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Experience a Food-Lover’s Provence with T+L and Cox & Kings

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In this special installment of T+L's promotional partnership with luxury adventure operator Cox & Kings, readers can join Luke Barr, Travel + Leisure Features Director and author of PROVENCE, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste, for a once-in-a-lifetime epicurean journey to Provence, France.

In his new book, Barr—the grand-nephew of legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher—tells the behind-the-scenes story of a seminal moment in the history of American gastronomy.

The Highlights:

• A tour of the farmer's markets, bakeries, and charcuteries described in the book, including those where Julia Child once shopped; a visit to the Fragonard perfume workshop; and a historical tour of Nice

• A visit to La Roquette village, lunch in Moulin de Mougins garden, admission to the Picasso Museum, and a cooking class with a Michelin-starred chef in Nice

• A visit to Saint Paul de Vence, the Matisse Museum, and a 14th-century wine cellar in Vence; a Provençal cooking class at La Pitchoune, on Simone Beck's former estate, in Nice

• Tastings at two vineyards, including Domaine Tempier, followed by a sommelier-led wine dinner in Aix-en-Provence

• Olive oil and wine tastings, a tour of Roman sites and the Les Halles market, and dinner at the iconic Hiely Lucullus, in Arles

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Sir Richard Branson Embarks on New Virgin Cruise Venture

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Virgin Group founder Richard Branson—the knight best known for his planes, trains, and spaceships—is turning his sights to the cruise industry.

Branson recently told The National he has been interested in launching his own cruise company since he was in his twenties. Now 63, he’s seeking $1.7 billion to finally develop a premier fleet of Virgin liners.

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Top Facebook Check-Ins During Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Fat Tuesday marks the end of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but we’re still reminiscing about the flaky slices of King Cake and over-the-top parades. These numbers, officially crunched by Facebook, show the most popular bars, hotels, and neighborhoods in NOLA from 2013, based on the volume of and increase in Facebook check-ins during the week leading up to Mardi Gras. Only check-ins within a 15-mile radius of the city center made the cut, so vicarious revelers couldn’t skew the stats. Read on to see how many of your 2014 party spots racked up against last year’s.

Places to Hang Out and Watch the Parades

1. St. Charles Avenue

2. Lee Circle

3. Uptown

4. New Orleans City Park

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Bidroom Revolutionizes How Travelers Book Hotels

If you don’t mind putting your hotel plans on the auction block, check out the innovative new booking platform, Bidroom.

Less than two months ago, London-based startup Bidroom created a service that could both save customers money on a hotel room, as well as spare hoteliers the enormous commissions they’ve been coughing up to OTAs. 

Instead of traditional booking websites, which ask customers to input their dates and destinations in order to generate a database of fixed-rate rooms, Bidroom asks hotels to bid on guests.

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Fun Weekend Getaways from New Orleans

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In honor of Mardi Gras (Tuesday, March 4th), Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from New Orleans on the Weather Channel’s Wake Up with Al. 

1. Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama has the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the U.S.; it dates back to 1703. But these days, this destination just two hours northeast of New Orleans is blissfully under-the-radar, with 19th-century mansions, Spanish moss, and a beautiful waterfront. Where to Stay: The Victorian mansion Fort Conde Inn (above) puts you in a bygone era with in-room fireplaces and claw-foot tubs; you’ll still get modern day comforts like free WiFi and L’Occitane bath products. Visit the Mobile Museum of Art, which is hosting a Mardi Gras exhibit this fall. Price: from $157 a night, including breakfast. Book now.

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Hotel Strategies Twitter Chat on Tuesday, March 4

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What are the go-to apps and websites for hotel research and booking? Which hotel brands are the most innovative in personalization? We're discussing hotel strategies with the experts this Tuesday, March 4th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. Join along and ask them for their insider advice!

The Hosts:

Amy Farley, News Editor, @TLTripDoctor

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Manhattan's Historic Hotel Wolcott Offers Rooms for Just $110 A Night

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In an expensive city that all too often tears down its architectural heritage, it’s refreshing (astonishing, really) to find a massive discount at a historic hotel. But that’s exactly what you’ll discover at Midtown Manhattan’s Hotel Wolcott, which this month celebrates its 110th anniversary. 

From March 1 to March 31, travelers can book a standard room for just $110 a night (a savings of more than 50 percent), including breakfast, for travel throughout 2014. Reservations must be made at the Wolcott’s anniversary web page. The landmark Beaux Arts-style hostelry, three blocks from the Empire State Building, has hosted such guests as Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Henry Miller, and Buddy Holly.

