Downhill in Dalian It's not exactly Méribel, but Dalian Happy Snow World (above) looks like it should be fine for a quick mainland ski break. The New World Dalian Hotel has just announced details of a "Ski, Stay and Play" package that includes one-day ski tickets for two adults with round-trip transport to and from the facility and two nights' deluxe room accommodation with one dinner from 1,788 yuan (HK$2,180). The tickets include insurance, ski clothing, the necessary gear and a full day's skiing on difficult and intermediate runs, and two bunny slopes. The package will be available from December 21 to January 31. For further details and reservations, go to dalian.newworldhotels.com. Air China flies daily from Hong Kong to Dalian. Flight time is about 3½ hours.
Travel bonding The upmarket and boutique Hotel 41 (right), located just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, in London, is making the most of the current Spectre-generated James Bond buzz, with a Secrets and Spies package. Priced from £3,970 (HK$47,000) for three nights' double occupancy of a Junior Suite, the package includes an appropriately shaken martini on arrival, a private helicopter flight over London with chauffeured limo to and from the helipad and a VIP James Bond Tour. At the end of the tour, guests will have the chance to meet "an actor or production member" from the Bond series. The hotel suggests that these could include either Norman Wanstall, who won the first ever Oscar for a Bond film (Goldfinger, best sound effects, 1964) or, perhaps more appealing to the average Bond fan, Caroline Munro, who played one of the more exotic-looking Bond girls opposite Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. If you're more interested in the Bond tour itself than the whole hotel package, you can go straight to the tour operator at www.britmovietours.com, which offers these and other 007 tours, as well as the chance to meet every 1970s schoolboy's fantasy, Valerie Leon (The Spy Who Loved Me, Never Say Never Again).
Riparian retreat The X2 River Kwai, a small resort located on the banks of the famous Thai river, has opened six XFloat cabins (above). Offering guests "the chance to awaken from a water-lulled sleep and greet the morning on the surface of the River Kwai", these fully-equipped accommodations also feature a rooftop "moon deck" for evening stargazing or daytime sunbathing. X2 (pronounced "cross to") is a Thai-owned brand that operates several small properties around the country. The full rate for an XFloat cabin is 19,116 baht (HK$4,160) per night, but prices drop to as low as 6,000 baht if you book online at x2resorts.com.
Venetian vanishing Things seem to have taken a turn for the worse for the St Regis brand in Venice, where the St Regis San Clemente Palace (above) has just become the San Clemente Palace Kempinski. The property, which has now closed as usual for the winter, was only operated for one full season from April 1 this year. According to Italian media, the decision to end the St Regis contract was made by mutual agreement with the Turkish owners of the resort and St Regis' parent company Starwood. The new Kempinski hotel will open on March 24. Its website, with some carefully cropped and photoshopped St Regis photography, can be found at kempinski.com/venice.
Deal of the week A two-night stay in Yangon is on offer at Swire Travel, starting from HK$3,090 for accommodation at the clean and convenient Clover Hotel City Center Plus. Further upmarket are the Sule Shangri-La Hotel (right; from HK$4,290), which was upgraded from a Traders hotel last year, and the top-tier colonial-style Belmond Governor's Residence and The Strand (from HK$6,850 and HK$5,820, respectively). These prices will be available for departure until December 18 and include daily breakfast, economy-class flights with Dragonair and round-trip airport transfers. For more hotel choices and reservations, go to www.swiretravel.com.