Let me introduce you to my new guilty pleasure: the The W Store website—the expertly curated online boutique of the W hotel chain. (There are several brick-and-mortar boutiques as well.) OK, so I haven’t actually bought anything from there yet, but just surfing through the merch makes for a compelling mid-afternoon escape, akin to a leisurely browse through the racks at Barneys—but you don’t even have to leave your desk!
You’ve probably seen him before. He’s the tall, quiet man traveling alone. He won’t talk to you first, but he’ll be polite if you approach him. He’s trying to blend in after all, and so far “Andrew Harper” has done an excellent job of it. In his 30 years of traveling incognito with the mission of reporting the world’s finest hotels, resorts and restaurants in his members-only newsletter Hideaway Report, no one has ever guessed his identity.
“There have been times that hoteliers have taken me on one side, pointed out an individual dining alone and confidently identified him as Andrew Harper!” He writes in an email (so I can’t, unfortunately, report on his voice).
Not a whole lot goes on in Little Compton, Rhode Island. That’s the way people there like it, and it’s the reason the Stone House (which opens today) has got them talking.
The Stone House is a lovely, historic 13-room hotel—not exactly the sort of place you’d expect to raise eyebrows in a posh coastal New England town. But Little Compton (pop. 3,500) isn’t Newport. The town commons basically consists of a diner and a general store, and thrifty flash-adverse locals like to keep a low profile. (Despite the fact that some of New England’s wealthiest families have houses here, the country club not long ago took Haagen Daz off its menu because its members complained it was too expensive.)
Just back from a perfectly beachy Hamptons weekend, and you sure wouldn't know there was an economic crisis looming in the real world.
In East Hampton, everyone's buzzing about the imminent reopening of the Blue Parrot, a beloved Mexican joint that closed a couple years back. Rumor has it that a star-studded lineup of investors--Ronald Perelman, Larry Gagosian, Renée Zellweger, and Jon Bon Jovi, no less--are backing the restaurant. Meanwhile, just down Main Street, a number of pop-up shops have sprung up for the season, including Hermès (No. 63) and Michael Kors (No. 48).
In October 2009, the new W Barcelona will throw open its doors at the end of the Passeig Joan de Borbo on the Catalan city's sun-soaked waterfront. But we can hardly contain our excitement after a recent hardhat tour that showed off city and Mediterranean views from Ricardo Bofill’s sail-shaped structure (on a clear day, you can see Majorca). Take a look for yourself and tell us we’re wrong. And by the way, don’t fret if you’re not one of the lucky few who can afford a suite on the 25th floor ($1,260 USD)—90 percent of the 473 rooms will have full sea views. Rooms available starting Oct. 1.
Jennifer Flowers is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by Jennifer Flowers
Looking for an exotic vacation that's also within reach? It’s likely you haven’t considered the United Arab Emirates, a country known to be the epitome of over-the-top luxury and conspicuous consumption. But with the debut of the country’s first low-cost airline, flydubai, (launching this week) and two new boutique hotels, there’s plenty of proof that the UAE—and Dubai in particular—are ready to welcome a new type of visitor: the budget traveler.
I love hotel remodels—the gleaming bathroom fixtures, the springy pillow-top mattresses that feel improbably cushier than any I’ve owned. But as someone who gets guilty throwing out a paperclip when it could be reused, I've always wondered: What happens to the original (perfectly good) furniture when a property decides to revamp?Are the superfluous fittings recycled, or tossed in a landfill where they’ll form en suite mounds of trash?
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, there are nearly five million hotel rooms in the U.S., and most have their mattresses and couches updated every 6-8 years (it’s every 12-13 years for less worn-and-torn “casegoods,” like headboards and dressers). When they do get replaced, the majority of hoteliers sell their old furniture to liquidators, who then hawk it to the general public (In the market?Try Hotel Surplus Outlet near Los Angeles for glass-paneled armoires from the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, and Chicago’s Fort Pitt Hotel Furniture Liquidators for Four Seasons headboards).
