Beach Hotels

grounds-tortuga-bay-v26940-1025Renowned designer Oscar de la Renta died last night, and he will be forever remembered as one of women’s fashion’s top designers; he created gorgeous pieces for the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey. But the designer’s skills went beyond just haute couture. The Dominican Republic native also had an eye for interior design, and was the decor guru behind the luxurious Tortuga Bay in the D.R.’s Punta Cana.

Take a look after the jump at the gorgeous resort that he designed and decorated >>

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Aruba, Jamaica, Ooohh we wanna take ya…to the Caribbean for $125/night. Okay, we know those aren’t the exact lyrics, but it’s true: We did some research so we could give you the deets on the best budget picks in the Caribbean this time of year. The price: $125/night. The dates: November 1st through 8th. And we’re off!

Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort, Aruba: $139/night

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Renovated in 2010, the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort is bright and modern, if a bit plain. The lush garden setting sits alongside a nine-hole golf course and is across the street from the beach. There are three distinct dining options, free nightly entertainment at neighboring hotels, a kid’s club, and two large outdoor pools. We know it doesn’t quite make the $125/night budget, but it’s still a solid deal. And if you’re not sold, check out the Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino for $116/night — and we’re positive you’ll be fine with the $23/night upgrade.

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beach--v2681489-1024 Here at Oyster, we believe summer should be a year-round celebration, so we’ve come up with an Endless Summer Series to satisfy our sand-and-sun dreamin’. It’s a simple idea based on the fact that no matter what month it is, it’s summer somewhere. And since we started off September on the hot sands of Palm Springs, we figure the next logical step should be on the sunny sands of St. Pete Beach, Florida, where flip flops and tank tops are still given a warm welcome — even in October. Click through the jump to get all the scoop on St. Pete Beach, Florida in October…and where to stay (on every budget) for your perfect SPB holiday >> Read More »

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We here at Oyster.com don’t call ourselves travel experts for nothing — it’s because our staff has traveled the world and tested out thousands of hotels, restaurants, and activities. So today we’re bringing you an inside look at exactly how we uncover what we discover; namely, by giving almost everything a shot. Oyster writer Alex Creange gives us her first-hand account of her first-time experience with paddle boarding.

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Stand-up paddle boarding is kind of like the kale of water sports — one day no one’s ever heard of it, the next it’s the leafy green (hrrmm, aquatic activity) de rigueur. Just flip through any magazine these days and you’re bound to see a toned and tanned celebrity paddling through the waters of some exotic locale. Though the origin of stand-up paddle is not completely known, it is thought to most likely have Hawaiian or Polynesian roots. Which is why, on my recent trip to Oahu, I felt compelled to give it a try. I just had to see what this new craze was all about! Plus, looking like a celeb while commandeering the waters of the Pacific didn’t sound half bad either.

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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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Whether it’s overlooking a beach, set in the middle of a desert, across the water from a lit-up metropolis, or tucked away on a remote and picturesque hillside somewhere, there’s nothing quite like a hotel with amazing views. This is why we’ve trekked from coast to coast seeking out the best views this country has to offer (tough work, but someone’s got to do it). Here are 13 of our favorite spots with breathtaking vistas.

St. Regis Princeville, Kauai

St. Regis Princeville, Kauai

The St. Regis Princeville is rumored to be Hawaii’s most impressive beach resort…and after our stay here, we wholeheartedly concur; the rumor is true. Situated on Kauai’s northern coast, the St. Regis overlooks stunning Hanalei Bay. Not only is it — and its view – simply gorgeous, but this hotel also has several restaurants, an incredible pool, and a lovely beach with calm waters and excellent snorkeling.

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Wow! When we asked our fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to submit their best beach photos this summer with the hashtag #OysterPics, we had no idea how envious we’d get of everyone’s beach getaways! But we loved looking through the hundreds of submissions: Beach shots taken from Cape Cod to Jamaica at beautiful resorts and hotels gave us some intense wanderlust. And now we’re passing that wanderlust on to you. (Sorry, it’s highly contagious.) Here are our favorite submissions. See your pic? Congrats! Stayed tuned for our next #OysterPics series, which might have a little something to do with the soon-to-be changing leaves…

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Okay, okay, we’re a little biased…but we had to get in on the action too! And we love this pic from our visit to the Cabo Villas Beach Resort and Spa.

