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Hotel Towels Tagged with Traceable Microchips?

201107-b-towels-istockjpgDailyMail Online |  The days of hotel guests helping themselves to towels and robes when they check out could be a thing of the past as high tech gets in to the linen.

One company has come up with a way of adding miniature tags in the expensive materials which were costing hotel managements a fortune to constantly replace.

It has long been assumed, wrongly in most cases, that the smart towelling robes and plush fluffy towels were fair game for guests looking to save some cash at home. But now beware—they may come with an electronic leash as more and more hotels are turning to new radio frequency chips to keep track of their inventory.

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Otherworldly: Museum Show Explores Alternative Realities

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the opening night of the newest exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City called “Otherworldly.” A good friend of mine—Matt Albanese—has a rather prominent display in the two-floor exhibit.

Not long after graduating from SUNY Purchase—also my alma mater…what up?—with a BFA in photography, Matt began constructing small-scale landscapes and photographing them. Though it started by accident—he spilled some paprika on the counter and decided the mess looked like a Martian surface—the end result is absolutely stunning. (And I’m not just saying this because he’s a friend of mine.) Through his photography and creativity, he’s transported people to Mars, the moon, the path of a vicious tornado, the scene of an erupting volcano, a forest set ablaze, and more.

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Machu Picchu Hullabaloo: Hundreds Barred From Entering Inca Site

201107-b-machupicchu-3jpgeTurbo NewsPeru's extravagant celebrations of the centenary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu descended into farce this week, after a bureaucratic wrangle that saw hundreds of tourists from around the world barred from entering the Inca ruins.

Last week, the local branch of Peru's National Institute of Culture (INC) abruptly ruled that no more than 2,500 people could visit Machu Picchu per day, a move aimed at preventing damage to the site.

On Tuesday, hundreds of frustrated tourists began picketing the official ticket office in downtown Cusco, the former Inca capital that is three hours from the archaeological site....

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Photo courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews


Taiwan's Art Scene Explodes

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Taiwan might not be on the radar for a lot of travelers, but it really should be. It has incredible cuisine, a thriving arts and design scene, beautiful scenery and really friendly locals. Plus, there's a great mix of Chinese and Japanese cultures.

Here’s another reason: Since 2000, artists, developers, and government officials have been transforming abandoned warehouses, factories, etc. into art spaces, complete with studios and exhibition space. The trend has really gained momentum in recent years; for instance, there is a series of railway warehouses stretching from Taichung, near Taipei, to Taidong that have been turned into art spaces, which are especially popular among locals on the weekend.

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Guess Where? Tourism Police

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Watch out for the Tourism Police! Can you guess where this is?

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

UPDATE 8/01/11: Congrats NormaReynolds! You guess right. This picture was taken in Giza, Egypt at the Great Pyramids.

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

Photo by Adrien Glover

Vacationist Hotel Deals: The Grenadines, Hawaii + Phuket

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Looking for excuses to sport your new swimwear? Your first stop should be Vacationist, where we’re offering deals of up to 50 percent off stays off tropical hideaways in The Grenadines, the Big Island, Hawaii, and Phuket (plus even more!). Your picture perfect beach vacation awaits.

Book now and save.

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Jack Rogers' Flagship Store Now Open in New York

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In my quest for a comfortable, super-stylish summer shoe, one winner has emerged time and again: the famed Jack Rogers Navajo sandal. I can toss a couple of pairs in my suitcase and feel confident that, while on the road, I’m set for any casual or dressy occasion.

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Contest Watch: Thailand Escape, Historic Belfast + Romantic VT

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This month’s Contest Watch has a mixture of innovation and history. Honor the Titanic’s 100th anniversary with a grand trip to Ireland or look to a social-media startup to get you to Thailand. Inspired by past, present, or future, these prizes are guaranteed to get you traveling.

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TSA Introduces Less-Revealing Body Scanners

Washington Post |  Those blurry but revealing airport body scanner images that caused a public uproar last year are being replaced by a gray, cookie-cutter image of the human form.

After six months of testing at three airports, including Reagan National, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that the new software would be installed on 241 units at 41 airports that use millimeter wave technology.

