The Venice Biennale is called the Olympics of art for a reason: it happens every two years, the focus is on exhibition and celebration rather than commerce, and participants from all over the world are invited to create a "pavilion" of art to represent their country. On June 4, the exhibition kicks off when a record-breaking 89 nations will uncover their pieces housed within the city's Giardini and Arsenale pavilions. The U.S. pavilion, named "Gloria" referring to the glory of god and the glory of military battles, features six new works by artistic duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, including an overturned 60-ton army tank that now functions as a treadmill. Countries participating for the first time will be Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and Andorra, while Iraq, India, and Congo are a few of the countries returning after extended absences. In the main space is "ILLUMInations," the special exhibition by this year's curator, Switzerland's Bice Curiger, who amassed works by 83 international artists that highlight the endeavors of a globalized world. Also, iPhone users should download Christie's free Biennale app, which visitors can use to locate specific pavilions and get suggestions of stops to make along one's way through the city. On view through November 27; .
Hotels aren't just for sleeping, as two recent openings are showing. On May 16, Thompson hotels cut the ribbon on Above 6, a terrace lounge on top of its 6 Columbus location. Thompson's third open-air hideaway in New York, the space exudes the downtown vibe of the brand's SoHo and the Lower East Side outposts while giving guests views of Central Park. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill has created a summer cocktail menu (try the Hummingbird, a concoction of Avinyó Cava, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, club soda and Yama Momo) and curated a special selection of sakes and wines especially for the venue. In Chicago, the Park Hyatt will unveil its new seventh floor on June 3, showcasing four elements (restaurant, spa, garden and lounge) from its new lifestyle brand, NoMI (for North Michigan, the avenue on which the hotel sits). The 125-seat NoMI Kitchen will be overseen by chef Ryan LaRoche, who has partnered with local farmers and purveyors to produce the high-quality ingredient-driven dishes he's become known for. And NoMI Spa will be the exclusive Chicago spa to offer the Hydrafacial (an ultra-firming skin treatment previously performed only in doctors' offices). Above 6 at 6 Columbus Circle; 212-204-3000; thompsonhotels.com. Park Hyatt Chicago at 800 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-335-1234; parkchicago.hyatt.com.
A good fitness routine—especially one that has a streamlined schedule and is suited to one's own health goals—is hard to come by. Luckily for New Yorkers, FITiST has just launched online. First, guests choose from ten unique wellness programs ranging from one to three months in duration and addressing a specific goal. There are marathon and triathlon training plans, as well as weight loss, yoga and pre- and post-natal programs; there's even a rookie course for those who've had an extended absence from the gym. Then FITiST tailors an exercise regimen and gives clients access to an extensive online booking system, where trainees can make reservations for spinning, yoga, Pilates, boxing and boot camp classes in some of New York's most exclusive gyms. The website also offers add-ons like personal training sessions, nutrition counseling, acupuncture, sports massage therapy and post-workout beauty appointments. Membership is by invitation only, but Departures readers can click here to access the site. Wellness plans, from $150; fitist.com.
California native Tim Burton is coming home—or at least his art is. On May 29, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will open an exhibit featuring 700 drawings, paintings, large-scale Polaroids, puppets, maquettes, costumes and early student films created by the director. Curators have made the silly-spooky environment even more Burtonesque with a soundtrack specially composed by longtime collaborator Danny Elfman. Burton produced seven original works for the show, including a deer-shaped topiary in honor of his cult movie Edward Scissorhands, a 21-foot-tall, many-eyed sculpture called Balloon Boy and a black-lit revolving carousel that dangles from the ceiling. Burton's book signing is on May 28, but there's no rush—appropriately, the exhibit will be on view through Halloween. At 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; 323-857-6000; lacma.org.
For some men, skipping the suit is not an option, even in three-digit summer temperatures. Thankfully, Freemans Sporting Club, known for its handmade suits and ruggedly stylish looks, sourced an extra-lightweight Loro Piana fabric (a merino wool and silk hybrid) to craft a wrinkle-resistant, fully canvased suit designed specifically to withstand oppressive heat. The soft-shouldered, peaked-lapel jacket is half-lined with cotton muslin, has piped internal seams and patch pockets and comes in a vibrant Picasso blue. Its open-weave design allows for maximum breathability, and the best part: It weighs only 14 ounces. Suit, $2,300; available online, or guests can be fitted for a custom suit at Freemans Sporting Club's New York or San Francisco boutiques. At 8 Rivington St., New York; 212-673-3209; 696 Valencia St., San Francisco; 415-863-2155; freemanssportingclub.com.
