Travel + Leisure
February 09, 2011

Q: I’m traveling to Paris, and I need a good map of the city. Any thoughts? —Janet Tucker, Winchester, Mass.

A: The City of Paris just released the Patrimap App (free; iPhone, iPad), which recommends walking tours and uses GPS to highlight museums and monuments. The SmartCity Paris App ($5; iPhone, iPad) includes 900-plus points of interest and lets you filter activities by type—you can even make restaurant reservations. A more traditional option: the pocket-size Paris Spiral Guide ($20; whsmith.fr), featuring shop addresses, walking routes, day-trips, and maps color-coded by district. A bit more compact, the laminated Streetwise ($8; streetwisemaps.com) series has updated its Artwise Paris foldout to include a Métro map and a museum index. —T+L Correspondent Tina Isaac

Q: We’re planning a trip to the big island of Hawaii this spring. Where should we stay? —Dave Myers, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A: There’s never been a better time to go to the Big Island: Continental just added daily flights from Los Angeles and weekly flights from San Francisco to Hilo International Airport. Consider dividing your stay among the island’s recently renovated hotels: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (doubles from $500) has 258 newly refreshed rooms equipped with 40-inch flat-screen TV’s and teak furnishings. The Four Seasons Hualalai (doubles from $775) has added 20 ocean-view suites and updated the Beach Tree restaurant. And rooms at the family-friendly Kona Beach Hotel (doubles from $299) have been outfitted with balconies overlooking the water.

Q: What’s your best advice for solo travelers? —Sara Raney, Austin, Tex.

A: The experts agree: confidence and safety are the two most important factors when traveling alone. Refer to resources such as the U.S. State Department (travel.state.gov) for international warnings and country tips, and register your trip with your destination’s U.S. consulate office. Organizations such as Solo Travel (solotravel.org), Women’s Travel Club (womenstravelclub.com), and Connecting: Solo Travel Network (cstn.org), have additional safety and destination advice. You can also travel with companies such as Absolute Travel (absolutetravel.com), Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com), and Gap Adventures (gapadventures.com), which don’t charge a single supplement.

Q: Where can you see some great architecture in the tropics? —Justin Morrison, Franklin, Tenn.

A: According to T+L contributor Raul Barreneche, whose latest book, The Tropical Modern House, is due out this month from Rizzoli, Brazil has the best tropical architecture anywhere, from the retro-futuristic capital city of Brasilia, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa in the 1950’s, to the Portuguese-colonial buildings of Salvador’s Pelourinho district. Don’t miss Niemeyer’s flying saucer–like contemporary art museum in Niterói, near Rio de Janeiro, and the egg-shaped art pavilion and other structures he created for São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park. Also in São Paulo, check out the Fasano Hotel and the Numero bar, both designed by Isay Weinfeld, the king of Brazil’s architectural new guard. T+L A-List agent and Brazil specialist Martin Frankenberg can create bespoke multicity design itineraries.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

A $150-million refurbishment, completed in 2007, brought new life to this venerable resort overlooking the crescent of Kaunaoa Beach (the property was originally built in 1965 by the founder of RockResorts, Laurance Rockefeller). The 258 guest rooms—all with private lanais overlooking the sea or the championship Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed golf course—are now sleek aeries outfitted in teak and Hawaiian-inspired fabrics. The renovated common areas, including the lobby and the Mandara spa, are decorated with carvings and statuary from Rockefeller’s museum-quality collection of Polynesian, Oceanic, and Asian art (the red-granite Buddha, which overlooks the grand staircase and the North Garden, dates back 1,400 years). The waterfront has an 11-court tennis club, and activities like canoeing, snorkeling, kayaking, and sailing. At dinnertime, outdoor tables at the restaurant, Manta, are just steps away from where the manta rays feed each night.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

“Perfect,” “heaven,” and “the best vacation of my life” are just a few ways guests describe this understatedly gorgeous, isolated resort where most of the 243 rooms, in low-rise bungalows, have ocean views. It’s popular with Hollywood celebrities for good reason: the five-star service is impeccable; the grounds border the dramatic volcanic rock coast with seawater and freshwater swimming pools; an open-air spa teems with tropical vegetation; and yoga, personal training, and a full menu of fitness classes are offered daily. The private, oceanfront Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is carved right into the underlying black lava, which serves as occasional bunkers.

Kona Beach Hotel

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