Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am

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Past experience

The first popular guidebook to Europe for budget-minded travellers was Eugene Fodor's 1936 ... On the Continent, which was published in Britain in 1936 'on the assumption that your thirst for historical knowledge is nothing like so great as your thirst for the beer of Pilsen or the slivovitsa of Belgrade'. Fodor offered a more down-to-earth and practical alternative to the highbrow Baedeker and Blue Guides that dominated the market at the time; but with the outbreak of the second world war, demand for leisure travel guidance disappeared. Fodor returned to publishing not long after the end of the war, but it was Arthur Frommer's Europe on 5 Dollars a Day, published in 1957, that became the bible for the new jet-age American tourists who began descending on the continent en masse from the late 1950s onwards. Revisiting the thrifty European holiday experience of 50 years ago, American travel writer Doug Mack recently published Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day, detailing his adventures while following Frommer's recommendations, and those of Mack's mother, who visited Europe for a few months in the 1960s. He uses the 1963 edition, having found an old copy for sale, and the final result has been lauded by Arthur Frommer himself as 'an amusing and a wonderful read'. You can find a sample of the book, and lots of background and supplementary material, at www.fivewrongturns.com. A facsimile copy of Fodor's original 1936 ... On the Continent can be downloaded for Kindle, iPad and others, free of charge, at www.fodors.com/75-anniversary.

Macau goes large

Fans of particularly large hotels will be thrilled to learn that both the world's biggest Holiday Inn and the world's biggest Conrad hotel will be opening to much self-generated fanfare in Macau on Wednesday, as part of the mammoth Sands Cotai Central complex. The Holiday Inn will have more than 1,200 rooms and suites, and the Conrad about half that number. Connoisseurs of classical Tibetan culture will no doubt be flocking to these adjoining properties, through which a Himalayan-inspired theme reportedly pervades, to try their luck at the Conrad's Himalaya casino. A third hotel, the Sheraton Macao, is due to open at the same complex (below right) in September, with no fewer than 4,000 rooms. Good luck ordering room service in that one.

Capital offer

Jakarta's newest upmarket hotel, Keraton at The Plaza, opens later this month with a central location on Jalan Thamrin. The 140-room property is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Luxury Collection, hence a couple of rather pricey opening offers, beginning April 30 and available until the end of July. These include US$299 and US$364 (plus 21 per cent tax and service charge) for a Grand Deluxe room and Junior Suite, respectively, with buffet breakfast, hotel-wide Wi-Fi and 24-hour butler service. For reservations and a virtual tour, visit www.luxurycollection.com/keraton.

Deal of the week

Cathay Pacific Holidays is offering 10 hotels to choose from with its latest business-class packages to Bangkok, Thailand, which start from HK$4,690 for a two-night stay with business-class flights, daily breakfast and travel insurance. Accommodation at this price is a deluxe river view room at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers (www.royalorchidsheraton.com), although a guaranteed upgrade to a deluxe premium river view room is promised. Top of the list in terms of price are the Mandarin Oriental (below left; www.mandarinoriental.com) for HK$5,570 (superior room only); The Sukhothai (www. sukhothaihotel.com) from HK$5,610; and the St Regis (www.stregis.com) from HK$5,730. Note that HK$760 in tax and fuel surcharges is applicable to all packages, which are available until the end of June and can be booked online at www.cxholidays.com.