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Does Hollywood Line up Movie Releases for Oscars? A Look at Out of the Way Winter Getaways

Aired December 27, 2003 - 13:00   ET


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. I'm Jack Cafferty with a special edition of IN THE MONEY for the holiday season. Coming up on today's program, the Wall Street wish list. In the money business, your holiday bonus can make or break you. Find out what the masters of the universe are taking home this year.
Plus, presents tense, retailers out to make shopping nicer, and not just during the season of giving. We'll look at the changing shape of the great American shopping mall.

Plus, hot tickets. Whether you want more winter or a lot less, "Money" magazine can help. We'll see what tops the list of best vacation places this time of the year. Joining me, as always, two of our regular on the IN THE MONEY team, CNN Correspondent Susan Lisovicz, there she is. And "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer, and there he is.

We're coming off the Christmas holiday. We did not get a particularly huge bounce off the capture of Saddam Hussein. But we're coming up to something that investors usually look forward to, called "the January effect". What that be that about?

ANDREW SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE": The January effect is this historical phenomena whereby stocks tend to go up in January, particularly little stocks. Not sure why it happens. Some of it has to do with the fact money managers want to put new money into the market for the new year, there are some tax reasons as well.

The problem is this year, though, is we came up so much, maybe it took the wind out of the sails for this baby.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some folks are actually saying we were seeing a January effect in December. Again, because of everything you mentioned. The stars were in alignment this year.

SERWER: It is the December/January effect, right?

LISOVICZ: Exactly. With low interest rates, businesses starting to spend more. Consumers certainly spending, that it created a very nice year for shareholders.

CAFFERTY: A lot of that stuff hasn't gone away, though. The economic plus signs are still there. Some are suggesting fourth quarter profits which we'll start to get in January might, in fact, come in better than anybody expected. You could make an argument that the foundation is still there for the market to continue higher, but maybe it's not up too much.

SERWER: And that is a good point about the fourth quarter. Everyone knew the third quarter would be great, Jack, but calling it an aberration. So good, we'll never be that good. You're right. If you come in decently for the fourth quarter, this thing has legs and, of course, time to start celebrating 2003. The first up year since '99.


SERWER: We hope. Right?

CAFFERTY: We'll see what happens.

On Wall Street, you are what you earn. And what you earn is anybody's guess until they start handing out the year-end bonuses. Those numbers can affect everything from how the Street feels about things in general to how Manhattan real estate is performing in any given year.

For a look at this year's bonuses we're joined by Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Association, consultants for the financial services business.

Good to have you with us. Happy holidays.


CAFFERTY: Are the good times back in downtown?

JOHNSON: Bonuses are going to be significantly higher this year than they have been in the last several years.


JOHNSON: Wall Street, most of the major Wall Street firms had a significantly better year. Across the board, most of the businesses were significantly ahead of the prior two years.

LISOVICZ: Alan, something I think a lot of people don't know is that the base salary of a lot of the people who work on Wall Street is -- well, it's a nice income for most of us, but it is not a million- dollar salary. In fact, most of what they earn hinges on their bonus. Can you break it down for us?

JOHNSON: That's a great point. Someone who makes as much as $1 million on Wall Street may have a salary of $150,000 or $200,000, so 80 percent or 85 percent of their income may be in the form of bonuses. Someone who makes $5 million, may have 95 percent of their compensation in bonus.

So, the bonus decision's made in December/January, is for all practical purposes, most people's full-year pay. SERWER: Alan, come on. You're talking huge amounts of money. Even people on Wall Street will acknowledge, these are the most overpaid people in the world. I mean, come on, right? How come --

JOHNSON: Except for TV people.

CAFFERTY: Well, yeah.

SERWER: I don't know about you. But these guys, and women, too, of course, making so much money. How is in they can make so much money?

JOHNSON: Well, Wall Street's a very competitive business. Not all the businesses are earning the same amounts of money. You're -- in your introduction you mentioned masters of the universe. Investment bankers are down 60 percent or 70 percent below peak earning level, the more fixed income traders making 30 percent , 40 percent more than they made at market peak.

SERWER: But you are still talking about millions, right?

JOHNSON: A lot of investment bankers now are in the six figures, they're no longer in the seven figures.


JOHNSON: I know we're in the...

CAFFERTY: Time to pass the hat, right?

JOHNSON: That's right.

CAFFERTY: How far down the organizational chart do the bonuses go?

JOHNSON: In most financial service firms they go very deep into the organization. Generally they cover all professional levels and many firms include a number of the clerical people as well.

