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Epic Tomato Adventure Travel Company

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, February 28 11:17 AM

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The hip kids at Black Tomato, a bespoke British luxury travel company, have long been making U.S. travel agents look lamer than a pair of pleated khakis. Now they've kicked things up a notch with the launch of their new service, Epic Tomato.

The company will help the baddest of badasses plan seriously intrepid trips. Care to slice your own path through the uncharted jungles of Borneo? Pull a pulk across the unmapped tundra of Antarctica? Or perhaps you'd prefer to try your luck outpaddling alligators on the White Nile. If you're cool with pushing yourself to the limit, these guys have got you covered.

Photo: Courtesy of Epic Tomato

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 25 04:54 PM

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The hottest ticket in England these days isn't the royal wedding, it's scoring a table at Dinner. The new restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the first London outing of Heston Blumenthal, the patron saint of modern British cooking.

A departure from the mad scientist fare at The Fat Duck, Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Berkshire, Dinner aims to resurrect centuries of British food tradition with dishes such as turkey pudding with cockscomb and rice and flesh. The elegant dining room has playful touches, such as porcelain sconces in the shape of antique jelly molds and a wall of 16th-century British cookbook prints that appear and disappear, depending on the light. Just the kind of magic that will keep them coming back for ages.

Uniworld River Cruises, S.S. Antoinette, Germany

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, February 24 03:18 PM

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The 82-room S.S. Antoinette, Uniworld River Cruises' newest boutique vessel, is a ship of firsts. It's the first river vessel to have an on-board cinema. The first to have deck-level guest rooms with open-air private balconies that convert to enclosed conservatories. And it makes a majestic first impression: The two-story lobby is lit by a 10-foot Baccarat crystal and sapphire chandelier; Brazilian marble shines on the walls and floors; and a 19th-century Venetian glass mirror multiplies all the sparkle.

Like the ship itself, the Antoinette's inaugural itinerary, Castles Along the Rhine, promises to be a regal affair when it launches on March 27. The eight-day journey includes Alsatian wine tastings, excursions to the medieval town of Koblenz, and walks through the Black Forest. Or you can simply size up the royal competition through windows framed by Figueroa silk-taffeta drapes.

Photo: Courtesy of Uniworld River Cruises, Inc.

Tambo del Inka Resort and Spa, Peru

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, February 23 11:27 AM

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The new Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa is an eco-friendly property built in glass and stone that sits beside the Vilcanota River in Peru's Urubamba Valley. The 128-room complex centers on a gorgeous two-pool spa, an ideal place to relax after hiking or cycling the quinoa-covered grounds or a day trip up to Machu Picchu on the recently opened Urubamba train line.

While you're in Peru...

Eat here:
Malabar
Malabar is Peru's first outlet for haute Amazonian cuisine, served amid brightly colored furniture and a riot of artwork. Though many of the jungle's creatures, fruits, and vegetables take the form of street food in their native habitat, at this Lima restaurant chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino creates soufflés (hearts of palm), purées (yuca), and vinaigrettes (the applelike cocona).

Climb here:
Machu Picchu
The 2011 centennial of Hiram Bingham's rediscovery of the mysterious Incan ruins promises to attract bigger crowds than ever. One of the most rewarding ways to sidestep the hordes is to trek along the fabled Inca Trail. On the last morning you reach Machu Picchu's Sun Gate by sunrise, after which you can expect a tourist-free couple of hours before the buses start to roll in.

Photo: Courtesy of Tambo del Inka Resort and Spa

Hotel Fasano Las Piedras, Punta del Este, Uruguay

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 22 04:47 PM

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Beautiful people. Beaches. Polo. Even Marvin Gaye would have had a hard time dreaming up a combo this sexy. But those are the three steamy entities that have become bedmates at the new Hotel Fasano Las Piedras. Set on a historic ranch outside the party town of Punta del Este, this Isay Weinfeld-designed property sprawls over 1,200 acres, from a vast plateau across a cactus-dotted valley to the crystal-clear Maldonado River.

