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Aruba’s Makeover

Aruba

Blame it on the Beach Boys: the perpetually sunny destination welcomes close to 1.5 million visitors every year—and it often gets a bad rap for being too touristy. And while the $1 billion that’s pouring into the 70-square-mile isle (an airport makeover, a redone cruise terminal) will bring even more people, its first true luxury hotel is changing the traveler profile. Located on the far, quiet end of popular Palm Beach, the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba ($$$$) is loaded with amenities: two pools, five restaurants, a 15-treatment-room spa (try the Dushi Tera salt scrub), and a flashy casino. Dine off-campus at Baby Beach, where you can fill up on johnnycakes at local favorite Big Mama Grill (297/568-5688; no dinner; $). At Zeerover (297/584-8401; $$), in southern Savaneta, order the morning catch—wahoo or snapper—with plantains, pan bati (corn bread), and a cold Balashi brew. The capital city of Oranjestad has a new eco-friendly trolley system and 10-mile boardwalk. To see the island’s sights, including the landmark California Lighthouse and the Casibari Rock Formation, book a half-day excursion with De Palm Tours.

Photo by Danita Delimont / Alamy


Also on Travel + Leisure:
A Caribbean Hotel Boomlet
Where to Shop in Bermuda
British Virgin Islands, 4 Ways

Where to Shop in Bermuda

Bermuda shorts

Caribbean in flavor, this Atlantic isle has homegrown brands worth seeking out. Established in 1928, the Bermuda Perfumery is famous for its high-end fragrances. Out this spring, the Lili Bermuda Legacy Collection highlights local flowers, including Easter lily, oleander, and frangipani.

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Travel to Cuba: What You Need to Know

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It’s happening, people. Travel to Cuba just got as little easier, thanks to a new set of regulations that take effect today and expand on President Obama’s recent policy changes.

The Department of Treasury dropped the amended regulations on the lap of tour operators and others with a stake in travel to Cuba yesterday morning. Just how quickly these changes can and will be implemented remains foggy—as do some of the particulars, which will likely be hashed out in the coming days and weeks. So watch this space.

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New Exhibits in Atlanta and New York Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Perfectly timed with Martin Luther King, Jr., Day (January 19), the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta is presenting two new exhibits to honor the city’s native son and Civil Rights hero, both on view through May 3.

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New FAA Rule Goes Into Effect for Flying With Musical Instruments

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Last summer, classical trio renegades Time For Three visited T+L's offices for an impromptu concerto, telling us about their musical inspirations and travel challenges—among them, a fairly well-publicized run-in with a TSA agent hell bent on gate checking the group's vintage Stradivarius.

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Time Inc. Launches "The Daily Cut" Video Destination



It's no secret that the small screen is making big waves. Today marks the launch of The Daily Cut, the web’s newest destination for video content from some of the top names in news, entertainment, food, fashion, sports, travel, and more.

The new initiative from Time Inc. (T+L’s parent company) is a one-stop on-demand source for the latest video content from People, Sports Illustrated, Time, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, and our own Travel + Leisure.

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"Art By Chance" Film Festival Screens Worldwide

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Without even trying, you may snag a front row seat to Art By Chance, a short-film festival that screens worldwide and starts today. More than 200 cities in 20-plus countries will show works in public spaces usually reserved for advertising—think airports, train and bus stations, billboards in plazas, and more. This is its fifth edition, and there will be 25 films lasting just half a minute inspired by the theme “Discover.”

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Six Venice Restaurants to Try Now

Venice dishes

Our abridged meal-by-meal guide to where and what to eat now.

Breakfast: Cicheti at All’Arco
Bored with cornetti? Start the day at this cult wine bar beloved by vendors from the nearby Rialto Market. The creative cicheti (snacks) include addictive crostini with creamy whipped codfish. 436 Calle dell’Ochialer. $

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August: Smart Home Tech For Travelers

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One of the biggest trends coming out of this year’s CES? Smart home tech. And while these automated appliances and home fixtures may seem far from the realm of travel, we’ve found that they’re surprisingly not—especially if you’re interested in turning your home into a vacation rental. If there’s only one “smart” home tool that you invest in before creating your AirBnB host profile, make it Yves Behar’s beautifully designed smart lock, August. Here’s how it works.

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A Caribbean Boutique Hotel Boomlet

Caribbean Hotel Boomlet

Four small hotels that let you live large.

Montpelier Plantation & Beach, Nevis

This elegant Relais & Châteaux hideaway in the mountains, which also has a seaside club, has been drawing the in-crowd for years. And it’s more stylish than ever now that the 19 rooms have been redone with natural Caribbean accents (local-bamboo headboards, coral lamps). $$

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T+L's Favorite Cold-Weather Beauty Products

Beauty products

T+L editors share what’s in their winter survival kits.

