A replacement for the often exasperating key-card system (first used at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, in Georgia, the United States, in 1979) is on the way, courtesy of Swedish lockmaker Assa Abloy. The Clarion Hotel in Stockholm is testing a new mobile phone app, called Near Field Communication (NFC), which allows guests to access their rooms by simply holding a phone up to the lock, much like an Octopus card. Other hotel groups, including InterContinental, have been trialling phone-operated entry methods that require the user to dial a number or send an SMS to activate the system. It seems likely the NFC system will win out, although it may be sometime before we're all unlocking the future.
Opened on November 1, a few months late, Thailand's W Retreat Koh Samui, on Maenam Beach, basks on its own peninsula, isolated by two beaches and a hill. Accommodation comprises 75 villas, each designed in the brand's contemporary luxe style and with its own private pool, ranging from the 'Jungle Oasis' (furthest from the beach) to 'Tropical Oasis' (left) to the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it 'Extreme WOW Ocean Haven'. This is the fashionable W Hotels' first property in Southeast Asia, with a second due to open in Bali in April (the W Hotel Hong Kong opened in 2008, and Guangzhou gets one next year). For more details and opening offers, including a year-end sale that closes for bookings tomorrow, visit www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels.
Deal of the week
Dragonair has been flying to Okinawa, Japan, since the summer, but the airline starts regular scheduled services next week, with twice-weekly flights. Consequently, Cathay Pacific Holidays is offering a new three-night Okinawa package from November 25 to March 11. Prices start at HK$3,699 for round-trip, economy-class Dragonair flights and accommodation at the Hotel Tokyu Bizfort Nah (www.tokyuhotelsjapan .com). Other hotels on offer include the ANA Hotel Laguna Garden Hotel (www.laguna-garden.jp) and the ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort (www.anaintercontinental-manza.jp) for HK$4,899 and HK$5,979 respectively. Breakfast and travel insurance are included. For reservations, visit www.cxholidays.com or call 2747 4336, quoting tour reference CH0OKA02HKGK.