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October 16, 2009

Celebrities Toast Travel's Best at the 2009 Readers' Choice Awards

Adrian Grenier and Rachel Hunter present Sir Richard Branson's Virgin America with the award for best Domestic Airline at Conde Nast Traveler's 2009 Readers' Choice Awards, October 15, 2009.
Photo: Marion Curtis

by Beata L. Santora

What do Sir Richard Branson, Adrian Grenier, Lorraine Bracco, and Stanley Tucci have in common (besides well-stocked bank accounts)? They all attended our 22nd annual Readers' Choice Awards ceremony at Frank Gehry's fantastical IAC building in New York last night. As usual, yours truly was on site to get the scoop from these and other travel-loving celebs who came to support the winning hotels, cruises, and airlines, as chosen by thousands of Conde Nast Traveler readers. 

Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin and Danilo Gallinari

As I sipped a glass of bubbly and surveyed the room, I spotted an unassuming gentleman who looked awfully familiar. I walked closer, only to discover that I was in the presence of a bona fide TV legend -- Regis Philbin! Regis was eager to tell me about his favorite spots, such as Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach: "Trump is a master at keeping a place beautiful," he said. Other favorites are the Wynn in Las Vegas and the new Montage Beverly Hills. "I just love resorts and hotels that really know how to make somebody feel welcome and enjoy their time. I don't know what's so difficult about that, but some hotels just don't seem to manage it." Thankfully the RCAs celebrate ones that do.

Unlike Regis, the next celeb I spoke to was tough to miss in a room full of regularly-sized people. As the 6'10 Forward for the New York Knicks, Danilo Gallinari knows a thing or two about comfortable travel. "I like to visit a new destination every summer, when I am on break," he said. "Next year I'm planning a trip to Thailand with my friends." May we suggest a stop at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai? Our readers have ranked it the world's top resort for the second year in a row.

Stanley Tucci hosting Conde Nast Traveler's 2009 Readers' Choice Awards.
Photo: Marion Curtis

Before taking up his hosting duties for the evening, actor Stanley Tucci stopped to chat. Like Danilo, Stanley's top destination is Italy. While there, he stays at the fabulous Villa d'Este in Lake Como. In Paris, he prefers the Prince de Galles and in Berlin, the Hotel Adlon Kempinski. "But there are so many places I've not visited yet, it would take me hours to describe them all," he said. "I can't wait to ski in the Alps, then to see the fjords of Sweden and Norway, and end up in the Faroe Islands, where Bergman lived." I recommended that he take the trip in June, during the Faroe's Bergman Week festival. 

As the dessert course was served, the energy in the room suddenly spiked. Excited whispers told the story -- Sir Richard Branson and Adrien Grenier are here! They arrived surrounded by an impenetrable band of what could only be entourage (sorry, had to go there).


You met Regis! That, to me, is the most exciting news of the night.

It was for me as well! And I'm happy to report that Regis is just as charming and unassuming as he is on TV. He doesn't need an entourage to prove his status -- unlike some other people.

How can I get an image of the trophy only.

How can I get an image of the trophy only.

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