Conde Nast Traveler

Clinton Kelly: Fashionably Smart Travel

Clinton Kelly always knows what to wear.

by Beata Loyfman

Hey, you! Yes, you with the pleated khakis, Scooby-Doo T-shirt, and fanny pack, I'm talking to you. If you continue in your fashion disaster ways, don't be surprised if you're ambushed by one Clinton Kelly, style guru of TLC's popular What Not to Wear. If you're lucky, Kelly will take you from zero to hottie faster than you can put down those greasy french fries and invest in healthy carrot sticks.  

Searching for makeover candidates takes Kelly all over the United States. And after racking up almost a million miles per year, he's learned a thing or two about efficient travel. Thankfully, Kelly was all too happy to share his pearls of wisdom with us this week:

DT: With all of the traveling you do for What Not to Wear, you've probably mastered the art of packing light.

CK: I will brag and tell you that I haven't checked a bag in four years. One day, I did the math and calculated that I would have wasted an entire day of my life just waiting for luggage at airports. So packing light became the goal.

DT: Impressive. What's the trick?

CK: I just bring the essentials: a great pair of jeans, a jacket/blazer, a pair of multi-purpose shoes.
Also, I pack travel-size options of all my favorite products. And if they don't make a travel size, I transfer the products into small plastic containers. Lastly, if I'm traveling for work and need multiple outfits, I'll ship clothes ahead of me.

Read after the jump for more of Kelly's travel insights. 

Continue reading "Clinton Kelly: Fashionably Smart Travel" »


Bette Midler and 50 Cent Join Forces to Save Environment

Bette Midler planting trees for her New York Restoration Project in August 2004.
Photo: Adam Chazan

by Beata Loyfman

Bette Midler, 50 Cent, and Dolly Parton walk into a bar.

No, it's not a bad joke, it's what you'll find if you go to Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan on May 19 at 6:30 p.m. The annual Spring Picnic raises funds for Midler's New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit dedicated to developing and maintaining New York's green spaces. For as little as $250 (half of which is tax deductible) you can hang out with Bette and her random celeb pals, have a fun dinner, and contribute to a worthwhile cause. Or if you're a high roller in need of an investment, Bette will sell you a $10,000 table for $8,500 if you pay in cash. Any takers?

Bette recently wrote about the theme of the eighth Spring Picnic (Recession Chic) on the Daily Beast. What would this wealthy gal know about surviving a recession? "I was raised by parents who lived through the Depression and I know how to stretch a dollar tighter than Rush Limbaugh's thong." Ahh, that explains it. Just one question: With such an, ahem, eclectic group in attendance, what will the music selection be? A rap, country, show tunes blend? Perhaps a Depression-era ditty?

Further reading:
* Bette, the showgirl, must go on
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas Christen Tucker's Point

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones welcome Bermuda's newest resort. Now if they could only figure a way out of that triangle...

by Beata Loyfman

These days, many celebs have pet projects: Wyclef Jean's is Haiti, Matt Damon's is Africa, Ashley Judd's is clean water. But few have been so bold as to take a thriving, non-third-world territory under their wealthy wings. Catherine Zeta-Jones and hubby Michael Douglas are two such brave souls. They've been advocates for the posh island of Bermuda for years--in fact, Douglas's family owned the Ariel Sands resort for half a century (until it closed in January for a $100 million makeover). 

Bermuda is notoriously change-averse; its development rules are so draconian that no one has been able to build a luxe hotel there for 37 years. Currently, eight properties are awaiting financing and approval. So when we heard that a resort had actually passed muster and broken ground, we were skeptical. However, to our considerable surprise, not only has Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa been built, but it actually opened on April 30. And who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony? Why, Mr. and Mrs. Zeta-Jones, of course.

Tucker's Point has 88 rooms decorated in a traditional "Brits by the seashore" style as well as a spa, a golf course, and a tennis club, all on 200 acres of greenery. Beware: The Web site is beyond exasperating and refuses to allow online reservations. But it does promise 20 to 30 percent off on advance bookings. So if you call the reservations number (866-604-3764) and say that the Web site is wonky, the resort will honor the discount. Let's hope they fix the HTML, too.


