Passage through India Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, which operates mostly along the waterways of Europe, has just announced the start of luxury cruises up the Ganges, in India, from Calcutta, from early next year. Travelling aboard the new triple-deck, purpose-built Ganges Voyager II (below), up to 56 passengers will be offered various types of luxury accommodation including Raj-evocative Viceroy Suites, Maharaja Suites and Heritage Suites. There’s also an East India restaurant, Governor’s Lounge (top) and a spa. To take the cruise, you’ll have to sign up for a 13-day tour that starts with five nights at Oberoi hotels in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur before a flight to Calcutta for the seven-day cruise to Murshidabad and back. Early cruises are already fully booked, but at the time of writing, places were available from about US$8,000 full board in March. The Ganges Voyager II’s sister ship, the Ganges Voyager, was launched last January and is operated by American river cruise company Haimark. She has the exact same layout, with identical suites, lounge and restaurant, and follows the same route up the Ganges. Shorter and more affordable cruise-only deals are available at www.haimarktravel.com.
Checking out The oldest international chain hotel in the Philippines, the InterContinental Manila (below), will close at the end of this year after 46 years in operation. Located on Ayala Avenue, in Makati, it was designed by one of the country’s best-known architects, the late Leandro Locsin. Another Locsin-designed hotel, the nearby Mandarin Oriental, closed last year. What will happen to the InterCon isn’t clear, but Locsin’s status as a National Artist of the Philippines should, in theory, ensure that the building is preserved in some way. In the meantime, reservations are being offered at www.intercontinental.com/manila, so there’s still time to discover this landmark property, or for anyone with fond memories of the place to say a final farewell.
Flight of fancy One of Chiang Mai’s better hotels, 137 Pillars House, is selling a private-jet package that includes round-trip flights from Bangkok aboard a four-seater Cessna Citation Mustang (below), two nights’ suite accommodation and a few extras including champagne and afternoon tea. There’s no denying the thrill of flying in your own private jet but, at US$18,100 per couple, Hong Kong travellers might find it easier, and much cheaper, to take one of several daily direct flights straight to the northern Thai city, rather than fly to Bangkok and change planes. For full details of the package, which will be available from November 1, visit www.137pillarshouse.com.
Spanish steps The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona (below) and the Hotel Ritz, Madrid, which the Mandarin Oriental hotel group took over together with a Saudi Arabian company in May, are offering a joint “From Goya to Gaudi” package. Priced from €3,400 (HK$29,900) for two, it includes two nights’ accommodation at each hotel, a couple of cultural experiences relevant to the name of the package and railway station transfers (though not rail tickets). For further details and reservations, visit either hotel’s website via mandarinoriental.com.
Deal of the week A business-class package to Penang, in Malaysia, is on sale at TLX Travel, with a couple of good family-friendly offers at the two Shangri-La properties in Batu Ferringhi, on the north coast, if you book by Saturday. Two adults staying at either the Rasa Sayang or Golden Sands resorts can get a free extra bed and breakfast for one child aged under 12, as well as a set dinner for two adults and two children aged under 12 at the Rasa Sayang, or under six at the Golden Sands (below). Prices start from HK$5,960 and HK$5,380, respectively, and include businessclass flights with Dragonair. Other hotel options include the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, in George Town (from HK$5,750), and its sister property, the Lone Pine Hotel, in Batu Ferringhi (from HK$5,530). Prices are quoted per person, twin share, and will be available until mid-December. See www.tlxtravel.com for more information and reservations.