Once a grotty hotel catering to German package tourists, Thailand's Evason Hua Hin is now a high-style seaside hideaway. The force behind the transformation: Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, creators of Soneva Fushi Resort & Spa in the Maldives. The 185-room resort—25 minutes by car from Hua Hin, summer home of Thai royalty, and three hours from Bangkok—has lost all vestiges of beer and schnitzel. Sonu has translated his passion for food into three Asian fusion restaurants (artlessly named the Restaurant, the Other Restaurant, and the Beach Restaurant). Swedish-born Eva, a former model, oversaw the whimsically modern look of the 145 rooms and 40 plunge-pool villas, installing hammered stainless-steel washbasins, bronze starfish wardrobe handles, and bleached cowhide lampshades, all of her own design. Evason Hua Hin Resort, 9 Parknampran Beach, Prachuab Khiri Khan; 66-32/632-111, fax 66-32/632-112; doubles from $115. —Jennifer Gampell
The introduction of three spas in the Phoenix area gives massage enthusiasts reason to hotel-hop. Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (5700 E. MacDonald Dr., Paradise Valley; 480/948-2100; doubles from $480) recently added an Asian-themed complex, complete with a tea garden. At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale; 480/585-4848; doubles from $389), the new Willow Stream spa incorporates the elements—earth (mud exfoliation), water (mineral bath), air (aromatherapy), fire (warm wrap). The Boulders (34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree; 480/488-9009; doubles from $550) now has a Golden Door. Like its California sister property, the spa's focus is on wellness. —Heidi Sherman Mitchell
INN OF THE MONTH
Home on La Grange
From its hilltop perch, the winsome 1856 cottage commands a Pointillist's meadow of wildflowers. Inside, three antiques-filled bedrooms and a hardworking kitchen hold out their charms to parties of up to seven people. Welcome to Franciska's House (an hour southeast of Austin), where you'll be left on your own to putter around the potager or snooze in an Adirondack chair. The day starts with homemade banana bread, fruit salad, and quiche. Franciska's deserves a prize for its way with awning stripes, beefy checks, and grandmotherly chintzes. Franciska's House, La Grange, Tex.; 713/861-5921, fax 713/869-1591; cottage from $225. —Christopher Petkanas
On the Map: Bari
Everyone's buzzing about the southeastern Italian city of Bari. Its Gallery of Contemporary Arts & Design is currently under renovation by Gae Aulenti—architect behind Paris's Musée d'Orsay—and a major fashion museum is soon to open. In the meantime, check out these essential addresses in Bari's revitalized Ancient City:
1. Lignarius Ecò (18 Strada dell'Intendenza; 39-080/521-1462), a home furnishings store where feng shui meets Pugliese creativity.
2. Fashion Room (6 Via Roberto da Bari; 39-080/528-3595), stocked with style books.
3. Schems Saharà (179 Via Putignani; 39-080/523-8764), for exotic objets.
4. Alberosole (13 Corso Vittorio Emanuele; 39-080/523-5446), with an inventive menu.
5. Anticantina (62 Piazza Mercantile; 39-080/522-7859), for wine by candlelight.
6. Doña Flor (14—22 Via Cognetti; 39-080/ 522-7151), an Art Deco bar in the opera house.
7. Gretà (21 Via Venezia; 39-080/524-8616), to sip aperitifs while the sun sets over the sea. —Valerie Waterhouse
If you think you've conquered Japanese cuisine—eel and blowfish no longer intimidate you—then try kaiseki, a highly ritualized meal that has evolved from Kyoto's ancient tea ceremonies. The Zen influence is apparent in the succession of numerous tiny, seasonal morsels served on exquisite plates and bowls. In the Akasaka district, at Shion (Ono Bldg., ground floor, 2-17-55 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 81-3/5570-1717; dinner for two $236), winter kaiseki includes a wanmori, or clear soup, with codfish and soft roe. Sugiyama (251 W. 55th St., New York; 212/956-0670; dinner for two $120) is one of a handful of kaiseki restaurants in the West. Nao Sugiyama's silky cubed monkfish liver—and—tofu mousse beats foie gras any day. —Shane Mitchell
Rumi Has It
The 13th-century Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi would be either amused or aghast to learn that his name has been appropriated for South Beach's latest hot spot (and even acknowledged in the bathrooms—recordings of Madonna reading his poems are piped in). No expense was spared on the supper club, from the $63,000 chandelier to the uniforms commissioned from Plein Sud. Rumi, 330 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305/672-4353. —Gisela Williams
Like Summer in Winter
Craving an island getaway—or at least the glow that comes with it?These five new products can help create that sunlit look, delivering just-back-from-Bali radiance to your hair, skin, and spirit. —Leesa Chalk Suzman
Infused with the gentlest wash of color (it comes in five shades), Bumble and Bumble Color Support Styling Lotion gives your hair a sun-kissed vibrance. Kelp enhances shine; algae moisturizes each strand. $18; 800/728-6253.