LISOVICZ: You know, one thing that certainly New York City sees, when the bonuses return as they will this year, is how it trickles down into those little toys Wall Streeters seem to enjoy so much. Fine wine. Big, fancy cars, that kind of thing. In fact, that has trickled down?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. Many Wall Streeters are lavish spenders. So, the Wall Street compensation probably averaging 20 percent, ahead of last year, certainly expensive cars, the already inflated New York housing market, wines and other things will probably see a rebound.

SERWER: Alan, what about all the scandals we heard so much about all year and the previous years? Any impact?

JOHNSON: Virtually all of the firms to their credit flowed the financial impact of the scandals through their bonus plans. But the impact -- the financial impact has not been that great in the upturn in the markets, it's overwhelmed. The relatively small financial impact of those scandals.

LISOVICZ: Alan, and we should say that folks on fixed income, by your view, actually making out better than those in equities, in the stock market. And 30 percent, we're talking about for bonuses? Up 30 percent?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. The last several years the biggest surprise in the financial markets has been the continuing powerful uptrend in the fixed income businesses. So, yes. Many people with fixed income this year will make significantly more than the better known equities, or investment banking types.

CAFFERTY: As a private investor, am I wrong to get a little acid in my stomach over this idea of bonus bonuses?

Some of these Wall Street firms part of driving the market bubble that climaxed in the late '90s when everybody's 401(k) went right down the porcelain container. They were very much involved in this.

Since then we found out some are involved in other kinds of things, that were not exactly in the small investor's best interest. And now I pick up the paper the other day, and some guy at one of these big brokerage houses is giving himself a $12 million bonus for all the fine work that he's done.

Should I be a little hot about that as a private investor?

JOHNSON: As a private investor, you should be particularly selfish and you should look out for your best interests. I don't think you should count on Wall Street to look out for your best interests. I think you should be looking out for your best interests.

CAFFERTY: Aren't they in the business, though, of trying to supposedly take care of the investors' best interests and is paying a $12 million bonus to some executive, based on all the things I just laid out over the last three or four years necessarily in the investors' best interests?

JOHNSON: Well, in these major financial service firms whether they pay the CEO a $12 million bonus is not going to materially impact the pricing of products or the way they do business. But I think the individual investor should -- it should be one more cautionary tale about them being very careful about who they do business with and to understand the conflicts that are strong through the financial community.

LISOVICZ: Well, Alan, there is a two-year waiting list for the new Bentley TG, $100,000 price tag. So, I guess, bonuses are back. Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates. Thank you for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

LISOVICZ: Ahead on IN THE MONEY up against the mall. Consumers want shopping centers to start acting like town centers. Find out what the malls are doing to meet demand. Plus, air Fido, with the holiday travel season in full swing, we'll look at a new airline that doesn't treat your dog like a suitcase.

And the season of giving and getting away. Some of "Money" magazines top winter travel spots.


LISOVICZ: Your local mall at holiday time can feel like one big noisy advertisement for shopping online. There are the crowds, of course, and the canned music and those want a be actresses chasing you with perfume spritzers. A lot of retailers are out to build a better mall. And they know it will take more than a palm tree in the atrium and a fat food court.

For a look at the new American mall, let's hear from James Hughes, professor of urban planning at Rutgers University, from the state of New Jersey, where I grew up, professor.

Also in the shadow of Paramus, New Jersey, which seemed to pioneer the malls, many malls, the were popular in the '60s, '70s and '80s then something happened that turned the American shopper off. Why is it consumers continue to want to go to the malls anymore?

JAMES HUGHES, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Well, once exotic retail experiences, they have become quite ordinary, standard, interstate issue. So consumers are looking for something different.

In addition, regional malls have become an enormously complex enterprise in order to get to them. Enormous congestion. Takes a tremendous amount of time, and what we have are maturing baby boomers now in the time constrained stage of their life cycle.

They don't have time to spend hours at the mall. Shop until you drop has been replaced by shop until you got, and then get. So they're looking for a different type of shopping experience. And so what retailers are doing, shopping center developers are doing, re- inventing lifestyle-type complexes. In essence, they're trying to re- invent the downtown of old.

CAFFERTY: Just like we used to have in this country 30, 40 years ago. We're going to go back to the future, so to speak, and make it like it was, perhaps like it was in the 1950s.

How much does the Internet and outfits like QVC and the catalog mail-order business and all of the ways that you can get stuff without getting in your car have to do with the decline of the mall?