SK-II’s Essential Power Eye Cream ($120) protects the delicate undereye area from the wind, while Armani’s new cream Eye Tints ($35) give my lids a subtle shimmer. —Jacqueline Gifford

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British Virgin Islands, 4 Ways

British Virgin Islands

The Classic Resort

Rosewood Little Dix Bay, the Virgin Gorda escape originally founded by Laurance Rockefeller, recently converted its 10 iconic tree-house cottages into five huge suites with wraparound terraces. $$$

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Apps That Turn a Vacation Rental Into a Hotel

Viator

How to access hotel amenitieswith nothing but your smartphone.

Luxe: Need a parking spot? Luxe sends a valet to park your car for up to $15 a day. Available in San Francisco and Los Angeles; other cities soon. Free; Android, iOS.

Caviar: If you’re craving room service, use this app to order meals from top restaurants that don’t normally provide delivery. Free; iOS.

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A New River Cruise Opens Up Remote Southeast Asia

Taking to the Waters

Curious eyes followed us as we trekked under tamarind trees on a dirt path that traced the shore of the Mekong River. With villagers watching expectantly, we turned to enter the gates of a 19th-century mansion, a beautifully decaying French-Vietnamese pile near Cai Be. At that moment, a shirtless old man emerged, confused, then began to laugh. “You didn’t tell me you were coming,” he chided our guide, Yee Nguyen, in Vietnamese, throwing on a loose polo shirt. The owner of this architectural relic, it turned out, was Nguyen’s uncle. I couldn’t imagine what the jocular 80-year-old was thinking—with our global group of Italians, Mexicans, Americans, Australians, and French, it’s like the UN showed up at his door—and we were equally surprised to be standing in his living room. A behind-the-scenes tour of this fresco-lined house wasn’t on the day’s agenda, but I’d already come to expect the unexpected on day two of this five-day trip, the inaugural upriver cruise with Aqua Expeditions through Vietnam and Cambodia.

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St. Bart's: Why Go Now

St. Bart's

The island’s grande dame hotels are looking younger than ever.

Stay

On gorgeous Flamands Bay, the rebranded Cheval Blanc St.-Barth Isle de France has all the touches you’d expect from its owner, luxury-brand behemoth LVMH: crisp white rooms, a fitness center overlooking the sea, and the Caribbean’s only Guerlain spa.

Nearby, the Hotel Taïwana recently debuted 22 individually designed rooms and suites, some with private pools.

A four-year renovation has given Le Guanahani—the island’s largest hotel, with 67 rooms and two beaches—new suites, a refreshed lobby, and beach-meets-safari design flourishes, like framed maps and custom furniture by Luis Pons.

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Cruise Twitter Chat on Tuesday, January 13

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Love cruising? We're talking to a panel of cruise experts on Tuesday, January 13th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Join our chat to share your favorite cruise stories and gain valuable tips from the pros. 

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How to Avoid a Vacation Rental Nightmare

Vacation rental nightmare

Q: I found a great place through a vacation-rental website. What could go wrong?

The apartment was a dream: the entire light-filled top floor, a one bedroom with an eat-in kitchen and a living room, in a restored Victorian row house in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights for less than $200 a night. My friend and her husband were ecstatic and everything went smoothly… until they emerged from their bathroom on the first night, teeth brushed and ready for bed, to find the owner mysteriously puttering around their living room. “Just checking in,” she told them.

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Marriott Port-au-Prince Brings New Brand of Tourism to Haiti

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After a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, it caused widespread damage—leaving a reported 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless, not to mention costly physical destruction. An influx of aid and NGO organizations, along with nearly $4 billion from the U.S., came in for support, but reports of slow progress and recovery plagued the country for several years. But today, on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, Haiti has transitioned from a post-disaster state to one supporting long-term planning and growth.

The U.S. State Department reports that 90 percent of residents who had been displaced in tent camps now have more permanent housing. Trash and debris from the disaster have been cleared. Job growth and a country-wide campaign promoting tourism, from beautification projects to new flight options to new resorts, is designed to lure visitors and boost economic independence (we included the destination in our Best Places to Travel in 2015 story).

One project, the Marriott Port-au-Prince Hotel, opens February 24 and stands out for the innovative ways it works with the surrounding community.

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Get Your Mitts On Baseball History at the Inn At Cooperstown

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If you’ve ever wanted a close-up with your baseball team’s history, this January is your chance. The Inn at Cooperstown is getting into the swing of things in 2015 with a new partnership with the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Twitter Chat Recap: Best Places to Travel in 2015

Twitter Recap

If you missed our most recent Twitter Chat on the Best Places to Travel in 2015, don't fret, we've got the day's best tweets right here! From Chile, to Cuba, to China, and everywhere in between, these are the places we want to visit this year:

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Passage to Chennai

Chennai shop

The idli welcomes me into the day like a slightly flattened moon that has landed on my plate. You could rest your cheek on it, but the best thing is to feel its porous warm surface on your tongue, to savor its innocent taste. Three to four inches in diameter, the idli, a steamed cake traditionally eaten at breakfast, has tiny shallow craters over its surface where the batter has bubbled. What does it taste of? Of soft dough. It comes with coconut chutney—fresh grated with a bit of chili—and sambar, a spicy stew made with tamarind, lentils, and spices. The idli to me is emblematic of the purity I often encounter in the city of Chennai.

