Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 December, 2008, 12:00am

Sheikh chic

The Desert Islands Resort & Spa will bring out the Bedouin in any well-healed traveller. The Anantara resort, which opened in October, is on Sir Bani Yas Island, 8km off the coast of Abu Dhabi and once the private nature reserve of the founder of the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan planted 20,000 trees on the desert atoll to attract wildlife, including migratory birds. After his death in 2004, the island was closed, allowing it to become one of the region's most pristine ecological environments. Now you can live like a noble in one of the 64 luxurious guest rooms, each with a marble bath-room, traditional furnishings and state-of-the-art amenities. To live like a sheikh, take one of the Royal or Beach villas, which come with butler service, splash pools and direct beach access. For details visit

Giving hints

Travel website Iloho has released a top 10 of luxury Christmas presents. People on the move surveyed in London, Hong Kong and Sydney suggested the jet set would appreciate pure Scottish cashmere travel blankets, noise-cancelling headphones, crocodile skin wallets (below) for travel documents and membership to international concierge services. Visit the blog on for more gift ideas.

Retreat surrender

If you are looking for 'quietly stated old world elegance', the owners of Ika Lodge, on the banks of the Tongariro River on New Zealand's North Island, claim they can supply it. Established in 1955 as a trout fishing lodge, the property has recently emerged from an extensive upgrade. Accommodation consists of suites, a two-bedroom apartment and a three-bedroom villa. The lodge is 30 minutes from Lake Taupo and the ski fields of Mount Ruapehu. With room rates beginning at NZ$135 (HK$555) for two people, it makes experiencing New Zealand great value for money. Go to for details.

Pinot pleasure

Wine connoisseurs looking to enjoy sun and grapes together should consider visiting Australia and taking the new Pinot Tour run by George's, a boutique B&B on the Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne. Guests are taken on a two-day, two-night tour of some of the area's leading pinot noir producers. They will meet winemakers and indulge in gourmet meals matched with local wines. The price of the tour includes accommo-dation in a designer suite, meals, drinks, 10 winery visits, sommelier explanations and transfers. The cost of the tour is A$1,200 (HK$6,000). More details can be found at

Deal of the week

Despite the cold, Beijing is a lively place in winter and CX Holidays' City Chic - Intercontinental Beijing Beichen Winter Select package makes it even more attractive. Pay for two nights and get a third free and a late check out. It is available for departures until February 27 with economy flights on Dragonair, accommodation at the Intercontinental Beijing Beichen and breakfast, for HK$2,999 per person. To book visit