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IT'S JULY: PLAN FOR CHRISTMAS IN ST. AUGUSTINE

It's never too early to book a room for St. Augustine's annual holiday tour of B&Bs, this year Dec. 8-9.

Innkeepers have already chosen a charity for the benefit event, the Empty Stocking Fund, which assists needy families during holiday season. The 14th annual Holiday Tour has become a highlight of St. Augustine's "Nights of Lights" celebration. Half of the 26 B&Bs will be open Saturday, and half on Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Food and trolley transportation will be included once again. Advance tickets for the holiday tour of bed-and-breakfast inns will go on sale for $35 later this summer.

For more information on the member inns of St. Augustine Historic Inns, go to www. staugustineinns.com.

Wrap up this good package

Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive has a Summer Sizzle package with room rates starting at $80 a night double (plus taxes of about $11), a savings of at least $35. The deal includes a buffet breakfast at the hotel's Cafe Matisse, a value of about $13 a person. Package is good Aug. 12-23, Aug. 26-Sept. 4 and Sept. 21-25. Reservations must be made at least three days in advance. Info: call toll-free 1-800-627-8258, www.rosenplaza.com. For more news of what's happening in and around Orlando, see Mouse Trap, Page 5L.

Hostels introduce upscale look

- In London, YHA (www.yha.org.uk) recently renovated its Earls Court Hostel. Not only does the hostel now have a cafe serving cappuccinos and lattes, it has a lounge with a flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi and dial-up Internet connections. Double, twin-bed rooms start at 57 pounds a night ($117 at $2.05 to 1 pound).

- In Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Central (www.edinburghcentral.org), has a restaurant open from morning until night, serving wine, beer and food (no main course exceeds 6 pounds), plasma-screen lobby televisions, and Wi-Fi and Internet stations. Single rooms at 25 pounds ($51), and family rooms at 67 pounds ($138).

- In Berlin, East Seven (www.eastseven.de) has beds starting at 12 euros ($16.68 at $1.39 to the euro), a garden area with coffee and beer available, and even baby beds.

Luxor face-lift isn't skin deep

The name and distinctive shape of the Luxor hotel-casino, above, in Las Vegas will remain the same, but the interior and most hotel rooms will be renovated, said Jenn Michaels, executive spokeswoman for resort owner, MGM Mirage Inc.

Next year, Luxor's atrium will be changed from a family friendly arcade to more adult-themed amenities with restaurants, lounges and entertainment venues.

Many Egyptian-themed items have been removed, and hieroglyphics and similar symbols on interior casino walls also are being eliminated.

Plans also call for opening LAX Nightclub, operated by the Pure Management Group, by Labor Day, and adding other bars and lounges later in the fall.

A smoother road to Skywalk

The American Indian tribe that owns the Grand Canyon Skywalk has reached an agreement to pave the 14-mile dirt road leading to the glass horseshoe over the canyon.

The tribe operates a small airport near the Skywalk on the western edge of the canyon, but most visitors still come by car along the rugged, dusty, axle-busting Diamond Bar Road.

Until reaching an agreement with the tribe, landowner Nigel Turner, who owns the nearby Grand Canyon West Ranch, had blocked construction of a paved road with a lawsuit.

Turner said he worried the road would turn the region into a busy tourist center and endanger the ancient Joshua trees, some of which are a several centuries old. But the Hualapai recently paid Turner $750,000 to settle the lawsuit and clear the way for road construction.

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