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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
We’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.
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:
This eco-friendly retreat is set in Mexico’s emerging wine country, just 40 minutes from Ensenada. The 20 mountainside bungalows—part of a 99-acre gated development—have minimal impact on the rugged terrain, and are steps from a winery run by a Napa Valley enologist, plus a Slow Food restaurant. Doubles from $200.