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"Saving Grace" App

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, August 04 07:00 AM

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Just because you're always on the road doesn't mean you're any good at packing. Somehow, the cab is always honking outside as you hurriedly shove things into a carry-on. Thankfully, there's a new app to help whip your suitcase into shape.

Meet Saving Grace, your own personal trip organizer. Created by the folks at Grace Hotels, this helpful (and free) app asks what kind of trip you're taking and suggests specialized, thematic packing lists. You can adjust them, add or subtract categories such as baby stuff or videography, check things off as they go into your bag, and save lists for future use. Grace also looks after your other pretrip chores, by suggesting that you clean out your fridge and stop your mail before heading out. And you don't even have to send her a postcard!

Photo: Courtesy of Grace Hotels

Block Island, Rhode Island

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 02 07:00 AM

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Block Island celebrates its semiseptcentennial (that's a 350th anniversary) this year, which means the old gal is livelier than ever. A season-long party is in full swing, including vintage ship displays, concerts, and festivals, such as the Taste of Block Island weekend (September 23-25). And you're invited.

Stay here:
The Atlantic Inn
Built in 1879 on a hilltop just outside the main town of New Shoreham--the smallest U.S. state's smallest town--the Atlantic Inn is a gracious place to enjoy life's little pleasures. Antiques and a ban on TVs and radios lend the 21 individually styled guest rooms a Victorian sensibility. You'll wake each morning to warm pastries and house-made granola served on a wraparound veranda. Children play tetherball in the backyard; a sunny garden provides a relaxation spot for parents. Among all this yesteryear charm, it's easy to unplug and soak up the island's timeless natural beauty.

Eat here:
Three Sisters
Three Sisters, a one-room wooden cottage on Old Town Road, is the sandwich shop of choice for beach picnic-bound islanders with coolers to fill. Favorites such as the Hippie Sister (a roasted vegetable and hummus wrap) and the Twisted Sister (turkey, bacon, Cheddar, avocado, and romaine) are scrawled on a chalkboard. Too lazy to head to the beach? You can chill at the picnic tables outside--or in a hammock--while the kids play with gratis hula hoops and spoil their dinner with gooey chocolate-chip cookies.

Drink here:
The Porch at the National Hotel
Most of Block Island ends up at the National Hotel's scenic wraparound porch at one point or another. Mostly for the postcard-perfect view of sailboats in Block Island Sound silhouetted against sunset-pink skies. But also to throw back a few ice-cold lagers and catch up on the local gossip.

Photo: Courtesy of Block Island Tourism Council

The Historic Park Inn Hotel, Mason City, Iowa

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 01 07:00 AM

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You've cruised around Oak Park, gotten misty at Fallingwater, and crisscrossed the country to both Taliesin east and West, but now there's a new box to check off on your Frank Lloyd Wright bucket list: The Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City, Iowa. After 30-odd years of decline, the last unicorn of Wright-designed hotels is reopening August 15.

And just what does an $18-million gut renovation get you? Prairie School genius. Gone are additions that parceled the 101-year-old building into offices; fixed are the cantilevered roofline, distinctive brickwork with multicolored terra-cotta detailing, and the lobby's art-glass skylight. The original hotel and a connected bank building (also by Wright) now house 27 suites appointed with dark wood, claw-foot tubs, and salvaged tiles. Furnishings and fixtures, some reproduced from other Wright structures such as Chicago's Robie House, sit pretty in subdued earth tones.

Short of winning the lottery or nodding off at the Guggenheim, this is your best chance to sleep in a Wright.

Photo: Courtesy of Wright on the Park

Travelteq Trash Canvas Messenger Laptop Bag

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, July 20 07:00 AM

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Wrangling your tech gear, reading material, snacks, earplugs, and assorted other ephemera onto a plane can make you feel a bit like a bag lady. But this smart new canvas bag from Travelteq ($740) can turn your carry-on into a lean, mean (and organized) flying machine.

Two easy-to-reach outer pockets are perfectly configured for holding your passport, iPhone, and wallet. The interior has a shock-resistant laptop sleeve, a section to keep magazines and newspapers crease-free, and a third area to zip away other flotsam and jetsam (hence the bag's name). So, you've got controlled chaos on the inside and a classic canvas-and-leather look on the outside. Everything in its place.

