July 2009

Toilet Paper Wars

by admin on July 15, 2009

The Setai

The toilet paper at the Setai sports a modern yet discreet metal hood, adding shine to an otherwise quotidian experience.

The toilet paper at the Setai sports a modern yet discreet metal hood, adding shine to an otherwise quotidian experience.

Hotels go to great lengths to distinguish themselves from the herd, and every detail matters — even toilet paper. Take a look at these candidates for “best toilet paper presentation” and see who you think wipes out the competition.
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The Sheraton Manhattan Hotel's message is clear: Dont poop, pee, or hawk a loogie in the pool, please.

The Sheraton Manhattan Hotel's message is clear: Dont poop, pee, or hawk a loogie in the pool, please.

We found this sign at the Sheraton Manhattan Hotel pool too hilarious not to share. Doesn’t it make you want to dive right in?

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The Dogs of Fisher Island

by admin on July 10, 2009

Fisher Island, a 216-acre private island off the Miami mainland, is one of the wealthiest places in America. (According to the 2000 census, the island has the highest per capita income in the United States. Can’t wait ’til that 2010 census!)

And it’s not just home to wealthy and fabulous two-legged creatures. It’s also home to the four-legged friends of the wealthy and fabulous, some of whom have furry legs that end in paw nails painted pale pink. During my stay at the Fisher Island Resort, I met quite a few dogs, and I had to wonder: If the rich are different, are their dogs as well?

In examing my photos of Fisher Islands dogs (see below), I’d have to say that indeed they are. Whether hitting the beach or grabbing breakfast al fresco (wrapped in a chic brown scarf to combat the morning breeze), Fisher Island’s dogs hold themselves with a peculiar brand of canine entitlement. Life is good, at least for them it is, and in their pea-sized Yorkie brains, they know it.

One lucky bitch on Fisher Island

One lucky bitch on Fisher Island


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A Tale of Two Buffets

by admin on July 10, 2009

Strange, but it happens. You go to a buffet in the same resort complex as your friend–and the buffets are night and day. Check out the difference between Exhibit A and B. My fellow Oyster reporter came back looking like she got spoonfed by Ewan Macgregor on a cotton candy cloud; I emptied out what looked like a porta-potty.  What is that, baby’s feeding time?

Exhibit A (Arrecife Buffet at GP Bavaro)

Exhibit A (Arrecife Buffet at Grand Palladium Bavaro)

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How to Jump Off a Cliff

by admin on July 9, 2009

warning-sign-at-caves

Negril, Jamaica is famous for its cliff diving opportunities, both for guests at hotels along the West End Road, and for local pros, who show off their stuff diving for tips at iconic watering hole Rick’s Café. The turquoise water is so clear you can actually see the rocks on the bottom – making a jump all the more daunting – but don’t fret, they’re really hundreds of feet below the surface.

Somewhere along the line I became Oyster’s resident cliff jumper (not diver) — pretty funny since I’m terrified of heights. My rationale for jumping: I tell myself this is a job requirement, and I wouldn’t be a good reporter if I didn’t give it a try. The lengths I go to for you, gentle readers.

Below, an annotated photo diary of my favorite jumps, four in Negril and one near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. And no, I don’t know where the funky leg kick comes from.

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Some of Jamaica’s seemingly secret spots — rugged caves, isolated, white-sand beaches, and a serene, deep-blue lagoon – became not-quite-so-secret when they made appearances on the silver screen. Let’s see if you movie buffs out there can match the films on the list below to the beautiful Jamaican locale they featured. Answers are at the bottom of the post.

1. The Blue Lagoon, 1980

2. How Stella Got her Groove Back, 1998

3. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1954, and Dr. No, 1962

4. Lord of the Flies, 1963

The rugged caves of the West End Cliffs in Negril are great for snorkeling -- and for filming movies.

a.) The rugged caves of the West End Cliffs in Negril are great for snorkeling -- and for filming movies.

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Size doesn’t matter… except when it comes to toiletries. And even if they’re small, they better be attached to a famous name. You know you’re riding high when you get a 5 oz. bottle of Etro at the Acqualina in Miami, or even a 1 oz. bottle of Malin+Goetz at The Betsy in Miami. But in my case at the Beach Paradise in Miami’s South Beach, all I got were cheap promotional samples and generic soap. It’s not that the occasional vacuum-sealed packet of toothpaste is a bad thing, or Crest White Strips, Biore Restore Skin-Boosting night serum, “Beach Mist” soap, a razor, or pads and tampons — it’s just a lot less sexy to whip these out on the plane ride home.
Oh, thank you, Acqualina. We took these home.

Oh thank you, Acqualina, I took these home.

 
 
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyone knows Miami Beach is famous for sand, sun, fun, bikinis, and bods. What’s less known, at least to visitors, is that it’s also home to a thriving Jewish community. One site worth checking out is the Holocaust Memorial, about half a mile inland at 20th Street, in South Beach. It presents a sobering (and yes, potentially awkward) contrast to the 24-hour levity and debauchery taking place just several blocks east.

The most conspicuous subgroup of this Jewish community is the Hasidic population in Mid-Beach. I was taken aback the first time I ran into men and women, decked out in full garb — in 80-degree weather — strolling down Collins Avenue alongside tattooed teenagers and artificially-enhanced women.

Hasidim in Mid-Beach

Hasidim in Mid-Beach

Yet another Miami Beach fashion quirk.

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Oyster Blog presents the first post in an ongoing series of hotels now serving guests in Eternity.

Barcelo Talanquera (Late 1980s – May 1st, 2009)

I will forever remember the sagging mattress and disintegrating wicker furniture in my first floor room at the Barcelo Talanquera, located in Juan Dolio, on the southwest coast of the D.R. Long after my stay, a bowl of cornflakes brought flashbacks of the time I nearly consumed a glass of rancid milk at the buffet.  There was no fresh fruit available, just container after container of browning bananas.

This resort was once an affordable showstopper for families, complete with a French restaurant, poolside cocktails, direct beach access, and splashy entertainment.  But during my visit — just two months before its demise — the place looked like it had already given up on life.

Talanquera is survived by its sister Barcelo Capalla, and several cousins in Puerto Plata and Punta Cana.

Beach at Barcelo Talanquera

Beach at Barcelo Talanquera


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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

by admin on July 7, 2009

Some happy Jamaicans in Montego Bay

Some happy Jamaicans in Montego Bay

What’s the secret to happiness? Maybe it’s good weather.

As CNN recently reported, Costa Rica is the happiest place on earth. Life expectancy, life satisfaction, and ecological footprint (no wonder the U.S. ranked 114th) all went into calculating the Happy Planet Index, which was developed by Britain’s New Economics Foundation.

Guess who ranked second and third, respectively? The Dominican Republic and Jamaica. This came as little surprise to us Oyster reporters who’ve been lucky enough to visit these places: warm, smiling faces are as ubiquitous as great beaches and incredible sunsets, and eco-sustainability sure seems a lot simpler when you can pull your fruit right off the nearest tree.

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