By LEORA MOLDOFSKY
As stressed executives search for fresh ways to unwind, spa resorts are springing up across the globe. For those who really want to get away from it all, Sri Lanka's Ulpotha Sanctuary offers a serene setting (lotus-fringed mountain lakes, hammocks slung between banana trees) and abjures western comforts like hot water and electricity. The self-sustaining rural enclave, in the foothills of the Galgiriyawa mountains, is open to visitors for a few weeks each year from December to February and June to July. Fees for two-week stays, which range from $1,400 to $2,100, cover accommodation in open-sided, palm-thatched cottages, organic vegetarian meals, airport transfers from Colombo, yoga classes, massages and beauty treatments. See www.ulpotha.com.
They may have shops selling kitsch souvenirs like 3-D portraits of Chairman Mao, but the public toilets near Beijing's tourist sites can do a lot better, say city officials. Concerned about growing numbers of tourist complaints, they've launched a two-year plan to renovate or rebuild the toilets at 305 tourist attractions. Each facility will be graded on 58 attributes, from décor to management. Under the plan, the highest-rated, four-star toilet blocks should have granite floors, automatic flushing and hand dryers, and "lively music."
Today's hotel guests are offered a wide range of amenities. But what about their pets? The Kimpton hotel chain is offering dog-friendly packages: "Bone Appetit," at the Hotel Monaco, San Francisco, for example, includes a tennis ball and liver biscotti at bedtime; visits from an animal masseur can also be arranged. Guests checking in without an animal companion can request a goldfish complete with bowl (the hotel will take care of feeding). The Guppy Love program, also available at Monaco hotels in Denver, Seattle, Chicago and Salt Lake City, lets regulars adopt and name a fish: each time they visit, they'll find "their" mascot at their bedside.
It's difficultgetting animals to hold a pose unless they're asleep (or stuffed). But they've been an artistic staple since Paleolithic times. "Tooth and Claw," at the Auckland Art Gallery, surveys the portrayal of fauna in paintings, drawings and sculpture, from early Christian allegorical paintings to Disney celluloids of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The show's eight sections include "Call of the Wild" and "Earth, Sea and Sky," which focuses on Maori and Pacific art. Also included are a specially commissioned life-sized sculpture of a bull and a room devoted to children's works, which visitors can enter through a pint-sized door. Through Feb. 18.