Mark OrwollMark Orwoll is the International Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll and "like" him on Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Wolcott

Our Favorite Movies To Inspire Travel

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To get ready for the 86th Academy Awards, we dedicated a recent Twitter Chat to discussing how movies have the ability to transport a viewer and even inspire future travel.

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New York's Hottest Food Trends and Restaurant Tips

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From the latest food trends to favorite nights for dining out, we asked for tips from the experts. Here's what they had to say in a recent Twitter chat.

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Affordable Oscar-Themed Getaways In the U.S.

If, like me, you’ve been rushing around before Sunday’s star-studded event to see this year’s batch of Academy Award-nominated films, then perhaps you’re craving a vacation. These five trips—all affordable and in the U.S.—are inspired by films nominated for Best Picture this year.

AMERICAN HUSTLE

The T+L Trip: Suburban Massachusetts and Boston

The real life ABSCAM sting operation took place in New York and New Jersey, but much of David O. Russell’s crime drama was actually filmed in suburban Massachusetts. That dry cleaning branch? It’s Reliable Cleaners, between Natick and Framingham; Irving Rosenfeld’s modest house that he shares with wife Rosalyn is in tiny Medford. Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza makes a cameo (it’s where Irving and Lady Edith Greensly celebrate their newly launched London Associates partnership), and to mark the Academy Awards, the hotel is offering the Oscar Party Package. Rates from $759 include a stay in a one bedroom suite, popcorn snack, in-room champagne, and Red Carpet Bingo—or just pop into the hotel for a drink and a self-guided tour

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America's Bikeshares Mapped Out By DC-Based Blogger

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We're loving this map of the country's largest bikeshare programs of 2013, from the Washington-based blog BeyondDC.

It shows the to-be-expected large players—Boston and DC—plus debuts from New York and Chicago, but while those cities dominate the map with their massive programs, it's the smaller dots that tell a more interesting story.

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How to Solve Your Travel Nightmares

Whether you’re flight was cancelled, you didn’t get the room you paid for, or an airline lost your luggage, we have the solutions to your travel nightmares.

The Situation: Your plane has to make an emergency landing due to a mechanical issue and lands in a city that’s not your destination. Instead of finding another plane for the flight, the airline instead asks you to call an 800 number to rebook. What do you do?

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Three Easy Weekend Getaways from Savannah

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Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from Savannah on the Weather Channel’s Wake Up with Al. Check out the video here.

1. Small Town Charms: Beaufort, South Carolina

On lists that rank the best small towns in America, Beaufort is always close to the top. Just 40 minutes north of Savannah, the enclave attracts former New Yorkers who love the relaxed vibe and Gothic architecture. Where to Stay Try the Rhett House Inn, set in a 190-year-old mansion, for the outdoor terrace where a complimentary southern breakfast (pictured) is served. Price $189 night, including breakfast, afternoon tea, bike rentals, pies for dessert, and more. Book Now www.rhetthouseinn.com

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From Thrillist: Secrets of the World's Elite Pickpockets

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For as long as there have been pants stitched with pockets, there have been people trying to pick 'em. They scheme in every city—skills sharp, techniques tested, methods honed to a science—for ways to separate unsuspecting tourists from their cash. And the only way to keep them from ruining your big trip is to beat them at their own game; here's your guide to their secrets.

READ MORE AT THRILLIST.COM

Q&A With Ritesh Batra: Director of the Film “The Lunchbox”

Director Ritesh Batra’s debut feature film, The Lunchbox, a charming epistolary romance set in Mumbai, is steeped in nostalgia. As it traces an unlikely relationship between a curmudgeonly widower, Saajan (Irrfan Khan) and a neglected housewife, Ila (Nimrat Kaur)—all triggered by a delivery mistake, courtesy of the city’s supposedly foolproof lunch couriers, or dabbawallahs—the film also showcases the many faces of Mumbai: a frenetic, resilient, and monsoon-pelted metropolis.

While The Lunchbox has already captured hearts outside its native India, thanks to a splashy international premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival (it also screened at the Sundance Film Festival last month), it hits select theaters in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow (February 28th).

T+L caught up with Batra, who regularly shuttles between Mumbai and New York, to discuss his adventures in filmmaking.

