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Travel: Many Happy (Tax) Returns [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Travel / The Washington Post
May 29, 1998

ACCORDING TO THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, 70 percent of U.S. households will get a tax refund this year. Federal checks average $1,302 each; among D.C., Maryland and Virginia householders, “state” refunds average $402.

What will people do with these windfalls? Spend ‘em. Says IRS spokesman Domenic LaPonzina: “From everything we have seen, the majority of people who get a refund spend the money” rather than, say, saving or investing it or paying bills. And many people, he says, spend it on travel.

In fact, LaPonzina himself plans to use his ’98 refund to take his 19-year-old daughter to Italy this summer.

If you’re expecting state or federal refunds, here are some travel ideas to consider.

THE STATE / CITY REFUND: $402

SINGLES: Charter a Boat — Want to set sail on the Chesapeake Bay? Charter boat captain Patrick Derry, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed sailing master, who offers private outings on his 50-foot Gulfstar cutter-rigged ketch. The boat sets sail from the Solomon Island Yacht Club on the Patuxent River most evenings and on weekends from May through October. Options include a two-hour evening charter for $200, or a three-hour weekend charter for $300. Pool your refund with a buddy—or six, and take a whole weekend day (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Solomons Island Yacht Sales: 410-326-4700.

*COUPLES: Breakfast in Bed*— Stay overnight at L’Auberge Provencale in White Post, Va. (about an hour’s drive from Washington, off Route 50 between Middleburg and Winchester). Rooms at this French country inn range from $145 to $250 per night and include a gourmet breakfast. Dinner’s an extra ($58 per person.) And you’ll definitely want to indulge in superchef / owner Alain Borel’s creations. Between meals, there’s plenty to do: canoeing ($20 per person for a ride down the Shenandoah), horseback riding ($25 per 90-niinute ride) and ballooning ($125 per person, double, for sunrise or sunset rides). Take a free tour of nearby vineyards such as Linden or Naked Mountain, or hike through Sky Meadows Park, quieter and less crowded than Shenandoah National Park. Information: 1-800-638-1702.

FAMILIES: A Weekend in Baltimore, MD — Yes, you can get the brood out of town for $400. Drive an hour north on I- 95 and head for the Baltimore Tickets kiosk outside the visitors center in the Inner Harbor to buy a Weekender package ($131 for a family of four), which includes admissions to the National Aquarium, Baltimore Zoo, B&O Railroad Museum, a sailing on the Clipper City boat and two days of water trips. Downtown, rooms at the Hilton run from $175 to $195 per night, but eight miles away at the Pikesville Hilton, you can get a deluxe room with continental breakfast for $119 per night. Get off cheap with Harborplace sandwiches for lunch. For dinner, though, drive into Little Italy, where a family of four can fill up on huge plates of pasta for around $40. Try Sabatino’s, a local legend. _Information: Baltimore Area Convention
and Visitors Association, 1-800-282-6632; Baltimore Tickets, l-888-225-8849; Hilton Hotels, 1-80&-445-8667._

THE FEDERAL REFUND: $1,302

SINGLES: Head to Club Med — Starting May 1, your federal refund can cover a seven-night stay, including air fare from Washington Dulles, to Club Med Turquoise on the island of Turks & Caicos in the British West Indies. For $1,299, you get a double-occupancy room with bath, and three meals a day-plus sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, tennis, aerobics, volleyball and soccer. Play golf at the Provo Golf Club, built by the Sheik of Qatar in 1992. Among other Club Med resorts fitting this budget: Hautulco ($1,099) and Sonora Bay ($1,052) in Mexico. Information: Club Med, 1-800-258-2633.

COUPLES: Key West is best — Spend four romantic days at the Marquesa Hotel in the heart of Key West, just a block from Duval Street. Rooms at this top-notch inn start at $135 per night, Sunday through Thursday, as of May 26 (starting April 20, rates range from $195 to $290). Seventeen of the 27 rooms have balconies, and each room is quaintly and tastefully decorated. Breakfast isn’t included in the price, but you can get a full continental breakfast in your room or at poolside for $7.50 each. For dinner, choose from among dozens of excellent Key West bistros, or step a few feet from your room into the Cafe Marquesa, a casual restaurant that has been hailed by critics as one of the town’s best. When in Key West, don’t miss a sunset on the pier or a trip to Sloppy Joe’s, Hemmingway’s infamous watering hole. The math: air fare for two from Washington to Miami, $468; rental car at $40 per day for four days, $160; three nights at the Marquesa at $135 per night, $405; breakfast for two for three mornings, $45; dinners in Key West at about $50 per night for three nights, $150; sight-seeing and incidentals, $75. Total: $1,303.

FAMILIES: Drive to Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, VA — As any family veteran can tell you, the dreaded “multiple effect” (air fares times four) about kills any idea of flying anywhere on a $1,300 budget. So don’t. Take a drive down toward Williamsburg and stay at the Kingsmill resort on the James River, just miles from the Colonial city streets. Spend one day of your two nights, three-day stay in Busch Gardens (one-day admission for four is about $118) or Colonial Williamsburg (about $82), and dine at either one. Budget $135 per day for the family if you eat at the resort, less if you use the suite’s kitchen facilities). Back at the Kingsmill (via complimentary shuttle), you get a one-bedroom suite with a queen-size sleep sofa in the living room (from $518 to $658 for two night from April to October). Kids (an extra $30 each per day) can become Kingsmill Kampers, with age-appropriate fishing, swimming, crafts, golf and tennis during the summer. Golf is free at the on-campus nine-hole courses. Then there’s the Spa at Kingsmill, with packages ranging from $59 (manicure / pedicure) to $329 (the works). _Information: Kingsmill Resort, 800-832-5665; Colonial Williamsburg, 888-223-5080; Busch Gardens, 757-253-3000.

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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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