Lauryn Hill to Headline Stockholm Jazz Festival

Lauryn Hill jamming at
Stockholm's 2005 festival.
Photo: bastomas on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Beata Loyfman

"Killing me softlyyyyyyy, with his song. . . ." In 1996, there was no way to escape this chorus from The Fugees' cover of Roberta Flack's 1973 smash. Headlined by the talented and beautiful Lauryn Hill, The Fugees ignited the neo-soul movement. And when her 1998 solo album won five Grammys, 23-year-old Hill found herself on top of the music world. And she didn't like it. So she disappeared to her native South Orange, N.J., suburbs and had five kids (one for each Grammy) with Bob Marley's son. She emerged only to record a strange acoustic album and perform at odd venues (often arriving hours late and behaving erratically).

You can imagine our surprise when Starpulse reported that the reclusive Lauryn Hill would be a headliner at the 26th annual Stockholm Jazz Festival (July 15-19). We nearly fell off our chairs with excitement! Besides Hill, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Booker T, Raphael Saadiq, and Joss Stone are slated to perform.

If you decide to take advantage of low fares to Europe, be sure to check out some of the Continent's other awesome music festivals. And if you bump into Ms. Hill, please tell her to "Doo Wop (That Thang)"--she'll know what you mean.


Rihanna and Katy Perry Chill Out in Barbados

How to lose a guy in ten days?
Take a girlfriend getaway
on the beach.

by Beata Loyfman

We can't blame Rihanna for staying out of the spotlight lately, what with the Chris Brown fiasco still swirling and nosy paparazzi stalking her everywhere. In times like these, a girl really needs a friend, so when we saw photos of Rih and fellow pop star Katy Perry boating in Barbados, we thought the trip was the perfect antidote to recent events.

If you're going through personal drama, there's nothing like an escape to sunny shores. And South America has some of the best beaches this side of the Atlantic. Luckily, you don't have to throw darts at a map in hopes of finding the perfect south-of-the-equator strand, because we've done the legwork for you. We surveyed 9,000 miles of coast and came up with 13 favorites in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. (Well, actually we made Deputy Editor Hanya Yanagihara do it, since we didn't want to get sand in our hair.)

Note: If a celebrity friend is footing the bill, you might want to suggest business-class seats on LAN airlines so you can fly south in comfort. The tickets are on sale now, so you don't have to feel like a total mooch.


Hot List: More From the Party

Publisher Chris Mitchell, actress Kim Raver, and editor-in-chief Klara Glowczewska at Wednesday night's Hot List party.

Madame Boldface left a message this morning saying she was "simply too exhausted" from covering Wednesday night's Condé Nast Traveler Hot List Party to submit anything for a Friday Boldface. We blame the RC Cola/Pernod shooters she was caught slamming down late that night. Please accept the apologies of the DT staff. We leave you with a link to her party reportage.

Continue reading "Hot List: More From the Party" »


Hot List 2009: Party On!

by Beata Loyfman

Every year, Condé Nast Traveler sends scores of writers out all over the globe to find the hottest new hotels, spas, bars, and restaurants (anonymously, of course). Their experiences are then compiled into the annual Hot List.

This sort of thing calls for a celebration, and last night the Hot List was feted at NYC's Pranna restaurant. Yours truly (wo)manned the red carpet to chat with the travel-loving celebs who turned out to party with us. Here's a look beyond the velvet ropes:

Justin Tranter arrives in style.
Photo: Patrick Butler

Justin Tranter, of the band Semi Precious Weapons, christened the red carpet with a bang. Wearing a pair of stiletto boots with tights, a leather jacket, and some of his custom Fetty jewelry, Justin set the bar high for red carpet shock factor. But he was as passionate about travel as he was about getting our attention. His travel must-haves: exactly three pairs of pantyhose and black eyeliner. Never leave home without 'em.

Bronx-born singer Kat Deluna usually brings more than that, but she had a great packing tip: roll your clothes into "egg-rolls" to save space and put all hair and make-up products into zip-lock bags. Next up for Kat is choosing the destination of her new video, either Cuba or Brazil. It's a tough call, Kat. We sympathize.

Actress Kim Raver told us about her upcoming trip to France. Traveling with two young children has its own challenges, but Kim has some tricks up her sleeve: bring plenty of hand wipes and doubles of everything, that way you're never caught off guard with baby, ahem, fluids. 

The award for the coolest celebrity guest goes to actress Sherri Saum of HBO's In Treatment. Not only did she tell us all about her amazing recent trip to Israel and her favorite hotel (the Four Seasons Chicago), but she also hung out and chatted with us until the party's end. At one point, she was checking out baby pictures from the wallet of our very own Ombudsman, Sanjay Surana.

