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Eco-Luxe Vacation Ideas In Honor of Earth Day

Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

As an editor of Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Awards, I’m always on the lookout for travel companies that can raise the bar for both sustainability and luxury. In honor of Earth Day, here are five new properties that are getting it right.  (If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to celebrate by booking a stay, stat.)

1. Pikaia Lodge, Galapagos: Think of the Galapagos as a cruising destination? Pikaia puts the traditional model on its head, with 14 stunning rooms (think floor to ceiling windows, private plunge pools, and enormous bathrooms) perched atop an extinct volcano crater. When it opens in September, it will have already spent four years rehabilitating the surrounding land—previously deteriorated from cattle farming—and trained locals in sustainable tourism practices to replace the debilitative trade of shark fishing.

2. The Brando, French Polynesia: Just 30 miles north of Tahiti is Tetiaroa, a pristine archipelago of a dozen islands surrounding an incredible lagoon. It’s also the site of The Brando, where 35 thatched-roof villas each get private pools and secluded beach access. Sound over the top? It’s impressively sustainable—the whole property was built with local materials, air conditioning comes via a unique seawater-powered system, and a blend of solar and coconut oil-based energy grids have brought the resort to near carbon neutrality.

3. Ion Hotel, Iceland: Set against the dramatic lava fields of Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, an hour north of Reykyavik, this ultra-minimalist, geothermal-powered resort is a dreamy backdrop for the Northern Lights. A sprawling list of nature-based activities await (hot spring and glacier tours; snorkeling; hiking)—but you’d find me at the ten-meter-long pool with views of the surrounding valleys.

4. Kittitian Hill, St. Kitts: Meet the Caribbean’s latest eco-resort: Its colonial-inspired guesthouses are spread among 400 acres of working farmland. The spa is set in an ancient mango forest. Original crops and fruit trees have been preserved as natural obstacles for the golf course—dubbed the world’s most edible. And with a quarter of the island doubling as protected national park, it’s a haven for tropical birds, flora, and fauna. It officially opens later this year (we hear December).

5. Kestrel Camp, Montana: This new lodge on the site of the American Prairie Reserve’s giant conservancy offers a clutch of high-design yurts (yes, yurts) with a decidedly Wild West feel. Expect geologist-led hikes, bison sightings, and exceptional sunsets over the prairie—best witnessed from your private wraparound deck.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

Photo courtesy of Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

Win a Suite Weekend in a Palace

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Champagne, chocolates, and the Jewel Suite—oh my! The New York Palace doesn’t skimp when it comes to luxury, which means when they offer a Facebook “Suitestakes” you jump, enter, and then pack your bags.

Now through June 16, fans can enter the hotel’s Suitestakes for a chance to win the ultimate VIP weekend, valued at over $60,000.

If you win, you can spend the weekend admiring the 20-foot “Waterfall of Diamonds” chandelier, the grand piano, the 10-seat dining room, wood burning fireplace, or the floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the Manhattan skyline, in your very own suite. Oh, did we mention that you would have access to the house car service in a dedicated Mercedes or Maybach?

This Suitestakes is nothing less than palatial. 

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of The New York Palace

Selfie Scavenger Hunt

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Ready, set, #selfie! Kimpton’s Muse Hotel in New York City is inviting guests to explore Manhattan on a Selfie Scavenger Hunt.

Guests are provided a list of ten must-see sites in New York, ranging from Katz’s Deli to the Empire State Building. Participants will need to document the sites on Twitter, tweeting each location to the @KimptoninNYC handle and using the hashtag #MuseSelfie. 

Prizes range from a round of cocktails to discounted room rates and upgrades.

The front desk at the hotel is offering a “Selfie Prop Kit” in case your selfies need a little dressing up.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of The Muse Hotel

A Poorly Printed Boarding Pass Might Make You Miss A Flight

boarding-passjpg

That’s a picture of my boarding pass for a recent flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York. I printed it out in the lobby of my beachfront hotel just before racing to the airport. I felt great that I was cleared for expedited screening in the TSA PreCheck lane, but not so great when the TSA agent frowned and said, “This boarding pass is no good.”

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Daily Transporter: Shakespeare's Birthday

rainy day

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!
— William Shakespeare, born 450 years ago today.

See Stratford-on-Avon in World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions

Editor’s Picks: Art + Culture Trips
America’s Best Comedy Clubs
London’s Coolest Attractions
25 Selfies You Have To Take This Year

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc.  Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo: Andreas Bleckmann

Disney's 'It's a Small World' is 50 Years Old Today

Disney's it's a small world

Meantime, while you’re warming up your vocal cords and focusing your laptop cam, here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about the most famous travel-related ride in the world.