Two major culinary events are on our can't-miss list this week. First, the inaugural Atlanta Food & Wine Festival takes place May 19-22, celebrating a wide range of Southern fare. There will be demonstrations by New Orleans-born chef John Besh, interactive seminars on dry-rub and chicken-frying techniques, and tasting experiences showcasing bluegrass, bourbon, gumbo and barbecue. Don't miss the street-cart pavilion or the Sunday brunch at the Ritz-Carlton, at which one of the city's best gospel choirs will perform. Further north, in Manhattan, more than 40 of New York's top restaurants, including ABC Kitchen, Eleven Madison Park, A Voce and Market Table, will prepare dishes for Taste of the Nation on May 23. Cocktails by renowned local mixologists—from behind the bars of Employees Only, Little Branch and Macao Trading Company—will also be served. One hundred percent of ticket sales will benefit Share Our Strength, an initiative to end childhood hunger in New York. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival tickets, from $50; 404-474-7330; atlfoodandwinefestival.com. Taste of the Nation tickets are $225 for general admission, $425 for VIP experience; Center 548 at 548 W. 22nd St.; newyorktaste.org.
The W made its grand debut in Russia when the W St. Petersburg hotel opened April 20. Next to St. Isaac Cathedral and not far from the Winter Palace, the 137-room hotel was designed by the Milan-based Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners, who took aesthetic cues from the city's architecture as well as the regal jewel tones of the Fabergé egg. Though Russian history plays a part in the look, the structure's limestone and marble façade and supersleek interior make it a refreshingly modern addition to the city's lineup of opulent hotels. Speaking of refreshing, there's also an on-site Bliss spa with an indoor pool, an Alain Ducasse-inspired miX restaurant, and a rooftop bar and terrace where international DJs will spin for the nightlife-inclined. And W's signature Whatever/Whenever concierge service is on hand, providing personalized tours of the State Hermitage Museum or birthday party cruises down the Neva River. Rooms from $240 at 6 Voznesensky Prospect; 7-812/ 610-6161; wstpetersburg.com.
Burberry's two-year old Brit line has a chic new London home—and its first European location—at Burberry Brit in Covent Garden, which opened May 12 with a Champagne party and concert to kick off its collection of casual weekend wear for men and women (think quilted safari jackets and jersey tees sporting the signature Burberry check print). The label has a young, hip and tech-savvy following, and in addition to showcasing the fashion looks on shiny-black lacquer and polished chrome hardware, the space also embraces synergies with other mediums. For example, it has been outfitted with an enhanced audio system for stage performances, touch-screen video walls that play show footage and live-stream content, and iPod docking stations in every dressing room so that guests can enjoy their own playlists. At 41-41 King St.; 44-203/425-7020; burberry.com.
Smitten Ice Cream, now open in the artsy Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, is a far cry from the ice cream parlors of yore. Housed in a modern, minimalist structure made from two recycled shipping containers, the operation is helmed by Robyn Sue Goldman, who spent two years developing an ice cream machine that runs on liquid nitrogen (its negative-322-degree temperature allows for the formation of exceptionally small ice crystals, giving the dessert a smoother texture). She named it Kelvin, and for two years the business lived in a souped-up Radio Flyer wagon that traveled the city, turning out artisanal ice cream—with absolutely no additives—made to order in 60 seconds. Now in a fixed location, Smitten has a rotating menu with traditional flavors like vanilla and strawberry alongside innovative combinations like poached pear crème fraîche, brown sugar butternut squash and dark chocolate with hot peppers. True to California's locavore ethos, the dairy is sourced from nearly Beretta Organic Farm, while the chocolate comes from TCHO on San Francisco's Pier 17. At 432 Octavia St.; 415-863-1518; smittenicecream.com.
Summer is nearly upon us, and so is the opening of the new Capri in Southampton. From the partners behind W South Beach and The Surf Lodge in Montauk, the hotel is sure to be this year's It spot in the Hamptons, offering 31 beach-chic guest rooms (starting at $400), a Nobu restaurant and a shop curated by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, where guests will be able to pick up newspapers, sunglasses, swimwear and even contemporary art from Rowley's Exhibition A. All the fun, however, will be at The Bathing Club, the hotel's pool, which will feature daybeds, lounge chairs and fire pits. The open-air area will host live music, outdoor screenings and private dining and cocktail affairs. At 281 County Road 39A; 631-204-9037; caprisouthampton.com.
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