Families seek rooms at Grand Canyon


October 09, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER / TRIBUNE

We're looking for spacious cabins for two families at the Grand Canyon next summer. Any suggestions?

You can find some great hotels with large rooms or suites, but there's nothing that could be considered a cabin, with bedrooms and a kitchen. However, most hotels should be able to accommodate you with rollaway beds.

Your best option on the South Rim might be the El Tovar Hotel, originally built in 1905. Some of its suites have two queen beds and a sitting room.

Off-rim lodges include Maswik Lodge and Yavapai Lodge, both about a quarter-mile from the canyon's edge and perfect for families. If you choose Maswik, ask for the north section of the lodge, which has larger rooms. Both lodges have rooms with two queen beds, a cafeteria and an activities/transportation desk. Yavapai is next to a general store and post office.

Prices for next summer haven't been established, but you can expect to pay from $90 to $125 per night. Hotels can be booked through the Grand Canyon's concessionaire, Xanterra, at grandcanyonlodges.com or 888-297-2757. Many hotels fill quickly, so book soon. I plan to drive a rental car in Spain. Do I need an international license?

An international driving permit (it's not a license) is always recommended, even in countries where it's not required. Its primary purpose is to serve as an official translation of a U.S. driver's license into 11 languages. You'll need to carry your U.S. license and the international driving permit.

You can get an IDP from AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance; you don't need to be a member of either organization. The cost is $10. For AAA, go to csaa.com to download an application; for the Touring Alliance, check thenac.com. You must be at least 18 to get an IDP, and you'll need two original passport-size photos.

These are the only agencies authorized to issue IDPs. The State Department warns that IDPs are being sold over the Internet by unauthorized agencies. My travel agent says we'll need passports for our Caribbean cruise next year. I thought the new rule was on hold. What's the latest?

The federal government said recently it will go ahead with plans to require all travelers arriving from Canada, Mexico and other nations to show a passport to enter the United States. The Bush administration proposes to tighten border security by requiring passports for U.S. citizens returning from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Panama or Bermuda.

If you're visiting the Caribbean, it's likely you won't need a passport to re-enter the U.S. until Dec. 31, 2006, according to Frank Moss, deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs.

Under the current plan, which is to be phased in over three years beginning Jan. 1, U.S. travelers to Mexico and Canada will need passports by Dec. 31, 2006, if they return by ship or plane, and by Dec. 31, 2007, regardless of how they return.

Changes in the rules for visitors to the Caribbean would match those guidelines. The same rules regarding passports would apply to citizens of those countries entering the United States. Anyone who frequently crosses the border into Mexico or Canada might be able to avoid the $97 fee for a new passport. The Department of Homeland Security and State Department are expected to propose a low-priced identification card for U.S. citizens.

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