What’s the best hotel in Aspen? According to Web entrepreneur Travis Katz, it all depends on who you are: a Goldman Sachs banker might want the luxury and cosseting service of the Little Nell, while a 20-year-old yoga instructor on a budget might opt for the more-bang-for-your-buck Limelight Lodge. Earlier this year, Katz, a former MySpace executive, officially launched gogobot.com, a sort of Facebook for travelers that lets you exchange tailored hotel, restaurant, and other destination recommendations with like-minded friends on the site and through other social networks. Gogobot, which creates stylish destination scrapbooks for users by drawing from their manually submitted reviews and FourSquare and Facebook check-ins, is based on the premise that travelers trust their friends’ recommendations over those of guidebooks or online user-generated review sites like TripAdvisor.
There’s no need to hide your Havaianas now that Vacationist has our eye on warm weather hotspots. Unroll your towel at three of the world’s best beaches, and you’ll knock a few destinations off your travel bucket list—for less.
Many years ago, I was on assignment for another magazine, following
hunter-gatherers around Borneo, eating whatever they shot or threw down from
trees. After a week of sleeping in jungle lean-tos, removing leeches, and
slipping in mud, I was definitely not a sight for sore eyes.
Before I even had a chance to change (not that I had any clean clothes left), I flew straight from my jungle base to Kuala Lumpur, where I had
reserved a room at the Ritz-Carlton. With my clothes and backpack covered in
mud and rain, I couldn’t blame the
cab driver’s raised eyebrow when I
told him my destination. I fully expected to have to show my reservation
confirmation—and possibly beg—just to get in the door. Amazingly, no one
blinked an eye. The white glove-clad bellhop hoisted my mud-caked pack onto his
cart, and the check-in staff even offered me a seat on their fancy furniture.
Planning your fall escape? Get out of the city with these two stellar Vacationist deals at hotels in the rolling countryside. A stay at the 120-room Essex hotel on 18 acres in Vermont’s Green Mountains promises stand-out cooking, thanks to the on-site New England Culinary Institute’s learning kitchen. For West Coast sybarites, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, on 220-acres north of L.A., prides itself on its spa services and the locally-sourced ingredients served in six restaurants, plus the pink moment, when the sunset blankets the hills in blushing shade of coral. It may not be Nashville or Tennessee, but you’ll surely feel that peaceful, easy feeling.
For these deals, plus Palm Springs, Phuket, and Grenada, click here.
Rambling over 18 acres where suburban Burlington meets the Green Mountains, The Essex is a laid-back resort with a welcoming staff. The 120 rooms feature four-poster beds, fireplaces, and fanciful rugs and pillows. A new full-service spa plus golf, tennis, hiking trails, and a huge pool offer plenty of distractions. But the cuisine is the standout. Partnering with the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, the resort runs a learning kitchen and offers classes in knife skills, backyard grilling, and more. Visit The Tavern for a BLT with smoked Vermont bacon or a Vermont goat cheese soufflé. (Sale ends in 3 days.)
The 220-acre Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, situated in a mountain valley that aptly portrayed Shangri-la in the 1937 film Lost Horizon, has long been known for its classic 18-hole golf course and its Native American culture-inspired spa. In 2006 it upped the ante with a $70 million renovation, creating a new lobby, adding an additional 100 guest rooms, and refurbishing the existing 205 rooms with four-poster beds and decorative Mexican terracotta tiles. In the spa, signature treatments incorporate locally grown organic ingredients (citrus, lavender), and a dedicated men's menu lures golfers with treatments such as the Gentleman's Luxury Facial and Golfer's Post-Round Massage, which can be administered, upon request, in a room outfitted with a roaring fireplace. (Sale ends in 3 days.)
The Hotel ICON is owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and helps educate students at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management. But this is no bare bones facility. Top architects and designers like Terence Conran and Vivienne Tam were recruited to create the restaurants and suites, and the general manager comes to the hotel from the luxury Shangri-La chain of hotels.
