Late modern Style guru, journalist and magazine publisher Tyler Brûlé began his quest to prevent the demolition of Tokyo's Hotel Okura last summer in his regular column for the Financial Times. Disappointed that "the last great 1960s original in that city and without question one of the most loved modernist hotels in the world" was slated for the wrecking ball, he announced that Monocle magazine (which he launched in 2007) had set up an online petition at savetheokura.com. But despite his best efforts, which included producing linen-bound books showcasing the hotel's importance for the benefit of Okura board members, demolition work has just begun. The Hotel Okura is known to fans of James Bond as the place where 007 stayed when he first arrived in Japan, in the novel You Only Live Twice (1964). The 1967 film version, however, used the Hotel New Otani (which opened in 1964) for several location shoots instead. This is now the last noteworthy 60s hotel left standing in Tokyo. One small crumb of comfort from the Okura's demise is that its South Wing, which opened in 1974 and, according to Brûlé, still qualifies as "a modernist delight" will be left standing. It is the only part of the hotel still open for business while the main building's high-rise replacement, scheduled to open in about four years, takes shape, like a concrete tombstone, above the original.
Saints arrive Originally scheduled to open back in 2009, the St Regis Macau, Cotai Central will be housed in the most recently completed of four enormous tower blocks, which already contain Conrad, Sheraton and Holiday Inn hotels, when it finally opens in December. Being among the launch guests for a hotel of this size (there are 400 rooms) is seldom a good idea, but for those willing to take a chance, the hotel is offering a special package. Valid from opening night, on December 17, until March 31, this includes one night's accommodation with breakfast, a HK$600 hotel credit, late checkout (subject to availability) and an unspecified "special gift" from HK$2,688 plus 15 per cent tax and service charge. Click on Offers at www.stregis.com/macau for details. Incidentally, the first St Regis hotel on the Indian Subcontinent has just opened in Mumbai, in the rebranded Palladium Hotel. This property opened in 2012, when it was managed for not quite nine months by Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, which pulled out by mutual agreement with the owners for reasons that were apparently never made public. Several opening offers can be found at www.stregis.com/mumbai.
Offshore offer The Cambodian port city of Sihanoukville became a favoured playground of the short-lived Indochina jet set after the Independence Hotel opened there in the 60s. That all changed with the Vietnam war, of course, and even after the airport reopened, in 2007, it took almost five years for scheduled flights to return. Sihanoukville today seems to have a reputation for crime against tourists, and is short on the kind of attractions that lure visitors to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Just offshore, though, is the upmarket Song Saa Private Island, which is actually spread across two islands and features 27 private villas, some overwater and some in the jungle. A new "Stay 4 Pay 3" offer provides a free fourth night for all types of accommodation, starting from US$1,440 per night. (This price doesn't include service charge and taxes, which amount to just over 23 per cent.) All meals and drinks are included, as are speedboat connections from Sihanoukville, which meet air passengers arriving from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Plenty of other extras come with this deal, which will be available until the end of the year, and can be examined in full at songsaa.com.
Deal of the week Dozens of hotels are listed in a two-night Singapore package currently online at aerohkg.com, with some of the more interesting options including the Hotel 1929, in Chinatown (from HK$2,750), and the historic Goodwood Park Hotel, on Scotts Road (from HK$3,190). Priced per person, twin share, this package will be available until December 31, with occasional blackout and surcharge dates, and includes round-trip flights with Cathay Pacific.