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Start Your Engines: Monaco and Argentina Celebrate the F1 Grand Prix

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What exactly do Monaco and Argentina have in common? I discovered the answer at an event last week at New York's Classic Car Club, an airy space on the fringe of SoHo: The two countries are teaming up to bring attention to the F1 Grand Prix (taking place in Monaco May 26-29, 2011) and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of El Maestro. The legendary Argentine car racer Juan Manuel Fangio (a.k.a. "El Maestro") took Monaco by storm back in the 1950's, winning five of the coveted Grand Prix.

As tango dancers sashayed around a green Tesla Roadster, an original Mini Cooper, and a 1960's Porsche, the night felt like something out of another era. El Maestro would have been proud.

Laura Begley is the deputy editor at Travel + Leisure.

Fly Business Class to Paris for $701

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OpenSkies, the all business-class airline that flies to Paris, is celebrating the first anniversary of its Washington, D.C. route with a sale.  Fly to Paris and back in a cushy business seat for just $701, each way, based on roundtrip purchase. Book before May 20 for travel between May 16 and July 9.

OpenSkies flights carry just 84 passengers at a time, in comfortable seating (with not just personal entertainment systems and lots of legroom, but electrical outlets as well), and gourmet in-flight dining complete with wine and Champagne.  This kind of civilized treatment makes it hard to return to economy.

Book before Friday midnight by visiting FlyOpenSkies.com, or call (866) 581-3596.

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: iStock

Ralph Lauren Exhibits Car Collection in Paris

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Growing up, Ralph Lauren recalls, his family did not really have the means to buy a car. But that was a world, a lifetime and a storied empire ago.

This week, the crème de la crème of the designer’s car collection—roughly a third of the total—bows in the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a final highlight in a year marked by the opening of the designer’s flagship and restaurant on the boulevard Saint Germain and his reception of the Legion d’Honneur from President Sarkozy.

The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection is a variation on the successful Boston car event five years ago. A showcase of 17 exceptional cars that marked the history of auto-making for their design and technical prowess, it opens with the mysterious and stunning 1938 Bugatti Atlantic, one of only a handful ever created. There follows the massive 1929 Bentley Blower painted with the Union Jack; a separate enclave to the right houses the most modern icon in the exhibit, an orange 1996 McLaren F1 LM  supercar.

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Royal Wedding Hotel Packages in London and U.S.

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While big, lavish nuptials hold limited charm for me (I eloped, and recommend it for its romance and intimacy), plenty of people are mad for all things wedding, and especially all things William and Kate. Even Dunkin Donuts, friend of the common man, is offering a heart-shaped tribute to the royal couple.

If you’re looking to celebrate the Royal Wedding with something more decadent than a doughnut, we’ve gathered some hotel package options.

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Sole Mates, Seat Mates: Virgin Atlantic Offers Made-to-Order Shoes

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Put down that SkyMall, Bertram. Male passengers traveling Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic flights can indulge in something a little fancier than bed-side pet ramps or peephole spy cameras: The airline is offering custom shoe fittings from haute Finnish shoemaker the Left Shoe Company. Devote 20 minutes pre- or post-flight to having your foot scanned by a 3D digital scanner in the Clubhouse-the Virgin Atlantic lounge-at Heathrow and choose a style. Four weeks later, a courier will deliver your bespoke kicks. The soles are inscribed with your name, and if you choose, your Virgin Atlantic flight number and destination. The available shoe styles start at €225 ($310 at today's exchange rate), and roundtrip Upper Class fare on Virgin Atlantic runs around $10,000.

Won't taking your shoes off at the security line feel slightly less humbling when they're custom-fitted and inscribed with your name?

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: Courtesy of the Left Shoe Company.

Royal Treatment: Versailles to Be Luxury Hotel

201101-b-versailles-2jpgNPR |  If you've ever dreamed of spending the night at the Palace of Versailles, you might get your chance. A building at France's cherished cultural landmark will soon be turned into a luxury hotel.

Hundreds of shivering tourists line up across an immense cobbled courtyard to visit Versailles.

Home to the French monarchy since Louis XIV, Versailles is a monument to royal grandeur. Soon, the palace may also become known for its five-star hotel. (Photo by Lyndsey Matthews)

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London's Legendary Savoy Hotel Returns After Renovations

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London's iconic Savoy Hotel greets its first guests this Sunday following a nearly three-year renovation. The $350 million top-to-bottom restoration took months longer than originally planned, but that's what happens when you stage what the hotel calls "the most ambitious restoration in British history." And from the pictures I've seen, it looks like it was worth the wait.

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Luxe Lobby Loot: The New Vending Machine at Hudson Hotel

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A paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye. A black sequin miniskirt by Haute Hippie. A retro Ouija board. A black-on-black Range Rover for the day. Your portrait shot by renowned photographer Ben Watts...

The newest lobby fixture in Manhattan's Hudson Hotel is your one-stop shop for all of the above. Semi-Automatic, a glowing green, touch-screen vending machine that opened for business last week, stocks a revolving selection of stylishly curated items broken down into five categories: Basics, Media, Fashion, Beauty, and GoFish.

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Get A Glimpse of How the Other Half Lives

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For the most part, the exclusive Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo, 50 miles south of Miami, is off-limits to you and me--unless we've been invited or we're prospective members. But things open up to non-members during the annual Vintage Weekend, December 2-5, when hundreds of antique cars, planes, and yachts go on display. The Vintage Weekend package costs $1,440 double and includes three nights lodging at the Inn, road rally and lunch at the infamous Alabama Jack's roadhouse, a Concours d'Elegance (that's an automobile beauty pageant) and luncheon on Saturday, inspection of antique planes at the club's private airport, cocktail party, dinner reception, and more. In years past the event has sold out as early as October.

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Party Like Eloise at the Plaza

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Last year, my kids invited one friend each over for a slumber party.  I walked them to Economy Candy with exactly $7.50 to spend on “refreshments” for the evening, ordered a pizza, and let them stay up late for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.   By all accounts, the party was a wild success.  One kid got sick from washing down Sour Patch candies with milk (Who would have guessed there was anything as natural as citrus powder in candy?) and one kid fell off the sofa laughing, both of which events have provided fodder for a million jokes.  I share this party-planning success story not because I see myself as the next Colin Cowie, but to illustrate that it doesn’t take a lot to excite most kids.

That said, the Plaza Hotel has a Live Like Eloise slumber party package for up to six children that costs upwards of $3,700.

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