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Gwyneth Paltrow on New York City Pizza (Good) and Paris Concierges (Bad)

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Sure, she’s in the summer’s biggest blockbuster, is on the cover of this week’s EW, and was just named the world’s most beautiful woman by People. But what Gwyneth Paltrow wants to talk about right now is travel guides—specifically, the ones she’s created for her lifestyle brand, GOOP. Yesterday she was promoting the GOOP app at New York’s Apple store in SoHo with Jessica Seinfeld; before they took the stage, I had a chat with her, travel editor-to-travel editor.

Turns out Gwyneth started these city guides for herself. “I’m a Libra,” she said, “I can’t make up my mind about anything.” Now she can just open the GOOP app for her own highly curated list of restaurants, shops, bars, hotels, and more in New York, L.A., and London. “I find them very helpful,” she said, “even though I made them.”

And what does it take to get the Gwyneth stamp of approval? “Quality,” she says, “which could be a $2 taco. It has to be worth going out of your way for.” In New York, only 13 hotels make the cut: well-known places like the Trump SoHo, but also lesser-known spots like the Inn at Irving Place, which doesn’t even have a sign. And the NYC guide has a separate section for pizza, which Gwyneth loves. (A couple of her picks, like Di Fara and Co., get the T+L approval stamp, too.) She’s personally been to “almost” every place in each guide, and if she hasn’t, at least three of her most trusted friends have to have given their thumbs up.

GOOP’s Paris guide is coming out next, and Gwyneth is excited to direct people away from hotel concierge recommendations, which she sees as a shady business. “Paris is the worst kickback city,” she said. “I feel so bad when people say they’ve saved up but gone somewhere terrible. It’s such a nice thing to say ‘this is where you should go.’”

So will we see the GOOP app in any upcoming movies—maybe Tony Stark using it in Iron Man 4? “I don’t know,” she said, laughing. “I don’t think so. Wouldn’t it be weird if I was in a movie referencing my own product?”

Photo by Rich Beattie

A Visual Journey to the Australian Outback

Australian Outback

On my way to Tasmania several years ago, I spent a few days in Sydney and told people where I was headed. More than once, the response was "Be careful, it's like 'Deliverance' down there." I then flew to Tazzie's capital city, Hobart, before heading out to Freycinet National Park, on the eastern coast. "Be careful," the Hobart locals told me, "it's like 'Deliverance' out there."

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Online Travel Brass at PhoCusWright

PhoCusWright

Some 1,400 people from 30 countries are packed in this year to the PhoCusWright conference at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s three days that are themselves packed full of information on the travel technology industry. Day 1 is the Travel Innovation Summit, while Day 2 brings in CEOs and other industry big shots.

One of the highlights is always the interview with Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO of Expedia. His company’s back to double-digit growth this year, and they’ve been busy. They revamped their hotel search experience, and are about to do the same with flights and package tours. A feature we love about Expedia is its user hotel reviews; in order to write a review, someone has to have booked that hotel through Expedia and actually stayed there.

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Latest Travel Tech Innovations

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We love Day 1 of the annual PhoCusWright conference—the Travel Innovation Summit. A full 30 companies present; some are startups, some are existing companies introducing new products; four judges then give feedback (which ranges from encouraging to blistering). The day offers a snapshot of where we are in the evolution of travel technology.

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Pacific Northwest in Time-Lapse

I’m a sucker for time-lapse photography. I’m also a sucker for the Pacific Northwest. Combine the two and you have this mesmerizing work—some 260,000 stitched-together pics—from Portland-based photographer John Eklund, who was kind enough to let us share it.

Rich Beattie is the executive digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

What's Underneath a Las Vegas Casino?

Undercity: Las Vegas

I've always been slightly obsessed with urban exploring...especially when it's not me who's risking arrest. A few years ago, two friends did just that by paddling a rubber raft across New York's East River to North Brother Island, site of a 19th-century hospital for smallpox victims that's now overgrown with weeds. They poked around the deteriorating buildings, camped overnight, and took some great photos. No one caught them, and it sounded very cool—at least, until they broke out in rashes from poison ivy.

So I was excited to attend a screening of Undercity: Las Vegas—a short film about two urban explorers trekking through the Sin City sewer system.

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Win Free Beer (and a Trip to Denver)

How do we know when a city is serious about beer? When the tourism office shoots an entire video around the local craft brewers. When visitors rank it atop the list of best cities for microbrews. And when that city sets aside nine whole days to pay a sudsy tribute to hops and yeast.

That city is Denver, Colorado. The video is above. The ranking is part of our America’s Favorite Cities survey. And those nine magical days happen from October 5–13 during an event called (appropriately enough) the Denver Beer Fest, which finishes up (appropriately enough) with the three-day Great American Beer Festival.

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The Ritz-Carlton: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

A few years ago, we did a story in the magazine about becoming a housekeeper at a luxury hotel—a fascinating look at the level of detail that goes into this essential position.

Now there’s a new look at the housekeeper, thanks to a series of just-released videos from the Ritz-Carlton; one of these clips features a housekeeper in Hong Kong who would clearly be horrified at how I make my bed. Our friends at the R-C have given T+L exclusive early access to these videos, and we’re sharing them here.

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The Race is On at Vail Resorts

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We love it when celebrities drop by the T+L offices. And on Wednesday, Olympic and World Cup Champion skier Lindsey Vonn stopped in to tell us about how many pairs of skis she travels with (150), how many days a week she trains in the off-season (6, for several hours each day), and how many eggs she eats to fuel her workouts (a lot).

But the gold medalist didn’t come to the snowless east coast just to talk training. Lindsey’s also involved in a cool new program with Vail Resorts, and she brought along the company’s CEO, Rob Katz, to announce EpicMix Racing.

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Golfing in High Heels? Only in the Ukraine

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We knew they liked things flashy in the former Soviet Republic. But looking fancy has moved from dancing in nightclubs to swinging golf clubs.

Superior Golf Resort
, which says it’s the only 5-star golf resort in the Ukraine, hosted an event called “Neon Night Golf in Heels” last month in an effort to attract more women to the sport. Partygoers traded plaid pants and cleats for short dresses and six-inch heels, then smacked flashing neon golf balls onto a glow stick-lit green. (Our suggestion for next time: make the shoes flashing neon as well.) The resort described this event as combining golf with “two of the things women love most—high heels and socializing.” Welcome to the Ukraine.

Rich Beattie is the digital executive editor of Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of Denis Panchenko

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