Italian diversions Orient-Express Hotels has launched a series of "experiences" at its properties across Italy, which, the company says, are "aimed at showing a different side to these much loved destinations". These include an exclusive day trip to Genoa for guests of Hotel Splendido in Portofino (above); but somehow it's hard to imagine anyone staying at the best hotel in the jewel of the Italian Riviera - where even the cheapest rooms start from close to HK$5,000 a night - dragging themselves an hour up the coast to explore the rather decaying streets and alleyways of La Superba. Other excursions include a wine tour by motorbike and sidecar for guests of Hotel Cipriani in Venice, and river rafting for those who might somehow find themselves getting bored at the Villa San Michele in Florence. Down south, a nocturnal wander around Amalfi is offered to guests of Hotel Caruso in Ravello, while those tiring of Taormina during a stay at the Grand Hotel Timeo or Villa Sant'Andrea can learn how to make chocolate in nearby Modica. Tour prices start from about HK$1,650 per couple for the Amalfi tour to more than HK$4,400 per person for the chocolate trip - but price shouldn't be an issue if you can afford to stay more than a night at any of these hotels. For further details and reservations, visit www.orient-express.com.
Dry dock The Empire Hotel & Country Club (above), in Brunei, is selling a Suite Life package that might suit anyone trying to come off the bottle for a few days, with three nights at the "dry" destination and a host of extras starting from just over HK$12,500. For this price, two people will get executive suite accommodation, airport transfers by luxury limousine, welcome (non-alcoholic) drinks and access to the E-club Lounge for complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and evening "mocktails" (a word encountered with disheartening frequency in Brunei). Also included is a round of golf at the resort's Jack Nicklaus-designed championship course for one and spa pampering for a companion - an ideal set-up for couples who can't endure a whole weekend together without a snifter. Finally, there's a four-course Italian dinner for two, for which you'll have to import your own Chianti or pick it up from the duty-free shop on arrival at Brunei International Airport, where alcohol allowances are, curiously, among the world's more generous. See the Special Offers section at www.theempirehotel.com for more.
Over London Just as tourists are getting used to seeing London from the dizzying new heights of The Shard, a helicopter company has this month started what it describes as the city's first helicopter sightseeing tours. Taking off from the London Heliport in Battersea, the 20-minute flights take you from Putney along the Thames to Greenwich, at an altitude of about 1,000 feet, passing over Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben (above), the Tower of London, The Shard and many other familiar landmarks. Tickets cost £199 (HK$2,400) each and can be booked online up to 12 months in advance at www.thelondonhelicopter.com.
Deal of the week There are more than a dozen hotels and resorts to choose from with Farrington American Express Travel's Koh Samui Escape package, which starts from HK$3,490 per person, twin share, for two nights at the Ibis Samui Bophut (which gets good reviews at TripAdvisor) and non-stop, round-trip flights with Bangkok Airways. At the top of the price scale are places such as the Conrad (above), from HK$8,490, with a free third night, the Four Seasons Resort (stay four nights, pay for three), also from HK$8,490, and the Banyan Tree (stay three nights, pay for two), from HK$8,950. These prices will be available until July, when they will increase slightly. For a full list of the resorts on offer, and reservations, visit www.amextravel.com.hk or call 3121 3121.