Photo: Courtesy of Travelteq

Kikkerland's Music Branch Headphone Splitter

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, July 12 07:00 AM

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Tunes and travel go together like O'Hare and lost luggage. But hiding under your headphones keeps you from interacting with other people. Until now. May we introduce you to the new Kikkerland Music Branch Headphone Splitter ($10)?

The mod, woodsy key chain plugs into your iPod and three sets of headphones. So your travel companion and your new best friend from the airport bar can join you in rocking out to your playlist...or run away in horror at your musical taste. (How did Justin Bieber get on here?) But, hey, all that matters is that you extended a musical olive branch.

Photo: Courtesy of Kikkerland

Cox & Kings' Wonders of Georgia

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, June 28 07:00 AM

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You've done Paris, Rome, and London, but where next on your grand tour? We suggest it's time to venture off the beaten track to the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The folks at travel company Cox & Kings have launched a tour of Georgia as part of a new package of undiscovered destinations across the pond.

The eight-day trip goes from a fourth-century fortress in Tbilisi to the birthplace of Stalin to the underground monasteries of Davit Gareja and the famed vineyards of Kakheti, the oldest wine-producing region in the world. Medieval churches, Soviet-era history, and ancient booze? That's enough to get Georgia on anyone's mind.

Cox & Kings' Wonders of Georgia tour, from $1,735. 2011 departures: July 17, September 4, October 2.

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Runkel / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images

Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, June 21 07:00 AM

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Planes, trains, and automobiles have practically become our religion--and now intrepid travelers have a cathedral to call home. Opening today, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow is a sweeping temple to transport that's ripe for a summer pilgrimage.

Designed by Zaha Hadid to mimic the undulation of the surrounding harbor, the Iraqi/British starchitect's first U.K. construction is a squiggly warehouse of zinc-paneled peaks and glassy prisms holding over 3,000 objects and 150 interactive displays. Our faves include a Wall of Cars stacked to the ceiling with classics like the Hillman Imp, and the three re-created streets circa 1895-1980, chockablock with vintage trolleys and trams. In a nod to the rich maritime era that put Glasgow on the map, the tall ship Glenlee is moored right out front.

Our only question: Just how do you want to travel there...

Photo: Courtesy of Riverside Museum

Lonely Planet Globe Tripper iPhone and iPad App

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, June 20 10:48 AM

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Bored in line at the post office and need some interactive wanderlust? There's an app for that. Want to ogle some peripatetic pictures or bone up on world cultures while waiting out a flight delay? There's an app for that, too.

The fine folks at Lonely Planet have just released Globe Tripper, a travel trivia game for iPad ($2.99) and iPhone ($1.99). The app lets you travel the globe virtually, answering questions about culture, geography, current events, and language. Challenge friends by posting your stellar scores on Facebook and Twitter. If the thrill of competition isn't enough to get you hooked, the breathtaking photographs will be. Game on!

Photo: Courtesy of Lonely Planet

Beijing to Shanghai Bullet Train

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, May 31 01:55 PM

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What's that, China? Is that gloating we detect? Okay, fine, we'll give you this one. While we could barely brush the sand off our shoes and get back to work today, the roaring tiger has gone and built itself a $34-billion Beijing to Shanghai high-speed rail link, opening this June--almost a year ahead of schedule.

Granted, there have been a few modifications of the original plan: A proposed lie-flat premium class has been canned and speeds curtailed for safety. Once intended to best the world record set by France's TGV (357.2 miles per hour, mon Dieu!), China's train has registered a top test speed of 302 mph, with actual operating caps at about 185 mph (to be sure, that's still very fast). What does this mean for travelers between the two megacities? An 818-mile journey will clock in at an easy, breezy five hours instead of ten. Meow, Amtrak, meow.

Bullet train tickets from $80 to $165

Photo: Courtesy of Qilai Shen / Bloomberg / Getty Images

De L'Europe Hotel, Amsterdam

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, May 16 07:00 AM

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Amsterdam has always been an ideal destination for immersing yourself in art. Case in point, the $87-million gut-to-garret renovation of the 19th-century De L'Europe hotel. The grande dame reopens on June 1 with furnishings that juxtapose Art Deco chic with Renaissance frills, by modern master Cees Dam.

