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When in Rome, go gladiator

July 29, 2007|Mary E. Forgione; Rosemary McClure; Jane Engle; Vani Rangachar

Go to Rome and find your inner warrior. The Rome Cavalieri Hilton is offering a historically correct gladiator training course (a tough workout, courtesy of Gruppo Storico Romano, a society dedicated to re-creating those days) in the hotel's private park. For two hours, a participant wears a tunic, sandals, protective gloves and prepares to do battle by learning sword combat and ancient techniques. Graduates get a medal and a title (tiro, for beginners); advanced students wear protective armor. Cost: $500 for a group of eight. Battle fatigue? Spring for a four-handed gladiator massage at the hotel afterward. Info:

-- Mary E. Forgione

Add some spice

Find your perfect hottie at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, which is celebrating New Mexico's annual chile pepper harvest season with some spicy events. The resort, on the Rio Grande halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, will have chile-roasting tours, chile chat sessions, Native American bread-baking demonstrations, blue corn mill tours and a gourmet five-course chile menu. The activities are scheduled from Aug. 15 to Nov. 30. Info and reservations: (505) 867-1234 or Rates for fall start at $225 per room per night.

-- Rosemary McClure

Playboy hideaway

What does $40,000 buy? If you're an average American, it's nearly your annual household income. If you're a well-heeled traveler, it's one night at the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, a two-story, 10,000-square-foot hideaway with a $700,000 cantilevered Jacuzzi that juts over the Las Vegas Strip, a rotating bed beneath a mirrored ceiling and around-the-clock butler service. The Playboy-themed digs, which opened last fall at the Palms Casino Resort (, is the most expensive of 101 hotel suites featured in a just-released annual survey by Elite Traveler (www.elite-traveler, whose readers make more than $5 million a year. Southland hotels on the list include the Hotel Bel-Air, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons hotel. In last year's survey, top-priced rooms cost a mere $25,000 per night.

-- Jane Engle

Visiting Berlin

This month Taschen, the Germany-based publisher of those gorgeous photo-packed coffee-table books on fine art and design, rolled out the latest in its new softcover guidebook series that it launched in spring. "Berlin, Hotels & More" follows books on Paris and London, and all with the signature Taschen look -- lots of photos -- with suggestions in three languages on where to eat and stay. If you're using the guidebooks, be prepared to take a wad of cash: Listings are high-end. Among them the George V in Paris and Claridge's in London. The guidebooks run about $25 and are available from

-- Vani Rangachar

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