News on where to stay . . . what to see . . . what to buy . . .

california oasis
With the opening of the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Ritz-Carlton no longer has the monopoly on California's coastal community of Laguna Niguel. The 400-room, Tuscan-style getaway—the St. Regis group's first-ever resort—looks out over manicured fairways to the ocean. Sun seekers can hop a five-minute shuttle to the beach or grab a cabana by the main pool. Pampering at the Gaucin spa comes in the form of such tasty treatments as an orange-fizz bath or an avocado-cream wrap. For dinner at Aqua, the first southern California branch of Michael Mina's celebrated San Francisco restaurant, it's hamachi jet-fresh from Hawaii. St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point; 888/627-7219 or 949/234-3200, fax 949/234-3370; doubles from $355.Chris Rubin

sleeping in seattle
Contemporary-art collector Richard Hedreen (that's his de Kooning bronze outside) has built a totally wired hotel in downtown Seattle that appeals to both the business and leisure crowd. The Elliott Grand Hyatt's 425 rooms have cherrywood doors with shoji-inspired glass, huge baths awash in Carrara marble, exceptional local art, and more high-tech accoutrements than James Bond ever needed. Having a problem with your laptop?Just call the 24-hour help desk. Elliott Grand Hyatt Seattle, 721 Pine St.; 800/233-1234 or 206/774-1234; doubles from $270. —Kimberly Brown Seely

wolford to the rescue
On a long flight, restricted blood flow can cause feet to swell, making you feel like the wicked stepsister trying to jam her toes into the glass slipper. Cult hosiery brand Wolford has a stylish remedy: the Long Distance Tight, in seven shades. Pressure applied at the joints fosters circulation and helps battle serious afflictions such as deep vein thrombosis. —Kristine Ziwica

it's crafty
No Arts and Crafts mansion has survived with as much intact opulence as Blackwell, an eight-gabled pile in England's Lake District. Built for a Manchester brewer in 1900 by the architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, Blackwell just opened to the public as a museum of both Arts and Crafts furnishings and contemporary counterparts such as Japanese ceramics. Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria; 44-1539/446-139. —Eve Kahn

let them eat cake
Pastry connoisseurs breathed a sigh of sweet satisfaction when Pierre Hermé recently opened his first pâtisserie in Paris. Cakes are categorized as Classiques (mille-feuille, lemon tart), Collections (milk-chocolate tarts and other twice-yearly innovations), and Signatures (caramel macaroons made with fleur de sel). The shop also offers a hazelnut-and-nougatine spread designed to banish the breakfast doldrums. Pierre Hermé, 72 Rue Bonaparte; 33-1/43-54-47-77.Christopher Petkanas

tokyo joe
A café culture is on the rise in Tokyo. Here, the three hottest openings, all in postage stamp—sized spaces. Half of the experience of going to Floor (19 Iwato-cho, Shinjuku-ku; 81-3/5206-5422) is finding it—hidden in a bohemian fringe of the residential neighborhood of Kagurazaka. Office (2-7-18 Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku; 81-3/5786-1052) feels more like a private house than a café. And at S.H.P. Café (2-20-21 Kakinokizaka, Meguro-ku; 81-3/5701-6220), if you find yourself unable to get out of your comfy lounge chair, no worries. It's for sale. —Erika Lederman

caribbean cool
Beachfront is boring. That's the message at the just-opened La Banane, tucked behind a curtain of coconut palms, near the perfect crescent of Baie de Lorient on St. Bart's. Brussels-born owner Philippe de Nys sidestepped Creole design clichés by using Belgian linens and austere furnishings—Casa Milano canopy beds, Artemide lighting—in the nine bungalows, which are scattered around a minimalist two-tiered pool. La Banane, Baie de Lorient; 590/520-300;; doubles from $270.Shane Mitchell

east meets chic
Inspired by her collection of Asian antiquities, lingerie icon Josie Natori has launched her first line of handbags. Some one-of-a-kind creations are fashioned from 18th-century kimonos. From $500.K.Z.

spaghetti western
Forget stuffed moose heads and elk-horn chandeliers: Rendezvous Bistro is the new home on the range for chef Roger Freedman, formerly of the acclaimed Snake River Grill. The Wyoming restaurant takes its cues from Europe. Sling back a glass of Sangiovese at the white onyx bar—lit by Murano lamps—then cut the winter chill with a duck confit that rivals any you'll find in Paris. Rendezvous Bistro, 380 S. Broadway, Jackson Hole, Wyo.; 307/ 739-1100; dinner for two $50.S.M.

big style,big easy
In New Orleans, the change of seasons is marked less by the turning of the leaves than by the return of the tourists. This fall they'll find three new hotels. Set in a former Masonic temple, the 250-room Hotel Monaco New Orleans (333 St. Charles Ave.; 888/561-0010 or 504/561-0010; doubles from $135) is awash with vintage details. At the 75-room Maison Orleans (904 Iberville St.; 504/670-2900; doubles from $385), Ritz-Carlton's first foray into the boutique-hotel market, butlers cater to your every need. Artistic touches flourish at the 137-room Hotel Le Cirque (2 Lee Circle; 800/337-4685 or 504/962-0900; doubles from $119) in the warehouse district. —Malia Boyd