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Travel to the world's best

Travel + Leisure readers rank the best cities, islands, hotels and airlines. Managing editor Mark Orwoll shares a look at some of their favorites.

For the eighth year in a row, Travel + Leisure magazine asked its readers to pick which cities, islands, hotels and airlines are their favorites. Mark Orwoll, managing editor of Travel + Leisure magazine shares a look at some of the results of their "World's Best" readers' poll on "Today." Get a glimpse of some of their best of the best here:

The survey
Travel + Leisure worked with Harris Interactive to solicit nearly 200,000 evaluations from the readers of its magazine and web site.

For each category, different areas were ranked. For best city, for example, the areas of rankings were: sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, shopping and value. The overall winner was determined by the indexed averages of the rankings (1-5) in each area.

Travel + Leisure world's best cities -- overall:
Areas ranked: sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, shopping and value.

1. Sydney2. Florence3. Bangkok

Of the eight years of the survey, Sydney has ranked on top for six of those years, proof that Americans (who make up most of T + L readership) love this port city and Australia.

It ranked topped in the people category. Many people think of Sydneysiders, as they are called, as these blonde athletic folks who are surfing at Bondi Beach on their lunch breaks. But actually, one of the things that makes Sydney so interesting is its diversity. Very cosmopolitan. One in three citizens were born elsewhere, 180 nationalities call Sydney home, and that shows itself in shopping and restaurants and the whole street vibe.

Travel + Leisure World's Best Cities -- U.S./Canada:
Areas ranked: sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, shopping and value.

1. New York2. San Francisco3. Santa Fe

This is the third year in a row New York has taken the top spot. There was some speculation that it's 2002 win was the result of a sympathy vote, but win number three has put that to rest.

Right behind NYC is San Francisco, which is a great city. But you can not beat New York, for dining or shopping. And any such sympathy vote did not extend to the people category. Actually, NYC ranked towards the bottom there, but the dining and shopping in NYC is amazing. Those two areas ranked very high and it was enough to put it on top.

Travel + Leisure World's Best Hotels -- overall: Areas ranked: room/facilities, location, service, food/restaurants, business/family

1. The Peninsula, Bangkok2. Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa3. Four Seasons Hotel, Istanbul

The Peninsula Bangkok is a a relatively new hotel. Last year it came in second. More and more people are learning about it. It's the first major hotel built on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River. The shape of the hotel is a pleated W shape. Every room has a view of the river as well as Central Bangkok. The prices are great. The base price is $275/night, but I just checked and they have a deal through September where you can get a room a $140/night. Thai service is world renowned, and the service here got very high marks.

Travel + Leisure World's Best Hotels -- U.S./Canada:Areas ranked: room/facilities, location, service, food/restaurants, business/family

1. The Peninsula, Beverly Hills2. The Peninsula, Chicago 3. The Greenbrier, West Virginia

The Peninsula, Beverly Hills has the most prestigious location of any hotel in America. It's right in that golden triangle between downtown Beverly Hills, right on Santa Monica Blvd and within walking distance of Rodeo Drive. The hotel ranked right near the top in restaurant (the Belvedere was named the best hotel restaurant in Southern California in Zagat) and service as well.

Travel + Leisure World's Best Domestic Airlines:Areas ranked: cabin comfort, food, in-flight service, customer service and value.

1. Midwest Airlines2. Jetblue Airways3. Alaska Airlines

Now, unlike perennial international airline winner Singapore Airlines (renowned for their luxurious service), the appeal of top airlines in the domestic category is what these carriers can deliver in terms of on-time service and minimal hassle.

Travel + Leisure World's Best Islands -- overall:
Areas ranked: natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, shopping, and value.

1. Bali2. Great Barrier Reef Islands3. Santorini

This has been a harrowing year for Bali and there's now a State Department travel advisory warning of potential terrorist risks, although authorities there have recently made significant arrests in that bombing. The readers are saying, however, that it's still a paradise on earth.

Travel + Leisure World's Best Islands -- Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas:A surprising debut on this year's list: Cuba. The rule is this: The Department of Treasury forbids Americans to spend money in Cuba. So if you go to Cuba, the implication is that you must have spent money there. And therefore, if you go and the government can prove it, you can be fined. Cuba ranked very high in each of the island categories. So people are seeing this as a beautiful island, with warm hospitable people and it's affordable. The caveat is that you have to go on an authorized trip (humanitarian, educational, etc.)

Mark Orwoll is managing editor of Travel + Leisure magazine. To read the magazine's full report on their "World's Best" awards, you can visit their Web site at: