Julie Ruditzky Loffredi

Forget logo branded t-shirts and shot glasses. These hotel gift shops forgo stocking their shelves with those usual tchotchkes in favor of products that raise their retail status as high as the penthouse suite! The six shops that make our list make it so you don’t even have to leave the hotel to score some seriously awesome merchandise. After shelling out some green, you can head back to your luxe digs to admire your vacation loot. Now how to pack it all in your suitcase…

The Plaza, New York City

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Heard of the children’s book series Eloise — about a little girl who lives in The Plaza? Well, some clever retail folks made the storybook character come to life. The Eloise Shop at The Plaza offers one-of-a-kind merchandise based on the book series. But you don’t have to be a bookworm to enjoy the hotel’s charm. The century-old, 282-room Plaza is a New York landmark. A $400 million overhaul in 2008 gave the huge rooms gold-plated bathroom fixtures, but it also converted most rooms overlooking Central Park into privately-owned residences (akin to how Eloise lived). The hotel even has an Eloise-themed suite.

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It may not be Malibu, but land-locked surfers in Canada have found some white caps in an unlikely place — rivers. And so now river surfing is all the rage in Calgary these days (no joke). So grab your board and head across the border for some water play. (Just bring your wet suit, because these rivers will be chilly! And we’re not joking about that either…)

The pros at the Alberta River Surfing Association gave us tips on the top spots to ride the river waves in Canada. Check them out after the jump >>

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From the time Maria Maio could walk, she was fascinated with her mother’s makeup drawer. Fast-forward to today, and Maria is one of the industry’s most sought-after makeup artist. Her client roster is filled with A-listers — from pop stars to supermodels. “I love Carnie Wilson,” she gushes. “I also enjoy working with Hilary Duff, whom I am currently with on-set.” Maria is responsible for Duff’s makeup for the new Darren Star show, Younger. “I also loved working with supermodel Paulina Poritzkova,” Maria says. “She is such a pro — and what a great honor to do her makeup!”

Maria splits her time between clients in Los Angeles and New York City, and all that in-flight mileage can easily cause havoc on the skin. As Maria warns, “There is nothing worse than being on a plane for hours! The recycled air causes skin dehydration. And once you exit the plane, you can realize you have a bad case of the uglies.”

Well, the team here at Oyster.com surely don’t want a case of the uglies! (Although, to be honest, we’d take one any day in exchange for an awesome getaway.) So we asked Maria for the inside dish on how travelers can combat the bad skin blues.

Check out her easy tips after the jump to guarantee you’ll have hydrated, glowing skin — even after a transatlantic flight >>

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Everyone has their must-have travel accessories, whether they be neck pillows, eye masks, ear plugs, sneakers — you name it. And now, thanks to technology, that list has grown even longer — which can kinda be a pain. But the gadgets that make out list of travel essentials make traveling so much less of a pain that we’re okay with the fact that our packing list is two pages instead of one. Here are five life-changing travel essentials that you shouldn’t board the plane without.

1. Global Phones

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The SPOT Global Phone may appear to be from the Atari era, but even E.T. could phone home with this bad boy. It can work almost anywhere, so it’s a favorite among adventure types, from mountain climbers to explorers. With its superior voice quality and the fastest satellite-based data speeds in the industry, the SPOT Global Phone keeps you connected well beyond cellular networks. Powered by 100 % satellite technology, the SPOT Global Phone connects you to family, friends, work, and emergency services from virtually anywhere in the world.

$500, SPOT Global

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Maxwell Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy, knows a thing or two about turning up interior charm. He started out his career as an “apartment therapist,” transforming homes into beautiful, organized, and healthy-to-live-in spaces. You could say he’s a bit of a hybrid — part interior designer and part life coach. His style is about comfort, simplicity, and a lack of clutter. Today, his website has become the go-to site for design inspiration. Since our main decor interest here at Oyster.com is hotel-focused, we asked Maxwell to turn his creative eye towards hotel design. We couldn’t wait to hear of his favorite hotel spots around the globe.

See his top picks after the jump >>

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It’s game time, leaf peepers! We are in the midst of peak leaf-peeping season, and you don’t even need to be a binocular-bearing botanist to enjoy fall magic taking shape in the form of beautiful changing leaves across the country. From the White Mountains of New England to the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest — we found plenty of foliage-friendly hotels that give guests a front row seat on the chlorophyll breakdown action. So, if you’re stumped on where to spy purple dogwoods, red sumacs, and orange maples  – look no further, leaf ogler. We branched out to find some of the best lookin’ treetops in the land!

