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Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Opens as World’s Highest Hotel

There are views, and then there are v-i-e-w-s. Starting tomorrow, any guest checking into the brand new Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will get an eyeful of the latter—birds-eye panoramas of Victoria Harbour and the shiny HK skyline. As the world’s “highest” hotel, the record-breaking property now occupies floors 102 to 118 of the well-located International Commerce Center, with 312 rooms in all.

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Hotel Opening: Travaasa Austin + SXSW

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Plane ticket: check.

Concert tickets: check.

Hotel room: whoops!

If you’ve spent your time agonizing over which showcases to attend in Austin next week during the South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and interactive festival, instead of searching for a place to crash, you can relax.

Brand new hotel collection, Travaasa Destinations, along with fashion website StyleCaster, is offering an all-inclusive preview package for a three night/four day stay from March 17-20 at the Travaasa Austin before it opens to the public in April.

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5 Great New Urban Hotels

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Here are some of the hot new urban hotels from around the globe:

Buenos Aires
Prodigal son Hernán Gipponi (who ran the restaurant at the Guggenheim Bilbao, in Spain) returns to his native Buenos Aires as head chef at the food-centric, 27-room Fierro Hotel Palermo (doubles from $170). Gipponi’s menu is the highlight, but don’t miss the killer wine cellar or the seventh-floor pool.

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Hottest Spring Art Projects

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Be on the lookout for these new art projects this coming spring.

Architecture
The charming port city of Avilés, in northern Spain, has unveiled the Centro Niemeyer—designed by 103-year-old architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian poet of poured concrete. Programming at the cultural center includes art, opera, and film and kicks off this spring with “La Luz,” an exhibition about light curated by acclaimed Spanish film director Carlos Saura.

Museum
The Carlos Slim Foundation’s newest masterpiece? The Museo Soumaya, in Mexico City’s Polanco district. Architect Fernando Romero’s six-story building—a torqued pavilion of steel, glass, and aluminum—will house a collection ranging from old masters (Rubens; Tintoretto) to Modernist works (Picasso; Tamayo).

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Paris’s New Literary-Themed Hotel

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Voltaire once wrote, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” Paris’s new Pavillon des Lettres takes this spirit to heart, and also pays homage to Voltaire himself, along with 25 other writers who were the inspiration for this chic hotel on a quiet street in the Eighth Arrondissement. Opened by the owners of the nearby Pavillon de la Reine, the 26 sleek guest rooms each channel an international author—from Hans Christian Andersen to Émile Zola—with their prose decorating the walls and their oeuvres on the shelves. Didier Benderli, the protégé of French architect Jacques Garcia, has imbued the hotel with a kind of masculine sexiness (dark velvet furnishings; stone floors).

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Is a 'Euro Vegas' in the Cards?

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USA Today |  It will be if Sheldon Adelson, best known as the man behind The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas, has his way. His Las Vegas Sands corporation also has holdings in Macau and Singapore, which have become Asian gaming meccas.

Now, Adelson is eyeing Spain. According to the Agence France-Presse wire service, the mogul is betting on establishing a "Euro Vegas."

He told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore that Las Vegas Sands is talking to officials from Barcelona and Madrid to establish a strip of casinos.

Photo Courtesy of The Venetian

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Hilton’s Holistic Spa Concept

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With treatment “journeys” based on healing rituals from around the globe, Hilton’s Eforea spa concept is paving a new path in the world of wellness. Slated to open in Bangkok and Melbourne in March, it will be rolled out to 90 properties worldwide. Our favorite treatment? The Aboriginal-inspired Escape body wrap: an exfoliation with mother-of-pearl followed by a cocoon of warm pearl-and-kelp mud. At the spa’s Travel Bar, you can buy products from the treatments in TSA-approved sizes. hilton.com; treatments from $115.

Nora Zelevansky is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts

JFK Airport Eyes Boutique Hotel for Iconic TWA Terminal


201102-b-twajpgUSA Today / Wall Street Journal |  The iconic, former TWA airline terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport could be reopened as a luxury boutique hotel, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The airport's operator is looking for developers who could tackle the famous modernist structure, designed by Eero Saarinen. The curved, winged terminal opened in 1962 at the old Idlewild Airport and closed in 2001 after American Airlines bought TWA.

Boutique hotels usually offer guests something unique, and in this case, it would be the striking structure.

"There are few buildings designed for airports that have resonated with the public as much as this one," Frank Sanchis, an advisor at the Municipal Art Society of New York, told the paper.

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New Hotel Openings in US Dwindle

201102-b-hotel-istockjpgUSA Today |  Who doesn't love a splashy, new hotel opening?

Travelers love to stay in them, the press loves to write about them - and owners love to celebrate them.

"New hotel development is very sexy. They get a lot of press," Nicholas Clayton, president of the Viceroy Hotel Group, noted during the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in San Diego last week.

Yet, despite all the excitement - and the uptick in travel this year, we'll see fewer new hotels open their doors in the USA this year compared past years, a new forecast shows. (Photo by iStock)

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Forget that Big Tree; How about a Lifesize Gingerbread House?

Ritz-Carlton Charlotte Gingerbread House

While the tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center typically gets top billing when it comes to conspicuous displays of holiday cheer, the lobby at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, North Carolina has something else entirely: a 1500-pound, 140 square-foot gingerbread house, complete with flickering lights (and real moss!). Baked in-house by executive chef Jon Farace and the staff at the BLT Steak restaurant, the 100% organic display hopes to bring some warmth and attention to this LEED-certified luxury hotel—the first of the Ritz-Carlton brand.

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