Unless you’re allergic to primary colors—or LEGOS, of course—the biggest problem with the new Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad, California, may be that it’s not taller.
For a lot of grown-up guests, the coolest part about the otherwise kid-centric, three-story hotel may be the “disco elevator.” Inside, the walls are decorated with nightclub-ready LEGO characters, a strobe light hangs from the ceilings, and when the doors close, the lava floor panels light up and the music kicks in: ABBA, the BeeGees, the Village People. It makes you think: How many elevators out there have wasted an opportunity to be fun? (The hotel has figured out how to make everything enjoyable: there’s also a jump-able whoopee cushion corner in the elevator lobby.)
Nigel Woods, the project designer who created the elevator, told us that he felt he had to up the ante set by the elevator at another theme park hotel, the Alton Towers Splash Landing Hotel, in the UK. “It plays some ‘Hawaii Five O’ music,” he told us by email, “which my children (Emily, 9 and Lucy 6) and I loved to dance to as we went up to our room.” Then, he recounts, he saw a YouTube video of a disco elevator, “and fell over laughing. From there, the Legoland disco elevator was born.”
While at least one reviewer has pooh-poohed the elevator as a little intense for toddlers (or parents who haven't had their morning coffee)—most guests at the hotel's opening in April seemed to love it. Some of us may have wished the ride lasted longer than just two floors up from the lobby. Then again, some guests booked on the ground floor were guilty of mere joyriding.
See: World's Greatest Elevator Views.
Photo credit: LEGOLAND California Resort
As river cruising continues to gain steam, Jane Wooldridge shares the best new itineraries for every sort of traveler.
For the History Buff: Tauck has introduced a 10-night Mississippi voyage designed by filmmaker Ken Burns aboard the American Queen paddle wheeler. Don’t miss the tour of Louisiana’s 1837 Oak Alley, or Oakley Plantation, where John James Audubon worked on his Birds of America. In Europe, AmaWaterways’ Jewels of France sets out from Arles and cruises along the Rhône and Seine, with stops in the medieval town of Perpignan and at Avignon’s massive Gothic papal palace.
For the Epicure: Visit Porto, Portugal, the birthplace of port wine, on a 10-day Douro River journey aboard a Viking River Cruises longship. The Po River trip from Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection sails from Venice to the foodie haven of Bologna (think mortadella, tortellini, and Parmesan cheese).
For the Explorer: In Egypt, Sanctuary Retreats’ 32-passenger Sanctuary Nile Adventurer ferries guests along a stretch of the Nile that has just reopened after 15 years. (The rock tombs at Beni Hasan are a notable stop.) Even farther afield: Burma, where Orient Express Trains & Cruises is adding a second, smaller boat for sailings on the Irrawaddy to the temples of Bagan and into the remote, rugged region along the Chindwin River.
Jane Wooldridge is the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises; Illustration by Michael Hoeweler
How’s this for street style? New York–based fashion brand Cityzen by Azin turns satellite images of global cities (Tehran! Tokyo! Dhaka!) into dresses, silk scarves, and leather bags. Never get lost again.
New York City in duchess satin, $1,330, Cityzen by Azin.
Three More Well-Plotted Accessories
• Canvas Mexico tote, $128, Echo.
• London clutch in suede and satin, $1,295, Anya Hindmarch.
• Monogrammed world map silk scarf, $460, Louis Vuitton.
Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's style director.
Photo by John Lawton
New York City is launching its bike share program sometime this month (no details on a date yet), bringing 6,000 two-wheelers to the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Citi Bike, so-named due to a hefty sponsorship from CitiBank, is the country’s largest bicycle-sharing program. While there is a great FAQ on the project’s website, T+L had a few follow-up questions that we’ve answered here:
Where can you pick Citi Bikes up?
The website’s station map is impressive to say the least. There seem to be Citi Bike stations at almost every block! Until you zoom out, that is. The 330 stations stretch from the Battery up to Central Park South in Manhattan, and from the Brooklyn Bridge down to Atlantic Ave and east to Norstrand Ave in Brooklyn. Riders will never be more than a few blocks from a bikeshare station thanks to the highly concentrated layout, but residents of Uptown Manhattan, the vast majority of Brooklyn, and all of Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx are left bikeless.
What are the helmet laws?
Citi Bike “strongly encourages” all users to don helmets, and it offers annual members a $10 coupon to buy them in any New York City bike store. But there is no legal obligation to wear helmets. New York State laws require cyclists under the age of 14 to wear helmets, but Citi Bike members must be at least 16. Last year, NYC rejected a proposed mandatory helmet law last year. Still, helmets may decrease the risk of head injury to cyclists by as much as 85%, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
How safe is it to bike in New York City?
2011 saw 22 biking fatalities and 369 severe injuries. While up slightly from 2009, those numbers still reflect a downward trend in bike risk, according to city data. The NYC Cycling Risk Indicator, which reflects biking safety while taking into account increased cyclists, has fallen by 73% since 2000. Research from UC Berkeley cited in the Wall Street Journal shows that with ever-more bike lanes, and now thousands of more bikers, New York City’s bike accidents will decrease as drivers adjust their behavior and become more aware of bike riders on the roads.
