Edited by Laura Begley
News On Where To Stay . . . What To See . . . What To Buy . . .
Berlin's new 92-room Hotel am Gendarmenmarkt is a monument to elegant efficiency, thanks to the German design team Klein/Haller. In a building with Jugendstil elements near Potsdamer Platz, high ceilings and stark lines set off rich brown and white furniture and polished marble and wood floors. The seventh-floor "wellness area" has a Roman steam bath, sessions in color therapy, and a view of the neighboring Konzerthaus and the Franzsischer Dom, built in 1708 by the French Huguenots. Modernists will appreciate the simple guest-room design, especially the bathroom door -- a single panel that opens to one area while closing off another. A discreet little cord is mounted next to each bed, but surely it's not meant for lullabies: pull the cord, and you hear the wartime tune "Lili Marlene." Hotel am Gendarmenmarkt, 5052 Charlottenstrasse; 800/650-8018 or 49-30/203-750, fax 49-30/2037-5100; doubles from $168.
Shopping . . . Shoes . . . Hotels . . .
New York's Bergdorf Goodman searched the world over for its newly opened department, Level of Beauty. Italian aromatherapy oils, lip gloss from Australia, Japan's Clé de Peau skin-care line -- it's all here, in addition to a Morgenthal Frederics eyewear boutique and a Hybrid Michael George flower shop. There's good reason to linger: free spa treatments are offered at the bright lower-floor space. 754 Fifth Ave.; 212/753-7300.
Walk This Way
Reflexologist Laura Norman has worked her magic on the celebrity soles of Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli. Now she's out to prove that walking shoes need not conjure up memories of Grandma's orthopedic clogs. Her new line of street-savvy reflexology shoes is based on the centuries-old belief that body organs have corresponding pressure points in the feet, and that stimulating these points can improve circulation, boost energy, and relieve ailments. The raised patterns on the shoes' removable inserts give a revitalizing massage that's guaranteed to make your feet feel as fabulous as they look. From $199; 800/333-8347.
Go North, Chic Thing
Known for its posh shopping mall, the northern Miami Beach community of Bal Harbour is the surprise setting for the most recent offering from the Rubell family, owners of South Beach's trendy Greenview and Albion hotels. With the 170-room Beach House Bal Harbour, the Rubells have abandoned the cutting edge, calling in Polo Ralph Lauren residential design director Scott Sanders to deliver high Hamptons style to lower Florida. Guest rooms have wainscoting, shell collections, and overstuffed furniture; a sea-themed topiary garden completes the picture. Beach House Bal Harbour, 9449 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 877/782-3557 or 305/535-8600; doubles from $250.
Barbershops . . . Safaris . . . Travel Accessories . . . Bars . . .
London: A Cut Above
London's latest men's hairdresser cleverly combines the old-fashioned (cutthroat shaves) with the high-tech (Internet access, anyone?). Just off Hanover Square, Adams London has the same stylish but relaxed feel of the trendy K-Bars, also owned by nightclub czar Piers Adams. The wood-paneled salon is equipped with flat-screen Macs (the mouse is installed in the arms of the barber chairs). Clients get a scalp massage and a shoeshine with their $50 cuts; stylists take a digital photo of your new look for future reference. And unlike the average barber, Adams London serves beer and cocktails in a lounge area, free of charge. Adams London, 12 Saint George St.; 44-207/499-9779.
Game For Adventure
Getting up close to wild animals without having your view obscured by 25 Land Rovers isn't a problem in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Abercrombie & Kent's mobile tented safari takes you through the landscape with a stay at the smartly styled new Chief's Camp (800/323-7308; 14-day packages from $6,395 per person). Savute Elephant Camp, Khwai River Lodge, and Eagle Island Camp -- the three refurbished Gametrackers lodges from Orient Express (27-11/481-6052; from $714 a night, double) -- are the last word in luxury.
Here's to Your Health
In perennially cool Uptown Minneapolis, Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher's just-launched Wunderbar is designed to put your body in harmony with nature. The bar serves organic coffees, protein snacks, and elixirs tailored to each customer's dosha (an essence that corresponds to either earth, water, fire, air, or space). Rechelbacher plans to open branches in New York and San Francisco this spring. Soon, we'll all have our doshas in order. Wunderbar, 2947 Hennepin Ave. S.; 612/617-2005.
Travel accessories have suddenly entered a new realm. Here, the latest from the fashion catwalks. • EYE IT: Toss that freebie you got on your last intercontinental hop; Gucci has created a leather-trimmed eye mask covered in G's ($130). Burberry's version ($39) comes in that famous check. • BAG IT: Louis Vuitton's candy-apple-red logo-printed "Pégase" suitcase ($2,500) takes roll-aboard fashion to new heights. • REST IT: For a luxurious nap on the plane, British designer Marko Matysik covers a crescent-shaped down-filled neck rest ($965) with mink, chinchilla, or silk fleece. Donatella Versace swears by it.
L.A.'s Bright Young Stars
Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock -- and anyone seeking the glamour of new Hollywood -- are all making a beeline for 813 North LaBrea. Since its recent debut, the frolicsome boutique has been stopping traffic with its exterior painted shades of denim and bubble gum. Inside are designs from co-owners Adriano Goldschmied (Italy's king of denim) and Patty Shelabarger. Headed for the slopes?Check out Shelabarger's line of glam frocks and sumptuous orange, purple, and green coats -- in recycled fur. Her sparkly slippers are just the thing for St. Bart's. 813 North LaBrea, 813 N. LaBrea Ave., Los Angeles; 323/935-6369.
Little Green Men in Oz
Earthlings also welcome reads the sign at the entrance to Australia's Wycliffe Well Holiday Park, about 230 miles north of Alice Springs. The low-key vacation area's promised attractions include sacred Aboriginal sites, nature preserves, the country's largest selection of beer -- and UFO's. Locals claim that the U.S./Australian joint defense facility at nearby Pine Gap is attracting some strange nighttime visitors. But do the sightings of colored lights traveling in zigzag patterns have anything to do with the strong Aussie beer?"Sometimes people see the lights quite early in the evening," says park owner Lew Farkas, "but you do seem to see more if you stay up most of the night drinking grog." To book a room at Wycliffe Well (doubles from $20), check out www.wycliffe.com.au or call 61-8/8964-1966.
Under Lock and Key
The bags are packed, the car's loaded, but the passport's nowhere to be found. Smythson of Bond Street -- Britain's 113-year-old luxury leather goods designer -- has found a way to avoid every traveler's worst nightmare. The lockable Travel Cabinet keeps all the necessities in one beautifully bound, brass-fitted place. There are drawers for different currencies and three notebooks, a passport cupboard, a tray for tickets and travel documents, even a spot for your sunglasses. As it's not meant to actually go on the road, the hand-tooled leather case is the perfect desk accessory. $2,800; 877/769-8476.