The Weekend Takeoff: The Best Festivals

From Singapore to Minneapolis, Phoenix to Chicago, a round-up of the best international events this October, from the tried-and-true lederhosen fest du beer in the Twin Cities to Groupon Founder Brad Keywell’s Windy City celebration of ideas. Read on for fall inspiration.

Los Angeles, October 9: Take a break from work to get some fresh California air at CicLAvia 2011, when more than ten miles of roads will be closed to cars so that bicycles, skateboarders, and an assortment of musical acts and special events can enjoy spreading out on the normally clogged streets of the city.

Singapore, October 3-28: October in Singapore, one of Asia’s fastest-growing cities, is a month-long celebration of architecture known as ArchiFest. In addition to seminars and an awards ceremony, there’s a chance to get out and explore the place. Take one of the ArchiTours, running on Saturdays in October, where you’ll visit three buildings in the company of the architect who built them, and get inside the designer’s concept and process.

Phoenix, October 7: If you’re staying at the W Hotel in Scottsdale, make sure to pack your ruby slippers—and your courage. The hotel is celebrating its third anniversary with a Wizard of Oz-themed party, with poolside fun at WET and a party at indoor-outdoor bar Shade. Costumes encouraged—as are morning-after recovery appointments at Bliss Spa.

Minneapolis, October 7-8: You may be marooned in the Midwest, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t authentic cultural experiences to be had. This weekend, the Twin Cities celebrates Oktoberfest with beer, brats, and Bavarian bands. Just don’t try and put your beer stein on your expense report.

Chicago, October 10-16: After learning countless lessons from conferences like TED, Groupon Founder Brad Keywell decided to bring a similar experience to his hometown. Chicago Ideas Week is bringing in more than 100 speakers across multiple platforms to discuss everything from food to philanthropy, including former President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Bacon, new mayor Rahm Emanuel, and more.

The World’s 10 Swankest Airport Lounges

There are some airport lounges out there so welcoming, so comfortable, and so packed with amenities that you may need to enlist their excellent customer assistance in rebooking your flight for a longer stay. An excellent resource for choosing and reviewing a lounge is the wiki-style Culled from their pages, these 10 luxurious lounges will help you enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Emirates Lounge, Emirates Air, JFK, New York The Middle Eastern carrier’s secluded retreat is much lauded for a reason: Spacious leather chairs, Italian marble accents, and delicious food make their long-haul flights bearable, if not pleasurable. The business center and 42-inch plasma screen TVs keep you up to date to the last minute, and first- or business-class passengers will arrive in style, picked up in New York City by an Emirates car.

The Wing, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong – Cathay’s complex is the original luxury lounge, setting the modern standard since it opened in 1998. The Long Bar and the Noodle Bar will feed your body, while the Library and the Cabanas will soothe your soul. For first-class passengers, the Pier offers even more personal space, with spa-like granite shower suites and the private Daybreak Rooms, where waiter service and wake-up calls will allow you to nap, eat, work, and watch TV until it’s time for takeoff.

Upper Class Clubhouse, Virgin Atlantic, London Heathrow – Each one of Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouses is a little different, but the British carrier outdid themselves on their home turf, with a cocktail bar, several restaurant options, multiple lounge concepts (including “poolside,” with a running-water accent wall), and an office and library that perfectly replicate the benefits of a traditional English club with a modern edge.

BA Terraces Lounge, British Airways, Seattle – Exclusively for first-class passengers and frequent fliers, the Terraces Lounge provides a comprehensive experience, from drinks and snacks at the World Wine Bar to a complimentary massage at the Elemis spa to a freshly made cappuccino. The work and entertainment area is fully equipped, but we suggest evening flyers take advantage of the Club World Sleeper Service, where you’ll have your preflight supper in the lounge restaurant so you can sleep right away once you board.

Iberia VIP Rooms, Iberia Air, Madrid – Madrid’s airport is one of the fastest-growing for business travel, as it’s a convenient stopover for many connecting flights, so having a comfortable airport lounge is crucial. The Iberia VIP Rooms have stunning view of departing planes rising over the mountains — the perfect compliment to a glass of Rioja from the private wine bar.

SilverKris Lounge, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Changi – Singapore Airlines may have been getting a lot of press for their Airbus A380 suites, but it should come as no surprise that their lounge is similarly luxurious. Beautifully appointed in fine woods and marble, the recently renovated space offers business class passengers and above meeting rooms, spacious bathrooms, well-equipped business facilities, and a bar and restaurant.

CPH Apartment, Copenhagen – One of the pleasures of travel is enjoying a sense of place, and that’s what the CPH Apartment in Copenhagen is all about. Designed to feel like a luxury Copenhagen apartment, it’s a space design buffs will die over, with furniture including shelving from Muuto, dining tables from Hay, a Beck lounge table, the award-winning sofa In Duplo from Erik Jørgensen, and the well-known Wingchair designed by H. J. Wegner.

L’Espace Premiere Lounge, Air France, Charles de Gaulle, Paris – The red carpet in the lounge’s may simply be intended to echo the first-class cabin’s décor, but it’s an excellent metaphor for what’s inside. Check in privately in the lounge, sink into a roomy leather armchair, enjoy a massage, or of course, sample a wide selection of wines, champagnes, and French cuisine of which the airline is justifiably proud. The red carpet treatment continues at departure: an agent will escort you to your gate, and a Mercedes will take you across the tarmac to your plane.

British Airways Concorde Room, British Airways, Heathrow, London – The Concorde may be no more, but this lounge brings back the aura of jet-set glamour in a big way. The full-service restaurant, private cabana rooms with beds and en suite bathrooms, the Elemis travel spa, and the concierge desk may recall the luxury hotel you’re departing from more than the airport lounges you’re used to.

