Staying in the past In July 1998, the Regal Kai Tak Hotel found itself in the unenviable position of being an airport hotel without an airport. From its opening in 1982, the Regal had been a popular place for last-minute drinks. Passengers could then nip across the walkway that connected it to the departures terminal via the airport car park. Cathay staff liked to lunch at the Five Continents restaurant, on the 14th floor, with views over the celebrated Runway 13, and sink a few off-duty San Migs at the adjoining Flying Machine bar. With the opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, of course, the hotel sank into obscurity. The walkway to the abandoned airport remained for a few years, its luggage conveyor switched off and decorated with pot plants. It finally disappeared when the passenger terminal was demolished, at the end of 2003. The hotel, renamed Regal Oriental in 2002, was sold by Regal Hotels in 2003, but was bought back the following year, following a post-Sars upturn in Chinese tourist arrivals. Today it seems to be doing quite well. The Five Continents and Flying Machine have been replaced by guest rooms (the views are not what they were, anyway), but the China Coast Pub, on the ground floor, remains, with a selection of photos of Kai Tak airport on the wall. The buffet restaurant in the basement also contains a few nods to the past, with a couple of photo murals featuring aircraft on final approach and a departures sign. The hotel is today selling itself as a base from which to explore Kowloon City and while for locals the area might not be an obvious choice for a relaxing "staycation", the Regal Oriental might offer an interesting trip down memory lane for travellers who remember the old place in its heyday. A new City Getaway Package starts from HK$888 per room night on weekdays and HK$1,088 on weekends, and includes a buffet dinner for two and a shuttle bus service to and from Tsim Sha Tsui East. See www.regalhotel.com for details.
Oriental persuasion First announced as long ago as September 2007, the Mandarin Oriental, Milan has finally opened, bringing what it calls "the art of Oriental hospitality" to Italy's fashion capital. The hotel is housed within four redeveloped 18th-century buildings (press releases from 2007 until as recently as last year referred to three 19th-century buildings, which might explain the delayed opening) with 104 rooms and suites. With a fashionable downtown location, on the Via Andegari, the hotel promises "timeless Oriental luxury and service", which might not necessarily appeal to Hong Kong travellers in search of a classic Italian experience, but Mandarin Oriental fans can discover more about the hotel, and find opening rates, at www.mandarinoriental.com/milan.
An Aman cometh Aman Resorts has just announced its latest property, Amanemu, not in Australia, as the name might suggest, but on the edge of Ago Bay, in the Ise Shima National Park, which is on the central southern coast of Honshu, Japan. When it opens early next year, this will become the second Aman resort in Japan, joining Aman Tokyo, which opened last December. Amanemu will be a luxury onsen resort, offering private hot-spring baths in each of its 24 suites and four two-bedroom villas. Reservations are not yet available, but you can sign up to be informed when they are, and get more details about the resort, at www.amanresorts.com/amanemu.aspx. The nearest airport with daily direct flights from Hong Kong is in Nagoya, which is about two hours away from Amanemu by train.
Deal of the week A long list of hotels is offered with Tiglion Travel's two-night package to Kuala Lumpur, the cheapest of which is the Ibis Styles Fraser Business Park, from HK$2,890 per person, twin share, while the most expensive is the Grand Hyatt, from HK$4,190. The most interesting, though, is the Majestic Hotel, a heritage property that reopened with the original building and a new Tower Wing in December 2012, having shut down in 1984. Located opposite the splendid old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, it's clawed its way up to No12 on TripAdvisor's list of Kuala Lumpur hotels, and is priced from HK$3,490. Flights with Cathay Pacific are also included with the package, which will be available until the end of October. For more information and reservations, visit www.tiglion.com.