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October 12, 2008|Catharine Hamm; Chris Erskine; Hugo Martin

Santa Barbara comeback

The Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club recently reopened after a $65-million makeover that took three years. The Santa Barbara club is the neighbor of the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore. Billionaire Ty Warner, who owns both, spent a cool $240 million freshening up the 80-year-old hotel. One piece to the puzzle remains: the beach club's Tydes restaurant (Get it? TYdes), the second-floor eatery that is to open as soon as next month. The club includes an Olympic-size pool and 31 private cabanas, along with a view that's been opened up to show off its location on Butterfly Beach. The club also has a 4,600-square-foot ballroom and a fitness center. The tab for joining? A limited number of memberships are available for $250,000 up front. Visiting the club by staying at the Biltmore is cheaper, but not cheap: Standard rooms recently were available on its website for $550 a night.

Info: www.coralcasinoclub.com or www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara.

-- Catharine Hamm

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Only the best

Few Top 10 compilations are as intriguing and comprehensive as National Geographic's "The 10 Best of Everything: An Ultimate Guide for Travelers." Put this $19.95 softback on your Christmas list. Food, trains, tea shops -- the book lists the best of almost anything a traveler could want. The choices are usually informed and interesting. For instance, the 10 best beaches (from 1 to 10): Seychelles (pictured); Maldives; Bora-Bora; the Hamptons, N.Y.; Lanikai, Hawaii; Nantucket Island, Mass.; Fraser Island, Australia; St. Bart's; Langkawi, Malaysia; Kaunaoa Bay, Hawaii. An East Coast bias? Let the debate begin.

-- Chris Erskine

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That's plane nifty

Coach seats on most airlines are so cramped that you practically end up cheek-to-cheek with the passenger next to you. Phoenix-based Zen Class offers a solution for those who have to work in flight: a canvas organizer that hangs from the seat in front of you, holding all of your business accessories. The organizer sports pockets for your cellphone, pens, MP3 player, a passport, bottled water and other necessities. When you are done working, the organizer folds in half and zips up like a small briefcase. For new parents, the organizer can also hang from a stroller, holding baby accessories like diapers, bottles, wipes and lotions. The organizer sells for $39.99 at www.zenclasstravel.com, or call (800) 818-0381.

-- Hugo Martin

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Got budget tips?

Linda Johnson of Long Beach recommends a "self-catering" apartment in the off-season. That's how she made a trip to Cornwall, England, affordable. Johnson is just one of the readers who have shared their tips on saving money while still enjoying vacation. We'd like to hear from you too. To send us your best budget travel ideas, go to latimes.com/budgettips. Please include your name and city of residence and phone number. If chosen, your tip will appear in the Oct. 26 Travel section.

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