Software for an equal number of units that use backscatter technology is still being developed, the TSA said. Both work by bouncing X-rays or radio waves off skin or concealed objects.

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New Doc Gives Behind-the-Scenes Look at El Bulli


Perennially recognized as the gold standard of gastronomy
, Spains Michelin three-star El Bulli will shutter its doors on July 30th and prepare for its transformation into a culinary research foundation and think tank (at least until 2014). For the mass of foodies never fortunate enough to take in chef Ferran Adrià’s mastery of molecular gastronomy—only a few thousand palates are so lucky every year—a peek into his world of foams, mousses and nouveau hybrid dishes can still be had via the silver screen.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress debuts at New York's Film Forum tonight, the kickoff of a 10-city tour. The film pulls back the curtain and invites viewers along for Adrià’s journey from his experimentation lab in Barcelona—El Bulli closes for six months every autumn so its chefs can invent the following year’s menu—to the launch of a new season at the world’s most renowned restaurant on the Costa Brava. Adrià’s imaginative methods are on full display as he deploys thermo-mixing, vacuumizing, de-juicing, blanching and a vast range of other cooking techniques en route to a nightly 30-course-plus dinner menu. For many, it will be the first and last opportunity at a glimpse inside an eatery that's stamp on modern cuisine will never fade.

Click here for a full list of tour dates and cities.

Nate Storey is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure

Ritz-Carlton's Second-Ever "Reserve" to Open in Puerto Rico

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Soon there will be a new reason to be enchanted by Puerto Rico. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company announced that it will open its second-ever Reserve property—one built to LEED Silver standards—in Dorado Beach. The luxury island destination first grabbed travelers' attention when Laurance S. Rockefeller opened one of his eco-friendly RockResorts in the area more than 50 years ago. In December 2012, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve hopes to boost interest in the tropical sanctuary with a 115-room oceanfront hotel and residences and a renovation of the original Dorado Beach Resort.

The brand's exclusive Reserve extension features "low-density" boutique resorts in exotic corners of the world, with more indigenous materials, as well as local products and traditions. At this time, the only other Reserve location is Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand.

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Travelers Vulnerable to Hacking of Information

Passport Blog, BBC Travel |  Frequent travellers rely on mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices to stay in touch and take care of business on the road, away from the safety and security of their offices. But reliance on these personal devices potentially exposes sensitive corporate or personal information to the world.

In light of the voicemail hacking scandal stewing in the United Kingdom this summer, have you ever wondered how easy it might be for someone to hack in to your mobile phone voice mail?

Turns out it’s frighteningly easy. In many cases, all a perpetrator needs is your mobile phone number and a cheap or free “spoofing” service widely available online. (Just google “caller ID spoofing” to learn specifics.)

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Airlines Get the Gold Mine, Passengers Get the Shaft, in FAA Fiasco

If the government stopped collecting sales taxes, you'd expect prices to drop accordingly, right? Wrong way, Corrigan—at least when it comes to the airline industry. Last Friday, Congress failed to meet a deadline to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which meant airlines were no longer authorized to collect a 7.5% federal excise tax and a minimum $3.50 segment tax that are built into published airfares. Instead of decreasing their airfares by an equivalent amount, most major airlines simply raised their fares in equal measure, giving the false impression that airfares remained the same. But some travelers who bought their tickets before Friday, when the tax was still included, are arguing they deserve a refund. And the chances of that happening are…?

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Sauna in a Tram? Milan Abuzz Over Hot New Spa Feature

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Milan’s latest attraction is a sauna inside an orange-painted 1928 tramcar in the garden of the TermeMilano spa. The interiors are clad in teak, reflecting the tramcar’s original traditional design.

Valeria Waterhouse is Travel + Leisure's Italy correspondent.

Photo courtesy of QC Termemilano

The London Underground Gets Real

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A few years back, when I called South Kensington home, I distinctly recall trundling through London's Underground knowing, even with map in hand, that I had been misled. Eyeballing the official Tube map insinuated that Heathrow was the same distance west of South Ken as Tower Hill was to the east. So you can imagine my surprise when we rolled past Monument station towards Tower Hill 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

True—one should never assume subway diagrams bear any resemblance to street level. But admit it: we all do. An NYU study in 2011 found that passengers put their faith in transit maps far more than they do in their own travel experience. But shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t our maps clearly illustrate that the amount of time it takes to walk from Queensway to Bayswater beats switching lines by almost six minutes?

