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New Discovery App Superb Takes the E-Dating Model Into Tourism

Superb app

Dating apps like Tinder are meant to be fun, addictive, and packed with discovery—so why hasn’t anyone adapted the model for social purposes outside the love nest? That’s what the developers of Superb wondered before launching their new app, officially available for iOS this week (Android's on the way). The app uses the same swipe motions as Tinder—swipe right to save something for future reference, swipe left to discard it, and keep swiping as information automatically populates your screen—but for places and things rather than people. Set it to your hometown—or any city you’re visiting—and input your categorical preferences (Arts & Culture; Food & Drink; Shops) to get a practically never-ending stream of ideas. Save the ones you like to a bucket list, scrap the ones that don’t pique your interest, and keep going (it really is hard to stop) until your itinerary takes full form.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.


Photo courtesy of Superb

Eco-Luxe Vacation Ideas In Honor of Earth Day

Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

As an editor of Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Awards, I’m always on the lookout for travel companies that can raise the bar for both sustainability and luxury. In honor of Earth Day, here are five new properties that are getting it right.  (If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to celebrate by booking a stay, stat.)

1. Pikaia Lodge, Galapagos: Think of the Galapagos as a cruising destination? Pikaia puts the traditional model on its head, with 14 stunning rooms (think floor to ceiling windows, private plunge pools, and enormous bathrooms) perched atop an extinct volcano crater. When it opens in September, it will have already spent four years rehabilitating the surrounding land—previously deteriorated from cattle farming—and trained locals in sustainable tourism practices to replace the debilitative trade of shark fishing.

2. The Brando, French Polynesia: Just 30 miles north of Tahiti is Tetiaroa, a pristine archipelago of a dozen islands surrounding an incredible lagoon. It’s also the site of The Brando, where 35 thatched-roof villas each get private pools and secluded beach access. Sound over the top? It’s impressively sustainable—the whole property was built with local materials, air conditioning comes via a unique seawater-powered system, and a blend of solar and coconut oil-based energy grids have brought the resort to near carbon neutrality.

3. Ion Hotel, Iceland: Set against the dramatic lava fields of Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, an hour north of Reykyavik, this ultra-minimalist, geothermal-powered resort is a dreamy backdrop for the Northern Lights. A sprawling list of nature-based activities await (hot spring and glacier tours; snorkeling; hiking)—but you’d find me at the ten-meter-long pool with views of the surrounding valleys.

4. Kittitian Hill, St. Kitts: Meet the Caribbean’s latest eco-resort: Its colonial-inspired guesthouses are spread among 400 acres of working farmland. The spa is set in an ancient mango forest. Original crops and fruit trees have been preserved as natural obstacles for the golf course—dubbed the world’s most edible. And with a quarter of the island doubling as protected national park, it’s a haven for tropical birds, flora, and fauna. It officially opens later this year (we hear December).

5. Kestrel Camp, Montana: This new lodge on the site of the American Prairie Reserve’s giant conservancy offers a clutch of high-design yurts (yes, yurts) with a decidedly Wild West feel. Expect geologist-led hikes, bison sightings, and exceptional sunsets over the prairie—best witnessed from your private wraparound deck.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

Photo courtesy of Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

Five Secrets About "Queen of the Night" Revealed

 

 

Queen of the Night

If you're planning a trip to NYC, you may have already heard about the city's hot ticket of the moment: Queen of the Night. A follow up to Sleep No More by the same immersive theater experts—along with progressive food artist Jennifer Rubell and acclaimed Canadian aerialist troupe 7 Doigts de la Main—the production takes a completely unconventional approach to dinner theater. Set in the old Diamond Horseshoe space at the Paramount Hotel, and loosely based on Mozart's Magic Flute, the sexy, avant-garde show blends interactive elements, contemporary circus acts, and a soundtrack that’s equal parts classical and indie rock tunes (not to mention a communal feast that may require some bartering). Already intrigued? It's only the tip of the iceberg. Here, five secret details that could take your experience to a whole other level: 

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CheapAir Becomes First OTA To Introduce Railway Reservations

