Conde Nast Traveler

Rihanna Aboard the Oasis of the Seas

Photo: @N08/ / CC BY 2.0

by Beata L. Santora

Cruising enthusiasts have had their feathers in a twist for months, nay years, since Royal Caribbean's announcement that it would build the largest, tallest, priciest cruise ship ever. Well, the wait is almost over. On November 30 the mammoth Oasis of the Seas will welcome its first guests and depart Fort Lauderdale for a pre-inaugural cruise.

And if that wasn't enough to send cruisers into apoplexy, RC has secured the hottest young pop star on the planet to entertain the guests with her unmistakable pipes. Rihanna will christen the AquaTheater (a unique water-based amphitheater) with a performance of her brand new single "Russian Roulette." (Thanks for the heads up, Jaunted).

If your golden ticket for this event got lost in the mail, don't fret. For under $800, you too can be among the 5,400 passengers aboard the Oasis (6,296 if they stuff it to the brim). You might not get serenaded by Rihanna, but you can still get lost in one of the ship's seven neighborhoods, climb a rock wall, gamble away as much as you like, drop the kids off in the 28,000-square-foot youth zone, and eat your weight in lobster tail.

Just remember: When you're in the AquaTheater, make sure to you bring your umbrella -ella, -ella.

Watch Hill's Ocean House Reborn

by Bree Shirvell

Summers on the shore, black-tie affairs, decked out ballrooms--the glorious yellow hotel known as the Ocean House that gazed over Watch Hill, Rhode Island, for almost 150 years harkened back to an earlier time.

Six years after the original Ocean House, built in 1868, was torn down the new version will open this summer seeking to recreate that elegant era with a few modern touches--year round dinning and accommodations, eco-friendly practices, farm to table dining, a spa, and an ocean view lap pool.

I grew up not far from the small seaside village of Watch Hill, and it's impossible to not think of the grand Ocean House Hotel when thinking about the village. It was the place you dreamed of attending a fancy party; the place you spent summers trying to sneak into the private beach.

Originally one of five hotels in town, the Ocean House was one of the last Victorian era hotels in mainland Rhode Island. In 2003 the hotel closed, and in 2004 when it became clear the Ocean House's historic structure couldn't be saved, it was torn down. The local community rallied together to save the site from development forming Bluff Avenue LLC with the goal of persevering both the site as a hotel and the Ocean House's 136 year history. The 2010 Ocean House hotel was built in the likeness of the old incorporating many of the original hotel features including the main fireplace, front desk, some wick furniture, and of course the yellow paint. 

The Ocean House reopens this June under managing director Daniel Hosteller. While the five star, 49-room hotel will not start taking reservations until the end of October, every weekend from June to October is already booked for weddings. The Ocean House will include 23 private residences all with ocean views, 10 of which have already been sold.

I for one cannot wait for the place to reopen, for summers at the Ocean House to resume and for a new group of kids to dream about parties and try their hand at sneaking in; although, with more than 300 feet of beachfront open to the public, it shouldn't be as hard.


Brooklyn's Henry Public

The old-school vibe at Brooklyn's Henry Public

by Ondine Cohane

As you may have noticed from my Brooklyn's Own Little Italian Empire post, this former Brooklyn resident hasn't forgotten about her borough or its foodie scene. The latest must try on my list? Henry Public, the recent opening from friends Matt Dawson and Jen Albano who made Brooklyn Social my go-to stop in Carroll Gardens. The tasty panini and painstakingly made cocktails also made it my preferred place to recharge after a long-haul flight.

This new venture brings comfort food dishes like grass-fed hamburgers, turkey leg sandwiches and freshly shucked oysters together with another fab-sounding drinks list--the "Public Smash" with bourbon, mint, maple syrup and aromatic bitters, "Two-cents Fancy" with pear, tarragon honey, and champagne, and "Kings County Sour" with rye whiskey, lemon, sugar, egg white and port float, all sound like they could render decision making difficult. If you are around on the weekend, you can even stop in during the day for an egg sandwich, coffee, or better yet, another cocktail. I was already sold on the concept, but as luck would have it I had dinner this week with a woman who works at Saveur magazine (so good food cred) who went in on the restaurant's opening night. Her verdict: a solid thumb's up for both the food and the cozy 19th century-inspired decor. So if you are in the 'hood, head on in.

