Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2011, 12:00am


Talking Turkey

The newest Aman resort ( is due to open in Turkey next month, on the Bodrum Peninsula. Amanruya (above) will offer 36 cottages, each with a private garden, a pool, a four-poster bed, a traditional charcoal fireplace, Turkish rugs and all the expected mod cons. The hillside location, on the Aegean coast, looks spectacular, with good ocean views, pine forests and olive groves surrounding it, and is a 30-minute drive from the city of Bodrum. Turkish Airlines flies six times a week from Hong Kong to Istanbul, from where there are several connecting daily flights to Milas-Bodrum Airport. Free car transfers to the resort are provided by Amanruya. If you're looking for Aman levels of style and luxury for an Istanbul stopover, try the Ajia Hotel (, a 16-room boutique hotel occupying an Ottoman-era mansion on the Bosphorus shoreline. Fans of heritage hotels, incidentally, will be pleased to learn that Amanresorts recently won the contract to redevelop and manage the old Crag Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. Located atop Penang Hill, the Crag was opened in the late 1890s as a health resort by the Sarkies brothers, but has been derelict for sometime. If all goes to plan, it will reopen as Amancrag in a couple of years.

Routes return

Ferries running between India and Sri Lanka were once popular with independent travellers, but all services were suspended with the start of the Sri Lankan civil war in 1983. Now the crossing is open again and the first ferry to make it docked in Colombo from the Indian port of Tuticorin last month. The overnight trip aboard the Indian-owned Scotia Prince (below left) takes 14 hours, much longer than the old northern route, which ran between Rameswaram and Talaimannar, but it offers more facilities, including restaurants, bars and a casino. A Sri Lankan-operated ferry is due to start services between Rameswaram and Talaimannar - once part of the old Indo-Lanka railway connection - later this year. See for details and sailing times for the Scotia Prince.

Preferred prices

All the Japanese member hotels of the Preferred Hotel Group are offering a special rate of 10,000 yen (HK$965) per night, as part of the country's ongoing efforts to get its tourism industry back up and running. Reservations must be made from Wednesday to July 15, but you can stay anytime until the end of this year. Participating hotels include the Hotel New Grand Yokohama (above right), the old wing of which dates back to 1927; Capitol Hotel Tokyu, which opened late last year on the site of the old Tokyo Hilton in Akasaka; Oriental Hotel Hiroshima; and Keio Plaza in Sapporo. For a look at all the hotels and to make reservations, visit

Deal of the week

Cathay Pacific Holidays is selling a two-night package to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which includes business-class flights from HK$4,799. The hotel on offer at this price is the mid-range Windsor Plaza, but Executive Lounge access, with the usual free evening cocktails and snacks, is included. Further up the scale are the New World Hotel Saigon (right; with Executive Deluxe room accommodation and Executive Lounge access for HK$5,099; a Signature Deluxe room with Signature Lounge access at the Caravelle Hotel ( for HK$5,439; and a Park room at the Park Hyatt Saigon (saigon.park. for HK$6,539. Daily breakfast and travel insurance are included, but fuel surcharges and airport tax are not; HK$733 will be added to all the above prices to cover those. Free one-way private limousine transfers to or from Chek Lap Kok are also being offered with this package, for bookings made before Saturday for travel from July 15 to August 25. All prices should be available until the end of October. For further details and reservations, visit or call 2747 4336, quoting tour reference CP1SGN01HKG.