A new Ritz-Carlton downtown; making the scene in Milan

Photo: Meurice Hotel

Faux Fashionista
If you’re planning an excursion to Milan or Paris this fall, consider the pleasures of watch-ing the international fashion flock, which migrates from city to city this time of year for the spring 2002 shows, nibbling on Versace and Armani here, Chanel and Helmut Lang there. If you want to rub bony shoulders with the likes of Anna and Donatella in Milan (September 22-October 3), try frequenting their favorite nesting places, the Grand Hotel, Four Seasons, and Principe di Savoia, where the bar scene is definitely the scene. Have a late dinner at Le Langhe (a favorite of Tom Ford’s), Da Giacomo, Bice, Bagutta, or Nobu. In Paris (October 5-13), the heavy hitters stay at the Ritz; other good bets are Hôtel Meurice, Hôtel de Crillon,Hôtel Costes, and Hôtel Montalembert. Lunches are a must: Try Davé,Spoon, L’Avenue, or the brand-new Nobu. And as for London, is anyone even going?

Outdoorsy folks are lining up at the Eastern Mountain Sports store downtown to print customized topographical maps for hiking, camping, and fishing excursions. The brand-new National Geographic Map Machine enables active types – mountain-bikers, backpackers, back-country skiers – to design tear-resistant, waterproof maps that cover between 15 and 25 square miles and detail changes in elevation, as well as lakes, streams, and roads. Mapmakers can search by place name, choose a scale, opt for 3-D shaded relief, and overlay with latitude and longitude lines (for use with a GPS). The database currently covers the Northeast and will soon expand to the entire U.S. Each map prints in under four minutes and costs $7.95. (EMS, 591 Broadway, near Prince Street; 212-966-8730.)

Battery Spark
When we first heard about the new Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park, we thought, Great, another stodgy tower for suits. But a recent visit to the construction site was full of surprises. Blond woods. Art Deco styling. Original, contemporary art by local artists. And views, views, views. The Statue of Liberty out one window, the World Trade Center out another. But most surprising was the Ritz’s reported target market: Wall Street types, of course, but also lots of tourists. After all, Ellis Island, Lady Liberty, and the Twin Towers are right there, plus a new Battery Park Museum Mile is emerging with the pending arrivals of the Skyscraper Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Museum of Women – not to mention the Guggenheim proposal. (Ritz-Carlton opens in October; 212-800-241-3333; rooms from $375.)

VILLA VERSACE The late Gianni Versace’s fresco-filled South Beach mansion will become a hotel by mid-December. The current owner has restored the $19 million abode, complete with pink volleyball court and Venetian fountains, and will rent the fifteen stained-glass-and-mosaic-studded suites starting at $2,000 (phone number not yet available). FOODIE FLUSH Las Vegas’s Bellagio hotel has just added another restaurant card to its fine-dining hand. Nectar, which features a raw bar and dishes like barbecued-sparerib salad, is headed up by John Schenk, formerly of the Monkey Bar and Clementine. (702-693-7223). CLUB CLASS Watch out, Schrager: The City Club Hotel opens across the street from the Royalton in November, and with DB Bistro Moderne on the first floor, it’ll be a hit. Of course, the Jeffrey Bilhuber-designed rooms, Hermès toiletries, and ubiquitous Frette linens don’t hurt either (212-921-5500; rooms from $275).

Deal of the Week
It’s nearly impossible to get a hotel room in Vermont during fall foliage, but five of Stowe’s top inns are saving a few spots for New York Magazine readers. Get access to one of these rooms when you mention this page and book at least three nights in October – with a 20 percent discount, to boot. Call 800-24-STOWE.

A new Ritz-Carlton downtown; making the scene in Milan