Check out the video (above) for more inside the Hot List festivities. Click here for a list of all the winners.


Nic Cage Downsizes Castle Collection

Even the Coppolas have to cut back:
Nic Cage (that's Francis Ford's nephew)
was forced to sell his Bavarian castle.
It was an offer he couldn't refuse
Photo: AP

by Beata Loyfman

We recently blogged about heroic A-Listers doing their parts to boost the economy by spending on lavish destination weddings. Well, this week the news is less good. Word has surfaced that some celebs are actually having to cut back on spending in the wake of the current economic hiccup. Gasp!

For example, poor Nicolas Cage has had to sell his 28-room German castle Schloss Neidstein. Now where will his child bride and son Kal-El stay while in Bavaria? I guess they could make do with their other two castles, including the ace-of-clubs-shaped Midford in Bath. But owning an even number of castles is just unseemly. Perhaps his royalty fees from Knowing will offset this sad financial state.

Thank goodness the economy hasn't slowed down the queen of spending, Mariah Carey. She and child hubby Nick Cannon recently spent $200,000 on chairs at schwanky Kreiss Showrooms on Melrose Avenue. But who can blame them? Can you imagine how many chairs are needed to fill Fleur de Lys, the world's largest mansion, currently on the market for $125 million? Oh, did we mention that Mariah has made an offer on the property? At least she'll finally have enough space for all those shoes.

Further reading:
* Adrien Brody's home is his castle
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Jackie Chan in the Bird's Nest

Perhaps he'll travel by Segway?

by Beata Loyfman

You probably know Jackie Chan from action films such as Rush Hour and Rumble in the Bronx. But in his homeland of China, Jackie is more than just the funny little man at the butt of Chris Tucker's jokes. He's a massive star, as close to royalty as the communist country allows. So it's only fitting that he makes history as the first one to sing on China's most coveted stage: the "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium in Beijing (yes, he sings, too). Along with Chan, the concert will feature popular Asian acts like his son Jaycee and a Korean boy band called Super Junior. What? You've never heard of them?

And there's more! According to Starpulse, the concert will aptly be called "Descendants of the Dragon: Jackie Chan and Friends." It will take place during China's May Day holiday, May 1-3. Check out for details on tickets and schedule.

As if that wasn't enough Jackie for ya, here's more: Chan has donated one of his historic houses in Shanghai to the government, which will turn it into a museum to open in October. It will be dedicated to . . . who else? Jackie Chan, of course! Shanghai seems like an odd choice considering Chan was born in Hong Kong. But a little birdie tells us that a museum in the port city is already in the works. Rest easy, Hong Kong, your native son won't let you down.


Celebrity Weddings Boost Travel Industry

Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady: He liked it, so he put a ring on it.

by Beata Loyfman

As we all know, celebs are notorious givers. Just pick a cause, and they're all over it, charitably giving of their time, wallets, and hearts. Recently, a few celebrities have rolled up their sleeves to boost the sagging travel industry. How, you ask? By getting hitched and spending tons of cash! Here's a shortlist of the selfless heroes who have paved the way for America's economic recovery:

* Bruce Willis & Emma Heming: Willis married his girlfriend (she's 23 years his junior for those of you counting) in his posh Parrot Cay home on Turks & Caicos last weekend (thanks for the details, Jaunted). A-list guests included ex-wife and uber-cougar Demi Moore and her young hubby Ashton Kutcher (he's 15 years her junior for those of you counting). The question is, where did the guests hang their hats? Perhaps Grace Bay Club or the new Gansevoort? Kutcher's incessant Twittering only gave away a small clue: this classy photo of his wife's rear end.

* Natasha Bedingfield & Matthew Robinson: The British singer and her non-famous guy tied the knot at Church Estate Vineyards in Malibu (you can find pics at Socialite Life). Apparently it's a favorite celeb wedding spot: Fergie and Josh Duhamel got hitched there a few weeks back. Where did their guests stay? Maybe at the swank Malibu Beach Inn.

* Gisele Bundchen & Tom Brady: These do-gooders are so concerned about rescuing the economy, they're having two weddings instead of just one. The first was at St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica and now a second has been scheduled at Gisele's house in Costa Rica (check out the invite on TMZ). We owe you both!