Salish Lodge; Snoqualmie Valley, WA

Salish Lodge & Spa

The Salish Lodge & Spa offers breathtaking views of mother nature’s artwork. Thousands of leaf oglers swarm the Lodge every October to snap images of the bright orange Cascades and gushing waterfalls. The hotel is about 40-minute drive from Seattle  — so bring along that Starbucks pumpkin latte. Most of the property’s 84 rooms have wood-burning fireplaces and peek-a-boo bathrooms with two-person tubs.  Stone fireplaces, stacked firewood, and cashmere throws make this hotel super snuggle-worthy for couples looking for a romantic fall escape.

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We are always amazed how fashionistas never let jet lag cramp their style: Always dressed to impress. Hair and makeup never out of sync. How do they do it? Well we honestly had no idea — until we rounded up some beloved fashion bloggers and begged them to spill their secrets. After reading their tips below, we swear you’ll hit your next flight feeling runway ready!

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1. Avoid Wrinkled Clothes

After a long flight, have you finally unzipped your bag — only to find a full week’s worth of suitcase-smushed outfits? Luckily, there’s an easy fix. First of all, plan ahead — and pack soft, rollable clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily. As CouponPal’s Erin Konrad (@CouponPal) agrees, “I love to pack clothes that don’t wrinkle easily — there’s nothing that makes you look unkempt and frazzled faster than a wrinkled outfit!”

Former fashion buyer Tara Cannon (@pintsizedpilot) of the Pint Sized Pilot suggests that if you must bring wrinkle-prone clothing, to pack a steamer along. She also says “I plan out my outfits beforehand, making sure I have an extra amazing outfit just in case I get invited to a surprise event. I fill the bottom of my suitcase with conversation- worthy, pretty shoes too.”

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Judy Joo, host of Cooking Channel’s Korean Food Made Simple, loves to travel just as much as she loves to cook. With 100 visited countries under her belt, she’s a certified globetrotter — with a knack for spotting the best menus in town. We’re not ones to turn down some insider info, so we sat down with the superstar chef to get the lowdown on her favorite restaurants — in the world’s hottest hotels, of course.

Judy Joo

Click READ MORE to, well, read more about Joo’s favorite hotel restaurants.

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For those looking to ditch the typical 300-square-foot hotel room in favor of a more spacious pad, you are in luck. These days, more and more hotels are catering to the ever-growing crowd that seeks a home-away-from-home vibe by offering guests super-sized suites with tricked-out amenities. Whether its granite kitchen countertops, extra wiggle room, stunning views, added bathrooms, or a bevy of French doors — these hotels all give that spacious apartment vibe any claustrophobic would approve of. And to be clear, these feel less like our tiny studio apartments in NYC and more like the sprawling penthouse pads we can only dream about. So dream on >>

Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, Greater Palm Springs

Aqua Soleil

The larger rooms at Aqua Soleil look straight out of a Pottery Barn or West Elm catalogue. Each suite comes with a king bed, kitchenette, and large balcony with a view of the San Jacinto Mountains, as well as two flat-screen TVs with DVD players and a nice bathroom with a walk-in shower. (Some rooms even have their own personal pool!) This mid-range, 95-room hotel has limited curb appeal, but once on the property’s grounds, guests will find it is attractively landscaped and includes desert flora, a pool and spa filled with mineral water, and seating areas gathered around fire pits.

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Kids may not fret about mortgages and car payments but they’ve still got plenty of reason to de-stress. There’s dating blues, red-marked math exams, bad selfies, embarrassing parents, Justin Bieber drama — and that’s just the short list! So why not treat them to a little time at the spa — just like Mom and Dad! Yes, there are plenty of hotels out there that cater not only to adults but also to tots who need a decompressing massage or a pick-me-up pedicure. Here are our six top picks for hotel spas where kiddies can come along.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Orlando

Nickelodeon Suites After your kid has been walking for hours around a hot Orlando theme park, those little feet could use a nice soak! But the Nick Suites‘ kid spa offers way more than just pedicures and polish. Young guests can do everything from getting ‘inked’ with airbrush tattoos to requesting funky hair braids and feather extensions. Aside from having a super cool spa, this property is also one of Orlando’s best options for families. The property’s 777 suites, all with kitchens or kitchenettes, are spacious and well-designed to sleep families. Bonus: the on-site water park is the perfect spot to show off those freshly-painted toes!

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