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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Pacific Escapes

201105-b-casaoceanojpgWhen the weather outside is dreary, we dream of warm sand and sea. Which is why this week, Vacationist spotlights a handful of destinations close to the pounding Pacific. We’re headed to oceanfront villas in Maui, where surf lessons and barbecues are on offer; an eco-friendly lodge in Costa Rica, where zip-line tours in a dense tropical rainforest can be paired with trips to the shore; and a mid-century Santa Monica stunner, just a few blocks from waterfront Ocean Avenue.

Not what you’re looking for? Clip here for Chile, Puerto Rico, Arizona, Mexico, and more.

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TODAY Show: Easy Weekend Getaways

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

No matter what your plans are for this summer, there's an easy (and affordable!) weekend getaway that will work for you. Here, a few of our favorites: a foodie getaway in Charleston, a culture-packed weekend in downtown Chicago, and a wellness retreat in southern Utah. For more ideas, visit TravelandLeisure.com/weekend-getaways. Start packing now!

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Memorial Day in Mexico

201105-b-navidadjpgLess than a week after Cinco de Mayo, we’re still thinking about Mexican beach escapes and margaritas. Happily for us, so is Vacationist! On sale now: three deals south of the border. Spa goers will prefer Villa del Palmar Flamingos in Rivieria Nayarit, with hydro-treatments at the 17,000 square-foot spa; beach lovers will opt for Grand Bay Hotel Isla Navidad Resort, on a private island off Manzanillo; and for those of you just looking for a rocking good time? There’s always Cabo San Lucas, and a stay at Marquis for more than 44 percent off the standard rack rate.

For deals on the Italian coast or in the Caribbean, click here now.

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It List: Best New Hotels 2011

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Today, Travel + Leisure unveils its sixth annual list of "It" hotels. Editors scoured the globe for the best new properties—from the Trump SoHo in New York City to Liz Lambert's stylish new Hotel Havana on San Antonio's Riverwalk—some of which are less than $300/night.

For the full list, read the online article: It List: Best New Hotels 2011.


Sarah Spagnolo is the digital projects editor at Travel + Leisure.

Cinco de Mayo Savings at One&Only Palmilla

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It's Cinco de Mayo today and you know what that means. Yes, that's right, 2-for-1 margaritas at Benny's Downtown Tap Room. No! Think bigger. It's the anniversary of the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when a ragtag Mexican army unexpectedly whipped the better-trained French, guaranteeing the country's independence. Strange to say, the anniversary is more popular in the United States than in Mexico (and not at all popular in France). So for anyone looking for a reason to celebrate, check this deal out.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Memorial Day Escapes in San Diego, Acapulco, London

201105-b-estanciajpgStill without plans for the upcoming long weekend, now just 23 days away? Head to Vacationist for 11 hotel deals with availability May 27-30th. West coasters will love half-off rates at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, near San Diego’s beaches and Sea World. Further afield, Acapulco’s iconic pink palace Las Brisas, a World’s Best Hotel for Value, has oceanfront, bungalow-style casitas available for the holiday weekend, as does the Landmark London, a World’s Best Business Hotel in London's Marylebone neighborhood, where rates are as spectacular as the property’s Gothic Revival interiors.

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TODAY Show: America's Best Affordable Hotels

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares the best affordable hotel deals right now. Find luxury for less from Charleston to Las Vegas. Watch now—and read the full article here.

A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in Paris

201104-b-paris-5jpgRead the first part of guest blogger-photographer Elizabeth Lippman’s special series about departing from the fashion flock here.

In the beginning: disaster. ALL my luggage is lost. I have my cameras and my computer, but no clothing. Let me repeat: NO. CLOTHES. For PARIS FASHION WEEK. I have only what I am wearing, my traveling-at-4am-clothes, and a toothbrush.

Happily, my husband Jac is meeting me at CDG, and we take the RER together right to the neighborhood of our first Paris apartment—"Le Studio de St. Paul" from Airbnb.com, which I've booked for three nights for $359. It's a TINY studio with a loft bed, RIGHT on Rivoli/St. Antoine in the heart of Le Marais, and packed with the clothing and personal items of the owner, a young actress. She greets us, and gives us the keys.

201104-b-paris-6jpgThe apartment is above a French chocolate store, the L'Atelier du Chocolat, and the scent of bittersweet chocolate wafts thru the open windows. Not bad. My husband has only been to Paris once, and I am eager to show him “my Paris,” my bars and cafes and, most importantly, now that I have no luggage, my favorite boutiques, all in the Marias—Blancs Manteaux, Les Petits, and Maje. BHV, where I stocked up on Princess Tam Tam and Etam undies. We make our way to Rue Charonne. Luckily for my bank account, the Isabel Marant boutique at no. 16 is closed.

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Vacationist: Ode To Greece

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The recent turn of weather reminded us that summer actually is right around the corner. Where else would we rather be than the Greek Isles this summer? Thanks to Vacationist, you can now book a trip there for less. We have options for all types of travelers, from a couples-only resort onthe southeastern coast of Mykonos to large family-friendly villas on Nikiti's pristine coast. Since the summer season is popular in Greece, be sure to book a room now.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in Milan


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Read the first part of guest blogger-photographer Elizabeth Lippman’s special series about departing from the fashion flock here.

After flying into the new airport in Milan, I hop on the Malpensa Express into the city, as guided by my super-helpful host from AirBnB.com, Fabrizio, who sent me emails with PDFs of maps, directions, his cell number, email addresses, etc.

But my cabbie drops me off with all my camera equipment (I am in town to shoot the fashion shows) on a street corner nowhere near where I’m going. Two panicked phone calls and another 12 Euro cab ride later, I find Fabrizio waiting for me nervously in Piazza 24 Maggio.

I get a tour of the apartment where I'll be living WITH Fabrizio and his wife, Asia, for the next four days. Only I, the lone American, seem to find this arrangement incredibly weird and awkward. All my other accommodations on this trip have required borrowing someone's personal space, but not actually sharing it. Here I will be sharing an apartment, and a bathroom, with this married couple.

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