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Singular Patagonia, Chile

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, November 04 11:35 AM

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The dramatic landscape of Patagonia can feel like the final frontier. And if you want to explore the region, the new Singular Patagonia hotel, near Puerto Natales, Chile, is ready to indulge your intrepid side. Fourth-generation descendants of European settlers to the area spent ten years restoring this 1915 sheep-farming building. The industrial-chic result offers five-star room and board, plus primo expeditions, wrapped in nearly 100 years of history.

Days are spent trekking, condor watching, visiting caves on horseback, kayaking past glaciers, or just relaxing in the spa. Evenings call for red wine, king crab, and Magellan lamb in the brick warehouse turned dining room. The 57 guest rooms beckon in a new wing outfitted with soaking tubs and a distinctly masculine mix of concrete, brass, marble, and polished wood. And the in-bed views out to the Fjord of Last Hope? Well, you'll understand why the owners' ancestors settled here.

Photo: Courtesy of Singular Patagonia

Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 03 11:52 AM

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Los Angeles's edgier side sometimes gets lost among the Botox and bling of tabloid Hollywood. Yet SoCal has long been a locus of left-field creative endeavors. That's why we're loving Pacific Standard Time, an ambitious six-month project exploring the often turbulent history of art in L.A. Sixty cultural institutions in the area are taking part by hosting exhibitions, performances, and concerts now through March 2012.

The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, meanwhile, slated for January 19-29, will restage performance pieces and seminal works. For Accidents in Abstract Painting at the Armory Center for the Arts, for example, Richard Jackson will load a large-scale model airplane full of paint and then crash it into a wall. We can't wait to see whether the performance--originally staged in 2003 at Zurich's Hauser & Wirth gallery--makes as much of a splash this time around.

Photo: Courtesy of Harry Gamboa, Jr.; © 1974 Harry Gamboa, Jr.

Double Exposure Digi Cam

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 02 09:23 AM

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When you reminisce about a vacation, the atmospheric collage of sights you recall isn't always consistent with the true-to-life, megapixel-perfect scenes that your camera captured. But there is a tiny little thing that can change that.

Traveler, meet the Double Exposure Digi Cam ($130), a wee 1.1-ounce photographic magician that mashes up images, layering that Brazil beach nap with the clubbing that preceded it or a Central Park close-up with its skyscraper surroundings. Even single images get the dreamy treatment with saturated colors and soft-focus edges, making your photo album every bit as mellow as your memories.

Photo: Courtesy of Photojojo

The Real Cuba, Austin-Lehman Adventures

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 01 11:14 AM

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For decades, American citizens with a hankering to see Havana had to engage in some serious (and not recommended) 007 business to make that happen. But now, with the launch of Austin-Lehman Adventures' "the Real Cuba" itinerary, visiting Castro country is easy and--more importantly--legal.

The ten-day trip, a far-ranging intro to Cuban life, includes visiting private homes, helping out with community projects, and meeting artists, artisans, and Santería practitioners. After exploring Old Havana, you'll travel via old steam train, vintage car, and even horseback to tobacco farms, coffee plantations, and rural villages. Best of all, Austin-Lehman arranges the charter flight from Miami or Cancún and handles the visa process.

Austin-Lehman Adventures' ten-day trips starting February 2012, from $4,998 per person

Photo: Courtesy of Austin-Lehman Adventures

The Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 31 01:50 PM

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If well-executed design is music to your ears, tune in to Amsterdam's latest triumphal symphony of style: the Conservatorium Hotel's transformation of a 19th-century bank-turned-music conservatory into a five-star modernist escape. Soft-opening on the Museumplein opposite the Royal Concertgebouw and near the tony P.C. Hooftstraat shopping strip in mid November, it'll reach a galloping allegro by December. The hotel's most harmonious note? Over half its 129 rooms are double-height duplexes.

Italian design maestro Piero Lissoni has combined vintage decorative elements (Asian rugs, tribal masks, Delft plates) with exposed beams, wood floors, and oversize windows to create a homey, loftlike feel. Common areas are equally lively. A glass ceiling tops an eight-story atrium lobby with a cocktail bar and restaurants by Dutch chef Schilo van Coevorden. There's also a 10,000-square-foot holistic spa (Watsu pool included). Apropos of everything, classical music echoes throughout. We think that deserves a standing ovation.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

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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