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Galapagos Off Heritage Endangered List, but Everglades Added

201008-b-galapagosjpgM&H NewsUNESCO has elected to remove The Galapagos Islands from the List of World Heritage in Danger due to significant progress in protecting its ecosystem, but the degradation of the Everglades National Park means it has been added to the at-risk list.

Described as a unique living museum and showcase of evolution, the islands were threatened by invasive species, rampant tourism and over-fishing, however, significant progress has been made by Ecuador in the past few years to address these problems, particularly in dealing with introduced species.

The same cannot be said of the Everglades.

The national park contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere, the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie and the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America, but  serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem have seen it inscribed onto the list at the request of the United States. (Photo credit: Blue Footed Boobie, Courtesy of International Expeditions)

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New Festival Celebrates Retro British Cool

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If Mad Men Sunday nights don’t roll around fast enough, perhaps it’s time to hop a plane for Southern England. August 13-15 will mark the first annual Vintage at Goodwood festival— celebration of “Creative British cool” from the 1940’s through the 1980’s at the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England.

Vintage will feature the best in retro music, fashion, art, design, film and food from around the U.K., translated by a select group of modern artists inspired by the last century. These artistes will disburse their wares at specially constructed centers around the grounds, including five, decade-focused music venues (The Tanqueray Torch Club, for example, features a 1940’s nightclub vibe and a stylish restaurant; by day there’ll be lessons in period dance steps followed by a tea dance—and by night, a burlesque show).

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House Passes Aviation Safety Bill

MSNBC / Associated Press — The House voted Wednesday to toughen regulations on pilot training, qualifications and work schedules, a response to a fatal crash in upstate New York in February and other accidents involving regional airlines.

The bill, which was approved 409-11, would require all pilots that fly for a passenger-carrying airline to have an Air Transport Pilot certificate, effectively raising the number of flying hours an entry-level airline pilot must have from the current 250 hours to 1,500 hours.

The bill allows the FAA to credit course work at specific flight training schools toward the requirements for receiving an Air Transport certificate. The schools had expressed concern that would-be pilots would skip the schooling to concentrate on accumulating flying time.

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Opening: Eco-Friendly InterContinental Times Square

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Yesterday Times Square welcomed the InterContinental to the neighborhood. On the corner of 44th Street and 8th Avenue, this is the newest hotel to be built from the ground up in Manhattan in the past eight years. The eco-friendly hotel, which had a "vine-cutting" ceremony at the grand opening ceremony, is currently seeking silver LEED certification, and if granted, it will be the largest new-build hotel on the East Coast to attain this environmental badge of honor due to green initiatives such as low-flow toilets, local and recycled construction materials, and two green roofs on the seventh and second floors.

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Domestic Airfares on the Rise

USA Today / Associated Press |  If you think airfares have been rising, it's not your imagination.

Figures just released from the government, while a bit dated, show that airline prices in the first three months of this year rose nearly 5% from a year earlier. And that doesn't include baggage fees and other extras that airlines charge.

But if you take a step back, air travel still looks like a bargain. Average fares are 25% lower than they were in 1999 after adjusting them for inflation, the government says.

The numbers were contained in a report issued Wednesday by the Transportation Department. The average domestic fare in the first quarter of 2010 rose to $328. Since 2001, the average price for the first quarter was higher only once — in 2008, when it hit $333.

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Contest: See Lady Gaga in Vegas for FREE

Lady Gaga.

If you’ve never heard of this international artist—I say artist rather than musician because what she does is art, in so many forms—there’s a good chance you have spent the last two years living under a rock, or in complete isolation. A veritable overnight sensation, Gaga has such a devout fan base—whom she affectionately refers to as her “little monsters”—getting tickets to one of her live concerts can be near impossible. (Not only do her tickets sell out in a matter of minutes, when she performed for the Today Show on July 9 this year, a record 18,000 fans crowded the streets in NYC’s Rockefeller Center just for a chance to see/hear her perform a few songs, no ticket required.)

