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Hot Chocolate Festival in the Big Apple


Hankering for something hot and sweet this bitter-cold February? If you're in New York, you're in luck. Monday marked the beginning of the 28-day long Hot Chocolate Festival at The City Bakery, which is renowned for its viscous cups of cocoa topped with giant, creamy homemade marshmallows.

This year's new flavor is Moulin Chocolate Rouge—a blend of pomegranate, espresso, dark chocolate and lemon. Read more about how City Bakery owner, Maury Rubin, comes up with these inventive cocoa flavors in Time Out NY here. Check out the other 27 delicious flavors. (And yes, those are strands of marshmallows you see below.)

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Hyatt Debuts Two New U.S. Properties


The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa opened today off of Florida's West Coast, outside of Tampa. The West Indies-inspired beachside resort features 250 suites with full kitchens. Clearwater guests will also be able to enjoy themselves at an eco-friendly spa, a 24-hour gym, and an eighth floor pool deck with 20 air-conditioned poolside cabanas, in addition to a pool and hot tub on the 16th floor Sky Terrace.

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"Come Up To My Room"


With all the Olympic buzz going on now, it might be easy to forget there are plenty of other events happening in Canada this winter. On the other end of the country, Toronto's Gladstone Hotel just kicked off their annual alternative design event Come Up To My Room. Starting yesterday, art installations took over the hotel's second floor gallery space and 14 public spaces and will be there until this Sunday, January 24.

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New Year's Detox in the Catskills


Be honest. You've probably broken your New Year's Resolution to eat healthier by now. (I know I have. The sticky toffee pudding at Brooklyn's Beast tapas restaurant is just that good.)

To get back on track, the best thing to do is get thee to a health spa, like the Copperhood spa, just 120-miles northwest of New York City in the Catskill Mountains. An ideal place to recover from the chaos—and over-indulgence—of the holiday season, it's specially tailored health and wellness programs will also help you detox and get a move on your New Year's resolution to lose weight and feel fab.

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Must See: China's Harbin International Ice Festival

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival kicked off earlier this week, and is now in full swing. Located below the icy desolation of Siberia, in China's Heilongjiang province, this month-long festival features massive snow sculptures and ice structures illuminated by lights frozen inside blocks of ice. Check out images of some of these wintry masterpieces from past festivals below.




Lyndsey Matthews is the online editorial intern for Travel + Leisure.

Photos courtesy of Trent Strohm

Going Overboard: A "Titanic" Museum?


Planning a roadtrip to Dollywood next year? While you're in the kitschy wonderland of Pigeon Forge in eastern Tennessee, be sure to add the brand-new Titanic Museum to your must-see list. The three-deck replica of the ill-fated ship will guarantee an educational (albeit ridiculous) experience in addition to riding the roller-coasters at the buxom blonde's theme park.

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Blast from the Past: "Vintage Wonder Theatres"

A few weekends back I went to go see the classic horror film Carrie at the Loew's Jersey Wonder Theatre, a beautiful vintage movie theater in Jersey City. As I settled into my plush velvet chair, I overheard a middle-aged man boast of seeing Carrie when it came out in 1976 at the exact same theater. While nearly 40 years later the movie’s special effects appear dated and not scary, the 1920s splendor of the theater itself is stunning (did I mention the retro-priced $6 ticket too?).

There are four other Loew's Wonder Theatres in the New York metropolitan area that were built between 1929 and 1930. While the Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn remains abandoned, the others have all been restored to their Jazz Age opulence and are now used as movie houses, concert venues, or churches as described below.

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Strange Traditions: St. Nicholas's Day in Prague


As a kid, I always looked forward to celebrating St. Nicholas’s Day in early December, when one of the older men at my church would dress up as St. Nicholas in traditional bishop’s robes and pass out delicious gingerbread cookies the size of my head.

Czechs also celebrate St. Nicholas’s Day (Mikuláš in Czech), but they do it with a sinister twist.

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Ritz-Carlton Announces its First Hotel in Israel


Ritz-Carlton Hotels announced today that it will open its first property in Israel at the marina in Herzliya, a suburb on the coast a bit north of Tel Aviv. Set to open in March 2012, the property will have 110 rooms and will also feature 85 Ritz-Carlton Residential Suites.

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Cool (Creepy) Find: Abandoned Catskills Hotel


Earlier this year, a friend stumbled upon a set of photos of the derelict Overlook Mountain House outside of Woodstock in New York's Catskill Mountains. When TravelandLeisure.com published the World's Eeriest Abandoned Places last month, I was reminded of my desire to explore these ruins. So on a recent weekend getaway to the nearby town of Saugerties, a short two-hour drive north of New York City, I insisted we find the abandoned hotel, which in its prime hosted such esteemed guests as President Ulysses S. Grant, as described in a New York Times article from 1873.

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