with Nicholas Walton
Swing into action
Golfers will have a new summer destination Down Under to consider visiting with the opening of Chateau Elan at The Vintage (chateauelan. com.au), a five-star resort and spa located at one of the Hunter Valley's most challenging courses. The HK$202 million development is located two hours from Sydney, in one of Australia's top wine regions. It will open in February with a number of large private villas, useful for extended families, and a spa with 19 specialist treatment rooms.
The Belgian city of Hasselt has become a living gallery, with photographs exhibited in different sizes across the city. The Smile project (www.smilehasselt.be), in partnership with the city's cultural department, is displaying a series of images by local photographers on key buildings in the commercial centre. Pictures are also being shown on screens in the city's boulevard development and on approach roads in an attempt to take art and culture from the museums and galleries onto the streets. The photos, some covering whole sides of buildings, will be on display until December 26.
In February, the Eastern & Oriental luxury train (www.orient-express.com) will make its first crossing of the Friendship Bridge, which spans the Mekong River, joining Thailand and Laos. The inaugural four-day, three-night journey departs Bangkok on February 23 and takes in the world heritage site of Phimai, the 'new latitude' wineries of Khao Yai, Laos' first railway station, at Thanaleng, and on to Vientiane, before returning to the Thai capital. The journey costs US$1,950 per person, twin share.
Deal of the week
JJ Explorer is offering a private escorted four-day tour of the Jiuzhaigou Valley, a nature reserve in the north of Sichuan province. A Unesco world heritage site, the 'Valley of Nine Villages' is famed for its waterfalls and colourful lakes. The package, which includes round-trip economy-class tickets with Dragonair, accommodation (twin share), some meals, entrance fees, tours, airport transfers and guides, is priced at HK$16,999 per person, with daily departures until October 30. To book, call JJ Explorer on 2911 0119 or visit www.jjexplorertours.com.