Travel News

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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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.

We’ve all spent some time California dreamin’ at one point or another — and who can blame us? The state has just about everything, including gorgeous natural scenery, sunshine, and miles upon miles of beautiful coastline. We especially love the idea of cozying up in one of the state’s coastal inns. To us, a trip that involves whale-watching, walking along rugged cliffs in misty mornings, exploring quaint towns, and relaxing in a rustic-luxe cottage with a glass of wine sounds like heaven. At many of these eight spots, it’s possible to do just that.

Sea Rock Inn, Mendocino

Sea Rock Inn watermark
The cozy, cabin-like rooms at this upscale inn have paneling in knotty pine and wood-burning stoves. Binoculars are provided for whale-watching, which guests can do from Adirondack chairs in the garden or from their own private, ocean-view decks. The delicious, free breakfast with homemade baked goods, bottle of wine upon check-in, and afternoon tea with brownies complete the experience at this intimate property.

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Reported cases of Ebola have now been documented not only in West Africa, but also Dallas and Madrid — and now potentially Belize. A Texas healthcare worker, who may have been in contact with clinical specimens of patient Thomas Duncan’s (who succumbed to the disease last week), has been placed in isolation aboard a cruise ship in Belize. A passenger evacuation has been refused by authorities.

We’ll continue to update you on travel precautions and restrictions in regards to the Ebola crisis.

Read more at The New York Times >>

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This post comes from our partners at Travel + Leisure

A self-proclaimed taphophile – someone fascinated by death and cemeteries – Loren Rhoads has documented more than 150 sites for her blog CemeteryTravel.com.

“Visiting cemeteries on vacation helps me understand what the surrounding community values; it makes me feel more connected to people, to the past, and to life itself,” says Rhoads, also the author of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.

In fact, Rhoads has plenty of company. Search Facebook, and hundreds of cemetery-centric groups or pages pop up. The nonprofit Association for Gravestone Studies has 11 chapters in the U.S., and gravers, who record and photograph headstones, are a growing subculture.

USA Georgia GA Savannah Bonaventure Cemetery historic old burial area

The most haunting cemeteries, however, have an appeal that extends well into the mainstream. (Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery, for instance, attracts more than 1.5 million annually.) They lure visitors with a combination of natural beauty, ornate tombstones and crypts, notable residents, vivid history, and even wildlife.

Naturalist John Muir captured the many splendors of Savannah, GA’s Bonaventure Cemetery—long before it was featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—in his book A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. “The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light,” he writes.

You may be similarly moved by a visit to Mount Koya cemetery in Japan, where 10,000 lanterns illuminate the forest setting, or by witnessing Day of the Dead graveside fiestas in Oaxaca, Mexico. And a coastal walk in Sydney will bring you to Waverley Cemetery, whose cliff-side Victorian and Edwardian monuments face out to the ocean, sparkling in Australia’s near-constant sunshine.

Such beautiful burial sites may be the final destination for the deceased, but for those of us still traveling, they can be decidedly uplifting.

See tons of photos of hauntingly beautiful cemeteries after the jump >>

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st-lucia-view-from-the-island-v1681702-1024Following in Colombia’s footsteps, St. Lucia has officially barred entry to visitors from West African countries affected by Ebola, including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Those traveling from Nigeria will only be granted entry after presenting a recent medical certificate. The tiny island nation’s prime minister cited the country’s inability “to manage any crisis that lands on our doorstep, any crisis of that kind” as the reasoning behind the ban.

Read more at AP >>

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3777798387_7c622448e0_b-001For cash-strapped tourists visiting New York, one of the most expensive cities on the planet, a hotel room in trendy Little Italy for $120/night might seem like a deal that’s too amazing to pass up. But consider what those low rates may mean you’re signing up for — particularly in the case of the Sun Bright Hotel. The New York Post did an expose on the property last year, calling out the hotel for renting abysmal single-unit occupancies to impoverished male tenants on the top floors. For $10 a night, these men live in filthy, animal-like conditions.  Shockingly, the remaining floors of the hotel are rented out to tourists – some of them unsuspecting, others willing to put up with chicken wire ceilings and dirty communal bathrooms to save money. Trip Advisor gives the hotel one-and-a-half stars, and reviewers have described it as “a cross between a jail cell and a chicken coop,” and “full of insects.” Absolutely no refunds are given.

