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Beijing’s New Foodie Destination

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Popular dining and entertainment district Sanlitun is fast becoming the city’s gastronomic destination. A couple of noteworthy additions to the dining scene: Modo, which serves South American and Scandinavian–inflected fare like smørrebrød with herring and pickled radish and arepas with avocado and chicken; Colibri, an airy café with cupcakes galore; and Transit, a sleek Sichuan restaurant.

I’ve been fascinated by the renaissance of Chinese eateries in the capital and how Beijing has really emerged as the place where you can sample an enormous range of authentic, regional Chinese cuisines in sophisticated surroundings. It’s been a remarkable transformation, given that as recently as the late 1990’s it was a culinary wasteland thanks to the long-lingering effects of the Cultural Revolution.

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

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Hurricane Irene: Grading the Airlines

Delta airlines

When Mother Nature unleashes her wrath, there’s not much air travelers can do except wait it out. And, of course, reschedule their flights. But as we know, getting through to a customer service rep is half the battle. And we’re not just talking about reaching them by phone; when customers tweet, they expect a response. Pronto.

So with Hurricane Irene storming her way up the East Coast last week, what airlines were most easily reachable? STELLAService—an independent company that rates customer service quality—wanted to find out. So on Friday, August 26, they called each of the 10 largest U.S. airlines an average of eight times between 9am and 6:30 pm ET. They also directed 12 tweets to each airline between 12am ET and 12pm ET that day.

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T+L Find: Artistic Globes

ImagineNation globes

Looking to put your stamp on the world? California-based artist Wendy Gold’s ImagineNations (from $150) are decoupaged with old hotel stickers, travel sayings, and whimsical maps studded with everything from butterflies to superheroes. And yes, she also takes custom orders.

Photo courtesy of ImagineNations

5 New East Coast Beach Hotels

The Tides Beach Club in Kennebunkport, Maine

From Maine to New York, these new East Coast properties are making a splash.

Kennebunkport, Maine: Housed in a charming Victorian mansion on secluded Goose Rocks Beach, the 21-room Tides Beach Club (doubles from $325) recently opened with several brighly accented suites decorated by Jonathan Adler.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Provincetown’s Harbor Hotel (doubles from $179) has 129 mostly turquoise-and-lime rooms, plus art exhibits by local painters.

The Hamptons, New York: With a Cynthia Rowley boutique, a Nobu restaurant, and a poolside Bathing Club, the super-stylish Capri (doubles from $295) is a Southampton standout. For a haute-summer-camp vibe in Montauk, there’s Ruschmeyer’s (doubles from $475), complete with 19 cabins (dubbed “crash pads”) and an on-site beer garden.

Shelter Island, New York: Between the patisserie and the pétanque court, not to mention the Côté Bastide toiletries in the eight airy suites, Francophiles will love La Maison Blanche (doubles from $295), just a short walk from the shore.

Photo by Rick Lew

Last Chance: Grand Prize Photo Contest Voting!

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Isn’t it hard to believe that 2011 is more than halfway over? It also means that it’s time for our monthly photo contest winners from the first half of 2011 to go head-to-head for the Grand Prize—a trip for two to Hawaii! And there are just a few more days to vote!

Your votes will determine which one of the six finalists from the Beaches and Coastlines, Strange Sights, Nature, Family Getaways, Buildings and Architecture, and Winter Travel photo contests will win a 6 day/5 night stay for two in Hawaii at a luxury hotel. So vote now and vote often for your favorite shot.

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Book Review: Getting Paid To Live Overseas

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We all have fantasies of what we'd rather be doing. Me, I'd like to run a beachside beer shack down Mexico way. I don't know what you're doing right now, but wouldn't you rather do it in, say, Bora Bora? The question is how to go about it. For some answers, consider one man's experience in On the Other Guy's Dime: A Professional's Guide To Traveling Without Paying, by G. Michael Schneider.

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Q&A: Bollywood Star Abhay Deol

The Bollywood blockbuster of the summer, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once) is a cinematic love letter to Spain, following three buddies on an epic bachelor trip that takes them from Barcelona to Seville and beyond. But lest you jump to the inevitable comparisons, the Indian Hangover it is not—ZNMD (as it's now called) has a lot less raunch, a lot more soul, and plenty of beautifully shot musical sequences.

For megastars Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, and Abhay Deol, filming was an epic adventure all its own—they spent three months on the road and even re-created Buñol’s famed Tomatina festival (with 16 tons of tomatoes!) and the running of the bulls, in Pamplona. Granted, these events don’t appear in the film in chronological order, but this is Bollywood after all, so defying logic goes with the territory—especially if it creates scenarios "ripe" for spectacular song-and-dance productions.