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Stowaway Survived In Plane’s Wheel Well on Flight to Hawaii


Yesterday, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 carried an extra passenger in the plane’s wheel well. But it wasn’t until the flight landed in Maui that the 16-year-old boy was discovered relatively unharmed. Aviation experts are dumbfounded as to how he could have survived.

Affordable Europe Twitter Chat on Tuesday, April 22

From the beaches of Biarritz to Italian hotels and Istanbul’s Old City, our May Europe Issue will boost your desire to explore new corners. We’re discussing how to travel within Europe, secret stylish hotel brands, and insider tips for saving money in our Affordable Europe Twitter Chat this Tuesday, April 22nd from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Whether you want to know about cultural experiences for less, standout restaurants, or the best new European destinations to visit, join our chat and ask the experts for their advice!

The Host:

Associate Editor and Trip Doctor team member, Brooke Porter, @TLTripDoctor (via @brookeporter1)

The Panelists:

Fodor's Travel, @fodorstravel

Fathom, @FathomWaytoGo

Kayak, @KAYAK

Generator Hostels, @GeneratorHostel

Elizabeth Minchilli, author of the Eat Rome and Eat Florence apps and food-tour guide, @eminchilli

Jenny Dyson, Creative Director of Pencil Agency and Rubbish Magazine, @MRSRUBBISH

Alex Marshall, T+L Paris Correspondent, @AlexMRDM

Virginia Irurita, T+L A-List Agent, Spain, @spainspecialist

Sarah Miller, T+L European Editor, @SarahIMiller

Mr and Mrs Smith, @smithhotels

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter before the chat starts at 2pm ET and be sure to follow @TravlandLeisure.

2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.

3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.

4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own! 

All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Soak up the "Sun" on the World's Biggest Indoor Beach

indoor beach

Outside of Miami and L.A., there are few places in the world where fake is better than real. Germany's Tropical Islands Resort, the planets's largest indoor water park in Krausnick, is definitely one of them.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

 

8 Hotels Where You're the Only Guest

hotel

Because the easiest way to score VIP treatment at a hotel is to either be rich or the ONLY guest, here are eight exclusive accommodations around the world that boast one single room – and your host's undivided attention.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

A Little Paris in NYC: "Madeline" Exhibit Opens Summer 2014 at New York Historical Society

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"In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines ..." I've never forgotten my introduction to Madeline. As a child, I'd binge on her stories. "One more, one more," I'd beg my mom at bedtime. While my boys are more into steroid-infused types wearing capes than the misadventures of a French school girl, I plan to drag them to the Madeline exhibit at New York Historical Society. On view will be more than 90 drawings, photographs, and paintings (including originals, such as Madeline at the Paris Flower Garden, 1955) by Austrian artist and creator Ludwig Bemelmans who started crafting his tales at Pete's Tavern, right here, in New York. The little girl from Paris is coming home.


Clara Sedlak is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: "Madeline at the Paris Flower Market © 1955 by Ludwig Bemelmans. Oil, 34 1/2 x 45 1/8 inches. Collection of Barbara Bemelmans"

Wake Up with Al: Best Weather Destinations for Easter

Easter eggs

Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo presents three destinations to celebrate spring and the holiday weekend.

New York City: New York City does it up for Easter; there’s the Easter Parade, the Great Faberge Big Egg Hunt display at Rockefeller Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Unpack at the W New York Downtown, and you’ll have easy access to it all, plus amazing views of the new One World Trade Center and the city’s glimmering skyline. Price: From $262 a night. Book now: wnewyorkdowntown.com.

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Map Your Way to the Best Cookbooks In America

Amazon cookbook map

America’s melting pot is boiling over with revived regional cuisine and distinctive flavor profiles.  Amazon Books’ Food Editor, Mari Malcolm, was inspired by a surge of localized cookbooks—and wanted to put the best of the year (and the all-American classics) on the map.

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National Park Week Launches Tomorrow With Free Entrance All Weekend

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Tomorrow marks the start of National Park Week (April 19-27), and to celebrate, the country’s 400-plus parks are waiving entrance fees all weekend long. It’s a big year for the National Park Service, with milestone anniversaries (Yosemite turns 150 this year; Rocky Mountain National Park is 100) and important developments (including major renovations to Yellowstone’s oldest hotel).

