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Trip Doctor Series: Trekking, Walking, and Hiking (Peru)

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This month, travel to Machu Picchu and the Peruvian Andes is almost in full swing: if you’re headed to the region and haven’t already asked an outfitter to wrangle your Inca Trail passes, you may be out of luck this season. Luckily, there are plenty of other delightful ways to reach Machu Picchu, which we outline in our Trekking, Walking, and Hiking guide (May 2013). Here’s one of our favorites:
 
SALCANTAY TRAIL

Best for: Creature comforts.

Known as the back door into Machu Picchu, Salcantay is also the area’s highest path (it reaches 15,200 feet). Mountain Lodges of Peru, a string of stone-and-timber inns along the trail, is the only lodge-to-lodge way to reach the lost city of the Incas: take this route on a trip with Wildland Adventures (11 days from $3,800).

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Lodges of Peru and Wildland Adventures

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending May 17, 2013

 

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Enterainment Weekly's Sara Vilkomerson lives out the dream of millions of tween readers by spending the weekend at the Key West home of Judy Blume: Are You There God, It's Me, Judy Blume. (Matt Haber)

Super aggregator Jason Kottke presents some wonderful color footage of London from 1927. (M.H.)

Think we’re making progress in lightening our footprint on this planet? We've got a long way to go. Emily Badger of the Atlantic Cities reports on a project involving NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Google (of course), and other organizations to turn 30 years of satellite photos into timelapse videos of anywhere on earth. The resulting GIFs are sobering. Don't miss the map tool that lets you zoom into any location to see the change over time. (Amy Farley)

Google Maps just blew everyone else out of the water, unveiling new apps for Android and iOS (coming to an app store this summer) that integrate all the content, innovations, and intelligence of its varied recent acquisitions, as our friends at Skift report. Apple, your move. (A.F.)

It really is the week of Google news: as the Verge reported on Thursday, the company has officially unveiled a redesigned Google+ that automatically retouches the photos you upload (or that are automatically uploaded from Android phones everywhere). Creepy, cool, or just a last-ditch effort to get people to care about Google+? You decide. (Nikki Ekstein)

Unearthing the culture of a destination fascinates me. To get a true look into a Hawaiian local's perspective, pick up Kristiana Kahakauwila's new short story collection, This is Paradise. Her writing is as captivating as the politics behind it. (Maria Pedone)

With the Cannes Film Festival in full swing, local hotels become home-base for countless celebs and their entourages. On its blog, the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez published a fascinating infographic that reveals exactly what goes on in the star-studded hotel during the festival. Want 220 pounds of caviar? You've got it. (Peter Schlesinger)

And last but not least, in Berlin, a new Barbie Doll Dream House has opened to the delight of many fans and the horror of many feminists. Protesters see the plastic doll as an unworthy role model that reinforces strict gender roles, and formed the group Occupy Barbie Dream House, as detailed by Mark Johanson from the International Business Times. See pics of the pink palace on this BBC slideshow. (P.S.)


Got a recommendation? Tell us in the comments.


Photo: iStock Photos.

Dispatch from the Norwegian Breakaway

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I just returned from a lunch on board New York’s finest… Cruise ship. Here’s what made me want to do a Rockette leg-kick on the Norwegian Breakaway:

  • Spa cabins are actually relaxing. It’s worth splurging on the Haven Spa Suite for its whirlpool, which sits adjacent to your private balcony and overlooks the ocean. Another perk: access to the Haven (ship-within-a-ship) courtyard and… Drumroll, please... 24-hour butler service.
  • The Ice Bar. It’s a hot day here in New York, and stepping into the 17-degree room was totally (ahem) cool. The best part? The Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge carved into the ice.
  • The Spaitself, which is gorgeous in a heart-palpitating sort of way, with waterfalls in the hot tub and a salt cave. If I ever get to take a cruise on the Breakaway, you’ll probably find me here—recovering from my Rockette-led work-out.

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

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

Trip Doctor Series: Trekking, Walking, and Hiking the Dolomites

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Today I’m daydreaming about Europe—more specifically, about the magnificent Dolomites in Italy (read all about it in this compelling feature by Adam Sachs). The itinerary below from Whole Foods Market’s new travel arm is one of the standout trips we highlight in our indispensible Trekking, Walking, and Hiking guide. It’s sure to whet your appetite for a foodie adventure in this iconic region.

DOLOMITES

The Draw: Gastronomy rules in northern Italy’s Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site with dramatic limestone formations, crumbling castles, and Austrian-influenced cuisine.

The Trip: On an itinerary from Whole Journeys, the new travel arm of Whole Foods Market, you’ll visit a farm where cheese and yogurt are made and hike past ancient shingle-roofed farmhouses. Seven days from $4,595.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo credit: Rick Strange / Alamy

The Ritz-Carlton Looks East

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Kyoto’s cherry blossoms hit their peak last month, but when the famous trees burst open again next year, the city will also be buzzing about a new Ritz-Carlton. The luxury hotelier just announced the opening of a new property there in February 2014—a 136-room low-rise building on the Kamogawa River that mixes modern and traditional Japanese designs.