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Guess Where? Lighthouse

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Can you guess where this lighthouse is? Hint: Hurricane Irene could blow by it this weekend.

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

UPDATE 8/30/11: We had one correct guess from ChristyPotter! This is the lighthouse in Barnegat Light, New Jersey.

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

Photo Courtesy of T+L's Photo Contest

Digital Travel News: Street Food App, Mini Luggage Scale, More

Bullguard

BullGuard Mobile Security 10 ($29.95; Android; BlackBerry; Symbian; Windows Mobile) provides antivirus protection for your phone and can wipe data from a lost device.

Fan of street food? The Eat St. app (free; iPhone, iPod Touch) plots food carts—many with profiles that include their Twitter feed, menu, and hours—in 318 cities in the U.S.

Worried your checked bag might be over the airline’s weight limit? Balanzza’s Mini Luggage Scale ($24.95) is compact, handheld, and can weigh objects of up to 100 pounds.

Keep track of the flight departures and arrivals of 1,400 airlines at more than 4,000 airports around the world with Mobiata’s Flightboard app ($3.99; Android; iPhone, iPad).

Image courtesy of BullGuard

Ralph Lauren's Mandarin Oriental Collection

Ralph Lauren

The latest source of inspiration for American designer Ralph Lauren? China. Here, a look from this season’s collection at Mandarin Oriental, New York.

Asian Aesthetic: Panne velvet dress, velvet-and-suede heels, Rhodoid minaudière clutch, jade-and-crystal earrings, and jet-and-crystal necklace with silk tassel. All prices upon request, by Ralph Lauren Collection.

Photo by Dean Kaufman

Smile! The TSA is Studying Your Facial Tics

terminal a at logan airport

Miffed that airport security full-body scans can feel so cold and impersonal? Don’t worry—your TSA officer may soon want to chat you up before they pat you down.

For the next 60 days or so, select TSA agents at Boston’s Logan Airport, trained to detect behavior that may indicate that a passenger is nervous about more than turbulence, are using their powers of observation to change the screening process.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Coppola’s Belize and Guatemala Retreats

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Psst—here’s travel tidbit: Francis Ford Coppola’s newest hotel, Palazzo Margherita, an 19th-century palace on a hilltop in Bascilicata, Italy, won't open until late September, but his original trio of properties in Central America are ready to welcome vacationists in early fall, all for almost 50 percent off standard rates. Our idea? Make a trip of it, with stays at all three (La Lancha, in Guatemala, is only a one-hour flight from Turtle Inn, which is a scenic drive along the Southern Highway en route to Blancaneaux). If you’re planning two trips this year, there’ll be Margherita, of course, paired with any of Vacationist’s 17 Italy Week properties, also on sale now.

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Major D.C. Monuments Close After Quake

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NBC - Washington, D.C.
|  Cracking was found in the stones at the top of the Washington Monument Tuesday evening, the National Park Service reported.

The crack was located in one of the triangular faces at the top of the monument.  It runs at an angle, and measures approximately 4 inches. (...)

Although the grounds near the Monument reopened on Tuesday, the interior is closed to visitor until further notice.  Authorities put up a fence creating a 150-foot perimeter at the Monument's base.

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Photo credit: Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation

 

 

New Apps and Websites Expose Insider Hotel Info

hotel

New websites and apps offer previously unavailable insight about hotels. Check out these great new resources:

Hipmunk Hotels: Bringing its innovative airfare comparison technology to hotels and AirBnB rentals, the Hipmunk website and app maps out rooms and color-codes them according to their value relative to local rates. You can also filter properties by proximity to nightlife, food, shopping, and even “vice.”

Concierge Insider Guides: The new app from InterContinental Hotels delivers worldwide destination guides (complete with interactive maps and video tours) from the ultimate hotel insiders: the company’s 120 concierges.

Oyster.com: This site sends out an army of professional reviewers to critique and photograph thousands of properties around the world. Especially revealing is the “photo fakeouts” section, which juxtaposes misleading hotel promotional images with real-life Oyster shots.

Photo courtesy of Sofitel

CBS Early Show: New Federal Rules to Protect Airline Passengers

Starting this week air passengers will be well compensated for a flight delay. Want to know more? Travel + Leisure's international editor, Mark Orwoll, spells out the new airline passenger rules.

 

Celeb-Inspired Vintage E-Postcards

Pavia Rosati

Who She Is: Splitting her time between New York and London, with an Italian passport to boot, Pavia Rosati—who was the executive editor of DailyCandy for nearly a decade—has always been a go-to person for travel tips. “I once planned a honeymoon in Greece for my intern’s brother’s best friend’s cousin, whom I never even met!” she says—fodder for her recent venture.