Thankfully, though, more and more properties are combining décor overhauls with philanthropy. Recently the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton, Connecticut, remodeled and gave holdover furniture to local charities. They donated over 300 beds, 285 sofas and chairs, and 500 floor and table lamps to people living without them. Now, doesn’t that help everybody rest easy?
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is a freelance editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Sasha Panasik
It’s not as if Cape Town, South Africa’s waterfront capital of glamour, needed another notch in its already seriously stylish belt, but when Sol Kerzner, the outsized hotel impresario responsible for South Africa’s Sun City, Atlantis Bahamas and Atlantis The Palm in Dubai, One&Only Resorts, and Connecticut’s very own Mohegan Sun, says he wants to return to his homeland with a waterfront resort that will be the social center for Cape Town’s gorgeous and moneyed, well, by God, that’s what he’s going to do.
When I saw it, just a few weeks ago, the new One&Only Cape Town on the V&A Waterfront was something of an inauspicious sight, full of mud, dust, loose wiring, and the footprints of thousands of construction workers. The resort, a 91-room main building and 40 suites set on a private island in the adjacent marina, was racing to meet an April 3 opening day deadline. I had my doubts. But Lesson No. 1 in South Africa: never underestimate the power of Mr. Kerzner. The property opened—on time and with the requisite celebrities on site to toast its arrival (Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon, Mariah Carey).
And what of Kerzner’s vision of creating the city’s next great social hub?The hotel, designed and decorated by Adam D. Tihany in a restrained Bali-goes-on-safari style, is anchored by over 14,000 square feet of dazzling public space. There’s Gordon Ramsey’s Maze restaurant, a Nobu outpost that looks like a bento box on steroids (above), and, in between, an enormous bar and lounge with 23-foot-tall windows looking onto the marina and Table Mountain beyond (above, top). (There’s also, in an odd homage to Paris, an on-site boulangerie.)
Set among the rather insipid establishments of the V&A waterfront, it's a downright seductive space. Add to that rooms and suites that are positively huge and kitted out like nothing else in the city (iPod docks with surround sound, Nespresso machines, and Tihany’s covetable custom-made furniture) and it looks like Kerzner’s got his wish.
Amy Farley is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo Credit: Jackie Caradonio
On a recent trip to St. Bart's, I spotted the owner of the Revlon empire, Ron Perelman, on his yacht in Gustavia Harbor, a Rockefeller or two shopping in the village of St. Jean, and Jon Bon Jovi having dinner at Eden Rock. Sure, they can afford the prices here—it's the winter getaway of the rich and famous, after all. But what about we normal, not-so-recession-proof folk?Here's my short list for how to do the island affordably:
STAY: The Hôtel Baie des Anges, on the northwest corner of the island, is on one of the prettiest beaches around—it also shares its sands with the tony Hotel Isle de France. The people watching here is great. The really good news?Rates here dropped significantly on Apr. 1 (from $415 to $230 for a double room). (Flamands; 590/27-63-61; doubles from $230)
EAT: The year-old beach-front shack O'Corail is run by a local sister/brother team. He's a fisherman. She runs the restaurant. They serve the freshest-caught fish, straight from his boat. (This is big for St. Barts: seasonality and eating local is just catching on here; neighboring Le Sereno hotel brags about its Madagascar prawns, to illustrate my point.) O'Corail does lunch all week and dinner only on weekends. At lunch, order a rum punch and the spiny lobster salad and watch the dozens of kite surfers fly across the Grand Cul de Sac. (Grand Cul de Sac; 590/29-33-27; lunch for two $60)
DO: Rent snorkle gear at Marine Service and head to Gouverneur Beach. It's secluded, with crystal blue water and the some of the best snorkling on the island: My boyfriend and I spotted French anglefish, sargeant majors, sea turtles, rays, and a nurse shark. (Quai du Yacht Club, Gustavia; 590/590-27-70-34; daily gear rentals, from $20)
Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
The city of NY is very large. Like really really large.