July 2009

Sexy lady phenomenon

by Jennifer on July 31, 2009

Sexy lady in an eye-catching bathing suit at Riu Negril

Myth: Sexy lady in an eye-catching bathing suit at Riu Negril

Reality: A big crowd, sans a singular sexy lady, in the pool at Riu Negril

Reality: A big crowd (no sexy lady in sight) at Riu Negril

See if you can spy the difference between these photos. Don’t think too hard – it’s pretty obvious. Did you get it? The answer is: humans! That’s right – real, live hotel guests.

Marketers can’t show you real guests, but they’re always more than happy to include one, singular sexy lady in an eye-catching swimsuit. And she’s always having a fabulous time! But the truth is, many hotels are big, and you’re probably going to find more than one person at the pool. Naturally, there’s nothing deceitful about a hotel omitting their normal guests in their published photos. But we can give you a real impression of what it’s like to sunbathe among the swarms of swimmers splashing about. See another example after the jump.

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Townhouse Hotel in South Beach, Miami

Townhouse Hotel in South Beach, Miami

We all know that vacations should be times of rest, but what happens when a few too many Fruity Screaming Fuzzy Navels (try to say that 5 times fast…or 3 drinks in) start making your swimsuit fit a little too snuggly? If you’re frequenting a 5-star, then not to worry; most high-end hotels boast fitness centers comparable to that of the super posh Equinox Fitness or Sports Club LA. You can trot away those extra inches in air-conditioned ecstasy and personal-TV bliss.

But when your “gym” is limited to stationary bikes at the end of hallways

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Families can swim with dolphins in a private cove at Half Moon resort, Jamaica.

Families can swim with dolphins in a private cove at Half Moon resort, Jamaica.

Parents know: Family vacations are usually a lot more fun for the kids. At resorts like Beaches Boscobel in Jamaica, kids get to enjoy daily Muppet shows and a huge water park, but  there’s not much for the parents to do besides play along. (The adults-only disco on site is pretty sad).

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Half Moon, perhaps the best luxury resort in Jamaica, has something to please everyone. Its packed with family-friendly features, including a great playground, a shallow kiddie pool, a mini-golf course, horseback riding stables, and a private dolphin cove, but parents will also appreciate the treatments at Fern Tree Spa, the swim-up bars, and the availability of full-time nannies. If nannies aren’t in the budget, kids can enjoy supervised activities like video games, arts and crafts, and stories with nap time in Anancy Children’s Village while mom and dad enjoy some time alone. Best of all, kids under 16 can eat and sleep for free.

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Marijuana in Jamaica

by Oyster Staff on July 27, 2009

Marijuana in Jamaica

Marijuana in Jamaica

Marijuana in Jamaica is as ubiquitous as braids on the beach, or hats with fake dreadlocks. We’ve been offered it by cab drivers, lifeguards, dudes on jet skis, and numerous musicians. We’ve seen hotel guests smoke it on tennis courts, on their balconies, and on the beach.

Though ganja in Jamaica is easy to find, be prepared for a wide range of quality and prices. You can buy large quantities at cheap prices, but dealers will try to gouge you for a couple of joints or a dime bag.  Also note that although weed in Jamaica is generally tolerated, it is technically illegal, so it’s awfully easy for policemen to bust tourists for a quick fine.

During a day trip to Bob Marley’s birthplace, about an hour outside Ocho Rios, we were inundated with marijuana sales pitches. Men pushed joints into our taxi’s windows the moment we pulled into the parking lot, insisting the only proper way to pay our respects would be to spark up at Bob’s grave site. Later, they took us on a tour of their nearby “plantation.”

Some of our favorite hotels within driving distance of the Marley Museum and all its smoky fun are Gran Bahia Principe JamaicaSandals Grande Beach, Moxons Beach ClubRoyal Plantation and Jamaica Inn.

Also know that herb-free visitors can easily avoid marijuana if they so choose. Jamaica is, after all, one of the most family-friendly islands in the Caribbean.

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The Official Entourage Bungalow

The Official Entourage Bungalow

What do you get when you combine W Hotels with the cast of HBO’s “Entourage”? Apparently, a match made in cross-marketing heaven.

Starting July 27 and running until September 27, these two iconic brands are teaming up to launch a national campaign that will offer hotels guests the opportunity to slip into Vinny and E’s shoes for (a minimum of) two nights. The promotion kicked off last Thursday at the newly opened W South Beach, with Adrian Grenier onsite to unveil the official “Entourage Bungalow” at the hotel’s outdoor pool, WET.

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The website photo hides the fact that the "king bed" is really two double beds pushed together.

The website photo hides the fact that the "king bed" is really two double beds pushed together.

The Oyster Hotel Reviews photo shows what the website leaves out: The "king" bed is fake!

The Oyster Hotel Reviews photo shows what the website leaves out: The "king" bed is fake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, we showed you how hotels Photoshop out unsightly objects. This week, we show you what they can hide under the covers.

The Riu Negril Club website photo would be pretty accurate, if it didn’t camouflage one very important fact: The “king bed” is really two double beds pushed together. Not a vacation ruiner, but certainly a fact that would be nice to know pre-booking. The towel swan, at least, is real:

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We love Nikon

by Oyster Staff on July 22, 2009

We love Nikon at Oyster, and our reporters use D700s as their primary cameras.

We love Nikon at Oyster, and our reporters use D700s as their primary cameras.

Our reporter kits include Nikon SB400 and SB800 flashes.

Our reporter kits include Nikon SB400 and SB800 flashes.

We’re all pretty big photo geeks at Oyster Hotel Reviews, so we were pretty excited about our mention today on the blog of well-known camera reviewer Ken Rockwell. Ken Rockwell is our photo guru — his reviews helped us a lot when deciding what gear to purchase for our reporter kits. As you can see, we really love Nikon.

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Diving in the D.R.

by admin on July 21, 2009

Preparing to plunge into the Caribbean

Preparing to plunge into the Caribbean

A trip to the Caribbean isn’t complete without diving beneath the surface. Whether you’re a certified scuba diver or a first-time snorkeler, the waters around the Dominican Republic coastline offer a breathtaking array of coral reefs and marine diversity.

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A resortguest gets free trapeze lessons at the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace Resort.

A resortguest gets free trapeze lessons at the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace Resort.

Flying high on the beach doesn’t have to involve booze or any illegal substances. For a real dose of dopamine, I gave the trapeze a try at Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace, and felt immediately safe 25 ft. in the air among the muscle-bound staffers.

“It’s really split between those who come and try it out once and those who come once and then return every day,” said one director of Havik Circus, David Poznanter. Run by former NFL player, Billy Havik, and his wife Angel St. Jacques, the company has installed trapezes on the beaches of Viva resorts all over the Caribbean.

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Last week, we showed you what clever cropping can do. This week, we show you how hotels Photoshop out unsightly objects.
 
We think The Essex House Hotel in South Beach, Miami is a great value — but we’re not big fans of their Photoshopped marketing photos. Both the hotel exterior photo and the pool photo were visibily altered.

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