Holiday Travel

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, and with it comes the official kick-off of the summer season. When next Friday hits, thousands of beach-bound celebrators will clog the highways on their way to sun and surf. But while we love a good beach day just as much as the next patriot, this Memorial Day we’re excited to try something inland. Join us in avoiding the crowds, uncovering new corners of America, and – of course – honoring our soldiers, with parades, festivals, and much more at these ten locales not on the beach.

1. Washington, D.C.

If you want to go hardcore patriotic, there really isn’t any place better to be this Memorial Day than Washington, D.C. In addition to a variety of military ceremonies taking place around town, visitors can also attend the National Parade or the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally (nothing like the wind in your hair, right?!). Or visitors can also opt to simply stroll through Washington’s many amazing monuments — during the day or at night — and sample some of D.C.’s delicious culinary offerings.

STAY: The gorgeous, 317-room W Washington D.C. blends the new — fusion cuisine from Jean-Georges Vongerichten; a great spa and gym; Whatever/Whenever service — with the old — the property’s historic Beaux Arts building dates back to 1917. Plus, you can see the Washington Monument from the hotel’s hip rooftop lounge, POV, making celebrating in style easy.
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Despite its Spanish moniker, Cinco de Mayo is an American holiday, originally instituted to commemorate freedom and democracy during the American Civil War. In the 1940s, the holiday rose to it’s current renown – and became inextricably linked to wild parties and plenty of tequila. That said, Cinco de Mayo does double-duty as a day to down some margs and celebrate Mexican heritage and pride. After all, it is a Mexican holiday — just to a lesser degree. No matter how you slice it, the fifth of May is always a great day to let loose, grab a Corona or tequila shot, and get your fiesta on. Here are five of our favorite Mexican hotels perfect for south-of-the-border celebrations.

 

Krystal Puerto Vallarta

1. Krystal Puerto Vallarta

On a wide, sandy beach just outside of Puerto Vallarta, the Krystal Puerto Vallarta is a great budget pick — and the complete review with photos was just recently added to Oyster.com! There are six pools and six whirlpools, plus a poolside bar — perfect for Cinco de Mayo reveling. The wallet-friendly day spa offers inexpensive massages, aromatherapy treatments, and salon services — and best of all, guests on the all-inclusive plan get 30 percent off all treatments.

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Earth Day may roll around just once a year (it’s today, by the way), but the great thing about travel is that you can celebrate your commitment to the planet anytime and anywhere! So whether you’re planning a last-minute bash to celebrate Mother Earth, or just want to go green for your next vacay, these seven hotels have you covered… And if you’re asking what makes a hotel eco-friendly, the answer varies depending on whom you question. Some of our picks have launched awesome recycling programs; another is LEED -certified; and yet another sits on a 1,000-acre private rainforest reserve, home to scarlet macaws. Read on for all the tree-hugging deets, and have a very happy (and green) Earth Day!

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Los Cabos 

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, along with its sister hotels Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa, and Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort & Spa, is committed to green initiatives and promoting sustainable tourism throughout Mexico. The hotel has taken lots of steps, both big and small, to reduce its environmental impact, from launching an initiative to protect sea turtles in the area to headlining an innovative recycling program. Pueblo Bonito also organizes beach clean-ups, composts much of its organic waste, and works to protect local whales, brown pelicans and other wildlife. Oh, and it’s a gorgeous luxury property with direct access to a private beach.

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Easter is only 11 days away, and while we look forward to beautiful services, parades of hats, and (hopefully) sunny weather, what we really crave is the requisite button-busting Easter brunch. Whether you’ve given up sweets, savory delicacies, and lavish meals out for Lent or not, a delicious Easter brunch is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday. New York City is home to some of the most lavish hotels in the world, which are in turn home to some of tastiest restaurants in the world, which — in turn — host some of the most extravagant Easter brunch buffets, menus, and spreads in the world. Sounds like a win, win, win to us! So without further adieu, here are the five best restaurants for Easter brunch in New York City, all of which are conveniently located in Manhattan’s top luxury hotels.

Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien 

Norma's

Norma’s is one of the most popular — and decadent — brunch spots in the city, and it will be no different (in the best way possible) for Easter. Located in Le Parker Meridien just a few blocks south of Central Park, Norma’s is conveniently within walking distance of the Easter parade, which meanders up Fifth Avenue, so diners can fill up on Chocolate Decadence French Toast, Norma’s Eggs Benedict (which substitutes fluffy pancakes for English muffins), Foie Gras Brioche French Toast, or — for the truly extravagant — the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata, which — costing a whopping $1,000 — comes topped with ten ounces of caviar. “Frugal” diners can opt for just one ounce of caviar for a mere $100.

