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Atlantic City's Latest Comeback

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Atlantic City’s boardwalk hummed with activity on a balmy Saturday afternoon in July. A cavalcade of families roamed the sandy platform, dawdling over soft-swirled ice cream cones and baskets of fried Oreos, flanked by the umbrella-laden Jersey Shore. A gaggle convened outside Caesars for the annual food and wine festival, this year headlined by a group of Food Network stars: Robert Irvine, Rocco DiSpirito, and Pat and Gina Neely. Kitschy shops were full of tourists snatching up t-shirts and knickknacks. The scene was a snapshot of Americana at its best, a throwback to AC’s heyday.

But despite the robust crowds on this weekend, it has been a frenetic road for a relic that once thrived as the eastern seaboard’s entertainment epicenter. The Great Recession, Hurricane Sandy, and overall tourism shifts (Pennsylvania is now the northeast's gambling capital) have taken their toll. The gleaming 2012-opened, $2.4 billion Revel was supposed to be the antidote, a Las Vegas-grade temple to Michelin-star restaurants, clubby pool parties, and an ultra-luxe spa. The brain trust used Sin City’s evolution as a template, one that focuses on self-indulgent pleasures over blackjack and roulette tables; gambling was supposed to be an afterthought. A $111 million loss and March bankruptcy later, the hotel is now switching its attention, unveiling slot machine promotions and advertising campaigns—“Gamblers Wanted”—to draw visitors to their casino (they’ve even lifted the ban on smoking).

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Openings: Hyatt Union Square Goes Downtown Chic

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It seems like a new hotel opens every other day in New York City, but one nabe with a surprising dearth of places to stay is downtown’s Union Square, which hasn’t seen a debut in ten years. Enter the new 178-room Paul Vega-designed Hyatt that launched in May. The oft-delayed property—it took over five years to complete—is challenging the notion that a corporate chain can showcase the kind of edge that so many travelers lust for when they touch down in the globe’s style capital—the sort you find south of 14th Street.

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Top Mixologists Forecast Cocktail Trends

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Fluorescent blues and shades of fuchsia recently illuminated the main hall of the New York Public Library at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which kicked off under a star-flecked ceiling as dapper guests were serenated by a Gatsby-era band. The opening night gala commenced a five-day tippler showcase through New York City and Brooklyn, with everything from technical seminars to mixology classes to tiki safaris packing the schedule. Most of all, it was a chance to take stock of the ever-evolving spirits scene and toast the innovative bartenders who keep the industry fresh with classical riffs and forward-thinking renditions. What trends are dominating cocktail culture across the U.S. right now? Not surprisingly, it depends on whom you ask.
 
New York
Leo Robitschek, bar manager at The Nomad and Eleven Madison Park     
“I’m really into nitro-infusions right now. It’s perfect for drinks made with mints and herbs because it eliminates the bitter qualities that you sometimes get by muddling. It also works great for chocolate or vanilla bean.”

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Jose Garces Pays Tribute to Mothers with International Bloody Mary Menu

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Bloody Marys have been a brunch staple since 1921, when Fernand Petiot began serving them up at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

As families across the country prepare to toast mom this Sunday, Iron Chef Jose Garces has created an internationally inspired Bloody Mary menu for Renaissance Hotels, each recipe evoking the flavor and style of a global hot spot. A few not to miss: Dat Eye Opener, a blend of green tomato juice, creole seasonings, and garnish of pickled okra inspired by the Big Easy; Hong Kong’s Bloody Pearl, mixed with black vinegar, Chinese hot sauce, and ground caraway seeds; or San Jaun’s Puerto Maria, a zesty combo of Spanish onions, green bell peppers, cilantro, plantain, and ají dulce (sweet peppers). Other destinations-inspired riffs include New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, and Tuscany.

The entire menu is available at participating Renaissance Hotels throughout May. So bring your mom and raise a glass for all that she does—if she’s anything like mine, god knows she deserves it!

Nate StoreyNate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @StoreysTL.

Photo ccourtesy of Renaissance Hotels/ Jose Garces

"We’re Just Trying to Connect People" Q&A with DJ Armin Van Buuren

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The world’s number one DJ ambles into the rooftop lounge PHD at Manhattan’s Dream Downtown hotel, a soft midday light filling the clubby space that was chockablock with the city’s party-set just hours before. Armin van Buuren shoos away a fruit plate from his publicist and goes right for the coffee. He looks a tad sleepy and who can blame him? At this point, he’s on the tail-end of his massive Expedition tour—a celebration of his 600th podcast, A State of Trance—that’s taken him to far-flung locales in every corner of the globe: Minsk, Belarus; Sofia, Bulgaria; Kuala Lumpur; Beirut; Mumbai; Guatemala City; and onto his hometown Den Bosch, Netherlands.

