Grand return Said to have been the finest establishment on the Swiss Riviera when it opened as the Royal Hotel, in 1906, the Royal Savoy Lausanne's heyday really began in the 1920s, after a southern branch of the Orient Express began running through Switzerland, from Venice and Milan, in 1919. By the 30s, senior members of the royal families of Thailand and Spain were in permanent residence. Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express trains stopped running through the nearby Simplon Tunnel to Lausanne in 2005, and, perhaps not coincidentally, the art-nouveau hotel was resting quite wearily on its laurels when it closed for business in early 2010. By that time it had been bought by Katara Hospitality, a Qatari company that also owns Le Royal Monceau and The Peninsula in Paris, Raffles in Singapore and a good many other high-end properties worldwide. This month the Royal Savoy (above) reopens after almost six years under wraps, completely refurbished and with a new modern wing around the back. Not having been reviewed on TripAdvisor since 2009, the hotel currently sits close to the bottom of the listings on that site, but it shouldn't be too long before it bounces back to the top, alongside its similarly palatial old contemporaries, the Beau-Rivage Palace and the Lausanne Palace. For a closer look at the hotel and opening rates, visit

Moroccan Mandarin The Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech (above), in Morocco, has finally opened this month, having been expected to do so since 2010. The company's first deal fell through in 2011, when the original property was opened instead as the Taj Palace (and is now the Sahara Palace). A second location was announced in 2012, with an opening date of 2014, which was put back to June this year, and this is the hotel that has just started taking guests. The new property offers 63 villas and suites surrounded by 20 hectares of landscaped gardens, not far from the centre of town. A couple of opening offers can be found at

Deal of the week There are significant savings to be made by anyone willing to fly to Okinawa, in Japan, on Hong Kong Airlines rather than Dragonair, with Charlotte Travel. Package prices with Hong Kong Airlines start from HK$1,950 per person, twin share, for two nights' accommodation at the Smile Hotel or Best Western in the main city, Naha. Both these hotels are priced from HK$3,350 if you choose to fly with Dragonair. Out of town in the more popular resort areas, the most expensive accommodation with the Hong Kong Airlines option is the Okinawa Marriott Resort & Spa (above), which starts from HK$2,740, or from HK$4,150 with Dragonair. As the flying time from Hong Kong to Okinawa is only about 2½ hours, the cheaper options seem like a great deal. Hong Kong Airlines also flies the route daily, compared with five times per week for Dragonair, allowing more flexibility. These packages will be available for departure from November 1 until December 18. For a longer list of hotels and reservations, go to and click on International Packages. Note that small weekend and public holiday surcharges apply at some hotels.

Adam Nebbs