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Vacationist: Italy, Mexico, Mauritius, and Hawaii

Furore Inn Resort Furore, Italy

Are you an Amalfi veteran? Or will Vacationist take you to Italy's picturesque coast for the first time? Either way, don't miss this week's irresistible discount at the Furore Inn (shown above). Looking for something even more secluded? Vacationist has great deals on an exclusive villa in Puerto Vallarta, spectacular sunsets on the west coast of Mauritius, and a luxury hideaway on Hawaii's Kohala Coast. All are available for up to 37% off -- only from Vacationist.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here for access to these and other great deals.

Furore Inn Resort – up to 37% off
Furore, Italy
This tranquil property is actually a collection of terraces, flowering gardens, and pools clinging to cliffs 600 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea. The 22-room boutique hotel is classically Italian, from the upholstered headboards and glazed Vietri tile floors to the waistcoated servers in the formal restaurant. (6 days)

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Hyatt Cleans Up Its Act with New Hypoallergenic Rooms

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When you check into a hotel, you naturally want a clean room. But if you want a science-fiction-scary clean room, look to Hyatt. The hotel chain recently introduced its Respire rooms, which are sterilized, sanitized, antisepticized, and deodorized to the extreme. They're so clean you're unlikely to find so much as dust mite feces under the decorative pillow shams.

"We basically kill all living organisms in the room," said Brian Brault, chief executive officer of Pure Solutions, the company behind the purified rooms. Presumably he was referring to mold, fungi, bacteria, and viruses -- not hotel guests.

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Et Tu, Lufthansa? Another Company Jumps on the 'Eat, Pray, Love' Bandwagon

Lufthansa

Despite a movie adaptation that met with less-than-rave reviews, the Eat, Pray, Love juggernaut continues to inspire a wide variety of licensed (and unlicensed) products. On one home shopping network alone, you can order EPL-branded perfumes, hand creams, pillows, tote bags, clothing, teas—and much, much more. Not since The Da Vinci Code has such a poorly written book created such a thriving cottage industry.

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NYC Hikes Public Transportation Fares...Again

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If New Yorkers seem a little grumpier—particularly during the weekday rush hour—there’s a good reason. Yet again, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is putting the financial burden of their poor business decisions on the common folk: by upping subway and bus fares yet again. (Rates were also hiked in March 2008 and June 2009.)

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Redrawing the Caribbean: Goodbye Dutch Antilles, Hello New Curaçao

Kura Hulanda Lodge Curacao

In two days, cartographers will need to update their maps of the Caribbean. On Sunday, October 10 (that is, 10/10/10), the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved. Curaçao and St. Maarten will become autonomous countries (still under the Dutch crown), while Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire will be rezoned as Dutch principalities. It’s an exciting time to visit Curaçao, a tiny island that—though popular with well-behaved travelers from Europe and South America—is under the radar of most Americans.

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New Ad Campaign Challenges California Stereotypes

Kim Kardashian for California Tourism

When I left my native California for New York, people would say (and still do), "You were probably a tanned surfer dude hanging out in hot tubs in Malibu and meditating on hilltops when you weren't partying with rock stars on the Sunset Strip." Which in my case happens to be true. But I still need to remind my East Coast friends that not everyone in the Golden State is like me.

Now, however, I don't have to do any more explaining. A new advertising campaign from the state's tourism department, launching nationwide on Monday, dispels the myths of living in California. Sort of.

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London's Legendary Savoy Hotel Returns After Renovations

The Savoy Hotel in London

London's iconic Savoy Hotel greets its first guests this Sunday following a nearly three-year renovation. The $350 million top-to-bottom restoration took months longer than originally planned, but that's what happens when you stage what the hotel calls "the most ambitious restoration in British history." And from the pictures I've seen, it looks like it was worth the wait.

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Vacationist: California, Italy, Costa Rica and a South African Safari

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

You, dear T+L readers, can’t seem to get enough of California, Italy, and Costa Rica, which is why this week’s Vacationist deals are sure to impress. Relax amid palm trees mere minutes from San Diego; venture to a Roman-style palazzo on the Italian island of Ischia; or swim in an infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya—all for up to 60% off. Plus, we’re throwing in deals at Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve in South Africa, in case you’re looking for something more exotic. Still not a Vacationist member? Click here for access to these and other great deals.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa – up to 37% off
San Diego, California
Fresh off an $8 million renovation, Paradise Point offers travelers a getaway on a private 44-acre island (shown above)—though it's conveniently only minutes from downtown San Diego and is adjacent to SeaWorld. (4 days)

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New York City's Michelin-Starred Restaurants Announced Today

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As New Yorkers will modestly admit, the city is home to more great restaurants than anywhere else in the country, and quite possibly the world. Got a problem with that? Yeah. I didn’t think so.

