Landlocked Laos might be quieter than Southeast Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand, but 2018 could transform the country into the region’s next hot spot. Wattay International Airport, in the capital of Vientiane, is set to complete a terminal expansion to accommodate more international links next year, but the biggest changes are foot in the UNESCO World Heritage–inscribed town of Luang Prabang, in central Laos. This serene riverside spot lures travelers to its golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, nearby elephant sanctuaries — and now, glamorous new digs. Last year, the design-forward Azerai opened inside a century-old French-colonial building that was formerly an officer’s quarters. The debut concept from Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha has airy, light wood interiors that nod to local culture in their use of batik textiles and Laotian artwork. There’s also an 80-foot swimming pool in a tree-shaded central courtyard. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang aims to be a destination in itself. Opening in mid 2018, this highly anticipated resort will feature pavilion-style villas, luxury tents, and a spa that seems to float above the jungle. —Kate Springer
That network can island off from the larger grid and run on its own, at least for a limited time, if there is a blackout. — David Roberts, Vox, "Clean energy technologies threaten to overwhelm the grid. Here’s how it can adapt.," 30 Nov. 2018 The 21 percent that nest on the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean and the Falkland and Tierra del Fuego islands close to South America would find their nesting grounds altered and would have to travel farther to find food and so might relocate. — Karen Weintraub, New York Times, "King Penguins Are Endangered by Warmer Seas," 26 Feb. 2018 In the offshore world, wealthy people and corporations use the banking systems of low-tax countries, often island nations in the Caribbean, to shield their assets from taxing authorities in their home countries. — David Heinzmann, chicagotribune.com, "Tribune exclusive: Pritzker's secret offshore holdings revealed in Chicago duck boat land deal," 14 Mar. 2018 Critics have said the exemption allowed UBS Group AG to sell funds to island residents that later suffered big losses, wiping out many clients’ life savings. — Ryan Tracy, WSJ, "Lawmakers Expand Scope of Senate Bank-Deregulation Bill," 7 Mar. 2018 To find out why, researchers set out cameras to record clownfish behaviors near North Solitary and Lord Howe islands along Australia’s east coast. — Jennifer Leman, Science | AAAS, "Why some clownfish are boring," 14 Dec. 2017 Authorities were letting residents and business owners to return to Upper Keys islands close to the mainland Tuesday morning, but people from the Lower Keys faced a longer wait. — Jennifer Kay And Doug Ferguson, chicagotribune.com, "Florida makes slow moves toward recovery after Hurricane Irma," 12 Sep. 2017 Dr Toomey’s findings stem from his analysis of sediment cores collected near the Dry Tortugas, islands off Florida’s coast. — The Economist, "PalaeoclimatologyTraces of old hurricanes show how hard climate science is," 19 Oct. 2017 The island was largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the chain's St. Thomas and St. John islands just two weeks ago. — Carlisle Jno Baptiste And Danica Coto, chicagotribune.com, "Hurricane Maria aims at Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica," 19 Sep. 2017
Tel Aviv has attracted a lot of attention for its nightlife and creative culinary scene in recent years. These days its center of gravity has shifted south, to the site of the ancient port town of Jaffa (technically part of the city itself). This month, the Setai opens in a former Ottoman prison; a new W Hotel housed in a 19th-century former convent and pilgrims’ hospice is scheduled to open in March. It’s just the latest in a growing list of upscale hotels, restaurants, and boutiques to arrive among the winding streets of this former fishing village. Jaffa’s once-shabby flea market is now populated by a number of high-end antique dealerships, which sit alongside trendy cafés and bars — many offering live music into the night. Don’t miss Maskit, an iconic Israeli fashion house known for its embroidery that has been recently reincarnated after closing in the 1990s. Numerous interesting chefs have also set up shop among Jaffa’s churches, mosques, and archaeological sites. Try Beit Kandinof, a restaurant housed in a 17th-century building, where creative dishes like artichoke-and-pesto bruschetta are served alongside local art exhibits. —Sara Toth Stub
During the summer of 2015, Islands simultaneously recorded two records: Should I Remain Here, At Sea? — a spiritual successor to the band's debut album, Return to the Sea — and Taste, a "more electronic" album "buoyed by drum machines, programming and vintage synths." The albums were released on May 13, 2016 via the band's own Manqué label, reaching #21 and #23 on the Billboard Heatseeker charts, respectively.