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entertainment

Slumming in Style

Summertime. Supposed to mean vacation, right? So why are you still chained to your desk, depressed that the only glow you’ll get this year is from the odd toxic rays from your computer?

Before you resignedly drag your beach towel to the roof again, allow us to present you with the first edition of DailyCandy Travel. The theme: stylish yet affordable hot spots.

Sunny Side Up
different-world.jpg Away. All I want to do is get away. No phones. No fax. No e-mail. No office intercom. Oh, and forget TV, air-conditioning, and electricity after 10 p.m. No, really, it’s fun. That’s why everyone loves Tulum, Mexico. But its best-kept secret is Cabanas La Conchita. (Save Maya Tulum for the wheatgrass-swilling yogaheads.) This casita-style resort knows how to kick up the romance after dark. Every room has a queen-size bed and is nestled under a palapa roof. Candlelight is optional after sundown, so curl up in bed early. All the better to rise for an all-inclusive fresh fruit and juice breakfast, with eggs done your way. It’s the perfect place to catch up on your z’s, read to your heart’s content, laze at the beach, and check out some culture. Visit the Mayan ruins on a bluff overlooking the sea. Bring lots of bug repellent and sunscreen. You’ll need it. For information, log onto differentworld.com

coralbay.jpg Phallic Rocks. Need We Say More?
Summer is monsoon season on the western side of Thailand, so head to the gulf side and check out the Hinta Hinya phallic rocks, the Hin Lad Na Muang waterfalls, and the Secret Buddha garden. Or spend a couple of weeks on Koh Samui island at the Coral Bay Resort. Bungalows, bar, and some of the best Thai food on the island (not for the weak of stomach). Better still are the hotel’s PADI diving courses, elephant trekking, and pearl diving. For information, log onto coralbay.net.

Ana-Mandara.jpg Vietnam? Really?
Yes, really. Nha Trang beach, to be precise. Here’s how it’s done: Fly into Ho Chi Minh City and rent a bike to get there, scoping rice paddies and ancient temples in the Mekong Delta along the way. Then reward yourself with a stay at the Ana Mandara Spa Resort, located on its own private tropical gardens, with the South China Sea as backdrop. The architecture and hospitality are those of a traditional Vietnamese village; the spa is heaven. Not a landlubber? Skip the biking and dive in for a gander at the beautiful coral and tropical fish. Once the sun goes down, sip cocktails at the poolside bar, while bobbing to the beats of the (Filipino) band. For information, log onto sixsenses.com.

samoanaresort.jpg Endless Summer
Dust off that old Jan and Dean CD and bust out the sex wax. Because the Sa’Moana Resort on Upolu Island in Samoa is all about shared bathrooms, bunking with your buddies, and surfing, surfing, surfing. You’ll also find volleyball, football, snorkeling, and fishing; most sporting equipment is provided free of charge, and since you’re bound to work up an appetite, they provide your meals, too. The resort is easygoing and casual and has rooms decorated in a simple Polynesian style. For those who just can’t hang ten in a community bathroom, upgrade to a bungalow with private facilities. For information, log onto samoanaresort.com.

korakia.jpg Palm Springs Eternal
Stuck stateside? No need to despair. Palm Springs is teeming with options calling your name, but our favorite is Korakia, a pensione modeled after a Moroccan villa. It is, hands down, the region’s most stylish destination. Owner Doug Smith is a gem and knows how to give good getaway. Wake up to the sound of opera playing, drink coffee on the patio, and then dash into town and buy yourself a picnic lunch so that you can nibble on wine and cheese while lounging poolside. And be sure to bring that special someone for a private massage a deux. Authentic antique Moroccan furnishings, olive trees, and arched doorways will make you swear you’ve just stepped off the set of Casablanca. For information, log onto korakia.com.

See? You don’t have to drop your life savings on an unforgettable vacation. Choose the path less traveled and you’ll be the envy of all your friends.