On August 13, Gaga will be taking the stage at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena and, though tickets have already sold out (naturally), there are two ways you have a chance to not only win a trip to Vegas to see this concert for free, but also meet her. (I know, dream come true, right?)

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Vacationist: B.C., San Francisco, and Tuscany

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Already took your summer vacation, but can't wait to get away again? Now's the time to book your next escape for a late-summer sojourn or an early fall weekend getaway. Go to Vacationist.com, and check out the newest batch of values offered by the some of the world's greatest luxury hotels and resorts with rates as low as $129 a night!

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Continental Tests 'Self-Boarding' at Houston Airport

USA Today |  Boarding a plane without an agent to inspect or take your pass has arrived in the USA.

Continental Airlines has confirmed it's testing the procedure at a gate at its hub in Houston Intercontinental. It's the first experiment at what's called "self-boarding" in the U.S.

In self-boarding, passengers — much like customers of the New York City subway—swipe their boarding passes at a kiosk reader at the gate. That opens a turnstile or door to the jet-bridge. Although an agent isn't there to take the pass, one is typically present to handle problems and other customer service tasks.

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How to See D.C. in Summer Without Killing Your Kids

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Budget-style family trips to Washington, D.C.—everyone sleeping in one hotel room with tiny bath towels doing double duty at a tiny hotel pool—can still be fun, don’t get me wrong. But just don’t try one in summer. 

Summers in D.C. are brutally hot and relentlessly crowded. The museums along the Mall, because they are free and air-conditioned, invite larger than usual huddled masses yearning to breathe free air-conditioning. The crowds dully shuffle past Lincoln's top hat and Apollo space capsules and Plains Indian weavings, and what seemed exciting and inspiring begins to seem stultifying and meaningless.  Your kids start to talk about the hotel pool.  Frequently, and in increasingly thin voices. Your feet hurt and there’s too much more to see before you head back to the featureless hotel room.  Budget no longer seems worth the savings. 

This thoughtful package from the Mandarin Oriental (parents note: sun-lit 50-foot indoor pool, guestroom views of the Jefferson Memorial or the Tidal Basin) makes some sense if you can splurge and would like to avoid all that huddling and loud yearning.

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Haute Hotel Deal: Elysian Partners with Marc Jacobs

This summer, The Elysian hotel in Chicago is celebrating America—and great American designer, Marc Jacobs—with a complimentary limited edition towel and tote:201007-b-usatotejpg

From now through Labor Day, book a room at the Elysian and receive a super-cute USA totebag and American Flag beach towel from Marc Jacobs. They're the perfect accessories to bring to North Avenue Beach.

The bag (just $18) is also available at Marc Jacobs stores (the only one in Chicago is at the Elysian Hotel). Book at ElysianHotels.com. Rates start at $495 and include breakfast in bed.

Courtesy of Elysian Hotels/Marc Jacobs

Annoyances Mount Over the Body Scanner

New York Times |  You may think of this as the summer of the heat wave. I prefer to think of it as the summer of the body scanner.

Transportation Security Administration buys these machines and installs them at more and more airport checkpoints, a lot of travelers are having their initial encounters with them. And while I hear from large numbers of readers who hate the idea, it’s becoming increasingly clear that body scanners will soon be a standard part of the air travel experience.

Today, 142 body scanners are in use at 41 airports, and the security administration says it will have more than 450 installed by the end of the year.

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Strict New Regulations Set for Cruise Ships

201007-b-cruiseillojpgTravel Agent Central |  A new U.S. bill aimed at increasing safety on cruise ships is set to become law. The Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act will require cruise lines to install peepholes on cabin doors, ensure rails are no lower than 42 inches and provide passengers with information on how to report crimes. The law means business: non-compliance can result in denial of entry into U.S. ports, civil penalties up to $50,000 per violation and criminal penalties up to $250,000 and/or one year’s imprisonment. (Image credit: Ryan Heshka)

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New Obsession: NYC's Meatball Shop

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Trendy as they may seem, I am a big fan of food joints with a singular focus: concentrate on just cupcakes, and you’re bound to have great ones. Only mac n’ cheese? Yes please. There will always be flash-in-the-pan imposters, but the greats stick out—and stick around. A visit to the February-opened, Lower East Side-situated Meatball Shop is simultaneously an exercise in control and an embarrassment of riches: with a meatball-only menu and seemingly endless ball, sauce, and cheese combos, this uni-concept resto is anything but limited.

