• During the periods, May 30 to June 29 and September 12 to October 12, travelers to Switzerland can get a free night at any of 422 participating hotels by booking three consecutive paid nights. Six nights lodging at the same hotel will yield two free days. The offer, which was jointly announced by Switzerland Tourism and the Swiss Hotel Association, is unprecedented in a country of conservative hoteliers notoriously reluctant to offer such sweeping discounts.
Prices for a double room among the participating hotels vary from 100 Sfr. ($70) per night in a bed and breakfast type country inn, to 380 Sfr. ($260) in a five-star deluxe hotel. Prices include daily breakfast and all taxes. Bookings must be made directly at the hotel by fax or phone.
For a list of participating hotels contact Switzerland Tourism at 415-262-6116 or 310-640-8900, or log onto their Website.
• The Sofitel chain of European hotels has announced summer prices guaranteed in dollars. Though not as attractive as in past years, in most instances they still offer good value. The per room, per night prices are $125, $145 and $165, depending on the hotel. The Sofitel Geneva, for example, is $165; a substantial saving off the published rack rate of about $276. The Sofitel Zürich, at $165, is well above the 1995 Sofitel summer special rate of $138 but still decent value considering the difficulty of finding good rooms in Zürich for under $200. The Sofitel Vienna Airport Hotel is $125, a good price for a room the night before an early morning flight from Vienna.
• Businesses looking for a place in Europe to conduct a meeting might want to consider the packages offered by a combine of Swissair, Conferences International Inc., and the Palace Hotel of Lucerne. For $1,499 per person, groups get round-trip airfare on Swissair, four nights accommodation at the Palace Hotel Lucerne, transfers, most meals, use of the meeting space, even coffee breaks and sightseeing. Contact: Dick Kisker, Conferences International, 800-221-8747, or fax 617-266-5886.
• Beethoven's birthplace in Bonn has recently reopened after a year of renovation. The 150 items on display in 12 rooms - ranging from grand pianos to brass hearing aids, even Beethoven's walking stick and compass - are now presented in a more organized and logical fashion.
Among the items on display are several original scores, including the Moonlight Sonata and musical instruments from the era, including some played by Beethoven himself: his viola and his last grand piano.
To mark the reopening, part of the original score of the Sixth Symphony (Pastorale) is on display in Room 7, which has been set aside for changing exhibits from the 1,000 or so of the museum's handwritten Beethoven documents. Room 9 is devoted to the Bodmer collection, named for Swiss collector Hans Conrad Bodmer who assembled some 400 letters and 100 scores along with artifacts such as the composers desk.
Though there are 12 rooms, the family lived only in the cramped dwelling at the rear of the present-day museum. Museum in Beethovenhaus, 18-26 Bonngasse, Bonn. Entrance is 8 DM ($4.75), 4 DM ($2.40) for children.
• Sormani Calendars offers a catalog of their many calendars which specialize in scenes from Switzerland and Germany: Sormani Calendars, P. O. Box 6059, Chelsea MA 02150-0006, tel. 800-321-9327.
• The Montreux Jazz Festival, Europe's most important event of its kind, is being held this year from July 4 - July 19. Some of this year's performers include: Ray Charles, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Supertramp, Sheryl Crow, Roberta Flack, George Duke Band and many more. Ticket prices range from $15 to $75, but there are more than 200 free outdoor events. Contact Montreux Jazz Festival, Case Postale 126, CH-1280 Montreux-Territet, tel. 4121/962 8484, fax for Fondation du Festival de Jazz de Montreux is 4121/963 4705. Entire festival packages including tickets can be booked through Music in Paradise, 333 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey, CA 90292, tel. 800-801-2188, fax 310-821-9381.
• The German airline, LTU, discontinues service to Tampa effective May 1. However, the airline still offers eight flights each week to Germany from Florida and serves Miami, Daytona Beach, Fort Myers and Orlando. LTU also flies to Germany from San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
• This year Hamburg honors the 100th anniversary of the death of composer Johannes Brahms with more than 100 concerts, lectures and special events. Brahms Year 1997 begins with a concert by the Hamburg Symphony and ends with a New Year's Concert by the choir of St. Michaelis in the Freien Akademie der Kunste. Among the more notable events are a Brahms night in St. Michaelis, an open house in the Musikhalle, a Brahms Camp and a special Brahms Symposium. Each Friday at 2:30 p.m. a special, two-hour tour, will take participants from the Musikhalle to St. Michaelis with a visit to Brahms Memorials.