Shane Mitchell, Bob Morris, Hannah Wallace, Luke Barr, Jennifer Flowers, Karrie Jacobs, Amanda Pressner, Heather Wagner, David Farley
July 31, 2009
1 of 11iStock
Revisiting Classic Destinations
In the early 90’s, expat twentysomethings made Prague the epitome of Eastern European slacker cool. These days, restaurants and hotels are sprucing up the city’s image. Rocco Forte’s Augustine (888/667-9477; roccofortecollection.com; doubles from $476) is set to open its doors this spring. The hip Buddha-Bar Hotel (doubles from $450) arrived last month in Old Town. In 2008, Allegro, at the Four Seasons Hotel Prague, earned the first Michelin star in the former Soviet Bloc.
2 of 11Dolores Robles Martinez/Courtesy of the Hotel Boca Chica
Bringing Back the 1950’s
Acapulco, the 1950’s playground for Hollywood royalty is back in the spotlight. Two Midcentury Modern classics have been redone: Las Brisas (doubles from $270) is fresh from a $20 million upgrade, and Hotel Boca Chica (Punta Caletilla, Fraccionamiento Las Playas; 52-55/5282-3100; hotel-bocachica.com; doubles from $195) reopens in March. Also, Rafael Micha’s 44-room Hotel Hotel (Brisas del Marques; 52-55/5282-3100; prices not available at press time)—designed by Miguel Ángel Aragonés—debuts later this year.
Luxury hotels have been popping up in Marrakesh at a rapid clip. Angsana Riads Collection Morocco (doubles from $176) launched several riads in the ancient medina in 2008 and has three new ones on the way. The Mandarin Oriental, Jnan Rahma (866/526-6567; mandarinoriental.com; doubles from $768), in a palm grove in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, opens this summer. Also in 2009, La Mamounia, recently renovated by designer Jacques Garcia, will reopen after nearly three years, complete with a traditional Moroccan hammam.
Chef Michael White has introduced a four-course prix fixe with more than 50 items—grilled homemade duck sausage with braised lentils, and Sardinian saffron gnocchetti with crab and sea urchin, to name two—in the revamped modern dining room of what was once the pricier L’Impero. ($59 per person.)
A converted 1923 Craftsman-style bungalow (low wood-beamed ceiling; two fireplaces) is the backdrop for chef Todd Humphries’s three-course tasting menu of roasted spaghetti-squash soup, Liberty Farms duck-leg confit, and chocolate panna cotta. ($30 per person.)
Chef Govind Armstrong’s three-course “recession concession” sampling includes dishes such as Kobe-beef carpaccio and grilled baby chicken with short-rib hash. This month, Armstrong will bring his market-driven menu to New York’s East Village neighborhood with the opening of a Table 8 at the Cooper Square Hotel. ($42 per person.)
There’s a new word in the traveler’s lexicon: flashpacker, a flashier version of the backpacker. The flashpacker opts for low-cost carriers and trains, but has ditched the group sleeping arrangements in favor of perks such as a private room, flat-screen TV, and original art. Some flashpacking hot spots: Germany’s loftlike BaxPax Berlin (doubles from $64); Loki Lima (doubles from $25), in Peru, with a popular rooftop lounge; and Cape Town’s 13-room Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel (doubles from $83).
The latest feature for digital cameras: built-in GPS. Nikon’s new Coolpix P6000 (nikonusa.com; $499.95) records the exact location of every picture, so you can post and geo-tag your snapshots on Google Earth. Also taking photo-sharing to the next level, Microsoft’s cutting-edge Photosynth (photosynth.net) can stitch together photo collections—every shot of Notre Dame found on flickr.com, for example— to create navigable virtual realities. Imagine: your travel pics can be part of the collective memory.
With convenience and affordability paramount among travelers’ needs, high-speed rail is expanding: more than 16,000 miles of new service are currently in the works. Here, a look at what’s happening around the globe.
Europe: A 3,500-mile network already exists, and an additional 5,300 miles are to be added by 2025, including a Lisbon-to-Madrid route (two hours).
Asia: China launched a high-speed train last summer between Beijing and Tianjin, the first segment of a path that will cut the 20-hour journey between Beijing and Hong Kong in half.
United States: A new line in California running from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just two hours is in the planning stages for 2020.
Situated on floors 79 to 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Center, the new Park Hyatt, Shanghai is the current record-holder for world’s tallest hotel. (It snatched the title from its across-the-street sister property, the Grand Hyatt—perched atop the Jin Mao Tower—when it opened in September 2008.) Competition for the title of world’s tallest hotel has become something of a phenomenon, largely between Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Already in development is a 118-story tower in Kowloon which will serve as home to a brand new Ritz-Carlton; when it debuts—sometime in 2010—it will take over as the world’s tallest hotel.
Seeking to put a modern spin on the glamour of ocean liners past, Celebrity Cruises launched the Solstice, the first of five in a new class of ships, intended to change the way people feel about cruising. The liner’s main 1,400 seat restaurant—entranced by a circular descending-staircase—features an impressive 2,000-bottle wine tower and a pleasantly retro-futuristic design. And if that wasn’t enough, a sprinkling of smaller restaurants acknowledges that passengers want choices. One of the most cutting-edge features on the ship, however, is the eco-friendly half-acre lawn growing on the top deck—not only does it provide a place for passengers to picnic, play croquet, or hone their putting skills, but also helps to absorb heat and moisture.
Much has been made in recent years of the lack of civility when it comes to flying, with the term air rage now part of the daily lexicon. Fuller flights with smaller staffs; increased airfares, even as airlines charge for food, pillows, and checked luggage; and a spike in flight delays, are all a recipe for disaster. Eighteen-month-old Virgin America, a winner of Travel + Leisure’s 2008 World’s Best Awards, has sought to combat this phenomenon with a two-day-long training session to educate all its employees on theories of empathy and stress management. The airline hopes this extra training will help its employees to respond intuitively, intelligently, and compassionately in an era when passengers are acting increasingly irrational. Though some people, it seems, will never behave.