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Buy a Mouse, Support Breast Cancer Research

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I admit it: though I put my laptop away for the bulk of my travel excursions, I have a hard time unplugging from the world for too long. While I'm fine using the trackpad on my MacBook—on the road and at home—plenty of people prefer using a mouse. Enter Microsoft's Special Edition Susan G. Komen for the Cure Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000.

While there are plenty of worthy travel-friendly mouses out there, this one stands out for a number of reasons:

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French Protest Takashi Murakami Exhibit at Versailles

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Visitors to the Palace of Versailles, the former residence of Louis XIV, expect to see the world's most lavishly decorated home. So staging an exhibition of contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s bright and kitschy sculptures in the Sun King’s royal apartments makes sense, oui?

No, not so much.

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Hilton Wants to Cure Your Layover Blues

Hilton Beijing Capital Airport

Ever stayed at an airport hotel? I have. Talk about bleak. Think Lubyanka prison without the charm. Vending machines instead of restaurants. Guest rooms with all the warmth of a doctor's office. But Hilton Hotels & Resorts thinks it's time to change all that, to give airport hotel guests the comforts they would expect in a full-service property. Here's how:

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JetBlue 1-Day Pop-Up Sale: Flights from $29

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JetBlue is at it again with another flash sale -- this time, aimed at spur-of-the-moment travelers. For today only, the airline is offering flights starting at just $29 each way. Here are just a few of the great bargains they're offering:

Boston > NYC: $29
Los Angeles > Boston: $119
Richmond, VA > Orlando: $49
NYC > San Juan, PR: $109
Buffalo > Ft. Myers, FL: $89
Chicago > NYC: $79
NYC > Houston: $114
Las Vegas > Boston: $139

There are plenty more, so take a look at the official JetBlue Pop-Up Deal sale page. Special fares are available for flights booked for travel between October 12, 2010 and December 15, 2010 (with blackout days from November 23 through November 30). To take advantage of these prices you must book today by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

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Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of JetBlue Airways.

World's Most Expensive Countries to Rent a Car

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Boy, I thought renting a car in Atlanta was expensive when I paid more than $80 a day for a Ford Claustrophobe. But Atlanta, Georgia, has nothing on Tblisi, Georgia, where a weeklong rental will run you upwards of $1,000 per week. That is highway robbery, literally.

A new survey from travelsupermarket.com ranks the 20 most expensive countries for car rentals, as well as the 20 cheapest. Once you read the results, you'll realize there's more to fear in Africa than rowdy hippos: African nations make up half of the most-expensive list. Ireland came in with the cheapest weekly rates, followed by Spain, Portugal, and Malta. The United States was in the cheaper half of the car-hire spectrum (but not quite in the top 20) with an average weekly rate of $195.80—based on rentals from airports in Los Angeles and Orlando.

Here, then, are the results:

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Airline to Little Guy: Stop Telling Passengers How to Avoid Luggage Fees

If you could pack for a vacation without using a suitcase—and thus avoid a $50 roundtrip airline surcharge—wouldn't you want to know about it? Of course you would. So why is Delta's inflight magazine, Delta Sky, refusing to accept this ad from SeV/ScotteVest?

SeV Rejected Delta Magazine Ad

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Italian Uniform Company Makes Fashionable Jackets for Urban Soldiers

Usai wool jacket

Forget the “IT” bag. The new black is clothing that stands the test of time. And what's more indestructible than clothing made by a military uniform company? The Italian family USAI has made uniforms for the armed forces for more than 40 years; now they're bringing their top-notch workmanship and sartorial tradition to civilians in Italy and America. This wool jacket has a timeless appeal and exposed seaming that will please urban soldiers and travel warriors alike.

At $960, it is a bit pricey—but be assured it will be with you for years of
traveling the globe. Available at Julianne in Port Washington, New York (516-883-0678, no website) or via USAI's website.

Mimi Lombardo

Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's Fashion Director.

Photo by John Lawton.

Ferrari World Starts its Engines

Ferrari World

The world's largest indoor theme park is coming to a sheikdom near you—well, as long as you live near Abu Dhabi, that is. That's where Ferrari World opens on October 27. The world's first Ferrari theme park (what, you thought there already was one?!) has shops, restaurants, and 20 rides celebrating various aspect of the Ferrari brand. No, these are not kiddie rides.