HUGHES: That's certainly a key element who's just at the beginning stages of its impact. And I think this Christmas the Internet effect has really taken hold. In addition, you have a number of other retail formats that emerged during the 1990s to provide more convenience, to be able to shop faster.

So we've invented power centers with category killer stores. We've invented big box retailing. And these provide a whole host of alternatives to the regional mall. A whole range of alternatives to traditional department stores, which are also in trouble.

SERWER: All right, Professor Hughes, I've done work in this area. Wrote an article recently about malls in America. The mauling of America, I called it. Listen to this stuff. In 1986, 28,496 malls in this country. Today, 46,438 malls. In 1986, there are 14.7 average square feet per American of retail space. Today there are 20 square feet. We have too many stores. Do we not?

HUGHES: An over-stored nation has become even more over-stored. So has we have is a retail industry that keeps adding space. Everybody feels that they're going to be the survivor. In many cases, the new construction is not base on growth and consumer dollars, but with the belief that when a new entrant comes in, they're going to take away business from existing, more obsolete players. We have a very powerful dynamic that keeps us overstored.

LISOVICZ: You certainly see the cannibalization from retailers treading on their own territory. The fact is, it's the developers that really want to build more malls, because they're much more profitable than revitalizing, say, downtown areas. The old-fashioned stores that are more personal, much smaller, where you know people by name. It's the malls that are profitable for the developers. Yes?

HUGHES: That's correct.

LISOVICZ: How much more so?

HUGHES: Rehabilitating older stores downtown in areas that are difficult to draw a significant customer base is just not the way to make significant dollars in this country. So the easiest form of development, really, unfortunately, is Greenfield development, plowing up raw land and developing new stores on them.

SERWER: All right, James Hughes, professor of urban planning at Rutgers University. Thanks very much and happy holidays to you.

HUGHES: Thank you.

SERWER: Coming up on "IN THE MONEY" move over Rudolph. If you don't have eight tiny reindeer, FedEx delivers. See how the stock is doing as the holiday rush hits its peak.

Plus, swords and smackeroos. "The Lord of the Rings" just one of this year's holiday movie heavyweights. See which pictures, set for big box office.

And the gift you give yourself, if the presents you want most this year is a change of scenery, we'll tell you about some of the best places to spend the holidays. See you soon.


SERWER: Lots of businesses deal with pressing shipping needs all year round, but during the holiday season, millions of ordinary Americans send gifts that absolutely, positively have to be there before December 25. That's where Federal Express has been coming in for years, like the big railroad and trucking companies, FedEx fortunes are tied to the consumer and producer economies.

In other words, if people aren't buying, then no one is shipping either. Since early spring, FedEx shares have been on steady rise to current levels, which are close to an all-time high. Earlier this month, the company failed to meet Wall Street earnings targets for the latest quarter, and so FedEx's our special holiday "Stock of the Week".

Obviously, this company has become a mainstay of the economy. They're in a dogfight with UPS and you see them everywhere.

CAFFERTY: What's behind the earnings disappointment? The stock has been going up, consumer's back, the economy's recovery, where's the problem?

SERWER: Well, I think it is just one of these expectations things really. The company has been continuing to grow. It is a remarkable business. Here I have some facts, 3 million packages a day, 640 aircraft and 48,000 trucks.

And the thing about them, every once in a while they're late with your package. That happens, but as far as getting them lost, that seems to rarely happen. It is a pretty darn reliable business.

LISOVICZ: Just like "Castaway", the movie, right? Remember Tom Hanks delivering that package at all costs!

It's a very competitive company, right? Really trying to get into that ground service where UPS is really steeped for a long time. And it is raising its rates. So it's encouraged I guess, by the economy. Of course, it's not only consumers that drive FedEx but businesses as well. A lot of its business has been in Asia, where it's been hurt by the falling dollar, which makes the currencies there.

CAFFERTY: Maybe that is one of the things that feeds into that fourth quarter earnings.

LISOVICZ: But they raised the estimates, for the year and the present quarter.

CAFFERTY: Why is it that companies like UPS and FedEx, to me it is the most attractive feature that they have, that ability to track your package. I sent a suitcase to my daughter at Tulane, she needed more stuff to pack for the holidays. They give you a number. I called, she said it didn't come today. I called a guy, he said, zip, zip, called me back. He said it was there Friday, he said is was signed by so and so and it is in the XYZ building.

SERWER: Right.

CAFFERTY: The post office, for in some cases, more money, can't do this stuff.

LISOVICZ: They invested early in satellite tracking, right?

