Biking-and-walking-tour company Discover France is adding Bordeaux wine-tasting tours to its repertoire – just in time for the grape harvest. Beginning September 1, seven-day trips include visits to châteaux, churches, and walled medieval towns, plus plenty of tastings at both local producers and larger wineries ($1,465 per person; 800-960-2221)… . Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon is gearing up for the season as well, with a new three-day package that offers a two-night stay (including five-course dinners paired with wines from Crillon’s 180,000-bottle cellar) and an overnight trip to Bordeaux, complete with a personal guide and private tastings (from $4,080 per couple; 011-33-144-71-1501)… . And for homebound oenophiles, the Catskills’ Emerson Inn is hosting a Bordeaux-tasting weekend November 8 through 10 (from $1,550; 845-688-7900).
Finally, a guidebook series for urban travelers who want to know which hotel has the trendiest bar scene right now, and which restaurant has the longest waiting list for reservations. Nota Bene’s colorful guides are right on the money, detailing the hottest stores, clubs, hotels, and restaurants. And with a new issue printed every six weeks, NB is able to stay current by updating previously covered cities in the back of each new edition. (Its latest, Turks & Caicos, includes hotel updates for Paris and London.) Of course, being kept in-the-know comes at a price: A one-year subscription (ten issues) costs $300. But starting next month, NB will be selling individual copies for $20 apiece at Language (212-431-5556) and Madison Avenue Bookshop (212-535-6130). Next up: issues on Singapore, Venice, New York, Shanghai, spas, and Barbados (nbreview.com).
Go ahead and laugh at the name, but VirginBush is one smart travel outfit. Launched this summer by an ex–advertising exec and an ex–magazine editor, the East Africa safari company eschews traditional safari-tour gimmicks like buffet meals, wildlife checklists, and minibus migrations and instead customizes unique trips throughout Kenya for young urbanites. Guests are interviewed before the trip to determine their preferences: from which animals they hope to see to what kind of sheets they like. VirginBush then plans the itinerary accordingly. Accommodations range from luxury tents with canopy beds and plush carpets to private ranches; activities can include anything from camel-trekking in nontouristy sections of northern Kenya to game watching on horseback to sipping martinis in a river. You name it, they’ll arrange it – with style: Chilled Cosmopolitans served on the open veldt? Sure. Frette linens in the wild? No problem. (Packages start from $600 a day; 888-432-8681.)
L’Auberge de Sedona, a secluded romantic getaway in Arizona’s red-rock country, has just refurbished its 33 French Country cottages. New furniture, linens, bathrooms, and fireplaces will run you $350 to $450 a night, but mention New York Magazine in September and get 25 percent off a stay in November or December (800-272-6777).
Fest of New York Woodstock’s third annual Fiercely Independent Film Festival (September 18–22) draws top talent ranging from Tim Robbins and Ethan Hawke to Jonathan Demme and Steve Buscemi (845-679-4265)… .
Eating Way Out Packages for Bermuda’s first Culinary Arts Festival (November 1–4) start at $1,600 and include accommodations, airfare, and gut-busting meals by chefs from db, Verbena, and JUdson Grill, among others (800–BERMUDA)… .
Room Town September 20 is opening day for Miami’s new Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove, an alternative to the city’s trademark boutique scene. All 115 rooms have private balconies and Italian-marble bathrooms. Introductory rates start at $165 a night through December 24 (800-241-3333)… .
Fly Buy Flight 001, downtown’s source for cool travel items, is opening Flight 001 Shuttle at Henri Bendel this week. The space has been transformed to look like the inside of an airplane and is stocked with all things travel-related: watches, luggage, books (212-691-1001). Meanwhile, London’s department store Harvey Nichols will soon be home to QuickBliss Beauty Bar, where traveling spa addicts can freshen up on the spot with mini oxygen facials, face waxing (yes, in front of fellow shoppers), tinting, and hand peels (011-44-207-235-5000, ext. 2417).