Here are the ones you'll want to hit first—or avoid, depending on your point of view:

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New: A Virtual Visit to Hawaii

What is being billed as the "first interactive 3D travel portal" is the coolest way to visit Hawaii short of hopping the next flight to Honolulu. Using Google Earth technology, 3DHawaii.com lets you choose the cities, hotels, shopping malls, and tourist sites you want to visit, then enables you to roam through them in a simulated three-dimensional environment. The website also permits you to make reservations at more than 2,000 Hawaiian hotels and attractions. Check out the video for a quick overview, but to get the whole effect you'll want to log onto the website.

But that isn't even the best part.

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Vacationist: Antigua, Venice & Two Great Deals in Mexico

Playa Viva, Mexico

Autumn is officially here. Not ready to say goodbye to summer? With these great deals from Vacationist, you can still soak up the sun at two hot spots in Mexico. Rates are 20% to 30% less than those found on other sites. If a Caribbean island is more your style, nights at St. James's Club Resort & Villas on Antigua are as low as $207. Prefer Europe? The best of Venice awaits at just $289 per night.

Playa Viva - up to 30% off
Julucucha, Mexico (near Zihuatanejo)
This isn't your typical Mexican beach resort. For one thing, it's tiny: just five rooms (30 more are planned) in thatched casitas designed to maximize sea breezes (shown, above). Homey touches like health-conscious meals served family-style are mixed with amenities including yoga, spa massages, and Wi-Fi. Committed to sustainability, the resort is 100 percent solar, recycles gray water, and has restored its 200 acres to promote local biodiversity. (1 day)

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News Roundup: Airport Shooting Range, Grape Thieves & More

Denver International Airport

— More questionable planning decisions out at the Denver International Airport (above).  At least they promise "No armor-piercing ammunition." Proposed shooting range near DIA raises concerns, DenverPost.com

— Simon Cowell’s bio tops the list of ten books most often left behind in this U.K. chain’s hotel rooms.  Which titles would you expect on Top 10 list of books most-often left behind in hotels, USAToday.com

— Amtrak unveils proposal for high-speed rail solutions along its Northeast corridor, cutting time between Boston and New York to just 84 minutes. Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel, FastCompany.com

— Thieves hit two vineyards, one in northern Germany and one in southern France, and absconded with the grapes—souring this year’s harvest. French wine thieves in grape harvest heist, AFP; Rare grape harvest cancelled in Hamburg after thieves strip vines, The Local

Ann Shields in an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Blaine Harrington III/Alamy.

Fall Food Excursion: Southern Maine Coast

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Stubbornly unwilling to accept the true end of summer, I resolved to eek out the season's last drops with a weekend trip to the Maine coast. On Saturday, soaring temps made for perfect driving conditions up the state's coastal Route 1. With the windows down, my nose was on high alert for hints of salt air and the pleasant fishiness of lobster traps.

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Anti-Austerity Protests Sure to Disrupt European Travel this Week

EU

Travelers heading to, from or across Europe would be wise to take note of the protests and strikes planned for this week in more than one dozen countries. CNN explains:

London, England -- Simmering anger over government budget cuts will spill into the streets of 14 European countries Wednesday as tens of thousands workers fight state efforts to slash public debt.

More than 100,000 people are expected to chant "No to Austerity" in the streets of Brussels, with smaller protests planned across Europe by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which represents 50 unions in 30 countries.

The protests coincide with a general strike in Spain, but a poll published in Spanish daily Publico on Friday indicates that turnout could be low. The survey suggested that many people thought the government would push through spending cuts whether they protested or not.

Strikes have proliferated in Europe over the past few months as unions resist austerity budgets that governments say are necessary to restore the faith of financial markets in European sovereign debt. So how did it come to this?

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Photo courtesy of iStock.

The Southwest-AirTran Merger: What It Means to You (Maybe, Sorta, Not Really)

Southwest Air

Everyone's all worked up – one way or the other – about the news that low-fare Southwest Airlines is buying AirTran for $1.4 billion. Just in case you're not sure if this is good or bad news for travelers, I decided to round up some of the headlines and "expert" quotes that followed the announcement.

Yes, I was just as confused as you'll be.

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Think PINKtober: Hotel Promotions to Fight Breast Cancer

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many hotels around the nation are hoping to raise money for this worthy cause.

