Active Travel

During our travels this summer, we’ve visited some amazing urban destinations, where our days have been filled with the cacophony of cars, and live music pouring from local bars and clubs after dark. And while these urban adventures are almost always exciting, they’ve taught us better than anything else that sometimes you’ve just gotta get outta the concrete jungle and into the wild! Luckily, you don’t have to disappear into the African bush (unless you want to!) to interact with nature, or mingle with some of the spiny, furry or feathery locals. These six hotels can get you up-close and personal to some serious wildlife — without sacrificing your creature (we love a pun) comforts. So pack your camera and binoculars; it’s time to make your escape!

1. andBeyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, Botswana

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This ultra-remote, luxurious safari lodge on an island in Botswana‘s Okavango Delta isn’t a hotel, it’s an experience, where everything — including the excellent food and the guided excursions (game drives, bush walks, river cruises) — is included in the price of the stay. andBeyond Xaranna guests can get up close to exotic wildlife on both land and water (think: lions and hippos), and even arriving to the property is an adventure, requiring transport by small plane, safari vehicle, and a boat. The nine safari “tents” are fully screened in and thoroughly high-end, with huge soaking tubs, four-poster beds, lots of wood, and private pools. The decor blends rustic charm with bright, contemporary style — not an obvious combination, but it mostly works. And don’t be surprised if you spot an unannounced guest hanging around the dining areas!

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

Just getting to a destination can be part of the thrill of a vacation. And even if winding roads, long boat rides, and flights on tiny planes aren’t necessarily your idea of fun, the rewards of all that travel — i.e., tranquil, relaxing locales, far removed from the crowds — are often more than worth it. Throughout our travels, we’ve been to a handful of super-remote resorts and hotels — and we’ve made it back to share them with you! Although to be honest, we really didn’t want to leave any of the ones that made our list. Venture into the wild, and over hill-and-dale, at these ten super remote hotels around the world.

1. andBeyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, Botswana

andBeyond

This luxe camp is located on an island that is part of a massive, 62,000-acre wildlife preserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Arriving to the hotel requires a flight in a small plane, a short ride in a safari vehicle, and then a boat trip to the lodge’s dock (during which guests will first get to experience the delta’s natural beauty). But the hotel is more an experience,  where everything — including the excellent food and the guided excursions (game drives, bush walks, river cruises) — is included in the price of the stay.

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Travel may be our specialty, but fortunately our time hitting the road to visit hotels and show you what they’re really like has granted us plenty of time to also hit the links. We’ve teed up at some pretty amazing courses — at some equally amazing resort properties — and each round has had something special about it. But some of our very favorites have been those with spectacular views. So what if you double-bogey when all you can see is crystal-clear ocean for miles? (Well, maybe don’t answer that.) Here are ten courses with amazing views that are worth a trip.

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

 Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica

The Four Seasons‘ par-72 championship golf course, designed by Arnold Palmer, has panoramic ocean views from four of its holes, and the surrounding forests are rich with wildlife (including both howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys). It’s a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, meaning its construction was, and its operation is, more environmentally sensitive than your typical golf course.

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The Caribbean, the West Coast, and North America’s ski resorts…. During the winter months, these spots are bustling with tourists who are either looking to escape the cold, or are seeking it out for that fresh powder. But summer months see their crowds dispersing for destinations like the beaches of the East Coast, Europe, and theme parks around the world, where temperatures are generally high — as are the prices. That’s why we think it’s a great idea to not overlook your favorite wintery getaway as a possible summertime escape. Not only are hotel rates nearly cut in half, but winter destinations can be just as fun (dare we say more so?!) in the summer as they are during peak season. Here are eight popular winter destinations where you can enjoy an amazing, and affordable, summer getaway!

