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St. Regis Washington Ballet Package, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 29 04:21 PM

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When Natalie Portman pirouetted onto the ballet scene in Black Swan, the dance world was spun into the spotlight. Now you can go behind the scenes (minus the feather freak-outs) courtesy of a partnership between the St. Regis and the Washington Ballet, in D.C.

Hotel guests will attend a private dress rehearsal and the opening night performance of Carmen on May 19, plus a backstage tour by the Washington Ballet's artistic director, Septime Webre. You'll party afterward at a gala reception with company dancers and ballet VIPs. Then you'll debrief with Webre the next day over lunch at the hotel's Alain Ducasse restaurant, Adour.

The $5,000 price tag includes four nights in a swanky St. Regis suite with private butler service, so you know your stay will be en pointe.

Washington Ballet Aficionado Experience, $5,000 for four nights, May 17 to 21, 2011.

Photo: Sona Kharatian by Steve Vaccariello

Lexington Social House, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 28 01:33 PM

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The new Lexington Social House brings a dose of cool to what was once L.A.'s most (in)famous intersection: Hollywood and Vine. Hookers and panhandlers, out; Victorian wallpaper, pressed-tin ceilings, and Carrara marble bar, in.

There's also some serious muscle in the kitchen: Chef Mette Williams honed her craft in the celeb-driven fires of Spago, Cut, and, most recently, Soho House in West Hollywood. The latter stint no doubt influenced Lexington Social House's casual private-club vibe and elegantly rustic menu (fried chicken, confit pork belly, crab salad). On the libations front, there are craft beers and artisanal cocktails featuring Earl Grey bourbon, peanut rum, and other house-infused tipples.

But don't get too cozy. Twice-weekly dance parties are slated for the coming months. Until then, L.A.'s pretty people will keep things hot around the garden's outdoor fireplace, nestled safely away from the paparazzi. And those fried-chicken calories.

Photo: Ryan Forbes, Avablu

A-to-Z Family Travel Contest, Turks and Caicos

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, April 27 03:39 PM

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Summer vacation will be here before you know it. So if we said you could score a $16,000 Caribbean vacation and kick back in a luxury villa while someone else entertains your kids, you'd be interested, right?

Condé Nast Traveler's A-to-Z Family Travel Contest is your ticket to paradise. The flashy prize includes five nights' accommodation for two adults and two children in a two-bedroom villa at Grace Bay Club, a five-star resort in the Turks & Caicos; $2,000 toward four airline tickets; membership in the resort's Kids Town and Very Important Kids programs; a full breakfast for four daily; and a $100 spa credit.

For a chance to win, all you have to do is submit an awesome tip for making travel with kids easier or more fun, by 5 pm Eastern time on May 3, 2011. Yup, it's that easy.

Photo: Courtesy of Grace Bay Club

Divino Tuscany, Florence, Italy

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 26 04:27 PM

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There are wine trips and there are wine trips. And Divino Tuscany's inaugural excursion makes all others look like a box of Franzia Chablis.

So what makes this the best of booze vacations? Your guide for the four-day tour, starting June 2 in Florence, is James Suckling, former European bureau chief of Wine Spectator. There's a gala dinner on the banks of the Arno River cooked up by the folks behind the three-Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri restaurant. And some of Tuscany's most famous wine families have invited you over to their palazzi for dinner. Tastings run through the region's best brunellos and merlots, and the whole thing ends with a boar roast at Sting's Florentine villa. How's that for a smooth finish?

Photo: Courtesy of Divino Tuscany

Hogmead, Nairobi, Kenya

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 25 04:36 PM

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Most East African safaris require you to spend your first night in some generic city hotel before heading into the bush--the only beasts in sight being the ones served grilled in the dining room. The new Hogmead hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, is changing all that.

The six-room hotel has an Out of Africa vibe (the author, Karen Blixen, lived just down the road); overstuffed sofas and deep soaking tubs up the ante on comfort. Hogmead is also perfectly placed, with easy access to both the airport and Nairobi National Park, which means you could be face-to-face with an elephant just an hour after touchdown. Prefer to start with something smaller to prepare you for the wild times ahead? The resident warthogs on the hotel grounds should do the trick.

