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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Los Angeles, Las Vegas + Oregon

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A vacation on the west coast without breaking the bank? These three Vacationist hotel deals are a great excuse to head straight for L.A. and Las Vegas—or to go off-the-grid in undiscovered Hood River, Oregon, to see (or ski!) the pristine Columbia River Gorge area.  In L.A., you’ll sleep in plush white-on-white beds at Mr. C Beverly Hills after dinner at the newest Cipriani outpost; in Vegas, the Signature at MGM Grand is an all-suite escape where you can avoid the frenetic crowds. And in Oregon, unpack at Columbia Cliff Villas, with views of the rushing Columbia River.

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Danny Meyer's Favorite Hotel Restaurants

Danny Meyer, restaurateur

With three dining spots—Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, and North End Grill—anchoring the new Conrad Hotel (102 North End Ave.; 212/945-0100; doubles from $369), Danny Meyer is making his mark on New York’s Battery Park City. (His company Union Square Events also has an exclusive food and beverage partnership with the Conrad.) Here, he reveals his top hotel-restaurant picks.

Louisville, Kentucky
“The winsome art collection, happening bar, and Michael Paley’s gutsy cooking make Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel a restaurant you don’t want to miss. Try the charcuterie plate, and anything Chef Paley does with pork is outstanding.” Dinner for two $75.

New York
“Choose a window table with a view of the whole room at Adour Alain Ducasse in the St. Regis, and tuck in to some of New York’s most refined cooking, such as a tiny, roseate pork chop along with a lovely Aloxe-Corton—a surprisingly good value on the list.” 2 E. 55th St.; 212/710-2277; dinner for two $300.

Paris
“The formerly bohemian Hôtel Pont Royal is now a swank setting. The menu at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon changes frequently, but I once savored langoustines and thyme-roasted lamb chops with a glass of Château de Fonsalette.” 5 Rue de Montalembert, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-22-56-56; dinner for two $270.

London
“David Linley’s Dining Room at the Goring is stunningly lit by Swarovski chandeliers at night. The menu is a winning cross between modern and classic British. The lobster omelette alone is worth the trip.” 15 Beeston Place; 44-20/7396-9000; dinner for two $160.

Photo by Ellen Silverman

Best Apps for Managing Frequent Flyer Miles

air travel mileage tracker

Staying on top of your many mileage, hotel, and rental-car programs is one of the biggest headaches for frequent travelers. Ditto figuring out whether or not you’ve accumulated enough points to book a first-class ticket for your next big getaway. But luckily, online mileage trackers have stepped in to help, letting travelers input their various member ID’s and passwords to conveniently consolidate all of their programs in one place. Besides displaying your latest balances, these services also notify you of all upcoming expiration dates, which is essential for keeping (and amassing more!) points.

Each site has its own edge: MileBlaster is particularly good at tracking your miles and alerting you whenever your points are about to expire, while AwardWallet smartly provides users with a convenient wallet-size card listing all of their loyalty numbers. We like TripIt’s iPhone- and iPad-optimized apps, which let you quickly access your details on the fly.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Costa Rica, Mexico + St. Lucia

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The January chill means we're craving a warm-weather winter getaway. A few ideas, courtesy of Vacationist: Costa Rica, where the temperatures hover around 90 degrees and the 10-room Rancho Pacifico, set on the southern Pacific Coast near Manuel Antonio, has an open-air spa to take in the rainforest views. In Ixtapa, Mexico, Las Brisas is set on a private beach for quiet relaxation, while the adults-only all-inclusive Rendezvous, on the northern coast of St. Lucia, offers activities from snorkeling to tennis and bike tours—and temperatures in the 80s.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Lake Tahoe + St. Lucia

201201-b-vacationist-plump-jack-innjpgThis winter may be Lake Tahoe’s best yet, thanks to a slew of new restaurants, just-opened trails, and adventurous snowcat tours to back-country skiing. A bonus? You can access all 6,000 mountain acres from the 56-room PlumpJack, at the base of Squaw Valley, for less than $130 a night when you book with Vacationist. Or, for those who want to leave the snow behind, there's up to 33 percent off stays at St. Lucia’s Jade Mountain, where the weather is so warm that suites are built without a fourth wall—for unobstructed views of the sea.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Damien Hirst Exhibit Opens Today...In a City Near You?

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The prolific YBA artist, Damien Hirst, is continuing his successful career at being…well, prolific. Today, the Gagosian Gallery opens "The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011" in all of their 11 locations. That's 3 in New York, 2 in London, 1 in Paris, Rome, Beverly Hills, Athens, Hong Kong and Geneva. If this is still not enough Damien Hirst for you, the gallery is offering people to take on "The Complete Spot Challenge." Register at their website, jet to all 11 locations, and you'll get a personally signed Spot Print from the man himself. While you're in New York, stay at Le Parker Meridien or the Gramercy Park Hotel, where you'll find his work on their walls. In London, spend the night at 45 Park Lane and eat in the lobby, at Wolfgang Puck's CUT. There, you'll be greeted by even more of his pieces. Hong Kong? No problem. W Hotel, Hong Kong often exhibits his art in their lobby as well. Just make sure you bring some extra cash. A Damien Hirst doesn't come cheap.

Where: Gagosian Gallery (Worldwide)
When: Opens January 12, 2012 (Closing dates vary)
More Information: gagosian.com

Joe Harper is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Credit: © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2011. Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates

New Site Scopes out the Best Hotels for Surfers

Cabo Surf Hotel

Breaking news for surfing enthusiasts: The new website Wavecation.com—think of it as a HomeAway or VRBO tailored to the surfing community—lists hotels, private homes, and other rental options close to ride-worthy waves all over the globe. The most important criteria? The property has to be oceanfront (or front-row, in cases when a jungle or other natural barrier blocks coastal views) to the water and surf spots. “These places are the equivalent of ski-in, ski-out properties on a snow mountain,” says founder Matt Thomson, who has turned down a number of interested homeowners to maintain his super specific standards. The Austin-based resident is surf-obsessed himself. He started riding when he was 12 and has traveled the world—from the coasts of Nicaragua and Mexico to Hawaii and California—in search of the best breaks.

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T+L Trip of the Month: Quintessential South Africa

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Don't miss Travel + Leisure’s January Trip of the Month, Quintessential South Africa. In association with Travel + Leisure Elite Traveler, our travel club for deals on hotels, cruises, and more, the Trip of the Month offers T+L readers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries from the world’s top tour operators.

Micato Safaris, our No. 1 World's Best Awards operator, has designed this dream South African adventure, the perfect mix of city, beach, wine, and the Big Five, just for our readers.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: New York, Los Angeles + San Diego

201201-b-la-valenciajpgWe’re starting 2012 with Vacationist deals in some of our favorite cities in the U.S. In New York, the Sherry-Netherland is a classic property located directly across from Central Park; the hotel restaurant, Harry Cipriani, is a Manhattan icon. Looking for warmer weather? The Huntley Hotel is also set on prime U.S. real estate—a tree-lined street just steps from the Santa Monica boardwalk. But if true surf culture is on the brain, head further south to La Jolla, where the pink-tinged La Valencia has been delivering oceanfront views since 1925.

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn To Get a Green Hotel

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Oppenheim Architecture + Design recently won the bid for the Williamsburg Hotel.  Between the Williamsburg Bridge and the domed Neoclassic Williamsburg Savings Bank, a 21st-century tower is set to rise over 400 feet.

What exactly does the prospect of a LEEDS Platinum-certified green building, set in the bustling bohemian enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, say about New York's ever-changing tale? We'll have to wait and see.  For now, check out these interesting photo renderings:

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