Rental cars arrive for train riders Train travelers in...

TRAVEL SMARTS

January 23, 2000|By TRICIA ELLER

Rental cars arrive for train riders

Train travelers in some U.S. cities are getting used to the convenience of car rentals usually reserved for those at the airport. A partnership between Amtrak and the Hertz Corp. brought Hertz rental services to train stations concentrated on the West Coast. Now the two have announced plans to expand the service area into the Midwest and onto the East Coast, eventually reaching 54 destinations.

The next phase of 10 new service locations will include New Orleans, Boston, New York and Miami. The current 18 sites include San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee and Wilmington, Del.

Rail riders interested in renting from Hertz can arrange for a car during their call to Amtrak. Once at the destination station, the car pickup might be less convenient. Only three locations now have rental desks housed at Amtrak stops. At the rest, the traveler must walk or take a taxi to the rental area or phone Hertz from the train station for a pickup.

According to Hertz, these are the beginning stages of the joint venture. Plans include linked promotional offers, rail/drive vacation packages and Web access to Hertz bookings via Amtrak's site. Call 800-USA-RAIL for reservations.

REASONS TO VISIT THE U.K. IN THE WINTER

If you're looking for a little incentive to get up and out into the cool air before it's gone, the United Kingdom's National Trust offers more than 100 reasons in its free "Out and About in Winter" leaflet. Here you'll find a listing of the kingdom's off-season frosty functions, including visiting inns, historic buildings, parks and gardens open through the winter.

Hundreds of miles of natural shore beckon winter wanderers with footpaths and panoramas dotted by fishing villages, mountains and moors. Indoors, housekeepers at some of the area's historic halls play host to "Putting to Bed" days, where they spill trade secrets in behind-the-scenes tours of what it takes to preserve a historic home and ready it for the spring tourist season.

Lectures, concerts, dances and dramas round out the cultural component.

For a copy of the winter activity guide, which gives information about events through April, write the National Trust at P.O. Box 39, Kent, United Kingdom BR1 3XL, and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope, or go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

Greenbrier loses a star

Exxon Mobil Corp. announced the winners of its coveted lodging and dinning awards this week, leaving the Greenbrier in West Virginia seeing stars -- one less than usual. The resort was downgraded from five stars, the top honor, to four stars for the first time in 38 years.

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs was named among the cream of the crop for the 40th consecutive year, and Cincinnati's Maisonette restaurant won for the longest run with 36 years of five-star glory. Of the 24 lodgings and 18 restaurants named in the high-five, 13 are newcomers, and none are in the Maryland area, though the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels received four stars, as did Hampton's restaurant in Baltimore.

For a complete listing of the winners, you can order "America's Best Hotels and Restaurants: The Four and Five Star Winners of 2000" from Mobil for $12. 847-676-3470.

Golf the winter away

Winter's in full swing, which is the wrong kind of swing for area golfers. Die-hard enthusiasts can relax and fight off withdrawal symptoms by taking a mid-season break in Arizona. The Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau has put out its 2000 edition of the Copper State's recreational draws, including a listing of 27 golf courses, six golf shops and 23 golf vacation packages. And just in case your mate isn't as jazzed about the sport as you are, the 154-page guide details everything else there is to do in Scottsdale, such as jeep tours, sunning, horseback riding, gambling and hot air balloon rides. For a free copy, call 800-805-0471, or go to www.scottsdalecvb.com. to view the online version.

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