Ritz Tours offers discounts on China

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To encourage advance bookings on 2005 vacations, Ritz Tours is offering an Early Bird Discount of up to $400 per couple ($200 per person) on all of its China & Yangtze River Cruise and China, Hong Kong & Asia travel itineraries.

The Early Bird Discount is available on bookings made by Dec. 31 and at least 45 days in advance of the departure date.

The promotion is in effect for all scheduled departure dates between March and December.

For more information, contact Ritz Tours at (800) 900-2446 or visit www.ritztours.com.

Jetabout North America, which operates Qantas Vacations, branched out this fall by launching a Jetabout Asia Vacations program to China and several Southeast Asian countries. It rolled out the initial brochure, valid through March, during the ASTA World Travel Congress in Hong Kong last month.

The program encompasses off-the-beaten-track sites and specialty hotels and is designed for small groups and independent travelers.

For information or to make reservations, call (800) 348-8150 or visit www.jetaboutasiavacations.com.

Marriott International will manage a 325-room hotel in Nanning, China, under an agreement reached with Guangxi Eastern Real Estate Development Co.

Currently under construction, the hotel is scheduled to open in 2006.

The Nanning Marriott Hotel will be located in the eastern area of the city's central business district, across from the Nanning Exhibition Center.

Nanning is the capital city of Guangxi province and is known as the Garden City. Almost 40% of the city is covered by trees and gardens, and China's largest botanical garden is located in Nanning.

Thailand's Amari Hotels and Resorts is joining SRS-World Hotels, effective Jan. 1.

All 10 of the Amari Hotels and Resorts, which are located in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Koh Chang, Koh Samui, Phuket and Trang will join the association.

Amari's older properties were renovated to bring them in line with the company's newer hotels, including the Amari Beach Resort Trang, which opened late last year, and the Amari Emerald Cove Resort in Koh Chang, which opened last month.

JAL Hotels Co. agreed to operate the former Hotel Princess Kyoto as part of its Nikko Hotels International brand.

The Hotel Princess Kyoto was renamed the Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto on Oct. 1.

The hotel, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has undergone an extensive renovation that includes the lobby, restaurants and all 216 guest rooms. New facilities include a French restaurant, a spa and shops.

JAL Hotels previously managed the hotel from its opening in April 1994 until August 2002 under a management contract with the hotel's former owner.

Japan Air Lines said it will offer Good Sleep service for business- and first-class passengers on some overnight flights between Japan and certain Asian cities starting Nov. 1.

The service has been tested on overnight flights from Singapore to Japan since Sept. 1. Good Sleep includes dimmed cabin lighting and Do Not Disturb cards.

Passengers using the cards will not be woken until 30 minutes before arrival. Passengers wishing to be roused for meals can request Wake Me for Meal cards.

In other Japan Airlines news, the carrier said it will launch an in-flight Internet connection service - JAL SkyOnline - on Dec. 9 on the airline's Tokyo-London route.

With JAL SkyOnline, passengers will be able to use their own wireless LAN compatible laptops for Internet access during flights.

JAL said it plans to install the system on other long-haul flights, including flights between Japan and the U.S.

In the initial three months of the service, a computer support specialist will be onboard the flights to help customers use the service in both English and Japanese.

The Langham Hotel in Hong Kong added Korean to the list of language options available on its Web site (www.langhamhotels.com/langham/hongkong), which includes English, Japanese and Chinese.

Hotel officials said the property is attempting to build its brand presence in the Asia-Pacific region. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, Langham is a five-star hotel in the heart of Hong Kong.

Qantas launched the Aussie Air Pass for U.S. customers. Likened by Australian tourism officials to a Eurailpass, the Air Pass is good for three bonus domestic flights within Australia when customers fly from the U.S.

The Air Pass includes roundtrip economy travel from Los Angeles or Honolulu plus three additional domestic flights in Australia.

Prices start at $999 from Los Angeles, including a choice of three domestic flights to "Zone 1" cities like Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Hobart and Launceston. Other cities are available for an additional cost.

Qantas Air Pass travel must be booked a minimum of 30 days before departure and purchased within 72 hours of confirmation. Travel must be taken over a period of seven to 21 days.

For complete details, visit www.australia.com or call (800) 965-6252.

The Hotel Seiyo Ginza in Tokyo is offering what it is calling the"world's most expensive meal." The dinner will be hosted by chef Joel Robuchon and wine expert Robert Parker.

The hotel, which is managed by Rosewood, is hosting a Hedonist Dinner package to coincide with the dinner on Dec. 17. The three-night Hedonist package also includes suite accommodations.

The Hedonist package costs $13,000 per person, double, including daily breakfast.

For information or reservations, call (888) ROSEWOOD.

Northwest Airlines started flying between San Francisco and Tokyo with its new Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Northwest's long-range plane has 32 lie-flat seats, 211 seats in coach and an entertainment system in both cabins.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to[email protected].

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