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Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, December 14 12:38 PM

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Hoteliers in the United Arab Emirates love a game of one-upmanship. If it's not bigger, shinier, and crammed with more decadent amenities, why bother? The owners of the new Rocco Forte Hotel in Abu Dhabi definitely got the memo.

Not only is the Rocco Forte situated at the heart of the emirate-of-the-moment, it's also a total showstopper, fashioned entirely from curved blue and green glass panels that mimic the Persian Gulf in a wavy mosaic. The hotel's 281 rooms and suites, designed by Olga Polizzi, combine rich colors, textures, and one-off pieces by artists from the region. The hotel's Blue cocktail bar appears to float in midair in the 11-story glass atrium--an ideal vantage point for surveying the spectacle of the glittering city below. Your move, Dubai.

Photo: Courtesy of Rocco Forte

St. Regis Tianjin, China

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 16 12:51 PM

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A luxury hotel opening in China is about as newsworthy these days as a celebrity marriage meltdown. But the newly unveiled St. Regis Tianjin is hard to ignore. The 18-story hollowed-out cube dominates the banks of Tianjin's Hai River like a portal to another world. And in some ways it is.

After passing through the reflective Blade Runner exterior, you find yourself transported to the early 1900s, the heyday of this port city 80 miles south of Beijing. Art Deco-style touches--black-and-white checkerboard floors, crystal chandeliers, geometric French mirrors--abound in some of the public spaces as well as in the 274 guest rooms. And the grand lobby features a mural created by acclaimed ceramicist Zhu Legeng from hundreds of handcrafted tiles. That's what we call future perfect.

Photo: Courtesy of Starwood Hotels

Saint James Paris, France

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 14 01:24 PM

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You like your vacations to be a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll. Well, it just so happens that the hottest number in Paris these days also happens to be its most sylvan: The freshly refurbished Saint James is a little slice of Loire château life in the City of Lights.

Set on the site of the world's first hot-air balloon launch, in 1783, this 19th-century property is all high-flying whimsy, thanks to boho goddess Bambi Sloan's redesign. A riot of patterns--toile and stripes, brocade and herringbone--lends a playful decadence to the 48 rooms. As a hotel guest, you can rub elbows with tony locals at the Saint James's private social club, or visit the luxurious spa that has gemstones as its theme. And after an exhausting day of shopping and Champagne sipping, where better to escape the flurry of Paris than the hotel's perfectly manicured gardens, hidden away behind mature trees?

Photo: Davide Lovatti courtesy of Saint James Paris

Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 09 11:34 AM

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The '60s have Mad Men, and the '20s have Boardwalk Empire. But what about the golden intervening years? Mr. Sorkin, do we have a pitch for you: a drama based at the 103-room Hotel Bel-Air, that glam hideaway of Hollywood stars of the '40s, '50s, and today. Fresh from a two-year restoration, the French Deco-meets-Spanish Colonial set is ready, Wolfgang Puck is on craft services, and the extras are already boldface.

New additions to the lush 12-acre property include a La Prairie spa and fitness studio, seven open-plan suites (some with grand pianos and private pools), and 12 loftlike hillside accommodations with canyon views and outdoor fireplaces on spacious decks. Like the hotel's signature swans, the faultless service remains the same. It's a wrap.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air

Variety Voyager Cruises to the Arabian Gulf

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, October 13 10:52 AM

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Our boating tastes run more to super-yachts than supersize cruise ships, so an exotic new excursion from a luxury line is reason enough to break out the Champagne. Variety Cruises, whose small upscale fleet mostly plies the Mediterranean, is branching out into the Middle East with a brand new vessel, Variety Voyager.

Starting in 2012, the 36-cabin vessel will introduce cruise passengers to the Arabian Gulf and Omani coast. Highlights of the eight-day itinerary include sailing the fjordlike Musandam Peninsula aboard a traditional Omani dhow, cavorting with dolphins near Telegraph and Seebi islands, and exploring the third-century, pre-Islamic fortress of Nakhal in Sohar, Oman. The ship's decor is a mix of muted creams and sand with glam marble and mirrored touches. Because variety is the spice of life.

Variety Voyager's Arabian Gulf cruises, from $2,790. Sailings from Abu Dhabi: November 29, 2012 to April 4, 2013; sailings from Muscat: November 22, 2012 to March 28, 2013.

Photo: Courtesy of Variety Cruises

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

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

45 Park Lane, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 30 07:00 AM

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Travel can be tricky these days, particularly if you have to leave your butler at home. Fortunately for the service-minded traveler, the Dorchester Collection's latest property, 45 Park Lane, opens in London on September 1. Although it will be the first completely new hotel to open in Mayfair in the past 100 years, it's pulling a trick straight out of the Gosford Park playbook: Every guest gets their own host.