329 Henry St.; 718-852-8630



Celebrity Travel Roundup

Cover stars make travel news

by Beata L. Santora

With so much celeb news out there this week, choosing just one tidbit to share with you would be like Sophie's Choice. So we decided to avoid the moral dilemma and bring you the top celebrity travel news in our first Celebrity Travel Roundup:

* Nothing quells rumors of a break up and philandering like a coupley trip up north. That's just what Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel did this week in Vancouver, Canada. These savvy celebs must have read the results of our 2009 Readers' Choice Awards and saw that Vancouver is the top-rated city in the Americas. Not to mention, the city is abuzz in expectation of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We certainly hope that Vancouver can help turn their sourpusses into smiles. 

* Continuing in their quest to become the world's most nauseatingly do-gooding couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie visited the SOS Children's Village in Jordan to support the organization's care of orphans. Hopefully while there, the Jolie-Pitts had a chance to learn about Jordan's other progressive policies on water and the environment.

* Amateur architect Brad Pitt has recently revealed a prototype for a floating house. Built with eco-friendly ingredients, the house is able to withstand up to 12 feet of rising water. The project was a part of Pitt's efforts for the Make it Right foundation in New Orleans to ensure that the devastation of Hurricane Katrina never happens again. What did we tell you about Pitt? Nauseatingly curing the world of its ills, in spite of the funny facial hair.


Travel Auction Benefits Center for Responsible Travel

Up for bid: A stay at Costa Rica's famous Lapa Rios ecolodge.
Photo: Lapa Rios

by Brook Wilkinson

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or your travel plans have you there on November 5, heads up: The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), a nonprofit research organization dedicated to furthering sustainable travel, is auctioning off several top-notch trips.

Among my favorites up for bidding: A 6-day trip in Yellowstone with outfitter Off the Beaten Path; a 10-day Galapagos cruise with Lindblad Expeditions; or 7 nights in Costa Rica for a starting bid of just $400. Other destinations include Kenya, Belize, Peru, Turkey, Greenland, and Ecuador. All are offered by certifiably green operators.

In all, 11 travel packages will be auctioned off, with proceeds funding CREST's work (co-director Martha Honey is a judge for Conde Nast Traveler's World Savers Awards). The event will take place at a private home in Woodside, California; there is a suggested donation of $100, which can be used toward a bid on any of the trips. Think of it as an opportunity to take care of both your travel plans and your charitable giving for 2010.

Further reading:
* Check out our live reports from Monday's World Savers Congress, an event that brought together travel industry leaders to talk about corporate social responsibility
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference


I've Got Sicily Under My Skin

Verdura Resort and Spa is an entirely a new build except for the golf club, housed in an old tower, and the reception in a former railway station house.
Photo: Verdura Resort and Spa

by Ondine Cohane

Sicily has gotten under my skin. This marks my third annual trip to the Italian island--I first covered it on a pilgrimage to find an Italian wine baron and then last year I scouted its best beaches. This year I found myself first in Palermo, and then at Rocco Forte's new resort, Verdura Resort and Spa, for a quick September getaway.

Palermo, as always, didn't disappoint; a dilapidated chaotic gritty city that's still home to grand palazzi and amazing examples of Arab and Norman architecture. This isn't a sanitized tourist destination, though: on my first night there, all the street lights went out, leaving me in a small alley in total darkness for a good five minutes. Among my new discoveries was the BB22, a chic bed and breakfast next to the Vucurria food market, another one of my picks. BB22 was great, especially for 150 euros, and the staff was friendly and helpful. I also checked out Cana Enoteca, a little wine bar not far from Piazza Marina that proved a gem for its selection of Sicilian vintages (don't miss the reds from Mount Etna), large plates of cheese and local salamis, and cozy wood-paneled atmosphere. If I lived in town, it would definitely become my favored neighborhood spot.

The following morning I headed on to Verdura, a resort that's been generating a lot of buzz in Italy.

Continue reading "I've Got Sicily Under My Skin" »


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).


