Conde Nast Traveler

Thanksgiving in London

by Ondine Cohane

Thanksgiving in London has become a tradition for me. In fact, this holiday marks my twelfth year of making the pilgrimage and I love it. I celebrate the festivities with my dear friend's family (whose mother is American so they go all out on the turkey, fixings and pies) and then we have plenty of time to check out restaurants, go to the season's blockbuster exhibits, and to do a little retail damage at Topshop. Read after the jump for a list of some of my must-dos.

Continue reading "Thanksgiving in London" »


Piedmont: Italy's Underrated Foodie Destination

Truffle ring
A truffle doubling as my fantasy
wedding ring at I Bologna

by Ondine Cohane

Already visited Tuscany and made the pilgrimage to Umbria? As far as I am concerned, Piedmont remains one of Italy's most underrated destinations, which makes it one of the most pleasant and well-priced regions in the country. November is the perfect time to visit: the wine harvest has recently finished so you can get a taste of the new vintages, the foliage and vines are turning beautiful shades of yellow, red and brown, and best of all it's truffle season. Almost every good restaurant in Piedmont has a special truffle tasting menu. (Not to knock the great truffle offerings in cities like London or New York, but a fresh truffle that travels at most a few hours from dirt to dining table tastes way better than one shipped overseas.) Fresh, delicate, and just slightly pungent--hell, I understand why local prized pigs make whole careers out of foraging them. Maybe I'll sign up for their job.

Last week I dined at I Bologna, an amazing family-run institution near Asti (4 Via Nicola Sardi, Rocchetta Tanaro; 39-0141/644-600) and one of the holy grails of Italian restaurants. Here's the truffle-heavy menu bring served that day: an egg coddled with truffles (sublime), fresh taglierini made by the mother of the chef and topped with shavings of white truffle (they melted into the buttery pasta), and a fresh hazelnut parfait with caramel sauce that was so good I wanted to order two. My husband nibbled on local goat cheese accompanied by a marmalade made out of Barbera grapes and sipped the family's Monte Bruna Barbera Asti wine, which is a veritable bargain at 30 euros. It was one of those meals where I wanted to kneel on the floor and give thanks. (Don't worry, I restrained myself.) I Bologna was the first of a few days of truffle eating, a journey that only ended because, frankly, I couldn't eat anymore.

Further reading:
* Looking for another amazing Italian foodie destination? Check out Patrick Symmes's recent story in Condé Nast Traveler about Emilia-Romagna.
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Jennifer Aniston Luxuriates in Los Cabos

by Beata L. Santora

Life is tough for Jennifer Aniston: Film shoots with handsome costars, Letterman appearances, a revolving door of foxy young 'uns, and of course, that (in)famous GQ tie. But Boldface knows that Jen's real passion is travel. Whether it's surfing in Hawaii with the Cox-Arquettes, or following her boyfriend-of-the-moment on tour in Amsterdam, Jen's one savvy frequent flier.

Therefore, was it a coincidence that we found her soaking up the sun in Los Cabos, Mexico just as the town's luxury resorts rolled out deep discounts on room rates? We think not. After all, even celebs like to save a buck. Check out our Deal of the Day blog on for the scoop on how to take advantage of these fab savings. And in case you need a little incentive, Jen and her teeny bikini on PopSugar and JustJared should do the trick.

So whether you travel with 10 assistants, an umbrella holder, and a crate of luggage, or simply carry your flip flops and SPF30, Los Cabos doesn't discriminate.



You Did What to That Watch? Tag Heuer Performs Its Own Road Tests

by Hyla Bauer

As Executive Fashion Editor for Condé Nast Traveler, my job is to keep up on the latest trends in fashion and accessories. Recently, I went on a quick jaunt to Switzerland to visit the Tag Heuer watch factory, where I had an unexpectedly eye-opening experience.

Tag Heuer's testing rooms were like nothing I had ever experienced before. I felt like I was in Q's lab in a James Bond movie: Machines wiggled wrist bands, dropped watches from varying heights, and submerged them in pressure tanks, among other punishments. They basically shake, rattle and roll them every which way (and not gently!), performing a rigorous "road test" before the watches leave the factory. Only the strong survive.

Read after the jump for a slide show of the Tag Heuer torture chamber.

Continue reading "You Did What to That Watch? Tag Heuer Performs Its Own Road Tests" »


The Palazzina Grassi Opens In Venice

The restaurant at the new Palazzina Grassi hotel in Venice is bound to be a hotspot.

by Ondine Cohane

Just back from Venice, where the big news is the opening of the Palazzina Grassi hotel this week. The place wasn't quite finished yet when I took the grand tour, but it was already clear that the property is going to a stylish and intimate addition to the city's hotel scene. The project marks designer Philippe Starck's first foray into Italy, and although there are plenty of modern, playful touches (like his signature oversize lamps and furniture), he used lots of local materials, too. You'll find handmade Murano glass and mirrors (there are about 298 on site, so you better like looking at yourself), Venetian plaster walls in reds and greens, and traditional terrazzo floors throughout the property's 24 rooms. (Those rooms are set out between two buildings dating from the 19th and 16th centuries, but the kick-ass suites are in the older structure overlooking the Grand Canal). In addition to a restaurant and bar that are open to the public, there will be a second bar area downstairs that's reserved for hotel guests only. Supposedly VIP Venetians will be invited there, too, as part of a members-only club--I bet it will become celeb central during the Film Festival and the Biennale.

One of the best aspects to the property is its neighborhood. Near Campo Santo Stefano, the hotel is also nestled behind the Palazzo Grassi, one of the city's best new contemporary art museums, and only a short walk to must-stops like San Marco, the Accademia, and the funky neighborhood of Dorsoduro.

