Built in Tokyo in 1930 as the residence of the last crown prince of Korea and his Japanese princess bride, the Kitashirakawa Palace (above) was turned into the Akasaka Prince Hotel in 1955, after the couple fell on hard times and sold up in the aftermath of the second world war. The 30-room hotel expanded in 1982 with the addition of a 40-storey tower, and was renamed the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka in 2007. Demolition began in March 2011, the same month as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck eastern Japan, and refugees from the disaster zone were temporarily housed in the hotel as it was dismantled from the top down. The adjacent old palace was fortunately preserved and restored and, as the Akasaka Prince Classic House, will sit beside the new Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, which will occupy floors 30 to 36 of the new Tokyo Garden Terrace development from July. The old hotel was closed and torn down at least in part because of competition from international luxury hotel brands, and its 250-room replacement will be managed not by Prince Hotels but by Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Luxury Collection brand.
Two-wheel trips The definitive reference for touring bikers, the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook celebrates 25 years in print with a seventh edition this month. Packed with everything you need to know for a wild weekend or a ride around the world, it's a treasure trove of information with a focus on Asian, Africa and Latin American routes. Its publisher, Trailblazer, has a fair amount of content up for preview at trailblazer-guides.com and author Chris Scott has a related website: adventure-motorcycling. com. Among the best Asia-based bike tour companies is American-owned Asian Motorcycle Adventures, which is based in Chiang Mai and offers tours in Thailand and neighbouring countries, and China, as well as more ambitious expeditions such as Chiang Mai to Vladivostok, in Russia. British-owned Extreme Bike Tours and Nomadic Knights are both based in India and run tours around that nation (including the Himalayas), in Myanmar and beyond using Indian-made Royal Enfield bikes.
Deal of the week Charlotte Travel's two-night package to Sanya, on Hainan Island, starts from only HK$1,450 per person (twin share) for travellers on a tight budget, but you'll no doubt get what you pay for at the Phoenix Waterside Gloria Resort. Better-value propositions include the Pullman Oceanview Sanya Bay Resort & Spa (from HK$1,790) and Shangri-La's Sanya Resort & Spa (from HK$2,090). Top of the leaderboard in terms of price are the Mandarin Oriental, where Ocean View Rooms (above) are priced from HK$3,550, the Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay (from HK$3,850) and the Banyan Tree, with Pool Villas there starting from HK$4,490. These prices, which will be available until the end of March, with some high season surcharges around Easter, include daily breakfast. Flights are with the newly branded Cathay Dragon, which was surely the name of at least one pirate ship during the opium wars, one would imagine. For full details and reservations, go to www.charlottetravel.com.hk.