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March Vacation Deals

Westin Hilton Head

Want to practice your photography skills in Mexico or cruise the Mediterranean? This month’s deals have you covered.

Art & Culture

Beijing and Shanghai: 36% off insider’s tour

Springtime in China package includes:

• 6 nights' accommodations, divided between Fairmonts in Beijing and Shanghai, provided by Kensington Tours, a bespoke outfitter with global expertise
• Explore the M50 art district, Shanghai’s action-packed creative hub, with an in-the-know local
• Airport meet and greet
• Private guided tour of Beijing including stops at Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall
• Private excursion in Shanghai, including visits to Jade Buddha and Yuyuan Garden
• Internal flights and chauffeured transfers

Cost: From $1,750 ($292 per night)

Book by April 30. Blackout dates apply: April 18–May 1.

For more information or to book, please visit Kensington Tours.

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February Vacation Deals

Lexington Hotel

Art & Culture

Chicago: 30% off historical blues package

Windy City Blues package includes:

• 2 nights' accommodations in a standard room at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro, with mod-retro rooms in the theater district
• 2 tickets to Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, owned by the iconic artist himself
• Admission to Chicago’s History Museum to see the “Crossroads of America” exhibit on the history behind America’s Blues Capital

Cost: $270 ($135 per night)

Book via telephone only for travel between February 1 and March 31.

For more information, please visit Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro; to book, please call (800) 643-1500 and use booking code BLUE14.

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Trip Planner: Cultural Savings in Europe

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Save a few euros on some of Europe’s best cultural offerings.

Berlin: The city (pictured above) celebrates its 775th anniversary this year with many free events: a history-themed festival transforms the Nikolai area into a medieval quarter; an open-air exhibition highlights the diversity of Berlin’s residents, past and present.

Vienna: Queue up at the Imperial Palace’s Hofburg Chapel Sunday mornings to hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir (standing room free). And in April, May, June, and September, the Vienna State Opera screens live performances on a giant LED screen in the opera house square.

Portugal: On the agenda for Guimarães, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of this year’s European Capitals of Culture: performances from avant-garde theater troupe La Fura dels Baus, free to the public.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Trip Planner: Post-Holiday Travel Deals

201112-b-cuisinartjpgJust as in retail sales, some of the best travel bargains can be found after the holidays, even in peak-season destinations.

Caribbean: Think you have to wait for hurricane season for a value in the islands? Actually, most island hotels slash rates to fill rooms during the lull between New Year’s Day and Presidents’ Day, when schoolchildren start their midwinter break. At press time, we found a luxury room in Anguilla’s CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa (a 2012 T+L 500 hotel) for $815 per night starting January 3—$500 less than the rate from mid December through New Year’s.

Ski Resorts: Snow conditions hit their peak in January; luckily, that’s not so for many hotel and lift-ticket prices. Ski.com’s five-night ski-and-stay package at the Four Seasons Resort Vail, in Colorado, for example, costs $1,793 per person if booked for mid January, compared with $3,708 during the holidays—a 48 percent savings.

Photo Courtesy of CuisinArt Resort & Spa

Behind the Scenes: Crystal Cruises

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As top luxe line Crystal Cruises fêtes its 20th anniversary, I decided to check in with cruise director Scott Peterson, a 23-year industry veteran. Below, he reflects on what’s in store for the upcoming season.

Q: What is Crystal doing to celebrate its 20th anniversary?

201003-b-cruise-5jpgA: Crystal’s 20th year anniversary is going to be a yearlong celebration. There are going to be special Captain’s parties and champagne breakfasts for guests, plus on the two cruises sailing on July 20, the actual day of Crystal’s anniversary, the first ever Crystal menu will be served at a gala dinner, along with wine selections sold at the original prices. Each ship will also host a games night featuring a Crystal trivia contest. The winning team will be treated to an evening at the Vintage Room for a multi-course meal with wine pairings. All the wine will be from 1990—which happened to be a very good year.

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Q&A: T+L Checks In With Vegas Expert Howard Lefkowitz

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Though down almost a million visitors from last year, Las Vegas is gearing up for next month’s debut of MGM Mirage’s CityCenter, an $11 billion, 68-acre megaplex that seals the city’s reputation for over-the-top innovation. T+L checks in with Vegas expert Howard Lefkowitz, CEO of booking site Vegas.com, on America’s top vacation destination.

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Looking For Something To Do? Goby.com Can Help

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To keep Web surfers from drowning in endless oceans of information, task-focused search engines have been multiplying by the minute. Need to research a trip, or just looking for something to do on the weekend? Let Goby, which launched yesterday, do the fishing for you.

200909-b-goby-small.jpgWith not one, but three search bars (what you’d like to do, where and when), Goby helps travel planners reel in restaurant, activity and hotel recommendations in destinations all over the U.S. Results—sorted by relevance, distance or name—pop up with clickable tabs that provide additional images, pulled from Google and Flickr, and service information broken down in a neat table.

Like all new search engines, Goby is still working hard to iron out the kinks and to connect users with relevant results (the number one listing for a resort spa in Massachusetts? The Brahma Blue, a 12-acre “holistic oasis”…in Ambergis Caye, Belize). Only time will tell if they’ll  sink or swim, but we think they're off to a smart start.

Lisa Cheng is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.


Images courtesy of Goby

Paris Cleans Up Its Act

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What’s a Paris stroll if you can’t daydream? Tourists to the French capital can now walk the city’s sidewalks without regard to what may lie underfoot.

“Paris is winning the pooper-scooper campaign,” announced the Mairie de Paris, or mayor's office, in a report by the AFP, thanks to success of the Campagne de Propreté 2009—a citywide cleanup campaign launched earlier this year.

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Test Drive: TOTALe from Rosetta Stone

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I work in  T+L’s Research Department, which requires fluency in a minimum of one foreign language (I speak French), but heading to a preview last Thursday for the new TOTALe product from Rosetta Stone, one of the leaders in foreign langage instruction, my aim was to brush up on my Portuguese, which I had picked up in bits and pieces on a trip to Rio. Though I remember being able to communicate with the locals (it’s hard not to), today, eight months later, I recall only one word: guarana, the name of a fruit, and also the base of a popular soft drink. How far could I get, in 30 minutes, with TOTALe? Would I be able to order more than a Guarana?

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Fly the (Pet-) Friendly Skies

The first pets-only airline, Pet Airways—which takes off this month from five U.S. cities: L.A., Chicago, New York, D. C., and Denver—now tops the list of pet travel perks.

A safe and comfortable alternative to commercial lines’ cargo class, Pet Airways aims to ease both animal and owner stress alike, with an online flight tracking and individual carriers secured in temperature-controlled cabins. Doting attendants check up on “Pawsengers” every 15 minutes and walk them upon landing (unfortunately, there’s no in-flight snack service—vet’s orders).

Flights can be booked through the Pet Airway’s website which crashed when it opened for reservations in April. But your furry four-legged friends will have to wait in line. The airline is booked solid throughout the summer. Bone voyage!

Lisa Cheng is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.

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