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Palm Springs in the winter . . .

FALL-WINTER GUIDE FOR PALM SPRINGS. The 44-page publication is free for the asking. Call 1-800-347-7746. It includes lists of attractions, activities, events, hotels and restaurants. Other news: Holiday Values in Palm Springs is a discount program in which participating hotels, restaurants and attractions give you a better deal. Most discounts run from later October through June. To be eligible, you must have a copy of the Holiday Values brochure, available by calling the phone number listed above. Ditto for the Mobility Impaired Visitors Guide to Palm Springs, which lists accessible lodging in the city.

Kudos: The 1997 Zagat U.S. Hotels, Resorts and Spas survey ranked the city as the fifth top hotel destination among 32 cities. It came in ahead of Miami, San Francisco, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Orlando based on guest rooms, service, dining and public facilities. The Givenchy Spa Resort was ranked 4th best spa in the country by the survey. Conde Nast Traveler named the spa one of the coolest places to stay in the world.- THOU SHALT NOT JUDGE, unless you're evaluating a hotel room. The November issue of Travel Holiday magazine explains that you can't always determine the quality of a hotel by the number of stars. That's like comparing apples and oranges. In the United States, four stars means luxury but that isn't necessarily true in other countries. A four-crown room in London might be the size of a walk-in closet with a bathroom down the hall. The French star system ranges from "plain but fairly comfortable" (that probably means no private bath) to "luxury" (a guaranteed private bath and someone who speaks English at the front desk). The rest of Europe generally uses stars but requirements vary from country to country. In Spain, a five-star double must be at least 183 square feet and have nice toiletries such as perfumes and shoe-shine kits.

- ISRAEL ON $999. As the country prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1998, its Ministry of Tourism has announced 50th Anniversary Celebration Tours, which offer unprecedented low prices. The tours are available from Nov. 1, 1997 through Feb. 28, 1998. For $999, you get round-trip airfare from New York City on El Al, seven nights' accommodations in a first-class hotel, full Israeli breakfast daily and a self-drive car for six days. An escorted tour costs $1,399 and includes eight nights of hotel accommodations, full Israeli breakfast daily, two dinners and six days of touring as well as round-trip airfare from New York City. Tour operators offering the discounted tours are Abaco Travel, 212-481-1212 (call collect); Ayelet Tours, 1-800-237-1517; Bell WholesaleTravel, 1-800-623-2355; Isram World of Travel, 1-800-223-7460; Mosair Tours & Travel, 1-800-524-7726; Tal Tours, 1-800-825-9399; and World Express Travel of Sherman Oaks, 1-800-441-8908. For more information on travel to Israel, call the Ministry of Tourism's InfoCenter at 1-888-77-ISRAEL, or visit its Web site at (

- SENIOR CITIZENS are eligible for discounts in Long Beach. The Senior Saver Getaway Guide, published by the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, lists special savings at area hotels and attractions. For a copy of the brochure, call 1-800-452-7829.

- SPEAKING OF SENIORS . . . This is a case of spending money to save money. "The Mature Traveler's Book of Deals" details winter bargains. For a copy, send $9.90 to The Mature Traveler, c/o PSI, 8803 Tara Lane, Austin, TX 78737, or call 1-800-460-6676 for credit card orders. Examples of discounts include room rates in Las Vegas in January and February. One resort/casino lets people 55 or over stay for as little as $22 to $34 a night. In Canada, Canadian Pacific hotels such as those in Banff Springs, Lake Louise and Victoria give members of the AARP a 30 percent discount.

- SEATTLE HOTEL DISCOUNTS. The Seattle Super Saver Package offers visitors up to 50 percent off room rates at 24 downtown Seattle hotels as well as savings on some tourist attractions, shopping and dining. The rates are valid from Nov. 7 through March 31. To make hotel reservations, call 1-800-535-7071, or call the hotel directly. The lowest package rate is $49 at the Pacific Plaza Hotel. The highest is $155 at the Four Season Olympic. Rack rates at those hotels are $94 and $315, respectively. Other participating hotels, listed with the rack rate and the discount rate, include the Best Western Executive Inn ($150, $76); Days Inn Tower Center ($125, $59); Ramada Inn Downtown ($150, $75); Westin Hotel Seattle ($250, $119).