Ten-plus years after Skype was first made available for download, the ubiquitous app is gaining a sibling—Qik, Microsoft’s first foray into video messaging. Available now for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, the free, stand-alone app allows users to send short video messages, up to 40 seconds in length, to anyone in your phone book with the tap of a button. Cheeky name aside, it’s a great solution for travelers—the videos are shared almost instantly, cutting out traditionally long relay times, and don’t use up precious phone storage space.
Calling all adventure travelers: GoPro has launched an update to its cultishly beloved action cameras, just in time for the upcoming ski season. The new flagship? The Hero4 Black($499, available now), which doubles the performance of its year-old predecessor and adds 4K shooting capabilities, auto low light modes, an ultra wide-angle lens that offers the “most immersive field of view available,” and twice the dynamic range for audio quality. Also fun: time lapse, manual controls for ISO limits and exposure, and a Quick Capture mode that let you start recording with the push of one button. The physical shape and size will feel familiar—and thankfully, old mounts will still be compatible with new models.
Prince Edward County may be Canada’s hippest new escape. Just two hours east of Toronto on an island that juts onto Lake Ontario, it’s home to stunning landscapes, a clutch of burgeoning wineries that produce spectacular Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, dozens of nouveau country stores, and what may be the country’s quirkiest—and perhaps most charming—little inn.
This year’s overall America's Favorite Cities winner has a bit of everything: great food, an exciting bar scene, and endless curb appeal.
1. Because the city is a legitimate culinary capital. Queue up for a table at North, a modern Asian hot spot by James Mark, a David Chang protégé, or book at Birch, an ambitious chef’s counter with a focus on local ingredients (whelks; quahogs; foraged herbs).
What to do after discovering the provenance of your favorite foods and wines? Track down the origin of what’s in your mug. For that, travelers are flocking to Colombia’s so-called coffee triangle. “The fincas of Pereira and Armenia are like the estancias of Mendoza, Argentina, ten years ago,” says Emmanuel Burgio of luxury outfitter Blue Parallel. His itineraries include the Cocora Valley, home to half a dozen heirloom cultivars—and the world’s tallest palm trees. “It’s full of natural spectacles and hospitable locals,” he says. Guests with bespoke operator Big Five—an early champion of the region—sleep at Sazagua, the area’s first high-end hotel; they can harvest, roast, and taste the local crop at the venerable Hacienda Venecia. Once they’ve got their caffeine buzz, visitors go on horseback rides through the countryside, trips to the tropical fruit market in Filandia, and hikes in the nearby cloud forest.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Now's the time to plan your ski vacation if you haven't already—but if you're not in the market for season tickets, Liftopia is launching a new approach to lift tickets. Perfect for those who are caught between unpredictable schedules and budget consciousness, the site—already an industry pioneer for aggregated online lift ticket sales—is now offering the mountain equivalent of flexible fares.
The last-minute hotel booking space is getting a little less last-minute, as HotelTonight is unveiling a new feature that lets users book their rooms a full week in advance. The new features, live today, respond to a need to have more flexibility when traveling in certain situations, says CEO Sam Shank, who for the first time talked about demographics beyond the spontaneous weekend traveler when I met with him earlier this week. Business travelers, he pointed out, would especially stand to gain from the new model, which allows you to wait until your schedule is set before deciding which neighborhood (or specific property) might be best suited for a particular trip.
This week, T-Mobile continued on its rampage to break all the rules we've ever come to know about mobile carriers, this time with a move that throws the need for a 4G network all but out the window. The big reveal? Wi-Fi calling on all new T-Mobile smartphones, a feature that will make roaming workaround apps like Viber largely irrelevant. This comes on the heels of Apple's iPhone 6 debut, which also included Wi-Fi calling as a standard feature.
The implication for travelers is huge. First and foremost, it signals an enormous change in the way we think about roaming and international phone charges (already, the carrier has made data roaming and music streaming abroad worries of the past).