Two Texas hotels make Travel + Leisure ‘It List’

Updated Feb 06, 2016


Two Texas hotels make Travel + Leisure ‘It List’

Travel + Leisure just announced its 2016 “It List,” featuring the 49 best new hotels around the world. Two Texas properties made the cut.

“The ‘It List’ showcases new hotels and resorts that raise the bar in a variety of ways, from great design to spectacular settings to service and product innovations,” Travel + Leisure editor Nathan Lump said in a statement. “These are places that don’t just provide a place to sleep — they deliver experiences that travelers will find both stimulating and transporting.”

Austin’s own South Congress Hotel, an 83-room boutique hotel designed by architect Michael Hsu that opened in late 2015, was among 10 U.S. properties that made the list, as was San Antonio’s new Hotel Emma.

To see the complete “It List,” visit


Five things to know about passport renewal

Going international soon? Better act now.

Last week, the State Department warned travelers to renew their passports as soon as possible because nearly 49 million will expire in the next three years, causing a major logjam of renewal requests that could take six weeks or more to fulfill.

Why is this happening? In part, it’s because nine years ago a law began requiring U.S. citizens to have passports when traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Passports are only good for 10 years (five years for kids), so everyone who got a passport when the law went into effect is coming up on expiration. That, coupled with regular renewals, could cause significant delays, the State Department said.

In Austin and need to renew your passport? Here are five things you need to know:


Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard and the cutest travel video ever

In case you missed the adorable music video featuring Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard dancing to Toto’s “Africa” that became an Internet sensation last week, let me catch you up.

Bell and Shepard, who married in 2013 and have two daughters, made this video while vacationing in Africa and posted it Jan. 27. In the video description on YouTube, Shepard wrote: “This was our last trip before having kids. Our sole objective was to rage hard and honor Toto properly.”

The video, which you can find at, fulfills all of our hopes for a video of this sort: Shepard in the bathtub; lions; Bell air drumming; hippos; Shepard with binoculars; giraffes; Bell playing air guitar. You get the picture.

More than 4 million people have watched the video, inspiring #couplegoals everywhere. Toto is said to approve.


Go all inclusive in the Caribbean

Dreaming of a beach vacation? If you’re willing to drive to Houston, this could be the deal for you.

Right now, Travelzoo is offering a six-night, all-inclusive trip to the oceanfront Caribe Club Princess Beach Resort & Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic — including nonstop airfare from Houston.

The deal includes all meals and drinks and is good for departures on May 27 or June 3; summer departures are $849-$949.

To get the deal, you must book by Feb. 12. For more information or to book, go to