The 20 bungalows (another 12 will be available from mid March) have a please-touch vibe, all leather headboards and shag carpets, with playful touches like vintage school maps. What better place to chill out after riding horses across the estancia with those cute vacationing Brazilians you met by the natural limestone pool? Have the hotel's private car take you to see-and-be-seen beaches like La Barra and Jose Ignacio, five minutes away. Or catch an on-site polo match before retiring to the hotel bar. A few drinks there will encourage you to do what comes naturally.

You Are Here Sunglasses

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 18 04:39 PM

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If you can rock a pair of retro shades with neon pink detailing, you undoubtedly have a good sense of who you are. And these limited-edition You Are Here glasses with iconic skylines on the lenses will prove that you're a card-carrying citizen of the world of cool.

For the fascinating new All Access World exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (all about the ways in which well-known monuments and landmarks shape our identities), artist Agathe Snow customized 200 pairs of the hip German brand Mykita's specs. Choose from either New York City's skyline or the pyramids of Giza, painted in a fine gold line on the lenses--don't worry, you can still see through them. The sunglasses are a cheeky reminder to view the world through its grandest accomplishments.

The Sebastian, Vail, Colorado

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, February 17 04:32 PM

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The Sebastian (formerly the Vail Plaza Hotel & Club) is perfectly placed if you're all about the après-ski rather than the slopes. The hotel, which sits at the gateway to Vail Village, reopened in January 2011 with 107 plush rooms, a spa, and valets for everything (so you can avoid schlepping a single piece of gear). In the restaurant, Block 16, chef Sergio Howland marries Maine lobster with braised veal cheeks, but you might be more interested to hear that the hotel bar has one of the largest Scotch collections in the Colorado Rockies.

And while you're there--

Eat here:
Atwater on Gore Creek
Chef Adam Votaw's clubby dining room overlooking a slope-side stream specializes in savory meat and seafood crowd-pleasers, such as soy-glazed beef short ribs and mustard-crusted diver scallops. Leave room for dessert: Pastry chef Felicia Jablonksi adds a scoop of house-made fig ice cream to the sticky toffee pudding and pairs coconut sorbet with the flourless chocolate cake.

Play here:
Adventure Ridge
If riding a bike over the snow and through the treesat night, with only a headlamp illuminating the path aheadis your kind of thing, then head straight for Adventure Ridge. This adrenaline junkie's dream at the top of Vail Mountain is actually pretty child-friendly, too, with a long, multilane tubing hill, trampolines with bungee harnesses, and pint-size snowmobiles for kids ages 6 to 12.

Orient-Express, Thailand

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, February 16 04:28 PM

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Now that air travel has officially lost its glamour, we've found ourselves romanticizing its predecessor, the train. Thankfully, the fine folks at Orient-Express have kept railway luxury alive, with burnished cherry interiors, crystal and china in the dining cars, and fawning butlers.

Starting this month, the company is bringing that vintage opulence to Thailand. On this week-long trip, you'll glide past rice paddies, hill villages, and Buddhist temples, and stop to track elephants in Khao Yai National Park, sample local wines, or shop for silks in Chiang Mai. End each day with martinis in the bar car, watching the sun set over the lush jungle landscape. That's what we call a moving view.

Orient-Express Epic Thailand departs on February 20 and October 30, 2011.

Lodekka, Portland, Oregon

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 15 04:24 PM

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Portland pioneered the nation's gourmet food-truck craze. Now the city's mobile business is being taken to the next level, literally, by Lodekka, a dress shop in a bus. The 1965 double-decker originally ferried folks around Liverpool, England. Owner Erin Sutherland has no idea how the bus made it stateside, but she spent six months sanding, scraping, and painting the old clunker into one of Portland's coolest vintage boutiques.

Inside, you'll find 1970s jeans, swingy 1960s sundresses, flowy maxi-frocks, and retro souvenir pendants. Old board games and 1980s Esquire magazines will entertain the less sartorially minded. Next stop, a dance club in a 747? A salon in an Airstream? We can't wait to get on board.

Hotel Crillon le Brave, Provence, France

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, February 14 04:20 PM

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So, let's say--hypothetically, of course--that you forgot to get your special someone a present for Valentine's Day. Well, lucky for you, in Provence they like bad behavior. The Hotel Crillon le Brave will even reward your negligence by taking it off. But because she's a lady, she's taking it only half off ("it" being her rates, of course).