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Book Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

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After devouring T+L’s delectable July Food and Travel issue, I stumbled across the perfect literary accompaniment: journalist Richard C. Morais’s debut novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey (Scribner). The title is somewhat misleading—this “journey” is actually one of many thousands of miles, tracing the improbable rise of an Indian chef, Hassan Haji, from Mumbai to Paris, as we follow him from his humble roots at a ramshackle family-owned Indian restaurant to his enviable position as one of France’s most celebrated chefs, the acquirer of three coveted Michelin stars.

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Vacationist: Greece, Palm Beach, Amalfi Coast, Hot Springs

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July may be on its way out the door, but there’s still plenty of time to book a dream getaway before the summer is up! Just hop on over to Vacationist.com, sign up for a membership, and take advantage of the fantastic values offered for luxury hotels around the world!

The Elounda Mare Hotel in Greece, overlooking Crete's turquoise Mirabello Bay, offers spectacular views of the sea and distant mountains. (If you’d like to avoid the energetic beach scene, we suggest opting for one of the roomier Deluxe Bungalows situated farther from the sand—with their own private patios and saltwater pools, it’ll be your own private paradise.)

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Huffington Post Launches Travel Site

The Huffington Post, the popular news site, today launched HuffPost Travel, their first travel section. HuffPost Travel will provide both practical information (hot deals, travel tips, hotel reviews) and inspirational blog posts from people like designer Kimberly Ovitz, chef Mario Batali, and hotelier Andre Balasz. The Huffington Post's active community will also be encouraged to contribute their travel tips, photos, and reviews.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, said, "Some of my happiest - and most enriching - moments have come through travel: my first trip out of Athens when I was 11 (to Paris); my first trip to America when I was 16; traveling around India at 17, riding third-class, but getting a first-class education."

Even though HuffPost Travel just launched today, the site already has a wealth of content including video travel tips (Jet Lag Do's And Dont's), photo posts and polls (The 8 Sexiest Subway Systems In The World), and news stories (Charging Bison FLIPS Yellowstone Tourist). If the Huffington Post's lively online community is any indicator of what's to come, the travel section should soon have a great deal of reader feedback and advice for travelers to discover.

Lyndsey Matthews is the online editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Soup For You!

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Despite the 87-degree heat today, a line stretched around the corner of 55th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan this afternoon. These people weren't waiting for ice cream, or something to combat this muggy mid-July day. They were waiting for soup.

Hot Soup!?! Yet this wasn't just any soup from any ol' bodega. These people were waiting for soup at the grand re-opening of the original location of The Soup Man (immortalized in the Seinfeld episode "The Soup Nazi") which had been shuttered for six years.

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Contest Watch: Eat, Pray, Love and Win

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It’s mid-summer and the season’s blockbusters are out (or forthcoming). While we don’t have an Inception contest, Pixar hit, Toy Story 3 is giving away a Disney cruise and the much-anticipated Eat Pray Love inspires a 3-week vacation giveaway. This Contest Watch wants to make your movie dreams a reality.

STA Travel – Eat Pray Love Sweepstakes
Enter Now – August 27th


STA Travel, a student and budget travel operator, is giving away a 21-day trip to Italy, India, and Bali inspired by the novel Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The movie adaptation starring Julia Roberts opens August 13th. To enter, simply sign up at http://eatpraylove.statravelpackages.com/win/. The grand prize includes all airfare, tours, and accommodations, movie tickets and a copy of the book, and Lonely Planet Travel guides.