1. Cancun

Fiesta Coral

Not surprisingly, Cancun’s busiest months are those around winter and spring breaks, when hordes of college students descend upon the white-sand shores to party and lounge poolside. Even early June, though it technically falls during low season, can be a busy time for Cancun tourism as families treat their tots to summer vacations. By the end of the month, however, this beach destination starts to clear out — which means beautiful, uncrowded waters and great deals on hotels. It may be warm, but the crystal-clear ocean is right at your toe tips and the culinary scene is still bustling. September sees particularly low rates — but be prepared for potential hurricane weather!

Where to Stay: Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort & Spa

While not all-inclusive, to which many guests attribute the resort’s quiet atmosphere, the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort & Spa has three restaurants; three poolside bars, including a swim-up bar; and a lobby bar. The extensive and beautifully designed spa, billed as the only in Latin America with a 10-step hydrotherapy program, is a big draw.

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world cupOne country. 12 stadiums. 32 teams. 64 games. The FIFA World Cup — the world’s most popular sporting event, which draws over three billion viewers — kicks off (who doesn’t love a sporting pun?) June 12 in Brazil. And though soccer is the very life-blood of South America, this year’s tournament marks the first time since 1978 that the games will be held in a South American country. Now, American fans may have a dismal reputation among the world’s soccer fanatics (except for our friends in the Pacific Northwest — we see you, Seattle), but that just means that now is the perfect time for redemption, especially considering that this year’s World Cup is bound to be a particularly electrifying tournament. Here, Oyster lets you in on some trade secrets for watching, cheering, and attending the games. Pack up your jersey — but, please, leave your vuvuzellas at home — and get ready for a month of offsides, red cards, penalty kicks, and goals. “Ole ola!” Read More »

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Nothing manmade can rival Mother Nature at her finest, and this summer is a fabulous time to visit the country’s most gorgeous natural wonders. Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip or a quick weekend getaway, our home states are themselves home to some pretty breathtaking sights that are worth a visit. From Yosemite National Park in California to Hawaii’s vast natural glory, these nine spots are the most beautiful natural wonders in the U.S. — and arguably, in the world. Oh, and of course, we give you great hotel recommendations nearby for each (and many actually boast views of our top Mother Nature picks).

Haleakala National Park

1. Haleakala National Park, Maui

Considered a sacred spot by many locals, Haleakala National Park is Maui’s most-visited attraction, bringing in 1.3 million visitors annually. Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, literally means “House of the Sun,” a fitting name considering the spectacular sunrises that can be viewed from the summit.

Where to Stay: The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas

Not your typical time-share, this multifaceted Kaanapali resort features amenities that rival the area’s mid- to high-end hotel chains — fitness center, kids’ club – along with massive, stylish units and an atmosphere heavily geared to families.

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Finally, the temperatures across the states — and around the world — have begun to rise and it’s got us itching to get out in the great outdoors. While exploring completely unchartered territory can be quite the adventure (sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a not-so-good way), we’re the types who prefer resort camping grounds; the tent is already assembled, the amenities are plentiful, and staff is on hand should you need some assistance — way better than having to ask the creepy guy in the neighboring tent, in our opinion. Here are our five favorite resorts for camping this spring and summer.

El Capitan

1. El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara

Twenty miles north of Santa Barbara, situated on 300 acres of canyon wilderness, El Capitan Canyon offers a camping, or “glamping,” experience with enough modern conveniences to satisfy travelers who would rather just semi-rough it. Guests stay in cabins, tents, or yurts; only cabins have en-suite bathrooms. All accommodations have electricity and wooden floors. El Capitan Canyon provides the fun and adventure of camping but with many of the comforts of a hotel.

 

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It’s officially slugger season and the Oyster gang can’t wait to check out a game. Although we may be divided between the Yanks and the Mets here in NYC, one thing we all can agree on is that there’s nothing quite like a spring day at the ballpark. And we’re sure that from coast to coast, other ball fans are donning their jerseys and prepping their gloves for some fly ball action at their own home stadiums. But which cities are the best for ballplayers and fans alike? Where are the fans most loyal, and the stadium just right? Now granted, this is a question that could illicit more fights than the upcoming Dodgers versus Giants showdown in October. But we’re brave enough to give it a go… Here are Oyster’s eight favorite cities for baseball, as well as the MVP hotels nearby. Batter up!

