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The Futurist: Hong Kong's Teaching Hotel

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BBC Travel's Passport Blog
|  A new hotel opening in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui East neighborhood on 21 September is really one with a difference.

The Hotel ICON is owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and helps educate students at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management. But this is no bare bones facility. Top architects and designers like Terence Conran and Vivienne Tam were recruited to create the restaurants and suites, and the general manager comes to the hotel from the luxury Shangri-La chain of hotels.

With the private member’s dining room, open-air pool and Angsana Spa, hotel guests may never realize they are part of a learning experience. But 100 interns from the school will be working alongside the professional hotel staff to get on-the-job training and mentoring.

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Photo credit: Hotel ICON


Korean Food Gets Mod Makeover in Seoul

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Leading Korea's new culinary wave is Jung Sik Dang, where chef Jung Sik Yim takes local ingredients to prepare dishes like kimchi consommé, pork jowl with yuzu, and even an amuse bouche with grasshoppers. Less experimental is Bistro Seoul, which presents Korean standards in an austere space. While Japanese and Chinese have long happily paid through their noses for expensive renditions of their cuisines, Koreans—like Thais—are just experiencing the phenomenon of taking familiar fare, gussying it up, and serving it in lovely locations. It’s not fusion, but modernization. You’re seeing this elsewhere in Asia—KL has some notable modern Malay restaurants. And while the Thais are kicking and screaming about this trend, other parts of Asia are embracing it.

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at xiaochen6.

Photo of Jung Sik Dang courtesy of TomEats/www.tomeats.com

A Travel-Themed Baby Shower

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Baby showers aren’t typically something we cover here at T+L, but I went to an adorable one recently that I simply had to write about. The excited parents-to-be are major globe-trotters, and so the theme chosen by the hostesses was, fittingly enough, Tiny Traveler.

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Oink! The Ultimate Summer Bacon Festival

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Just how popular is bacon? Google the word and you’ll get 144 million results (and how many of those are really about Francis Bacon?). There’s practically a tweet every minute under #bacon. There’s bacon ice cream, bacon cocktails, and, of course, burgers piled high with bacon in cities across the U.S. What gives?

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Who cares! This salty meat treat has become a dietary staple—it’s practically an honorary member of the food pyramid (or plate, or whatever it is now). So go join a grease feast: the Des Moines-based Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is taking its show on the road, to Keystone, Colorado for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour from June 24-26. It’ll be an all-bacon, all-the-time weekend, with bacon tastings, bacon lectures (?!), and bands made up, one would assume, of non-vegetarians.

We’d go if we were closer—it’s only $30 for stuff-yourself-silly (i.e. unlimited) bacon tastings—but we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with New York–style bacon: with an egg, on a roll. And, hey, that’s not so bad.

Photos courtesy of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour

New Tourist Slogans Twist Arms

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Cheesy travel slogans are a dime a dozen. There's something decidedly square in the art of selling destinations, and rightly so. Not only must you lure new travelers, you also have to represent the locals who live in these places—and you probably shouldn't tick them off.

So, it's all the more interesting to notice some chance-taking of late.  A few brave tourist boards—hoping to zap awake a sleepy economy, defibrillator-style—have unveiled a slew of over-the-top, playfully arm-twisting slogans.

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If Travel Searches Are Any Indication, You're Probably Going to Vegas This Summer

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Anyone still wondering where to go on vacation in the next few months might get some ideas from the 20 top hotel destinations searched for this coming summer on Kayak.com, the price-comparison travel site. Most popular: Las Vegas, where the average hotel rate from June through August is $130, down slightly from summer 2010. Most expensive: New York, where rooms averaged $218, up nearly 15 percent from a year ago. Biggest increase: Bangkok, whose average room rate was up a whopping 40 percent from last year. (On the other hand, the summer average for a hotel in Bangkok is just $117, so stop complaining.) Cheapest: San Jose, Costa Rica, with an average rate of $94.

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Singapore Takeout: Look for the Pop-Up Window Near You

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Ten chefs, nine cities, and one pop-up kitchen. No, it’s not the set-up of some new reality TV show on Bravo, but an inventive initiative by the Singaporean government to showcase the city’s vibrant fine dining scene. Dubbed Singapore Takeout, the project starts its yearlong world tour in London on June 9.

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La Maison Mère: In (American) Food We Trust

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It’s no secret that the French are enamored with New York. Not the whole state, however, just the city. Astounding Parisians not only by its sheer size, energy, and unapologetic excesses but also by its boundless food choices, Manhattan is like a culinary amusement park. For the French, whose food scene has long been dominated by traditional, bistro fare, the diversity in NYC is understandably appealing.  But what seems to seduce French appetites most is not the ethnic variety so accessible in NY but rather straight up, all-American comfort food—bagels and cream cheese, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, cupcakes and “real” NY cheesecake.

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Carnival Debuts First Shipboard Pub

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Somewhere between Venice and Dubrovnik, the brand new 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic ran out of ThirstyFrog Red draught beer.

This was significant not only because there was a whole lot of drinking going on from the very first night of the maiden cruise of Carnival’s latest “Fun Ship”—the 23rd vessel in the fleet—but also because Carnival clearly has a hit on its hands.

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Buenos Aires' New Clubby Hangout

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There’s a new hangout in Buenos Aires for guests staying at Oasis Collections properties. Six months and $200,000 in the making, The Oasis Clubhouse debuted this past weekend in the dining and shopping enclave of Palermo Soho. All patrons staying at an Oasis Collections design-focused condo, apartment, or villa in the city have access to the clubhouse.

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