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The Wedding Pavilion at Ladera overlooks St. Lucia's awe-inspiring landscapes.

This unique luxury resort in St. Lucia provides a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind setting for an exchanging of “I dos.” The Ladera is made up of 32 one- and two-bedroom villas, each carefully carved into the surrounding hillside overlooking the island’s iconic twin Pitons. These villas – which have missing fourth walls, and in most cases, private plunge pools — are a main draw, as are the spectacular views and lush grounds. The resort also features some fabulous amenities, such as an infinity lagoon pool, a gorgeous open-air restaurant and bar, an (albeit tiny) open-air fitness center, and a lovely spa with black water soaking baths, perfect for calming any nerves before the big day. All of this comes at a price, but the Ladera nonetheless offers significantly cheaper (by about half) rates than the ultra-glam Jade Mountain. Ladera is also within close range of several of the island’s top tourist attractions: Notable cocoa plantations are within walking distance, the pristine white sands of Jalousie beach are a short drive away, and popular spots like the volcano and Tet-Paul nature trails are nearby — so you and your guests won’t lack for things to do before and after the wedding.

The resort boasts that weddings at Ladera are “perfect in every way” — and it’s pretty hard to dispute that claim. The Wedding Pavilion, seen here, overlooks the world heritage Piton Mountains, St. Lucia’s lush rain forests, and the Caribbean Sea 1,000 feet below. Ceremonies are as memorable as the setting, and are  arranged quite easily thanks to an on-site wedding specialist. There are three wedding packages couples can choose from, the most basic of which includes the handling of legal documents, securing a wedding officiant, and reserving the pavilion. The next tier includes the floral wedding arch, champagne and canapes, and a wedding cake, while the most extravagant package also includes floral arrangements, music (steel drums or a guitarist), a Romantic Bliss Massage for two, a private candlelight dinner for two with one bottle of Ladera wine, and a sunset cruise. For intimate, extravagant weddings — or elopements (sometimes you just gotta do it your way!) — there is no place more unique or stunning. Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Ladera Resort here »  Read More »

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Here at Oyster, we pride ourselves on intensively visiting, photographing, and reviewing every single hotel we feature on our site. Our photos are undoctored and honest, but on our travels, we’ve found that the hotel’s marketing photos can be heavily retouched or cropped mysteriously. Our Photo Fakeouts are legendary – just look at the Sexy Lady Phenomenon — and we felt it was only appropriate that as we expand our coverage, we expand our Fakeout repertoire, too. So today, check out our newest find: quite an impressive pool crop by the folks over at the Marigot Beach Club in St. Lucia. See for yourself »

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This week’s little slice of heaven comes courtesy of the twins Pitons — or at least with a killer view of ‘em. Seen from the two-bedroom villa with plunge pool, the Pitons are St. Lucia’s most spectacular natural wonder — and the Ladera Resort boasts endless beauty shots of them. But this hotel also features some fabulous amenities, such as an infinity lagoon pool, a gorgeous open-air restaurant and bar, a (tiny) open-air fitness center, and a lovely spa with black water soaking baths. Plus, prices are far more accessible than those at the nearby, ultra-glam Jade Mountain Resort. Not too shabby, right? So as we always say, take a deep breath, relax, and soak in the Monday Morning goodness that is the Ladera.

Just pretend that you woke up to this view. It's almost as good as actually being there.

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Pool and View from The Room at the Jade Mountain Resort

The pool and view from The Room at the Jade Mountain Resort; St. Lucia

If nothing else, the Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia boasts insanely gorgeous views. Braced against a mountain about 100 feet above the shore, and pointed at St. Lucia’s iconic Pitons (volcanic plugs), the boutique resort has just 29 rooms. Almost all of the enormous suites overlook the sea from chromatherapy-lit whirlpool tubs, canopied beds, and private infinity pools. And the service is pretty fabulous, too. Two “major domos” are assigned to each room –  staffers on-call from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to cater to pretty much any need, no matter how obscure. It comes at a high price, but a stay at the Jade Mountain Resort – with its its organic cuisine, doting service, peaceful ambience (no TVs, radios, or children allowed), and amazing views — is worth the cost. Check out more amazing photos of the hotel after the jump or read the full review here >>

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Believe it or not, we took this shot from inside a guest room at the Jade Mountain Resort in Saint Lucia (most rooms have a private infinity pool).

Believe it or not, we took this shot from inside a guest room at the Jade Mountain Resort in Saint Lucia. (Most rooms have a private infinity pool.)

On March 1, the series finale of ABC’s The Bachelor will take place on the Celestial Terrace of the iconic Jade Mountain Resort on the idyllic Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Over the past few weeks, fans of the show — as well as anyone who’s watched anything on ABC without the help of Tivo — will have heard “St. Lucia really is the most romantic place on earth” or “There is no better place to fall in love than St. Lucia” about as many times as they’ve heard the expression “Take home the gold.”