1. St. Louis 

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If there ever was an ideal baseball city, St. Louis would be it. It’s not just that the Cardinals’ fans are fantastic, or that they consistently sell out their stadium to cheer on the home team. It’s not just that the team itself — 2013′s World Series runner-up — is consistently one of the best in the league. And it’s not just that Busch Stadium III is one of the most gorgeous around, or that management in St. Louis is superb. It’s all those things rolled into one big baseball diamond.

Stay: Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark

Not just any hotel in St. Louis can get away with using the word “Ballpark” in the name, but the Hilton — with its unmatched view of Busch Stadium — rightfully claims the moniker. Plus, the trendy rooftop bar boasts 360-degree views, ideal for game nights.

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With the arrival of warm(er) weather, the Great Outdoors have officially begun beckoning and we here at Oyster can’t wait to pack up some supplies and make for the trail head. The United States offers some of the most varied and stunningly gorgeous terrains in the world that make the perfect backdrop for a back-to-nature hike, whether you’re looking for a one-day jaunt or hoping to make a vacation out of the entire experience. No matter your ideal trail or fitness level, we’ve got you covered coast-to-coast with the best trails for an awesome hiking adventure. We’ve even included one spot you’ll have to cross the Pacific to get to! Break out the rucksack and dig up your hiking boots, because here are nine of the best hikes in the United States… as well as the best hotels nearby for each.

1. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, HI 

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Gorgeous trails snake along Kauai’s stunning coast, and the Kalalua Trail is one of the most stunning, with beautiful sweeping vistas from atop the cliffs. Visitors can choose to hike a portion of the trail for a day excursion, or make an extended trip out of it: The entire trail is about 22 miles and can take three to five days to traverse. It’s often regarded as one of the finest — and most varied — coastal trails in the world, with challenging, muddy slopes and steamy tropical temperatures. Hikers can explore Kalalua Valley, home to enchanting waterfalls and lush foliage, or choose to rest up on the beach.

Stay: Hanalei Colony Resort

No TVs or phones here; instead, you get rare oceanfront views and easy access to hiking along the (practically adjacent) Na Pali Coast. The pool is small, housekeeping only comes every third day, and there’s little on offer  at the free breakfast aside from bagels. But the 48 two-bedroom condos with full kitchens are worth the downsized features. Read More »

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For those who crave that electrifying rush of adrenaline, a week of lying on the sand is not an ideal vacation. Beachside rest and relaxation can do wonders for some, but others find their R&R with a solid jolt to the nervous system; cue the adventure-vacation combination! Whether you’re surfing waves, chasing storms, or heli-skiing mountaintops, these eleven destinations all hold the promise of a heart-pounding getaway. Ready? Set? GO!

1. Surfing Pipeline, Oahu

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Adventure seekers have been visiting the Hawaiian islands for centuries. The state’s rugged, lava-formed terrain offers challenging — and stunningly beautiful — hikes and climbs, and the volcanoes themselves present unique thrills. But, of course, the main pulse-racing draw is surfing the menacing waves and rip curls that crash against the islands’ shores. The biggest and baddest waves roll in off of a reef break on the North Shore of Oahu at Banzai Pipeline. Many surfers have made a name for themselves at this spot, which is also home to some of the most intense surfing competitions in the world, including Pipe Masters. Adrenaline seekers who know their way around a wave — and are serious swimmers — can’t miss a trip here.

Stay: Turtle Bay Resort

This 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore — just minutes from Banzai Pipeline — features an unbeatable array of amenities. There are two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides, and five miles of shoreline.  Read More »

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