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Let the Google Flights Backlash Begin

air travel google flights

No sooner did Google unveil Flights, its new airfare search tool, on Tuesday than the criticism began to fly—not least from key competitor Kayak. But let's let's let Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, speak for himself.

"We recognize Google is a formidable competitor, but they haven't been successful in every vertical they've entered," Birge said in a statement that went on to laud Kayak's own attributes.

I got the statement in an unusual email today from the Kayak's P.R. rep, who suggested that Google Flights doesn't work for international destinations; has no regional airports; and has questionable accuracy when it comes to actual airfares. I noted some of those things myself when I spent some time on the site this morning and Tweeted about it.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Little Bit Country

201109-b-essex-2jpgPlanning your fall escape? Get out of the city with these two stellar Vacationist deals at hotels in the rolling countryside. A stay at the 120-room Essex hotel on 18 acres in Vermont’s Green Mountains promises stand-out cooking, thanks to the on-site New England Culinary Institute’s learning kitchen. For West Coast sybarites, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, on 220-acres north of L.A., prides itself on its spa services and the locally-sourced ingredients served in six restaurants, plus the pink moment, when the sunset blankets the hills in blushing shade of coral. It may not be Nashville or Tennessee, but you’ll surely feel that peaceful, easy feeling.

For these deals, plus Palm Springs, Phuket, and Grenada, click here.

The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort & Spa - up to 41% off
Essex, Vermont

Rambling over 18 acres where suburban Burlington meets the Green Mountains, The Essex is a laid-back resort with a welcoming staff. The 120 rooms feature four-poster beds, fireplaces, and fanciful rugs and pillows. A new full-service spa plus golf, tennis, hiking trails, and a huge pool offer plenty of distractions. But the cuisine is the standout. Partnering with the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, the resort runs a learning kitchen and offers classes in knife skills, backyard grilling, and more. Visit The Tavern for a BLT with smoked Vermont bacon or a Vermont goat cheese soufflé. (Sale ends in 3 days.)

201109-b-ojai-1jpgOjai Valley Inn & Spa - up to 41% off
Ojai, California

The 220-acre Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, situated in a mountain valley that aptly portrayed Shangri-la in the 1937 film Lost Horizon, has long been known for its classic 18-hole golf course and its Native American culture-inspired spa. In 2006 it upped the ante with a $70 million renovation, creating a new lobby, adding an additional 100 guest rooms, and refurbishing the existing 205 rooms with four-poster beds and decorative Mexican terracotta tiles. In the spa, signature treatments incorporate locally grown organic ingredients (citrus, lavender), and a dedicated men's menu lures golfers with treatments such as the Gentleman's Luxury Facial and Golfer's Post-Round Massage, which can be administered, upon request, in a room outfitted with a roaring fireplace. (Sale ends in 3 days.)


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


From top: Photos courtesy of The Essex; Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.





Hammer and Claws Blue Crab Feast Debuts in NYC

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Summer might technically end on September 21, but a few goodfolks are letting New Yorkers prolong the spirit: from September 23–25, the Hammer and Claws Blue Crab Feast will hit Chelsea for the first time, bringing an authentic, Maryland-style (steamed in beer, vinegar, and water, and dusted with Old Bay seasoning), all-you-can-eat blue crab feast right up to the Hudson Harbor. Tickets for each of the weekend’s four seatings cost $118, and include all the fixings—plus beer and cocktails. And it’s all for a good cause, no less.

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The Futurist: Hong Kong's Teaching Hotel

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BBC Travel's Passport Blog
|  A new hotel opening in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui East neighborhood on 21 September is really one with a difference.

The Hotel ICON is owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and helps educate students at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management. But this is no bare bones facility. Top architects and designers like Terence Conran and Vivienne Tam were recruited to create the restaurants and suites, and the general manager comes to the hotel from the luxury Shangri-La chain of hotels.

With the private member’s dining room, open-air pool and Angsana Spa, hotel guests may never realize they are part of a learning experience. But 100 interns from the school will be working alongside the professional hotel staff to get on-the-job training and mentoring.

