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The Luxe Life on Koh Samui

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As we report in our current issue, high-end resorts are booming on Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island—and three in particular now rank among the finest Southeast Asia has to offer.

But not everything is up in Samui’s rising tide. While the luxury market expands at a rapid clip, last year the island actually lost 1,800 hotel rooms, or 11% of its total supply—most of them at the budget level.

“As Samui becomes more sophisticated, the lower-end tourist trade has been pushed out to other islands like Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao,” says Bill Barnett, a Thailand-based hotel consultant, who penned a provocative white paper on the island’s future chances.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: All-Inclusive Resorts in the South Pacific and Caribbean

200912-b-fijijpgForget what you think you know about all-inclusive resorts. The newest batch of hotels have evolved to attract discerning travelers with top-notch food choices, state-of-the-art  amenities, and stellar off-site excursions—for no extra cost, of course. A couple choices for Vacationists to consider now: the romantic Veranda, an adults-only escape in St. Philips, Antigua, or Beqa Lagoon Resort, on 10 tropical acres in far-flung Fiji. In case you’re wondering, there won’t be a wristband in sight.

For more hotel deals, including up to 60 percent off in Costa Rica, Nevis, and Italy, click here.

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A Luxe Travel Insider Launches New Website

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PR guru/savvy entrepreneur/enthusiastic globetrotter/longtime friend of T+L Melanie Brandman lives a life many would envy, traveling to all corners of the globe for her namesake company’s top-name travel clients.

And having also grown up in Australia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise Melanie’s world view is big—one that’s surely influenced and helped cultivate her good eye (and her good taste). Few know, however, that before her start in the travel industry, she worked as an editor at Vogue Australia.

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Today, Melanie officially returns to her early professional roots with the launch of The Travel Curator. The new website is her little black book of favorite finds from the road. Think of it as the short list or cheat sheet (hotels, restaurants, shops, more) for the world’s top luxury destinations mixed with smart trend coverage.

The first city in the spotlight? Sydney, of course. Melanie tips readers off to everything from a Surry Hills boutique renown for its custom textiles to what she calls “the best food truck in the Southern Hemisphere,” which sells meat pies with all the fixings around the clock. “Believe me, at 2 a.m. it’s just what the doctor ordered.” We do, Melanie!

Next month, travel with Melanie to New York City.

TODAY Show: The Results Are In - America's Favorite Cities Survey

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

Which U.S. city is the cleanest? The most affordable? Best for hotels? T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares the results from our popular annual survey—America's Favorite Cities. For complete results—in 50 categories, go here.

Gerhard Richter Retrospective Opens at The Tate

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This year marks the 80th birthday of abstract German painter Gerhard Richter, and London’s Tate Modern is paying homage with “Gerhard Richter: Panorama,” an expansive retrospective of the artist’s career across the past five decades. Richter’s work can’t easily be pegged to one aesthetic, and the exhibit (opening October 6) — featuring photograph-based portraits, landscapes, glass constructions, works on paper and color charts—displays the full range of his often politically-charged collection.

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6 Exciting New Hotel Openings

hotel opening: Vineyard & Resort indoor pool and spa area

From a mobile safari camp to a resort on a private island, T+L rounds up the most exciting openings—plus two coming soon.

India: Oberoi Hotels & Resorts has done it again, with a 202-room property on the outskirts of New Delhi. Just 15 minutes from the airport, the Oberoi, Gurgaon (doubles from $706) features suites with private pools, 24-hour butler service, a cigar lounge, and Delhi’s first 24-hour spa—because you never know when the desire for a massage may strike.

Italy: Giorgio Armani returns to his hometown—and Italy’s fashion capital—for his second hotel venture, opening soon. Like his first property, in Dubai, the Armani Hotel Milan (rates not available at press time) promises to have as sleek a silhouette as Armani’s ready-to-wear. Sheathed in a glass box above the atelier’s flagship store, the 95-room hotel (with the city’s largest guest rooms) is just steps from La Scala Theater.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: South America + Facebook Chat Today

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There’s nothing like shorter days and chilly nights to get you planning your next great escape, and thanks to Vacationist, a South American Grand Tour (in springtime!) is within reach. Spend a few days shopping your way through Buenos Aires from your base at the iconic Alvear Palace, then head to Punta del Este, to stay at Fasano’s new rustic-chic outpost, Fasano Las Piedras, in the Uruguayan countryside. Have questions on how to do it right? Log on to Vacationist's Facebook page at 2 p.m. EST for a chat with travel expert Paul Irvine, who will offer tips, strategies, and more.

For more travel deals, including New York, Boston, and Los Cabos, click here.

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TODAY Show: Great Getaway Rates for Fall

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

Planning to get away this fall? Check out more great seasonal hotel deals from T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed.

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Wine Meets Fall Foliage – Sonoma + Okanagan Valley

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Pack your scarves and a great digital camera: this fall, head west, to two of North America’s best wine regions. Outdoorsy types will want to unpack at Sonoma’s six-suite Chauvet, for easy access to the walking trails in Jack London State Park, while spa-goers will love the lavender-accented treatments at the rustic Farmhouse Inn, just 25 miles east in Glen Ellen. Or try something entirely unexpected with a stay at Sparkling Hill, a Swarovski-crystal-filled property in the northern corner of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. What do the hotels have in common, you ask? Unexpected amenities and bottles of standout Pinot Noir—best enjoyed in the fall, against a bright landscape swathed in fire red and tangerine.

For Italy, Bali, St. Lucia, and more, click here.

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Hotels That Lean?! Capital Gate Looms Over Abu Dhabi

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We live in a daredevil age of architecture. Out of the fog of dreams rise colossal structures that twist, outsize, and undulate to the extreme. Among these freewheeling feats stands the tilting high-rise hotel—and its crowning glory opens this fall.

The silvery spire of Hyatt Capital Gate (doubles from $650) slices the sky above Abu Dhabi’s sultry cityscape at a sharp 18 degree angle—four times greater than Pisa’s slouching bell tower. “There was an opportunity to do something very powerful,” says Chris Jones, principal architect with RMJM, "to create a new gateway to the city."

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