It's not too late to see the Summer Games

STRATEGIES

Australia: At this late date, Olympic package tours are the way to go.

July 16, 2000|By Lisa Carden | Lisa Carden,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Thinking of going to the Summer Olympics in Australia?

Well, aren't we the little procrastinators?

The good new is, you aren't too late. According to Bob Vasily, group sales manager for Cartan Tours, the official U.S. tour operator for the Olympics, there still is a good selection of packages and event tickets available for the Games, to be held Sept. 15 through Oct. 1 in Sydney.

If you're a little cool about pursuing a package deal, don't be. With time running short, buying a package can solidify your travel plans in one fell swoop.

"Most of the deals are good value and, considering the amount of time and effort involved in coordinating your own travel plans, I think they are a much better way to go," says Michelle Silberman, a spokeswoman for the Australian Tourist Commission in Los Angeles.

But because you're not the only ones who have realized that time is running out, package sales are heating up, Vasily says. So it's wise not to put off making plans much longer.

Cartan has a variety of packages that include airfare, accommodations, some meals and tickets to events.

In late June, Vasily said, Cartan still had a "wide availability of tickets for every different type of event." Only tickets for the opening ceremony and the men's gold-medal basketball game were not available.

One of the most attractive packages offered by Cartan is its Blue Mountains Olympic Special. Priced from $3,349, double occupancy, it includes six nights accommodations, airfare from Los Angeles, meals, an opening ceremony party, shuttle bus to the Olympic transportation system, event tickets and more.

Only Cartan's Blue Mountain package can be ordered by phone, and only then if charged to a Visa card. To purchase other packages, you must have Cartan's order form, which is included in its Olympics brochure and is available from its Web site, www. cartan.com. To order a brochure, write to Cartan Tours, Olympic Division, Manhattan Beach, Calif. 90266; or call 800-841-1994.

Three other companies are marketing packages of interest to Americans:

* Newmans South Pacific Vacations' Olympic packages start at $3,129. A basic three-night package includes such things as round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, three nights' accommodations, transfers to and from the airport and the Olympic transportation system, two meals daily and tickets for up to five events. The prices of packages, which are offered in conjunction with Cartan Tours, are based on double occupancy. For details, contact Newmans South Pacific Vacations, 800-421-3326; www.newmansvacations.com.

* Inta-Aussie South Pacific is offering packages, also in conjunction with Cartan, that combine Olympic tickets with tours within Australia. Prices start at $3,998 per person, double occupancy. For details, call Inta-Aussie at 800-531-9222.

* Qantas Vacations is offering a variety of packages to Sydney, with six departure dates between Sept. 11 and Oct. 4. Packages start at $3,389 per person. For details, call Qantas Vacations at 800-532-6717.

For more information on traveling to Australia, check the Australian Tourist Commission Web site at www.australia.com, or call 800-333-0262 to receive an Australian vacation planning kit.

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