Sponsor a Maasai in the New York Marathon

by Brook Wilkinson

It's no shocker to see Africans running marathons--Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru just won the Chicago race convincingly this past weekend, and his medal collection also includes an Olympic gold. But next month's New York City Marathon will include three African marathon novices--Maasai warriors who work at Campi ya Kanzi, a 2008 winner of Condé Nast Traveler's World Savers Award, and its Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

Campi ya Kanzi is the brainchild of Italian Luca Belpietro (who also will be running the grueling 26.2 miles), who made a deal with the Maasai of the Kuku Group Ranch: If they would put up the land to protect as a wildlife reserve, he would finance a luxury eco-lodge to attract travelers. The project is, by all accounts, a success. It's raised over $750,000 for conservation, education, and health care in the last year alone.

Edward Norton, who impressed all in attendance at Condé Nast Traveler's World Savers Congress a few weeks ago, is the president of the board for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund, and the leader of a group of 30 running the NYC Marathon to raise money for the Fund. Read after the jump to see what he has to say about this latest endeavor.

Continue reading "Sponsor a Maasai in the New York Marathon" »


Tokyo Gets Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony Tokyo opened with a home section and a café, both new
components of the brand

Photo: Frame Noir

by Ondine Cohane

Have a penchant for fashion and want to travel to get your fix? Opening Ceremony, one of retail's most cutting edge shops and design groups, recently opened a 50,000 square foot flagship in Japan's capital that's already a fashion world darling. Helmed by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim--who have built their concept from a fledgling group of international designers (hence the name play on the Olympics) to one of the most fashion forward and successful undertakings in years--the store certainly seems to fly in the face of recent economic woes. The eight floor extravaganza showcases the duo's own designs alongside a devoted shop to Alexander Wang, a new line from Chloe Sevigny, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Acne jeans, among others. The launch party was similarly celeb studded--Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jason Schwartzman, Kirsten Dunst, and Sean Lennon (and mom Yoko Ono) were among the attendees. And Opening Ceremony isn't the only stateside shop to end up in Tokyo of late; LA's Kitson and a new Tom Ford outpost are also about to open their doors. Get your credit cards ready!

Further reading:
* Etiquette 101: Dress Codes (fanny packs not allowed)
* That Mango Will Blow Your Damn Mind: Adam Platt on Tokyo's fanatical foodies (CNT, September 2007)
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Good News From Afghanistan

By Sara Tucker

The National Museum in Kabul, which has lost 70 percent of its 100,000-piece collection through plundering, celebrated a historic turnaround this week when it unveiled stolen artifacts repatriated by British authorities. The returned artifacts were confiscated at Heathrow Airport during random searches over a period of six years.

The moment was huge for a country devastated by war and robbed of so much of its cultural heritage. "The 3.5 ton trove of [returned] artifacts was described as priceless by the museum director and includes stone tools dating back 10,000 years," reported the Telegraph. "Among the greatest treasures are a bronze peacock-shaped brazier dating from the 12th century and a 100-year-old carved, wooden pen box filled with Persian poems and curses. . . .At least half the returned collection is dated back to before Afghanistan's Islamic period which began in the seventh century."

Besides the value of the returned objects, there is the significance of the opening itself: "For more than a decade, the museum here in the Afghan capital has been a symbol of the country's grievous suffering," observed LA Times staff writer Henry Chu in 2007. "Once a repository of one of the world's most valuable collections of Central Asian artifacts, it turned into a building full of broken hopes and dreams, its shell shattered by civil war, its guts ripped out by the radically religious Taliban." At the time Chu's article was published, the museum had begun to welcome home cultural treasures held in safekeeping by other countries, but it was still "struggling to get back on its feet," and "virtually all of those objects remain squirreled away in boxes, awaiting proper treatment and someplace to put them on show."

Tuesday's opening didn't escape criticism ("premature and naïve," huffed a HuffPo reader), but the overriding sentiment was positive and easily summarized in two words: "It's time."


George Clooney is "Up In the Air"

by Beata L. Santora

If there ever was a perfect time to release Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, that time is now. Not because it stars box office golden boy George Clooney and his purr-cat voice, but because it hinges on two things weighing heavily on all our minds: air travel and jobs.

Based on Walter Kirn's 2001 novel of the same name, Up in the Air follows the life of Ryan Bingham whose goal (besides slaying every stewardess withing a 50 yard radius) is to rack up one million frequent-flyer miles. Luckily, his job is conducive to both quests. He's a "career transition counselor," which is corporate speak for "the guy who travels around the country firing people." Now, if that doesn't sound familiar, you've been blissfully oblivious to the cuts and layoffs that are tormenting nearly every industry in America (except alcohol vendors and strip clubs--we don't have data on the latter, it's just an educated guess).

