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No Assembly Required: Marriott and Ikea Bring You Moxy

Marriott International and a subsidiary of the Swedish home furnishings giant Ikea announced yesterday that they're teaming up to launch a new budget hotel brand, called Moxy, with outposts across Europe. The plans, which have been in the works for at least a year, call for the first Moxy to open in Milan in 2014, with 150 to follow in the next decade.

Though the new hotels will surely channel Ikea's cheap and chic contemporary design sensibility and Marriott's legendary hotel management savvy, details about the brand are scarce. (We are somewhat disappointed to learn that they will not be kitted out in Ikea furniture, though happy to hear that free in-room wifi and floor-to-ceiling wall art are on the menu.) The announcement got us thinking, though, about our vision for the ultimate Ikea-style hotel:

° In-room dining menu features meatballs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your mid-afternoon snack: Swedish fish.

° Guests who assemble their own Birkeland nightstands upon arrival receive a 15 percent discount on their room.

° Taking the pillow menu to new heights, Moxy allows guests to select their own bedding from a vast basement warehouse.

° No need to surreptitiously smuggle bathrobes, slippers, and bathroom amenities away in your suitcases. For your convenience, the hotel provides guests with a bright blue plastic bag.

° Finding your room involves wending your way through vast, crazy-making hallways until finally, with great relief, you arrive at your door.

Check out The World's Most Unusual Hotels.

Nicaragua’s New Mukul Resort

Mukul Nicaragua

With its dense jungles and secluded beaches, Nicaragua is a raw paradise begging to be explored—but its limited infrastructure has kept many travelers away. Enter Mukul, part of a $250 million luxury development dreamed up by local magnate Carlos Pellas. Set on an untouched stretch of the Pacific coast, the airy accommodations have handmade mahogany furniture, private pools, and spacious decks. If you can bear to leave your beachside villa or tree-house-like bohio, the spa offers Turkish baths and Indonesian massages. And when Pellas isn’t in residence, guests can lounge at his 20,000-square-foot compound—a glass of the family’s slow-aged Flor de Caña rum in hand. $$$$

Photo by Jessica Sample

The Boutique Hotel Experience in Tel Aviv

The Boutique Hotel Experience in Tel Aviv

Forget the beachfront, skyscraper hotels overlooking Tel Aviv's historic Jaffa. To see what really makes the White City tick, book a boutique hotel in a Bauhaus neighborhood and absorb the design and architecture of some of the spots that have been blooming in this Middle Eastern metropolis that sometimes feels like Miami-on-the-Mediterranean.

Alma Hotel, the newest of the bunch, opened in November 2012. It was founded by  siblings, Adi and Irit Strauss, who also run three of Tel Aviv’s most popular restaurants. They have woven together a patchwork of bohemian luxury in 15 studios and suites with elegant, zany decor that mirrors the eclectic architecture of its newly renovated 1925 building.

Each luminous room, some with balconies, meshes traditional décor with the contemporary, blending Eastern and Western cultures that recalls the intimate sexiness of hotels in Paris’s Le Marais district. A rooftop terrace, sandwiched between synagogues and skyscrapers, provides an urban oasis for sipping any of the Israeli boutique wines available in each room's mini-bar.

Alma also lures wealthy foodies, ranging from Israeli socialites to Russian businessmen, to its ground floor bar and restaurant. Its celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld (also a judge on Master Chef Israel) serves Mediterranean tapas in microscopic yet succulent portions.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Big Sur, Lake Placid + New Orleans

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

Sale ends in 3 days!
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Ventana Inn - up to 41% off
Big Sur, California
This beloved, adults-only hideaway in Big Sur, California is home to 55 rooms and three cozy cedar villas, all surrounded by 243 acres that front the rugged coast.

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Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa - up to 29% off
Lake Placid, New York
The historic, 131-room Lake Placid resort has views of the Adirondack Mountains and offers easy access to the area's winter- and summertime pursuits (skiing, canoeing, and hiking).

Sale ends in 6 days!
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Windsor Court Hotel - up to 30% off
New Orleans, Louisiana
Within walking distance of the French Quarter and the Garden District, the centrally located Windsor Court Hotel is a NOLA institution that combines traditional luxury with impeccable (yet low-key) service.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

From top: Photos courtesy of Ventana Inn; Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa; Windsor Court Hotel.


 

The Doctor Recommends: Stories and Articles From All Over

Here are a few recent travel stories that piqued the interest of T+L's news team.