SERWER: They have done a lot of stuff. Fred Smith is the guy who found this, saw this, wrote a paper about it at Yale.

LISOVICZ: He got a C.

CAFFERTY: He got a C.

SERWER: He got C on it, that's pretty funny.

CAFFERTY: That's right.

SERWER: But he's still the CEO. He's always been trying new things. He's 30 years old this year. And he started off with the Arkansas Aviation Sales Company. Of course, this thing's based in Memphis, which is great for that city.

You're right, Jack. They are at the fore of technology. You can do it on the web. Go right there, track your package and really it seems to work out.


LISOVICZ: One of the problems for FedEx has been a problem that's hit a lot of other companies as well. It is the retirement benefits, which have weighed on them. This may be something that passes very quickly for FedEx.

CAFFERTY: You buy the stock even though it's near it's all-time high, or not?

SERWER: For the long term, this is a stock you could own. You could get beat up near the bumpy weather in the economy as we figure our way.

CAFFERTY: OK, Thanks, Andy.

Coming up on IN THE MONEY as we continue, "Lord of the Bling Bling: The latest "Lord of the Rings" one of the hot moneymakers hitting the box office. A rundown of the top movie debuts.

And later, the pet jet. Find out about a new airline that treats your animal companion like a member of the family, not like excess baggage. We'll be back.




CAFFERTY: Well, Christmas it turns out is not just the biggest time of the year for retailers, it is when rolls out a whole slay full of movies. Among the offerings this year, number of big budget blockbuster as well as some top Oscar contenders. Joining us now to talk about the holiday, movie season and more is Leonard Maltin, who's the co-host of "Entertainment Tonight" and "Hot Ticket." Also the author of the "2004 Movie and Video Guide."

Leonard nice to have you with us. Thanks for joining us.


Does Hollywood have strategy for the kinds of films that are released over the Christmas and holiday season versus the kinds of films released in the summertime, the other big time of the year for movies?

MALTIN: Well, in the old days, the strategy was simple. It's the time kids are off from school. A good time to have family oriented movies out. Escapist fare, the kind of thing that parents and kids could see together. Now that's changed, because now what they save up for the end of the year is the Oscar bait, as I call it. The kind of films that are going to wind up on critic' best 10 list. They're likely to Be Oscar contenders. And the reason is statistics prove they're right to do this. That the films that come out late in the year are the ones that are freshest in people's minds. Last year, all five best picture nominees came out in the last two weeks of December.

CAFFERTY: Interesting.

LISOVICZ: Leonard, isn't it something that cannibalizes the music industry? From September to December, there's nothing I want to see. And I like going to movies. Then you have "Cold Mountain," "Last Samurai," of course, "Lord of the Rings." And there is just so much is out there and only so much time to see all of these movies in the theaters before they disappear.

MALTIN: Exactly. I couldn't agree more pipe go to the movies 12 months a year. I like to see something good in February. You know, what's wrong with May?

You wait all year for these heavy hitters to come and they all come at once, as you say.

LISOVICZ: Does it behoove them?

Does it work in their favor?

MALTIN: Kind of a landslide, you know. Even people who are avid moviegoers finds themselves deluged, and there's more than you can literally keep up with. But that seems to be their strategy because it means so much to get that extra boost from the Oscars and from the various other awards given this time of year.

SERWER: Leonard I was going to say this year wasn't a really great year for movies. Maybe I'm premature, because "Return of the King" is just rolling out, and "Cold Mountain" and all that.

MALTIN: Well, sure. But this is the same as in the past few years where in October I'm still saying it hasn't been a good year for movies. Then, in December, you say well, it's been a good month for movies. You know, again, they save so much -- I mean, "House of Sand and Fog," "Cold Mountain," the "Lord of the Rings," "Something's Got to Give," "Big Fish," these are all really good movies, they're all crowded together in December.

CAFFERTY: What about...

MALTIN: At least we got some good ones.

CAFFERTY: Yes. What about "Mystic River"?

I don't get out a lot, Leonard. And don't go to a lot anything, parties, or anything else. But I did happen to see "Mystic River," and I thought it was terrific. Is it going to win awards?

MALTIN: Yes. And that's a definite award contender. And they saved that up for fall as well. They didn't wait until the very end of the year. That, and "Lost in Translation" and some other fall movies are certainly in the run. "Mystic River" has got be counted main contenders.

CAFFERTY: I am just thinking, if it gets nominated, this will be the first time in 20 years, that I'll be able to watch the telecast and actually have seen one of the films that's up for an award. I'm so excited!

