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The Counter, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, December 17 05:26 PM

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Is there such a thing as too much choice? When West Coast burger joint The Counter opens its first New York City outpost in Times Square on Monday, you'll be able to choose from more than 300,000 burger combinations. Surely it's only a matter of time before someone takes that as a challenge.

The options to build your own Angus beef, grilled chicken, turkey, or veggie burger--with toppings like grilled pineapple, roasted corn and black bean salsa, country buttermilk Ranch dressing, basil pesto, fried egg, and dill pickle chips--sound yummy. And the industrial-style interiors with hanging globe lights and mint-colored walls will be a welcome respite from the many gaudy fast-food options in Midtown.

Better still, there's a full bar with spiked shakes. We're there.

Photo: Courtesy of The Counter

Amanyara, Turks and Caicos

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, December 15 11:18 AM

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New Year's resolutions usually start after your holiday vacation. But we've found a luxury Caribbean getaway with three top professional athletes on hand to get you psyched for a healthier 2011.

Amanyara resort in Turks and Caicos has enlisted tennis pro Peter Rennert (John McEnroe's former doubles partner) to boost your game on the hotel's two Har-Tru clay courts, triathlete Boris Talan to streamline your strokes in the 50-meter pool, and world record-holder Tanya Streeter to teach you the ins and outs of free diving.

So even if you do succumb to overeating/drinking/lounging during your stay at one of the 40 stylish glass-and-wood guest pavilions surrounded by reflecting pools, at least you'll have professionals on call to get you back on track.

Photo: Courtesy of Amanresorts

The Normandy Hotel, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, December 14 11:21 AM

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Saving a couple of hundred dollars when you're staying in D.C. might feel like a drop in the ocean compared with the sums Congress is arguing over. But for ordinary folks like us, it's a big deal. The Normandy is a 75-room hotel that feels far more luxurious than the bargain rates (often as low as $109 per night) suggest. Located on a leafy side street within walking distance of Dupont Circle's restaurants and bars, the Normandy juxtaposes Old World touches like toile wallpaper with a clean, neutral palette and leather headboards. Service is friendly and efficient, and there's a host of perks (free Wi-Fi, Nespresso coffee machines in the rooms, wine and cheese receptions). It all adds up to a pleasant stay, and, dare we say, the best value in the District.

And while you're in town...

Eat here:
Bibiana
Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have all been spotted in Bibiana's buzzy dining room. So, what's the draw? Chef Nicholas Stefanelli applies a light touch to pasta dishes such as citrus agnolotti (airy pillows perked up with tangy ricotta) and buttery Maryland lump crab on a rich tangle of squid ink spaghetti. The confident yet unobtrusive service is a welcome plus, too.

Drink here:
Columbia Room
The tiny Columbia Room is part apothecary, part Japanese omakase experience. Owner and master of ceremonies Derek Brown chips ice from a wooden hangiri while holding forth on the chemistry of tinctures and the history of tiki. Tipplers tend to linger, taste-testing new recipes, mellowing out to the acoustic indie soundtrack, and ordering one last cocktail. We suggest the martini, the perfect marriage of precision (Brown uses a thermometer) and flair (that cut crystal coupe!).

Photo: Courtesy of the Normandy Hotel

TKTS iPhone App, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, December 13 11:33 AM

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A lot can happen in a New York minute. Broadway theater tickets can be available at a 50 percent discount one minute then sell out the next. Which is why, if you're visiting NYC and planning to catch a show, you should download the Theatre Development Fund's new TKTS iPhone app (free through March 2011).

Check the app for real-time listings of all Broadway and Off-Broadway shows for which discounted same-day tickets are available at TKTS booths. (The big one under the red glass steps in Times Square is hard to miss, but there's another in Lower Manhattan at South Street Seaport and a third at 1 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn.) The app also provides show descriptions, performance schedules, theater locations, and accessibility info.

Now give yourself a round of applause for saving time and money.

Download the TKTS iPhone App at the iTunes app store or TDF.org.

Photo: Gary Burke, Flickr

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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