Her Big Idea: The new website Fathom compiles vintage-style e-postcards—complete with personalized snapshots—from celebrities, trendsetters, and regular folk in the know. The result is a lively, opinionated travel blog with a fun, retro feel. “We’re all for edited, user-generated content,” Rosati says. Up next? A mobile app with guides for everywhere from Buenos Aires to Beirut, plus an online boutique that’s meant to be “a one-stop shop for all your travel needs.”

Photo by Ben Schott

TODAY Show: Flight Attendants Train for Cabin Pressures

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

Travel + Leisure Features Director Nilou Motamed takes to the skies to find out what—exactly—it's like to be a flight attendant.

Extra! Extra! Newspaper Delivery Fading in Hotels

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Passport Blog - BBC Travel
|  The morning newspaper placed outside of your hotel room door may become an anachronism. And that may not be such a bad thing.

As travellers increasingly kick the paper aside in favour of getting a digital dose of morning news from their laptops or mobile devices, cash-strapped hotels have happily responded by cutting back or eliminating the delivery of newspapers because it helps them reduce costs — and appear more environmentally friendly. For me, the morning newspaper, along with a cup of coffee, used to be a ritual, but now I’ll check the news online and likely kick the newspaper aside (or put it in the recycle bin) on my way out the door.

Marriott hotels in the US used to provide every guest with a free morning newspaper on weekdays, whether they asked for it or not....

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Travel Outfit: Andaz Hotel's Jonathan Frolich

Jonathan Frolich

Andaz 5th Avenue general manager Jonathan Frolich keeps it chic from takeoff to touchdown.

“I believe flying should have an air of glamour,” says Jonathan Frolich, the Australian-born general manager of the super-stylish Andaz 5th Avenue, in New York City. “So I dress for the occasion.” While crisscrossing the globe up to 30 times each year during his previous stint as director of operations for Andaz, Frolich learned to balance style with practicality. “Being minimalist works best,” he says. Here’s what makes the cut. “I can scrunch it, throw it in the overhead, and it still comes out looking great,” Frolich says of his wool-blend Scotch & Soda blazer ($212). “My J. Crew cashmere cardigan ($218) is ideal for layering. It’s also durable.” Frolich sports a cotton button-down ($164) by Sydney-based brand Herringbone for “an old-English style with a modern twist,” as well as slim-cut Acne jeans ($270) that are “forgiving in terms of wrinkles.” His calfskin Prada shoes ($650) serve as two pairs in one: “Add laces to dress them up, or slip them on alone for a more casual style.” He’s “not a big accessories guy,” but Frolich’s Tom Ford glasses ($350) complete the look. As for his leather Mulberry carry-on ($1,450)? “I love that it has a flap instead of a zipper—it looks good, and it’s that much easier to use.”

What’s in His Bag?

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CBS Early Show: Rental-Car Rip-Offs


Should you decline the rental-car insurance? Why is the prepaid gas option almost always a bad idea. And why should you take a picture of your rental car before you drive off and when you return it (no, not for your vacation scrapbook)? T+L International Editor Mark Orwoll sat down with anchor Russ Mitchell on the CBS Early Show to talk about unexpected charges that can hit an uninformed consumer at the rental-car counter. For more on rental-car rip-offs, read the full story based on Mark's October 2010 Smart Traveler column.

Q&A: Director Kevin Macdonald

For his new documentary, Life in a Day, director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) teamed up with YouTube users to create a crowd-sourced 90-minute snapshot of 24 hours around the world. T+L checks in.

Q: Why did you make the film?
A:
To look at the nuanced details of people’s existences in different places. Instead of the Pyramids, you see a graveyard in Cairo, where people actually live.

Q: Did any of the videos make you want to travel?
A:
There’s footage from Angola of women singing as they grind corn. I would go just to hear that music.

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Guess Where? Seaside Ruins

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Can you believe it's Friday already? Time for another round of "Guess Where?" Do you know where these seaside ruins are located? Log in and leave your guesses below. Check back on Monday for the answer.

UPDATE 8/22/11: Everyone guessed correctly that these are the ruins of San Francisco's Sutro Baths. Looks like we'll need to make this harder this week.

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

Photo Courtesy of T+L's Photo Contest

Great Artisanal Ice Cream Parlors

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Artisanal ice cream parlors across the country are whipping up innovative flavors to satisfy our ever-evolving palates. Here, four sweet spots.

Seattle: Molly Moon’s has gone mobile with a just-launched dessert truck that serves house-made flavors and ice cream sandwiches. Favorite flavor: Hibiscus sorbet. 1622 N. 45th St.; 206/547-5105.

