A Cook’s Tour
It’s no secret that Tuscany is prime foodie territory—especially during autumn’s colorful olive and grape harvests. But as tempted as you might be to sit back and let the tummy-gorging courses come to you, it can be much more fun to learn to cook the dishes yourself. Luxury-villa-rental company Wimco offers a selection of twenty Tuscan villas where guests receive private cooking lessons. Local chefs lead the way to organic herb and veggie gardens, cheese-makers, and poultry farms before disclosing secret family recipes (800-932-3222; from $1,140 for up to eight people, plus accommodations). Already mastered the basics? Spring for lessons at Florence’s Capezzana Wine and Culinary Center (212-679-3660 or bacioni2000.com; six-day seminars from $2,820).
Back To School
More and more, European hotels are doing their part to broaden the horizons of their white-sneakered guests. Here, a few cultural offerings to consider: Perfect your Spanish at the Gran Hotel Son Net in Mallorca (34 971 147 000; sonnet.es); master cocktail mixing at Claridge’s in London (800-637-2869; savoy-group.co.uk); learn to fly-fish at Ireland’s Sheen Falls Lodge (35 36 441 600; sheenfallslodge.com); or take intensive bridge lessons at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice (39 041 520 77 44; orient-express.com).
Deal of the Week
Guests at the Hotel de Crillon can now learn the secrets behind the Paris hotel’s renowned flower arrangements. Call before October 1 and get one free “L’École des Fleurs” class, a room upgrade, breakfast, and a bottle of Tattinger, to boot (33-1-44-71-15-01; crillon.com; from $675).
Head Trips: Let New York’s culture pros plan your study abroad
•On the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Ancient Wonders yachting tour (Athens to Palermo), Met curators discuss Greek and Roman art (212-650-2110; from $7,950).
•Explore the hangouts of Parisian literary giants or master your béarnaise with the French Institute Alliance Française’s various tours to France (212-340-9438; about $850).
•The American Museum of Natural History’s river cruise from the Swiss Alps to Budapest highlights regional architecture, music, and history (800-462-8687; from $5,395).
•Assist a Michelin-rated chef (in a restaurant anywhere from Barcelona to Oslo) with L’École des Chefs’ culinary internships (212-856-0115; from $1,100).
If You’re Going To . . .
Aspen The Labor Day jazzfest in Aspen is turning out to be quite a destination. This year, the four-day jam (August 29 to September 1) is headlined by the likes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Clint Black (866-527-8499 or jazzaspen.org).
New York Two of the city’s most traditional hotels are catching up with the (spa-obsessed) times: The Waldorf-Astoria (212-355-3000) just opened a Plus One Spa, complete with (what else?) a Waldorf-salad treatment; the Four Seasons (212-350-6420) follows suit with the reopening of its completely revamped spa in September. Don’t miss the electronic shiatsu massage.
The East Coast Delta’s new low-fare airline, Song, continues to expand: The innovative carrier, with its in-flight-meal menus and video library, now flies out of all three New York–area airports to spots along the East Coast. Stay tuned for the new New York–L.A. route (800-359-7664 or flysong.com).
Wisconsin Luxury seekers might balk at the notion of vacationing in Wisconsin. Their loss. Relais & Chateaux’s Canoe Bay is opening an over-the-top guest house there with a personal chef, a wine cellar, a two-way fireplace in the bedroom and bathroom, and the latest in high-tech gadgetry (715-924-4594 or canoebay.com; from $1,500).