This week we called the hotel to check rates and see for ourselves what conditions are like at the notorious hotel. After being hung up on (accidentally? we think not) once, a male employee explained that the hotel was booked for the weekend but had availability the following week for $120/night, with free Wi-Fi. After that, we headed to the property for some in-person investigating.

Read up on what we found after the jump >>

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Samsara

No one likes being nickel-and-dimed — especially not by hotels. After you’ve already shelled out major bucks for your vacation, charging for extras like Wi-Fi can feel like adding insult to injury. Some fees are especially egregious, and we’ve encountered charges for everything from air-conditioning to towels to electricity. (Yes, electricity.) These are the seven costs you probably never knew you had to watch out for.

1. Air-conditioning

This is just sneaky. Of course you’re going to pony up for air-conditioning on a hot day — no one wants to try to sleep in the sweltering heat. But once you’ve checked into your room and you’re drenched in sweat from lugging your bags in the hot sun, finding out it’s going to cost you to cool down is seriously cringe-inducing (and probably sweat-inducing, too). Watch our for this at the Samsara Cliff Resort & Spa in Negril, Jamaica.

2. Mini-fridges

At the GHT Oasis Park and Spa in Lloret de Mar, Spain, guests must pay extra to use their mini-fridges. Have some leftovers you want later and trying to avoid food poisoning? That’ll be about four euros a day, please. Or a tummy ache — your choice.

Get ready for some more temper-flaring fees that are just plain ridiculous after the jump >>

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techLet’s face it, the way we travel has changed — a lot. Thanks to technology, we have instant access to information – and lots of it. We no longer blindly trust a travel agent to plan our vacations anymore. Instead, we research, we study, we read, and we wait to book a hotel room until after we’ve scanned through Oyster’s honest photos and unbiased reviews, of course. And in our world of “apps,” where we can download just about anything onto our phones, studying, researching, and planning our vacations has become easier than ever. So here’s a story of a time when a lack of travel apps ruined a travel experience — and when their presence saved one.

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Austin will be hosting the second annual three-day weekend of the ACL Music Festival starting this Friday. The self-titled Live Music Capital of the World (and the actual capital of Texas), Austin has emerged as a hotspot thanks to its South by Southwest festival (where Twitter gained buzz in 2007), downtown entertainment district, and Brooklyn-like vibe. The popular music festival began in 2002 and has continued to grow thanks to the big-name headliners it obtains; this weekend will feature acts like Eminem, Lorde, Outkast, and Iggy Azalea. In addition to the more than 130 artists taking the stage, delicious eateries, an art market, and kid-centric activities will be spread out across Zilker Park where the event is held. In 2013, ACL adopted the Coachella philosophy and changed from one weekend to two consecutive to accommodate all the festival-goers. Although one-day and weekend passes have been sold out for some time, you can still see what all the fuss is about for the city whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird” by heading to one of these ten hotels. And you can always snag some (pricey) last-minute tickets on StubHub!

The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel

The 189-room Driskill Hotel sets a new standard for historic hotels. The hotel was built in 1886 and was beautifully restored; the gleaming marble floors, towering columns, and stained-glass ceilings evoke a bygone era. Tasteful, elegant rooms follow suit with designer furnishings, towering ceilings with crown moldings, brocade carpeting, and pretty bathrooms with black marble floors and counters. They’re a bit small, though — but that’s to be expected in a historic downtown hotel. There’s no pool or other on-site amenities besides a nice fitness center and small massage room, but the location in the heart of Austin’s famous Sixth Street entertainment district is prime. Head to the southwest-themed Driskill Bar for a cocktail and live music performances several nights each week.

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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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