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Anguilla: Why Go Now

Anguilla

The island’s crown-jewel resort sparkles once again.

Stay

Set on a postcard-perfect bluff, the 20-acre Malliouhana—now a part of the Auberge portfolio—just went through a much-needed reboot. Pastels liven the interiors and the restaurant has shed its dress code, but the stunning view of Meads Bay beach remains.

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The New Micro Hoteliers

Micro Hoteliers

A new breed of vacation-rental owners is taking a page from hotels and bringing more polish and professionalism to the industry.

Two years ago, when Jeremy Braud started renting out his shotgun house in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans to Super Bowl fans, the property was simple and spartan. Braud used his own sheets; he stocked the bathroom with big bottles of shampoo and conditioner. But now that vacation rentals have become more popular and competitive through online-booking sites, Braud has refined his approach. He now offers small, single-use shampoo bottles and high-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets. On the living room table, there’s a fan of tourism brochures and a free bottle of wine for his guests. Braud’s house is no longer just a home. Nor is it a short-term rental in the old-fashioned sense. It’s now a competitor to the B&B down the street.

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A Vacation Rental for Every Type of Traveler

Amsterdam rental

Niche rental companies are cropping up to address travelers’ hyper-specific needs, whether that means a house with a high chair or a condo with a concierge. Here, four we love.

For the first-time renter: BeMate
If you can’t give up daily housekeeping and a concierge, consider Room Mate Hotels’ new peer- to-peer site, which lists rentals in 150 cities so far. Each shares resources with one of the company’s hotels or partners.

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Puerto Rico: Why Go Now

Puerto Rico

A surge in investment has given San Juan newfound sophistication.

Stay

The revamped 319-room Condado Vanderbilt Hotel—a 1919 Spanish Revival landmark where Charles Lindbergh, FDR, and Bob Hope stayed—adds some glamour to the beach strip with 108 roomy suites, butler service, a farm-to-table restaurant, and the island’s only hammam.

Around the corner, O:live Boutique Hotel has 15 small but stylish rooms with sleigh beds and Moroccan throws, as well as a rooftop terrace with a bar, plunge pool, and views over the Condado Lagoon.

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Traveling in a Time of Insecurity

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UPDATE: The U.S. Department of State has issued an updated Worldwide Caution alert following the terrorists attacks in Paris, saying they "serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness." The caution offers a detailed assesment of threats to Americans traveling in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia, and Africa (predominately North Africa).

The news out of Paris this week has been heart-wrenching, to say the least—and unnerving for travelers with imminent plans to visit the City of Light. And even as Parisians go on high alert, Britain’s MI5 intelligence head, Andrew Parker, is warning of increased threat levels in the U.K. from Al Qaeda and extremists groups in Syria and Iraq. (The official threat level remains at “severe,” where it has been since August.) The country has stepped up security checks at ports and border points, especially on passengers and goods coming from France and the rest of Europe.  

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Meet Smart Luggage, the Must-Have Travel Gadget of 2015


Just as the year’s latest and greatest tech gadgets are being introduced at the annual Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, another must-have tech-enhanced travel item is on the horizon and gaining buzz: smart luggage.

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A Perfect Scottsdale Weekend

Scottsdale Revisited

Chef-driven restaurants and hotels with distinct personalities are proving that this Arizona resort town offers more than just spas and sunshine.

Stay

The hacienda-inspired Bespoke Inn has become downtown’s top address since it opened in 2013. The four rooms come with freestanding tubs and cozy patios, the roof has a lap pool fringed by daybeds, and the adjacent bicycle shop lends out English Pashley cruisers for exploring the neighborhood’s galleries. Nearby, the sceney Hotel Valley Ho is a Midcentury time warp. Spacious rooms have oak credenzas and Saarinen chairs, and the spa specializes in detox treatments.

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Study Finds Tourist Trash Cause of Colored Geysers at Yellowstone

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For anyone who's visited visited Yellowstone, our nation's first national park, and marveled at the the vibrant hues of its hot springs—indigos, vermillions, and chartreuses—there's evidence to suggest that the park's technicolor spectacle is actually the result of tourist trash—tossed pennies, trash, and random objects.

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The Moment: Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Casa Wabi

3:46 p.m.: The raw-concrete wall before you signals the stark divide between art and nature. Amid the cactus-studded dunes of coastal Oaxaca, with the Sierra Madre del Sur in the distance, lies Casa Wabi, a new fortress of creative solitude designed by architect Tadao Ando as a foundation for the Mexican artist Bosco Sodi. You’ve walked here along the beach from your bungalow at the Hotel Escondido to view an installation by French artist Daniel Buren. Later, you’ll attend a film screening and visit with the international artists here for a residency. And who knows? That beachcomber you saw earlier sketching wind-bleached driftwood may have been one of them. You certainly couldn’t ask for a more inspiring setting.

Shane Mitchell is T+L's lifestyle correspondent.

Photo by Nicholas Alan Cope

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