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Easter is fast-approaching, and leading up to the springtime holiday is Holy Week, which, in Roman Catholic tradition, is the last week of Lent, taking place right before Easter (which falls on Sunday, April 20th this year). Parades, processions, traditional celebrations, lively festivities, marching bands, festive foods: These are the sights, sounds, and flavors of Holy Week around the globe, and for travelers who sample a country’s culture as much as its fine cuisine and beautiful scenery, visiting a celebratory country during Holy Week is the holy grail — no pun intended — of cultural travel. Here are our six top picks for the most festive spots in the world to visit during Holy Week.

Guatemala

La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

Guatemala is one of the world’s most renowned destinations for celebrating Holy Week, thanks to the nation’s vibrant and ornate religious festivities. To kick off the week, Guatemalans decorate their streets and homes with palm fronds on Palm Sunday, and the celebration continues through Good Friday. In Antigua, residents scatter the country’s famed alfombras – dyed sand and sawdust, with pine needles, flowers and plants — on the cobblestone streets to create spectacularly colored “carpets” that lead the way for religious processions.

Where to Stay: Just 30 minutes from colonial Antigua, La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences gets you close to the Holy Week action but not too close: visit during the day and escape at night to avoid the pulsating — and often overwhelming — crowds.

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March is the unofficial month of spring break, which — at least to hundreds of thousands of college students across the nation — means it’s a 30-day stretch of time dedicated to partying, preferably in exotic locales around the world. We’ve already given you the inside scoop on where to spend an awesome alternative spring break, but if you’re looking to get the classic (read: raucous) spring break fix, here are the top ten spring break destinations for partying.

Where to go: Cancun

cancun

Cancun — with its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters – is one of the world’s top beach destinations, and it also one of the most-visited spring break destinations on the planet. The Hotel Zone is where to go if you’re looking for all the college spring break staples; dozens of megaresorts line miles and miles of postcard-perfect beaches where guests lounge in the sun margarita in hand. Hotels here cater to spring breakers, hard partiers, young couples and rowdy groups with night-long parties, loud entertainment, cheap booze and all-inclusive plans.

Where to stay: Hotel Riu Cancun

In the heart of the Hotel Zone, Hotel Riu Cancun sits on a sprawling piece of beachfront that’s close to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops. The all-inclusive 569-room resort offers three swimming pools, a buffet-style restaurant, as well as three themed restaurants, and a range of on-site activities that includes nightly live shows, tennis, windsurfing, and a nightclub. Rooms are a bit outdated, but most consider it a small tradeoff for the affordable prices.

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If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.

Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8

Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.

Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel

A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to  drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.

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The Big Easy is already well into the throes of Mardi Gras madness: beads are flying and parades are marching in our favorite southern city. But the final crescendo comes next week on Fat Tuesday, with revelers planning to go all out one more time. Some of our favorite hotels in NOLA are conveniently situated for those looking to join the debauchery—so choose your favorite and then, as they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll.

1. Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans 

royal sonesta

 

The Royal Sonesta is party-centric Bourbon Street’s swankiest hotel. Revelers can request a balcony room and watch the eclectic parades of people go by at all hours–be sure to have beads ready to toss out to the masses below! Live jazz and a hopping pool scene make for an even better Mardi Gras experience.  Read More »

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Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your loved one, but that can be hard to do in a crowded resort where dozens of other couples are trying to do the same thing. If you’re planning a special getaway for the holiday, however, there are still plenty of spots where you won’t need to worry about a lack of privacy. We’ve found nine romantic hotels that are not only super sexy but uber secluded, making it easy for quiet one-on-one time with your significant other.

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

beach-agua-resort-v24171-720

Couples will realize just how wonderfully secluded this 96-suite getaway really is during the hour drive from the airport down a bumpy road. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by giant rooms with gorgeous terraces, a top-notch spa, and four high-quality restaurants, all of which are never packed with diners like those at some of the D.R.’s megaresorts. The on-site beach is private which helps to keep it quiet and calm, and couples can indulge in a vast variety of free activities such as yoga and snorkeling.

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Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!

February in Venice

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Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.

Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole

This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.

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