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Vote Now: T+L Photo Contest—My Favorite Place

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Over 1,200 photos were submitted the first month of our photo contest (theme: “My Favorite Place”), but only 10 images made the cut. Whether you just want to look at some great pics or weigh in on your fave photo/photographer, you can view the slideshow of semi-finalists and cast your vote here. (Photo credit: Tamar)

Europe Without Hotels

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New York Times
|  In the middle of a cool, cloudless Parisian afternoon, light was pouring into my guest room from a turn-of-the-century courtyard in the 10th Arrondissement. I clambered up to the loft bed, suspended above dark oak floors, and stared at the textiles shop sign swinging in the courtyard through the large, almost floor-to-ceiling windows.

A bottle of Bordeaux was breathing; other amenities included a pantry stocked with cereal, milk and yogurt. I also had a phone number to call if I needed dinner recommendations or, perhaps, extra shower gel. But I was happy sitting at the window, nodding at my new neighbors as they wheeled their bikes onto the street and headed into the cafe-lined Marais.

Hotel guests pay handsomely for such perks, but I wasn’t in a hotel. Nor was I in some vacation rental. I was in the home of Julien Szeps, a 26-year-old chef whom I met through a new kind of short-term rental service called AirBnB.com. And the studio apartment was only 65 euros a night, about $80 at $1.23 to the euro. Not bad for an entire apartment with a full kitchen and bathroom, less than 10 minutes by foot from the Louvre. (Image credit: AirBnB.com)

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Honeymoon Dispatch: Bodrum, Turkey

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I just returned home from my 12-day honeymoon in Turkey and had to share a gorgeous vacation spot. Bodrum, on the western coast, is a lovely enclave of beach resorts and whitewashed cliff-side architecture.

After six days in Istanbul and two nights in Kusadasi (a similar resort town near the historic ruins of Ephesus – our reason for the sidetrip), we decided to rest for three days at Casa dell’Arte, a T+L It List Hotel of 2008 located in Torba (a hamlet of Bodrum) known for its vast private art collection and breathtaking Aegean views.

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Paris Cracks Down on Pied-à-Terre Rentals

201006-b-paris-1jpgNew York Times (PARIS) — Many people buy a pied-à-terre in Paris to use for a few weeks a year and to rent the rest of the time. Most of them don’t realize, however, that they are breaking the law. Now, the city government is trying to address the problem with a more direct approach to enforcement.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë ordered an agency last year to warn property owners that renting out residential apartments for less than a year at a time violated French law. The move was intended to address the lack of affordable housing in the city center. Those who ignored the warning, he said, would be prosecuted. (...)

But the rental industry in this most-visited city in the world is concerned and, as more owners slowly become aware of the issue, confusion is growing. A few have pulled their properties off the market, others have deleted addresses or other identifying details from Internet listings. And dozens of rental agencies have banded together to try to save their lucrative business.

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Vacationist: Bangkok, Dominican Republic, Zihuatanejo

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Poo poo all those grumpy naysayers who tell you that summer’s almost over and you’ll never find a deal on a hotel room.  The poor things don’t know about the great deals being offered on Vacationist.com.  Here’s a look at the current slate:

Got “one night in Bangkok?"  You will want to stretch your stay to a few more days when you see the Vacationist offer for Lebua at State Tower. The Lebua, 67 stories tall, offers spectacular views of the busy streets of Bangkok from the serene sanctuary of its spacious guestrooms.   Vacationist is offering nightly rates for up to 30% lower than other sites for suites or tower rooms, with daily breakfast.

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BeeGee v. Gaga: Airfares Since 1978

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Back in 1978, Congress enacted legislation that removed government regulation of airfares (and routes and timetables) while maintaining its control over airline safety.   While this change stunk for labor unions and certain airlines that wobbled and collapsed in the competitive market (Alas, poor Braniff!), it’s generally paid off well for the rest of us. 

The Air Transport Association, a trade association, has released a table that compares real prices of common consumer goods and services in 1978 and 2009 (not adjusted for inflation*), and reports that domestic airfare has only increased 42% and international airfare 52%.

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Airline Fees Can Make Fare Jump 50%

CNN |  That airfare you booked because it looked like a great deal can actually end up costing you 50 percent more because of extra airline fees, a watchdog group has found.