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Photo credit: Hotel ICON


Espresso Meets Art: Anish Kapoor Designs Illy Cups

Illy coffee cup and saucer

It’s fitting that the artist behind Chicago’s iconic bean-shaped sculpture has now created an espresso cup. But not just any cup. Available as part of a limited-edition collection by Italian coffee brand Illy ($90 a pair), Anish Kapoor’s white porcelain demitasse has a slick, platinum interior. The saucer can be placed on top to produce a mini sculpture. One masterpiece with my espresso, please!

Photo courtesy of Illy

Korean Food Gets Mod Makeover in Seoul

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Leading Korea's new culinary wave is Jung Sik Dang, where chef Jung Sik Yim takes local ingredients to prepare dishes like kimchi consommé, pork jowl with yuzu, and even an amuse bouche with grasshoppers. Less experimental is Bistro Seoul, which presents Korean standards in an austere space. While Japanese and Chinese have long happily paid through their noses for expensive renditions of their cuisines, Koreans—like Thais—are just experiencing the phenomenon of taking familiar fare, gussying it up, and serving it in lovely locations. It’s not fusion, but modernization. You’re seeing this elsewhere in Asia—KL has some notable modern Malay restaurants. And while the Thais are kicking and screaming about this trend, other parts of Asia are embracing it.

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at xiaochen6.

Photo of Jung Sik Dang courtesy of TomEats/www.tomeats.com

Paris on the Seine (Before Paris Plage)

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Long before the banks of the Seine were lined with imported sand, oversized lounge chairs and ice cream stands in honor of Paris Plage, the city’s makeshift beach getaway, the river bank was the capital’s economic and social epicenter.

The “Paris on the Seine” exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) is a photographic journey that retraces the evolution of the river banks from the Middle Ages to present day where the Seine-side holiday punctuates the urban day-to-day for one month each year. Although Paris Plage has ended for the season, this free exhibit runs through mid-September and is not to be missed.

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Travel + Leisure's Editor-in-Chief Reflects on 9/11

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As I listened yesterday to the roll call of 9/11 victims’ names, reflecting so many vastly different places of origin, so many different families and cultures, I was thinking about travel in its broadest sense. Despite 9/11, or perhaps even in some ways because of it, America’s connections to the world have broadened and deepened over the past decade. Though we are a country of immigrants, we are also a country known for turning inward, and for staying within our shores.  Despite the fear of terrorism, the ongoing economic crisis, the challenges of airport security, and the wages of wars and geopolitical strife, Americans have fanned out beyond our borders in greater numbers and with a greater spirit of exploration than ever before. 

We go farther off the beaten path, to China, India, Russia, and Brazil—economies that not entirely coincidentally are rapidly expanding—and to Africa, Bhutan, and Patagonia.  This is the best response to those that have us in their sights: an open mind, an open heart, and the thirst for new experiences of the world.


Nancy Novogrod is the editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure.

Photographed by Richard Phibbs.

TODAY Show: Fall Foliage Getaways + Global Bazaar Shout-Out

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Where will you go to see this year's fall foliage? T+L's digital projects editor, Sarah Spagnolo, has the scoop on five destinations around the U.S. where the trees take center stage.

Plus: A special shout-out to T+L's first-ever Global Bazaar, the ultimate fall travel experience, which takes place in New York City September 16-18th. Get your tickets here.

Just Back: Myanmar—Why Go Now?

Myanman

For years, Myanmar—better known by its colonial name, Burma—has been high on my list of places I wanted to visit. But the tourism boycott called by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s unstable politics held me back. The military junta’s brutal crackdown on monk-led protests in 2007 also left a bad taste for many a conscientious traveler.

Recently, though, the country has opened up a bit following elections last year—which admittedly were engineered in favor of the military-backed party—and Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest. (Suu Kyi also reversed her stance on tourism two years ago.) The chance to go to Yangon—or, Rangoon—cropped up recently, and I leapt at it.

