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Topnotch Takes It Up a Notch

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As a four-season destination, it’s hard to beat Vermont: warm summer days, vibrant fall colors, great ski resorts. So we’re excited to see a newly unveiled renovation in Stowe, at the Topnotch Resort & Spa.

The $15 million re-do brought some big changes. Gone is the flowery, bright-colored décor, replaced with a darker, starker, more modern look. You’ll find a pair of new restaurants: an all-day spot called Flannel, as well as a new lobby bar and restaurant, The Roost, featuring a shuffleboard table (!) made by a local artist.

Add two pools for those warm summer days, as well as a location surrounded by fall color and just minutes from winter skiing. We can’t wait to check it out.

Photo courtesy of Topnotch Resort & Spa

New York Hilton Midtown Hits the Big 5-0

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Pop quiz: Where did John Lennon write the lyrics to “Imagine”? Wandering the greenery of Central Park? Sitting at a piano in his Dakota apartment? Nope—it was at Midtown New York’s Hilton, on a piece of hotel stationery. (The original hangs in Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.)

That happened in 1971, when the New York Hilton Midtown was just 8 years old. Now it’s celebrating its 50thbirthday. That means it opened in 1963—the real Mad Men era. (Check out their archival video footage here.) And while the Hilton today stands out by its sheer size—it’s the largest hotel in NYC with 1,981 rooms—it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking this venue has been. A couple fun facts: At opening, it was one of the world’s first hotels to feature original art in guest rooms. In 1999, it was the first hotel in America to have a “smart card” keyless entry system. And earlier this month, New York’s first permanent ice bar, Minus5, opened at the hotel.  

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The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending July 12, 2013

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Tired of waiting at customs? This pilot program lets businesses pay to ease border delays, as covered by TravelMole. (Adrien Glover)

A tongue-in-cheek look from Gadling's Libby Zay as to why it might be nice to live in an airport. (Peter Schlesinger)

The Economist investigates how five-star hotels have become the only place for Mumbai's new rich to socialize. Brunch, anyone? (P.S.)

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Vancouver Hotel Solves Roaming Fees

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What’s one of the biggest headaches when traveling internationally? Cell coverage, of course; phone-bill panic can drive us to embark on desperate expeditions in search of Wi-Fi.

Hotels know this is a problem, and the OPUS hotel in Vancouver has come up with a unique solution: each room comes stocked with an Internet-connected iPad that you can carry around the city with you. Social media, reviews, guides (don’t forget to bookmark T+L’s Vancouver guide)—all accessible from anywhere. Even better, the connection is free. (It’s a good thing, too—don’t get us started on paying extra for Internet.)

Some rooms at the OPUS even come with an extra bonus: a Samsung Galaxy phone (that you can also carry around with you) that acts as an in-room land line. That means you can get free incoming calls, or just dial “0” and reach the concierge—from anywhere.

And if you don’t want the hotel to see just how much time you spent on TravelandLeisure.com during your stay, not to worry; your browsing history is deleted the minute you check out.

Photo credit: Courtesy of OPUS Hotel

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Jamaica, Belize + Berlin

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 45% off.

Sale ends in 5 days!

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Jewel Runaway Bay - up to 45% off

Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Runaway Bay's white-sand shores are blissfully less crowded than those of nearby Ocho Rios. Private beaches, a championship golf course, and daily children's programs make the recently rebranded Jewel Runaway Bay an all-inclusive retreat for the entire family.

Sale ends in 2 days!

Portofino Beach Resort - up to 41% off
Ambergris Caye, Belize


Kick back on the white sandy beaches of Ambergris Caye. This 17-room resort is located right along the water, less than an hour boat ride from the legendary, 200-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef.

Sale ends in 9 days!

Ellington Hotel Berlin - up to 29% off
Berlin, Germany

Built in 1928, this Art Deco hotel around the corner from Berlin's popular KaDeWe department store still retains touches from its 1930's jazz-era past, including its name.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

Photo courtesy of TJewel Runaway Resort

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending May 17, 2013

 

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Enterainment Weekly's Sara Vilkomerson lives out the dream of millions of tween readers by spending the weekend at the Key West home of Judy Blume: Are You There God, It's Me, Judy Blume. (Matt Haber)

Super aggregator Jason Kottke presents some wonderful color footage of London from 1927. (M.H.)

