T&L Reports: Tunisian Oasis, French Footwear
Published: June 2009
By Laura Begley Bloom, Christopher Petkanas, Kimberly Robinson, Richard Alleman, Sharon Wick, Hannah Wallace
News on where to stay…what to see…what to buy…
In the moonscape that is the Sahara, southern Tunisia's Pan Sea Ksar Ghilane is an oasis within an oasis: a just-staked hotel of 60 ivory linen tents. Sheltered in a date-palm and olive grove 125 miles southeast of Jerba, each tent is equipped with a bathroom and even has air-conditioning and heat. Handsome stone-and-stucco common buildings in the romantic encampment are built in the style of a ksar, a fortified palace. An emerald pool helps you defeat the sun, while palm-frond barricades halt the sand when the shargi blows. Best ritual: watching camels tank up at the hotel's spring after a day on the dunes. Pan Sea Ksar Ghilane, phone and fax 216-5/900-521; tent for two $98, including meals.
The Cool New Airline Go is taking Europe by storm with low prices and good looks. On hops from London's Stansted airport to six cities on the Continent, attendants in seventies-chic ouifits sell edible food À la carte — gourmet sandwiches, pain au chocolat, Italian coffee — and pass out the hippest in-flight magazine in the skies. Call 44-1279/666-388.
This Shoe Fits
Quickly becoming a superstar in the footwear world is Marseilles's 30-year-old Cyd Jouny, who fashions platform sneakers (the shot heard round the world for Spice Girl wannabes), a unisex line inspired by skateboarding and snow-boarding, and couture stilettos trimmed with mink (pictured). Hotfoot it to Paris's Françoise et Maglai (5 Rue de Pas de la Mule; 33-1/42-71-88-11); for stores in the United States, call 33-4/91-59-16-73.
When Design Hotels, the hip hotel group, welcomes a new spot into its fold, we take note. Latest: the Brunswick, in Glasgow's Merchant City, a neighborhood akin to Dublin's trendy Temple Bar and the site of a jazz festival each June. Surrounded by 16th-century stone buildings, the 22-room copper-roofed inn is a Modernist temple with bathrooms tiled in taupe, bedrooms washed in creams or primary colors, and a happening bar. The Brunswick, 106-108 Brunswick St.; 800/337-4685 or 44-141/552-1552; doubles from $93.
Another splendid Beaux-Arts landmark emerges from the shadows: the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library. Windows painted over for World War II blackouts have been replaced, allowing light to pour in; once-murky ceiling murals now glow with sun-dappled clouds. But don't let this chapter from the past fool you — those beautifully refinished oak reading tables are wired for access to the Internet and the library's 100-plus databases. New York Public Library, 476 Fifth Ave.; 212/869-8089.
—H. Scott Jolley
What a Drag
Job requirements for waiters at San Francisco's new Asia SF: Must be male; willing to wear gauzy negligees; able to strut in five-inch heels. The restaurant puts the spotlight on gender illusionists who gyrate and lip-synch while serving food. With two shoji-screen walls that slowly change color, huge bamboo stalks, and a red-vinyl bar that doubles as a catwalk, it's perfect for a town that thrives on the outrageous. The mayor's eaten here — twice. Asia SF, 201 Ninth St.; 415/255-2742; dinner for two $40.
For 25 years, photojournalist Wong How Man has documented inner Asia's vanishing tribes and the sweeping changes in China. From Manchuria to Tibet (Odyssey Publications; $50), a collection of his photos, is due out this month. Man's work illuminates both the region's beauty and the harsh realities of life there.
Tote it: Burberry's new plaid pet carrier. Sip it: Kelt XO Tour du Monde Cognac, aged in barrels on a ship. Temperature changes, motion, and salty air improve the taste. Ride it: Squaw Valley's Funitel, cousin to the gondola and the first of its kind in North America. Now high winds won't keep you from the slopes. Buy it: Chef Alain Ducasse's stylish kitchen collection (knives, ginger graters, table linens), selling at New York's Bergdorf Goodman. Believe it (or not): Vending machines in four Milan metro stations now sell panty hose in three sizes, three shades, and three weights. Only in Italy.
Park It Here
Add some camp to your cabin with Swan Magic's embroidered pillows, perfect for anyone who has ever waited for Old Faithful or scaled El Capitan. The designs, featuring the Smokies, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Adirondacks, and Colorado, mix cartoony sketches with scribbled captions. They're like a vintage postcard for your couch. $98 each; 800/836-4662.