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All Aglow: The New W Ft. Lauderdale

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“I've got travel rage,” the hotel-and-spa designer Clodagh (right) told me recently when I visited her studio in New York's Soho for a virtual tour of the just-opened W Ft. Lauderdale.

I've met Clodagh (just one name—like Madonna) a couple of times before and always walked away feeling totally relaxed. She has that kind of an effect on people, so I was a little surprised that this calm Irish woman could have anything verging on rage. But apparently, it informs many of her designs. Her number-one complaint: bad lighting.

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A Street Food Upgrade in LA

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This summer, I've been on the lookout for exotic and far-flung experiences within the U.S. And I have another find for you, dear reader: the casual new Los Angeles restaurant Street, where chef Susan Feniger serves up dishes inspired by the food at casual stalls and markets around the globe. (You may know her cooking from LA restaurants Ciudad and Border Grill, but this is her first solo venture.)

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NEWS: Jacques Pepin Partners with Oceania Cruises

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Jacques Pepin, one of the world’s most famous chefs and one of the few who has not previously attached his name to a restaurant, announced yesterday that he will open a signature French bistro aboard the new 1,258-passenger Oceania Cruises’ Marina when it launches late next year.  The bistro, to be called Jacques, will seat approximately 80 guests and will serve Pepin’s signature dishes like pumpkin soup a l'Anglaise served in a pumpkin shell and free-range chicken cooked on a rotisserie. The hallmarks of Pepin’s cuisine are simplicity and high-quality ingredients.

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On View: Obama’s Mother’s Batik Collection

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When President Obama’s mother, anthropologist Ann Dunham, moved to Jakarta in the late 1960s after marrying Indonesian Lolo Soetoro, she fell in love with batik. The millennium-old textile art and craft—created using wax-resist dying—bewitched and enchanted her so much so that she collected over 40 rare pieces during her five years in the capital city. Dunham’s private collection—which includes traditional sarongs and other items from the Yogyakarta, Java, the birthplace of Indonesian batik—is now touring the country.

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Attention Shoppers: Travel+Leisure Opens Its First Store

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Fliers passing through Vancouver International Airport have a new one-stop travel shop—the first-ever Travel+Leisure-branded store.

Travel+Leisure has partnered with the company behind airport newsstand giant, Hudson News, to create travel concept stores selling everything from local maps and guides to T+L books (World’s Greatest Hotels, Unexpected Italy, 100 Greatest Trips) and luggage, including smart bags by Tumi, Timbuk2, and Manhattan Portage. Keep your eyes peeled for expanding inventory—and future openings at Halifax International Airport and JFK (Terminal 2), and for T+L stores-within-stores at the Orlando and San Francisco airports.

The Stone House Makes Waves in Little Compton, RI

200907-b-stone-innjpgNot a whole lot goes on in Little Compton, Rhode Island. That’s the way people there like it, and it’s the reason the Stone House (which opens today) has got them talking.

The Stone House is a lovely, historic 13-room hotel—not exactly the sort of place you’d expect to raise eyebrows in a posh coastal New England town. But Little Compton (pop. 3,500) isn’t Newport. The town commons basically consists of a diner and a general store, and thrifty flash-adverse locals like to keep a low profile. (Despite the fact that some of New England’s wealthiest families have houses here, the country club not long ago took Haagen Daz off its menu because its members complained it was too expensive.)

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JUST BACK: The Hamptons

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Just back from a perfectly beachy Hamptons weekend, and you sure wouldn't know there was an economic crisis looming in the real world.

In East Hampton, everyone's buzzing about the imminent reopening of the Blue Parrot, a beloved Mexican joint that closed a couple years back. Rumor has it that a star-studded lineup of investors--Ronald Perelman, Larry Gagosian, Renée Zellweger, and Jon Bon Jovi, no less--are backing the restaurant. Meanwhile, just down Main Street, a number of pop-up shops have sprung up for the season, including Hermès (No. 63) and Michael Kors (No. 48).

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Sneak Peek: W Barcelona

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In October 2009, the new W Barcelona will throw open its doors at the end of the Passeig Joan de Borbo on the Catalan city's sun-soaked waterfront. But we can hardly contain our excitement after a recent hardhat tour that showed off city and Mediterranean views from Ricardo Bofill’s sail-shaped structure (on a clear day, you can see Majorca). Take a look for yourself and tell us we’re wrong. And by the way, don’t fret if you’re not one of the lucky few who can afford a suite on the 25th floor ($1,260 USD)—90 percent of the 473 rooms will have full sea views. Rooms available starting Oct. 1. 

Jennifer Flowers is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Jennifer Flowers

Affordable Dubai?!

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Looking for an exotic vacation that's also within reach?  It’s likely you haven’t considered the United Arab Emirates, a country known to be the epitome of over-the-top luxury and conspicuous consumption. But with the debut of the country’s first low-cost airline, flydubai, (launching this week) and two new boutique hotels, there’s plenty of proof that the UAE—and Dubai in particular—are ready to welcome a new type of visitor: the budget traveler.

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One&Only Opens in Cape Town

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It’s not as if Cape Town, South Africa’s waterfront capital of glamour, needed another notch in its already seriously stylish belt, but when Sol Kerzner, the outsized hotel impresario responsible for South Africa’s Sun City, Atlantis Bahamas and Atlantis The Palm in Dubai, One&Only Resorts, and Connecticut’s very own Mohegan Sun, says he wants to return to his homeland with a waterfront resort that will be the social center for Cape Town’s gorgeous and moneyed, well, by God, that’s what he’s going to do.

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When I saw it, just a few weeks ago, the new One&Only Cape Town on the V&A Waterfront was something of an inauspicious sight, full of mud, dust, loose wiring, and the footprints of thousands of construction workers. The resort, a 91-room main building and 40 suites set on a private island in the adjacent marina, was racing to meet an April 3 opening day deadline. I had my doubts. But Lesson No. 1 in South Africa: never underestimate the power of Mr. Kerzner. The property opened—on time and with the requisite celebrities on site to toast its arrival (Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon, Mariah Carey).

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And what of Kerzner’s vision of creating the city’s next great social hub?The hotel, designed and decorated by Adam D. Tihany in a restrained Bali-goes-on-safari style, is anchored by over 14,000 square feet of dazzling public space. There’s Gordon Ramsey’s Maze restaurant, a Nobu outpost that looks like a bento box on steroids (above), and, in between, an enormous bar and lounge with 23-foot-tall windows looking onto the marina and Table Mountain beyond (above, top). (There’s also, in an odd homage to Paris, an on-site boulangerie.)

Set among the rather insipid establishments of the V&A waterfront, it's a downright seductive space. Add to that rooms and suites that are positively huge and kitted out like nothing else in the city (iPod docks with surround sound, Nespresso machines, and Tihany’s covetable custom-made furniture) and it looks like Kerzner’s got his wish.

Amy Farley is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.


Photo Credit: Jackie Caradonio

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