It's Sunday and I'm in England as I write this letter. Tomorrow my official business begins, but today is for the annual rite of my trip to London each fall: making the rounds of museum shows. I managed to see Rubens at the National Gallery, Diane Arbus at the V&A, and, most significant, the superb Three Emperors exhibition of Qing dynasty Chinese art at the Royal Academy of Arts. The elaborateness of life in the palaces of these Manchu rulers from the north, as portrayed in 18thcentury scroll paintings, resonates in a powerful way in New York Times Shanghai bureau chief Howard W. French's account of 21st-century China ("China Syndrome") for our 2006 travel forecast. You can play golf, shop, and visit the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore, all within the span of a few hours, at the supersized attractions in Guangdong province, which offer pageantry that is no less spectacular for being open to the paying public.
As T+L kicks off its yearlong 35th-anniversary celebration this month, everything old is new again in other surprising ways. There are echoes of Dubai and Las Vegas in the environmentally conscious development Mayakoba, near Tulum on the Riviera Maya ("Resort Phenomenon," by Michael Gross), while historic reinvention is the design principle behind hotelier Jeff Klein's newest project, the Sunset Tower Hotel in L.A. ("History Lesson," by David A. Keeps). These stories and others in T+L's Forecast 2006—mapping out the year's important hotel openings, spotlighting emerging destinations, introducing "design cities"—salute the ongoing innovation that is a constant in travel.
An annual rite—or longing—in winter is to escape to a better place. Our quest for unspoiled stretches of sand took us south to Brazil ("Brazil's Hidden Beaches," by Kevin Raub); for snow-covered slopes, we headed north to Whistler, British Columbia, the latest skiing mecca ("Mountain Magic," by Alan Brown). We also put in a timely visit to Turin, the site of the Winter Olympics as well as champion artists and restaurants ("Turin's Moment," by John Seabrook). But not to be forgotten: the issue's centerpiece, the T+L 500, our exclusive compilation of the World's Best hotels and resorts, and the debut of The List, a new back page highlighting insider favorites, this time a selection of Hawaii's secret beaches. Even at 35, Travel + Leisure is still evolving—and finding better ways to share the pleasures of travel.