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Digital Travel News: Resources for the Road

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1. Innovative book publisher Taschen is going digital with a new series of iPad apps. Among the first up: Yes Is More ($9.99), a comic book-cum-architectural manifesto from the Danish design group BIG.

2. Concerned about health on the road? The iMedjet app (free; iPhone/iPad; Android) stores health records, key contacts, and instructions on what to do in case of different medical emergencies.

3. For an insider’s experience of London, book a room with onefinestay.com (picture, above). The villa-rental agency specializes in posh pads (fancy an ambassador’s residence in Mayfair?) that come with concierge service.

4. Finally, a digital photo frame with a sense of style: the sleek, Android-based DIA Parrot by Nodesign ($500; parrot.com), which uses LCD panels to illuminate and enhance your pictures.

For more of our travel tech picks, see Best Travel Gadgets 2011.

Photo courtesy of onefinestay.com

Beach Tomato's Top 5 City Beaches

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Expert advice from our friends at Beach Tomato: The perfect beach isn't always about undiscovered sands in far-away places. Sometimes, tucked in the most frenetic of cityscapes there's that paradisiacal pocket of bliss. The urban buzz makes the sands come alive—for after-work sundowners, to do your morning workout, or to meet friends as the weekend arrives. As coastal capitals the world-over show us, beach-life and city-life can go hand in hand. Here are our favorite city beaches right now:

1. Hat Jomtien near Bangkok, Thailand
A 90-minute taxi ride from downtown Bangkok drops you in the upbeat beach town of Hat Jomtien. Just a few km south of its big brassy sister Pattaya, Jomtien feels a world away. The vibe is calmer and the waters clearer, attracting a host of water-sporties and in particular windsurfers who ride on the light coastal breezes. A long, straight stretch of sand with plenty of shade it has all essential elements of a typical Thai beach town. Without the go-go bars.

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Highest and Lowest Tourist Tax Burdened Cities in US

eTurbo News |  A list of the top five 2011 U.S. cities with the lowest and highest tourism taxes is out, showing cost differences in as much as 56% on average, according to an annual study by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.

Listed as the five lowest tax burdened cities out of 50 destinations, three Florida cities topped the list with Fort Lauderdale in first, Fort Myers in second, and West Palm Beach in third.

All are in both general sales tax and travel-related services such as car rental, hotel and meals.
Following in fourth was Detroit, and Portland, Oregon, in fifth.

The five highest-tax imposing cities on travelers….

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Sneak Peek: JFK's New Terminal 4, Coming in 2013

 

If you've ever had to leave from or change planes at New York's JFK International Airport, you know that it is a mishmash of terminals always in some state of repair (or disrepair). But coming in 2013, Delta Airline's $1.2 billion renovated and expanded Terminal 4 will introduce an airy, modern, state-of-the-art space that may even bring back some of the long-lost glamour that once accompanied air travel. Check out the airline's recently posted video that gives a peek into JFK's future T4.

Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.

Editor Find: Illustrated Maps

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For those looking for engaging travel maps that provide valuable service info, but with more artistic flair, They Draw & Travel could be the treasure trove you've been looking for. The site is an eye-catching collection of illustrated maps filled with unexpected tips, discoveries, and off-the-radar spots currently covering over 110 cities from about 30 different countries. Instead of getting a guide to the typical tourist traps, you'll be treated to an insider's itinerary to, say, the best parks for an afternoon picnic, a tour through the town's annual festivals, and which neighborhood markets are worth exploring—each map style completely different from the next.

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TODAY Show: Travel with your pooch!

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

Want to take your four-legged best friend on your next vacation? T+L Digital Projects Editor Sarah Spagnolo presents six hotels that welcome your pet. PLUS Don't miss the segment's two cutest stars: Ollie and Lola.

Guess Where? Coastal Town

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As a heat wave is melting New York, I'm day-dreaming of this gorgeous coastal town where the average summer high hovers just below 70. Can you guess where this is?

