with Nick Walton
New Langham place
Shanghai's Langham Yangtze boutique hotel will be open for business on May 1. Housed in a building that has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Langham will be the city's first art deco-style boutique hotel and will have 96 rooms and suites, a spa and an outpost of Hong Kong's Michelin-starred T'ang Court restaurant. Next to the shopping haven of Nanjing Road, the hotel boasts views across People's Square and is close to restaurants and entertainment venues. Bookings can be made through www.yangtzeboutique.langhamhotels.com.
Refresh your palette
If you need an excuse to take a holiday in Tuscany, how about to get an education? Spaces are filling up for painting courses to be held throughout the summer and autumn at the Watermill at Posara, a restored mill in the northwest Lunigiana region of Tuscany, in Italy. There are 12 seven-day courses and each will be led by a tutor, or tutors, who are experts in a particular style. Accommodation is included - the mill has five self-contained apartments - as are meals, transportation and transfers to and from Pisa airport. Prices start at GBP918 (HK$10,130; including VAT) per person, per week based on a twin share. For dates and details, visit www.watermill.net.
Biggest lounge around
Japan's largest executive lounge has opened at the ANA InterContinental Tokyo, with impressive views of Mount Fuji. The 600 sq metre Club InterContinental lounge, on the 35th floor, has been separated into six areas; a reception, a library, a relaxation area, a dining room, a bar and meeting facilities. It also has shower suites for early arrivals or guests leaving after checkout from one of the 198 executive guest rooms. To coincide with the opening, the first 50 reservations made each day before March 31 will be upgraded to the Club InterContinental level. Find out more at www.anaintercontinental-tokyo.jp.
Ecruising.travel's 10-day cruise across the top of north Australia is being packaged for Hongkongers with free economy flights to Broome, the point of embarkation. The MV Orion (below) departs on May 22, takes in the Kimberley region and finishes in Darwin. Highlights include the famed King George waterfall and daily beach excursions. Meals are prepared by chef Serge Danserau while guest lecturers will provide insight into the region's history. The cruise costs from about HK$50,000 (depending on exchange rates) per person. Go to www.ecruising.travel/HK/Details.aspx?id=6815 or call 3711 3238 for more details.
Deal of the week
A Come Visit Thailand promotional rate of 2,400 baht (HK$482) per night is being offered to tempt visitors to Phuket to stay in one of two Courtyard by Marriott (www.marriott.com) hotels recently opened on the island; on Patong and Kamala beaches. The complimentary Kidsworld - an area of toys, PlayStation nooks, pools with slides, foosball and cinemas overseen by certified staff - should prove popular with parents looking for a bit of rest and relaxation.