As much as we love and respect Taylor Swift as an artist and human (so much heartbreak at such a young age, yet she perseveres), as New Yorkers we’re not entirely on board with the news that she’s been selected as NYC & Company’s new ambassador for tourism. It’s not that she’s not a great representative. She’s savvy, ambitious, and articulate—like all of us. It’s just that the song that she wrote for the campaign, “Welcome to New York,” is just so…well…bland. In NYC and Co’s new promo video she rightly describes the city as bold and bright and loud. Shouldn’t the song be the same?
So without being too presumptuous, we’d like to nominate a few alternative tracks for the official New York City theme song.
Airlines are treating the bicoastal set to something new: a few hours’ sleep. Carriers have been rolling out new lie-flat business-class seats on their transcontinental narrow-body jets to woo passengers flying between the east and west coasts. Here’s a comparison of the latest offerings.
In Vieques, the names and phone numbers of all the island’s taxi drivers are posted on a sign outside the airport, which is an indication both of its size and its degree of formality. No need for Uber here. Vieques, just off the eastern tip of Puerto Rico—and accessible by a puddle jumper from San Juan—has a sleepy, eccentric, instantly likable charm: Tulum without the yoga, Harbour Island without the WASP’s. “Vieques is like a really good indie rock band,” says Simon Baeyertz, a former music industry exec who moved here four years ago and, with co-owner Rob Feldmann, opened the hotel El Blok in August. “Maybe it’ll get discovered, maybe it won’t. But it will never be a big pop star. It’s the White Stripes, not Taylor Swift.”
If the words "The Catskills" still conjure images of Milton Berle and Henny Youngman trading one-liners—or Jennifer Grey carrying a watermelon across a sweaty dance floor—you haven't been here in a while. While most of the Dirty Dancing–era bungalow colonies and Borscht Belt resorts are gone, a new generation of young innkeepers are opening up shop, luring New York City weekenders eager for a taste of country life.
Today is National Chocolate Éclair Day (really!), which seems like a good excuse to tell you about a delicious new program Le Méridien hotels is launching with everyone's favorite pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini. The former head judge from Top Chef Just Desserts will create eight seasonal éclair recipes for the chain, revealing them over the next 12 months as he stays at different Le Méridien hotels around the world. (First up: San Francisco, to be revealed on July 27. We're hoping it doesn't involve salt-water taffy.)
What part of the ongoing $90 million renovation of the St. Regis New York do we love the most? The expanded King Cole Bar & Salon, with tables spilling into the hall, eclectic bites from chef John DeLucie, and a new global Bloody Mary menu that pays tribute to the hotel’s signature cocktail.
Photo by David Alexander Arnold
If you're like me, you've often stood at a crowded airport gate, clutching your plastic container of sad, limp salad-to-go and gazing enviously at the door of the business-class lounge just across the concourse. What wonders might lie beyond that forbidding threshold: Cocktails? Delicious nibbles? Spotless bathrooms??
If you're also like me, you probably dabble a bit in social media, tweeting and Facebooking and checking in on Foursquare. As it turns out, enough dabbling can get you through that door. American Airlines just announced a partnership with Klout, the service that measures influence on social media. Klout scores are determined by a mysterious algorithm based on your activity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks; if it's 55 or higher, you'll earn a free day pass to any of American's Admirals Club lounges around the world. They don't even care if you're flying AA or not: The goal is to attract people who are likely to tweet gratefully about the comfortable seats or Instagram their glass of Champagne—using the lounge's complimentary Wi-Fi, of course. (Those with humbler Klout scores get a chance to win a free year's Admiral's Club membership.)
I don't pay much attention to my Klout score, but after reading about the new initiative on Skift.com, I checked it, and—lo and behold—discovered that it's 59! That pales next to Justin Bieber's 93, but it was enough to gain me entry. I immediately signed up and got an email with my day pass attached. I plan to use it during a four-hour layover in Boston this Sunday (and I'm flying on United). Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for pictures of peanuts!
Peter J. Frank is the director, editorial product development at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of American Airlines
Returning to the scene of his salad days, Peter J. Frank encounters a more mature Miami.
I spent my teenage years in South Beach before it became “South Beach”—dancing at roving parties in run-down hotel ballrooms; shooting late-night pool with drag queens at dive bars; scarfing Cuban sandwiches on the sand at sunrise. I mellowed—eventually—but Miami seemed to prolong its adolescence. While the clubs grew slicker and the hotels more expensive, partying remained the point.
The 2008 recession was a wake-up-grow-up call, and in the years since, the city has become more urbane and (dare I say it?) dignified, with a Frank Gehry–designed symphony hall and, of course, Art Basel. A wave of new hotels has rolled in, and more are on the way. But what does it mean to be a grown-up hotel in South Beach?
Thanks in large part to the reopening of Goldeneye (doubles from $672), this Caribbean isle has been making waves, but you can experience its rich flavor without hopping on a plane. Now on iPods everywhere: the Jolly Boys, whose shuffling mento rhythm and twangy banjo evoke Jamaica’s movie-star days—after all, the band did entertain Errol Flynn there in the 1950’s. The septuagenarians are back this month with Great Expectation (Geejam Recordings), an album of covers (Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”; Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) recorded at the Geejam Hotel, near Port Antonio. Listen to their tracks over slow-grilled jerk chicken and ginger beer at Miss Lily’s (132 W. Houston St.; 646/588-5375; dinner for two $76), in New York City; the restaurant was just opened by Paul Salmon, co-owner of Negril’s Rockhouse hotel.