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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

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

Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 24 09:10 AM

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You drove your Prius to the airport, bought carbon offset credits for your flight, even saved your leftover pretzels to compost back home. And now you have a place to lay your head guilt-free, thanks to Santa Monica's new Shore Hotel, the only LEED Silver-certified property in the city.

Half of the building materials were "upcycled," the pool is solar-heated, a Green Concierge directs guests to nearby eco-friendly businesses. And the building itself, designed by L.A. firm Gensler Architects, is quite the looker. The 164 rooms have bright poppy- and turquoise-accented interiors, custom teak furnishings, and balconies that overlook the Pacific. Hotels of green, skies of blue, what a wonderful world.

Photo: Courtesy of Skott Snider

Scandic Grand Central, Stockholm, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, October 20 10:31 AM

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Ikea, meatballs, herring--of all the amazing things Sweden exports, it's the music that gets our heart beating. And Stockholm's new 391-room Scandic Grand Central serves it up five times a week with free live shows in the lobby.

Located near the train station in the city center's shopping district, the hotel occupies the fully renovated quarters of the 1885 Lundberg Palace. The modern Scandinavian decor earns pop-rock cred with song lyrics scrawled on guest room walls and portraits of local celebs (rapper Adam Tensta, Lady Gaga video director Jonas Åkerlund) in the lobby. Book a suite, and you'll have your own record player to jam to. Or, just blaze up Spotify on your laptop; Wi-Fi, like the certified organic breakfast, is free. Starting with ABBA's "Thank You for the Music" sounds about right.

Photo: Åke E:son Lindman AB

Six Senses Yao Noi Film Festival, Thailand

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 17 11:58 AM

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Edgy movies served on the rocks? That's what's on the menu this December at luxury Thai hideaway Six Senses Yao Noi's inaugural film festival, curated by indie darling Tilda Swinton and writer/director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, winner of the 2010 Palme d'Or.

Movies by emerging filmmakers will be screened at night among the limestone cliffs of dramatic Phang Nga Bay. And if the stars overhead aren't enough for you, Swinton and Weerasethakul will be joined by art and fashion-world luminaries such as Waris Ahluwalia, Jefferson Hack, and Olympia Le-Tan. Book one of the 56 villas with private pools, fresh from a refurb, and prepare to bask in the glow.

Film on the Rocks at Six Senses Yao Noi, December 16-20, 2011

Photo: Courtesy of Basil Childers

The Chatwal, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, October 11 10:49 AM

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The landmark 1905 building that houses New York City's Chatwal hotel has always been fashionable. Originally a private theater called the Lambs Club, it attracted Gilded Age glitterati such as Fred Astaire and the building's architect, Stanford White, whose young lover, model Evelyn Nesbit, was the Kate Moss of her day. To help current guests dress the part, the hotel has introduced the Fashion Cognoscenti package, a half- or full-day shopping and styling tour led by stylist and Lacolleta.com founder Jean Mayer.

We're particularly sold on the Meet the Designers add-on, in which guests get a one-on-one with a fashion world luminary plucked from Mayer's address book. Zac Posen, Tim Gunn, Lela Rose, and Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost jewelry have signed on, with other big names to be announced.

Fashion Cognoscenti package, including a two-night stay at the Chatwal, from $1,295. Meet the Designers add-on from $5,000 (select designers will apply this fee towards purchases). Offer ends March 31, 2012.

Photo: Courtesy of the Chatwal

Bella Sky Comwell Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, October 05 10:58 AM

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It's no surprise to see paradigm-shifting architecture in a country that spawned design titans Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen. And we've come to expect Scandinavia to lead the way in green innovations. But we didn't see this coming. One of Copenhagen's newest hotels, the glittering Deconstructivist 812-room Bella Sky Comwell, also has the world's busiest guests: 600,000 honeybees.

The hotel has found the bees digs on an adjacent rooftop, from where they'll help pollinate flowers and trees in the city, making Copenhagen even greener. The honey they produce can be sampled at the hotel's breakfast buffet and in its signature cocktail Bella Be Sour (a sweet spin on a whisky sour). Now that's what we call buzz-worthy.

Photo: Courtesy of Bella Sky Comwell

The BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 03 11:36 AM

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It's amazing what a subtle face-lift can do for the self-esteem. Take the BodyHoliday, an all-inclusive wellness/fitness resort situated at the northwestern tip of lush St. Lucia. This fall, it's proudly showing off $20 million worth of, ahem, enhancements.

Social hub the Clubhouse now sports a grand piazza with a blue mosaic fountain, infinity pool, and boardwalk promenade, furthering the resort's Mediterranean-by-way-of-the-Alhambra vibe. High-rollers can opt to stay in the swanky new penthouse suite. The stellar roster of daily activities, on the other hand, barely needed any work. You can still salute the morning with yoga, tai chi, or Pilates; try your hand at archery or scuba diving (a PADI-certified beginner's course is one of many included offerings); and then slough off the rigors of the day with a procollagen quartz facial at the skin clinic. In other words, full-body rejuvenation, no nipping and tucking required.

