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A Luxe Travel Insider Launches New Website

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PR guru/savvy entrepreneur/enthusiastic globetrotter/longtime friend of T+L Melanie Brandman lives a life many would envy, traveling to all corners of the globe for her namesake company’s top-name travel clients.

And having also grown up in Australia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise Melanie’s world view is big—one that’s surely influenced and helped cultivate her good eye (and her good taste). Few know, however, that before her start in the travel industry, she worked as an editor at Vogue Australia.

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Today, Melanie officially returns to her early professional roots with the launch of The Travel Curator. The new website is her little black book of favorite finds from the road. Think of it as the short list or cheat sheet (hotels, restaurants, shops, more) for the world’s top luxury destinations mixed with smart trend coverage.

The first city in the spotlight? Sydney, of course. Melanie tips readers off to everything from a Surry Hills boutique renown for its custom textiles to what she calls “the best food truck in the Southern Hemisphere,” which sells meat pies with all the fixings around the clock. “Believe me, at 2 a.m. it’s just what the doctor ordered.” We do, Melanie!

Next month, travel with Melanie to New York City.

Montreal Musician Shows and Tells

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Over the years, I’ve found one of the best ways to know a city’s best-kept secrets is to talk to its artists. I recently connected with one of Montreal’s rising stars—award-winning filmmaker and musician Daniel Isaiah, who's signed, appropriately, with music label Secret City Records.

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We Want Your Job Kerry Clasby, Professional Forager

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Do you suffer from office ennui? Is walking around the block your idea of getting “fresh air”? Green a color you only see on weekends? If yes, then we invite you to kick back in your cubicle for a taste of a different kind of job: meet Kerry Clasby, professional forager.

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New TV Show Helps Travelers Pass as Locals

Some say the mark of a true traveler is being able to pass for a local. But what does it take to become a global chameleon, truly? "Local Currency," a new series on the Plum TV hosted by Mark Ellwood (also a Travel + Leisure contributor) asks that very question—and takes viewers on a hilarious romp around Europe in search of the answer. Mark meets all kinds of opinionated natives, from rock stars to fashion designers, who riotously coach him on how to blend in. First stop: Antwerp, where we learn, among other things, that French fries go best with tartar sauce. Douse them in ketchup, and bingo—you’re branded a foreigner. For more local tips, tricks, and zany encounters, be sure to tune in to Plum this summer.

Jonathan Adler's Travel-Inspired Pillows

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Cute alert: I usually pass interior designer Jonathan Adler's West Village [NYC] boutique on my way home from work, and recently noticed a window display spotlighting the interior designer's a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e new line of travel-inspired needlepoint throw pillows ($98). What can I say, they just make me happy. And apparently Adler, too: "Travel inspires me. These pillows are homages to my favorite Jet-Set locales. Looking at them is like a mini-vacation!" See for yourself:


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LUCKYRICE: Get Your Asian Food On in NYC!

201104-b-luckyricelogojpgWhen I was growing up in the white-bread hinterlands of Maine, a pu-pu platter at the Golden Fan (a Chinese restaurant) at our local Holiday Inn was as exotic as food got. But, it gave me taste for something more than bologna sandwiches.

Today, my world is a much bigger—and tastier—place, one filled with bánh mì, congee, unagi maki, and bibimbap. I now keep a bottle of Sriracha sauce in my desk drawer, and am pretty sure Momofuku’s Berkshire pork buns are the secret to happiness.

I know I am not alone in this ever-expanding obsession/love/appreciation of Asian cuisines. In the words of Danielle Chang, the savvy founder of the LUCKYRICE Festival: “Asian food is having a moment. But when isn’t it?!”

201104-b-luckyricemktjpgIn its second year, the ultra-popular Asian food festival, LUCKYRICE, runs from May 2-8 in NYC, and includes another exciting tongue-tickling line-up of culinary events—from an Omakase Dinner with Iron Chef Morimoto to a buzzy Night Market in Brooklyn featuring over 50 restaurants serving Asia's best street food. Will I be there? Pho-getaboutit.

You can purchase tickets here. (They’re going fast, but there's still availability for the Grand Feast at the Mandarin Oriental; Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony; and the Talk + Taste events with cooking demos.)

And check out my video Q&A with LUCKYRICE Festival visionary Danielle Chang:

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For Love and Lobster: Chef Migration Continues in Maine


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Ridiculously fresh seafood. Check. Farms and farmers markets galore. Yup. Great scenery. You bet. Real estate deals. Indeed. Locals and visitors who are serious about good food. Definitely. For these reasons and more, a growing number of chefs are decamping Downeast.

Geoffroy Deconinck is latest chef to trade in his fancy toque for a new start in Maine. Having worked side by side with Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, and Alain Ducasse, the 38-year-old Belgian is the newly named executive chef at Natalie’s restaurant at the Camden Harbour Inn.

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Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Opens as World’s Highest Hotel

There are views, and then there are v-i-e-w-s. Starting tomorrow, any guest checking into the brand new Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will get an eyeful of the latter—birds-eye panoramas of Victoria Harbour and the shiny HK skyline. As the world’s “highest” hotel, the record-breaking property now occupies floors 102 to 118 of the well-located International Commerce Center, with 312 rooms in all.

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Q&A: Most Romantic Experiences in Africa?

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Last year I had the pleasure of meeting the mother-daughter team behind Extraordinary Journeys. As their name implies, Marcia and Elizabeth Gordon (below) custom craft some pretty swoon-worthy adventures—to Africa, a place they know top to bottom (and all the secret spots in between) and that easily inspires dreamy visions of exotic animals, ancient baobab trees, and untamed landscapes where it’s impossible not to get away from it all.

201102-b-africa-1jpgSince my husband and I have a new baby and no real plans on deck for celebrating Valentine's Day this year, I thought I’d call on Elizabeth to share her expert tips—and provide me/Carry On with a vicarious dose of travel-inspired romance. Clip and save, dear readers. Sleeping under the stars on the Savannah beats a box of chocolates any day.

Question: In your opinion, what are some of the most romantic and memorable experiences in Africa?

Answers:

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Are You a Vacationist?



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Unless you live in a box (or worse, don’t have an Internet connection), you already know that private sale websites are the hottest thing du jour.

In case you hadn’t heard, Travel + Leisure has joined the party and teamed up with Luxury Link to form vacationist, a new by-invitation site offering great values on stays at some of the world’s most stylish and luxurious hotels.

Since its official launch last month, flash sales have included such fabulous properties as The Mark in New York City and Mauna Kua Beach Hotel in Hawaii.

vacationist-logo_medgifHere’s just a sampling of what’s available right now:

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