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Best New Cars for Road Trips from the 2014 NYC Auto Show

The 2014 New York International Auto Show opens today, and it’s stocked with new cars and models that are sure to push your next road trip into high gear. Standouts include the 2015 Jeep Renegade, inspired by the original Jeep Wrangler; the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, another small SUV, complete with a built-in WiFi hotspot; the redesigned Camry with improved handling for quick turns; Chevrolet’s new 625-horsepower ZO6 Convertible; and the 50th anniversary Ford Mustang, which was reconstructed piece by piece on 86th floor of the Empire State Building. See these cars and more in person—the auto show at the Javits Center is open through Sunday, April 27th.

Daily Transporter: Chicago

baseball fan

Wrigley Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary on April 23. The 2014 Cubs will wear replica 1914 Chicago Federals jerseys and—good sports!—the Arizona Diamondbacks will be sporting Kansas City Federal League uniforms in honor of the occasion. (Even if you can’t make the game, listen to some of Ernie Banks’s memories of Wrigley.)

See Wrigley Field in America’s Best Baseball Stadiums

Editor’s Picks: Chicago
America’s Best Vacations for Sports Fans
America’s Most Beautiful Coastal Views
Best Hotels in Chicago

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: New Orleans

beignet at cafe du monde

Book your flight and designate some shoes to sacrifice to the mud gods: the schedule for this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 25-May 4) is online. (A final revision—granting Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band a longer set—was made late last week.)

See Café du Monde in America’s Best Coffee Cities

Editor’s Picks: New Orleans
America's Strangest People
America's Top Free Attractions
America's Best Places to Eat Like a Local

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

London Hot Spot: Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse crab donuts

The crab donuts at the Chiltern Firehouse in Londonare already the stuff of legend. Just two months old, hotelier Andre Balazs's first venture outside of the United States has celebrities like Bono, Prince Harry, Chloe Sevigny, and Gordon Ramsey bumping elbows, while mere mortals desperately try to snag a reservation in what is a cleverly repurposed Victorian-gothic red brick fire brigade building in London’s tony Marylebone neighborhood.

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CheapAir Becomes First OTA To Introduce Railway Reservations

Cheap Air

I’ve long loved Rome 2 Rio as a transportation guide: it tells you every possible way to get from Point A to Point B, and offers in-line prices and itineraries. Since I started using it, I’ve realized just how efficient train travel can be—factor in security lines and early airport arrivals, and the train can take less time than flying, depending on where you’re going. For the first time, an OTA is in agreement, as CheapAir has announced today that it will be integrating Amtrakrailway reservations into its flight search system. Now, when you search for routes connecting, say, New York and Boston, you’ll see airfares interspersed with train routes, so you can compare prices and schedules. Better yet, you can mix and match airfares and train reservations, so that you can capitalize on a discounted international flight that leaves from a city a few hours away. 

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New Discovery App Superb Takes the E-Dating Model Into Tourism

Superb app

Dating apps like Tinder are meant to be fun, addictive, and packed with discovery—so why hasn’t anyone adapted the model for social purposes outside the love nest? That’s what the developers of Superb wondered before launching their new app, officially available for iOS this week (Android's on the way). The app uses the same swipe motions as Tinder—swipe right to save something for future reference, swipe left to discard it, and keep swiping as information automatically populates your screen—but for places and things rather than people. Set it to your hometown—or any city you’re visiting—and input your categorical preferences (Arts & Culture; Food & Drink; Shops) to get a practically never-ending stream of ideas. Save the ones you like to a bucket list, scrap the ones that don’t pique your interest, and keep going (it really is hard to stop) until your itinerary takes full form.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.


Photo courtesy of Superb

Dutch Debut World’s First Glow-in-the-Dark Highway

Glowing Dutch Highway

Earth Day News: Just outside the Dutch city of Oss is a 500-meter stretch of highway that glows in the dark. Like a set from a sci-fi film, the photo-luminescent road markings illuminate the lanes with an otherworldly emerald light.

The technology is part of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde’s vision to bring innovative, sustainable designto everyday infrastructures. In a partnership with Dutch engineering firm Heijmans, he created a revolutionary paint with the ability to absorb daylight for energy, and radiate an eye-catching hue at night.

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Crystal Cruises Announces Game of Thrones Excursion

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Crystal Cruises has announced a Game of Thrones-themed excursion on summer sailings to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Louis XIII Cognac: A Taste of France

Cognac

Cognac is one spirit that grants its drinkers instant gratification. Produced in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac, France, strict distillery guidelines distinguish the drink from brandy—and the history of Louis XIII de Remy Martin sets the brand apart from its competitors. One sip and each layer of complex, century-aged flavors emerge: smoky oak wood, ripened figs, Cuban cigars, dried apricot, sweet vanilla.