Cheap Air

I’ve long loved Rome 2 Rio as a transportation guide: it tells you every possible way to get from Point A to Point B, and offers in-line prices and itineraries. Since I started using it, I’ve realized just how efficient train travel can be—factor in security lines and early airport arrivals, and the train can take less time than flying, depending on where you’re going. For the first time, an OTA is in agreement, as CheapAir has announced today that it will be integrating Amtrakrailway reservations into its flight search system. Now, when you search for routes connecting, say, New York and Boston, you’ll see airfares interspersed with train routes, so you can compare prices and schedules. Better yet, you can mix and match airfares and train reservations, so that you can capitalize on a discounted international flight that leaves from a city a few hours away. 

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Hotel Tonight Introduces Look Ahead for "Planned Spontaneity"

HotelTonight

Weary of the unpredictability that comes with a last-minute vacation booking? You’re not alone. But HotelTonight, the always pioneering app for travel procrastinators, is coming to the rescue with a new feature called Look Ahead, intended to facilitate so-called “planned spontaneity.”

Debuting in a handful of the app’s major cities—New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and half a dozen others, with many more rolling out soon—the feature will offer a seven-day estimate of inventory and prices in a particular market, using a proprietary algorithm that factors in local events, weather, and historical data from HotelTonight and other booking engines.

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Google Brings Room 77 Into Its Fold

Yesterday we found out that Google has brought Room 77 into its portfolio of travel tools—and we think it’s big news. While the deal may not be the largest of the company’s partnerships or acquisitions to date, it’s a sign of what’s to come: As far as we can see it, Google is positioning itself to disrupt the travel sphere. Simply consider the acquisitions already in its portfolio, including travel search tool ITA—a $676 million buyout four years ago—Zagat, and Frommers (though the latter no longer belongs to Google, its content was integrated back in 2012). What it all adds up to is a growing arsenal of travel tools ready to be unleashed—the only question is when.

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Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Bahamas News: Baha Mar, By the Numbers

Baha Mar

We’ve already introduced you to Baha Mar, the massive-scale resort that’s set to reinvigorate the Bahamian Riviera later this year. But if the $3.5-billion, five-brand hotel and casino has you thinking Vegas, think again: despite being the biggest destination project in the western hemisphere, Baha Mar is surprisingly tapped in to the island’s cultural and natural assets. Here, a by the numbers look:

34: the number of football fields it would take to hold all the sand that’s been brought in to re-nourish the beach at Baha Mar.

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Cool Hotel Amenities

Cool Hotel Amenities: Burberry trench coat

Why stop at Nespresso machines and turndown chocolates? When it comes to services and perks, some brands are taking things to the next level. Here, a few of our favorites.

Before: The hotel umbrella
After: Burberry trenches in every suite
Seen At: Maybourne Hotel Group

Before: Welcome wishbones
After: Puppies as concierges
Seen At: Kimpton

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Westin's New Wellness Program Gets You a Little More Headspace

Columbus Circle

Travelling is one of the best ways to clear your mind—or at least that’s what Westin is hoping to prove. Starting next month, the Starwood brand will be offering seven meditation-themed video modules curated by London-based company Headspace, who has also created in-flight mediation sessions for Virgin Atlantic. They’ll help travelers zen out at the most stressful moments of their trips (say, at the airport or before a business meeting) or offer calming exercises to practice before bed. Sound a little new age? I tried a session with Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe—a once-Buddhist monk and former circus artist (yes, you read that right)—and was pleasantly surprised. Rather than feeling like a scene from hippie-ville, the 10-minute experience was as relaxing as a full yoga class. And with an emphasis on mindfulness rather than total mental silence, it seemed like a great way to reawaken your senses to the different stimuli of a new place. Find the videos on Westin’s website starting next month.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.


Photo courtesy of Westin Hotels & Resorts

Kayak's Package Search: A New Way to Find the Best Deal

Kayak

True or false: booking a hotel and airfare package is cheaper than booking each component separately. If you guessed true, you’re right—most of the time, anyway. But there are exceptions. Helping you navigate those murky waters is Kayak, which has just launched a tool to aggregate package pricing and help you find the best options.

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