Which begs the question: What’s so great about St. Lucia? A remote, lush, mountainous beachfront terrain is stunning, no doubt, but this can be found elsewhere in the Caribbean — Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antonio, Jamaica is just one example — as well as around the globe in places like the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii or Ko Chang in Thailand. So what about this particular locale makes all the staged romance feel so spectacular? The answer is simple: Jade Mountain.

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For many of us, long days at the office, stress, and errands can get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. So we often look at our vacations not as a chance for a calorie binge (well, not always), but as a chance to hit the reset button and get back to our exercise and fitness regimens. And those who do manage to stay fit year-round may not want to part with their healthy lifestyle choices when they go away for a week or two. After all, there’s a lot to be said for the mind-body connection — and considering that September is Yoga Month, it feels like there’s no better time for a calming, healthy getaway. From a rustic yoga retreat to a luxe private island escape, these are the 14 best spots for a health and wellness vacation.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Bahamas

Yoga Retreat

Those looking for a relaxed vacation with some yoga thrown in should look elsewhere. This is a serious ashram by an established group (there are nine Sivananda Yoga Ashrams throughout the world) and the 5:30 a.m. wake-up bell proves it. Guests focus on postures, breathing, positive thinking, and meditation, and have some free time to take advantage of the beautiful beach setting. Seemingly a world away from neighboring mega-resort Atlantis, this five-and-a-half acre oasis has a range of accommodations from tents to Beachfront Suites (most rooms have shared bathrooms, though). Two vegetarian meals are prepared daily right after each two-hour yoga class , while morning and evening satsangs (a mix of meditation, chanting, lectures, singing and dancing) help create a sense of community. Extra workshops and lectures are built into the daily schedule, and there’s a wellbeing center for massage treatments and Ayurvedic body treatments.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

The Caribbean oftentimes musters up images of massive beach resorts. Even some of the most luxurious options can be teeming with crowds that filter from the various restaurants to the packed beaches to the lively pool scene, frequented by both splashing kids and partying co-eds. But during our travels around the islands, we’ve also found plenty of quiet hidden gems. These beachfront boutiques have the look and vibe of a casual oceanside hut – but nonetheless deliver a hotel-like experience with on-site amenities and activities, and quaint, well-designed rooms. Explore our 10 favorite low-key properties on the Caribbean sands.

Coyaba Beach Resort, Jamaica

 Coyaba

For travelers who want to enjoy a resort experience but still prefer a more intimate hotel, the Coyaba Beach Resort is an attractive upper-middle-range option. The 50 plantation-style rooms are spacious, and guests won’t feel crowded or cramped at the private beach (even though it’s small). An all-inclusive option lets guests dine and drink on the property, and couples will likely appreciate the spa services, lush gardens providing shade and privacy, and the quiet pool.

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We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.

The Hotel: Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey

Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.

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Many hotels that we visit are housed in brand-spanking-new buildings, erected in recent years for the sole purpose of being the site of that “just opened” Marriott or Four Seasons. But some properties, recently opened ones and historic ones alike, instead reinvent old spaces to create the hotels that visitors call home during their vacations. And some of these old buildings have quite the story to tell! From prisons to plantations, the 10 hotels on this list were once the sites of quite different operations, and all have storied – whether eerie or interesting or just downright weird – pasts.

 Liberty Hotel, Boston

Liberty Hotel

For nearly 150 years, this tall granite building was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston’s most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the prison design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. The result is stunning, with nearly 300 rooms, a 90-foot-tall atrium, winding catwalks, and high, circular windows that flood the lobby with light. The hotel’s popular restaurants and bars play on the jailhouse theme with names like Alibi, Clink, and The Yard.

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What’s the secret to a great family vacation? Finding a location that allows everyone to explore and have fun – at their own pace. A spot where the kids (most likely bursting with energy) can have a blast while you enjoy a relaxing massage and a margarita…or several margaritas. (Go ahead – it’s vacation.) And generally a beach destination can deliver on all these fronts. So we’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly, tropical vacation spots that feature safe and fun places to play, kid-friendly restaurants, and all sorts of activities, even if the sun goes into hiding for a day or two. And Mom and Dad will be just as happy at these spots as well.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort and Spa With ten pools, a sprawling (45,000-square-foot) water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the family-friendly Beaches is one of the most features-heavy resorts in Turks and Caicos. With a pirate-themed Sesame Street Treasure Caravan; 12 miles of white sand beach; pools staffed by lifeguards; Pirate’s Island Waterpark featuring two waterslides; AND Crayola Art Camps (whew!), your little ones can be entertained while you head for a rum punch. For the tweens and teens, there’s a Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, a (teen-appropriate) nightclub and lounge, an Xbox games garage, and even a DJ academy.

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