“We were so busy going to new places that we realized we had forgotten all about Paris.” No, this is not a caption from a drawing in The New Yorker—you can just imagine it, a dressed-to-the-nines Park Avenue couple marooned among the spear-carrying, loincloth-clad South Seas islanders; rather, it was an admission made to me in my frequent role as travel confessor at a party the other night. Though my dinner partner went on to describe the gratifying few days he and his wife had spent reacquainting themselves with the French capital, his statement serves to illustrate a trend I know full well, having opted this summer for a trip to East Africa, where my husband and I have never been, over the guaranteed pleasures of revisiting a favorite spot in southern Italy. Followers of my travels in this column and on Twitter might ask why I don’t just stay home for a change, but, as dedicated travelers know, this path is not easily taken when there is so much to see.
Judging from the results of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards poll for the larger part of the past decade, visiting far-flung destinations—and deriving a high level of satisfaction from them—is a shared experience among our readers. That the three highest-ranking hotels in the 2010 survey are, in descending order, Oberoi Vanyavilas, a jungle camp on the edge of India’s Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve; Triple Creek Ranch, in Darby, Montana, a haven for comfort-seeking outdoor-adventure travelers; and Fairmont Mara Safari Club, in Kenya’s Masai Mara, speaks volumes. No doubt the distinctive encounters with the natural world afforded by these properties—and by the other hotels and lodges in Africa and India that have occupied the top spots for the past five years—linger in memories relived over time. Even when the price is high, they are often perceived as delivering great value, far beyond any reasonable dollar-per-day equation.
Elsewhere in our August issue we have adventures of a different sort, with Adam Sachs’s report on the vibrant multiculti scene in Montreal; Barneys creative director Simon Doonan’s gambol on the island of Capri, off Italy’s Amalfi Coast; and Heather Smith MacIsaac’s north-to-south road trip through the changing landscapes of America’s Continental Divide. Then there’s our guide to those aiders and abettors of exploration—smart-phone apps. We scoped out 53 of the best options for information-gathering and navigation.
Finally, this issue marks the debut of T+L’s fresh new logo and graphic look, under creative director Bernard Scharf. Though the packaging has been altered, the magazine’s focus remains uncovering the delights of travel—whether you’re headed to new places or revisiting the ones you think you know.
Where to Find Me
Some of my recent favorites, via Twitter.
Dinner at El Paso, 104th and Lex in NYC, for friend Sherrie’s birthday. Relaxed Mexican restaurant.
In Capalbio, Medieval hill town, Tuscany. Just stopped at Trattoria da Maria for I tozzetti (biscotti); best wild boar pasta in Maremma.
Great deep tissue massage Porto Ercole, Il Pellicano. Also divine lobster ravioli and, at breakfast, Tuscan honeys and delicious bread.
At Roscioli for late dinner in Rome after opening of Zaha Hadid’s Maxxi. Ordered Sicilian pasta with anchovies, bread, pine nuts.
At Villa Torlonia (which includes the Museo della Casina delle Civette) in Rome—mad Arts & Crafts house, stained glass, majolica, tiled floors.
Best ballet slippers (better than Repetto): Fabrizio Bulckaen, 158A Via del Babuino, Rome.
El Paso Taqueria
Consistently named among the best Mexican restaurants in Manhattan, El Paso has three uptown locations including this lively outpost on Lexington Avenue. “Authentic” is the restaurant’s watchword: the recipes are not Americanized, and the emphasis is on fresh, traditional ingredients. The space is designed with exposed brick, simple wooden tables, and Aztec-style artwork, and there’s also a covered back patio. Specialties include the made-to-order guacamole, the sangria roja (red sangria), and of course, the tacos, particularly the tilapia tacos and the tacos al pastor (shepherd-style tacos), made with roasted marinated pork, onion, and pineapple.
Trattoria da Maria
Down a narrow, winding road on the promontory’s southeastern tip stands the cliffside Il Pellicano Hotel, a sheltered hideaway that attracts a high-flying clientele (yes, that’s Bono by the pool). Most of the 50 rooms—spread out between the main, Pompeii-red house and six freestanding villas—were recently refreshed by owners Roberto Sciò and his daughter Marie-Louise, who just published a book to celebrate 33 years of ownership. The country-cottage-style rooms (exposed-beam ceilings; terra-cotta floors) are done up with quirky accessories including pineapple-shaped ceramic lamps and sun mirrors. But the hotel’s ace in the hole is its waterfront location.