* David Letterman & Regina Lasko: Dave waited 23 years to make Lasko an honest woman. The pair finally got hitched in the Teton County Courthouse in Choteau, Montana, after a detour that caused their pickup truck to get stuck in the mud. Sure, it's not as glamorous as a private island in the Caribbean, but what have you done for Montana tourism lately? 

Further reading:
* Scroll down for Dave's big reveal
* Boldface: Celebrity travel


Sarkozy Spends in Mexico, Bruni Keeps Clothes On

It's a wrap: Carla Bruni and
the Dalai Lama. One of them is
the 13th reincarnation of Tibet's
patron saint, and the other
dated Mick Jagger. You decide.
Photo: Ammar Abd Rabbo on
Flickr using Creative Commons

by Beata Loyfman

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his model-turned-singer-turned-First Lady Carla Bruni reportedly spent a staggering $63,000 on a weekend vacation in Mexico's El Tamarindo resort. Interestingly, that's just $30K less than the amount Bruni's famous nude photo fetched at a Christie's auction. Located in a nature preserve in Costalegre, on the Pacific coast, El Tamarindo has 29 casitas each with a private pool and unbelievable service.

The real question isn't why the French first couple chose El Tamarindo for their vacation, but rather how they managed to spend that sort of coin there. The most expensive accommodation in the resort is the four-bedroom Oceanfront Residence. It would set you back $5,500 per night in March. And since the property is owned by a friend of Mexico's President Calderon, couldn't he cut the Sarkozys a deal? Perhaps the Mexican sun caused Nicolas to forget that the French economy is in a tailspin.

Luckily, us regular folks don't have to mortgage our (foreclosed) homes to pay for a Mexican getaway. In fact, if fun in the sun is more important to you than foie gras and caviar, an all-inclusive vacation is just the ticket. True, quantity sometimes trumps quality in these all-you-can-eat resorts, but choose any Iberostar, Riu, Palace, Secrets, Barcelo, or Fiesta Americana property and you can be sure that you'll get the most for your buck. Book your hotel and air together on a consolidation site and the savings increase even more. 

If you're into quieter locales and smaller hotels, head to towns like Tulum (in the Mayan Riviera) or Troncones (on the Pacific). Here, boutique hotels like Las Ranitas and Hacienda Eden are the relaxed and affordable options.

Just don't tell the Sarkozys . . .


Sting's Message in a Bottle, From Tuscany

The first time Sting brought us a message in a bottle, with the Police. (Here the band performs the famous song before it was even recorded).

by Beata Loyfman

The next time you're shopping for honey or olive oil at Harrods in London (as one does from time to time), you might find a bottle of something called "Il Palagio Sumner Family." This isn't just any old stuff, it's a product of rock star royalty. Made on the estate of Il Palagio in Tuscany, Sting is the one you'd have to thank for that extra virgin on your salad.

And as of September, Sting and his missus, Trudie Styler, are releasing 30,000 bottles of red from their estate. According to the Times Online, there will be two varietals: a Chianti DOC and a Tuscan red based on the Sangiovese grape. The wines have been made with traditional methods, without the use of pesticides. I can just see Sting and Trudie stomping the grapes in a giant wooden vat, Lucy-style. Don't know what I mean? Shame on you! Check out the classic clip here.

Further reading:
* Celebrities are getting into the wine business as never before, reports Alan Richman (Condé Nast Traveler, April 2007)
* Sting, a.k.a. Gordon Sumner, is all about Tantric love and "defend[ing] Tuscan agriculture and bio-diversity" (Times Online)
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Raising the Bar on Boeing

Bar Rafaeli
Fly the friendly skies

  by Beata Loyfman

Giving new meaning to the phrase "cabin pressure," Southwest Airlines recently debuted a new paint job on one of its Boeing 737s. Covered head to toe in model Bar Refaeli, the plane certainly stands out from the pack. Not sure about the reason for this, but perhaps Southwest figured that a partnership with Sports Illustrated would result in more flights booked. Well, why else?

Shockingly, not everyone is a fan of the plane. As TMZ reports, Southwest's customer blog has received a barrage of commentary. It turns out that some people don't want to fly in an aircraft with a semi-naked girl on it. Hang on, let me rephrase that: Some people don't want to fly in a plane with a semi-naked girl PAINTED on it. A few even went so far as to call it "a flying porn ad." Prudes!

Our favorite comment came from a gal called Lauren who wondered, "What will it look like after its first encounter with a flock of birds?"

We hope Southwest never has to find out.

What do you think of Southwest's decision to paint a supermodel on its plane?