Teaming up with rocker Melissa Etheridge to get the word out about this widespread disease, Hard Rock Hotels worldwide are participating in PINKtober. Throughout October, properties will feature 300-count pink sheets, serve special pink drinks, and stock pink charity merchandise in stores and restaurants. Treat a survivor you know to a decadent pink Turkish-cotton bathrobe with ribbon detail ($80) or charm bracelet ($20). Visit www.hardrock.com for promotional information as well as dates for PINKtober charity performances. Proceeds benefit a variety of charities including The Caron Keating Foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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Notes from New York Fashion Week: The Michael Kors Show

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Fashion weeks are as ubiquitous as its attendees who wear their ever-escalating strappy platforms, trying to out-do the other in the insanity of their height. For the New York shows this September, the fashion herd took a ride uptown on the number 1 train to the elegant Lincoln Center, where the shows will now reside.

The residents of the area gawked at celebrities and the hoop-la that comes with Fashion Week. Photographers have taken to snapping photos of each other (or the little dogs that are dressed up). The local moms pushed baby strollers, indignant that their routines were interrupted, looking at Rachael Zoe and her husband walking arm-and-arm (and probably going to the Karl Lagerfeld luncheon).

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Luxe Lobby Loot: The New Vending Machine at Hudson Hotel

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A paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye. A black sequin miniskirt by Haute Hippie. A retro Ouija board. A black-on-black Range Rover for the day. Your portrait shot by renowned photographer Ben Watts...

The newest lobby fixture in Manhattan's Hudson Hotel is your one-stop shop for all of the above. Semi-Automatic, a glowing green, touch-screen vending machine that opened for business last week, stocks a revolving selection of stylishly curated items broken down into five categories: Basics, Media, Fashion, Beauty, and GoFish.

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Vacationist: Florence, Tuscany, Las Vegas, Dallas

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On the heels of T+L’s September smart guide, Italy: Five Ways, Vacationist delivers affordable rates at two hotels in Tuscany—including nights for less than $150 at the Marignolle Relais & Charme in Florence, the no. 1 city in Europe according to this year’s World’s Best Awards. But if a stateside trip is more your scene, stellar offers in Vegas and Dallas will surely pique your interest. Start packing now.

Marignolle Relais & Charme - up to 25% off
Florence, Italy
Though it's just two miles south of Florence's city center, this genteel family estate is set amid the woodlands, vines, and olive groves that herald the start of the Chianti region. Owners Paola and Claudio Bulleri, who turned their classic tile-roofed villa into an exclusive inn in the '70s, still live on the property in a separate cottage. (5 days)

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Announcing Virgin America's 2-Day Sale from $39 Each Way

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Is it time for your Virgin voyage? Virgin America, which has held the number-one position for domestic airlines in our annual World’s Best Awards ever since it debuted in 2007, has yet another enticement for you. For a brief time, the airline is offering sale fares starting at $39 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Diego. The sale prices extend to travel from all cities served by the airline—at the top of the price scale, a flight between Toronto and San Francisco is still just $169.

The catch? You must book before midnight, Pacific time, Thursday, September 23 for travel between September 29 and December 15.

For more information or to book, please visit Virgin America or call (877) 359-8474.

Ann Shields is the senior online editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: Alamy.

Dispatch: Sonoma's Wine Country Weekend

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I'm not precisely sure when the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend festival went from fun to fantastic, but it may have been the moment when Congressman Mike Thompson started swatting at flying beach balls, deftly protecting nearby guests (not to mention a Kunde Family Estate Barbera).

On the first weekend in September, the winemakers of Sonoma County, CA, cheerfully raised their glasses, despite this year's challenging grape-growing season. The pre-harvest celebration was underway and sunny weather boosted everyone's spirits.

The annual festival rolls out a series of food-and-wine events as a major fundraiser for local charities. It's also a perfect opportunity to gauge the cultural differences between Sonoma and neighboring Napa.

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Attention Miscreant Hotel Guests: We're Taking Names!

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Next time you think about filching a hotel towel, raising the volume of your free HBO to teeth-rattling levels at 3 a.m., verbally abusing the front desk clerk for some perceived misdeed, or generally making yourself a nuisance at your hotel, you might want to think again. A new members-only database being marketed to hotels, booking agencies, and B&B's in the United Kingdom will collect the names of rude and rowdy guests and make them available to other hoteliers--who may then decide not to rent a room to Mr. or Ms. Nasty. Guestscan ("Protecting You From Unwelcome Guests"), which launched on September 15, states its case pretty clearly on its website why British innkeepers have cause to be worried. Look at some of these figures:

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