Holidaymakers seeking self-improvement can now use their time to perfect a skill with Fairmont's Apprentice-Trips. Packages offer educational experiences from mastering the art of falconry to cookery lessons given by renowned chefs. Guests at the chain's hotel in Kunshan, Jiangsu province (left) can learn rock climbing while those in Montreal, Canada can surf one of the world's tallest waves. Fairmont on the Hawaiian island of Maui offers lessons in environmental preservation and that in California's Sonoma County has a hands-on course in wine appreciation. Go to www.fairmont.com/promotions/apprenticetrips for details.
Oenophiles flocking to Paris for the French Wine Fair (May 8 and 9) can enjoy free entry to the O'Chateau Wine Tasting section with the Paris Pass (www.parispass.com), which allows priority access to more than 60 of the city's top attractions, from the Louvre Museum to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Also included is an unlimited metro, bus and train pass for central Paris, a guidebook and a series of exclusive discounts and deals. Prices start at Euro89 (HK$930) for a two-day adult pass.
Give and take
Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili (above), resorts operated by Six Senses in the Maldives, are looking for 'voluntourists' willing to work on community projects in return for five nights of free accommodation at either hotel. A 10-day package includes five nights paid and five nights free, in return for five hours volunteer work for the first five days, helping with marine conservation, teaching children and tree planting. Guests can then spend the last half of their holiday relaxing in turquoise lagoons with a clear conscience. The package is valid for combined or single resort stays from June 1 to October 12. For details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal of the week
The Mandarin Oriental is offering 'Suite Temptations' to guests across the world as part of a group-wide effort to keep its luxurious suites occupied. Valid over selected periods until December 31, the offer applies to guests staying in a suite at one of 25 hotels, including the Mandarin in Chiang Mai (below). Benefits include a third or fourth night free, continental breakfast for two, VIP services and spa benefits. To check rates and availability, go to www.mandarinoriental.com.