Photo: Courtesy of the BodyHoliday

Hotel Lautner, Desert Hot Springs, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 29 10:21 AM

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Those gentle tulip curves, those slender tapered legs. You've always had a thing for midcentury modern. But she's starting to look a little cheap these days, what with everyone from Urban Outfitters to Walmart knocking her off. What you need is to get back to the source, at the Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Interior designer Tracy Beckmann and furniture designer Ryan Trowbridge have completely restored this 1947 icon, which architect John Lautner originally created as a prototype for desert living. You'll find vintage furniture by a who's who of midcentury talents (the likes of Milo Baughman, Harry Bertoia, and Sigurd Russell) inside the concrete and redwood hotel. The four suites, lit by geometric shafts of sun filtered through skylights, are surrounded on three sides by gardens of succulents, and the new owners have added a pool. If that doesn't rekindle your midcentury love affair, perhaps the hexagonal fire pit will.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Lautner

Bighorn Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, September 26 10:37 AM

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We love skiing, but wasting valuable slope time in lift lines? Not so much. Happily, there's a new shortcut: the eight-suite chalet Bighorn Revelstoke, in British Columbia, where you can go from bed to helipad to glacial bowls in a matter of minutes.

The James Bond-worthy amenities don't stop there (and they don't come cheap, either--prices start at $64,976 for seven days' exclusive use for up to 16 guests). After dismissing your heli-pilot, you can survey tomorrow's terrain from your outdoor hot tub, have the chef sizzle up the teppanyaki grill, get a massage in your private spa, or play pool by the light of a roaring fire. But our favorite way to relax after powering through powder all day? Settle in for a movie night (The Spy Who Loved Me, natch) at the chalet's private cinema.

Photo: Courtesy of Bighorn Revelstoke

Hotel J, Stockholm, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 20 12:02 PM

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Americans don't always have the best reputation in Europe (who among us hasn't considered renouncing our citizenship when queried about exports like Snooki?). But there's one place that's unabashedly rolling out the red, white, and blue welcome mat with style: Stockholm's newly expanded Hotel J.

Set on the water's edge at Nacka Strand, Sweden's answer to Newport, Rhode Island, the hotel has 158 guest rooms--113 of them a Nordic homage to nautical New England, with stars-and-stripes bedding, blond wood furniture, and whitewashed moldings. The sweeping views of the Royal Djurgården, the leafy island of Lidingö, and the boats on Saltsjön bay are pure Sweden. But the friendly service extends to those of us as American as apple pie (which is served ā la mode in the hotel restaurant).

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

Public Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 15 07:00 AM

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Here's a cure for the energy crisis: Figure out what fuels Ian Schrager. As if redefining the entire hotel industry weren't enough, now the man responsible for the rise of the boutique is aiming to shift the paradigm yet again.

Schrager's new Public Chicago, a renovation of the 285-room Gold Coast institution the Ambassador East, is a thumb to the nose of the trend he unleashed. The color palette is notable for its lack thereof, the design is clean and minimal, there are no gimmicks. Instead, Schrager puts the focus on essentials, such as sincere service. Jean-Georges in the kitchen of the Pump Room and what's sure to be a rocking lobby library (coffee shop/group work space by day, cocktail lounge by night) are the only nods to excess. Think of it as a Master Cleanse to self-conscious hipness.

Photo: Courtesy of Ian Schrager

Dolphin Island, Fiji

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 13 10:29 AM

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Sometimes having a 13-acre tropical island to yourself isn't quite enough. At least that's the thinking behind the recent revamp of Fiji's Dolphin Island, which has gone from world-class to stratospheric in a few simple steps. Step one: Take the two slightly careworn bures (or villas) and make them of-the-moment with feather-down sofas and plantation chairs, sculptural stone tubs, and outdoor showers. Step two: Add an ocean-view infinity pool. Step three: Overhaul a third hilltop bure into an open-air romantic retreat--complete with safari-inspired decor, a net-draped bed, and hurricane lanterns--for stargazing sleep-outs.

What remains the same? The warm staff that caters to culinary whims, repositions furniture, plans private dance performances under the stars, and practically shifts heaven and earth to perfect your vacation.

Photo: Courtesy of Dolphin Island

The Residence, Zanzibar, Tanzania

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, September 09 10:13 AM

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When we're on vacation, we like to mix things up, and there's no crazier mash-up than Zanzibar, from its spice plantations to its crumbling colonial facades, its sleepy beaches to its tribal customs. Now you can drink in this cultural cocktail from the luxe new Residence hotel set on 80 lush oceanfront acres.

The 66 villas marry British-colonial-style four-poster beds with Swahili stonework, Omani wall sconces, Indian-inspired nightstands, and a modern palette of cream, honey, and mahogany. If you're concerned that this concoction will cause visual overload, don't be. A float in your private swimming pool puts everything into perspective.

Photo: Courtesy of The Residence

Fred Segal Lending Library, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 06 11:33 AM

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You were so busy California dreaming, you forgot to pack your favorite studded clutch. Now what? Well, if you're staying at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, you can just check one out from the property's new accessories library.

Guests staying in suites at the 342-room oceanfront hotel will have complimentary access to a curated collection of designer goods starting today, courtesy of the new Fred Segal Lending Library. So you now can borrow an oversize snakeskin cuff or classic Ray-Bans, statement cocktail rings or funky fedoras, all plucked straight from Los Angeles's cult designer department store. There goes your last excuse for not packing light.

Photo: Courtesy of Loews Hotels

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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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