Saddle up Bangkok-based SpiceRoads Cycle Tours is organising the first-ever bicycle tour from the Thai capital to Yangon, in Myanmar, which will depart, after the weather has cooled down a little, on November 13. The 14-day ride actually begins with a vehicle transfer to Ayutthaya, from where cyclists will make their way to Yangon via the Mae Sot/ Myawaddy border crossing, which was only opened to foreigners a couple of years ago. The full-board "Biking from Bangkok to Yangon" tour is priced at US$3,595 per person, with rental bikes available for an extra US$275. For a full itinerary, map and online reservations, go to www.spiceroads
.com/tours/bangkok_yangon. A most useful pre-trip read, and riding companion, would be Neil and Harriet Pike's Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook (2015), which will tell you all you need to know for preparation and survival along the way.
Flights of fancy Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, whose rather moody-looking Boeing 757 private jet began taking deep-pocketed hedonists on extravagant global jaunts last year, has announced three new excursions for 2017, with two departing from Asia. They include an 18-day Culinary Discoveries package, which will fly passengers from Seoul to Paris, via Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Mumbai, Florence, Lisbon and Copenhagen, and a Global Getaway, which will visit Singapore, Koh Samui, Dubai, Budapest, Nice, Lisbon, Nevis, Bogota and Miami over 24 days. If these itineraries seem a bit random, bear in mind that each destination needs to have a Four Seasons hotel or resort nearby to maximise company revenue. The 23-day International Intrigue package, too, seems more intriguing for its mixture of stopovers than for any of the not-very-James-Bond-style adventures on its scheduled ground activities. It begins in Seattle and ends in Boston, by way of Kyoto, Beijing, the Maldives, the Serengeti, Budapest, St Petersburg and Marrakech. The black-and-silver plane, which has been stripped down and refurbished to seat 52 passengers, carries Italian-made flatbed seats, a private chef and an onboard concierge. All three itineraries are priced at US$135,000 per person. For more information, and brochure downloads, visit privatejet.fourseasons.com.
Fit for a prince An interesting resort will open this summer on Buyukada, the largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara, just south of Istanbul. The Viceroy Princes' Islands centres on a newly restored Ottoman mansion, and contains a seafront mansion and private cottages within its sloping landscaped gardens. Seventy-seven types of accommodation are divided into rooms, suites and cottages, and the Grand Mansion houses a wine-tasting room, cigar lounge, billiard room and library. There is no motor traffic on the island - which has a very different, more multicultural feel to it than Istanbul - and guests will be encouraged to get around (or - and I quote - "celebrate their curiosity") on foot, by bicycle or by horse carriage. The nine Princes' Islands were once a place of exile for Byzantine princes and Ottoman royals who had fallen out of favour, and Leon Trotsky lived on the picturesque Buyukada for several years from 1929, following his exile from the Soviet Union. An opening date for the new resort should be announced soon at www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/istanbul.
Deal of the week Two of Hainan Island's better resorts are offering a third night free with Swire Travel's two-night Sanya package, if you stay in specific types of accommodation. The cheaper of the two is the Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, where three nights in a Deluxe Premier Ocean View Room can be had from HK$2,590 (per person, twin share) until September 29. The second property is the Mandarin Oriental, where two people can spend three nights in an Ocean View Room (below) from HK$3,540 each until the end of October. Flights with Dragonair are included in these prices, which will incur a HK$1,090 flight surcharge from September 1. For further information, and a list of other hotels and resorts offering reasonable rates for the standard two-night package until the end of this year, click through Packages/Mainland China and select Sanya at www.swiretravel.com.