Island intro Local travel agent Charlotte Travel is selling a couple of guided tour packages to Sri Lanka that cover many of the island's better known sights and would be a good introduction for anyone visiting for the first time. The shorter of the two is a five-day tour (or four-day if you don't include day one's trip from Colombo airport to the hotel) that takes in the city of Colombo, the tea country around Nuwara Eliya (above), as well as Kandy, Matale, Dambulla and Sigiriya. Priced from HK$9,030 it will be available until mid-July and then again throughout September and October. A similar, eight-day tour also takes in a safari at Yala National Park and a visit to Galle, and starts from HK$11,580 for travel throughout June, September and October. Prices include economy-class flights with Cathay Pacific, ground transport, guide and entry fees. For full details and reservations, visit www.charlottetravel.com.
hk/en. Note that as of last year, most nationalities now require a visa to enter Sri Lanka, which should be obtained online at www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/.
Reel life Hotel affiliation group The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) has been highlighting its member hotels' and resorts' links to the movie world this year. Having first tipped its hat to the Oscars with a list of properties used for film locations, the group is now giving a nod to the Cannes Film Festival, promoting rooms named after Hollywood stars. "Reserve a suite named for a movie legend," prompts LHW, "and write your own story of romance and adventure." Suggestions include the Ava Gardner Suite at the Splendido Mare in Portofino, Italy. Gardner actually stayed up the hill at sister property the Hotel Splendido while filming a couple of scenes for The Barefoot Contessa (above), in 1954, but the Splendido Mare, which opened in 1998, somehow gets the naming rights. For a more tangible experience, at a fraction of the price (and with a fraction of the comfort) you could pop round the Portofino peninsula to Rapallo and stay at the old Hotel Riviera, where Ernest Hemingway both wrote and set his short story Cat in the Rain - and while there, console yourself with the knowledge that Gardner also starred in two film adaptations of his books in the 1950s. Other suggestions from LHW include the Marlene Dietrich Suite at the Hotel Lancaster in Paris, France, and the oddly named Presidential Suite Paltrow at the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa on the Italian island of Capri. For a full list, go to www.lhw.com/press-center.
The Midas touch The upmarket Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai has added more weight to its apocryphal seven-star rating - and in more ways than one - by providing guests with 24-carat-gold iPads (right). From the look of them, they are in fact normal iPads in gold iPad cases, but not to worry. According to the hotel, guests will be able to use them as a sort of interactive concierge, as well as to access "the extensive selection of hotel services, [including] private dining, butler and housekeeping services". These glittering new devices will be offered to all guests at check-in, at which point, of course, you'll have the chance to express superior class and style with mild distaste and a polite "no thank you".
Deal of the week Tiglion Travel is offering a Chiang Mai package that includes a free third night at any one of several hotels in and around the northern Thai city. In the lower price range is the Mercure Chiang Mai, where two nights plus a third free starts from HK$2,890 per person, twin share; but similar deals are available for the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai (above) and the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi (both starting from HK$6,590), and for the 137 Pillars House, which opened at the beginning of last year and where a total of three nights in a Rajah Brooke Suite costs from HK$5,090 per person. These prices, which will be available until the end of October, albeit with the occasional high-season HK$250 surcharge, include daily breakfast and economy-class flights with Dragonair. For a full list of hotels and reservations, go to www.tiglion.com.