The Consumer Travel Alliance analyzed the base fares and extra charges for nine major airlines on four popular domestic routes.

It found that a traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags would have to pay an average of 54 percent more than the base price of the ticket shown on a popular online travel site at time of purchase.

For a family trying to book a trip, the fees can mean hundreds of dollars in unanticipated expenses, said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance.

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Bid for Good: Give Back by Traveling

201007-b-bodhi-logojpgThere’s no denying that over at T+L lately, we’ve been flushed with auction fever. First came Vacationist (a new private hotel sale site brought to you by T+L and online auction veteran Luxury Link), then last week it was Mystery Auctions. Who doesn’t love a good deal—especially if it’s for a great cause?

Which brings us to today’s auction announcement: The Bodhi Tree Foundation, a terrific first-of-its-kind nonprofit founded by heavy-hitters in the travel industry to fund worthwhile projects around the world (schools in Haiti, libraries in Mexico, tiger conservation in India, more), is auctioning off some amazing travel experiences.

Items range from city stays at NYC’s perennially chic 60 Thompson Hotel to bucolic getaways at the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche on the French Riviera. And the values are tremendous (as is the feeling you get from contributing to this visionary organization and important causes), but hurry—you have just another three days to bid!

Image courtesy of The Bodhi Tree Foundation

Opening: SPRING-time in Paris

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Daniel Rose’s excellent Paris adventure has all the ingredients of the best-selling expat tale it may someday become: smart kid from Chicago thinks he might be an art dealer or maybe an architect, studies classical Greek in Santa Fe, winds up in Europe, becomes a cooking school rebel and a clandestine cook, spends time in Italy and Japan, gets kicked out of a three-star kitchen, cooks for royalty, finds the internship of a lifetime in Brittany, opens a restaurant in Paris to instant acclaim, becomes the hardest table in town to book, gets dumped by his wife, closes the restaurant at the peak of its popularity, finds true love and— fast forward to this week—opens a new rendition of Spring. It’s the most anticipated opening of the year—and it shows all the signs of enjoying similar success.

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Airline Complaints? The D.O.T. Wants to Hear from You

The Washington Post |  Tell the government what you think of its proposed new passenger rights rules. You can do it right now, thanks to a new project called Regulation Room.

There's a lot to comment about. The rules cover everything from tarmac delays to peanuts. If adopted, they could change the way Americans fly more than any single regulation since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978.

Administrative rulemaking, for those of you who snoozed through your civics class, is the process by which agencies adopt regulations that have the force of law. In this case, it's the Department of Transportation making the rules. The agency is at a critical step during which the traveling public vets these important regulations.

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Contest: Go Orange to Go to Amsterdam

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Lately, everyone seems to have World Cup fever. You can hardly walk by a bar without seeing a WC happy hour promo or browse the Web without coming across at least one headline. And now, with the finals upon us, that fever has spread to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, and rightfully so: the Dutch National Team—nicknamed Oranje (orange)—are celebrating their third ever placement in the World Cup finals. (They'll be playing against Spain on Sunday.)

So what better way to celebrate this feat than by starting a contest? The tourism board is offering two round-trip tickets to Amsterdam from any international airport in the world to one grand prize winner. What do you have to do? Show your love for Oranje...by getting decked out in orange—the country's historic, national color!

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Ryanair: A Stand-Up Airline—Run by A Bunch of Fruitcakes

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The British media are all atwitter about the supposed plans by Ryanair to install vertical seats—that is, standing-room-only seats—in the last 10 rows of its Boeing 737-800s. Price of airfare in one of those seats? Just 4 pounds sterling (about U.S.$6). And how, you ask, can they afford to do this? Why, by charging you to use the toilet.

Wait a minute… Didn’t they already float (and later flush) the idea of a loo fee only to be publicly remonstrated, humiliated, and pilloried? Yeah, kinda—except that Ryanair doesn’t know the meaning of the word humiliation. On the other hand, it seems not to know the meaning of a lot of words, like “safety,” “concern for our passengers,” and “common sense.”

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