MALTIN: Well, then you have rooting interests.

CAFFERTY: I'm ready to go to this thing.

LISOVICZ: You brought up. Leonard, You brought up "Lost in Translation" a film that I saw and enjoyed very much. The success of these films at the Academy Awards hinged on academy members getting the DVDs. That was critical. And then it brings up that whole other issue, which is piracy.

MALTIN: Right. Well you know, for years, what's happened is that at this time of year, the various studios and distributors set up screenings for all of the academy members. If they hadn't seen the film when it first come out, they want sure there are plenty of opportunities to go. In the era of video, they started sending cassettes. So the members of the academies and guilds and other people who vote on awards, even to us critics, even though we may have seen them. As a reminder, as way of revisiting the film. Then in the DVD era, started sending DVDs. Well, you can't have it both ways. You can't keep a lid on piracy, and keep a close watch on your product and be sending out hundreds upon thousands of free copies in perfect editions. So it all hit the fan this year when they decided it that it was too risky, and they weren't going to send any out. And a lot of people screamed in protest. There's nothing that annoys people having something and then have it taken away.

SERWER: Leonard, quick question. I am sorry to interrupt. A quick last question here.

Do you miss the old days?

I mean, this whole business has gotten so corporate, for so many movies.

It's all so formulaic?

Don't you agree?

MALTIN: Well, that's what we've seen all year. What we saw all summer. It wasn't just the critics who weren't crazy about this summer's so-called blockbusters, the public wasn't crazy about them. The public didn't like "Hulk." The public didn't really care for "Laura Croft II" nor were they asking particularly for "Laura Croft II." But this fall they try to make up for it with the good ones that we've been waiting for all year. And when you see something as wonderful as "Lost in Translation" or some these others at the year- end, you say well there's hope. There are some out there who given the corporate nature of movie making make now, manage to make their very personal and very passionate film. As long as that happens I can retain optimism and my love of movies.

SERWER: All right. Leonard, I'm sure you will. Let's hope there's a better spring coming up. Leonard Maltin, the -- yes. Film critic for "Entertainment Tonight" and "Hot Ticket," thanks a lot.

Coming up, fly like a beagle. I wonder what Steve Miller would say about that?

In this peak season for air travel, we'll show you a carrier that will put Fido in the passenger seat.

Plus a little light viewing, discover some of "Money" magazine's top travel destinations for this time of year, including the town in the money called (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


LISOVICZ: Holiday air travel usually works just fine unless you're on the wrong end of the leash. Many pets wind up in the airline hold where their safety and comfort may be at risk. And that's enough to leave your animal pets at home. A guy named Rick Roof -- not ruff -- came up with a solution. And today he is a co- founder of a company called Companion Air. He joins us from West Palm Beach, Florida. Welcome.

RICK ROOF, COMPANION AIR: Thank you, glad to be here.

LISOVICZ: This really was based on your experience of flying animals through the air, and it was uncomfortable and you did a little homework and found that, in fact, it could be a lot worse than that?

ROOF: Yes. We traveled coast to coast ourselves in a small aircraft with our pet, and had the comfort of doing that. On one occasion, we actually interrupted our trip and ended up driving because concerned about air travel on a commercial airline. And that really planted the seed in my Deona (ph) wife's mind about how people travel with their pets. The more we researched the more we found travel on commercial air carriers with pets can be challenging, especially with new security and the new safe animal transport regulations. It's difficult, and getting more difficult all the time.

SERWER: Rick, spell out for us how your business works?

I mean, where do you fly, do you buy a ticket for your german shepherd or goldfish?

How does it work?

ROOF: Yes. Companion air, we've just started small shuttles. But our airline really operates in and out of small secondary airports, for the most part, on small turbo prop aircraft that will handle four to five people, six to eight pets, and the ground operation is very simple. You walk out with your pet, get on board, and, yes, you buy a ticket for yourself, you buy a ticket for your companion, and you get to travel inside the cabin together. They're never out of your sight, they're always feeling nice and secure, because they can see you, and it's a nice -- nice and comfortable for everyone.

CAFFERTY: I can remember a few years ago, we used to -- as long as the pet was small, we used to take a dog with us inside the cabin on a major airline, as long as they fit in this little carrier. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I can't remember exactly what kind of little mutt it was, but he fit.

SERWER: chihuahua.

CAFFERTY: Then you slide him under seat. The only ones in cargo hold, were the ones who were too big to put under the seat.

Do major carriers still have that kind of a policy?

Can you still take a small pet inside the cabin on major carriers?