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Guess Where? Shoreline

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Even though summer is nearly over, I thought I'd slip one last reminder to get to the seashore before it's too cold. Can you guess where this lovely shot was taken?

Log in and leave your guesses below. Check back on Monday for the answer.

UPDATE 9/12/11: You got it right crd3000! This is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, located 50 miles south of San Francisco on California's central coast.

Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Travel + Leisure's Photo Contest

Editor Picks: Fashion's Night Out 2011

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For the third year in a row, stores around the world will stay open after hours to help celebrate Fashion’s Night Out—offering up special designs, discounts and goodie bags, not to mention a chance to meet celebs and the designers themselves.

Fashion's Night Out began in 2009 as a way to encourage consumers to shop and support the fashion industry. Now, it expands to more than 15 countries. Although we aren’t able to jet set around the globe tonight, we have found five ways to travel the world here in T+L's home base, New York City.

Exclusively for New York iPhone and Android users, is the FNO App for real time event information with "around me" options to help you navigate throughout the night.

Here are our picks for a fabulous night on the town:

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C’est l’amour! New York Welcomes Ladurée

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Yes, I'll confess. I'd never had a macaron until last night, when I braved the line, and the rain, for my first-ever taste of those light and lovely (and unequivocally French) treats by luxury Parisian patisserie Ladurée. No, I wasn't in the City of Love (though in love I fell…and hard). The brand’s newest outpost finally opened its doors to New York City, and America, last Tuesday, just in time for Fashion Week. And if that line, seemingly unabated since the opening, is any indication, this Upper East Side pastel-colored jewel is shaping up to be Manhattan’s next macaron mecca. (Move over, Bouchon Bakery!)

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Lamu, Kenya: New Hot Spots

Lamu, Kenya

This far-flung archipelago has become the location of choice for the style set. T+L drops in to check out the latest openings.

The Glamorous Retreat: Originally a private residence for a wealthy Italian family, the Majlis (Manda Island; 254/204-441-164; doubles from $841, including meals) has been converted into a 24-room resort with soaring beamed ceilings, two sexy pools, and lanterns everywhere.

The Authentic Find: Red Pepper House (Coconut Beach; 254/727-606-691; doubles from $1,450, including meals) celebrates Swahili design: its thatched-roof bungalows are modeled after native houses. The resort also helps fund a hospital and an orphanage nearby.

The Afforable Hideaway: At the Moon Houses (254/722-209-490; doubles from $290), a series of chic villas scattered around the islands, you’ll have plenty of privacy—plus, a personal chef to cook fish caught that very morning.

The Must-Visit Shop: African fashion designer Anna Trzebinski (Sea Suq, Shela; 254/720-292-024) chose Lamu for her first freestanding shop. The waterfront space is stocked with her trademark beaded sandals, embellished caftans, and feather-trimmed pashminas.

Photo by Jonathan Bloom

TODAY Show: Travel Tips to Hurricane-Proof Your Vacation

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Were you stranded because of Hurricane Irene? T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares some smart travel tips for weathering storms.

Don't Miss: BottleRockIt Cali Wine and Music Fest

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Wente Vineyards
, the oldest family-owned winery in the country, is at it again.  Travel + Leisure has long celebrated Wente for its picturesque golf course, a world-class destination uniquely situated amongst the vines.  What many people do not know, however, is that they also have a gorgeous concert area, where one might hear anything from jazz to hip-hop, classical to electronica.  This Saturday, check out their latest event: BottleRockIt.  Originally called Discover the Wine Discover the Music, this 5th annual music festival pulls in heavy hitters like Dirty Vegas and GIVERS, while also providing exposure to the emerging artists of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Twenty bands will amplify three different stages on this stunning estate.  Concert-goers are given the opportunity to do some world-class wine tasting while they bop their heads to the delicious tunes.  For $20, you can't beat that for a weekend getaway!

