News In Brief

THE ULTIMATE EXTREME SPORT

Let's say you teach techniques of warfare with explosives - such as land mines - for a living. What sort of diversion might offer you relaxation in your spare time? In Rodd Millner's case, that would be attempting history's highest sky dive. Next March, he plans to ride a helium balloon to an altitude of 130,000 feet over Alice Springs, Australia, before bailing out in an astronaut-like pressurized space suit for "optimum safety." He expects to plummet back to Earth at 1,118 m.p.h., becoming the first human to break the sound barrier unaided, before yanking the rip cord on his parachute. The trip up should take 2-1/2 hours; the descent just 10 minutes. If all goes well, the experience will be turned into a virtual computer game.

Report card is in: Business travelers rate top US hotels

More than 700 corporate and agency travel planners responded to the annual Business Travel News survey of the top hotel chains that cater to the needs of their executives, sales staff, and clients on the road. Each chain was evaluated on a minimum of six categories - from corporate-rate programs to the courtesy and helpfulness of its staff. The winners in the survey's nine categories of hotels, as graded on a scale of 1 to 10 points, from the twice-monthly magazine's Feb. 26 issue:

Deluxe

Four Seasons Hotels/Resorts 8.52 (tie) Ritz-Carlton 8.52

Upper Upscale

Westin Hotels/Resorts 8.17

Upscale

Hyatt Hotels 8.09

Midprice with food service

Hilton Garden Inns 7.77

Midprice without food service

Amerisuites 7.49

Upscale - extended stay

Residence Inn (Marriott) 8.14

Midprice - extended stay

TownePlace Suites (Marriott) 8.01

Economy

Holiday Inn Express 7.87

Budget

Motel 6 6.58

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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