Photo: Courtesy of Hogmead

Ralph Lauren's Classic Sports Cars, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 22 01:27 PM

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The fashionable set rarely summers in Paris (that's what the Riviera is for). But Ralph Lauren is breaking with tradition by sending some of his favorite cars for a summer sojourn at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the western wing of the Louvre.

Starting this weekend and running through August 28, the museum will exhibit 17 automotive gems from the designer's extensive collection, including a 1938 lipstick red Alfa Romeo 8C (pictured), and a 1955 Jaguar XKD that would look right at home in the Batcave. Still in perfect working order, the cars are more than worthy companions to the museum's more famous masterpieces. It's not like the Mona Lisa can take you for a spin along the Champs-Élysées.

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Furman

Wilson and Wilson, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 21 01:33 PM

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Looking to add a little dose of intrigue to your average night out? The folks at Wilson & Wilson in San Francisco are mixing up some delicious (and drinkable) mystery on a nightly basis. Hidden down a series of passageways, through an unmarked door in Bourbon & Branch bar, the newly opened Wilson & Wilson got its name from a driver's license found in a purse wedged into the wall of this former speakeasy. How's that for a shadowy origin story?

Cocktails have names like "Truth Serum" (Highland Park whisky, Amaro Nonino, brown sugar cinnamon syrup, sarsaparilla aromatic bitters, licorice root), but this is no kitschy theme bar. Here you'll find some of San Fran's most talented mixologists, and an undercover cool vibe--think Sam Spade's office, only bathed in flickering candlelight. And the three-cocktail tasting menu might just give you the liquid courage to invite that doe-eyed dame by the door for a teapot tipple-for-two. Where it goes from there, well, we'll leave that to you, gumshoe.

Photo: Courtesy of Wilson & Wilson

The American Safari, by Far and Away Adventures, Idaho

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, April 20 02:07 PM

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Fancy going on safari without flying halfway around the world? On Far and Away Adventures' new river-rafting safari in Idaho (the U.S.A.'s answer to Africa's big game parks), you'll see predators stalking their prey, majestic scenery, and of course, the American Big 5: elk, wolf, bighorn sheep, bear, and moose. And if the thrill of wildlife spotting isn't enough for you, you'll also face down 100 rapids churning over a 100-mile stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. With a client roster that includes Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Far and Away makes sure "roughing it" comes easy--campfire feasts feature organic dishes and tasty microbrews. But you still may hear a wolf howling at the moon from the comfort of your tent. It is the great outdoors, after all.

Photo: Courtesy of Far and Away Adventures

Endless Summer Ultimate Surf Package, Laguna Beach, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 19 02:12 PM

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The Pacific Edge Hotel's new Endless Summer Ultimate Surf Package channels the spirit of the seminal 1960s travel and surf documentary by pairing you up with one of its stars, Robert August (pictured back in the day, far right), for a one-on-one day of surfing, searching out perfect breaks along SoCal's storied coast.

It don't matter if you're grom, random stander, or bona fide railer, you'll also get a place to crash overlooking Laguna Beach in the 129-room, brightly painted boutique property. Also provided: Endless Summer swag, including a six-pack of lager and a DVD box set. Plus, after a day in the waves, you're invited to chillax with August and his surfer son Sam over sundowners and appetizers on the beach. Righteous!

Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Edge Hotel

Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, Shanghai

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 18 02:18 PM

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It's a mere seven minutes from Shanghai's international airport--at 268 mph on the Maglev, the world's fastest train--to the newly opened Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel. So in no time at all, you can be sipping a cup of green tea and decompressing in the hotel's 50,000-square-foot rooftop Infinity Garden.

The Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, by the masterminds behind Dubai's Burj Al Arab, blends feng shui with Blade Runner in the heart of the Pudong financial district. The 401 art-filled rooms rise above standard five-star fare with custom Ming dynasty-meets-mod furnishings. And then there's that sky oasis. Perched atop the adjacent Himalayas Centre, a theater/museum/designer mall, the garden is magical at night, bathed in a wave of color from the tower's lacy grid of light. This is how the future rolls.