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Carnival Celebrations Around the Globe

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Carnival—the final soiree before Lent when people fast, avoid indulgences, and refrain from partying—culminates over the next week with vibrant costumes, wild dancing, and self-expression, found worldwide this year until March 4th. For many, Carnival is a fun way to let go, whether you're family road-tripping to Louisiana or a couple jet-setting to Italy. In case you don't have a chance to join in the revelry, here are a few colorful Carnival-inspired experience that caught our eye:

Venice

Just steps from St. Mark’s Square, the historic Luna Hotel Baglioni (above and below) will be prepping its guests for festive balls with private costume fittings—including embellished masks and cloaks—by Atelier Flavia. Traditional gowns will grace the ballroom floor during the hotel’s Grand Baglioni Party this Friday, February 28, and the Gran Carnivale Party on Saturday, March 1, where guests can sit back and enjoy the “Dance & Opera Show,” or join in on the display themselves. Housed in a Venetian palace, the hotel's stately ties to the past reach from its proximity to Piazza San Marco—where celebrations first began during the Middle Ages in 1162—to inside the Marco Polo Ballroom, where original fresco paintings of the XVIII Century of the School of Tiepolo adorn the walls.

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JetBlue's GoPacks Offer Major Deals for Group Travelers

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JetBlue makes headlines again with the announcement of their new GoPacks; bundles of 6 or 10 one-way tickets to some of the nation’s most frequented destinations. 

If you’re getting ready to book your family summer vacation, or coral a group of friends for spring break, grab a pack to take advantage of the unmatched rates.

GoPack trips can be booked from March 31 through June 17 travel, and are eligible for True Blue miles. 

While flights from New York to Orlando, and JetBlue’s Intra-California package between Long Beach and the Bay Area scream easy getaways, the $939 stack of tickets for travel between Boston and Washington, D.C. or the GoPack of northbound flights from JFK may be the perfect option for large business trips.

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure. 

Photo Courtesy of JetBlue Airways

Kimpton Shows How to Make Your Bed Like a Hotel Pro

If you’ve ever wondered how Kimpton hotels gets their beds to look so darn inviting, the staff at the Hotel Monaco Chicago is here to show you how. While we've already showed you our step-by-step approach, we have to admit this video turns the often-loathed chore into an exciting dance-fest. Time to grab five of your fellow hotel geek friends and start corner folding!

Maria PedoneMaria Pedone is a Digital Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Travel Companies Urge Arizona Governor to Veto Religious Freedom Act

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A growing chorus of prominent travel companies, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest, and Marriott International, are pressing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1062, the recently passed legislation that would allow businesses to deny service for religious reasons. The bill is meant to protect religious freedom, but would effectively legalize discrimination of religious minorities and LGBT individuals.

Both American Airlines and Marriott International—joined by the Arizona and Greater Phoenix Chambers of Commerce—have written letters (see here and here) to Governor Brewer outlining their concerns over the bill. Delta issued a statement yesterday, available here.

Marriott's regional Vice President Steve Hart and Director of Government Affairs Thomas Maloney believe that if enacted, SB 1062 would “undermine—or worse, counteract” the brand's efforts to boost revenue, particularly from business travelers.

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The Return of St. Regis New York's King Cole Bar

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What part of the ongoing $90 million renovation of the St. Regis New York do we love the most? The expanded King Cole Bar & Salon, with tables spilling into the hall, eclectic bites from chef John DeLucie, and a new global Bloody Mary menu that pays tribute to the hotel’s signature cocktail.

Related Articles:
New York’s Best New Restaurants
America’s Best Wine Bars
T+L Insider Video: Where to Eat in NYC

Photo by David Alexander Arnold

Green Hotel Trend: Wooden Key Cards

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Hotel chains have been going green for years, but the latest eco-friendly initiative to catch our eye are wooden key cards by Sweden-based Sustainable Cards.

According to head of sales Johan Kaijser, 30 billion plastic cards are produced every year—that’s 150,000 tons of plastic. Using cards made from wood can reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. So far, hotel brands such as Radisson Blu, Westin, Four Seasons, Accor, and Kempinski—plus retailers like Starbucks and Whole Foods (which use them as gift cards)—have signed on. The European hotel company Scandic was an early supporter, while Mövenpick is the first to adopt them across the brand.

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5 Iconic Beverly Hills Hotels

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To celebrate the city's centennial, five iconic Beverly Hills hotels have dedicated a suite to a different era.

Beverly Hills Hotel, Dorchester Collection (pictured)

The Vibe: Tinseltown glamour in a tropical-resort setting with classic Hollywood touches (banana-leaf wallpaper; Art Deco lobby; that famous sign).

Who Goes: Hollywood players making deals at the Polo Lounge; families who love the pool and breakfast at the coffee shop.

