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TRAVLER'S ADVISORY: OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE WORTH GOLD, BUT WON'T COST AS MUCH.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

Thinking of going to the Summer Olympics in Australia?

Well, aren't we the little procrastinators?

The good news is, you aren't too late. According to Don Williams, vice president for Manhattan Beach-based Cartan Tours, the official U.S. tour operator for the Olympics, there are still packages and event tickets available for the Games, which are to be held Sept. 15 through Oct. 1 in Sydney.

Only tickets for the opening ceremony, the swim finals and the men's gold medal basketball game are not available. ``We pretty much have a little bit of everything else,'' said Williams. ``We're still looking pretty good.''

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

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

If you're a little reluctant about pursuing a package deal, don't be. With time running short, purchasing 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,'' said Michelle Silberman, spokeswoman for the Australian Tourist Commission in Los Angeles.

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, air fare from Los Angeles, meals, an opening ceremony party, shuttle bus to the Olympic transportation system, event tickets and more.

The package's out-of-the-way accommodations - an hour west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains - is why it is one of the most economically palatable of the packages offered. In contrast, the Olympic Sampler package costs $3,129, and includes just three nights' accommodations 47 miles from downtown Sydney, plus air fare, transfers, most meals, shuttle bus to Olympic transportation and choice of a variety of event tickets.

Cartan's packages are offered for three ``wave'' periods: No. 1, Sept. 14-20; No. 2, Sept. 20-26; and No. 3, Sept. 26-Oct. 2. Wave No. 2 has been the most popular with Olympic-goers so far, maybe because many sports feature their final competitions during that period. Accommodations in Sydney are sold out for the dates of that second wave, Williams said.

Those wanting tickets to particular events can tailor packages by choosing a ticket package from Cartan, then pairing it with a hotel-travel package. Ticket blocks contain a variety of events. For example, during Wave No. 1, Cartan offers a package of tickets that includes water polo, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and baseball for $278.

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 or 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 or (310) 546-9662; fax (310) 546-8433.

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 air fare 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. Newmans also offers air- and land-only options. 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, and include round trip-air fare from Los Angeles, three nights accommodations in or near Sydney, breakfast and dinner, transfers to and from the airport and the Olympic transportation system, and tickets to up to five Games events.

In addition, participants choose from packages that add stays in such places as Queensland, Cairns and New South Wales. 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 and include six to eight nights' accommodations, round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, airport transfers, and travel vouchers to be used in Australia, New Zealand or other Qantas Vacations destinations. For details, call Qantas Vacations at (800) 532-6717.

For more information on traveling to Australia, check the Australian Tourist Commission Web site at australia.com, or call (800) 333-0262 to receive an Australian vacation planning kit.
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Title Annotation:Travel
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 23, 2000
Words:800
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