travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 May, 2008, 12:00am

Playboy dreams

Ever wanted to live the millionaire lifestyle? Crystal Cruises (www.crystalcruises.com) has launched a range of adventures in Europe. You can zoom through Monaco in a Maserati, take on Umbria in a Ferrari or tackle the Porsche factory race track. If watersports are more your style, how about cruising the Cote d'Azur in a 50-foot private yacht? Priced from US$1,000 to US$19,500 per couple, these racy adventures are available on most Mediterranean cruises on the Crystal Serenity (above) until October.

Destination Bali

Discreet holidaymakers will love the privacy of the new Anantara Resort Seminyak (above; www.anantara.com). Situated away from the tourist traps, the 59 suites are a fusion of modern technology and traditional Indonesian design. A free-flow living space combined with floor-to-ceiling windows connect guests with the environment while double-sized rain showerheads, Bose DVD and surround-sound systems and 42-inch plasmas are standard.

Another Bali addition is the all-villa Karma Kandara (www.karmaresorts.com), on the cliff tops of Uluwatu. Overlooking its own private beach, it offers families and groups a range of exquisite one-, two- and three- bedroom residences with pools. Each has a living area, a fully equipped kitchen and bedrooms with sweeping ocean views. A range of activities is available, including fishing and cruising trips onboard a luxury catamaran and Balinese cooking classes.

Wheels on fire

Want to take that Sunday bicycle outing to Lantau to the next level? This July, Uma Paro, the luxurious COMO retreat in Bhutan (www.como.bz), in association with Kona Bikes, will be offering biking adventures in one of the world's least-explored countries. Cycling five different valleys, the two-wheeled tourists will take in cultural attractions as well as some off-road routes and easier riverside paths. Other highlights include the country's first designated biking trail, in Punakha, Bhutan's iconic Tiger's Nest monastery and a descent from the kingdom's highest road pass, Chele La, at 3,810 metres. The Mountains and Monasteries - Bhutan by Bike journey will run from July 7 to July 17 and cost US$3,946 (single occupancy, full board). Kona bike and equipment rental is included.

Baby, it's cold outside

In Scandinavia, you can come in from the cold at the Hotel Arctic (below; www.hotel-arctic.gl). Located in Ilulissat in western Greenland, the hotel offers the unique experience of sleeping in a modern igloo. Featuring all mod cons and built with comfort in mind, these aluminium-clad huts were inspired by traditional Eskimo homes and are open between May and September.

If you are into weird and wacky travel experiences, you could try the water views at the Hotel Utter Inn, in Sweden. With only one tiny submerged room, the hotel is in the middle of Lake Malaren. If you're lucky, you'll wake to views of fish shoals.

In your element

Spa lovers will revel in the new St Gregory Spa at the Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur (www.parkroyalhotels.com), Malaysia. As part of a development that also saw a luxurious Orchid Club and 78 rooms added, the day spa offers a wide range of authentic treatments, including aromatherapy facials, Javanese massages and traditional Ayurveda and Tui Na rituals.

On Thailand's Koh Samui, a Spa Cenvaree has opened at the Centara Grand Beach Resort (www.centralhotelsresorts.com). Its signature treatment, the Four Elements Bath Journey, uses a hydro spa soak enhanced with colour therapy. There is also a range of indulgent bath treatments that will have you floating back to the beach.

Climb aboard

One of Asia-Pacific's most famous rail journeys has just become even more alluring, with the launch of The Ghan's Platinum Service (www.gsr.com.au). From September, passengers travelling from Adelaide to Darwin will be able to indulge in deluxe cabins (below), which are almost twice the size of regular cabins and on par with some of the world's best train suites. There is even a 24-hour cabin steward on call. With only 25 Platinum cabins, the service will be available once a week each way. If you want to enjoy the best of both worlds - Outback landscapes and luxurious surroundings - you can buy tickets from tomorrow.

Tighter ties

By adding a route from London Gatwick to New York's JFK, British Airways (www.britishairways.com) will take its total flights between Britain and the Big Apple to 62 a week from October. The British airline will also launch business-only flights from London City airport, meaning a quicker journey out of London for US-bound executives. British Airways is also launching flights from the increasingly busy Gatwick to Oporto, Portugal, and Valencia, Spain.

Korea change

If you're planning a visit to South Korea, check out the latest information at the national tourism office's new website (www.visitkorea.or.kr). The site is designed to help Korea-bound travellers plan their trip, with useful information on attractions, accommodation, transport and some of the country's colourful festivals. Book a temple stay or a taekwondo programme, find a restaurant and use the E-Map facility to plan your route.