Vacant Vegas? Celebs to the Rescue

Senior Editor Kate Maxwell shows you some things you might not think to do in Vegas.

by Beata Loyfman

Unless you're hiding in your basement, you've probably heard about how the economy has pummeled Las Vegas. In fact, it's now America's most abandoned city, according to a recent Forbes survey. So imagine my surprise when I arrived in Sin City last weekend only to find . . . crowds! That's right, the Strip was a madhouse (more so than usual). Travelers from all over the world arrived in droves, spurred by cheap airfares, cheap hotel rooms, and the promise of instant riches.

And they're not alone. Celebs are also flocking to Vegas to blow off some steam. For example, Brad Pitt hit the Hard Rock Hotel for a boys' weekend with his sons, Maddox and Pax. They ordered Nintendo Wii from room service, saw Cirque du Soleil's KA, and checked out the (sedated) lions at MGM. Seven-month-old Knox Leon wasn't invited.

Drew Barrymore would not allow her 34th birthday party to be overshadowed by a little thing like the Oscars. She bailed on the awards and instead partied at The Palazzo with gal pals Ellen Page (the pregnant smart aleck from Juno) and Christen Wiig (the only woman allowed any screen time on SNL).

Like you, I was sick of all the bad news, so I booked a Vegas vacation package through Expedia. A non-stop Virgin America flight and three nights at posh Bellagio cost me about $510. Can't beat that!

Further reading:
* Travel and the Oscars
* Bette Midler returns to Caesars Palace on March 24. Check out my exclusive interview with the Divine.
* Seven Deadly Sins: A primer on the best of the Strip
* Video: Las Vegas nightlife
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Zac Efron Traveling Incognito: Beyond the Paparazzi

Efron's new film, 17 Again.

by Beata Loyfman

Let's say you were the young, handsome star of a cagillion dollar Disney franchise. Let's say that you shine your shoes with Benjamins and gross more each year than Burundi. Let's say that tween girls from L.A. to Tokyo faint each time your pretty face appears on the screen. What would you do? Well, if you're Zac Efron, you would try to escape it all.

"I'd love to take a year off and travel the world under the radar. I would love to do it really low-key. I wouldn't need to stay in fancy hotels or anything; I just want to explore--but I don't know how I'd do it. Maybe I'd shave my head to try and go incognito?" (Starpulse)

Well, Zachary, you're in luck, because we've done the hard work for you. Read our picks for spots where you'll be free to roam the streets as just another pretty face. Added bonus? These locales won't put a dent in your nest egg.

Continue reading "Zac Efron Traveling Incognito: Beyond the Paparazzi " »


Travels in TV Land, Part 4: The Tudors

Long live the king--but not queen. 
Image: Showtime

by Beata Loyfman

As you may have already noticed, the Daily Travelers have quite a few guilty pleasures: Obscure Danish musicians, chocolate-covered anything, and of course, nakedness. Well, our latest guilty pleasure is Showtime's sexified, loosely historical series The Tudors, which features the intense Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII. The show has it all: Brooding royals, scheming clergy, beheadings, and a bevy of tasty morsels for His Highness to choose from--ahh, it's good to be king.   

Every episode of The Tudors leaves us panting . . . for more shots of 16th century Britain (were you thinking of something else?). From the rolling hills of Hever Castle to the sprawling Westminster Abbey in London, the destination is as much a part of the story as corsets and infidelity. Check out this handy Tudors Wiki for behind-the-scenes photos and info on set locations.

A jaunt to some of these historic sites is just the thing to refresh your memory in time for the premiere of season three. Good thing the Brits are fond of their historical architecture, since much of what you see on the show is still around. There's Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral, plus the Tower of London, where Anne Boleyn and others who lost favor with the king also lost their heads.

In addition, low winter rates means you can get nonstop flights to London on Continental, British Airways, and other airlines for under $500. Cod piece and lance not included.

The next season of The Tudors debuts March 9. Check out the trailer here. Just make sure you have a cold shower ready.

Further reading:
* Travels in TV Land Parts One, Two, and Three
* Boldface: Celebrity travel


Beckham Bends It Back to Milan

by Beata Loyfman

You may have noticed that the Daily Traveler has a soft spot for this soccer-bending British import. (Thanks for the visuals, Just Jared). After all, he has provided plenty of clothes-free fodder. Check out my personal brush with the shirtless wonder here. But Becks has been quiet lately, and with good reason: He's busy wrangling his way out of his contract with the LA Galaxy to join the footballers of AC Milan. You know what? If I had made a big deal about relocating to the U.S., and all these celebs flocked to throw me parties, I'd keep my plans to bail quiet, too.

