Better late than never Those who appreciate Starwood Hotels and Resorts' almost painfully trendy W Hotels will be pleased to learn that an opening date for the W Guangzhou - the brand's first mainland property - seems close at hand. The hotel was due to open in July last year, but its website now states: "Opening January 31, 2013", and details of its design and facilities have just been issued in a press release that promises "a new style of modern luxury, featuring cutting-edge architectural and interior designs by an eclectic assemblage of international designers". Looking at the list that follows - Rocco Yim, New York's Yabu Pushelberg, Glyph of Toronto, Hong Kong's AFSO, A.N.D. of Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur's designWILKES - it's little wonder that the "highly anticipated" 320-room hotel is still waiting to open: they probably can't agree on anything. Keep an eye on the hotel's website at www.whotels.com/guangzhou.
Frozen birds Angry Birds addicts of all ages can engage in a life-size version of the game at the Harbin Ice Festival, which officially gets going early next month. Parent company Rovio isn't giving much away about what the Angry Birds Experience will offer, other than that it will cover 10,000 square metres and feature huge ice buildings, an ice maze and ice sculptures of the characters. Although the official start date for the festival, which has been going since the mid-1960s (with a break for the Cultural Revolution), is January 5, many of the massive sculptures are already in place at the festival's three key sites. The city's streets (top) are filled with illuminated sculptures created from massive chunks of the frozen Songhua River, which have been carted inland and carved with chainsaws and other tools by local craftsmen. Westminster Travel is selling a Harbin package with flights on Hong Kong Express Airways and two nights' accommodation from HK$2,280. For details, visit www.westminstertravel.com or call 2313 9800.
Dizzy heights Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo has been enjoying renewed interest since it topped the Sight & Sound once-in-a-decade critics' poll of the greatest film of all time (unseating Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which had held the top spot since 1962) in that magazine's September issue. The restored film has just been released in a boxed set of 15 Hitchcock films on Blu-ray, showing off Hitchcock's San Francisco locations in all their high-definition glory. Much of what appears on screen has survived, and Vertigo tours of the city remain popular. One of the film's locations, the Empire Hotel on Nob Hill, is now the Hotel Vertigo, which is an accommodation option with the San Francisco package for sale at TLX Travel. Priced from HK$5,899 for three nights at the hotel and non-stop round-trip flights to San Francisco with Singapore Airlines, the package will be available from January 10 until the end of March. For reservations and details, go to www.tlxtravel.com.
Ticket to ride Travellers will soon, for the first time ever, be able to take a cross-border public bus from Bangkok to either Siem Reap - home to Angkor Wat (above) - or Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The two services, which are due to begin on Saturday, are operated by The Transport Company, which began running buses from Bangkok to Pakse and Vientiane in Laos a couple of months ago. Buses will leave Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) twice a day for the seven-hour drive to Siem Reap, and every morning for the 11-hour trip to Phnom Penh. Fares will be cheap at 750 baht (HK$190) and 900 baht, respectively, each way. Tickets will be available at the station, but as the routes will be popular, it would be best to buy them in advance from a travel agent in town.
Deal of the week A two-night stay in Beijing with round-trip, business-class flights and a choice of good hotels is now on offer at Tiglion Travel, from HK$6,790. Your hotel at this price will be the Hotel G Beijing (right), which scores highly on TripAdvisor, but you might prefer the more traditional hospitality to be found at places such as the Park Hyatt (HK$7,990), The Peninsula (HK$7,690), the Grand Hyatt (HK$7,590) or The Ritz-Carlton (HK$8,290). These package prices, which include daily breakfast but no airport transfers, are valid for travel from Thursday until February 23, but there are flight surcharges of HK$2,140 for February 8 to 14 inclusive. A full list of hotels available and a list of optional day trips to places such as the Great Wall (below), the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City can be found at www.tiglion.com. Or call 2511 7189 for reservations.