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Antonio Sersale's Two Days in Mexico City

Mexico City

Having lived four years, from the age of 5 to 9 on a ranch in Taxco, Guerrero, I was happy to return to Mexico for a business trip allowing me two extra days to visit tow museums of contemporary art and take a day trip to Taxco.

Walking out of the airport I was met by the familiar faces of Mexicans speaking their own form of Spanish which I loved. For my hotel, I  made a reservation at Las Alcobas, a luxury boutique property perfectly situated near fashionable shops and great restaurants in the chic Polanco neighborhood. As soon as I walked in I was struck the elegant atmosphere. The lobby was small intimate and very well designed.  Behind the counters the staff welcomed me warmly with big smiles.

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Daily Transporter: Great Wall of China

great wall

Chinese authorities are getting creative in combatting graffiti at popular tourist sites. At the Great Wall, they've designated specific areas where graffiti is permitted. And at the famous Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, visitors can leave their mark on large electronic touchscreens.

See the Great Wall in World’s Most Amazing Views

Editor’s Picks: China
See China in World’s Coolest Rental Homes
and World’s Most-Visited Ancient Ruins
and New Wonders of the World

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Airlines Grapple with Social Media This Week

It's been a rough week for airlines on social media.

After a Dutch teenager jokingly tweeted a bomb threat to American Airlines—she has since been arrested—the air carrier is now fielding dozens of other fake bomb threats over Twitter.

Meanwhile, U.S. Airways, is in crisis mode after it accidentally included a pornographic picture in one of its tweets. Even though the airline deleted the Tweet soon after, the image had already gone viral, with thousands of responders mocking U.S. Airways.

One bright spot: Southwest Airlines had a hit with its stand-up comic flight attendant delivering one of the coolest safety briefings we've ever heard. (Watch video above.) If you're going to go viral, that's the way to do it. 

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

 

 

Daily Transporter: San Francisco

persian-tiled gameroom

Eighty percent of San Francisco was destroyed by the April 18, 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. Some notable structures survived to be renovated and brought back to glory, including the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. (This Persian-tiled billiards room is part of the hotel’s 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite, added in 1926.)

See the Fairmont in World’s Strangest Restaurants

Editor’s Picks: San Francisco
See San Francisco in America’s Best Dog-Friendly Hotels
And America’s Best Pies
And America’s Snobbiest Cities

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of the Fairmont San Francisco

Neighborhood Guide to Istanbul

Istanbul

Where to go now—neighborhood by neighborhood in Istanbul.

On my first visit to Istanbul, in the mid 1980’s, donkey carts still trundled across the iron Galata Bridge between the historic Old City and the Europeanized Beyoğlu quarter. And right away I was hooked...on faded Byzantine frescoes and smoky kebabs and tulip-shaped glasses of tea. I’m even more smitten today, as I gaze over the Bosporus boat traffic from the window of a little apartment I bought in the leafy Cihangir quarter. Istanbul is a global megalopolis now, a place where grit and gloss, East and West, secularism and Islam all collide with a jolt—or just as often cohabit gracefully. This is my Istanbul.

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Classic Biarritz Beach Vacation

Biarritz Beach Vacation

Biarritz is the classic European beach vacation, newly reinvented as a laid-back, surfer-bohemian hot spot.

I met a lot of people from Paris in Biarritz, and they all said the same thing. They were refugees. They were here because life in Paris was relentless, all business, too fast. But here was the ocean, and surfing, a resort town, a community. And yes, that could be said of many places but this one was different. This was not the Côte d’Azur. There were no mega-yachts floating in the harbor here, and there were no private beach clubs or trendy nightclubs or Lamborghinis stuck in traffic like you see in Cannes and St.-Tropez. This stretch of the Atlantic coast in the southwest of France—La Côte Basque—was a less polished place, a little wild, a little young. The landscape was stunning and the ocean was vast and powerful (hence all the surfers) and the general attitude was low-key bohemian.

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Video: Chile Wildfire Causes Evacuations in Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Local reports say there are 12 dead, 2,000 houses destroyed, and more than 10,000 people have been evacuated from Valparaiso, a UNESCO world heritage site. Watch the video for details.

Related Links:
Fastest Disappearing Natural Wonders
The World's Most Pristine Forests
World's Most Colorful Cities

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