Looking for somewhere to eat nearby? Grab a plate of delicious cicchetti, Venice's answer to tapas, and great wine by the glass at Bacaro da Fiore on Calle delle Botteghe.

Further reading:
* Show Stopper: An insider's Venice (CNT, December 2008)
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Walker and Walsh Save Sea Turtles and Great White Sharks

by Beata L. Santora

It's no secret that quite a few celebs use their fame for more than just freebies and self-important tantrums (take note, Naomi Campbell). Today we highlight two actors who are working on behalf of the endangered species of our oceans.

Actress Kate Walsh recently traveled to St. Croix's Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge to film a PSA for Oceana about the threat of extinction for sea turtles. It turns out that all six species of turtles who call the US home are in danger of extinction. And since they're a crucial aspect of the ecosystem (not to mention incredible creatures who've lived in our seas for 100+ million years), letting them disappear is not an option. Check out Oceana's Web site to virtually adopt a turtle for as little as $35 and help Kate Get Sea Turtles Off the Hook

Sea turtles are too herbivorous and cuddly for actor Paul Walker, who was a marine biologist before he got Fast and Furious. His animal of choice is a little grizzlier. Ok, a lot grizzlier. He joined National Geographic on an expedition to personally greet great white sharks. And not just greet. The goal is to actually catch one, lift it onto the boat, tag it, collect DNA samples, and release it unharmed. Oh yeah, and not get eaten. All for the sake of uncovering the secrets of these incredibly misunderstood carnivores. Do they manage it? Check out National Geographic's Expedition Great White on November 16.

Further reading:
* Christina Aguliera, Bob Dylan, Kenna: Celebrity World Savers
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Switzerland's New Snowy Retreat: Hidden Dragon

A view from the top: Hidden Dragon's living room
Photo: Mark Sanders

by Ondine Cohane

Looking for a snowy retreat with plenty of pampering? I just got an email from Ashlee Benis about her new hideaway in Switzerland's 4-Valley region that seriously piqued my interest. Hidden Dragon, which opened a couple of months ago, is nestled in a forest away from the crowds but close to some of the region's best skiing with ski-in ski-out access to more than 92 runs linking resorts like Verbier, Thyon and Les Masses. Even more interesting, though, is how Benis's Eurasian background has impacted the design and ethos of the place: instead of a conventional chalet approach, she built the lodge using feng shui principles and included an Eastern-oriented spa with yoga and meditation rooms as well as traditional massage areas to soothe ski-weary muscles. Other nice touches include a hot tub overlooking the mountains, a state of the art wine cellar with an emphasis on Bordeaux vintages, and a screening room for cozy evening movies. It seems like the perfect spot to rent as a family or group of friends. Now I just have to figure out when I can make an escape there.

Looking for more Swiss insight? The November issue of Condé Nast Traveler includes a 16 page pull-out on the country with tips on cool spas, cutting edge architecture and the best ski spots.

Hidden Dragon's Meditation Room
Photo: Mark Sanders


Anderson Cooper Gets Regal in Taj's Rambagh Palace

The Taj's Rambagh Palace: Fit for a Vanderbilt

by Beata L. Santora

If there's one person who knows a little something about travel, it's CNN anchor (and resident Silver Fox) Anderson Cooper. Growing up a Vanderbilt, Cooper could have simply relaxed on the French Riviera or hung with the 1980s equivalent of Paris Hilton. Instead, he studied in Vietnam, contracted malaria while trekking in Kenya, faked a pass into Myanmar to meet with dissidents, and generally took the less-than-glamorous road.

Which is why now, he can splurge for a posh suite at the regal Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India (thanks for the shout out, Just Jared). Built in 1835 for the Queen's favorite handmaiden, the property also served as the home of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Nowadays, it's certainly fit for royalty (of TV or otherwise). But you already knew that. Conde Nast Traveler readers have rated it among the top hotels in Asia in the recent Readers' Choice Awards. So Anderson's predilection for Jaipur's jewel is no surprise.

Now if only I could find a job handmaidening to a queen.....


The Zeitz Foundation's Getaways That Do Good

"Long Run Destinations are business enterprises, mainly sustainable tourism destinations, committed to maximizing positive and minimizing negative impacts around the world," says the Long Run Web site. This one, Chumbe, is a tropical island situated 8 miles southwest of Zanzibar town, Tanzania.

by Ondine Cohane

Jochen Zeitz is one of the most successful CEOs in the world, and he didn't start running Puma until the ripe old age of 30. So, when he contacted me last year about creating a network of sustainable, socially conscious retreats--including one that he had already started to build in Kenya--I was extremely interested in learning more. I helped Zeitz narrow in on some places that I thought he should consider, like Indonesia's Nihiwatu, but it was clear that the guy had done his research. It was also clear that he was interested in more than a press release; he dismissed resorts that didn't truly help to better their communities.

Last week Zeitz officially launched his foundation with nine spots in Brazil, Tanzania and New Zealand, among other locations. His goal? To "provide and build sustainable, mostly tourism-driven enterprises, community development and cultural stewardship," and "projects that balance conservation, community, culture, and commerce...a model that shows how working toward ecosphere safety can be commercially viable." The new properties try to both protect endangered areas and promote cultural diversity and local stewardship. For a list of the retreats, go to

In both the articles I have read about Zeitz and the conversations I had with him, it is clear that he is a man who travels a great deal for work, and takes the time to learn about various issues and fault lines as he does so. I am very happy that his vision now has an outlet.

Further reading:
* The Zeitz Foundation Web site
* The Long Run destinations
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide

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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