Bold colors (blues, greens, golds) lead the musty-to-modern charge across 88 expanded rooms and 23 loftlike suites. But the coup de grâce? Artwork--six-by-nine-foot detail shots of Rijksmuseum masterpieces, to be exact. And while some may call sleeping under the massive, steady gaze of Jan Cornelisz Verspronck's Girl in Blue creepy, you can paint us impressed.

Photo: Courtesy of De L'Europe 

Locanda, San Francisco, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Sunday, May 08 12:53 PM

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Brought to you by the fine folks behind cult San Francisco restaurant Delfina, the Mission District's newest arrival, Locanda, is an update on Rome's family-style eateries. Traditional Thonet bentwood chairs, candles flickering in old anchovy tins, and geometric wall tiles give this open, loftlike space a warm, contemporary feel.

Since this is San Francisco, seasonal local produce can be taken for granted (the pancetta couldn't be more local--it's cured in-house). However, there's no nattering about farms and free-range this and that on the menu of Roman pasta classics, including cacio e pepe and bucatini all'amatriciana. There's also a nod to the Eternal City's love affair with entrails. Fear not: Locanda's capable crew can win over the most determined sweetbreads skeptics. But there's only one way to put that to the test.

Photo: Courtesy of Eric Wolfinger

Master of Malt Drinks by The Dram

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, May 06 11:03 AM

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The only thing worse than a flight delay is the quality of beer on offer as you kill time at the airport. Thankfully, the fine folks at Master of Malt have brewed up something to keep you in good spirits: Drinks by the Dram, a selection of over 300 high-end single malts and ryes in sealed 1-fluid-ounce containers. (Perfectly sized to pop in a ziplock bag with your TSA-friendly toiletries.) So, for half the price of a watery Michelob (prices start at $4), you can sip the peaty fire of a 15-year-old Glenfarclas or Laphroaig Quarter Cask.

Be sure to down the draught before boarding time: Consuming a private stash of booze in-flight doesn't fly with the Feds.

 Photo: Courtesy of Master of Malt

Sony Bloggie 3-D Camcorder

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, May 04 04:24 PM

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There's always been one thing missing from your vacation videos: depth. And we don't mean insightful patter while filming your way through the Louvre.

But early adopters on the go can capture that elusive third dimension with Sony's new Bloggie MHS-FS3 3-D camcorder ($249.99), a narrow little number that slides easily into your pocket. Two high-def lenses and sensors capture one hour and 20 minutes of HD video, still pics, and up to four hours of Web-friendly 2-D videos. Plus, integrated social media functionality makes it a cinch to share on YouTube, Facebook, and Picasa.

A built-in 2.4-inch LCD lets you preview your handiwork sans special glasses, but you'll need a 3-D HDTV set to watch your multidimensional masterpieces. Finally, friends and family might actually be willing to watch your vacation videos.

Photo: Courtesy of Sony

Harbor Hotel, Provincetown, Massachusetts

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, May 03 04:29 PM

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Quaint
is king in Provincetown, the salty artists' colony and beach resort on the tip of Cape Cod. You can't fling a flip-flop without hitting a lovingly restored B&B or weathered fisherman's cottage. But now there's a fresher catch in town: the newly renovated Harbor Hotel.

The 119 rooms and 10 suites, unveiled this past weekend, pop with lime walls, honey-colored wood, stained concrete floors, and mod amenities (flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, all-day coffee bar). Outside, there's a cozy fire pit and the poolside Cabana Bar, complete with a grill menu; inside, the arty Whaler Lounge serves up pub grub.

But Harbor also plays to Provincetown's classic strengths, with spectacular seaside sunsets visible from every room and easy access to briny tidelands across the street. Free shuttles and bikes help you make short hops to the area's famous dunes and into town for the galleries, restaurants, and quirky nightlife. Because in Provincetown, quaint also means queer, in every sense of the word.

Photo: Courtesy of Harbor Hotel Provincetown

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

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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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