We can't blame him for the move, either. As the European fashion mecca, Milan is the perfect place for his couture-loving missus. Plus, the Italians are far less inclined to mock Becks' high-pitched voice and bum ankle.

Unfortunately for travelers on this side of the pond, Milan is one of the pricier cities in Europe. Even in this economy, hotel rates can cause respiratory distress. Luckily, there's a solution: Stay in one of the picturesque towns on Lake Como, just north of Milan and take shopping day trips. Check on Venere, one of our favorite sites for European hotels, where you'll find accommodations at rock-bottom rates. For example, Hotel Barchetta Excelsior has rooms overlooking the lake for as low as $139 per night. The site is currently running a weekend special for Hotel Terminus which includes two nights of B&B accommodations, a tour of the area, free use of the sauna and fitness center, and a mystery welcome gift for $179 per night.

Hey, at these prices, you can even afford to splurge on those designer duds on Via Montenapoleone.

Further reading:
* Milan Elements of Style
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Celebs Flock to Japan, Improve Economy?

Could Zacnessa be in the crowd?
The Shibuya-Eki-Mae Crossing
in Shibuya, one of Tokyo's hottest

Photo: Philip-Lorca di Corcia
for Condé Nast Traveler

by Beata Loyfman

Just like our side of the ocean, Japan is plodding through a massive economic slowdown. So it's no surprise that record numbers of New Year's pilgrims journeyed to temples all over the country to offer Hatsumoude prayers for . . . you guessed it, prosperity. The beautiful Meiji Jingu shrine in central Tokyo saw some 3 million visitors in the first days of 2009.

Always the philanthropist, Hollywood is doing its part to help out the struggling Japanese economy. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens (Zacnessa?), the handsomely wholesome leading couple of Disney's High School Musical juggernaut, brought their considerable star power to Tokyo this week. But the tween stars are small potatoes compared to the frenzy caused by the arrival of the biggest superstar couple in the entire universe. We speak, of course, of Brangelina, who recently took the Benjamin Button train to the technicolor city. Check out this video--fans nearly expire at the sight of the Jolie-Pitt clan arriving at Narita airport. Swoon!

Even if you don't have a film to promote, this is a great time to explore the land of the rising sun, especially if you time your trip to coincide with the annual cherry blossom festival in the middle/end of March (check here for dates all over the country). Kayak has nonstop flights on multiple carriers from the northeast for just $1,000 (I paid double that two years ago). ANA's Eco Value fares can get you there for even less, depending on departure city. Konichiwa!

Further reading:
* Etiquette 101: How to eat sushi properly in Japan
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Travel and the Oscars

San Francisco (as portrayed in Milk), Tropic Thunder's Vietnam--actually Hawaii--and Barcelona as filmed by Woody Allen in Vicky Cristina Barcelona are all up for this year's golden trophies.

by Beata Loyfman

Forget about the new president, the skyrocketing unemployment, or even George Clooney's latest acting turn. The real news this week is the announcement of the Academy Award nominations! And why do we care? Because this is one of the most travel-centric collections of films the Oscars have ever seen.

Here are a few examples:
*For those who haven't seen all the nominated films, we apologize for any spoilers*

* The crux of Frost/Nixon is its setting. If Dick Nixon's henchmen hadn't rummaged around the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., in 1972, shining flashlights all over the place and destroying stuff, none of this could have been possible. Ahh, memories.
* Harvey Milk became a national symbol of gay equality and jump-started the movement when he successfully campaigned out of his camera store in the Castro district for a spot on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. Today, San Fran is one of the country's most liberal cities, and surly Sean Penn has another shot at the podium.
* Penelope Cruz deserves four out of the five Supporting Actress nominations for her turn as the volatile but lovable nutbag in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Marisa Tomei can have the fifth nom -- we've got a soft spot for her "always a bridesmaid" movie career).
* Suburban Connecticut turns into the sixth circle of hell for the idealistic couple at the center of Revolutionary Road. Its perfect hedges, white picket fences, and Stepford-esque vibe stifles Kate and Leo's bohemian dreams. Heavy.   
* Mumbai unfolds through the doe eyes of Slumdog Millionaire's titular orphan vying for the top spot on Indian Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Just don't expect the locals to break into impromptu Bollywood dance numbers when you visit.
* The Vietnamese jungle is crucial to just about every hilarious plot turn in Tropic Thunder--the film that made us believe in the magic of Tom Cruise all over again (especially that scene where he dances the lawn mower while covered in layers of fat, latex, hair, and moisture). Top that, anti-aging Brad!