Qantas First Lounge, Qantas, Sydney – The ultra-contemporary design of this lounge by acclaimed Australian designer Marc Newson is a spacious 2,000 square meters, and includes design accents like a vertical garden with over 8,400 plants, leather furniture by Italy’s Poltrona Frau, and Tai Ping wool carpets from Hong Kong. Individual marble-lined shower suites; and state-of-the-art business facilities get you ready to work, while the Payot Paris day spa and restaurant by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry get you in the mood to play.

LA’s Avalon Comes to Singapore

One of Hollywood’s best-known nightclubs, Avalon, is going global. A Singapore edition of the club is set to open on September 16, proving that L.A. clubs still have cachet abroad, even if Las Vegas has eclipsed the city in terms of size and volume when it comes to nightclubs.

But like the Vegas megaclubs, Avalon Singapore will exist inside a hotel and casino, as part of the Marina Bay Sands resort. Designed by New York-based firm Roman and Williams, known for the interiors of the Royalton and the Ace Hotel, Avalon Singapore will boast inspired touches, like the three-dimensional diamond design exterior, seen above.

The 17,000 square-foot club will open a week before Grand Prix weekend, and the GO! Festival, a weekend of electronic music with headliners like the Chemical Brothers. Avalon Hollywood is known for its stellar sound system, and a press release announcing the new club says it has “seven variable trusses…the largest install of its kind worldwide.”

Airport Navigator Needs the App Treatment

Travel + Leisure came out with a rather cool feature on their site this summer, but it’s not nearly as cool as it could be. The feature is called the “Airport Navigator,” and it has detailed lists of hotspots to check out inside airport terminals — restaurants, spas, shopping, and things to do. Once you click through the listings, you can see ratings and leave comments. The LA Times pointed out that the site could definitely use maps of the terminals, because as it stands now, there are no visual clues about how to get around to these recommended spots. But really, duh — the Airport Navigator should be an iPhone app.

People on the go are not likely to pull out their laptop (or pull up the resource-heavy T+L site on their mobile) and hunt around to figure out what they want to do. T+L should just launch this as an app so people could map out the terminal in their hand and see what’s close, what’s recommended, and how to get there. It would also be nice to include airports inside the United States; since none are so far. However, places like Vancouver, Rome, Singapore, Buenos Aires, and Cairo are on the list. Let’s bring it home, and go mobile.

Madonna-Snubbed Lindsay Lohan Still Big In Singapore

Y’know with Mercury being in retrograde, it makes sense that we’ve found new villains and new pieces of exquisite musicianship to hold dear to our hearts. It also makes sense that other imminent car-crashes have slowed their collision course. Naturally I refer to Lindsay Lohan. The “Rumors” hitmaker and sometime actress was tagged to sub in for Nicole Scherzinger to host three days of concerts at Singapore’s Grand Prix. Gushes the star, last seen glassy-eyed with Taylor Momsen, “I like to drive. I like cars. I like fast cars.” Slow down, LiLo. Slow. It. Down.

But thrill-seeker Lohan is crediting her love for fast cars to that one time she starred in Herbie: Fully Loaded. “I studied NASCAR for almost a year for Herbie. It was very hot inside those cars.” Speed may also help the next time she’s trying to elude capture as Hollywood’s main maenad Madonna chases her down. Recently Lohan was denied entry into some party last week being held by Ms. Ciccone. Her security team was under strict directions not to let Lohan in, no matter how many Scooby snacks she dangled in front of their snouts.

It appears that Madonna was snubbed by fashion house Emanuel Ungaro. They instead opted to go with Lohan as their artistic director. This appointment also placed her also ahead of former bestie Paris Hilton. This really upsets the holy balance of Hollywood, which should embrace the everlasting immortality of Madonna over Lohan’s rapidly-fading youth.

Lohan’s Singaporean hosting duties will see her presiding over performances by Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, and a bunch of 80s acts. Considering how strict their punishments are against minor infractions, fingers crossed Lohan has sense enough not to traipse around pantsless as she skips down to Lucky Plaza.

Singapore Takes to the Streets

Singapore is hosting the first-ever Formula 1 night race, and the 3.15-mile Grand Prix is a crash course in Singapore architecture. The Singapore River and the Singapore Flyer (like the London Eye on steroids) will serve as the blurry landscape zipping past the million-dollar racing machines. The whole Speed Raceresque shebang — track, cars and landscape — will take place under 2,000-watt floodlamps, making the whole “night” part of the race a metaphor at best. Play along for a chance to see the action in real time by racing virtual cars on the Singapore Racer site. The virtual winner will be gifted an all-expense-paid trip to the Singapore Grand Prix on September 28. In case you don’t win, book a package to make the race.

“Aesthetic Encounters” @ Singapore’s Art Seasons

China is far more than sketchy passport forgeries and a beautification effort akin to Detroit’s the one time it got the Super Bowl. If the show “Aesthetic Encounters” is anything to judge by, it’s a Hello Kitty-infused country constantly threatening devolution into a frenzy of media consumption as a response to pressures from a pushy and overbearing government (think Michelle Yeoh, but without the moxie).

Having opened this past Saturday at the Singaporean venue of Art Seasons Gallery, “Aesthetic Encounters” tracks this mindset through the works of nine Chinese artists, originating from cities such as Chonqing and Beijing. But this cumulative effort from artists like Hui Xin and Chen Yu also offers a trip through egocentrism, where the effects of the world on the individual manifest into these singular works — making the exhibition feel more at home at the nation-state than in its native China. “Aesthetic Encounters” runs through the end of August.