See our users’ best beach pics after the jump >>

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There’s something so cozy about watching a movie, both solo and with a crew. If you don’t want to hole up in your room with pay-per-view while on vacation, there are many hotels where you can still catch a flick without leaving the property. Some hotels offer movie nights for their guests – whether it’s curled up on a comfy couch indoors or outside lounging by the pool — giving vacationers a chance to unwind in front of a big screen. Many are geared toward little ones so that parents can enjoy some alone time, while others are a chance for travelers to meet and participate in activities together. No matter if you’re away on business or having a family vacation, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and watch the show. We definitely give the following 10 hotels two thumbs up!

Bitter End Yacht Club, British Virgin Islands

Bitter End Yacht Club

The Bitter End Yacht Club, snuggled into a steep hill on the scenic North Sound, is a relaxed, family-friendly resort. The tech-free rooms (no TVs or Wi-Fi here) feature stunning views from the balconies, and the sliding doors allows breezes to sweep through; some rooms do not have air-conditioning but most guests find they don’t miss it. While some rooms could use renovations, guests are here for the white-sand beaches that offer plenty of water sports and relatively calm waters. Although popular among couples, the hotel also caters toward families; each night two movies are screened at The Sand Palace, next to the lobby. The movies are all rated G, PG, or PG-13 and popcorn is provided. Adults may want to send their kids to watch the movie while they enjoy a meal at the Clubhouse Grille next door.

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During our travels we’ve stayed in the cutest, quaintest, and tiniest of hotels. And while we love the intimate and peaceful vibe that many smaller properties can offer, sometimes staying near the action just isn’t enough. We want to be in the thick of it. That way we can to go into full-on relaxation (read: lazy) vacation mode and have everything we could ever want right at our fingertips. Why should you have to jump in a car (or even worse — on a bus) just to meet a few people, see a show, or dance the night away? Luckily, these 12 massive village-style properties don’t think you should; in fact, they are hoping you won’t! Packed to the brim with communal conveniences like multiple restaurants, several pools, nightclubs, theaters, tons of activities, kids programs — even grocery stores, pharmacies, and bowling alleys — some of these places are so big they have on-site shuttles and maps to get you where you want to go amid sprawling grounds. And with enough rooms to house populations in the hundreds and thousands, they promise to be teeming with tons of potential new pals. It may take a village to create your perfect vacation — but at these properties, it’s worth it!

Grand Paladium Bavaro Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic

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The 674-room Grand Palladium Bavaro is spread over spacious grounds (guests also have access to two sister properties) offering an incredible selection of 15 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. Walking shoes are recommended, but family-friendly amenities, lower prices than some neighboring properties, and renovated rooms are big draws. In 2014, the resort added 178 units — including a swim-up suite option overlooking the beach (a great pick for honeymooners). Kids and their parents will appreciate the outstanding kids’ club, but take note: the beach can get crowded.

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August is an antsy month. Back to school madness descends upon parents, kids, and coeds alike, with everyone looking to squeeze in one last shore run before class starts up once again. Then September rolls into town with the first inklings of crisper weather — and the lure of the shore is only heightened. But where to go? For many East Coasters, a quick trip to Southern neighbors where the sands are still toasty and the waves still refreshing is dampened by the threat of Mother Nature’s finest beast: The Hurricane. The Gulf Coast becomes a ghost of what it once was, and Caribbean tourists flock to other beachfront locales where winds and rain aren’t so rampant. But for the brave of heart (who are more scared of a high price tag than some high winds), traveling to the eye of the storm means gorgeous, uncrowded beaches and tranquil luxury resorts at extremely reasonable rates. It goes without saying that safety comes first, and booking a trip during this time of year to some of our favorite Gulf and Caribbean destinations won’t always pan out. So make sure to double check with your favorite weatherman and get the scoop on how the winds are swirling across the Atlantic before you purchase. (You can always hit up these hurricane-proof spots if you’d rather not risk it.) But if you’re ready for a little adventure on the cheap, here’s a selection of Oyster’s favorite hurricane hideaways to get you started on your end-of-summer getaway!

1. The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, Jamaica

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A peaceful and beautiful resort, The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel was designed to be a true escape for couples and small groups that want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy a quiet getaway in Negril, Jamaica. For adults only, the intimate hotel (which maintains a maximum 47 visitors) features individual cottages, all-inclusive packages for dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, a variety of spa services, and an incredible view of the Negril cliffs plunging into the Caribbean Sea. Read More »

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