WHAT: BottleRockIt
WHEN:
Saturday, September 10, 2011. Doors open at 10:30 AM and performances begin at 11 AM.
WHERE: The lawn at the Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room; 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, CA 94550

Joe Harper is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Harry Potter Studios in England to Open for Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Harry Potter studio tour

If you found yourself tearing up at the end of the last Harry Potter movie this summer, fear not, Muggles! For those utterly addicted to the Harry Potter universe and those who simply want to tour a piece of movie-making history, the franchise lives on. Tickets are available beginning October 13, 2011 for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London—The Making of Harry Potter, at Leavesden, opening in Spring 2012. Tack on an extra day to a London visit and bring your broomstick for this insider’s look.

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Phase 1 of World's First Commercial Spaceport 90% Complete

Daily Mail | Phase one of the world's first commercial spaceport, which will be the hub for Virgin's consumer spaceflights, is now 90 per cent complete.

The 1,800-acre Spaceport America site, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is the home base for Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's most ambitious business venture yet.

It already boasts a runway stretching to nearly two miles long, a futuristic styled terminal hanger, and a dome-shaped Space Operations Centre.

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Contest Watch: Culinary Trip to Europe, $15K Trip Giveaway + More

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Adventurous contestants have plenty of options with these three contests. Whether following the Travelocity gnome to Machu Pichu, jetting to Dubai, or exploring new culinary adventures abroad, these sweepstakes are not for homebodies. Procrastinators beware, each opportunity is only available for a few more days.

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Pierre Cardin Unveils the “New” Château Lacoste

Chateau Lacoste

Artists and other creative types have been drawn to the Château Lacoste in Provence since the Marquis de Sade was in residence, and the notorious author’s lure held fast even as his castle and its surrounding fell into decay. Closer to our times, the Surrealists and Max Ernst gravitated to what was left of this tiny medieval village, and over the decades an artists’ community has grown up around it.

Since 2002, a cluster of homes bought and gradually restored by the American expat artist Bernard Pfriem in the Fifties was acquired by the Savannah College of Art and Design, which stepped up renovations, giving a historic boulangerie new life as a library (pictured above), and transforming forgotten cellars into exhibition spaces. In a separate but complementary effort, over the past several years nonagenarian fashion designer Pierre Cardin has been busy rehabilitating the ruined castle into a center for arts and music and recast a number of storefronts into shiny galleries.

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Call for Entries: 2012 Travel + Leisure Design Awards

Design impacts travel in ways small and large—shaping everything from fashion and luggage to hotel rooms and city skylines. Now we want to know what inspires you.

Travel + Leisure’s 2012 Design Awards are a tribute to both the practical and the beautiful. The 2012 winners, representing 12 categories, will be chosen by a panel of outstanding experts in their fields. Jury members include: architect Billie Tsien; chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson; fashion designer Derek Lam; Paul Priestman, director of Priestmangoode; Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of Friends of the High Line; Michael Bruno, founder of 1stdibs.com; designer Muriel Brandolini; and artist Michele Oka Doner.

Last year’s winners (see video, above) included the futuristic Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi (Best Large Hotel); the renovation of the United Kingdom’s oldest public museum, the Ashmolean, in Oxford (Best Museum); and Priestmangoode’s innovative staterooms, designed for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic ship (Best Transportation).

If you’re excited about something that we should consider for the 2012 awards, please drop us an email at designawards@aexp.com or fill out an application here. The deadline for nominations is Monday, October 3.

The winning entries will be published in our March 2012 issue.

Moscow: Where to Go Now

Bar Strelka

Set on an island in the heart of Moscow, the once-abandoned warehouses of the old Red October chocolate factory now house some of the city’s hippest galleries, restaurants, and rooftop bars.

For classic cucina italiana, check out Bontempi, a new locanda from Lombardy-born chef Valentino Bontempi. 12 Bersenevskaya Nab.; 7-495/223-1387; dinner for two $138.

With its spacious roof deck and innovative tapas (bocconcini and chile fritters), Bar Strelka—atop the Strelka design institute—draws a mix of local artists, intellectuals, and scenesters. 14 Bersenevskaya Nab.; 7-495/771-7437; drinks for two $25.

