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Of Course Dubai is Building the World's First Temperature-Controlled City

Dubai is making headlines again, announcing plans to construct an indoor city that will be 100 percent temperature-controlled.

An official statement from investment company Dubai Holding, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid's latest project will be called the Mall of the World. Yet with 20,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline, it's far from the average shopping complex.

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New Small-Ship Cruise Line Launches

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Last month marked the debut voyage of Pearl Seas Cruises, a new small-ship luxury operator that’s offering itineraries through the Canadian Maritimes, the Great Lakes, and the St. Lawrence Seaway, with Caribbean journeys starting in 2015. A sister company to American Cruise Lines, it currently has one vessel: the 335-foot-long, 210-passenger Pearl Mist, complete with six decks and a balcony on each of the 108 cabins. (There are plans to add another ship in the future.)

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Kimpton Introduces Progressive New Karma Rewards

Just as airline loyalty programs are making it harder to cash in on rewards, hotels are upping the ante, letting guests earn points for tweets and social media interactions—not just night stays. The latest to join the nascent trend is Kimpton, who today announces a new loyalty program to replace InTouch. The name, Karma, says it all—the more love you give Kimpton, the more love comes back to you. Here’s how it works:

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Airbnb Redesign Brings Hosts Center Stage

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In a live broadcast this morning, Airbnb cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk announced a major site redesign for the San Francisco-based company. Over 13,000 Airbnb users tuned in from 78 countries to the invitation-only event, and T+L spoke to company Product Lead Justin Santamaria for a sneak peek at the new look.

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Print-At-Home Bag Tags Now Available From First Gulf Carrier

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Add Qatar Airwaysprint-at-home luggage tags to the growing list of ways you can shorten your travel to-do list before even arriving at the airport, (flight check-in and security clearance included) and getting out of Doha is now as easy as finding your gate and browsing the duty-free emporium.

The official carrier for Qatar is now offering its unique service, called My Q-Tags, to passengers departing the new Hamad International Airport to 103 destinations. Unfortunately, there are no domestic stops on that list at this time due to TSA regulations.

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Seabourn Announces Alliance With UNESCO

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Seabourn, the luxury, small-ship cruise line, recently announced an alliance with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to help protect as well as promote World Heritage.

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Expedia Refreshes Loyalty Program

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With airlines devaluing their loyalty programs left and right, the door is wide open for OTAs to benefit—and we’ve certainly seen them try. Orbitz has recently introduced a rewards system (enhanced by their credit card) that offers instant cash back on every purchase—as much as ten percent on certain purchases. Hotels.com offers a free night for every ten you book. And now Expediais jumping back into the game, with a refreshed loyalty program that aims to compete. But does it? Here are the basics you need to know.

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Carnival Cruise Lines to Ban Balcony Smoking

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The "fun ships" are becoming healthier too: Carnival Cruise Lines announced this week that, starting October 9th, it will ban smoking on stateroom balconies, joining an ever growing fleet of companies restricting where guests can light up.

Cigarettes will still be permitted in designated areas—such as certain nightclubs, casino areas, and several outdoor decks.  Why the new restriction? According to Carnival’s official statement, the shift comes in response to the “preferences of a majority of our guests.” It also brings Carnival in line with its sister companies Cunard and P&O, which updated their policies last August. Other brands owned by the Carnival Corporation, such as Seabourn and Holland America, still permit balcony smoking.

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How to Rent Camera Lenses Before Your Next Trip

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A new travel tech discovery we are digging? Borrowlenses.com. The site, which is owned by Shutterfly, offers cameras, lenses, and a broad range of photography accessories for week-long rentals. The idea solves an age-old travelers’ dilemma without the typically-requisite financial commitment—if we had a nickel for every time a T+L editor has canvassed the office for pro-grade photo gear before heading off on a safari or transatlantic adventure, we’d be made.  Here, lenses that retail for well over a thousand bucks can be rented for as little as $20. For instance, a $1,395 Carl Zeiss wide angle lens (great for landscapes) runs $65 for a week, while a $6,749 Nikon 200-400mm f/4G lens (for sports and wildlife shots) costs $271 to rent. Travel packages bundle a few essentials and a tripod for $131, and most camera brands are supported. Time to sharpen those photo skills.

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

Photo courtesy of BorrowLenses

Robot Parks Cars for Travelers at German Airport

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Leave it to the efficient Germans: Düsseldorf Airport now uses a robot to park cars, rather than have travelers search for a spot on their own.

Ray, as the new robot is called, picks up vehicles from six drop-off "transfer boxes" near the terminal before leaving the cars in one of 249 parking spots available through the program—the first of its kind in the world.

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