Have you ever watched a movie that made you want to travel to its locales (or stay the heck outta town)? Tell us about it. 

Further reading:
* Woody Allen's Barcelona
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Travel and Teenagers, a Great Combination

Liam Neeson
Neeson at Condé Nast Traveler's
Readers' Choice Awards in 2007
Photo: AP/Peter Kramer

by Beata Loyfman

You may not know this, but we are serious fans of vertically gifted actor Liam Neeson. But after his recent statements about travel, we're downright devoted. Case in point: "American parents are too over-protective. If kids traveled a little bit more and saw more of the world, there'd be a lot more tolerance of other cultures, nations, and countries." Neeson claims that his teenage sons will be given backpacks and shown the door as soon as they turn 18.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Sure, if I had Neeson's money, I wouldn't mind sending the kids on a European jaunt either." But the good news is that these days, you don't have to spend a fortune to expand your teenager's horizons. First, check out these crafty tricks for snagging cheap airfares from AirfareWatchdog. Second, go on for incredible deals on lodgings in Europe. Third, book affordable and efficient intra-Europe train fares on Rail Europe. And fourth...could we tag along for the ride?

Further reading:
* Neesan may like to travel, but Adrien Brody's a homebody--and his home is a castle
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


Fashionable Travel

Daily Traveler Beata Loyfman goes NBC Mobile with her insider tips on fashionable travel.

For more from Beata, check out Boldface, her weekly section on celebrity travels.


Boldface: The Best of Celebrity Travel 2008

Celebs flock to Miami--and I checked out why for our 2008 Hot List

by Beata Loyfman

After a year of surprises, hijinks, and general flashiness in the world of celebrity, a Boldface recap is in order. And so in the tradition of end-of-year lists, here's a rundown of our favorite celebrity travel moments, both naughty and nice, clever and curious:

* A-listers descended on Miami, and can you blame them? Check out the above video for a taste of the sizzling city.
* Madonna conquered Cannes with her Malawi film, the world with her Sticky & Sweet tour, and embarrassed the rest of us with her 50-year-old rock-hard abs. (Honorable mention goes to Helen Mirren, who did more for the bikini than every Sports Illustrated cover ever published).
* Fun with nudity!
* Celebrity-owned restaurants: How many of these will still be cooking in 2009?
* Paris Hilton hearts Condé Nast Traveler and changes the course of the presidential election.
* More nudity!
* People's sexiest man alive of 2007, Matt Damon (a.k.a. Jason Bourne) saves the world in film and in real life. Plus, he's a nice guy. First Madonna's arms, now this--we might as well stick our heads in the oven.
* Las Vegas got a dose of the Divine, as Bette Midler brought her extravaganza to Sin City.
* Did you know there were castles for sale in New York? We didn't either. That Adrien Brody is one savvy real estate king. 
* We traveled in television. And then we got animated, twice.
* Even more nakedness! (You can never have too much, especially when it comes in the shape of Jennifer Aniston.)

What will 2009 bring? We can only imagine...


Holiday Travel: What Not to Give

Aniston's lucky tie. 

by Beata Loyfman

Isn't it one of the cruel ironies of life that the worst gifts come from the people who can actually afford to spend a few bucks? Case in point: Scarlett Johansson recently appeared on Jay Leno and graciously presented the audience with...a used napkin full of her ScarJo kooties. She claims that since her cold is courtesy of costar Samuel L. Jackson, it has more value than ordinary snotty tissues and therefore people should bid to win this "prize" on eBay. Two words: Delusional... Hey, look at that, I only needed one.   

David Letterman was the recipient of another bad celebrity gift when Jennifer Aniston stopped by to promote her new film on Wednesday. Letterman received the tie from Aniston's recent photo shoot for GQ. Granted, the strategically positioned tie did play a key role in keeping the photographs from the slush pile of Playboy, but really, Jennifer, a used tie?

These celebs should take a lesson in gift giving. What do we all really want this holiday season? A fabulous getaway, of course. So in the spirit of all things warm and fuzzy, here are some fabulous travel deals that you can find right now (prices may be subject to change):

Costa Rica: The new Hilton Garden Inn Liberia Airport is celebrating its opening with special rates as low as $79.