I don't know. If you can, to what degree does that compete with what you're trying to do?

ROOF: Many carriers still allow you to take the very small animals, if they can fit under the seat. So, there are some who can travel. They generally limit how many can go on a given flight.


ROOF: Of course, you still have the hassle of getting them through the new increased security checkpoints, and making sure that sparky doesn't get X-rayed as he goes through. So, there are still lots of challenges there, but, yes, there's a little competition there, but that's a very small portion of the people who would love to travel with their animals, but don't have any options today other than to drive.

CAFFERTY: I remember we had a Lhasa Apso and he was nasty little dog. And we were walking through -- down there to where the security is and where you go through the detector, and he says you got to put the doing in the carrier. And weren't due to take off for like another hour. I said, you want him in the carrier, you put him in the carrier. And he tried and...

SERWER: Biting ensued.

CAFFERTY: Yes. So the dog got to stay out of the carrier until such time as...

LISOVICZ: That's why they have insurance. Probably a lot of insurance, which brings us to money matters, Rick. This is a tough time for airlines. We had a couple of major carriers file for bankruptcy protection. You charge a premium for a service that I'm sure a lot of pet owners would like. Are you profitable, and if not, when will you be in the black?

ROOF: We're not at this point. We're really just in the initial start-up stages. Just started a small aircraft shuttle. We expect in 15 to 18 months we can reach profitability. Aviation is always tough business and it's a particularly challenging time over the last couple of years. But if you get beyond the major carriers to the niche airlines, those who are providing specialized service and regional service, they're doing pretty well. People are looking for alternatives.

SERWER: Rick, I got -- I got a funny menagerie at home, I got an armadillo, boa constrictor and a couple pet spiders.

Can I bring those on?

What kind of pets do you allow?

ROOF: Yes, we can handle all of those. There are a few we've been asked about that are probably a little too much for us. We've been asked to transport bears and exotic cats. Things like that, that are probably a little outside our range. Most pets you could have at home including boa constrictors, would could put on our aircraft. We've got a huge 53-inch door to help us load more challenging visitors.

SERWER: Bring on the tarantulas!

CAFFERTY: On a more serious not, though, the option, if you have pets, leave them behind, and the cost of boarding them at some animal hospitals and stuff I'm sure is probably at least as much, if not more, than whatever the premium is you charge to let them fly on Companion Air. The next challenge ahead, is Andy getting his boa constrictor into the Marriott when he gets there.. They may not be as accommodating as you are.

Rick, we've got to leave it there. Thanks for coming. Good luck with Companion Air. Hope it works out.

Rick Roof, co-founder of a novel idea.

ROOF: Thank you very much.

CAFFERTY: All right. Still ahead, whether winter makes you want to turn up the heat or get out the snowboard, we have a destination for you. A look at some of the season's top vacation ideas coming up.

And Allen Wastler tells us about an office holiday party. He knows about these things, he's made most of them. Stay with us.


SERWER: If you don't like the weather this winter, a change is as close as your nearest airport. Whether you want sun and sand or a ski trail covered in fresh powder, there's a destination waiting for you. "Money" magazine tallied up the top places to kick back. And Here With the low-down on this midwinter hot spots, "Money" magazine senior editor Marion Asnes.

Marion, welcome.


SERWER: Palm springs, California.

ASNES: I'd rather be there than here.

SERWER: Lets talk about it.

Why is that so great?

ASNES: One of the real hot places to go right now, because there are a bunch of little hotels that are really architectural gems from the '30s through the '60s renovated and turned into really cool boutiques. And it is also like the golf capital of the universe. You have 110 golf courses in that area. Many of them are private, but if you make arrangements in advance you can get in. The most private ones, even there, $300 will get you in.

SERWER: Looks like a volcano there or someting.


LISOVICZ: It's kind of like a south beach makeover?

You mentioned little boutique hotels. And we saw in Florida of course, how hip and chic that became. Really revitalized that area.

Is that what's happening, or did it ever go away?

ASNES: Not quite. Well, Palm Springs never went completely, because of the golf, but it's a little less of the disco crazy than you have in South Beach.

SERWER: Definitely.

CAFFERTY: What if I'm looking...


CAFFERTY: What if I'm looking to go Skiing, I want some wintertime surroundings. Aspen, Vail, Squall Valley, Sun Valley, Idaho, no?

ASNES: They are all very nice, but the deals are in Park City.



