Is it really already nearing the end of January? Time to think about some can’t-miss hotels, exhibitions and goings-on for 2010:
* The Irving Penn exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in London starting February 18th. Penn passed away in October, and the retrospective pays homage to one of the most unparalleled photographers in history. Expect shots of notables from Truman Capote to Pablo Picasso.
* The new Four Seasons Beirut, which just opened its doors last week. I have had a bee in my bonnet about visiting Beirut for some time, and the debut of both the Four Seasons and the stylish Le Gray makes a sojourn even more tempting. Look for special weekend and opening offers.
* The opening of Eataly in New York City. There is still no official opening date for this behemoth, but expect the Manhattan outpost of this huge Italian gourmet market to give Whole Foods a real run for its money. Co-owner Joe Bastianich tells me that late spring seems the likely debut.
* Mexican boutique hotel Imanta near Puerto Vallarta. This gorgeous looking property is set to open in February and I am already cooking up a visit. For more travel ideas on that coast, check out my surf story. One of the best trips ever.
* If you missed the Anish Kapoor’s wonderful steel and wax sculptures at the Royal Academy in London, they’re coming to the Guggenheim Bilbao March 16th. It will be the perfect setting for the exhibit’s house of mirrors effect.
* The new Maharajas’ Express launching in March. How sad that the Orient Express train has stopped running, but at least this new Indian railway will be filling in the luxe category.  It will run from Mumbai to Calcutta, taking in sights from the Taj Mahal to Ranthambore National Park. With two restaurant cars, an observation lounge with bar and games tables, and cabins with LCD televisions, Maharajas’ Express seems like it will put a little romance back into train travel.
* The Amanfayun, which just opened last month outside the historic city of Hangzhou. Housed in an old stone village originally founded under the Tang Dynasty, the property seems secluded even though it’s only a 20-minute drive to the city’s countless pagodas, historic temples, and tea plantations along the picturesque West Lake.
Happy travels…