Elect to stay in Reagan suite

TRAVEL SMARTS

April 11, 1999|By Randi Kest

"Bedtime for Bonzo" takes on a new meaning at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and Tower in Century City. The suite where Ronald Reagan regularly stayed when visiting California not only shows the 1951 film but bears the name of the 40th president.

Amenities of the newly named Ronald Reagan Suite include: 8,000 square feet of space; bulletproof, floor-to-ceiling windows; a 360-degree view of the Los Angeles basin; two whirlpool baths; and a butler.

The suite occupies the entire 30th floor of the Tower and is decked out in Reagan memorabilia, including a collection of Reagan's films -- complete with "Kings Row" and "Bedtime for Bonzo" -- and more than 40 framed photos of notable moments in Reagan's life.

The hotel, at 2025 Avenue of the Stars in Century City, has been host for many events for President and Mrs. Reagan, including the 1980 and 1984 election victory celebrations. And, in 1984, the two were the first to stay in the suite upon its completion.

A night in the suite costs $5,400. Call 800-228-3000.

Jefferson plantation celebrates renovations

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the beginning of a restoration project that has rebuilt and refurbished Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest plantation. To celebrate, visitors will be treated to expanded hours, new children's programs and additional information on the original interior of the house, which Jefferson designed.

New programs include an ice cream social for kids (May 1, noon to 4 p.m.) with a staged conversation between Jefferson and James Madison at 6: 15 p.m. Other events include a Garden Week lecture by plant expert Nancy Goodwin (April 24) and the annual Fourth of July celebration with a reading of the Declaration of Independence. The grounds are now open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April through November (except Thanksgiving Day).

In 1984, a small group of local preservationists purchased the house and the remaining 50 acres of the plantation in Bedford County near Lynchburg, Va. Their goal was to help save it from deterioration and thwart further development nearby. Now Poplar Forest encompasses 500 acres, the exterior of its house has been restored to the original design, and renovations provide clues to what the interior looked like during Jefferson's time.

Call 804-525-1806 or visit www.poplarforest.org.

Snooze across the Pacific

First class just got a bit classier aboard Qantas Airlines. The Australian-based airline has introduced first-class "sleeper seats" that fully recline to comfy 6 1/2-foot-long beds. Offered on flights between Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia, the seats are akin to those on British Airways trans-Atlantic flights. Other changes Qantas is making to its Boeing 747-400s are adjustable seats in business class, more space in economy class and La Brea Bakery breads served in first and business classes.

The sleeper-seat craze is spreading, too. United Airlines and Air New Zealand, both of which fly the route, plan to install sleeper seats before year's end.

Cruise lines revise Balkan itineraries

With the current unsettled situation in Yugoslavia, some cruise lines preparing summer sails in the Mediterranean have revamped their itineraries. Holland America Line's MS Maasdam canceled stops at Dubrovnik on three European cruises scheduled for April and May. Instead, the ship will make stops at Ancona, Italy; Crete; and Katakolon, Greece, on the 12-day cruises.

Beginning May 15, First European Cruises' Azur will substitute stops at the port of Croatia with calls in Corfu on its nine weeklong cruises between Venice and the Greek Islands.

Other cruise lines with scheduled stops in the troubled area, such as Radisson Seven Seas and Costa Cruise, say they are monitoring the situation and will cancel stops if warranted.

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