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America's Best: A Designer's Favorite Spots

Lake Tahoe

The natural grandeur of it is breathtaking: a navy blue lake surrounded by mountains. I've been there six times, first to present a fashion show, and then returning to do benefits to help clean up the lake.

Ordinarily I prefer hotels, but at a place like Tahoe it's better to stay with someone. You meet more people, and there's nothing like taking a vintage Chris-Craft to dinner at another lodge. Tahoe may be predictably wealthy-- the houses are compounds, reminders of another time-- but it's more relaxed than Pebble Beach or Santa Barbara. I find that America's wonderful honky-tonk feeling is never far away, even in Southampton or Palm Beach. But here it's more modest and rustic. The rich poke around the flea markets with everybody else.

Overrated!

Miami It's not half as sexy as everyone says it is. Just more sexually competitive. Traveling alone I'm happy to be by myself during the day, but I always want to end up meeting someone for dinner or a drink.
Savannah The city has its charms, but it's no garden of good and evil. Try Charleston instead.

Five Favorite Hotels

Here are the ones I return to again and again:
Mansion on Turtle Creek 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas; 800/527-5432 or 214/559-2100, fax 214/528-4187; doubles from $340. Ever since Mrs. Hunt established this restaurant and hotel -- she must be the preeminent American hotelier of our time -- the Mansion's had a personal atmosphere. You can see her stamp on it.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago 120 E. Delaware Place, Chicago; 800/332-3442 or 312/280-8800, fax 312/280-7585; doubles from $395. A truly modern hotel for the city that's perhaps the most modern in America. There's nothing nostalgic here. It has the energy and vitality of Chicago now.
Hotel Bel-Air 701 Stone Canyon Rd., Los Angeles; 800/648-4097 or 310/472-1211, fax 310/476-5890; doubles from $350. If any hotel has the essence of Hollywood in its heyday, this is the one. It feels as if it's in the country -- which of course we know it's not. And that's to say nothing of the fantastic way it's managed.
Luxury Collection Hotel ITT Sheraton (formerly the Ritz-Carlton) 2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 800/325-3589 or 202/293-2100, fax 202/293-0641; doubles from $295. For the past 20 years, I've stayed there every time I've been in D.C. They pay the most attention to me, and they always remember to give me the same suite. I love the fabulous bar, and the restaurant -- the old Jockey Club. You know you'll run into whoever's in town, no matter which party's in power.
Inn of the Anasazi 113 Washington Ave., Santa Fe; 800/688-8100 or 505/988-3030, fax 505/988-3277; doubles from $239. If you want to stay in an upscale version of the typical Santa Fe hotel -- cactus, candles, carved wood -- this is it.

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