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New Concert Series Cements Columbus Circle as a Top Jazz Destination

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New York City’s Columbus Circle has been on the music map for almost a decade, thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s outpost in the Time Warner Center. On the fifth floor, its Dizzy’s Club brings jazz “out of the basement,” showcasing the genre’s best acts and serving up soul food—all with a Central Park and skyline view.

Now, thirty flights directly above Dizzy’s, the Mandarin Oriental, New York—a T+L World’s Best Award winner seven years straight—is adding its own take on the jazz club with a weekly series of concerts in its Lobby Lounge. Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., musicians from the Juilliard School perform, while hotel guests and visitors soak in the lounge’s 35th-floor panorama of the city—and maybe a cocktail or two.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, New York 

Luxury Travel Grows On Sina Weibo

When the Chinese travel abroad, what do they want? Traditionally, they’ve been more focused on luxury products than luxury hotels. But as more Chinese develop a taste for high thread counts, that trend is changing—quickly. One important sign of this change: Ritz-Carlton has just launched on the Twitter-like Chinese-language social media site Sina Weibo, joining other luxury hoteliers like Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons (as well as luxury brands like Mercedes Benz and Burberry).

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Tech Thursday: Foursquare’s New Menu Search

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In an ever-increased push to highlight the app’s exploration features, Foursquare has rolled out a new “menu search” feature that lets users find the best local spot for whatever it is they’re craving. Whereas users could previously search for general categories—Southern food; French restaurants—it’s now possible to hone in on more specific requests, like fried pickles or gluten-free dishes. For road warriors with picky palates or dietary restrictions, it’s a real game-changer, and one we hope will help broaden Foursquare’s reach to a wider demographic of travelers.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Foursquare

Former TWA Terminal at JFK to Become Hotel

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After much back and forth, the New York Port Authority has chosen famed hotelier André Balazs to transform the former TWA terminal at JFK Airport into a hotel.

Completed in 1962, the Eero Saarinen-designed building is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a ceremonial entrance of sorts to JetBlue's Terminal 5. It's been largely unoccupied since 2001.

Balazs—known for his Standard hotels in Miami, Los Angeles, and NYC—had long been listed as a contender for the project, although the New York Post reported in August that his style had clashed with the Port Authority's hopes for the terminal. Now, according to the same newspaper, Balazs is the only designer in the running.

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Joint Venture: Jamaican Farms Entice Visitors with Special “Ganja Tours"

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Wine lovers have Napa Valley. Beer snobs have Oregon. And now, potheads may have their own vacation paradise: wandering the lush grounds that perhaps inspired Bob Marley to sing, “let’s get together and feel alright.”

According to a new AP report, tour operators in Jamaica are increasingly taking visitors to see the marijuana farms that produce the local “ganja”—such as spots near Nine Mile, Marley’s hometown, and outside Negril.

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Family Friday: Etihad Airlines Offers In-Flight Nanny

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Can you imagine having a real live Mary Poppins on your next flight? Someone to entertain your kids (origami anyone?), serve them meals, and help you fill milk bottles—and all this done with a smile? Well Etihad Airlines has made this dream a reality. Known for over-the-top amenities and service, the Persian Gulf carrier just announced a Flying Nanny program for all its long-haul flights. More than 300 "nannies" trained in child psychology and sociology will be available to help frazzled parents survive their trip whether they're sitting in economy, business, or first. Yes, it sounds a tad extreme, but think of all the magazines you could read, movies you could watch, and naps you could take.

Clara O. Sedlak is a mother of two and Special Projects Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of Etihad Airways

Cruise News: Emerald Waterways Launch

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Another reason to get excited for 2014: Emerald Waterways, the first new river cruise company to enter European rivers in six years, is launching. Details are en route, but cabins are modernist and chic (in calming earth tones); the pool, under a retractable roof, has an adjacent gelato bar; and everything—from locally-sourced wines to four-course dinners to shore excursions to tips—is included in your rate. In other words, if you need me, I’ll be on the Danube…..

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.

Photo Courtesy of Scenic Cruises

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending September 6, 2013

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Thanks to the growing air travel demand in China, Boeing expects to see 5,580 new commercial aircrafts during the next 20 years, via Circa. (Adrien Glover)

While Jamaica, Oahu, and many cruise lines are banning smoking of all kinds, Mexico City is considering legalizing marijuana to create cannabis clubs, according to the Huffington Post. (A.G.)

A new twist in Edward Snowden's NSA leaks? Evidence that the organization tapped into at least three foreign airlines' reservations systems—leading Skift's Rafat Ali to speculate that their data dive may have touched everything from OTA records to domestic booking data and beyond. (Nikki Ekstein)

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Bollywood Backlash: Air India’s TV Screen Calls Passenger an Idiot

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You might not be fazed anymore by grouchy airline workers, or a surly passenger in the seat next to you. But when your in-flight system starts giving you attitude, that’s a whole new level of insult.

According to an article in the Times of India, Air India is investigating an incident on a flight from London to Mumbai in which a passenger was having some difficulties getting a movie started at her seat. According to her side of the story, she finally received a rather brazen error message: "This selection is not currently available. Please try again later," and, below that, "Lie low...Sit down you idiot!"

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Japan Airlines' New Sky Suite

Japan Airlines

Somewhere above the Bering Sea on the long haul flight between Tokyo and New York, a Japan Airlines flight attendant kindly brought me a steaming bowl of rich broth and chewy udon noodles. Mine was the only seat lit at this late hour in the darkened cabin while glued to a subtitled crime drama marathon. (I'm a sucker for film noir in any language.) Recently, JAL launched its new business-class "Sky Suite" service on international routes to New York, London and Paris; service to Chicago and Los Angeles follows shortly. It's almost like having your own capsule hotel room, complete with a fully reclining seat, 23-inch LCD screen, and bed slippers. Definitely request a window seat for utmost privacy.

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