Something for the weekend Le Meridien Resort in Chiang Rai (above), northern Thailand, has opened 30 Grand Deluxe rooms and is marking the occasion with a Grand Deluxe Exploration package that includes two nights' accommodation for two with 'gourmet' breakfasts and round-trip airport transfers (flights not included) for 11,000 baht (HK$2,800). The offer will be available until the end of October and can be booked through www.starwoodhotels.com . Earthy pleasures Opening this month, a couple of hours' drive north of Phuket, Thailand, next to Khao Sok National Park, is the Thanyamundra Organic Resort (below; www.thanyamundra.com ), which offers eco-friendly pampering and sustainable self-indulgence (and just seven suites and two rooms within a pair of villas) in an idyllic location. Low season summer rates start from 4,000 baht per night for a deluxe room, or you can rent out the whole place for 88,500 baht. Star turns The appearance in recent years of six- and seven-star hotels reflects little more than the fact there is no international star rating system in place for such grandiose labelling. One country that does have an official method of rating hotels, from one to five stars, is France, although numbers are awarded on facilities, room size and amenities rather than quality or service standards, and are useful as an indicator of price as much as anything else. Now another category has been added to which French hoteliers may aspire - the Palace Hotel. This has been an unofficial name given to (or rather, taken by) select Parisian hotels that were either formerly palaces or particularly palatial, namely the Ritz, George V, Plaza Athenee, Crillon, Meurice, Bristol and Royal Monceau. Only three of these - the Plaza Athenee, Meurice and Bristol - are now officially Palace Hotels, with the Ritz and George V inexplicably failing to pass muster, the Crillon (soon to close for refurbishment) declining to subject itself to scrutiny and the Royal Monceau expected to apply for the rating in the future. The absence of the Ritz and George V from the list has sparked severe criticism, with one commentator suggesting the 10-member jury had already 'signed the death warrant' of the new category by omitting them. Deal of the week Tiglion Travel is selling a three-night package to Auckland with flights on Cathay Pacific and accommodation choices at a selection of mid-range hotels for HK$6,990. These include the Mercure Auckland ( www.mercure.com ), Auckland City Hotel ( www.aucklandcityhotel.co.nz ) and Copthorne Harbour City ( www.millenniumhotels.co.nz ), or you can stay at the Heritage Hotel (below; www.heritagehotels.co.nz ) or Langham Hotel (auckland.langhamhotels.co.nz) for HK$7,290 and HK$7,490, respectively. Tickets must be issued on or before May 30, for travel until June 23. Call 2511 7189, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.