With the private member’s dining room, open-air pool and Angsana Spa, hotel guests may never realize they are part of a learning experience. But 100 interns from the school will be working alongside the professional hotel staff to get on-the-job training and mentoring.
This far-flung archipelago has become the location of choice for the style set. T+L drops in to check out the latest openings.
The Glamorous Retreat: Originally a private residence for a wealthy Italian family, the Majlis(Manda Island; 254/204-441-164; doubles from $841, including meals) has been converted into a 24-room resort with soaring beamed ceilings, two sexy pools, and lanterns everywhere.
The Authentic Find: Red Pepper House(Coconut Beach; 254/727-606-691; doubles from $1,450, including meals) celebrates Swahili design: its thatched-roof bungalows are modeled after native houses. The resort also helps fund a hospital and an orphanage nearby.
The Afforable Hideaway: At the Moon Houses(254/722-209-490; doubles from $290), a series of chic villas scattered around the islands, you’ll have plenty of privacy—plus, a personal chef to cook fish caught that very morning.
The Must-Visit Shop: African fashion designer Anna Trzebinski(Sea Suq, Shela; 254/720-292-024) chose Lamu for her first freestanding shop. The waterfront space is stocked with her trademark beaded sandals, embellished caftans, and feather-trimmed pashminas.
Who He Is: Not since Richard Branson has Britain seen an entrepreneur as iconoclastic as Woodroffe. He designed rock shows for Stevie Wonder and Rod Stewart, launched the chain of conveyor-belt YO! Sushi restaurants, and then created Yotel in 2007, which blends the self-service of Japanese pod hotels (touch-screen check-in kiosks; motorized retractable beds) with a stylish, airplane-cabin vibe.
His Big Idea: Woodroffe’s newest outpost, Yotel Times Square(doubles from $259), in New York City, is a living demonstration of convenience through technology. The hotel features the world’s first luggage robot, a cranelike contraption that retrieves bags and stores them in a sleek white wall of drawers in the lobby. At its restaurant, Dohyo, the tables can be lowered into the floor, opening up the space for performances. Guest “cabins” all have Yotel’s trademark “techno-wall,” with flat-screen TV’s, music and power services, and device-storage areas.
Trying to wear your linen pants and white jeans as much as possible before Labor Day? There’s no need to cram it all in before Monday: this week, Vacationist is offering a handful of deals to destinations where white jeans—not to mention flip-flops, sun hats, and wispy tunics—are de rigueur all year long. So forget fall fashion. Book your endless summer now.
From Maine to New York, these new East Coast properties are making a splash.
Kennebunkport, Maine: Housed in a charming Victorian mansion on secluded Goose Rocks Beach, the 21-room Tides Beach Club(doubles from $325) recently opened with several brighly accented suites decorated by Jonathan Adler.
The Hamptons, New York: With a Cynthia Rowley boutique, a Nobu restaurant, and a poolside Bathing Club, the super-stylish Capri(doubles from $295) is a Southampton standout. For a haute-summer-camp vibe in Montauk, there’s Ruschmeyer’s(doubles from $475), complete with 19 cabins (dubbed “crash pads”) and an on-site beer garden.
Shelter Island, New York: Between the patisserie and the pétanque court, not to mention the Côté Bastide toiletries in the eight airy suites, Francophiles will love La Maison Blanche(doubles from $295), just a short walk from the shore.
Psst—here’s travel tidbit: Francis Ford Coppola’s newest hotel, Palazzo Margherita, an 19th-century palace on a hilltop in Bascilicata, Italy, won't open until late September, but his original trio of properties in Central America are ready to welcome vacationists in early fall, all for almost 50 percent off standard rates. Our idea? Make a trip of it, with stays at all three (La Lancha, in Guatemala, is only a one-hour flight from Turtle Inn, which is a scenic drive along the Southern Highway en route to Blancaneaux). If you’re planning two trips this year, there’ll be Margherita, of course, paired with any of Vacationist’s 17 Italy Week properties, also on sale now.