THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO GETS INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT WITH SPECIAL HOTEL DEALS

Escape to the Côte d’Azur this holiday season and celebrate Christmas & New Year’s in style.  For travellers who value the ultimate in service, comfort and surroundings, the Principality of Monaco is home away from home for the holidays, aglow with outdoor celebrations, parades, and concerts, with legendary hotels and restaurants featuring holiday specials.

Following is a sampling of holiday packages available at hotels in the Principality of Monaco.  All prices are based on double occupancy and do not include taxes and gratuities unless otherwise specified.
 
COLUMBUS MONACO
The Columbus Monaco is offering a Christmas package that includes accommodations, festive mulled wine on arrival, candlelit turndown service, breakfast with Christmas Stockings, a Christmas Day lunch, and afternoon Christmas family movies in Le Studio – the hotel’s private viewing room.  The package is priced at 495 euros (approx. USD $577) for a two-night stay from December 24-26, and 795 euros (approx. USD $907) for a four-night stay from December 24-28.
 
The Columbus Monaco also has a New Year’s package that includes two nights’ accommodations, candlelit turndown service, breakfast daily, Aperitif on December 31st, and a New Year’s Eve gala dinner including drinks until midnight.  A two-night package from December 30, 2003 – January 1, 2004, the package is priced at 995 euros (approx. USD $1,160).  An accommodations-only rate of 495 euros (approx. USD $577) for a two-night stay from December 30 – January 1 is also available.  In addition, travellers can spend the first weekend of 2004 at the Columbus Monaco for just 295 euros (approx. USD $344) for a two-night stay from January 1 – 3 that includes breakfast daily.
 
LE MERIDIEN BEACH PLAZA
Available December 19-27, 2003, Le Meridien Beach Plaza is offering a Christmas package that includes accommodations in an Avenue Princess Grace room and breakfast daily.  For a minimum two-night stay.  The package is priced at 175 euros (approx. USD $204) per night. Children under the age of 12 (two children maximum) can stay in the room at no additional cost.
 
Le Meridien Beach Plaza is also offering a New Year’s package that also includes accommodations in an Avenue Princess Grace room and breakfast daily.  The package is available from December 28, 2003 – January 4, 2004 and is priced at 285 euros (approx. USD $332) per night. For a minimum two-night stay.  Guests may also enjoy a scrumptious New Year’s Eve dinner Le Carré restaurant that includes a welcome cocktail and live jazz an additional 99 Euros per person.  Extra beverages are additional.
 
MONTE CARLO GRAND HOTEL
The Monte Carlo Grand Hotel is offering two separate packages to mark the holidays.  Its Gold Package includes three nights’ accommodations, daily continental breakfast, and a special New Year Eve dinner at la Salle d’Or.  Available December 30, 2003 – January 4, 2004, the package is priced from 1,650 euros (approx. USD $1,897) for a standard room and 1,920 euros (approx. USD $2,207) for a Sea View room.  Also valid December 30 – January 4, the Monaco Grand Hotel’s Silver Package includes four nights’ accommodations and continental breakfast daily.  This package is priced from 1,240 euros (approx. USD $1,425) for a standard room and 1,600 euros (approx. USD $1,839) for a Sea View room.  Both packages are inclusive of taxes and gratuities, and additional room nights are priced from 310 euros from December 30 – January 4, and 254 euros from December 24 – 29 and January 5 – 7, respectively. 
 
This legendary hotel is also providing a very special New Year’s Eve Dinner at both La Salle d’Or and L’Argentin restaurant that is available to both guests and non-guests.  New Year’s Eve Dinner Show at La Salle D’Or is 360 € ($418) per adult, 200 € ($232) per child (ages 6-11); Soft Music Dinner at l’Argentin is 190 € per adult, 100 € per child.
 
For significant savings on hotels throughout Monaco this holiday season, bargain hunters can browse through auction travel items exclusively available at www.monacoauction.com The website features incredible deals from leading travel providers, legendary Monégasque hotels, exquisite resorts and spas, cruise lines, tour operators and VIP events, for a fraction of retail cost.
 
Special holiday events in Monaco this year include a Santa Claus exhibition featuring a life-size city with hundreds of snow-capped pine trees, decorated houses, elves and reindeer, performances by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic (Dec. 17 & 28) and Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo (Dec. 18 – Jan. 4), and the International Fine Art and Antiques Fair (Dec. 30 – Jan. 1), an event placed under The High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III. 
 
For more information about holidays in Monaco, please contact the Monaco Government Tourist Office at: (800) 753-9696 or (212) 286-3330, email info@visitmonaco.com, send a fax to (212) 286-9890, or visit www.visitmonaco.com.  The website also includes details on events, itinerary suggestions, downloadable photos, a media gallery and e-postcards.
 
Background: Traditional Monégasque Christmas

In Monaco, until the end of the last century, Christmas Eve was the occasion when all the members of a family would gather at their parent’s homes to perform, as a preliminary act to the evening meal, the rite of the olive branch. Before sitting down, the youngest of the guests, or the oldest, soaked an olive branch in a glass of old wine. He approached the fireplace where a great fire of pine and laurel branches burned and with his little branch traced the sign of the Cross while pronouncing a few words on the virtues of the olive tree, a source of all kinds of good things. After this, everybody in turn would wet his lips in the glass of wine serving as an aperitif.  Dinner would traditionally consist of an enormous “brandamincium,” a Monégasque dish of salt cod pounded with garlic, oil and cream, surrounded by “cardu,” cardoon in white sauce; “barba-giuan,” literally “Uncle John,” stuffed fritters and “fougasses,” flat crunchy biscuits sprinkled with sugared aniseed colored red and white, flavored with several drops of rum and orange-flower water.  On the table covered with a splendid cloth lay a round loaf of bread “u pan de Natale” (the Christmas loaf) on which four walnuts formed a Cross surrounded by several olive twigs.
During Christmas time today in Monaco, one can still find “barba-giuan,” “fougasses” and “u pan de Natale” at some of the bakeries in the Principality.  In addition, many Monegasques enjoy Midnight Mass at the Cathedral.

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