North America in flower

TRAVEL SMARTS

March 31, 2002

Who doesn't love spring? Buds on the trees, blooms in the ground -- it's a color fest. And what better way to enjoy the spectacle than at these garden shows and tours?

* Through April 28 -- A Million Blooms at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. The garden offers tours, demonstrations, musical performances and gardening advice. (www.lewisginter.org; 804-262-9887)

* April 6-7 -- Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour, Chapel Hill, N.C. Sponsored by the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the tour features eight classically Southern private gardens filled with perennial blooms and various plant varieties. (www. maagcom.com / gardentour2002; 919-962-0522)

* April 20-27 -- Historic Garden Week, Virginia. Run by the Garden Club of Virginia, the event offers the chance to tour more than 250 Virginia gardens in styles from formal to walled to cottage. Areas covered span from the shores of the At- lantic to the Allegheny Mountains. (www.vagardenweek.org; 804-644-7776)

* May 3-20 -- Tulipmania: Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa and nearby Gati-neau, Quebec. Exhibits and events include artistic tulip displays (real and artificial), a tulip ball and an International Floral Gown competition, in which the dresses are all made of flowers. (www.tulipfestival.ca; 613-567-5757 or 800-668-8547)

-- Tricia Bishop

MIDNIGHT SNACKERS: THE FRIDGE WILL KNOW

Big Brother isn't watching, he's refrigerating. And he's doing it from the comfort of Washington's Hay-Adams Hotel.

Called an e-fridge, the mini-bar refrigerator installed in nearly half of the Hay-Adams' just-renovated rooms is actually the "brain and spine" of the new "Intelligent Room" developed by Annapolis-based Bartech Automatic Systems.

The concept is simple: The refrigerator has sensors under each product that send a message to a central system when an item is removed, automatically billing the guest's room. There are also sensors that control the room's thermostat, door locks, electrical outlets and Internet access.

For more information about the Hay-Adams, a luxury hotel in Washington since 1928, go to www.hayadams.com or call 800-853-6807. For more about the e-fridge, 70,000 of which are already in use around the world, log onto www.usabartech.com. -- T.B.

Follow the tracks of the Olympians

You've got one more month to see and ski the same slopes the Olympians did before the season ends, and now you can do it at a discount: The Utah Travel Council is offering a $20.02 gift certificate good toward single-day adult lift tickets, which average about $74, at any of 13 participating resorts, including Beaver Mountain, Snowbird, Deer Valley and Powder Mountain. A minimum three-night stay at a designated lodge is required. For information and a list of lodgings and resorts, go to www.utah.com / 2002 or call 800-200-1160. -- T.B.

Hostels listed for 2002

Hostelling International has just released the 2002 edition of its U.S.A. Hostel Directory, a guide to member hostels around the country. Order one for $3 by calling 202-783-6161 or going to www.hiayh. org / shop. Or, just surf around the organization's Web site. All the information is there as well; it's just not particularly portable.

-- T.B

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