Out of service The Waldorf Astoria New York claims to have been the first hotel to offer room service, sometime in the early 1930s, but is understandably vague about how and when this actually occurred. By 1937, however, there was already a play called Room Service showing a few blocks away, on Broadway, and that was made into a film of the same name starring the Marx Brothers the following year. Nowadays, of course, what was once a privilege for guests at a select few upmarket properties is taken for granted at even the dingiest of third-world airport hotels. And despite the disheartening prices contained within that sticky, laminated "in-room dining" menu, who wouldn't welcome a service that can reveal a nasi goreng from beneath a silver-plated cloche at 3am, or provide a good excuse for ordering eggs benedict 24/7? So it comes as some surprise that the New York Hilton Midtown (this year celebrating its 50th anniversary) has just announced that, from August, it will no longer be providing room service of any kind to its 2,000 rooms. In what seems to be a world first, the hotel cites declining demand, and with its room-service burger selling for US$28.50 plus 15 per cent service charge and an in-room dining charge of US$5.50 per person, is there any wonder? Hilton Worldwide, incidentally, also owns the Waldorf Astoria.
Posh packages Cathay Pacific Holidays has gathered all its high-end and custom-made holiday packages into a tidy new CX Holidays Signature portfolio. Through the new banner link at www.cxholidays.com, visitors to the site can browse several categories, including Business Class Packages, Ultimate Sports, Private Guided Tours and Specialised Packages. Experiences on offer include a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer train in Canada (top), driving a Ferrari in Monza, Italy, watching the men's and women's finals at Wimbledon and private guided tours of Bhutan. Premium economy seats have also started appearing as options during the online booking process for packages to Cathay Pacific Holidays' Australian destinations, as well as London, Milan, Frankfurt and Paris. For a look at Cathay's Premium Economy seats, go to www.cathaypacific.com and click What's Onboard/Travel Classes.
A clean break If you're thinking about a Mediterranean beach holiday this summer, you may be interested to know Liguria has just been awarded the most Blue Flag beaches of any region in Italy for the fourth year in a row. The coast of Liguria is better known abroad as the Italian Riviera, and it stretches from the border with France to the Gulf of La Spezia, near Tuscany, and now boasts 20 Blue Flag beaches. The Italian Riviera is bisected by the city of Genoa into two sections, the Riviera di Ponente and the Riviera di Levante, and while the latter is arguably the more picturesque, it's the former that has the majority of Blue Flags. These are awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education to beaches and marinas in recognition of the cleanliness of their water and the pleasantness of their environments. Dozens of countries worldwide take part in the Blue Flag rating system and you can find the one closest to you with a smartphone app available through www.blueflag.org.
Deal of the week TLX Travel is selling a business-class package to Singapore, with flight options including SQ861 outbound and SQ856 return, both of which employ the Airbus A380 Superjumbo. Hotels on offer range from historic favourites such as the Goodwood Park (below; from HK$9,699) to the new underwater Ocean Suites at Resorts World Sentosa (from HK$13,899). All prices - quoted per person, twin share - include daily breakfast and limited travel insurance, and will be available for departure until the end of August, with no peak season surcharges. For a full list of hotels and online reservations, go to www.tlxtravel.com, click through Package/Asia/Singapore and scroll down to Luxury Business Class.