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Thought about next New Year's yet?

January 02, 1999|By Bruce Hamilton

Ready to ring in the next new year?

Now that hangovers have faded like choruses of Auld Lang Syne, it may be time to think about where to wake up in 2000. For many, starting a new millennium is something to celebrate in a special way.

"We're getting calls about it all the time," said Art Richards, owner of Richards World of Travel.

Indeed, it's already too late to make reservations for some destinations. Disney World has been booked solid for two years, Richards said. "New York is virtually impossible."

He thinks most people will be better off staying home. "It's a lot of hype for one night but, for some people, I guess, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," he said. Prices for some trips are bound to be high.

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"You're going to pay three times what a cruise is worth," he said. "To me, it's highway robbery."

One cruise line company requires a $400 deposit to get on a waiting list. It took 32,000 deposits for 16,000 beds, he said. Rooms in Las Vegas are renting for $1,000 a night. "It's absurd," he said.

Less popular places make easier options. Richards put together one package for Southern California. The traveler will enjoy the first Rose Bowl and parade of 2000. Richards has also lined up more exotic destinations. One customer is going to Vienna, Austria for a grand ball.

"If you've got plenty of money, we may be able to find a place for you to go next year," he said, laughing. Those of moderate income may want to consider a trip in 2000 after Jan. 1. Prices are sure to drop, he said.

Other travel agencies reported booking mostly cruises. "We've got several people booked in cruises for the millennium," said Joan Schaff, owner of Travel Funn. One customer is going to Aruba, she said.

Rebecca Calimer, general manager of CW Travel, said "People have been planning cruises a lot." The Caribbean is very popular, she said.

Revelers can avoid airplanes, sea sickness or jet lag by not leaving town. Local hotel managers said they will have elaborate parties, but for most it's too soon to be specific.

"We don't have that planned out yet," said Betsy Devoe, marketing director of the Four Points Hotel. "We have something in the works but it's yet to be determined."

Phyllis Fischer, manager of the Ramada, said she has a decorator lined up. The scene is a secret, but the theme will be, "Stepping Into Time," she said.

"We are going to have something that will be very nice," said Renee Raines, sales coordinator of the Martinsburg Holiday Inn. Swamped with last year's party preparations, the next New Year's is now the first priority, she said.

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