Though we're not fans of Bingham's career choice, we can relate to his obsession with frequent-flyer miles. In fact, we're obsessed with all things air travel. Just check out On the Fly, a rundown of breaking news from the air, and Clive Alive's insights. Both can be found on our new portal

And don't even think about leaving for your next trip without reading our guide to the world's airport lounges. It'll tell you which to skip and which are worth a splurge. Oh, and while there, if you see George in one of those massage chairs, tell him we'd like a private concert.

Further reading:
* More frequent flyers -- Will & Jada Smith Host Nobel Peace Concert in Oslo
* Boldface: Celebrity travels

In This Issue

Etiquette 101: Dress Codes


Going to Dubai and need to know what to wear on the street and at a meeting? Here's how to make all the right fashion decisions:

At a meeting: Women's pantsuits should be sheeny and glam; men's duds are buffed, black, and paired with slim ties.

On the street: The mall, not the street, is the social arena. Here, girls in T-shirts (their shoulders covered out of respect and as a remedy against the freezing AC blasts) tote the latest Louis Vuittons. Carry a pashmina to cover up in case you find yourself in a traditional souk--although you'll see miniskirts and shorts, they're for people who know the city well enough to avoid ultra-conservative quarters. On men, reflective aviators abound, as do Gucci sandals.

At a party: Go glam to the gills: No Swarovski is too shiny and no Giuseppe Zanotti is too high. Men wear Y3 trainers and tailored blazers over graphic tees.

P.S. Put on clean socks if you're going to a local's house--you'll leave your shoes at the door.

For more on what to wear (and what not to wear) in over 20 countries, check out "Etiquette 101: Dress Codes," in Condé Nast Traveler's October issue.


Journeys Within Reaches Out to Help Typhoon Victims

In Cambodia's Taksen Tboung village, children play in floodwater that may well be contaminated.
Photo: JWOC

by Brook Wilkinson

Southeast Asia and the South Pacific just can't catch a break. First it was earthquakes, which wreaked havoc in Indonesia--spawning mudslides and killing hundreds--and caused a tsunami in the Samoas that took many more lives. Then Typhoon Ketsana rolled over the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, leaving destruction in its path and more than 360 dead.

To say that the news out of this part of the world is not good would be an understatement. But one small travel company on the ground in Cambodia has already been able to make a difference. It is Journeys Within, a tour operator and B&B in Siem Reap. The company's nonprofit arm, Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC), works under the motto "See a Problem, Solve a Problem." And see one they did. Ketsana had left many nearby communities underwater. But since the devastation was arguably worse elsewhere, it would be a while before major aid organizations showed up in these small villages.

So JWOC took up the cause.

Continue reading "Journeys Within Reaches Out to Help Typhoon Victims" »

In This Issue

Kyoto: Learn to Live Like a Geisha

Photo: Len Jenshel and Diane Cook for Condé Nast Traveler

In the October issue of Condé Nast Traveler Shoba Narayan travels to Kyoto to learn some lessons on allure from the Geisha. Below, find some favorite places she discovered along the way. Note: the country and city code for Kyoto are 81-75.

* The posh Hyatt Regency has simple functional rooms with kimono-fabric accents (541-1234; doubles, $260-$480)

* Once a princely residence, the Yoshida Sanso is now a boutique inn serving incredible kaiseki (9-1 Yoshida Shimo-ooji-cho, Sakyo-ku; 771-6125; set menu, $175).

* Origin Arts does a wonderful survey of traditional geisha arts including the tea ceremony, calligraphy, flower arrangement, noh drama, martial arts, kyogen comedy theater, and more (365-0722; half-day program, from $528).

For more on Kyoto, pick up a copy of the October issue or read "My Life as a Geisha" at


Surf's Up in the U.K. and the U.S.

The "Relaxation Terrace" at Cornwall's new Scarlet hotel.
Photo courtesy of the Scarlet

by Ondine Cohane

One of the trends I've been seeing of late is hotels with a surf theme or barefoot-chic beachy vibe--properties like Montauk, Long Island's popular Surf Lodge and Bungalow on the Jersey Shore.

