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The Independent Travel
Myself and some friends are keen to do a murder weekend at a country hotel early in 1998. Who organises them?

Dave Green

London

The travel editor replies: Murder mystery weekends are organised by The Whodunnit Company (01363 774467) and Padwick and Ball (0181 367 6793) who book the venues themselves. There are exceptions to this - HF Holidays Ltd (0181 9059558) own 19 properties and organise murder mystery weekends themselves. Their earliest weekend in 1997 will be 21-23 March in the Yorkshire Dales, costing pounds 119 per person. Not all of their properties are hotels; for example, the March weekend will take place in Sedbusq, a renovated country house and barn.

The British Tourist Board (0181 846 9000) provides helpful lists of such companies and advises on useful publications. Activity Breaks, published by Jarrold, contains information on murder mystery weekends and is available from the British Tourist Board.

Companies generally work with certain hotels and operate in certain areas; Acorn Activities (01432 830083) for example, work only in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Wales. Your choice of location will be restricted by when you wish to go, so you are best ringing through to the companies directly and checking what is available and when.

Most companies or hotels run a weekend service. Prices include accommodation for Friday and Saturday, dinner, B&B, and Sunday lunch. Most of the hotels used are three star. The groups of people taking part in the murder mystery weekend can be quite large - 40 people is not unusual. The number depends on the size of the property that is hired. People taking part usually have sole use of the property. Although some firms insist that no one under the age of sixteen is allowed all adults are welcome - both group and single bookings.

The cheaper prices quoted by Padwick & Ball start at pounds 115.00 per person based on a double room or pounds 130.00 per person for a single room. The upper end of the market costs about pounds 205 a price quoted by both Acorn Activities and the Whodunnit Company. It depends on the particular location.

Murder Mystery weekends are very popular and firms are already taking bookings for early 1998, so it is advisable to book as soon as possible.

How much will I pay for vaccinations for Goa

My husband and I, and three children, are thinking of going to Goa this winter. The trip itself is turning out expensive enough but what about the cost of vaccinations and other medications? Can you give us an estimate of what everything might cost, for five people? Alison Potter Brighton

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: It can be a bit offputting to pay a lot of money for the holiday and then have to find yet more for vaccinations and medicines. However, these items are probably more essential than those new holiday clothes and other accessories than you are planning to buy. It would be nice if all travel medicines were available on the NHS, but there is a school of thought that reasons the Government is then contributing towards the cost of your holiday.

Having said this, in the case of vaccinations some help is available under the NHS. But what you end up paying could vary depending on your GP. The full course of the recommended vaccines for Goa from a private vaccination clinic could come to about pounds 60 per person. Some GPs may give them free, others will make a charge for administering certain of the vaccines. It may be worth comparing prices to a private clinic to get the best deal.

The antimalarial tablets chloroquine and paludrine will have to be paid for; about pounds 12 per person assuming a two-week trip and enough tablets for one week prior and four weeks on return. Do not skimp on essential medical items such as treatment for diarrhoea, especially if you have young children. Also plenty of Calpol or a similar paracetamol preparation is an important item for children. A reasonable first-aid kit will be useful, as well as headache tablets and perhaps some anti-sting preparations. Don't forget that mosquito repellents should be applied religiously in malaria endemic areas. For extra piece of mind you may wish to carry a sterile needle kit. If you add the cost of sunscreens all these could be anything from pounds 50-pounds 100 for five people, but don't forget a lot could still be used on returning home.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.

I want to go skiing but my partner doesn't

Having been skiing once, I am keen to go again, but my partner is not interested, Can you suggest a holiday or resort that would cater for us both?

R Gatting

London

Jill Crawshaw replies: This is a fairly common problem - and one that I was able to research when I was pregnant and unable to join my husband on the slopes. There are three criteria to look for when choosing a resort for both skiers and non-skiers:

1 Although this did not apply to me when I was pregnant, you need to look for a resort with various activities from swimming pools and skating rinks, tobogganing, cross-country skiing (which your partner might prefer), riding, hot-air ballooning, hang-gliding, squash and even shopping.

2 The possibilities for mountain walking so that your partner can go off independently or join you in the hills for lunch or a gluhwein in a mountain hut, and then walk back to the resort.

3 The accessibility of the resort being linked to places of interest.

Looking at individual countries and resorts; in France, most of the purpose- built resorts concentrate on skiing alone with few apres ski activities - Chamonix is one of the exceptions, it has superb scenery, a choice of non-skiing activities and a lively nightlife.

In Italy I'd go for the resorts of the Sella Ronda, particularly Canazei or Selva which are both picturesque and active at night. If things got too boring, there's Verona and Venice to slope off to by rail for a night or so from Bolzano or Trento.

If you can afford Switzerland, the Jungfrau region is a good bet with its traffic-free resorts, mountain huts and mountain railways. Grindlewald Wengen have more apres ski than Murren.

Austria is probably your best choice of all with its plethora of cosy traditional villages, most with an astonishing array of apres ski, mountain huts, marked walks and proximity by rail to either Salzburg or Innsbruck. Look at Kitzbuhel, Seefeld, Zell am see, all with sporting facilities, restaurants and access to other resorts.

If your partner fancies taking the waters or health and beauty treatment, consider a spa resort in the Gastein Valley such as Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein, both within easy reach of Salzburg.

You may, of course, like to turn the tables; there's a useful scheme centred on Innsbruck, an excellent base for sightseeing and shopping, where you can buy a ski pass which would enable you to ski in any one of six nearby resorts, including Axamer Lizum and the Stubai Glacier (with over 70 miles of runs and 53 lifts). Between December 20 and April you have free use of the ski bus from Innsbruck, there and back.

A three-day pass costs ATS1220 (pounds 62), six days ATS 2200 (pounds 112), though you can buy individual tickets for each resort. An Innsbruck sightseeing card for your partner with entry to many museums cost ATS200 (pounds 10.25) for 24 hours, ATS280 (pounds 14.35) for 48 hours. Information from the Austrian National Tourist Office, tel: 0171-629 0461.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.

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