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5 International Homestays

Homestays

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a new culture, homestays are a great option; a well-connected outfitter can help you find the right fit. Here, five ideas to get you started.

The Andes, Peru: Aracari Travel Consulting

The Details: In the rural Andean community of Luquina Chico, on Lake Titicaca, Aracari coordinates with 13 local families to provide lodgings in private houses. Guest rooms are basic but have an authentic, Andean feel, as well as lake views.

Don’t Miss: Dining with your hosts on regional dishes such as trout or quinoa soup, observing farmers planting a potato crop, or learning to catch carachi, a small fish native to Lake Titicaca. Three days from $567 per person, all-inclusive.

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Coming Soon to Travaasa Austin: Its Own Farm

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Set on 210 yucca- and cedar scrub-dotted acres in Texas Hill Country, Travaasa Austin has 70 streamlined guest rooms, an 11-room spa and infinity pool, an equestrian center, and two miles of hiking trails. This June, the resort will debut a three-and-a-quarter-acre farm anticipated to produce a whopping 30,000 pounds of food in its first year.

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Trip Doctor: 4 Affordable Italian Agriturismos

agriturismo

Q: Can you recommend a hotel in the Italian countryside that is authentic (and affordable)?

A: Your best option for experiencing local food and culture in a hidden corner of Italy is an agriturismo, a family-run inn on a working farm. Below, where to find them.

Marche

The Draw: Medieval towns, hills covered in olive groves, and more than 100 miles of Adriatic coastline define this area of central Italy.

The Experience: Eight miles south of Urbino, the Savini family’s 185-acre Locanda della Valle Nuova ($) has six modern guest rooms and three apartments and arranges horseback riding, visits to artisanal producers, truffle hunting, and traditional dinners of porchetta and fried olives.

Emilia-Romagna

The Draw: Tuscany’s northern neighbor, Emilia-Romagna is the home of prosciutto and Parmesan.

The Experience: The late-1300’s Antica Corte Pallavicina ($) is a favorite retreat of noted Italian chefs, including Massimo Bottura. Set along the Po River, the property has six rustic-chic rooms, each named after an aristocrat who once stayed there. Breakfasts include hand-squeezed blood-orange juice and farm-fresh eggs; don’t miss dinner at the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where chef Massimo Spigaroli serves his house-cured culatello.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Unveils Weiss/Manfredi-Designed Visitor Center

Brooklyn Botanic Garden entrance

Opening May 16th, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new entrance along Washington Avenue is no garden-variety visitors center. Nestled into a hillside in the northeast corner, the 20,000-square-foot building aims to be a seamless extension of the 52-acre landscape, which could have amounted to an empty promise in the hands of a lesser firm. But the New York–based husband-wife team of Weiss/Manfredi delivers.

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Iconic NYC Nightclub Refashioned as Mini-Mall

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I stopped by last week’s opening of Manhattan’s Limelight Marketplace—a church reincarnated as a notorious '80s nightclub most recently made over as a shopping mall—with an almost irreverent sense of curiosity. With a past so checkered, I expected a mixed crowd, and sure enough, the three-level, multi-wing retail space was brimming with journalists (both skeptical and adoring), local reality stars (think Real Housewives posing with Hunter boots for the press), and the occasional camera-toting wanderer shaking his head in disbelief while reminiscing about parties fueled by pills, music, and illicit behavior.

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The go-go girls, devilish red lighting, and shady corners are all long gone—they disappeared in the '90s—and the church stood vacant until last winter, when retail developer Jack Menashe saw an opportunity to create his own version of nearby Chelsea Market.

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Going Home to Breckenridge, CO

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The last time I saw Breckenridge, Colorado, was about 16 years ago through the rear window of my family’s oversized dirt-spattered truck. I didn’t know then how much time would pass before I returned, and for years I treasured my cache of childhood memories: leaping off our porch into a mammoth pile of soft snow; fishing in the stream that ran through our backyard; hiking wildflower-strewn trails that led to abandoned—and in my young mind, mysterious—19th-century cabins. My family moved around a bit afterwards, but for years, Breckenridge set the bar and no place could compete.

Sure, we settled by the ocean, but with a child’s obstinance, I deemed myself a "mountain person." Even later, as I explored new and exciting foreign cities, there remained something untouchable about the small mining town. Of course, as I grew older, I came to understand that a pair of rose-colored glasses had settled firmly on my nose, a realization reinforced by the way Breckenridge was discussed by others in conversation: as a ski resort, and little more. I wanted to explain how beautiful and pure it was there, but held my tongue, thinking that I sounded a bit silly.

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Find Flights for Less on Momondo.com

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Have you heard of Momondo.com yet? I’m always scouting for affordable flights, like every savvy traveler these days, and recently came across this Copenhagen-based aggregator (U.S. searches make up one-third of its market).

Whenever I encounter a site like this, I’m skeptical—how can this site really be better than the rest?—but it’s hard to argue with Momondo’s credentials. It claims to search more than 750 airfare sources (U.S. competitor Kayak covers roughly half that), including low-cost carriers, consolidators, aggregators, fledgling and major airlines. And when traveler advocate Arthur Frommer tested the top American agreegators—including Kayak, SideStep, and FareChase—only to find that the European Momondo consistently found fares that were 20 to 40 percent less.

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Just Back: Ambergris Caye, Belize

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On such a wintery day, I can’t help but daydream about my recent whirlwind trip to Ambergris Caye, a small island off the northeastern coast of Belize—a place so consistently warm that residents easily (and even somewhat wistfully) recall in detail the one day of the year they wore a sweater. I was there to check out a hotel for T+L’s “40 Secret Beach Hideaways” (March 2010), and expected to spend most of my time stretched out on a white sand beach, piña colada in hand. The island, after all, is only 25 miles long and one mile wide. And while I did my fair share of reclining, I was surprised—and thrilled—to discover how many activities are available to the traveler. Here’s my short list for how to best explore the island and its surroundings.

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Join The Club: Jetsetter.com Members Get Steep Travel Discounts

200910-b-jetsetterjpg Ever find yourself daydreaming at work about booking a last-minute trip? Thanks to Jetsetter.com—the latest venture from Gilt Groupe, best known for their utterly addictive designer flash-sales—it’s easier and more tempting than ever to do just that.

Every day, the site sends registered members an email with a new batch of specially negotiated—and deeply discounted—hotel stays around the world (at press time, a City View Junior Suite at the Epic Hotel Miami was going for $169 per night—that’s $158, or nearly 50 percent, less than the hotel’s published rate!).

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National Parks Come to Manhattan

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If you didn’t get your national park fix this summer—and live in, or are planning to visit NYC soon—worry not; the parks are coming to you. Thanks to the National Parks Conservation Association and PBS, the week of September 19—27 is now devoted to celebrating these wild tracts of land with a series of (mostly free) events throughout the city. Here, five of the week’s highlights:

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