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MOVE, EAT, LEARN: Interview with Rick Mereki

How do you fit the scope of the world into 60 seconds? Filmmaker Rick Mereki knows, and the wanderlusting Internet world has fallen head over heels in love with his vagabond film adventures.

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Guess Where? Sand Dunes

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This summer I went on a long road trip from my home in New York. These sand dunes were the farthest west I ventured. Can you guess where I took this photo?

Log in and leave your guesses below. We're out on Monday for Labor Day, so check back on Tuesday for the answer. Have a great long weekend!

UPDATE 9/06/11: Thanks April! This is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Editor's Pick: Late Summer Night's Theater in Hudson Valley

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Late August has been eventful along the East Coast -- the rumbling of an earthquake, hurricane Irene and the aftermath -- yet beautiful weather has returned and with it come some last opportunities for summer culture. Top of the list: the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival that celebrates its 25th anniversary with a final performance of Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors this weekend. To this pairing, the company offers Around the World in 80 Days (Friday, Sept. 2), ingeniously staged by Christopher V. Edwards with five actors playing 39 roles! The global romp, witty and droll, brings the range of characters to England, India, China in varied modes of 19th-century transport: steamship, train, elephant.

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NYC’s New Tech-Focused Hotel

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Innovator Simon Woodroffe

Who He Is: Not since Richard Branson has Britain seen an entrepreneur as iconoclastic as Woodroffe. He designed rock shows for Stevie Wonder and Rod Stewart, launched the chain of conveyor-belt YO! Sushi restaurants, and then created Yotel in 2007, which blends the self-service of Japanese pod hotels (touch-screen check-in kiosks; motorized retractable beds) with a stylish, airplane-cabin vibe.

His Big Idea: Woodroffe’s newest outpost, Yotel Times Square (doubles from $259), in New York City, is a living demonstration of convenience through technology. The hotel features the world’s first luggage robot, a cranelike contraption that retrieves bags and stores them in a sleek white wall of drawers in the lobby. At its restaurant, Dohyo, the tables can be lowered into the floor, opening up the space for performances. Guest “cabins” all have Yotel’s trademark “techno-wall,” with flat-screen TV’s, music and power services, and device-storage areas.

Photo courtesy of Yotel

Classic Fashion: The Mens White Shirt

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Whether you’re packing for a business trip or a weekend getaway, you can’t go wrong with this classic look.

Clean Cut: Cotton shirts, clockwise from top left: Thomas Pink, $195; Prada, $375; Carolina Herrera, $990; Theory, $235.

Photo by John Lawton

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Places to Wear White All Year

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Trying to wear your linen pants and white jeans as much as possible before Labor Day?  There’s no need to cram it all in before Monday: this week, Vacationist is offering a handful of deals to destinations where white jeans—not to mention flip-flops, sun hats, and wispy tunics—are de rigueur all year long. So forget fall fashion. Book your endless summer now.

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TODAY Show: Labor Day Trivia

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

With the holiday weekend just a few days away, Travel + Leisure's digital projects editor, Sarah Spagnolo, headed to NBC's Studio One to try to stump the Today show audience with Labor Day trivia.

Question: Which city was the first to celebrate Labor Day? Here's your hint: The city celebrated on a Tuesday, believe it or not. The date: September 5, 1882. Check out the clip for the answer to this Labor Day question, plus other fun facts.

Just Back: The New and the Old of Newport, Rhode Island

201108-b-newport-black-pearl-smalljpgOkay okay, I ate at the Black Pearl Restaurant...again.  You can stamp “tourist” onto my forehead, but their New England clam chowder is too amazing to pass up.  I stumbled out satisfied and wandered into the colorful gallery/art studio, Art on the Wharf. Perhaps it was this tourist-guilt that compelled me to ask artist-owner, Tony Gill (pictured below), for some locals’ suggestions, but it was well worth the inquiry.  He had heard the question before and quickly handed me a sheet of paper titled “Tony’s Best Bets.”  I now had my work cut out for me.

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