The Good Life

Travel: The Play's the Thing

All the world may be a stage, but many of this year's best productions will be mounted in Stratford on Avon this spring. England's Royal Shakespeare Company is launching the "Complete Works" festival in the Bard's hometown. Starting April 23 (Will's birthday), the yearlong festival will feature--for the first time--all 37 of Shakespeare's plays and all his poems. The RSC's many theaters, as well as the surrounding streets, will be filled more than usual with all things Shakespeare, including a free outdoor film festival and a concert of the sonnets set to music by artists like Natalie Merchant. The RSC is staging 23 of the productions, while companies from as far afield as India, Japan and South Africa will contribute 30 more. Our picks: "The Tempest," starring Patrick Stewart; Ian McKellen in "King Lear"; "The Baghdad Richard" featuring an Arabic cast, and a musical, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," starring Judi Dench. Buy tickets at rsc? ; prices range from $9 for standing room to $95.

Stratford-on-Avon, a medieval market town northwest of London, is a lovely place to spend a few days. Check into the recently refurbished Shake-speare Hotel, dating back to 1637 (from $240; macdonald ). Or splurge at the sprawling Menzies Welcombe country-house hotel (from $450; ). Eat hearty pub food at the legendary Dirty Ducky, where Laurence Olivier hung out. Or try the stylish new Oscar's Cafe for traditional fare with a modern twist, like grilled sea bass with fennel salad. But as King Lear said, "Nothing comes from nothing," so start planning now.

For anyone who still needs proof that the Emerald Isle is no longer all pubs and pints of Guinness, this chic new hotel in Dublin's burgeoning Sandyford business district (25 minutes by tram from the city center) will do the trick to perfection.

n Ambience: The long glass entrance wall welcomes guests into a palace of hip design. Glass chandeliers are splayed playfully on the floor, tables are made out of four-poster beds, a crystal bar flickers with candlelight and, all the while, a DJ spins funky beats in the background.

n The rooms: A leather-walled elevator whisks residents to oblong rooms that would be more in keeping with an Oriental spa. Giant frosted-glass-cube bathrooms boast natural-stone sinks, rustic wooden benches and rainfall showers.

n The food: Enhancing the Beacon's international atmosphere, the My Thai restaurant--arguably Dublin's best Asian haunt--offers traditionally spicy dishes served with presentational flair. Don't miss the fish noodle soup, which the elegant and ethnically diverse wait staff cooks right at your table.

n The drinks: Forget about Guinness. The flagship cocktail of this top table is the elegant White Cosmopolitan, made with white cranberry juice.

Take a break from your meetings to walk along the tree-lined waterways. If you've got a few hours to kill, head to Old Town. coffee on the terrace of In de Waag, built inside an old city gate with fairy-tale spires (open 10 a.m. to midnight, 4 Nieuwmarkt, tel. 31-20-422-77-72).

Our Lord in the Attic, a hidden 17th-century chapel where Roman Catholics worshiped during the Reformation (40 Oudezijds Voorburgwal, tel. 31-20-624-66-04).

at the generous salad bar at Cafe de Jaren on the Amstel River (Open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, 20 Nieuwe Doelenstraat, tel. 31-20-625-57-71).

around the peaceful courtyard of medieval Begijnhof village, which dates back to 1475 (off the Spui).

doubly salty licorice, a Dutch favorite, from the old apothecary Jacob Hooy (12 Kloveniersburgwal).

Bad-hair day? You've got options. A new breed of intensive conditioners use ingredients normally lavished on the face. La Prairie's Cellular Intensive Hair Repair Mask ($275; ) mimics anti-aging skin technology to stimulate oxygen supply to the scalp and restore elasticity. JF Lazartigue Home Spa Essential is a made-to-measure pre-shampoo potion of fatty acids, lipid nutrients and anti-oxidants (150 pounds; ). And don't forget styling products: Frederic Fekkai's classic hairbrush softens with enough grip-control to straighten shorter styles or create waves in longer ones. The weapon of choice by salon stylists? The Xion Ergonomics Ceramic Hair Dryer dries hair with a moist heat, eliminating coarseness, reducing frizz ($270; www . ).

Look at it. hips as voluptuous as Marilyn Monroe's, the sexy Cayman S is almost indecent. And that voice. The Cayman's 3.4-liter, 295-horsepower, flat-6 engine emits a satisfying chorus all the way up to its 7,200-rev limit. There's loads of power all over the low gears but, more impressive, there's ample torque in the high gears, too. And the S in its name means there's a little sport button that, when pushed, firms up the shocks and remaps the acceleration so that less pressure on the pedals is needed. Best of all, I felt absolute control over the car because of the Cayman S's tight chassis, balanced midengine placement, precise steering and big cross-drilled and vented disc brakes, which improve performance on damp roads. The memories of our dreamy week together still haunt me. Tara Weingarten

Say goodbye to boring gray and black laptops. Next month the Dutch company Ego Lifestyle BV will start selling the Ego, a round, lightweight (2.6 kilos excluding battery), computer-PDA-portable DVD/CD player. The device comes with two sets of skins: either Alcantra, a faux-suede material in black leather, leopard, orange or beige; or spray-painted plastics in raspberry red and black (price unavailable; ). Celebrities have already embraced Flybook by Dialogue, a Taiwanese company. The tiny 1.2-kilo laptop comes in shiny colors like dark blue, dark red, yellow and white. It's also crammed with memory and includes a widescreen display that folds against the keyboard to function as a tablet--stylus included ($2,490; ). So hip you'll never want to tuck it in your briefcase again.