Now there are two more to keep on your radar. The Scarlet, in England's Cornwall region, just opened a few weeks back and is already making waves for its eco-sensibility and stylish vibe. The 37-room property overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and has an Ayurvedic spa on site. Cornwall has become one of Europe's hottest surf centers--the countryside is gorgeous, and the food is just great--and I have a feeling The Scarlet is going to make the area even more of a draw.

I just found out about a new spot opening October 15 in St. Pete Beach, Florida. The Postcard Inn on the Beach is the latest from restaurateur Stephen Hanson (behind the James Hotel in Chicago), and claims to be "laid-back, beachy, and carefree" as well as affordable. Think surf-inspired accommodations, beers and burgers, and comfy hammocks by the sea. A whole generation of travelers want affordable, chic beachside places--hoteliers should keep them coming.

In the meantime, got a relaxed seaside favorite that has the surfer (or surfer wannabe) vibe? Let us know.

Further reading:
* Stiletto Watch: Montauk
* A New Reason to Hit the Jersey Shore This Summer
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Will & Jada Smith Host Nobel Peace Concert in Oslo

Mr. and Mrs. Smith will be braving the Nordic winter in Oslo this December.
Photo: p_c_w on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Beata L. Santora

With summer officially over, it's time to start thinking about your Christmas travel plans (you can never start too early, as far as we're concerned). In case you're stumped about where to greet Santa, might we suggest a jaunt to Oslo, Norway? Besides all the good-looking blonds and crisp temperatures, Oslo has tons to offer the wintertime traveler. Not the least among these options is the Nobel Peace Prize Concert on December 11. Celebrating this year's laureates, the concert will take place in Oslo Spektrum stadium and include performances by country singer Toby Keith, disco diva Donna Summer, World Saver Wyclef Jean, and Malian jazz duo Amadou & Mariam. The event will be hosted by uber-couple Will & Jada Smith who will leave their warm Hollywood nest to brave the Norwegian winter.

But how can a traveler without access to millions enjoy the the world's most expensive city? Easily, it turns out--with our insider tips. Winter sports enthusiasts will love Oslo's miles of ski runs, fjords, cross-country trails, and crisp temperatures. Click on Visit Oslo for more info and special offers. Direct flights from the east coast price under $600 on SideStep. Or fly Iceland Air and take advantage of its Stopover option to explore two destinations for the cost of one flight. Just as exciting as seeing Will & Jada? Totally. Better than the  "Carlton Dance"? Not quite.

Further reading:
* Video: Wyclef Jean at our World Savers Congress
* If you run into these American biologists while in Oslo, please send our best wishes -- they've won the Medicine Nobel Prize for their groundbreaking chromosome research. 
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Sully Flies Again: Live Blog

Chesley Sullenberger


6:30 a.m.  I spot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (right) and First Officer Jeff Skiles outside a food court at Charlotte Douglas International.  They were on their way to the crew room. Flight's on schedule!

7:00 a.m.  Gate check.  I shoot a quick video.  Please excuse the camerawork!

7: 26 a.m. So...I'm at the gate for Flight 1050 from Charlotte to New York LaGuardia--as we reported yesterday, this is Sully's real first flight back. US Airways would have everyone think the flight back to Charlotte later today is the first one.  Amazingly the airline seems to have kept a pretty tight lid on the news.  No "welcome back" banners at the gate, no TV trucks parked at the terminal.

But still, it was inevitable that word would be get out.  A crowd of US Airways suits was the tip off.  Then Sully and Jeff Skiles, his first officer on flight 1549, showed up and boarded the plane.

Word is now spreading around the waiting crowd. 

I had bumped into the duo as they were getting coffee in a food court a half hour earlier. Sully was gracious though when he learned that I'm a reporter, he quickly set out the ground rules for our encounter:  "I'm not doing any one on ones."  He averred that he's 'glad to flying with Jeff."  Then a minder showed up to inform the planes that "there's no plane yet," so they headed off to the crew lounge.

OK  they just called the flight.

7:44 a.m. Overheard on the jetway:  "Oh no!  I don't want to land in the Hudson!"

7:45 a.m. Sully gives a "This is captain...."  Everyone cheers!

9:35 a.m. We just landed--right on time. It was a textbook perfect landing, but then again it couldn't be anything but.

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
Email: Daily updates



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