Gone but not forgotten This year, Hilton Worldwide is celebrating 50 years of doing business in Japan, and 25 in the mainland. Tomorrow it could also have been celebrating 50 years in Hong Kong, had the Hongkong Hilton (right, pictured in 1968) not been closed for demolition in 1995 to make way for the more profitable Cheung Kong Center. Hilton's Hong Kong and Tokyo properties (both managed, not owned, by Hilton) opened just a few weeks apart and were advertised side by side in international magazines with lines such as, "The Hongkong Hilton is as Oriental as a rickshaw, the Tokyo Hilton as Japanese as a bamboo parasol". Hilton played up the "Oriental" angle for all it was worth in Hong Kong, with a fleet of rickshaws giving free rides to the Star Ferry, a bar called The Opium Den (later tactfully changed to The Den) and, awaiting guests in the harbour, a "unique reproduction of the British Royal Navy's brigantine which was used to protect merchantmen from pirates in the South China Sea as far back as 1841". The year 1963 was a significant one not just for Hilton but for the Hong Kong hotel industry in general. After the Hongkong Hilton officially opened, on April 15, The Mandarin (now the Mandarin Oriental) opened in October, followed a month later by the 800-room President Hotel on Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. The President (a self-proclaimed "rare combination of Oriental mystery and Western glamour and elegance") became the Hongkong Hyatt in 1969, and later the Hyatt Regency, but was demolished in 2006 to make way for the iSquare shopping mall. So today all that's left of the Class of 63 is the Mandarin Oriental, due to celebrate 50 years in business this October (an admirable achievement for a Hong Kong hotel) with The Peninsula waiting in the wings for its thunder-stealing 85th birthday celebrations in December.
Fat camp Comprising just six tented villas, Banyan Tree Madivaru (above) in the Maldives is offering to rent itself out in its luxurious entirety to anyone who can scrape together US$9,420 (about HK$73,000) per night, plus 18 per cent tax and service charge. On the upside, this price tag covers up to 12 guests for three gourmet meals a day with personal chefs and waiters, excursions and spa treatments. International flights are not included, nor indeed are the required 30-minute seaplane trips from Male airport, which cost roughly HK$3,000 per person. Anyone still reading this can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit banyantree.com for more information.
Swinging Bangkok The Peninsula Bangkok has just released details of a "Suite and Green" package for golfers that includes one night's Deluxe Room accommodation with breakfast at the hotel, round-trip transfers to the Thai Country Club (above), green fees and caddie hire for two players for 19,888 baht (HK$5,250), plus 17 per cent tax and service charge. Slow players will appreciate the 6pm checkout, although presumably most are likely to book a second night. The Suite and Green offer will be available from May 1 until August 31. As these dates tie in with Bangkok's rainy season, it is worth mentioning that in case of inclement weather, the hotel will only be liable for an "alternative offer of the same value". For reservations, click on Enticements at www.peninsula.com/bangkok.
Deal of the week Cathay Pacific Holidays is selling a reasonably priced package to Bali that includes round-trip, business-class flights and three nights' accommodation at some of the island's better resorts. These include the new Stones Hotel in Legian (from HK$9,245), W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak (from HK$12,155), Alila Ubud (above, also HK$12,155) and Conrad Bali Resort & Spa (from HK$12,350). Top of the list, at least in terms of price, are the St Regis Resort and the Bulgari Resort, which are going from HK$17,060 and HK$18,035, respectively. Prices - quoted per person, twin share - generally include breakfast and other assorted extras, such as free Wi-fi and shuttle buses. You can find details of these and more hotels in the Bali Take-A-Break Business Class Special in the Deluxe Packages section at www.cxholidays.com. It should also be noted that tax and fuel surcharges of HK$628 per person are not included in the quoted prices.