Be careful where you shake, folks. USA Today reports that the FAA is looking into possible safety violations after a group Colorado College students lead a Harlem Shake on a recent Frontier Airlines flight. (Amy Farley)

United has launched an official investigation of the crew that threw Live and Let's Fly blogger Matthew Klint off the plane for snapping photos of his business class cabin. Klint's takeaway? The seven words you shouldn't use on an airplane. (Nikki Ekstein)

Farecompare founder Rick Seaney has great advice for people traveling in a group (including families): save money by searching for airfare one person at a time. We’d explain here, but best to just go straight to his brilliant USA Today column. (AF)

Oh, the people you'll meet. Novelist Nathaniel Rich finds himself sharing intimacies, aspirations, and a little bit of heartbreak with his fellow passengers on a two-day journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited train in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. (AF)

What's more lonely than being in a strange hotel in a strange city all by yourself? Being without your beloved $8 M&Ms. In an essay in The Atlantic, journalist David Samuels laments the demise of the hotel mini bar. (AF)

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're in Vail, Colorado

We asked true travel pros what to do near Vail, Colorado. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.


View Vail, Colorado in a larger map

“Don’t miss dinner at Larkspur. Tuesday’s happy hour menu is the best.” —Jennifer Lesseraux Collins, via Facebook

“Après-ski, I go to the Ore House (232 Bridge St.)—two tacos and a beer for six dollars!” —@ryleeks

“The new Sebastian hotel is cozy yet chic, and its Frost bar has an awesome scotch selection.” —Alex Schack, via Facebook

“We always stop in at the Golden Bear Vail (183 Gore Creek Dr.) for one-of-a-kind jewelry, bags, and scarves.” —Michael Cartwright, via Facebook

“Check out Phil Long’s classic rock set at the Red Lion—he plays weekend nights at nine.” —Scott Kling, via Facebook

Travel Uniform: Grace Leo, CEO of GLA Hotels

Grace Leo

The jet-setting hotel designer is never ruffled on the road.

“I am the most compact packer,” says Grace Leo, founder and CEO of GLA Hotels. Leo is ever on the move, overseeing projects in such far-flung destinations as Caracas, Venezuela, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Her travel style is globally sourced (case in point: the monogrammed Lorenza Bellora canvas tote she purchased in a shop at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome). She recently relocated to Manhattan to supervise the $30 million renovation of Millennium Hotels & Resorts’ One UN New York (1 United Nations Plaza; $$$), but Paris is her true home. “I search for antiques at the Marché Paul Bert on Sundays. One good piece can inspire an entire project.”

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Trip Doctor: The Rebirth of a Brand

Karl Lagerfeld

Jean Nouvel. Christian Lacroix. Kenzo Takada. And now, Karl Lagerfeld. Over the last half-decade, a star-studded cast of designers and architects has helped transform the half-century-old French Sofitel brand from a random collection of dusty hotels—some elegant, some forgettable—into a serious player among international luxury hotels.

This is all thanks to a new direction from CEO Robert Gaymer-Jones, who over the last six years whittled down 81 sub-par properties from a group of more than 200 into a collection of 120 hotels that have been upgraded and reflagged into distinct brands. They include the Sofitel flagship (the Nouvel-designed Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, for one), Sofitel Legend for historic properties (the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi and the soon-to-open Sofitel Montevideo among others), and So, a line of new style-conscious boutiques. (Recent openings include So Bangkok, where Lacroix did the lobby and staff uniforms, and So Mauritius, where Takada designed eight light-filled villas.)

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Après-ski? Après Vous: 5 Great Après-ski Traditions on the East Coast

Whiteface Lodge

Last month I reported on great après-ski traditions at resorts out West. Don't worry, East Coasters, here are four top-notch resorts closer to home, each with an après-ski scene to rival anything in the Rockies.

 
In the Adirondack region of New York, Whiteface Lodge's signature après-ski drink is the Campfire, a soothing blend of bourbon, local apple cider, scotch, and sage. Where better to enjoy a liquid Campfire than by an actual campfire? The Lodge agrees, and has built two large lean-tos around a fire pit. Cushy seating, blankets, and mountain views allow guests to relax under the stars while still enjoying the comforts of resort life. And a direct phone line to the hotel concierge means that a Campfire by the campfire need never be far away.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Miami Beach, Southern California + Caribbean

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 50% off.

Sale ends in 3 days!

Hotel Breakwater South Beach

Hotel Breakwater South Beach - up to 29%
Miami Beach, Florida
A Miami Beach icon since 1936, the Hotel Breakwater South Beach, on Ocean Drive, mixes Art Deco pedigree with newly revitalized interiors.

La Valencia

La Valencia - up to 41% off
La Jolla, California
With its blend of Hollywood history and jaw-dropping views, La Valencia embodies the old-school elegance of La Jolla, San Diego's tony enclave tucked against a cove.

St. James's Club Resort & Villas

St. James's Club Resort & Villas - up to 41% off
St John's, Antigua and Barbuda
Its endless activities menu, all-day kid's club, and close proximity to Antigua's airport make St. James's Club an ideal family-friendly Caribbean resort.

For more deals, click here.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

Photos courtesy of Hotel Breakwater South Beach; La Valencia; St. James's Club.

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