An overwater bungalow may be the closest you’ll get to your own private island. Go ahead—dive in.
Cambodia: A luxury pioneer on the southeastern shore, Song Saa Private Island Resort($$$$$) has eight salvaged-timber villas set right in the salty blue. Make sure to visit the sea horses and turtles at the protected marine reserve—the country’s first.
Mexico: Suspended over a freshwater lagoon, the 18 suites at Rosewood Mayakoba($$$$) are the perfect escape at Playa del Carmen’s most secluded resort. You’ll love the plunge pools and views of the lush mangroves.
The editors at T+L have been tracking the growing trend of global hotel brands catering to the needs and preferences of Chinese tourists—as we noted in our June issue, 78 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad this year, spending upwards of $80 billion. So it comes as little surprise that hotels are offering unique touches in the form of Chinese-language newspapers and TV channels, dim sum and congee on the menu, and avoiding the number 4 in room and floor assignments (it's considered unlucky).
Five days in Cape Town was all it took to confirm its place at the top my personal roster of favorite cities, and T+L readers seem to agree with me—you voted it No. 4 in this year’s annual World’s Best Awards, out this month. The scenic city has no shortage of stylish hotel options, from grand resorts to intimate bed-and-breakfasts, and the two properties where I was fortunate enough to lay my head were a chic study in contrasts: one dramatically glam, the other quietly elegant.
We here at T+L know that our readers are the savviest around. So when I decided to go to South Africa essentially on a whim with three weeks’ notice, I decided it would be prudent to leave the trip planning to the experts. And if Micato Safaris’ impressive showing in our annual World’s Best Awards is anything to go by—they were voted Top Safari Outfitter for the ninth year running in the 2012 survey, out in the August issue—they must be the best.
The Micato experience begins before you’ve even boarded your flight, with the delivery of a mammoth safari bag filled with a bound itinerary, helpful packing list, and some gifts (a handy flashlight and a stylish passport holder), all wrapped in animal-print tissue paper to get you in the safari spirit. But even for someone like me, who likes to plot out every detail on my trips, it was nice to surrender myself to someone else’s expertise for a week and let them handle the logistics.
Here’s a first-visit-to-Cape Town mandate: you must do the scenic Cape Point drive. If you enjoy views, or fresh air, or anything good in life, this is surely one of the world’s most epic routes. Leave the city by looping around the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and head south along the coast, with stops at Maiden’s Cove and Chapman’s Peak for some stellar photo ops. You’ll pass lovely towns, and may want to drop by the Bay Harbour Market at Hout Bay or the salty waterfront at Kalk’s Bay, where a visit to Olympia Café & Deli is preordained. Beware of baboons—they’re known for letting themselves into passing cars in hopes of relieving people of their snacks—but the ostriches you might spot on the side of the road are harmless.
Calling all Indian cuisine aficionados: if you believe in heaven, then the Varli Food Festival just might be it. Tomorrow, April 5, the second annual food and wine extravaganza descends upon New York City's Metropolitan Pavilion, bringing with it tastings and demos from more than 60 celebrated restaurants from all over the world. The epicurean event features a culinary constellation of New York's Indian celebrity chefs—Vikas Khanna of the Michelin-starred Junoon, Suvir Saran of Devi, and Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti and Mehtaphor—as well as some global superstars like Vancouver's Vikram Vij, Kunal Kapur of New Delhi, and Ajay Chopra, formerly of Mint Leaf in London. Not enough gourmet wattage for you? The festival is hosted by Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi and Indian TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor.
Tickets won't be available at the door, so get yours ASAP online.
[Insert your own horrible "Curry up before it's too late!" joke here]
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @BySarahKhan.
We’re wrapping up our May food issue here at Travel + Leisure, and the delectable stories we’ve dished up (don’t read this one on an empty stomach, you just may eat the pictures) simply reaffirmed to me how vital a component dining is to a memorable travel experience. I, for one, explore a locale with both my eyes and my stomach. So, intrepid gastronaut that I am, on my first trip to Vancouver recently I saw all the sights (don’t miss the random Jimi Hendrix shrine tucked into the outskirts of Chinatown, or, if you have children, the wonderful Kids Market on Granville Island) while still squeezing in meals that ran the gamut from high-end to hole-in-the-wall, each worth writing home about. So let’s pretend you all are “home,” and here goes my paean.
Travel + Leisure's March Trip of the Month is an adventure in the far north with U.S.- and U.K.-based tour operator Black Tomato. In association with Travel + Leisure Elite Traveler, our travel club for deals on hotels, cruises, and more, the Trip of the Month offers T+L readers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries from the world’s top tour operators.
I've long been a fan of Amrita Singh's glittering jewelry, and I'm hardly the only one—Jennifer Lopez, Katie Homes, and Anne Hathaway are devotees of her ornate necklaces and gem-studded bangles. So when I heard Singh was launching a new home collection with an exclusive party at a penthouse suite at the Trump Plaza, I was intrigued. Would Singh's aesthetic translate into blinged-out interior décor?
This is hands down the most electrifying book cover that’s come across my desk in my recent memory: the words Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women emblazoned over lacy lingerie tantalizingly dropped on an unkempt bed. If Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, the editors of this intoxicating compilation of 25 personal narratives, are to be believed, Muslim women flirt, date, have sex, and fall in love, just like everyone else. Who knew?
The essays range from hilarious (a 14-year-old being given a crash course in the birds and the bees by her mom in a movie-theater parking lot) to heart-wrenching (a woman who realizes that her non-Muslim fiancé has an insurmountable disdain for her faith); from chaste (an endearing tale of a girl passing up a chance to make out with her model-hot trainer) to steamy (a bittersweet retelling of a passionate weeklong affair with a Muslim punk rocker). Premarital sex, arranged marriage, online dating, polygamous relationships, date rape, lesbian romances—everything is recounted with refreshing honesty and courage. My favorite section was, unsurprisingly, International Habibti: Love Overseas, full of enticing encounters in the Andes, Sri Lanka, and Cairo—who hasn’t fantasized about meeting a mysterious, accented, handsome stranger in an exotic, faraway land?