Richard Phibbs
Nancy Novogrod
September 15, 2010

It’s an intermittently bright Sunday morning in northwestern Connecticut and I’ve been pre-packing (again) for the trip to Kenya and Tanzania that my husband and I will embark on next week—that is, setting aside appropriate clothing and gear, too much of it for the 30-pound-per-person weight limit for luggage on the single-engine planes that will transport us, along with our friends Woody and Maria, from lodge to lodge. The sorties to my closets and storage boxes have yielded a complicated mound that is exhausting to consider; the easier landscape begins with a well-worn copy of our itinerary and a pile of books on East African birds, mammals, and history, and ranges through a new and slightly intimidating Micro Four Thirds camera with a telephoto lens—my belated Mother’s Day present—and an assortment of proofs for the stories in this issue. Truth be told, I am feeling a tiny bit of regret that our East Africa plans do not include a stop in Lamu, the archipelago of Indian Ocean islands so seductively described by special correspondent Shane Mitchell.

Longing for more from each experience may simply be the traveler’s condition—it’s definitely mine. Take, for instance, my visit to London last spring, where I managed a quick tour of the same evolving neighborhoods portrayed in Maria Shollenbarger’s “London’s new East End”, but despite having enjoyed some interesting art exhibitions elsewhere in the city and two excellent new restaurants (Polpo and Bar Boulud), I am yearning for the pleasures of what I missed.

If you are familiar with novelist and T+L contributing editor Gary Shteyngart’s writing (and I wholeheartedly recommend his new book, Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel), you will not be surprised that the colorful Hudson River Valley he conjures up is a challenge to those of us who thought we knew the region. Florida’s Everglades? Been there, but only during one lonely night speeding across Alligator Alley from Palm Beach to Naples, when I didn’t so much as stick a toe out of the car to dip into the eccentric American milieu that Tom Austin describes. Out of such yearning comes more travel, to make up for what you haven’t seen, and this month we offer a variety of helpful sources, from online in our Best of the Web roundup to seasoned travel experts in our A-List of 121 super-agents, who will lead you there.

But, oh, how the world has changed! Along with a carefully culled selection of safari essentials, I will be packing my iPad—so much lighter than a laptop—and logging on at a lodge in Tanzania that has wireless access throughout. Although I’ll hate interrupting my time in the bush, I will do so in order to approve page layouts and interactive features for the debut of T+L’s iPad app this November—an exciting new journey in and of itself.

Where to Find Me

E-Mail: nancytravelandleisure@aexp.com

Twitter: @nnovogro

Some of my recent favorites.

Miami

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Miami Design District—fun and casual. 130 N.E. 40th St.; 305/573-5550; dinner for two $90.

W South Beach Loved the lobby and gardens, with easy access to the boardwalk for fast early-morning walks. 2201 Collins Ave.; 305/938-3000; doubles from $599.

Nassau, Bahamas

Mesa Grill, The Atlantis For people-watching and Bobby Flay's Tex-Mex. 1 Casino Dr. W.; 242/363-6925; dinner for two $150.

One&Only Ocean Club Maximum luxury and comfort. Loved Dune for breakfast by the sea. 1 Casino Dr.; 888/528-7157; breakfast for two $100.

New York City

Central Park When in New York, I am here most mornings. It's easy to forget how brilliantly beautiful it is if you never go in. centralparknyc.org.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Owned by chef Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink remains true to its name by using fresh local produce and ingredients. Try delicacies like whole-roasted dayboat fish straight from the wood oven, or beet and heirloom tomato salad. Each week enjoy a new “cheese of the week” served with fresh mango chutney, and stop by for Sunday brunch to sample breakfast pizza, lemon ricotta pancakes, and more. You won’t have trouble keeping up with the ever-changing selections; Michael’s keeps you updated by tweeting the new menu items. Don’t forget to come enjoy half-price drinks during Happy Hour, every Monday through Friday.

Central Park

Rambling yet contained, nature-filled yet man-made, this 843-acre oasis provides a welcome respite from the concrete jungle for locals and tourists alike. Configured in 1876 by architect-landscape gardener pair Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the haphazard, deliberately rustic design took inspiration from rambling British country gardens. Highlights include the strip of American elm trees called the Mall; the Sheep Meadow's 15 verdant acres; the botanical garden up north; and Center Drive's "skate circle," home to entertaining roller skaters. Though the southern end of the Park hosts many official attractions, such as the Wollman ice-skating rink and the iconic Angel of the Waters fountain at Bethesda Terrace, the northern tip above 86th Street is both more appealing for a stroll and less people-packed.

One&Only Ocean Club

Exclusive and rarefied, the Ocean Club is the resort of choice for visiting divas like Salma Hayek and Sharon Stone. The 105 guest rooms and suites here epitomize understated opulence, with gleaming hardwood floors, king-size carved beds made up with Frette linens, traditional wood shutters shading enormous windows, and spacious marble baths (most with chin-deep, circular soaking tubs). All have private balconies or decks that overlook the resort’s even more compelling assets: an immaculate, pristine sweep of beach; the 18-hole, Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course; or the sumptuous, manicured gardens. The grounds, maintained by a staff of 30, are a major point of pride here—and culminate in the 35-acre formal French garden known as Versailles. Originally designed by A&P heir Huntington Hartford II (who once owned the property as a private estate), Versailles includes terraced beds of luxuriant hibiscus and bougainvillea, bronze and marble statuary, and—most dramatically—a 14th-century French Augustinian cloister, whose graceful arches frame a view of the sea.

W South Beach Hotel & Residences

Miami's first W property is a major departure for the brand: all 408 spacious residences have a French bohemian aesthetic, and are done in various shades of white and gray. The W South Beach immediately shows its aspirations to chic in a gleaming lobby equipped with a 120-foot-long marble wall, and with an edgy art collection (pieces by Damien Hirst, Christopher Wool, and the like) counterpointed by campy brass screens that recall the glamour of Miami’s 1950’s heyday. Upstairs, the guest suites have Cippolino marble vanity countertops, Italian cotton velvet sofas, and photos of pop musicians by Danny Clinch.

Mesa Grill, The Atlantis

Located on the lobby level of the Cove Atlantis hotel, this oceanfront restaurant was celebrity chef Bobby Flay's first venture outside the United States. Designed by renowned architect David Rockwell, the interior blends Southwestern motifs such as cow-print chairs with island-inspired elements like the terrazzo-and-seashell bar and large windows framing views of Paradise Beach. This Southwestern-tropical fusion also appears on the menu, which includes Flay's signature dishes, such as the New Mexican spice—rubbed pork tenderloin with bourbon—ancho chile sauce, as well as Bahamian-style options like pan-seared mahi mahi with curry coconut sauce.

Physique 57

New York City and Los Angeles gym rats swear by Physique 57's program of exercise, stretching, and interval training to turn their bodies into lean, mean, muscle machines. The four-day program is now offered twice annually at the One&Only Ocean Club.

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