Sheraton: For every weeknight you pay the regular rate, you can get the next night 50 percent off. The Sheraton Seattle Hotel rates start at $139.

Las Vegas: The economic downturn has crushed Sin City. But at least you can reap the benefits of its misery by snagging unbelievable deals! The swanky Bellagio has deluxe rooms for $129 midweek. Not to be outdone, Hard Rock Hotel has rates starting at $59, and the Venetian offers you the Suite Life for $199 per night (includes breakfast, SpaClub passports, and other amenities). Even if you don't gamble, it's worth the trip to see Vegas' bizarre snow storm.

Take note, gift-giving celebs!

Further reading:
* "Lordy Lordy, this woman is 40": Aniston's racy photo shoot--tie included
* Celebrity designers get the travel jones
* Boldface: Celebrity travel


Travels in TV Land, Part 3: Springfield, Vermont

The Simpsons Movie trailer.

by Beata Loyfman

As promised in Travels in TV Land, Part 2, this week we bring you travel deals in the Springfield of The Simpsons. Daily Traveler reader greggo72 guessed that the home of the animated family is actually Springfield, Vermont. Here's why:

"Springfield, Vermont, hosted the premiere of The Simpsons Movie on July 10, 2007. It has just under 10,000 people (animated Springfield is also quite small). The mayor has a Boston-esque accent like JFK and Massachusetts isn't too far from Vermont. Also, animated Springfield seems to be culturally/socially up to date like a northeast city (not like cities in the Midwest) and isn't far from airports or the ocean."

Well, greggo72, you make a compelling argument. And so in the spirit of giving, here are some suggestions for your next trip to Vermont's machine tool capital (betcha didn't know that):

Check into a cozy room at Hartness House, a 1904 mansion converted into a charming B&B. Rooms are decorated in traditional early twentieth-century florals and antiques. Some even have fireplaces. A unique aspect of the house: It has a telescope observatory. Lucky for you, rates start at just $99.

If you're eager to check out the movie theater where The Simpsons Movie premiered...well, you can go online and look at pictures because it was burned down by a disgruntled tenant last summer. D'oh!

After you're done exploring Springfield's other attractions, such as the Eureka Schoolhouse built in 1790, drive two hours north to visit Burlington, the healthiest city in the U.S. Maybe you could figure out what makes these residents so fit.

Further reading:
* Travels in TV Land Parts One and Two
* Boldface: Celebrity Travels


Travels in TV Land, Part 2: South Park, Springfield, Quahog

Where are they: Which Springfield is the Simpsons' Springfield?

by Beata Loyfman

Last week I brought you the first installment of Travels in TV Land. This time I'm kicking it up a notch and exploring destinations in your favorite animated TV shows--so what if they're fictional! Let's open our minds, people.

South Park, Colorado - Unlike the town of South Park featured in a certain Comedy Central series about politically incorrect fourth-graders, the actual South Park is a huge glacial valley amid the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful, but pretty much devoid of anything but a gas station. A more welcoming place is Denver, about 60 miles away. Book the Ultimate Escape package at the JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek, where, in addition to your room, you'll get a $100 gift card to Neiman Marcus, a $100 certificate to Nectar Spa, two cocktails at Second Home Bar, and valet parking, all for $339. After this indulgence, you'll need a shot of culture, and there's no better place than the Denver Art Museum.

Quahog, Rhode Island - The kids of South Park are lightweights compared to the appallingly offensive Griffin family of Family Guy. Ironically, their hometown of Quahog is based on Providence, Rhode Island, one of the country's most liberal cities. Here's proof. Thankfully, Family Guy's rabid fans now have a posh place to hang their hats: the Renaissance Providence Hotel. A lofty $100 million renovation put it on Condé Nast Traveler's 2008 Hot List of the world's best new hotels. And with a $189/night price tag, you'll have enough left over for a city tour.   

Springfield, ? - For the entirety of its 20-year run, The Simpsons has never revealed the location of Springfield. Even the fanatics running this exhaustive archive haven't come up with a conclusive answer. And no wonder: There are 71 Springfields in the U.S. In which of these towns do you think The Simpsons takes place? Let us know and we'll come up with the best travel deals there.

Further reading:
* Travel in TV Land, Part 1
* Boldface: Celebrity travels

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

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