Book now for March or April, and you'll get 50% off your stay at this 32-room storybook hideaway of restored 16th- and 17th-century stone houses. Use these bargain prices for a romantic weekend of truffle hunting or a steamy cooking course. Or just hole up with your lucky Valentine and a bottle of local wine. Now that beats a diamond heart pendant any day.

The Dandelion, Philadelphia

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 11 04:15 PM

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The Beatles. Deep-fried candy bars. Colin Firth. Our neighbors across the pond have given us many gifts over the years. But this weekend, we're giving thanks for Britain's greatest export, the gastropub.

Philadelphia now has one to call its very own, courtesy of Stephen Starr's the Dandelion. This new watering hole hits all of the haute-pub highlights: cask ales, creative takes on hearty Brit classics (rabbit pie with cipollini onions, oyster mushrooms, and grain mustard), and hangover-curing morning fry-ups. The interiors feel lived-in, with two carved wooden bars, tartan-covered stools, and a mishmash of quirky ephemeraceramic dogs, souvenir plates, a life-size plastic cow. In other words, it's exactly the kind of place you'd raise a pint to.

One and Only The Palm, Dubai

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, February 10 04:12 PM

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Poor Dubai. For a while there, it had the whole world in its hands. Then the world, or at least the man-made island version of it off Dubai's coast, reportedly started to sink into the sea. But now there's reason to turn that frown upside down. Megaluxe hotel chain One and Only has just opened a resort on a neighboring palm tree-shaped peninsula.

Four private beach villas and 90 rooms sit on nearly 1,500 feet of white-sand beaches with the Dubai skyline glittering across the Gulf. In true Dubai fashion, the luxury here is larger than life, with 46-inch plasma TVs, a 26,000-square-foot spa, and a 9,000-square-foot pool. Surprisingly, for a multibillion-dollar tree-shaped island, the Moorish interiors' muted palette shows a bit of restraint.

Case Amber Bone Hobo Cutlery

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, February 09 04:07 PM

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It's important to be able to fend for yourself on the road. But you shouldn't sacrifice style while you're doing it. W.R. Case & Sons' new pocketknife is the perfect piece of gear for the gourmand on the go: a surgical steel knife, spoon, fork, and bottle opener with an amber bone handle.

The compact design was inspired by the early days of cross-country travel, when hobos never hopped a boxcar without a pocket tool at the ready. It was their only friend on the open road, one that could open a beer bottle and a can of beans, or get them out of a scrape. While your travels are sure to be a lot tamer, do you really want to be left defenseless next time you find yourself with a bottle of Chimay to pour at a picnic? Or forkless at a lobster bake on the Cape? Yeah, we thought not.

Ember Room, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 08 04:05 PM

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If your tastes tend toward the bold in flavor and decor, then Ember Room, an American-Asian barbecue restaurant that has just opened in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, will feed your desires.

Chefs Ian Chalermkittichai and Todd English collaborate on dishes that pack a punch: chocolate baby back ribs, red miso bamboo-roasted black cod, and Berkshire pulled-pork burgers. And designer Roy Nachum's sultry surroundingswalls decorated with Chinese characters, ceilings covered in tiny Thai bellsare bathed in a deep, golden light, like, well, burning embers. But the focal point is the open kitchen, equipped with a clay-brick and volcanic-rock oven, where chefs wok, roast, and grill for your viewing (and tasting) pleasure.

Minimalist, this is not.

The Istanbul Edition, Turkey

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, February 07 04:01 PM

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Istanbul is fast becoming one of Europe'sand Asia'shippest cities. And though there's no lack of luxury hotels, few tend to embody the modern sophistication of the city's cutting-edge nightlife scene.

That's why we're counting down the days till the March opening of the Istanbul Edition (the second property in a collaboration between megahoteliers Ian Schrager and Marriott). The hotel is all understated urban glamour, with loftlike rooms of polished rosewood and bronze. There's a two-story, 18,000-square-foot spa with sexy couples' beds suspended from the ceiling. And they're courting local tastemaker types with buzzy nightlife. The Web site is now open for booking. Get clicking, party people.

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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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