ASNES: Yes, yes. Utah has a large amount of very good deep powder, and it is a lot less expensive than the resorts that you mentioned. You also, if you go to Park City you have three resorts that are right in the area, so you can take your pick. Go for one to the other, and there is a shuttle bus that takes you all around, which also means you can save money on your accommodations. You don't have to be right next to the slope to spend the day there.

CAFFERTY: And you don't have to put up with creepy Hollywood types. They're all at Aspen and Vail.

SERWER: Well, there's Robert Redford is there.

ASNES: Well, if you don't like -- that's right. Robert Redford's there.


CAFFERTY: ... not a creepy Hollywood type. He's a good guy.


LISOVICZ: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is a ski resort where you can actually land at the airport and ski that afternoon. And there are deals that encourage you to do just that.

ASNES: You are so right! There are.

LISOVICZ: I've been there.

ASNES: There is a program in Park City called Quickstart. And if you get there in the morning and bring your boarding pass to the resort you will get a free lift ticket for the afternoon.

SERWER: What about the Berkshires, Massachusetts?

Kind of an old part of the world, right?

ASNES: It is an old part of the world. It is an exquisite part of the world and for those of us who live on the East Coast, it's very convenient, and this is not their high season in the winter. Is their low season. So, you can stay in spectacular accommodations for a little less money. This is a place where you have mansions from the 19th century that have been renovated and converted into hotels. You have spas, like Canyon Ranch where you can go for less money in the winter and can cross-country ski, if you still want to get out in the snow.

SERWER: Edith Wharton had a nice house up there I remember

ASNES: Yes, she did.

SERWER: I was never got invited, but she does.

ASNES: Well, I think she is a little were-before-your time, Andy.

SERWER: The mouth that's right. Yes, that's it.

CAFFERTY: Andy's still in his youth.

SERWER: Yes, thank you.

CAFFERTY: Lets go back to the sunshine head to the Bahamas?

ASNES: Well, here is a little known part of the Bahamas, were you can have great family fun and great beach time and no crowds. It's called the Abaco Islands.


ASNES: That's right. And you can -- there's still -- it has not...

SERWER: Are those models?

ASNES: been super built up -- never. This is a journalistic program.

SERWER: OK. All right. There we go. Those are not. OK, that's good.

ASNES: That's right.


CAFFERTY: It's not all littered with casinos and tourists and intensity that some of the rest of the...

ASNES: That's right. That's right. You can go to casinos. There is a casino on the island, if you must gamble, but it's not like, say, Paradise Island, as beautiful as it is, has as many casinos as tourists.

LISOVICZ: Really built up. And it's very close. It's an hours flight from Florida so it's attractive to people.

ASNES: That's right.


LISOVICZ: It's also ecological travel. So the people who are going there are really not looking for, say, real wild night life, it's more nature?

ASNES: It's more nature.

SERWER: Can you go there by canoe. That would be more ecologically correct.

LISOVICZ: You can go there by canoe!

CAFFERTY: How did you -- what were the try criteria, just quickly, to pick these?

I mean, there are obviously, thousands of potential choices to make for vacations.

ASNES: Yes, it's you know, it's very hard to say, oh, this is a lousy place. I'll never go there. But the world is full of beautiful places, but we do have very specific criteria. One of the things we're looking for is ease of access, because we have people all over the country that need quick getaways. We're also looking for -- we're talking to agents, to frequent traveler, to families, to get things specifically suited for them. We're looking for a large variety of activities, and because we're "Money" magazine, we're looking for extra value. We're looking for that little bit of extra bang you can get for your buck.

LISOVICZ: Andy's getting out his canoe right now, Marion.

SERWER: Get the "Hawaii 50" theme. Come on, play the music!

LISOVICZ: Marion Asnes, the senior editor of "Money" magazine. Thanks so much for joining us and giving us some great ideas for the new year.

ASNES: Thank you for having me here and happy new year.

LISOVICZ: As well to you.

Coming up next, when fighting for your right to party can you be fighting for a new job?

We'll take a look at some of the biggest office Christmas party mistakes.

And don't forget to e-mail us at and check out our show page at


CAFFERTY: 'Tis the season for office parties. Of course, if you've ever been to one of these things, there's always somebody who loses his promotion, or if he's really good, loses his job or winds up in divorce court. You know, there are all kinds of bad things that can happen when you get a little of that eggnog in you, and somebody you've been wanting to tell the truth to for a whole long time is standing five feet away. Joining us for party do's and don't's and some of the best horror stories, our web master, Allen Wastler who knows about these things because he's done a lot of them, himself, haven't you?

Can I have a mulligan on that party?

I just want to do it again.