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

UPDATE 7/25/11: We stumped you this time! Some people guessed Monterey on our Facebook page. They were close, but not quite right. This is Carmel Bay in California. If you look closely, you can see the golf course at Pebble Beach in the upper left corner.

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

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

DOT Will Delay Some New Passenger Rights Rules

The Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it will delay several new air passenger rights until January 24. The rules were approved in April and were to go into effect beginning August 23. The announcement came after criticism from numerous airline organizations who said their members would need more time to implement the changes. Several airlines complained specifically about a new "full-fare advertising" rule that would require airfares to include all mandatory taxes and fees. That particular rule would have gone into effect in October.

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TODAY Show: Staying Overnight for Less

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

T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares great resources for saving money on accommdations. Plus, family-friendly summer deals!

We Want Your Job Kerry Clasby, Professional Forager

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Do you suffer from office ennui? Is walking around the block your idea of getting “fresh air”? Green a color you only see on weekends? If yes, then we invite you to kick back in your cubicle for a taste of a different kind of job: meet Kerry Clasby, professional forager.

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Hotel Snore Controls Aim To Banish Sleepless Nights

Reuters Life! |  Guests at an international hotel chain may sleep more soundly after the introduction of "snore patrols" and "snore absorption rooms" at a number of sites worldwide.

Crowne Plaza is trialing the first "snore absorption" rooms at 10 hotels in Europe and the Middle East, whilst six branches in Britain have implemented "snore patrols" this month in a bid to combat noisy sleepers.

"Snore monitors" patrol corridors in the designated quiet zones of Crowne Plaza hotels in the cities of London, Leeds and Manchester. Their job is to listen out for offensive noises and knock on the door of guests who snore too loudly.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Spotlight on Florida

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Summer may be off-season in Florida, but that means that airfare from major cities is discounted (we just spotted Newark to Miami International for $188), free outdoor activities abound—including movie screenings at Miami’s Frank Gehry-designed New World Center—and hotel pool scenes are buzzing. Looking to join in on the fun? This week, Vacationist is featuring deals on two Florida hotspots, both for up to 30 percent off. First up, Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, a 50-room property on a 20-acre island in Biscayne Bay that boasts a popular bay-front pool, or head an hour north to Delray Beach, where the Seagate Hotel in Palm Beach County will shuttle you from its pool scene to the private beach club in no time. Just grab the sunscreen and go.

Not a member? Click here to join.

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Heat Wave Fosters Toxic Algae in Touristy Lakes

Associated Press |  A prolonged heat wave in the central U.S. has fostered the growth of a dangerous form of algae in lakes and ponds, threatening swimmers and livestock and scaring away tourists during the busy summer season.

Blue-green algae are actually bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans and livestock. It flourishes in warm, stagnant, sunlit water, and this year's heat wave combined with Oklahoma's worst drought since the Dust Bowl have created what one water official called a "perfect storm" for its growth.

Officials have issued a series of warnings, telling boaters and swimmers at lakes in northeast Oklahoma, southern Kansas and Nebraska to avoid contact with the toxic gunk. The issue attracted national attention earlier this month when Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe blamed a respiratory illness on a swim in Grand Lake in Ketchum Hollow.

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New Ways to Cruise in Asia

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Life Resorts has launched a 22-junk fleet in Halong Bay in Vietnam—a welcome addition given the somewhat dodgy operators around the area. The boats can accommodate up to four guests and have all the modern conveniences, sunbeds on the deck, and kayaks and snorkeling gear. They’re doing day trips at the moment, but longer journeys will soon be introduced.

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Trend Alert: Hotels for Star-Gazers

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Here, three hotels that are reaching for the sky with new ways to stargaze.

Check in to Scottsdale, Arizona’s Boulders Resort (doubles from $119) for a five-course locavore tasting menu in the 5,600-square-foot garden while a resident astrologer decodes the constellations. On evening tours at Cape Cod’s Wequassett Resort & Golf Club (doubles from $580), guests receive iPads with a Star Walk app to help track more than 9,000 stars. Camping goes ultra-luxe in New York City. The AKA Central Park hotel (doubles from $305, one-week minimum) has two penthouse terraces that can be equipped with telescopes and queen-size beds. Bonus: s’mores are included.

Illustration by Ryan Heshka

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