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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 12:00am

El of a place

Something of a best-kept secret in the luxury accommodation game is El Nido Resorts Lagen Island, in Palawan in the Philippines. Set in a secluded cove on the island of the same name, and on grounds of more than four hectares, the property is surrounded by one of the most important wildlife sanctuaries in the country.

The bay opposite El Nido is speckled by 45 islands characterised by cliffs, hidden lagoons and white beaches, off which diving, snorkelling, hobie cat sailing, windsurfing and kayaking are permitted.

The resort offers cottages and suites with views of the cove, sea and islands. Its facilities include al fresco and indoor dining, swimming pool, poolside bar, table tennis, video room and library. Special packages of US$190-US$245 per night are available until March 31. Inquiries: (63 2) 894 5644, e-mail or go to

Let them eat cake

Planning a Christmas break in Hong Kong? The Mandarin Oriental is offering a Festive Stay package, from Thursday until January 8.

For $1,388, excluding tax and service, you can stay the night in a city-view room. Harbour-view and deluxe harbour-view rooms cost $1,788 and $1,988, respectively. Included in the deal is breakfast for two and Mandarin Cake Shop goodies worth $250.

On Christmas Eve, the Clipper Lounge will be serving seasonal high tea to the accompaniment of performances by dancers from the Jean M. Wong School of Ballet. Christmas Day brunch will be on the menu at the Mandarin Grill, and the hotel's traditional Dickensian Christmas lunch will be served at the Chinnery Bar. There's no word yet on whether gruel will be among the appetisers. For details, go to


Most American business travellers still use traditional booking services rather than online options. A recent study for corporate travel managers Travelport found that most respondents 'use offline services to confirm that their online reservation was booked, demonstrating that there's still some mistrust towards the online booking system'.

About 32 per cent of respondents said they used offline methods to update their travel plans. Thirty per cent said online booking didn't address their specific needs, particularly in such areas as customer service. But 55 per cent said they booked online because it was fast.

Tread carefully

The British government has toned down its travel warning for visitors to Kosovo in southern Serbia. It's no longer advising against all travel to the region, but suggests travellers exercise caution.

Kosovo has been under the administration of the United Nations since June 1999, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's travel advice stresses that landmines or other unexploded ordnance may still pose a threat.

The British Government says the security position in southern Serbia has much improved because of political progress being made by Serbian authorities and the area's Albanian minority. Sporadic incidents of ethnically motivated violence continue, says the warning, although foreigners are rarely targeted.

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