Think we’re making progress in lightening our footprint on this planet? We've got a long way to go. Emily Badger of the Atlantic Cities reports on a project involving NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Google (of course), and other organizations to turn 30 years of satellite photos into timelapse videos of anywhere on earth. The resulting GIFs are sobering. Don't miss the map tool that lets you zoom into any location to see the change over time. (Amy Farley)

Google Maps just blew everyone else out of the water, unveiling new apps for Android and iOS (coming to an app store this summer) that integrate all the content, innovations, and intelligence of its varied recent acquisitions, as our friends at Skift report. Apple, your move. (A.F.)

It really is the week of Google news: as the Verge reported on Thursday, the company has officially unveiled a redesigned Google+ that automatically retouches the photos you upload (or that are automatically uploaded from Android phones everywhere). Creepy, cool, or just a last-ditch effort to get people to care about Google+? You decide. (Nikki Ekstein)

Unearthing the culture of a destination fascinates me. To get a true look into a Hawaiian local's perspective, pick up Kristiana Kahakauwila's new short story collection, This is Paradise. Her writing is as captivating as the politics behind it. (Maria Pedone)

With the Cannes Film Festival in full swing, local hotels become home-base for countless celebs and their entourages. On its blog, the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez published a fascinating infographic that reveals exactly what goes on in the star-studded hotel during the festival. Want 220 pounds of caviar? You've got it. (Peter Schlesinger)

And last but not least, in Berlin, a new Barbie Doll Dream House has opened to the delight of many fans and the horror of many feminists. Protesters see the plastic doll as an unworthy role model that reinforces strict gender roles, and formed the group Occupy Barbie Dream House, as detailed by Mark Johanson from the International Business Times. See pics of the pink palace on this BBC slideshow. (P.S.)


Got a recommendation? Tell us in the comments.


Photo: iStock Photos.

Video: Summer Getaways: Splurge or Steal

T+L's Laura Begley Bloom appeared on The Today Show this morning to talk with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb about summer getaways. (Watch the video above.)

Among the desinations discussed, Georgia's The Cloister at Sea Island, Maine's Hidden Pond, and Four Seasons The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, CA.

Check out the complete list here.

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Palm Springs, Chicago + Fiji

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 55% off.

Sale Ends in 5 Days!

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The Saguaro Palm Springs - up to 55% off
Palm Springs, CA
Reminiscent in its design of Palm Springs' heyday as Hollywood's desert playground, the Saguaro is located in the heart of bustling downtown.

Hotel Sax Chicago - up to 53% off
Chicago, IL
The 353-room Hotel Sax is located next door to Chicago's House of Blues, one block north of the Loop.

Sale ends in 12 days!

Koro Sun Resort and Rainforest Spa - up to 41% off
Vanua Levu Island, Fiji
A former coconut plantation is the setting of a collection of villas on 150 acres on Fiji's second largest island. There's no better spot from which to explore the South Pacific.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

Photo courtesy of The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Ritz-Carlton Looks East

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Kyoto’s cherry blossoms hit their peak last month, but when the famous trees burst open again next year, the city will also be buzzing about a new Ritz-Carlton. The luxury hotelier just announced the opening of a new property there in February 2014—a 136-room low-rise building on the Kamogawa River that mixes modern and traditional Japanese designs.

The announcement is just the latest news from this fast-growing company. Six of their hotels are slated to open in the second half of 2013, including one in Aruba in November. We’re already looking forward to escaping the New York City winter.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

Behind the Scenes of T+L's Dog-Friendly Hotel Photo Shoot

Think it's easy shooting a bunch of pampered pooches in a hotel room? Whatever it is, it sure looks fun!

Watch this behind the scenes video of photographer Catherine Ledner and her team working with some canine talent to illustrate Peaches the Yorkie's June 2013 T+L article (as told to Kathryn O'Shea-Evans) about Dog-Friendly Hotels.

Related: Coolest Vacations for Dog Lovers and America's Best Dog-Friendly Hotels.

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