with Stephen McCarty
Singapore, busily shaking off its staid image by 'doing a Macau' and embracing the modern casino dollar, will let its hair down even further when it becomes the first Asian country to host the annual Sun Festival. A jamboree that celebrates the 'art of living well', the Sun Festival will take place from October 18 to 30 along the lines of its two previous incarnations, which were held in Tuscany, Italy, and Napa Valley, California. The festival is loosely arranged around seven disciplines: music, film, literature, visual arts, cuisine, wine and wellness. These will be variously celebrated with daily concerts, cookery events featuring international celebrity chefs and fine wines, film screenings, art exhibitions and a host of other activities to feed the soul. More than 150 artists, authors and chefs from Asia, the United States, Europe and Australia will be appearing in the city state.
Some of the performances promise to be world class. The music programme, for example, features 10 major concerts starring some of the world's best classical, jazz and world music artists. The Gala Opening Concert on October 20 will be headlined by the Russian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the chief conductor of the Bolshoi, Alexander Vedernikov. Star pianist Lang Lang, from China, will grace the stage on October 30 to round off the concert programme, performing works by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov.
The east goes west
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will enjoy a high-profile central European presence from late 2009 with the opening of the 207-room Shangri-La Hotel, Vienna.
Located in four historic city-centre buildings (right), on which conversion work has begun, the property will sit on the 19th-century Ringstrasse boulevard, with its characteristic historical and art nouveau architecture. Guests will find high-end shopping, fine dining and national attractions such as the Opera House, the Belvedere Palace and St Stephan's Cathedral within walking distance.
The project will blend the historical buildings with a modern environment. Guest rooms will measure 45 square metres on average, restaurants will include a fine-dining establishment and bar, and the highlight (literally) of the hotel's conference and function facilities will be a ballroom crowned with a glass dome. The Chi Spa will introduce Shangri-La's signature spa concept to the city, offering treatments based on ancient Chinese and Himalayan healing rituals.
Deal of the Week
Westminster Travel is selling a two-night package at the new Siam@Siam Design Hotel and Spa (www.siamatsiam.com), Bangkok, with economy-class flights with SriLankan Airlines, for HK$1,790 a person. More upmarket options are the InterContinental (www.ichotelsgroup.com) and the Grand Hyatt Erawan (www.hyatt.com) at HK$2,190 and HK$2,850, respectively. The Grand Hyatt and Siam@Siam offer breakfast as part of the deal. For details and reservations, call Westminster Travel on 2313 9800, or e-mail email@example.com, quoting reference number 5631.