The announcement is just the latest news from this fast-growing company. Six of their hotels are slated to open in the second half of 2013, including one in Aruba in November. We’re already looking forward to escaping the New York City winter.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

Beauty Bust: Turkish Airlines Lifts Lipstick Ban

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Calling all flight attendants: if you enjoy getting dolled-up for work, you are now allowed to board Turkish Airlines. 

As we mentioned earlier this month, the national carrier had placed a ban on red and dark pink lipstick and nail polish, in fear that it would impair the “visual integrity” of its staff, according to Skift. Chief Executive Temel Kotil claims this was a decision made by junior managers, and that there is in fact no ban on the beauty products—female staff can wear lipstick and nail polish of any color.

My only question—why were the junior managers so concerned with these classic lip colors? Blue lipstick was a huge fad in the 1990’s, and who can forget the coral-colored pouts of the ‘80’s? Let’s just hope the airline was aiming for retro, and hold tight to our shadow and mascara.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: iStockPhoto

The Doctor Recommends: Must Reads for the Week Ending May 10, 2013

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Forbes's Larry Olmsted discusses Boston Bites Back, the tasting event happening next week in Boston's Fenway Park where top local chefs are teaming up to raise $1 million for victims from the marathon bombings. (Peter Schlesinger)

One hotel in Egypt is trying to provide a "new kind of tourism"—by smashing all the booze in its bar and declaring itself the country's first dry hotel. HotelChatter takes a closer look. (Nikki Ekstein)

Have you ever dreamed of chucking it all and moving to tropical paradise? Outside's Ned Zeman chronicles how one couple's dream of building their own mountaintop compound in Costa Rica went very, very wrong. (Matt Haber)

What's it like to be a personal chef on a private Gultstream G550? So glad you asked since Cincinnati Magazine's Donna Covrett talks with Michael Worth about his high-flying gig. (M.H.)

Let Mashable take you on a trip Around the World in 80 Instagrams. (M.H.)

Check out this amazing animated GIFs that show how the earth has changed over time using images from Google Maps. (M.H.)

Got a recommendation? Tell us in the comments.


Photo: iStock Photos.

Trip Doctor: Date Confirmed for NYC Bike Share

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New York's bike share program, Citi Bike, has finally announced a starting date. Trip Doctor  previously reported that it was sometime in May—and now, we're happy to say, it is official.

Members will be able to hop on a bike starting Memorial Day, May 27, while single-time users can ride one of the 6,000 new two-wheelers beginning on June 2.

Be sure to check out Trip Doctor's FAQ about biking in NYC.

Photo credit: Lars Klove /New York City Bike Share

Go Around the World for 60 Days with DoubleTree

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This week, DoubleTree by Hilton debuted DTour, a devoted YouTube channel created in collaboration with Google that lets travel aficionados add their favorite tips—or find inspiration—on a constantly evolving map of the world. While the hotel’s budding relationship with Google raises our eyebrow, we’re currently most excited about the prospect of winning a DTour of a Lifetime—an eight-week, all-inclusive trip around the globe.

Want to enter for your chance to win? Upload a video with your favorite travel tip to the DTour map by May 31—the six most promising global correspondents will be sent around the world to document their adventures for the brand.

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

Photo courtesy of DoubleTree by Hilton

 

Tech Thursday: How to Turn Your Hotel Stays into Airline Points

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In the last few months, we’ve been tracking two new sites, PointsHound and RocketMiles—both trying to disrupt the stronghold of Expedia and Travelocity by offering airline points in exchange for hotel stays. How does it work? Consider it a big circle of back scratching, where hotel sale commissions buy airline miles that get passed on to you, the consumer, who’s still getting a best rate guarantee. And not only are the hotel rates good—an average booking can earn upwards of 7,000 miles with your preferred carrier.

To put them head to head, we entered an identical search heading to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend with United Mileage Plus as our preferred reward currency. The Tremont Chicago Hotel at Magnificent Mile showed up on both searches: $169 a night with 7,000 miles at RocketMiles; the same price at 6,500 miles with PointsHound. Some comparisons were less evenly matched: The Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown netted 2,100 miles on PointsHound, and almost double at RocketMiles, for the same price. Incidentally, prices were equal to or better than what the hotels were offering on their own sites, and the same as Expedia’s current rates.

But PointsHound gets an advantage in two key criteria: it offers much more variety in inventory (whereas RocketMiles had just 8 hotels available in Chicago, PointsHound had far too many to count, including some of our favorite properties). And by booking regularly on PointsHound, you “level up” and become eligible for even greater rewards. Regardless, both are tools we’ll be keeping in our back pockets.

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

Photo courtesy of PointsHound

 

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