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Vacationist: Europe, Caribbean, Asia and more

Kristiania Lech

Hotels are always on the brain for T+L editors, but that’s especially true this week as we launch the 2011 T+L 500 list of top properties around the globe. One benefit to being a T+L 500 editor? Learning more about where you, our trusted readers, are traveling now, and then finding out ways to get you there for less. Enter Vacationist.com, our go-to guide for hotel deals around the globe. Become a member, and then no matter where you’re headed—Austria, Bermuda, Indonesia, and more—Vacationist delivers rates of up to 52% off. Check out our slideshow, visit our sales, and then hit the road!

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Forget that Big Tree; How about a Lifesize Gingerbread House?

Ritz-Carlton Charlotte Gingerbread House

While the tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center typically gets top billing when it comes to conspicuous displays of holiday cheer, the lobby at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, North Carolina has something else entirely: a 1500-pound, 140 square-foot gingerbread house, complete with flickering lights (and real moss!). Baked in-house by executive chef Jon Farace and the staff at the BLT Steak restaurant, the 100% organic display hopes to bring some warmth and attention to this LEED-certified luxury hotel—the first of the Ritz-Carlton brand.

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'Stomach-Churning' Sanitary Conditions at Top Australian Hotels

A secret forensic survey revealed some five-star hotels in Melbourne, Australia have a serious hygiene problem.

Armed with swab tests and a black light, former police forensic investigator Peter Guerin scrutinized seven of Melbourne's top hotels. What he found was nauseating: mold in bathrooms, urine stained toilets, human body matter in beds, and even strains of dangerous bacteria such as E coli.

None of the hotels passed inspection. In every hotel tested, Guerin found an "unacceptable level" of potentially health-threatening microbes.

READ MORE (AND WATCH THE VIDEO)...

Vacationist: Northern California for the family, plus Athens, and sexy Cabo San Lucas

Carmel Valley Ranch

This holiday season, 42 million people are expected to hit the road—probably on their way to a dinner table that won't fit the whole crew. T+L asks: Why not convince everyone to head to Carmel Valley Ranch, on 450 acres in Northern California? There’s a rope swing for the kids, a rustic-chic spa for the adults, and a restaurant overseen by chef Tim Wood. No one need slave away in the kitchen. With this week’s Vacationist sale, you can stay for less than $210 a night—even on Christmas Eve.

If you’d rather escape the States altogether, try The Margi, in Athens, for $125 a night, or the Haciendas Beach Club and Residences in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for 20% off. The deals are live now at Vacationist.com.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Vote Now! T+L's World's Best Awards 2011 Survey

Oberoi Vanyavilas

It's that time of year again—T+L's World's Best Awards 2011 Survey is now live!

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and rate the hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, and destinations you love most. This year, the No. 1 hotel overall is the Oberoi Vanyavilas, a luxe jungle lodge in Ranthambore, India (shown above).

Which property do you love the most? Tell us and vote now! You’ll be entered for a chance to win a $10,000 dream trip. Other prizes include a $5,000 trip, two $2,500 trips, and two winners will receive American Express gift cards worth $1,000.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit www.TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time (ET) on 12/1/10 and ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on 3/31/11. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Vacationist: Morocco, Hungary, and Italy

Pavillion du Golf

Here's a secret: Last month, a handful of travel experts converged in Marrakech. So take it from us, we're betting Morocco will be on the horizon for plenty of culture-loving globetrotters in 2011. How can you stay there for less? Vacationist delivers once again, this time with great deals at Le Pavillon du Golf, a secluded resort 15 minutes from the bustling bazaars of Marrakech. Or, if you prefer to trade flower gardens for Florence, try Hotel Posta, right in the city center, for less than $150 a night. These sales and more are at your fingertips now.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Vacationist: California, London, Florence, and New York

Parker Palm Springs

Vacationist has upped the ante this week, perhaps to spur you, happy Thanksgiving revelers, into shopping for travel this holiday season. Because if you’re planning to look for deals in the next few weeks, we’re delivering stellar hotel stays for up to 60% off, right to your inbox.

Here’s a taste of what’s in store: a desert oasis in California, New York’s SoHo for a song, plus, coming up, a 2009 World’s Best Business hotel in London, a 2010 It List recipient in Florence—even a coveted room in a midtown Manhattan skyscraper, for easy access to the tree lighting come November 30th. A bonus? You never have to fight the Christmas crowds at Vacationist.com.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Vacationist: St. John, New York City, Charleston, Palm Springs and more

Galley Bay Resort & Spa

St. John's Galley Bay has its trump cards (private plunge pools; a brand-new spa; meandering lagoons) but our hearts are set on the big city—the sights, the sounds, the hustle and bustle. Thankfully, Vacationist gets it right this week, with impressive hotel deals in the Caribbean and New York, Charleston, and sunny Palm Springs. The city sales go live tomorrow, so shine your shoes and back your bags, and sit tight until logging on at noon EST. Then the all of these getaways are yours to enjoy, for less!

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Starwood, Red Roof, Others Offering 'Cyber Monday' Savings

Red Roof NextGen Room

With so much hotel booking conducted online, it makes sense that chains—and even individual properties—would jump on the Cyber Monday bandwagon. This year, it seems, there are more than ever. Some notable sales scheduled for Nov. 29 (aka, the Monday after Thanksgiving):

- Following up on their successful 2009 Cyber Monday sale, Starwood Hotels & Resorts is once again appealing to online bookers. As part of their "One Day Wonders" promo, the luxury chain is offering deep discounts at several dozen properties around the world. For example: ocean-front rooms at the Westin Diplomat in Ft. Lauderdale from $179 (regularly $309) and deluxe rooms at the St. Regis Aspen from $399 (normally $749). For the complete list, visit their Cyber Monday specials page; or, text "MONDAY" to 95495 to be reminded when the sale starts.

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Vacationist: Stays in the Southwest, plus the Caribbean, California, and Morocco

Little Good Harbour

For many of us, daylight savings means shorter days and colder weather (brrr!). But you don't have to worry about frigid temperatures in Arizona, California, and the Caribbean, where pools and beaches beckon thanks to Vacationist—all for up to 40% off. At California's Miramonte Resort and Spa in Coachella Valley, red-tiled roofs and Moorish details will transport you to the Mediterranean. Or take it up a notch, and live like a King at L Mansion, Marrakesh. For these trips and more, read on or click here. Shouldn't you be planning your next getaway?

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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