Remède Soft Focusing Lotion is a liquid blend containing four light-diffusing powders. It masks wrinkles and blotches, producing healthy, dewy-looking skin. $38; 888/243-8825; www.blissworld.com.
Calvin Klein Cheek Color Wash in natural is a light, non-greasy cream blush laced with a subtle shimmer. A dab on the nose, cheeks, and forehead, and you'll look as though you've just flown in from the Caribbean. $23; at Sephora, or call 800/715-4023.
Like a thermal hot spring in a tube, Biotherm Aquathermale Polishing Body Mud combines astringent kaolin mud, gentle scrubbing particles, and revitalizing minerals, such as copper and magnesium. $19; 888/246-8437; www.biotherm.com.
Give your face a south-of-France blush, without the risky side effects. Guerlain Divinora Pure Radiance goes on under regular moisturizer, illuminating your complexion with 24-karat gold flecks. $60; at Neiman Marcus, or call 800/815-7720.
Just In From the Slopes
Powder junkies, prepare for a thrill: Telluride has nearly doubled the size of its ski resort with the 733-acre Prospect Bowl. Known for some of the country's best black-diamond steeps and bumps, the resort now has three high-speed lifts linking both sides of the mountain. Après-ski, settle into the new Hotel Telluride (199 N. Cornet St.; 866/468-3501 or 970/369-1188, fax 970/369-1292; doubles from $159); all 59 rooms have feather beds and sweeping views of the San Juans. —Bonnie Tsui
The designer Kate Spade has gone global, opening a travel shop in SoHo. In it, she's put a few of her favorite things (for making your next trip chic and easy): Passport holder ($75). Vintage scarves ($110). Conversion cards for foreign sizes ($12). National Audubon Society Field Guides ($19.95). Waterproof cosmetics cases ($65—$195). Spade is also creating a carry-on that evokes the spirit of 1960's airline totes, as well as an "essential travel kit" full of basics—eye mask, playing cards, disposable camera. Kate Spade Travel, 59 Thompson St., New York; 212/965-8654. —Kristine Ziwica
"Style is violence," proclaimed Gerhard Richter in 1961, when he left his hometown of Dresden for West Germany. Yet his marriage of conflicting pictorial conventions—modern and romantic, photographic and painterly—could not be more beautiful. The first major survey of his paintings spans the period from 1962 to the present and includes his early portraits, lush still lifes, and the celebrated 1988 series 18 Oktober 1977 that depicts the Baader-Meinhof, a radical left group whose embrace of violence became its own stylized game ("Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting" at MOMA, New York; Feb. 14—May 21). • Don't Miss: "Surrealism: Desire Unbound" at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Feb. 6—May 12). Organized by London's Tate Modern, the show brings together some 300 works, from Joseph Cornell's whimsical boxes to René Magritte's visual puns and Max Ernst's eerie erotics. —Kim Levin
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Until now, even its greatest devotees had to admit that the V&A lacked coherence. Was it a practical museum of design or a maze of masterpieces worthy of Miss Havisham?With the opening of its British Galleries, the two roles have finally merged. A survey of art, life, and design in Britain over four centuries, the exhibits range from Henry VIII's writing desk to complete 18th-century rooms to the Great Bed of Ware, which makes an appearance in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. In a series of themed spaces, furniture and textiles, paintings and sculpture, and silverware and ceramics rub shoulders for the first time in years. Victoria and Albert Museum, London; 44-207/942-2000. —Jo Durden-Smith
From Cossacks to Corn
With 70 solo roles and 13 tableaux, Prokofiev's opera War and Peace has a cinematic sweep equal to Tolstoy's great novel. Conductor Valery Gergiev leads an equally grand cast of renowned Russian singers (Metropolitan Opera, New York; Feb. 14—March 19; 212/362-6000). • This spring the corn grows as high as an elephant's eye in Times Square. Oklahoma!, a revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical from London's Royal National Theatre, comes to New York, reimagined by director Trevor Nunn as a darker affair. The choreography, by Susan Stroman (The Producers, Contact), had U.K. audiences breaking into ecstatic, spontaneous applause (opens this month at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre; 212/307-4100). —Mario R. Mercado and H. Scott Jolley
Love, Indian Style
A Punjabi wedding springs to life, with kebabs, whiskey, marigolds, and melodramas. Director Mira Nair's first film, 1988's Salaam Bombay!, chronicled that city's underworld; her latest, Monsoon Wedding, is a love letter to her native Delhi, with its affluent suburbs, gleaming hotels, and gaudy, crowded streets. The bride gets cold feet, the caterer falls in love, and a cousin reveals a dark family secret, but it all ends in dance and song, like a rousing Bollywood musical (opens this month). —Leslie Camhi
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