Jane Reynolds

napa lead image-001It’s been over two months since the 6.o earthquake that rocked Napa Valley caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. With the help of federal aid, various fundraisers, and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, the popular California destination is nearly back to business as usual, just in time for the harvest season. Almost all wineries are fully operational once again, and hotels that had to temporarily close — such as Andaz Napa and the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel — have since reopened. The Westin Verasa, which sustained significant damage — mostly due to burst pipes and leaks — has also reopened, but at a much smaller capacity. All facilities — such as the pool and restaurants — are available to guests, but only about 60 of the total 180 rooms are available for occupancy. Therefore, the hotel is taking no new reservations for October and November, and the staff is happy to assist guests with current reservations for those months to reschedule or book at another Westin property. We will continue to keep you updated on its progress!

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Owning and operating a hotel is a full-time job, and many of those who devote their lives to the hospitality industry specialize in all things hotel — and that’s it. But there are some unlikely faces in the exclusive “hotel owners of the world” club (hey, it probably exists) that got their starts in other industries; in fact, most of them have their hands in many pots and own their hotels while simultaneously acting, directing, cooking, designing, singing, running a country….you name it! So here we bring you nine surprising hotel owners, from chefs to sultans.

The Greenwich Hotel, owned by Robert De Niro

Greenwich Hotel

The Greenwich Hotel is the hub of Robert De Niro’s personal TriBeCa monopoly: he’s co-owner of the hotel, and also owns its direct neighbors, Locanda Verde restaurant and the Tribeca Film Center. Other owners include developers Ira Druker and Richard Born, of the Mercer and Bowery hotels — both of which are celebrity magnets. The Greenwich also attracts its fair share of stars with its gorgeous, homey rooms and sexy underground spa.

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This property is NEW on Oyster! With 25 freestanding cottages along a 20-acre bird sanctuary, this hilly resort is one of just a handful of hotels on Harbour Island. Understated sophistication is the vibe here; the grounds are peaceful (except for the roaming roosters), and the occasional celeb, such as Paul McCartney and his family, can be found bunkering down in the Banyan Tree Estate Home (shown above). Most guests seem happy to spend their days simply soaking up the sun at Pink Sands Beach — a beautiful and unspoiled three-mile stretch of sand from which the resort takes its name. Ocean view cottages offer outstanding panoramas from the patios and private walking paths to the beach, but cost almost twice as much as garden view cottages. Room decor mixes modern and tradition, with sleek wooden bed frames, romantic open-style showers, and screened-in windows that allow breezes to float in from all sides, for a truly tranquil stay in the Bahamas

Click through the jump to see even more beautiful pics of what makes this spot a celebrity favorite >>

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Staying in a New England inn during foliage season is the quintessential fall vacation. If you’re conjuring up images of historic mansions, elegant antiques, thick oriental rugs, and cozy fireplaces for those crisp fall nights – well, you’re right on the money. These ten inns all have charm to spare.

Ale House Inn, New Hampshire

Ale House Inn

The cozy 10-room Ale House Inn — more suited to adults than families — is housed in a historic 130-year-old former brewery warehouse a block from downtown Portsmouth. Room decor is minimalist, hip, and chic, but there isn’t much to this boutique hotel other than a small lobby and common area with free snacks. There is no on-site restaurant or bar, but the Market Square District location means shops and dining are nearby. The hotel gives free tickets to the Seacoast Rep Theater, which is located on the ground floor, and a free local beer upon arrival. Each room is equipped with a pre-loaded iPad that includes a ton of information about Portsmouth.

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Today is the first official day of fall, and while saying goodbye to the summertime is no easy feat…well, we don’t really have a choice. But to be honest, we’re looking forward to the days of football and beer, leaves crunching under our boots, and crackling fireplaces. And nowhere in the country does the fall season better than New England. So whether you’re planning a getaway to Massachusetts or Rhode Island, Vermont or New Hampshire, or Connecticut or Maine, we have a fun fall activity to get you in the seasonal spirit!