The New Suite: The 1950’s-style room has a brick fireplace, coved ceilings, and curvaceous furniture inspired by Marilyn Monroe, a frequent guest. $$$

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Inside Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson's Latest Film

Director Wes Anderson takes T+L on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Grand Budapest Hotel, his latest film opening Mar. 7. 

For his new release—which stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Ralph Fiennes as a debonair hotel concierge—Wes Anderson traveled though Eastern Europe on a hunt for set locations and characters. “I like working abroad because the whole process is an adventure, and it’s the most fun way to learn about a place,” he said. One takeaway: “Prague has been all cleaned up, but Budapest still has a little bit of a time-warp feeling.” Known for creating meticulously crafted sets and fictional worlds, the filmmaker borrowed references from Ernst Lubitsch musicals, Jugendstil architecture, and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain for his own version of a grand hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. Here, a view from the director’s chair.

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Movies + Travel Twitter Chat on Tuesday, February 25

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A great film can transport the viewer to a different time and place. When it comes to travel, we all have that one movie scene that will forever invoke the desire to visit or revisit a destination (Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, anyone?). To get ready for the 86th Academy Awards, we'll be discussing how movies can inspire travel with experts this Tuesday, February 25th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. Join along in the chat!

The Hosts:

Sarah Spagnolo, T+L Special Correspondent & New Media Editor, @SarahSpagnolo

Marguerite Suozzi, Associate Research Editor, @maggiesuozzi

Lindsey Olander, Editorial Assistant, @lindseytravels

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Baz Luhrmann's Next Project: Miami's Faena Saxony Hotel

Baz Luhrmann, Faena Saxony Hotel

After decades of directing lavish motion pictures such as The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann is turning his attention to a different kind of spectacle: the Faena Saxony Hotel, set to open later this year in Miami Beach. Along with his wife and collaborator, Catherine Martin, Luhrmann will lead the design efforts as a creative director for the hotel, which is just one element of a massive complex developed by industrialist Len Blavatnik and real estate tycoon Alan Faena, who is known for his buzzy, Philippe Starck–designed boutique hotel in Buenos Aires. The project will also include an arts center by architect Rem Koolhaas and residences by Foster & Partners. T+L talked with Luhrmann about his plans—and his inspirations.

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Skype's Travel Challenge Could Send You Around the World

To what limits would you want to be challenged? If you’re like travel videographer and member of Skype’s Moment Makers program, Mike Corey, the answer is: Bring it.

Corey took part in Rerouted: a Skype travel challenge, which dropped him off in Europe without an itinerary. A Skype-selected local met Corey in each country he visited to give him a clue as to where he was going and what he was doing next—from bungee-jumping in Italy to battling an oil-wrestling champion in Turkey.

Now, Windows 8.1 and Skype are giving travel enthusiasts the chance to have their own journey. The winner will receive a two-week trip through Europe for themselves plus a guest, along with travel equipment to document the time abroad. Enter here for your chance to win the ultimate European vacation.

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

T+L's Most Popular Photos on Social Media this Week, Feb. 24

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We know you're busy, so in case you missed any of T+L's Twitter and Instagram this past week, here's a roundup of the top content. As always, images ruled.

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Four Seasons Resort Lanai Introduces an Airport Lounge in Honolulu

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We’ve told you about new developments in airline and airport lounges (most recently here and here)—but now the Four Seasons Resort Lanai has debuted its very own version at Honolulu International Airport. Located in the commuter terminal, the 1,000-square-foot lounge means that guests start their hotel experience even before setting foot on the island—and the hotel. Visitors awaiting their 25-minute flights to Lanai will have all the free perks: food, beverages, iPads, Wi-Fi access, charging stations, luggage holding areas, TVs. Plus, a Four Seasons concierge is on hand to assist with check-in and reservations at the restaurant or spa.

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Ice Caves Form at Lake Superior Thanks to Polar Vortex

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For the folks of northern Wisconsin, the frigid temperatures have, for the first time in five years, caused Lake Superior to freeze over, granting the tough-skinned tourist access to the string of ice caves spanning the shoreline. 

Nearly 40,000 people have already made the mile-long trek across Superior’s frozen surface to see the intricate webs of hoar frost and the dramatic ice formations emerging from the caves’ glittering mouths.  

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Guess Where? Bridge in Winter

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It's not one of the scariest bridges or the most dangerous either, thankfully. Can you guess what bridge this is? Leave your guesses on our Facebook page. Check back on Monday for the answer.

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @matthewslyndsey

Photo Courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

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