Part personal assistant, part butler, part concierge, hosts will be assigned to each of the property's 45 rooms and suites. They'll greet you, escort you to your room for a private check-in, and arrange everything just so (expect a call prior to arrival). The overall effect is like staying at a well-located private residence, one replete with screening room, Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen (the in-house Cut restaurant is his first European venture), and rich Deco-inspired contemporary interiors by Thierry Despont. Capital holiday, old chaps.

Photo: Courtesy of the Dorchester Collection

JetSuite SuiteDeals

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 29 07:00 AM

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In this era of austerity, nothing says excess like a private jet, right? California-based JetSuite, which runs a brand-new fleet of Phenom 100 planes, aims to change that perception by making the high life more accessible, even for those of us whose names don't start with Jay and end with Z.

Becoming a fan of the company's Facebook page gives you access to daily last-minute deals on flights such as San Francisco to Las Vegas and Austin to Houston. What kind of deals are we talking about? Try flights for as low as $499 one-way...for the entire four-passenger jet. SuiteDeals are released at the end of the business day Pacific time, typically for flights departing the next day. Spontaneous travel just got a whole lot more fabulous.

Photo: Courtesy of JetSuite

Roadtrips Monaco Grand Prix Packages

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, August 26 07:00 AM

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Helicopter flights. Ferraris. Yacht charters. If you're going to do the Monaco Grand Prix, you should do it in style. Well, that's what the insiders at luxury outfitter Roadtrips believe. They're putting travelers on the fast track to Formula 1 glamour with their new Monaco Grand Prix packages (from $5,950 per person for five days).

A helicopter transfers you from Nice Airport to your hotel in Monte Carlo. You meet and greet drivers, patrons, and celebs; roll out in a sick Ferrari F430; and choose between diversions like a day in St. Tropez or a Cannes screening. At night, it might be a fashion show, a tasting dinner at Joël Robuchon, or a VIP after-party. Consider our engines revved.

Photo: Courtesy of Roadtrips

Blakes Hotel, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, August 05 07:00 AM

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Boutique before boutique was a thing on the hotel scene, Blakes opened in London in '78. It continues to warrant its place in the A-list firmament (check out comments by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Mickey Rourke on the hotel's Web site), especially now that it's undergoing a multimillion-dollar refurb.

All the decadent hallmarks of East-meets-West interiors by Lady Weinberg (née Anouska Hempel) have been maintained in the 47-room property. The billowy gossamer whites and French Provençal trompe l'oeil of the Corfu Suite is the stuff of dreams, and you could reenact scenes from Wuthering Heights in the dramatic Library Suite. Every room will be refreshed (half of them have been so far), and now you can take tea in The Courtyard, a Japan-inspired garden retreat lined with bay trees, and sweat off the crumpets later in a new top-of-the-line gym.

Like celebrities, true originals never go out of style--they just come back stronger after getting a little work done.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

Compagnie du Ponant Antarctica Sailings

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 09 07:00 AM

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Sometimes one megayacht just isn't enough. At least that's Compagnie du Ponant's take on the matter. Come November, the luxury cruise company will launch two new ships, L'Austral and Le Boréal, on nine round trips from Ushuaia, Argentina, through the Drake Passage to Antarctica.

The 132-cabin twin vessels double your chance to chill out with Champagne as you sail past whales, penguins, and sea elephants. After a long day of exploring glaciers with experts in hydrobiology and polar wildlife, you can retire to the marble tub in your luxury suite or get a massage in the spa. Because who wouldn't want a little extravagance on an Antarctic expedition?

Sailings from November 2011 through February 2012, from $4,860

Photo: Courtesy of Philip Plisson, Compagnie du Ponant

Hotel Chocolat, St. Lucia

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, March 28 07:09 PM

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If a tropical resort built on a cocoa plantation sounds like someone has dipped into your wildest dreams, we're just about to make your day. St. Lucia's newest arrival is Hotel Chocolat, the brainchild of two British chocolatiers. Go on, pinch yourself.

On this 140-acre, 18th-century plantation, you can learn the entire chocolate-making process, helping to harvest and roast the beans and, of course, taste the finished product. Or you could simply retire to one of the six cocoa- and cream-colored cottages with gauze-draped four-poster beds, ocean-facing chaise longues, and open-air rain showers. (Eight additional villas will open in October.) The restaurant takes its inspiration from the hotel's crop, with dishes like yellowfin tuna with cacao pesto. Talk about a delicious getaway.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

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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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