights.

Passengers on the program arrange their air transportation to the embarkation point.

For information, contact a travel agent or Silversea at (800) 722-9955 or visit www.silversea.com on the Web.

Combined dispatches




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