My family owns a house in Aspen. We're interested in trading a week of lodging here for comparable accommodations in Hawaii. Any ideas on how to do this?
—K.M., VIA E-MAIL
It won't cost you a thing to scan the 6,000 listings from 90 countries at HomeExchange.com (800/877-8723; $50 annual membership fee ), but you can't post your home until you join. Intervac International (800/756-4663; www.intervac-online.com ; $65 annual membership fee ) has been in the house-trading business for a half-century and claims to have the world's largest database of home exchanges—over 7,000. Digsville Home Exchange Club (800/856-9059; www.digsville.com ; $45 annual membership fee ) is the eBay of house-swapping: it's easy to navigate, and members include photos as well as feedback. Damage and theft are rarely a problem, but some members still request references and secure valuables. "You develop a relationship with them," says Lori Horne, Intervac's U.S. representative. "After you've e-mailed a dozen times, you're not strangers anymore."
My husband and I will be in L.A. for Thanksgiving. Where can we experience a memorable holiday meal?
—M.B., ALBUQUERQUE, N. MEX.
Josiah Citrin, chef-owner of Mélisse (1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; 310/395-0881; dinner for two $160 ) is offering his first Thanksgiving dinner, at the request of regulars. Inspired by family suppers, the five-course spread—served from 1:30 to 7 p.m.—includes a choice of roast brine turkey with wild-mushroom brioche, apple sausage stuffing, and pomegranate gravy; dry aged prime rib with Yorkshire pudding; or a seasonal fish dish. Locals rave about the four-course prix fixe at Hollywood's Patina (5955 Melrose Ave.; 323/467-1108; dinner for two $120 ). Executive chef Eric Greenspan updates Mom's traditional turkey and gravy with a combination of poached white meat and confit of dark meat, and entrées such as lobster with chestnuts and persimmons or grilled pork chop with sweet potatoes and collard greens. Dessert is fig crème brûlée with maple-pumpkin ice cream. Farther west near Hancock Park at Campanile (624 S. La Brea Ave.; 323/938-1447; dinner for two $100 ), chef Mark Peel serves up a family-style feast of dishes such as roasted tomato soup with barley and kale, wild mushrooms with chestnuts, sweet potato gratin, rosemary-charred breast of free-range turkey, and chocolate and pumpkin-bread pudding.
Now that Continental has an alliance with Delta and Northwest,I no longer seem to have priority on Continental when it comes to upgrades, boarding, or using frequent-flier miles. What are airlines doing to keep loyal "elite" members happy?
—K.J., ATLANTA, GA.
Reciprocal mileage programs were originally created to offer passengers more options for earning and using miles. Flights on partner airlines add miles to your account; you can use these miles to claim award flights and sometimes upgrades on any carrier in the alliance. (If you belong to your airline's lounge club, you'll also have full access to alliance members' lounges.) According to Continental, elite members of its frequent-flier program should be given priority when boarding, high placement on waiting lists, and a better chance at upgrades on both Continental and Northwest. However, because of recent flight reductions, fewer seats are allotted for upgrades and award travel. Travelers who use these perks on their favored carrier alone will have to compete with fliers from other airlines for an increasingly limited number of seats.
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