Back to the beach
One of the first Chinese resort towns to become popular with Western tourists, Chefoo (now called Yantai) opened to foreign trade in the early 1860s and by the 1870s had become known, at least by the British, as the Brighton of China. On a visit to the Shandong Peninsula in 1879, Scottish writer Constance Gordon-Cumming found it to be 'a pleasant and very healthy port, quite the favourite sanitary resort of Europeans whose lot is cast in East China'. By the 1930s, Chefoo was home to several consulates and more than 1,000 foreign residents. They were joined by thousands of holidaymakers during the summer, as well as by the United States Navy, which used the port as the summer base for its Asiatic fleet. Chefoo was closed to foreign visitors after the communists took power, but it has seen an increase in both domestic and foreign visitors in recent years. Tomorrow sees the official opening of the Sheraton Yantai Golden Beach Resort, with 357 rooms and suites and signature Shine Spa, perhaps heralding a more substantial tourism revival. For a closer look at the property and opening rates, which start from 760 yuan (HK$935) per night with breakfast for double occupancy, visit www.sheraton.com.
Take a hike
Local tour operator Whistling Arrow is organising a 19-day summer trek around Kawa Karpo (aka Kawagarbo; below left), the highest mountain in Yunnan province and which borders Tibet. Departing on June 6, the trip is for those who are both physically fit and financially healthy, since the price for the spectacular but arduous journey is HK$33,000 per head, which includes all meals, transfers, guides, porters, pack horses and accommodation (camping, Tibetan homestays and hotels). Return flights from Hong Kong to Deqen Shangri-La Airport via Kunming are not included in the price, but a 10 per cent discount will be given for bookings made before the end of next month. For an itinerary and bookings, visit the Epic Journeys section at www.whistlingarrow.com.
For families looking to splurge this Easter, Il Salviatino, an upmarket Renaissance villa located in the hillside town of Fiesole near Florence, Italy, has launched a Family Time package that includes the following: three nights' accommodation (with children up to age 11 sharing their parents' room for free); two hours' free baby-sitting service per day; tickets to the Museo dei Ragazzi ('children's museum') in Florence, or an Easter-egg hunt on the villa's grounds on Easter Sunday; a one-hour spa massage for two with free baby-sitting during the treatment; complimentary lunch on check-in or checkout days, or a complimentary Easter Sunday lunch; and daily ? la carte breakfast. The price for all this is Euro1,970 (HK$20,100) including VAT, but not flights. A 15 per cent discount is being offered for bookings made by today for stays between March 15 and April 30. For further details, go to www.salviatino.com and click on the Packages link.
Deal of the week
A two-night stay at Naka Island (above), just off the coast of Phuket, Thailand, is on sale at Swire Travel from HK$4,190 per person, twin share, including economy-class flights with Dragonair, car and speedboat transfers (it's about a half-hour journey from the airport) and daily breakfast. This price is for a Tropical Pool Villa, but you can choose a Sunrise/Seaview/Beachfront Pool Villa for HK$4,470/HK$4,590/HK$5,290 (go to www.nakaislandphuket.com for a look at the categories). Extra nights are available for an additional HK$1,700/HK$1,960/HK$2,100/HK$2,770 on the above prices, and flight tickets can be extended up to seven days. For reservations until the end of next month, visit www.swiretravel.com or call 3151 8888.