Go: Pumpkin Picking in Vermont

VT pumpkin picking

New England is replete with pumpkin-picking patches and Vermont has some of the best. While Stowe is often associated with winter skiing, it’s also prime for fall picking. With tons of open space and rolling hills, it is home to numerous farms where visitors can pick apples, pumpkins, and other produce.

Stay: Stowe Mountain Lodge

Stowe Mountain Lodge is one of the top luxury properties in Vermont, and offers rustic elegance throughout — from the impressive lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows to the bright, contemporary rooms. This property has a lot in the way of amenities, particularly for the area: an inviting spa, big outdoor pool with mountain views, acclaimed restaurant, state-of-the-art fitness center, 18-hole golf course, and great children’s program. 

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When in Paris, it’s wise to do as the Parisians do – stroll the cobblestone streets, people-watch from sidewalk cafes for hours, and eat way too much bread (even if it is Fashion Week, which kicks off on Tuesday). And it’s also smart to do a little research before you make the trip to ensure that you find the hotel that’s perfectly suited for your fashionista style. Fortunately, we here at Oyster.com do the majority of that work for you. We recently visited a bunch of Parisian hotels, and took tons of photos and notes in order to bring you in-depth reviews and truthful photos so what you see is what you get. Here, we bring you a dozen gorgeous hotels, complete with hundreds of photos and detailed reviews, that are stylish enough for a stay during Paris Fashion Week. Enjoy!

1. La Maison Favart

Maison Favart

This upscale, 30-room boutique hotel is one of the best choices in Paris, and offers surprisingly competitive rates for the level of luxury. It is named for the founder of the Opera Comique across the street, and the decor blends influences of the 18th century theater with modern trends. Rooms are chic and sport colorful accents, as well as thoughtful amenities such as iPod docks, bathrobes, towel warmers, and flat-screen TVs with free movies. Several metro lines are nearby, and popular sights such as the Louvre are within walking distance. Just note that the (excellent) breakfast buffet is an extra fee, and that the Classic Rooms are quite small.

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Are you a fan of the fall? Love showing off your awesome travel photography to your friends? We know we sure do at Oyster! Join in on the fun by sharing your best fall travel photos with us. Simply submit your pics on Facebook, or use the #OysterPics hashtag with your shot on Instagram or Twitter, and we may end up sharing your pic and featuring it on our blog! Take a look at the lucky Oyster fans who got their summer shots on the blog for inspiration…

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Atlantic Citycasino 2-001 has had a rough couple of weeks, as numerous of its hotels have shut their doors. First, there was Showboat, then Revel, and now — what Donald Trump once called possibly the finest building in the nation – the Trump Plaza closed today after over 30 years in operation. Guests have reported that its decline has been apparent over the years, particularly recently. Want bedspreads or ice machines? Forget about it! But nonetheless, we here at Oyster love hotels so we’re always sad to see one go under. And rumor has it that its sister property, The Trump Taj Mahal, will likely close come November. [USA Today]

Let’s take a walk down memory lane at the Trump Plaza that once was…but is no longer >>

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Fall is in the air…Which means it’s time to plan your cozy cool-weather escape! We’re dreaming of New England inns, mountain lodges, and sophisticated urban retreats. Whatever your fall fancy, we’re here to help make it happen! We’re giving away $500 toward your fall trip. All you have to do is sign up with your e-mail…Really, that’s it! And you can refer friends to get extra entries. Pretty cool, huh?

Enter on Facebook, or if you’d rather not, just enter using this form and the subject line “Sweepstakes Entry.” If you do use Facebook, don’t forget to “like” us — we love to be liked.

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Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.19.42 AMAlthough it has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, Odile made landfall in Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas as a Category 3 hurricane on Monday. No deaths were reported, but over 100 people were treated for minor injuries, and numerous residents and tourists were displaced and forced to seek cover in various hotels. Some hotels, however, did not fare so well. The luxurious Hilton resort suffered major damage and lost power, while the neighboring Melia Cabo Real (pictured to the left) also lost power and sustained damage such as blown out windows and doors. The Los Cabos International Airport is closed until further notice. Hurricane-prone destinations can offer some pretty tempting rates during high hurricane season, but always keep your safety in mind first. Check out some of our favorite hurricane-proof locales[Associated Press]

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