New York City: Manhattanites can’t get enough of Italian import Il Laboratorio del Gelato—its new Lower East Side branch is five times the size of the original location on Orchard Street. Favorite flavor: Tarragon-pink peppercorn.

New Orleans: The cherry- and chocolate-walled La Divina Gelateria is known for its decidedly down-home ingredients. Favorite flavor: Peach Creole cream cheese. 3005 Magazine St.; 504/342-2634.

San Francisco: Owners Jake Godby and Sean Vahey have such a cult following at their retro-mod Humphry Slocombe that they’re currently penning a recipe book about their frozen treats. Favorite flavor: Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee.

Photo by Davies + Starr

Just Back: Top Food Spots in Southeast Maine

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I just returned from a long, 10-day retreat from the hustle and bustle of NYC, for a low-key, beachside getaway up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine with my good friend Peter. Aside from the absolute most perfect weather—which I used to try to trick my sensitive, Canadian skin into thinking that it actually does have the ability to tan—coupled with the calming sound of the crashing waves, we spent a good chunk of our time finding great places to eat. Because that’s what we do when we travel. These are my favorite eateries, all within a short drive of "OOB":

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Cool Eco-Friendly Travel Gadgets

green travel devices

When it comes to the environment, technology can be a double-edged sword. New devices use up energy and precious resources, but they also offer exciting ways to travel green. These days, the best are doing this while also lightening their footprints. Take the Android-powered Samsung Replenish smartphone ($50), made from recycled plastic and without many of the toxic chemicals found in other phones. It is loaded with a bundle of eco-friendly apps (Treehugger; National Audubon Society) and can be powered using a solar battery charger. Music lovers, meanwhile, can take comfort in knowing that the new Etón Soulra XL ($300) iPod dock, which is designed to resemble an old-school boom box, not only charges while it plays but lasts up to five hours on a single solar charge—perfect for the beach. Unfortunately, most travel-size solar chargers are still not strong enough to power your laptop. In the meantime, though, there’s the Energy Star–rated IDAPT i1 Eco ($24.99). Constructed of recycled materials, it lets you charge nearly any device on the go. The green edge: when a gadget is fully powered, the IDAPT turns itself off—conserving essential electricity.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Ode to Italy

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On the heels of T+L’s love letter to Florence, out now in the annual September Style and Culture issue, Vacationist brings you 18 deals across Italy, from Venice to Sicily, and (almost) everywhere in between. Stay near the art exhibitions of the Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence, steps from the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, or even on quiet Giudecca in Venice, all for up to 70 percent off standard rack rates. Looking for tips on how to plan your trip? Become a fan of Vacationist on Facebook, and visit on Friday at 1 p.m. EST for a live chat with an Italian-born expert, before the deals expire on August 28th.

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Gliding Around Chicago on a Segway

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I know that as an editor at a travel magazine I really should have more refined tastes. But secretly, I’ve always wanted to ride a Segway around a city. Whenever happy tourists have whizzed past me in D.C. or San Francisco, I’ve been a little jealous, but my travel companions are generally of the type who would rather walk barefoot on burning asphalt than be caught dead on the funny-looking two-wheeled contraptions.

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Singapore's Seedy Neighborhoods and Warehouses Now Hot Spots

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With its Art Deco style wet market and pre-War public housing, Singapore's Tiong Bahru neighborhood has been luring thirtysomething artists, architects, and other creatives in recent years, so it was only a matter of time that funky small businesses began popping up in the area.

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The Ultimate Girlfriend Staycation!

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When my best friend Rachel came to visit recently, I decided to treat us to a one-night staycation (and give her a brief respite from sleeping on my couch). But where to go? New York City is a trove of hotels raring to roll out the red carpet for a glorified pajama party. Eventually I settled on midtown’s iconic New York Palace (once the mansion of a 19th-century railroad baron, it’s now a member of the Dorchester Collection, topped with a skyscraping tower, and remarkably luxe).

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Watch Out for Dropping Airfares

Smaller carriers have upped competition with major airlines this summer, introducing new routes into large hubs. Virgin America is starting flights into Chicago O’Hare (a hub for both United and American), Frontier is adding service out of Denver, and JetBlue is now flying into Anchorage. Generally, when smaller carriers introduce discount flights, major airlines slash their prices on that route out of competition, to make it as painful as possible for the other airline. (When JetBlue started service in May between Newark and Boston, Continental dropped its fares to as low as $49 one-way.) For the average flier, this can also mean mileage bonuses and more options and capacity, as well as lower-priced tickets.

Alexander Basek is a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure.

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