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Toasting Mad Men with a Retro Cocktail Class

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Like millions of Americans, I’m chomping at the bit for Sunday’s season six premier of Mad Men. So ecstatic am I for the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper (Pryce?) to forge into the late-1960’s that I had to mollify my angst in the only appropriate way I knew how: Booze.

One of the hallmarks of the AMC series has been the period-piece cocktails Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell (above) imbibe at bars, dinner parties, soirées, power lunches, and, yes, work. All over country, retro-tipples are chic again, from Mai Tais to Manhattans, becoming part of the show’s defining characteristics. As a proud member of the New York City cocktail tribe and avid fan of the show, I decided to teach myself to joggle a proper drink and learn my jigger from my Boston shaker.

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The Empire State Building Goes Blue and Yellow to Welcome Swedish House Mafia

Empire State Building Welcomes Swedish DJ Trio With Blue and Yellow

When New Yorkers glance across the Manhattan skyline tonight they may notice an unfamiliar color scheme illuminating the Empire State Building: a radiant blue and yellow hue will gleam from the midtown monolith, a symbol of Sweden's flag. The unusual combo is a salute to electronic music trio Swedish House Mafia, who begin a five-show run tonight with a Hurricane Sandy benefit at Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan.

Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello are on the tail end of their massive international One Last Tour, a last hurrah for the Grammy-nominated group before its members diverge onto solo careers. So far they've touched down in world capitals from Johannesburg to Delhi, togged out in their trademark black leather jackets and whipping rock star-scale crowds into euphoric hysteria.

The New York invasion proceeds with a quadruple-header of sold-out stadium shows—Friday at hallowed Madison Square Garden, Saturday through Monday at Brooklyn's new state-of-the-art Barclays Center—before heading west.

SHM will head off into the sunset March 8th and 9th at Historic Park in Los Angeles where concert-goers will take part in the deejays's famed Masquerade Motel, a costume concert that has been a hallmark of their meteoric rise to stardom.

Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo © n8n photo / Alamy.

V-Day Suites Come Dressed in 27,000 Flowers

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How many flowers does it take to say I love you? Renaissance Hotels thinks 27,000 should do the trick. That’s the number of multicolored blossoms bedecking the $15,000-a-night Valentine’s Day suites, which are available for the remainder of February at any of their worldwide properties. Upon booking, almost every inch of a room's interior becomes awash in a mélange of brightly-hued petals, from the bed to the walls to the nightstand.

If you can’t stomach parting with enough cash to buy a new car for a one-night stay, Renaissance is offering romance packages for the big weekend at a more palatable rate ($299.) Breakfast, cocktails, and candles are included, along with a designer floral arrangement. A conventional bouquet of roses will just have to suffice. 

Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Renaissance Hotels

World's First Underwater Club Debuts

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An ocean-side cocktail is one of the numerous hallmarks of a quintessential beach escape. Now, the Niyama Resort on the Maldives’ far-flung Dhaalu Atoll is taking that concept to a new level, inviting guests to tope drinks and party the night away—wait for it—beneath the Indian Ocean. More than 500 yards offshore and a 40-minute seaplane jaunt from Malé, Subsix is the world’s first sunken club. When the full moon sets the ocean aglow, revelers can dance to international deejays and take in aquarium-like views of sea turtles wading in the surf and tropical fish interspersed on the reef.

In such a sensitive ecosystem, it’s encouraging to hear careful measures were taken to minimalize the environmental impact. Subsix was constructed above ground and placed delicately on a swath of empty seafloor. The resort also enlisted a marine biologist and launched a coral restoration program in which pieces of defunct reef are rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitats. 

The only thing missing in this human fishbowl is the scuba diver figurine.

Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Niyama Resort

Our Favorite Destination-Inspired Fragrances

The Art of Scent

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but nothing evokes the memory of a place like an aroma. We asked Chandler Burr, who organized “The Art of Scent, 1889-2012”—opening this month at New York’s Museum of Arts & Design—to describe his favorite destination-inspired fragrances, as only a curator of olfactory arts can.

Chantecaille Kalimantan

Inspiration: Borneo

Fragrance Notes: Thyme, rosemary, vanilla, agarwood, and cedar

What Burr Says: “A beautiful patinaed wood, like an Indonesian house that has stood for generations in the heat.”

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme

Inspiration: Italy

Fragrance Notes: Sicilian mandarin, grapefruit peel, juniper, and bergamot

What Burr Says: “The aroma of the eternal sun-washed Mediterranean wrapped in clean 21st-century form.”

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