Users have 45 minutes to ride Citi Bike before needing to check back in to a station. How far does that take you?
Theoretically, a rider can travel from Columbus Circle to the Whitehall South Ferry Terminal building in under 35 minutes, meaning that all of Citi Bike’s Manhattan stations are accessible within the 45-minute limit. From Columbus Circle to the stations in Brooklyn Heights takes just under 40 minutes, while the longest possible ride, from West 59th Street at 11th Avenue to Norstrand Avenue in Brooklyn Columbus Circle could run as little as 55 minutes.
Will it work?
Only time will tell, but all signs point to Yes. Similar programs in Boston, Washington DC, Paris, and Hangzhou, China, have all proven very successful and popular. Here's hoping Citi Bike follows in their footsteps—er—bike paths!
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo credit: Lars Klove /New York City Bike Share
Stay: I send out-of-town guests to the Relais Todini (Frazione Collevalenza $$), a 14th-century manor. The view from the swimming pool stretches for miles. Equally pastoral: Tenuta di Canonica (75 Località Canonica $$), in a former watchtower.
Shop: Daniele Parasecolo (1 Via S. Maria) is one of Todi’s last remaining traditional wood inlayers—his panels are as intricate as paintings. You’ll find elegant coral and cameos at Arte del Corallo (11 Corso Cavour; 39-075/894-4473). Nearby, Marco Cianini (39 Via Giacomo Matteotti; 39-349/505-2195) makes exquisite handmade shoes. Don’t ask him to copy your old pair—he needs to create!
Eat: When hunger interferes with my shopping, I head to La Cantina del Mercataccio (1 Via del Mercato Vecchio; 39-338/246-2587) for a plate of strigoli al tartufo, pasta with fresh tomato, guanciale, and black truffles. At gelateria Bar Pianegiani (40 Corso Camillo Benso Cavour), I order one scoop of fig and walnut and another of chocolate, with plenty of whipped cream.
Do: A quick drive north of town, 513-year-old majolica ceramics company U. Grazia (181 Via Tiberina, Deruta) holds three-day painting and glazing courses. What’s better than a few pampered days in Todi, learning one of the most ancient Italian arts, then realizing you can take it with you?
Photo by Ben Mostyn
T+L's Laura Begley Bloom appeared on CBS This Morning on Friday to discuss this year's It List of the best new hotels.
Among the properties discussed: Charleston's Zero George, Bentonvile's 21C, and others. Watch the complete interview above.
Related: It List: The Best New Hotels 2013.
I don’t know about you, but this fantastic spring weather makes me want to dust off my hiking boots and go explore one of the world’s most beautiful rural landscapes on foot. Thankfully, all I need to do for inspiration is to flip through the May issue’s Trekking, Walking and Hiking package. Every week this month, I’ll highlight a trip from our story that I hope might inspire you to take an adventure of your own.
Hike: Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks
Where: idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
Off the Beaten Path creates bespoke trips that combine the ragged peaks and pristine lakes of Glacier National Park with the abundant wildlife of Yellowstone. This spring the outfitter is partnering with Airstream 2 Go to provide top-of-the-line trailers as part of custom itineraries in the Rocky Mountains. Nine days from $2,900.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Photo courtesy of NPS / Jim Peaco
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This elegant, woodland 94-suite lodge, about five hours north of New York City, offers a rustic but deluxe resort experience in Lake Placid, abutting the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.
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Photo courtesy of Club Med
Spring Airlines, based in China, probably thought they had a fun promotion on their hands: Dress the flight attendants in themed costumes to liven up the flights from Shanghai. Their first idea, posted on the Facebook page? Classic, and maybe short-skirted, maid costumes. Folks like to feel that they're getting good service, right?
Indeed, from various reports published in the past months, it seems that the bad ol’ days of “Coffee Tea or Me” for flight attendants might be making a comeback. Both Ryanair and Thailand-based Nok airlines have been dinged recently for selling calendars featuring flight attendants (or models posing as flight attendants) in skimpy outfits, while Vietnam’s VietJet Air actually staged a beauty contest down the aisle of an aloft flight last year, to celebrate a new route. (In that case, at least the bathing-suit-clad contestants weren’t crew members.)
For Spring Airlines, the frilly-skirted maid joke clearly fell flat. Some bloggers and Twitter usershave taken the airline to task—for objectifying the crew members, certainly, and perhaps even for putting their onboard safety at risk, due to those teeter-y heels. The airline responded by posting on Facebook that “We'll never objectify any of our staff; in fact this idea came from our international crew of qualified Chinese, Japanese and Thailand cabin staff.”
Can you guess where this colorful house is? Head over to our Facebook page and leave your guesses there. Check back on Monday for the answer!
Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo Courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews