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Open Letter to a Hotel Concierge

Concierge Open Letter

Dear Concierge,

Can we take a moment? Because lately our arrangement has been feeling a bit stale. Positively outdated, even. When we asked you to suggest a great local spot for dinner, we didn’t mean your hotel’s “signature fine-dining outlet” or the white-linen relic you’ve probably been recommending for a decade. We meant where you would go for a casual night out. Do you still read the local papers? Maybe start skimming the blogs, too. We even know a concierge who started his own blog!

The point is, we’re here to actually get to know your town, and you’re our advance scout. We shouldn’t have to tell you about that great new gallery downtown or the cool cocktail joint that just opened. It’s okay to have a folder of harmless standbys. But trust us: we can handle something offbeat and authentic, like that great Indonesian spot your colleague in Amsterdam sent us to.

Indeed, many of your brethren go above and beyond, like the London concierge who selected a gift at Harrod’s for our friend’s wedding, or the guy in Tokyo who mapped out a complicated train journey for us. So please, don’t just feed us the same rote script. Wouldn’t a little creativity make your job more interesting?

Respectfully,
The T+L Editors

Photo © iStockphoto

Tech Thursday: The Peninsula Hong Kong's High-Tech Renovation

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The 84-year-old grande dame just unveiled the next-generation rooms of its modern tower, part of a $58 million, 15-month renovation. (The original building will reopen in April 2013.) T+L got an advance look at the 21st-century makeover, complete with cutting-edge technology hatched in the hotel’s own R&D lab and a sleek new design that maximizes space and functionality. $$$$

• Guests can make free international calls on the wireless phones with VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).

• Ten multi-language touch-screen panels placed around the room control the lights, curtains, thermostat, television, and Internet radio (all 3,000 stations).

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New and Improved Manhattan Hotels

Manhattan Hotels: Roger New York

With a record 50.5 million visitors to New York last year, it’s no surprise that the hotel scene is heating up.

A flurry of Manhattan hotels new and old are trying to one-up each other—at a pace even a local like myself finds dizzying. In midtown, the stodgy Roger Williams is now the Roger New York ($$). Expect tufted blue-velvet sofas and—that signifier of hip hotels everywhere—a consulting mixologist.

• A $65 million update has converted the stalwart Helmsley into the Westin New York Grand Central ($$). Look for a restaurant and bar by buzz-maker Rande Gerber.

• France-based boutique hotelier Grace Leo is the driving force behind the renovation of the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, now One UN New York ($$).

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Fashion Icon Ilaria Venturini Fendi's New Agriturismo

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Ilaria Venturini Fendi may be a scion of the Roman fashion dynasty known for its leather handbags and furs. But for her, luxury is I Casali del Pino, the organic farm she owns 30 minutes from Rome, where she’s opening an agriturismo this fall. The cozy inn’s 19 rustic-chic rooms are furnished with wrought-iron beds, salvaged tiles, and under-floor geothermal heating. The eco ethic is nothing new for Fendi: her accessories company, Carmina Campus—which is also run from the farm—creates totes out of “upcycled” materials (venetian blinds; mosquito nets). There’s a restaurant serving dishes such as lemon-ricotta ravioli with pine-nut pesto. And the pecorino cheese on the menu? That’s courtesy of Fendi’s own flock of Sardinian sheep. 39-06/3089-5688.

Photo by Monika Hofler

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Palm Beach, D.C. + Northern California

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

Sale ends in 2 days!


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The Chesterfield - up to 31% off
Palm Beach, Florida
Right in the heart of Palm Beach—just a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and legendary Worth Avenue—the Chesterfield delivers a bit of English charm mixed with sand and sea.


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The Madison - up to 64% off
Washington D.C.
Located less than half a mile from the White House, the 365-room Madison hotel is known for its pedigree: it's been the temporary home of every President-elect since John F. Kennedy.

Sale ends in 4 days!

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L'Auberge Carmel - up to 33% off
Carmel by the Sea, California
This 20-room whitewashed hotel, in tony Carmel-by-the-Sea, is just four blocks from the Pacific and 120 miles south of San Francisco.

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

From top: Photos courtesy of The Chesterfield; The Madison; L'Auberge Carmel.

