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Ask T+L: Luxury Weekends, Sailing School, Vermont Inns

q. Can you recommend an affordable hotel in Washington, D.C.?I want to go for a weekend in April, but don't want to spend a bundle. --A.R., Durham, N.C.
a. It's a great time to visit--this month is prime cherry-blossom season. The 75-room Doyle Normandy inn in Adams-Morgan (202/483-1350; doubles from $140) has great in-room facilities for travelers--voice mail, dataports, satellite TV--and it also offers complimentary tea daily and free wine-and-cheese parties on Tuesday nights. Near Embassy Row, the Clarion Hampshire Hotel (202/296-7600; doubles from $129) has simple but comfortable rooms, and children under 18 stay free. In the West End, there's the George Washington University Inn (202/337-6620; doubles from $135). Guests can prepare meals in their kitchenette or head down to Zuki Moon, the hotel's noodle shop, for soba or sushi at night.

q. We'd like to try a sailing school in New England this summer. (My husband and I are rank amateurs.) --J.G., Austin, Tex.
a. Connecticut's Longshore Sailing School in Westport (203/226-4646) has a great two-weekend beginner course from May through September for $145 per person, not including accommodations. Students learn boat safety and sailing skills in four three-hour sessions while scudding around the mouth of the Saugatuck River and the Long Island Sound. The WoodenBoat sailing school, based in Brooklin, Maine (207/359-4651), offers an intense weeklong program, with room and board available at a nearby inn for a total of $850 per person. Students (a maximum of three per boat) learn the ropes aboard 12-foot day sailers and 28-foot sloops. Advanced five-day sailing courses are offered in September as well.

q. I want to surprise my wife with an ultra-luxurious weekend--somewhere with palm trees and lots of quiet. Does such a place exist in this country?--M.L., New York, N.Y.
a. How about a private island?Little Palm Island resort (800/343-8567 or 305/872-2524; suites from $500), off the Florida Keys, has thatched-roof suites with whirlpool baths and outdoor showers. There's fishing, kayaking, sailing, and a number of spa services. If you prefer to go west, try the Ingleside Inn (760/325-0046; suites from $295) in Palm Springs, California, hideout of Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, and Greta Garbo, among others. Your villa or mini-suite will be filled with English or Spanish-style antiques; you can request one with a fireplace or whirlpool. The Lodge at Koele (800/321-4666 or 808/565-7300; suites from $625) on Hawaii's Lanai island is more country estate than tropical resort; the 102 plantation-style rooms are spacious and quiet. After a day spent golfing, horseback riding, or playing croquet, you can relax in a Burmese chair on the veranda or unwind in the orchid-filled greenhouse.

q. I'm looking for an inn in Vermont for a weekend wedding party next spring. No glitz, please! --H.B., Boston, Mass.
a. You want a simple place like Arlington's West Mountain Inn (802/375-6516; doubles from $145), a century-old gabled farm where actors Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan were married. The inn hosts wedding receptions for as many as 160 guests (the barn makes a great dance floor), and can accommodate up to 60 overnight. If you need more space for all your guests, try booking way ahead for a weekend at the Equinox in Manchester Village (800/362-4747 or 802/362-4700; doubles from $169), a classic Yankee compound with 168 rooms and 1,110 acres (receptions are usually limited to 200 guests). The day after the wedding your guests can play tennis, golf, ride horses, or go fishing; they may even want to try a class at the British School of Falconry, located on the grounds.

E-mail your questions, or mail them to: Ask T&L, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, 10th floor, New York, NY 10036. We regret that questions can be answered only in the column.

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