NY Foodie Seeks Tips from a Food and Wine-Loving Angeleno

Last Friday Joie de Vivre, a boutique hotel company with properties throughout California, relaunched its Web site and introduced a wild new travel planning tool to help people customize their California vacations. The section that intrigued me most is an online community called California Connect, where locals and travelers can exchange travel tips. It reminds me of a combination of MySpace and Match.com. Users create profiles by answering questions about their interests. Your answers are then used to create what the site calls a “people map” so you can discover others with similar interests. As you check off “adventurous and rugged,” interested in “food and wine,” located in “Los Angeles,” the list of community profiles narrows until only those matching your criteria remain. You can then contact your matches for advice on where to eat and drink, sights to see and best places to stay, or simply read people’s profiles to see if they’ve already listed any favorite local haunts. Some profiles read a bit like singles ads (“an epicurious traveler who likes to walk downtown and shop the Embarcadero Farmers Market”) and regions are limited to those in which Joie de Vivre has properties: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Marin and wine country. But the concept is a fun way to find off-the-beaten-path spots recommended by like-minded locals.

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