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Oh Joy: Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai


I am staying at the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai and it is possibly quite the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen. As you know, the Sassoons built it on the Bund in 1929 and it was the Cathay Hotel. Stuck in bed here the following year with flu, Noel Coward wrote Private Lives.

The restoration is exquisite. It is classic art deco using the finest marble, gilt, bronze. The rooms are gorgeous—both in decor and facility. The restaurants and bars and lounges are fabulous—and the Chinese government must have spent gazillions on it.

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Maine Sleepaway Camp for Wannabe Furniture Makers

201005_moserchairjpgThos. Moser, the furniture-making firm, many of whose handmade pieces have achieved American icon status, runs a Customer-in-Residence program that could make the perfect Father’s Day gift for the would-be woodworker in your family.   Never mind bringing home an ashtray or lanyard from camp—graduates of this weeklong program come home with a piece of furniture that they’ve built under the tutelage of a master woodworker.

The lucky five carpenters accepted into each session (applications are considered and previous Moser customers are given preference on the waiting list) are put up at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine, land of the outdoorsy outlet shop.

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Watch It: New Watch Line Celebrates W Hotel Openings


Ever leave your watch at home because it’s too nice to travel with? Afraid to get water on your Rolex while lounging poolside? Well, New York–based design firm, Nooka has teamed up with W Hotels to put out a line of three super-cool rubbery watches that can take a travel licking and keep on ticking.

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Designing a Better Boarding Pass


Back in mid-December, Tyler Thompson,  creative director at New York web-hosting site, SquareSpace, took a Delta flight from New York’s JFK airport to Seattle, on which he apparently didn’t have adequate reading material.  Thompson cast a professional eye at his boarding pass and found it lacking not only visual punch, but also clarity of information.

In-flight, Thompson sketched out a few different ways to better communicate the pertinent information, and then back at his computer he created some mock-ups.  Next, he opened up the redesign project to the design community through a web site: Boarding Pass/Fail.  What has transpired since the site went live in early January is an entertaining public conversation  about everything wrong with this small, disposable necessity of air travel. Here’s hoping the airline industry takes notice.

On my wish list for Thompson and his fellow designers to tackle next?  The ground transportation signage at JFK airport, please.  Any travel-related  designs you love to hate?

Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Credit: Tyler Thompson

L.A.’s Four Seasons Gets a Facelift


The Four Seasons Hotel, Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is almost finished with its $33 million renovation project.

As of now, the updates for the Ballroom, Windows Lounge, Cabana Restaurant, and pool are completed with room refurbishments wrapping up soon. A new restaurant, Culina, Modern Italian will debut in early March.

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Miami’s Sexiest New Chillout Spot

Yes, Philippe Starck may be one of the most overexposed hotel designers in the world. But just when you think, “If I’ve seen one room by Philippe Starck, I’ve seen them all,” you step into a space like the Spa at Icon Brickell.

Something about Starck’s designs just seems to make sense in Miami. And this glamorous new spa, the flagship for Viceroy Resorts, is particularly successful, with water as its central theme.

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Hello Kitty Turns 35—Cougar Jokes Abound

Never has a pop icon been so happy to turn 35. Last week on  November 1, 2009, the beloved cat turned the big 3-5  (that’s 137 in human years).

To celebrate the Japanese import, Royal/T in L.A.'s Culver City is hosting a free Hello Kitty event entitled Three Apples—a nod to H.K.’s weight, as listed on her official bio—bringing together over 30 artists inspired by the flirtatious feline. A portion of the art’s proceeds will help fund community service projects in Los Angeles.

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Cool Hunting: New W Hotel Washington, D.C.

200910-b-w-dc-sky-terracejpg First there was the Donovan House. Then the Park Hyatt. Now the W has set up shop. It seems Washington, D.C. is swapping its white-shirt-and-khaki image for a little New York edge. And on a recent pop-in to the new W property, I found myself thinking, ‘D.C. is kind of cool.’

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All Aglow: The New W Ft. Lauderdale


“I've got travel rage,” the hotel-and-spa designer Clodagh (right) told me recently when I visited her studio in New York's Soho for a virtual tour of the just-opened W Ft. Lauderdale.

I've met Clodagh (just one name—like Madonna) a couple of times before and always walked away feeling totally relaxed. She has that kind of an effect on people, so I was a little surprised that this calm Irish woman could have anything verging on rage. But apparently, it informs many of her designs. Her number-one complaint: bad lighting.

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