June 10, 2009

This portrait of Madrid was both fantastically chic and incredibly simple. I expected to find a fashionista's take on her favorite playground, complete with trendy shops and hotels. But her comments on life in the Spanish capital—especially that residents do not drink or eat as they walk down the street—intrigued me. Now Barcelona will be a weekend sojourn, part of a longer trip to Madrid.
—GARY BLUNT, ORLANDO, FLA..

Going Solo
As a woman who frequently travels alone, I was delighted to see the Women's Travel Special in the October issue. We can be easy targets and always need to be aware of our surroundings, even those that distract us with their charm. I hope the safety tips serve as a reminder to women on the road to take extra precautions. Also, thank you for highlighting female-friendly hotels and women-only excursions—these are little-known niche resources that can help a woman feel more comfortable traveling solo and enjoy her vacation even more.
—HOLLY WILLIAMSON, EL DORADO, ARK.

Breaking the Mold
I greatly appreciated your article on South African pottery ["South Africa, Fired Up," September]. African art, like the continent it comes from, is vast and diverse. Several years ago I was given some unique ceramic bowls by South African friends. And while I regularly receive many compliments on them from my houseguests, few actually believe that the pieces were made in South Africa. Thanks for showing others that African art is more than oversized wooden tribal masks.
—WINSTON TUCKER, MONTGOMERY, ALA.

Wild East
The depiction of Azerbaijan in your September issue ["Frontierland"] does not fully capture the magic of this country. From the awe-inspiring snowcapped Caucasus Mountains, to the market in Nish where merchants wear cabbage leaves for hats, to the nut fields in Zaqatala, Azerbaijan is a frontierland, yes, but one filled with adventure and beauty!
—SANDRA CHESROWN, WASHINGTON D.C.

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Planet Hollywood Spa by Mandara

Leaving the buzz of the Strip behind, visitors to the Planet Hollywood Spa by Mandara discover an exotic space adorned with terra cotta hues, pointed dome-shaped doorways, geometric tiled floors, and lush palm trees. Over 30 treatment rooms, including several designed specifically for couples, are outfitted with candles and soft floral-patterned sheets, providing a soothing space in which clients can enjoy an intensive four-hand massage, aromatic coconut rub, or micro-therapy facial. Visitors can also adopt a new style in the salon, exercise in the cardio-fitness room, or relax in the eucalyptus steam room and whirlpool surrounded by scattered petals.

Caffè Italia

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