Forty Years Later, Sirio Maccioni Returns to The Pierre

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Celebrated Italian restaurateur Sirio Maccioni (the man behind New York's Le Cirque and a handful of other restaurants across Las Vegas and now New Delhi) returns to The Pierre with Sirio Ristorante, forty years after serving as maître d' at the same hotel's venerable La Forêt supper club kickstarted his illustrious career.

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Notable Hotel Openings: Ritz-Carlton Vienna

Ritz-Carlton Vienna exterior

Travel + Leisure is having a minor love fest with the Austrian capital of Vienna these days—its buzzy contemporary arts scene, revitalized Biedermeier districts, proximity to an increasingly wonderful wine country, perennially spirited cultural calendar, and most recently, the opening of a new luxury hotel.

In grand Viennese style, the Ritz-Carlton property (the company's first in Austria, ninth in Europe, and 80th worldwide) is housed in not one but four 19th-century palaces along the elegant and centrally located Vienna Ringstraße. The hotel's exterior is classically opulent, yes, but it's the property's interiors that make it so special.

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New Amenities at Top UK Hotels

New Amenities at Top U.K. Hotels

Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel, has launched Project Bell Boy, collaborating with renowned English hairstylist Errol Douglas MBE to design custom coifs for Belgraves’s trendy front of house team that “pay homage to the hotel’s location in the chic Belgravia neighbourhood.”

Meanwhile, there’s a new Belgraves Big Night Out package (until December 23, from £1,200) for guests, which includes an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s top suites and a visit to Douglas’s Motcomb Street salon for a blow-dry or a cut; afterwards, you’ll be chauffeured to your West End nightlife venue of choice. The project is set to continue into 2013 and to launch at Thompson properties around the globe, each of which will offer destination-specific hairstyling tips.

As the only hotel in the UK to offer polo, Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park, in Ascot, recently launched a Polo Academy. Under the tutelage of Andrew Hine, who both captained and managed the English national team, guests could learn to play the world’s oldest team sport.

In anticipation of the new 007 movie, Skyfall (out in the U.K. October 26; in the U.S. November 9), Dukes bar at the Dukes hotel is offering martini-making classes with its head barman, Alessandro Palazzi. After all, it’s said that this is where author Ian Fleming was inspired to write the line “shaken, not stirred.”

Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Photo courtesy of The Dorchester

Nobu Hotel to Open in Las Vegas

Nobu Hotel Las Vegas

For those who have ever hoped that dinner at Nobu would last forever, your wishes have been granted. Celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has added hotelier to his résumé with the soon-to-open, 181-room Nobu Hotel ($$) at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas. Overnight guests get first dibs on tables at the hotel’s restaurant—at 13,000 square feet, the biggest one yet. But they might be more inclined to order up to their David Rockwell–designed rooms (Japanese calligraphy on the walls; walk-in shower with black umi tiles). For breakfast—a first for Matsuhisa—there’s kurobuta sausage, onsen egg, and green-tea waffles, and the mini-bars are filled with blood-orange-chili juice and the chef’s own brand of chilled sake. That’s not all: “Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed with a cup of green tea and a traditional cracker from my hometown, Saitama, Japan,” Matsuhisa told us. “It was important for me to incorporate elements of my heritage and culture.”

Photo © Eleanor Bentall / Corbis

Donate Your Points and Miles for Hurricane Sandy Relief

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Few would've imagined that this week’s storm with the friendly-sounding name could wreak such havoc and devastation along the East Coast. In the wake of 20,055 flights cancellations due to Hurricane Sandy and with infrastructure is slowly coming back online, there are still an estimated 7.8 million people without power, billions of dollars in damage, and many whose lives will never be the same. They need help. Here are some easy ways for you to help out:

Based on contributions to the Red Cross Disaster Relief, American Airlines is giving AAdvantage members one-time bonus reward miles, starting with 250 miles for a minimum donation of $50. Go here for donation details.
 
Other airlines with charitable initiatives:
Continental Airlines
Delta Air Lines
United Airlines
US Airways

And hotels:
Choice Hotels International, Inc.
Drury Hotels
Hilton Worldwide
Marriott International
Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Please consider making a difference to those who desperately need it and give today.

Photo credit: iStock

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