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Hotel Renovation: The Algonquin

Algonquin Hotel exterior

When does a hotel renovation become personal? Well, when you’ve stayed at a property so many times you recognize every changed detail. Or when the hotel is also the view from your office window.

That’s why we at Travel + Leisure have been so interested in the recent renovation of New York’s Algonquin Hotel. It sits directly across the street from our offices, and some editors (including me) look out the window directly to the hotel’s top four floors. So when we heard that the famous hotel was re-opening recently after a five-month renovation, we asked for a peek.

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Sneak Peek: New York's New Conrad Hotel

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It’s no surprise that watching a sunset in Manhattan (drink in hand, of course) is as elusive as finding street parking. But the island’s west side is lined with buildings that look out over the Hudson River—why haven’t more places taken advantage of this great view?

Fortunately, someone’s doing just that. One of Hilton’s luxury brands, the Conrad, is opening soon in NYC’s Financial District and will feature an outdoor bar on the 16th floor (pictured, above)—ideal for sunset gazing. Oh yeah, and they’re doing other cool stuff, too. The place used to be an Embassy Suites, and while I appreciate ES’s big rooms and free hot breakfast, accumulating stars isn’t their focus. So I was excited to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the transformation.

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Colorado Storm Brings Avalanche of Deals

As a former Colorado resident and onetime liftee (my first job out of college, at Winter Park Resort), I’m a huge fan of skiing in the state. So it was great to hear about the recent storm that dumped up to 10 inches of much-needed powder. It allowed ski resorts to open up new terrain, including parts of Vail’s awesome Blue Sky Basin.

The storm also brought out some great deals at ski hotels—and there’s no better way to end a great ski day than by getting a bargain at a luxury hotel. Here’s a sampling:

• Free night. Stay any RockResort (or other properties in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Northstar) and get a free night and a $50 gift card. Minimum stay varies, but book by January 31 and travel before April 30. More details here, or call 866-614-7625.

• Another free night. Stay 4 or 7 nights at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek and get your last night free, plus—here’s the kicker—lift tickets for 2 for your entire say. Get the details here.

40% off. Stay at one of the Destination Hotels & Resorts properties, like the Vail Cascade or The Gant, and get up to 40% off some weeks. You just have to be a member of the Destination Delivers program (it’s free).

• 30% off. The Antlers at Vail is offering 30% off during the week of January 28 – February 5 with a 3-night minimum. And yes, this one also throws in a two-day lift ticket. Get the skinny here.

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

Video from Rex Lint on Vimeo/Courtesy of Vail Resorts

Skype Offers Free Wi-Fi at Airports this Holiday

We admit it—we’re free Wi-Fi junkies. And there’s nothing more galling than having to pony up additional scratch for Internet access at airports and hotels—especially after paying so much just to get into those places. So we’re always happy to see announcements like the one that came to us this morning—that Skype will be offering a free hour of Wi-Fi at participating airports from December 21–27.

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Crystal Serenity’s Rescue Mission

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Cruise ships can be lifesavers—they get us away from the daily grind and inspire us to explore exotic places. But these floating cities can also literally save lives. And that’s exactly what happened yesterday morning, when Crystal CruisesCrystal Serenity rescued two rowers whose small boat had sunk in the Atlantic.

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The Ritz-Carlton Wants to Stay with Me

Many years ago, I was on assignment for another magazine, following hunter-gatherers around Borneo, eating whatever they shot or threw down from trees. After a week of sleeping in jungle lean-tos, removing leeches, and slipping in mud, I was definitely not a sight for sore eyes.

Before I even had a chance to change (not that I had any clean clothes left), I flew straight from my jungle base to Kuala Lumpur, where I had reserved a room at the Ritz-Carlton. With my clothes and backpack covered in mud and rain, I couldn’t blame the cab driver’s raised eyebrow when I told him my destination. I fully expected to have to show my reservation confirmation—and possibly beg—just to get in the door. Amazingly, no one blinked an eye. The white glove-clad bellhop hoisted my mud-caked pack onto his cart, and the check-in staff even offered me a seat on their fancy furniture. (I couldn’t.)

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Want to Be a Trendsetter? Start Here

Think eco-friendliness can’t be fun? Then you’ve never heard of Club Watt, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It featured a very unique dance floor: the energy absorbed from all that dancing powered the club’s electricity.

Finding unique answers to trends was just one of the topics discussed at last week’s MarketWatch, an event organized by Travel + Leisure at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. The theme, “Influencing the Global Influencer: What Works” was discussed by speakers and an expert panel of those who live on the cutting edge of trends.

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Donald Trump Jr. on the New Trump SoHo

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I confess: I’m a fan of The Donald. The swagger, the money, the hair, the catch phrase. My interest in The Apprentice, however, has waned, and I missed the TV show’s introduction of Donald Trump Jr. So, when the opportunity arose to chat up Donald 2.0 about the new hotel he’s overseeing (with his sister and brother)—the Trump SoHo, which opened Friday in New York—I couldn’t resist.

We met in the hotel’s library, a masculinely decked out space with deep chairs, thick tables, and books no one will ever read. Besides being well-coiffed and well-clad, DT Jr. is:
•    Confident. (“People said, ‘Isn’t it horrible they changed zoning code because of what you did?’ That’s the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.”)
•    Affable. (“What drives me? My father calling at 5 a.m. asking why I’m not in the office!”)
•    Self-deprecating. (“I’m probably the only graduate of the Wharton School of Finance to move to Colorado to work in a bar.”) Ok, kind of self-deprecating.

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Merry Christmas from the TSA

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Is it just me, or do the new airline security regulations make no sense?

So let’s get this straight. The shoe bomber led to the slip-off-your-shoes rule. Now the leg bomber has brought us this stay-in-your-seat-with-an-empty-lap-for-the-last-hour-of-flight regulation.

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Senate Passes Travel Promotion Act

Score one for the power of travel. Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act, a piece of legislation that could attract some 1.6 million new visitors to the U.S. Oh, and did we mention that it could also bring in an estimated $4 billion (that’s $4 BILLION) in annual foreign spending and create 40,000 new American jobs in its first year?

Here in the T+L offices we’re cheering the news. After all, nearly every developed nation has a program to promote itself abroad, so it’s about time the U.S. got on board.

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