Photo: Courtesy of Jumeirah

Waldorf Miami Beach

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 15 03:14 PM

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Leopard-print thongs, rollerblading grandmas, body-painted dancers...Miami's South Beach scene may be known for a lot of things, but cheap Art Deco beachfront living ain't one of them. Until now: Welcome to the waterfront, Waldorf.

Room Mate Hotels' latest budget boutique, opening this spring, was renovated from the bones of the 65-year-old Waldorf Towers (no relation to Astoria). The 44 Art Deco rooms have been given a funky overhaul, with an airy Miami vibe that hits the right balance between comfy and sleek.

The spunky Spanish chainlet attracts a young, hip set willing to trade large rooms for prime location, free breakfast and Wi-Fi, and comfy beds at affordable prices (from $139)--kind of like crashing in the (very cushy) guest room of a savvy friend. And like a good friend, Room Mate is giving you a break: 25 percent off Web rates on five standard and five deluxe rooms from the hotel's opening through October 15, 2011 (minus Memorial Day weekend). Book using code rmwaldorf, and tell 'em we say hola.

Photo: Courtesy of Room Mate Hotels

The National Museum of China, Beijing

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 14 03:20 PM

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China has always been a nation of superlatives, and it just added another to the list: world's largest museum. The National Museum of China, in Beijing, is the result of a decade-long, $380-million project that combined the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.

The more than 1 million artifacts in the museum's collection provide an epic survey of Chinese history, from Yuanmou Man, who walked the land 1.7 million years ago, to current president Hu Jintao. With over 2 million square feet of galleries to cover--three times the size of the Louvre in Paris--we suggest you extend your trip and wear comfortable shoes.

Photo: ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images

Diana Mini JIYU Freedom Camera

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, April 13 03:23 PM

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Sometimes, photos feel more accurate when they match the dreamy, saturated memories you have of a trip. And nothing adds lo-fi love to a snapshot like shooting with a Diana camera, a 1960s-style model using 35 mm film that's found a cult following in this pixelated age.

The Diana Mini JIYU, a new cherry blossom-themed camera, was originally designed as a limited-edition homage to Japan's annual Golden Week, a time of rest in the country. After the recent earthquake and tsunami, the Diana folks pledged nearly $30,000 from sales of these cameras to Red Cross assistance to Japan. So this is one purchase that can help give everyone a better outlook.

Photo: Courtesy of Lomography

Food and Wine Trails Cruise, Australia and New Zealand

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 12 03:49 PM

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Beatles vs. Stones. N.Y. vs. L.A. Tyson vs. Holyfield. History's great rivalries are seldom easily settled. But a new Food & Wine Trails sailing with Oceania Cruises will take on perhaps the biggest debate of all: red wine vs. white.

Next February, the godfather of zinfandel, Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson, and the king of cabernet, winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez of Robert Mondavi, will enter the swilling ring aboard Oceania Cruises' Regatta. As they sail from Auckland, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia, they'll host onboard tastings and dinners in an attempt to win over the die-hard oenophiles in their midst. On-shore excursions to top wine estates could spell a grape escape for whites or a crushing victory for reds. But don't expect a clean fight--spitting is encouraged.

Photo: Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

25hours Hotel Wien, Vienna, Austria

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, April 11 03:53 PM

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Despite its refined reputation, Vienna has always been a bit of a show-off. With all the operas, the balls, and the surrounding hills that are alive with the sound of music, it takes a flashy newcomer like 25Hours Hotel Wien to make any noise on this scene.

The 34-suite hotel (another 187 rooms will be added next year) has vintage big top memorabilia--a ringleader's hat here, an acrobat's hoop there--and retro circus murals that splash a brushstroke of whimsy in otherwise minimal rooms with platform beds and brushed concrete floors. It's in good company in the quirky seventh district, a hub for Vienna's next-generation artists and musicians. So step right up, kids. It's time to get in on the act.

Photo: Courtesy of 25hours Hotel Wien

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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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