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Vacationist + Preferred Hotels: Deals Benefit Japan

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Great news from Vacationist! Starting today, 21 new Preferred Hotels will launch 48-hour Check-In For Japan sales on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through June 30th at Vacationist.com—and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to American Red Cross disaster relief for those affected by the earthquake in Japan.

Room rates are as low as $50 a night at properties both close to home (Laguna Beach, California and Vail, Colorado) as well as more exotic destinations, from Maui to Madagascar. Act fast, do good, and stay for less through 2011! See offers below.

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15 New York Luxury Hotels Offer 3rd Night Free

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Sarah Palin was in NYC yesterday, as part of her not-a-campaign bus tour. I doubt that she’s a fan of a city with so few hunting opportunities and so many liberals (yes, there’s a joke waiting to be made right there), but I doubt even she can deny the thrill of being in a city so chockablock with culture and food and people and ideas. Last year’s almost 49 million visitors can’t be wrong.

While ex-Governor Palin’s accommodations have certainly been taken care of (no overnight bus parking, sorry!), you may find the search for a hotel room daunting. Fear not: NYC & Company’s Third Night promotion gets underway on June 27 and runs through September 5. Fifteen big-name hotels, the kind of places that almost never offer discounts, are participating in their Signature Collection promotion.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Manhattan, California, and the British Virgin Islands

201106-b-bitterendjpgWe’ve got a mixed bag today: a stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City gives you coveted access to the blossoming gardens of the city’s most exclusive private park, while a couple nights at Bernardus Lodge means you’ll unwind among grape vines just north of California’s Big Sur. Throw in a British Virgin Islands beach getaway deal, and this summer, you’ll be living easy.

Not what you’re looking for? Click here for Italy, Moorea, and more.

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Top Paris Hotels Left Off "Palace" List

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A jury composed by the Ministry of Tourism has awarded the new 'Palace' label to eight Paris hotels—Le Bristol, Le Meurice, the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme and Le Shangri-La among them. But to the confusion of many in the industry, the Four Seasons George V and Hôtel Ritz, Paris did not make the grade.

Only five-star hotels could apply for the Palace distinction, but the fact that two illustrious addresses were not recognized has caused dismay. As a result, a new call for candidates was issued and certain criteria have been relaxed: The Royal Monceau, for example, is too recent to have participated in the firstround, but it will be considered in the next one. The call closes in June.

Tina Isaac is Travel + Leisure's Paris correspondent.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz, Paris

Amsterdam’s Newest Hotels

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All eyes are on the Dutch capital, thanks to its booming hotel scene. Spread across three 17th-century merchant’s residences on the Keizersgracht, Canal House (doubles from $346) made its debut in April, with modern Dutch paintings in its 23 monochromatic rooms. Sofitel’s The Grand (doubles from $346) just did a refit, adding a bi-level So Spa as well as a seafood-centric restaurant. Not to be outdone, Hotel de L’Europe (doubles from $490) has reemerged from a two-year renovation with 23 new suites featuring Rijksmuseum replicas. Next month, a century-old music conservatory will relaunch as the Conservatorium (doubles from $577), housing 128 Zen-like suites and a holistic spa. And in September, the owners of the city’s edgy Lloyd Hotel are slated to unveil the Exchange (doubles from $289), designed by Amsterdam Fashion Institute students.

Photo courtesy of Hotel de L’Europe

Loews Hotels Roll Out Family Fun Programs for Summer

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It seemed like New York would never emerge from the clutches of winter up until a few days ago. But with the temperatures now in the 70s and Memorial Day weekend nearly here it seems like summer has finally arrived.

To celebrate that, Loews Hotels is rolling out the “Summer of Loews” to treat families to the extra things that make the season so much fun—including dance parties, BBQs and roving ice cream carts.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Rustic California, Vermont, and New York

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Cedar-and-glass bungalows, restored farmhouses, a roaring fireplace in an expansive main lodge: there are so many ways to do a rustic retreat. Vacationist is spotlighting three of our favorites today, from a premier lakeside spot in California wine country to a mountain escape in Stowe, Vermont—even a celebrity hideaway on 14 wooded acres an hour north of Manhattan. You’ll stay there for less when you book with Vacationist.

Not what you’re looking for? Click here for Italy, Dominican Republic, Acapulco, Mexico and more.

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New App Delivers 1-Night Hotel Deals for Stranded Travelers

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Innovator Sam Shank

Who He Is: “I got bitten by the travel bug late in life,” serial entrepreneur Sam Shank says. He’s certainly making up for lost time. In the past decade, Shank founded the hotel site travelpost.com, and dealbase.com, which compiles online travel discounts. His latest venture, Hotel Tonight, comes to the aid of stranded travelers.

His Big Idea: While on a business trip to Seattle last year, Shank’s plans changed at the last minute and he needed to stay an extra night, so he tried to book something on his phone—a surprisingly difficult process. The result? The free Hotel Tonight app (iPhone/iPad), which instantly delivers three one-night hotel deals per city in different categories and lets you book one in just seconds. The app is available for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., with Las Vegas on the way.

Photo courtesy of Sam Shank

Oregon’s New Cyclist-Friendly Hotel

Coastal Mountain Sport Haus

Cyclist-friendly Oregon has a stylish new rest stop for weary pedalers. Inspired by their biking trips to Italy, owners Glen and Sandy Crinklaw created the four-room Coastal Mountain Sport Haus (66845 Nehalem Hwy.; 503/429-6940; doubles from $199, including meals, two-night minimum) 50 miles north of Portland in the logging town of Vernonia (population: 2,300). The cedar inn—near some of the Pacific Northwest’s most picturesque biking paths—pays homage to the region with design touches such as bathroom sinks set in slabs of reclaimed black walnut and molted elk antlers used as towel hooks.

Photo by Heidi Swift/Courtesy of Coastal Mountain Sport Haus

Eat Your Pudding: Chef Marcus Wareing Opens New Restaurant in London

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It’s one of the most buzzed-about and eagerly anticipated hotel openings across the pond: London’s iconic St. Pancras railway station has reinvented itself as a sumptuous new Renaissance hotel, and last week unveiled The Gilbert Scott restaurant. Celebrated chef Marcus Wareing (of the Michelin two-starred Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley) derived inspiration for his second restaurant from both the historic building itself, as well as from dishes that are nearly 200 years old, but cooked with modern techniques.

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