CAFFERTY: Lets have a do over.

All right. Let's start with the things you should do, if you want to impress your folks?

ALLEN WASTLER, MANAGING EDITOR, MONEY.COM: We've been perusing a lot of the sites and job advice, and a lot of them have some good tips. So, we put together a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

First, do go to the party, OK. Show up.

SERWER: Cough, cough, Jack Cafferty.

CAFFERTY: I miss them every year.

WASTLER: Mr. Cafferty. You want to show -- the company put effort into it, you want to let them know, yes, you know, I'm into it. Introduce yourselves to your bosses, all right.

LISOVICZ: Remind them.

CAFFERTY: So far I'm 0-2.

SERWER: Well it follows, doesn't it?

WASTLER: A chance to get face time, OK. Let them know you're coming, because a lot of times, some very important power knowns are putting it together. They'll remember if you said you were coming and who messed it up. If they are allowing you to bring a date, go ahead, bring a date. This is a happy thing.


WASTLER: Well, she's big on number five if you're bringing a date, don't do shop talk all night long. That's actually that's probably some good advice even if it's a non-significant other type of event. Because, you know, do you really want to want to talk about what you talked about all day?

Try to expand your horizons.

CAFFERTY: More fun list is the stuff not to do.

WASTLER: Remember, all evil flows from alcohol, all right? If you drink too much of it, it will make you do bad things. So -- don't drink too much, OK? Also, along with that, don't eat too much, you know, uhh, well you know.

LISOVICZ: And don't steal food! Don't stuff goodies...

WASTLER: Don't steal, important one.

CAFFERTY: Don't be putting the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in your pocket.

WASTLER: The big one, don't go hitting on the co-workers, you know. Especially if you're a boss type. You need to worry about that, because there could be litigious ramifications.



WASTLER: Also, even if it's on the same peer level, it could really make work complicated, couldn't it?

CAFFERTY: Don't steal stuff. It could, yes.

WASTLER: This is one you might want to listen to, Mr. Cafferty. Don't tell the boss off.

CAFFERTY: That's why I don't go, Allen. That's why I don't bother to show up. I don't drink, but I still don't trust myself, you know, know what I mean?

LISOVICZ: Don't dance. Don't dance or just don't dirty dance?

WASTLER: Don't dirty dance. OK, getting the hip motion and stuff -- and that's usually my problem.

SERWER: What if you can't help it? Sorry.

WASTLER: You just feel the music, and you just have to do it, right, Andy?

Resist! And remember, number one, all eve's flows from too much alcohol.

LISOVICZ: There are really horror stories.

Can you pick out the worst?

WASTLER: We've been -- probably the worst one I heard was a bank supervisor over in England apparently he wasn't too well liked but sort of bought a lot of drinks at the party. Apparently, about five of the middle-aged women that worked for him turned on him and beat the -- out of him!


WASTLER: So apparently after he got back from the hospital, went running to his boss and said what do we do about this?

The boss said, you deserve it!

So, that's the worst I heard. But I think you were trolling through some, too?

LISOVICZ: Where a gentleman was about to be promoted. It was going to be announced, he already had not followed your, do not overdrink.

WASTLER: All evil flows from alcohol.

LISOVICZ: Was throwing up behind the screen? Is that screen.

WASTLER: Yes, he was throwing up behind a screen. They had to introduce him. And now our new promotion person -- there's the screen -- hi, folks. Aaargh!

SERWER: Why do companies do -- is it really a morale booster?

Do people really want these things, do you think?

I don't know.


WASTLER: I sort of think they do. It's a good chance to go. To sit and maybe talk and things, but you know, they can get out of hand.


SERWER: They feel like an obligation.

CAFFERTY: What's the up side. There's no up side to going to these things. These are people you work with every day. The ones you like you'll like whether you go to the party or not. The ones you don't, that isn't going to change?

What's the upside?

WASTLER: Well, Mr. Ebenezer I just don't know.

CAFFERTY: All right. On that note, thank you, Mr. Wastler. Thanks for joining us for this special edition of IN THE MONEY.

Ho, ho, ho!

Thanks to our regular gang CNN national correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" Magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer, and managing editor, Allen Wastler.

Join us next week, Saturday at 1:00, 3:00 on Sunday. These Eastern times, in the afternoon. Or watch Andy and me all week long on "AMERICAN MORNING" which begins at 7:00 Eastern time. Have a very happy, safe holiday season. And we'll join you in 2004 when we'll get together and have us a party!


at Out of the Way Winter Getaways>

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