August 2009

The Hotel Gansevoort

The Hotel Gansevoort

The Gramercy Park Hotel

The Gramercy Park Hotel

With so many reviews of so many different hotels, scanning our city guides can sometimes lead to information overload—so our new series, Stay Here, Not There takes the guess work out of finding the right hotel for your trip. Today we’re looking at where to stay to best enjoy the last gasps of summer in New York.

The Trip: Labor Day weekend in New York to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.

The Demands: A rooftop deck, easy access to tourist sites and a party atmosphere.

The Options: The Meatpacking District’s Hotel Gansevoort and its “much-talked-about rooftop pool” or the “hangout for the hip, beautiful, and famous” that is the Gramercy Park Hotel.

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If nothing else, some of the quirkiest, most striking artwork we’ve seen so far – whether it’s a piece hand-picked to complement a lobby’s trendster vibe or a photo boldly displayed above a fluffy bed to lend a bit of wacky-coolness to a guestroom – adds personality. But, uh, we’d advise hotels to air on the side of caution when it comes to maxing out the quirk factor. Delightful and whimsical can easily become “creepy” and “hilarious” when real people have to sleep in close proximity to some of this stuff.

Observe. Today’s theme: faces.

Mondrian South Beach

She sees you when you're sleeping.

The Hotel: The Mondrian, South Beach
Found In: Bay View Studio Room

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trumpinternationalhotelnyc

Trump International Hotel and Tower, NYC

 Ever wonder if those “romance” or “adventure” hotel packages are really giving you more bang for your buck — or if you’ve been suckered into booking a clever marketing pro’s cutesy champagne and chocolate-covered price markup? Welcome back to Oyster’s Bundle Breakdowns, where we go through the painstaking process of (roughly) breaking down the costs of popular hotel bundle offerings to determine whether you’re getting a steal or getting robbed.

Today, Bundle Breakdowns visits New York City to dissect Trump International Hotel and Tower’s (supposedly) family-friendly Kids on Central Park package. But is it wallet-friendly?

The Deal: One night in a Two-Bedroom Suite overlooking Central Park; milk & cookies from Jean-Georges delivered to your room; “your kids’ favorite DVDs” (which you do not get to take home); four tickets to either the Central Park Zoo, the Manhattan Children’s Museum or the Museum of Natural History (only one of the three).

The Package Price for Sunday, October 11th: $2,650, plus tax

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frettelinensbetsymiami

Frette linens at The Betsy Hotel, Miami

 Ah, the unmistakable feel of Frette linens: impossibly high thread counts; gloriously soft pillowcases; washcloths fluffed in heaven – the brand has been in (and touching) our faces at luxe hotels everywhere, from the towels at NYC’s Tribeca Grand and the bed linens at The Pierre to the “yummy yummy yummy” sheets at Miami’s Betsy and the white waffled blankets at Casa de Campo in the DR.

If you’re a Frette fan and, like us, you logged onto the Frette website once upon a morning-after and quickly came upon the realization that outfitting your bed in the sweet sheets was financially out of the question ($2,095 for a sheet set), we’ve got a present for you. Hint: it’s a sale. Read More »

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grandpalladiumbuffetfake2

Elegant cuisine

grandpalladiumrealphotos2

Not so much.


The following is a dream sequence, inspired by the buffet on the left (as shown on the Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort and Spa’s website):

TROY: Oh, Tammy. You know, I’m going to get around to smelling that scrumptious-looking buffet here in front of us, but right now I’m quite happily occupied with invading your personal space and sticking my nose in your perfectly-coiffed hair. When I finish sniffing your mousse and hairspray, I will inhale the sweet aroma of whatever piece of meat this gentleman is carving for us here. I’d also like to pick up that bottle of extremely expensive cabernet sauvignon sitting in the basket in front of you because that’s how I roll and some people say I look like Don Johnson.

TAMMY: Oh, Troy. You’re so dreamy. What do you say we head back up to the room to work off some of these elegant and extravagant culinary delights?

The following is not a dream sequence – and is, in fact, very real:

The buffet pictured on the right.

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trumptowerlasvegasphoto

In case you haven't been camped out in the Trump Tower Las Vegas business center...

Craving up-to-the-minute news on hotels, airlines and travel as it all unfolds? The @OysterHotels Twitter stays on top of the hot gossip flying around the web 24/7. Today’s highlights from around the Internet:

  • A passenger on a Southwest airlines flight was arrested (naked) after he exposed himself to the woman seated next to him and then punched her in the face. Oy. [MSNBC]
  • Warning: there is an entrepreneur out there who is planning on launching a “zero baggage” concept that involves renting clothes when you travel. Not for the faint of heart – or for those of us who feel itchy in thrift stores. [Consumer Traveler]
  • So, about that $599 unlimited JetBlue pass? No mas. Sold out. All gone. You lose. [USA Today]
  • …But you can watch all the fun everyone else is having by checking out the @599Club Twitter community. [Twitter]
  • Our friends at Jauntsetter have rounded up a pretty hot roster of up-to-date travel deals, from Bangkok hotels to a full four-night London getaway. [Jauntsetter]
  • Hawaii celebrated its big five-oh with a hula party in Times Square today – and, now that we mention it, The Aloha State has been in the news quite a bit lately. Not that we’re hinting at anything… [AP, NY Times, CNN]

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hitchedbikinipoolside

Yeah, our reporters are pretty stealthy.

Aside from the abundance of deliriously happy couples with shiny new jewelry basking in the shimmering golden loveliness of the earliest stage of wedded bliss, how can you be sure that you and your Bud Light Lime are, in fact, staying at a hotel for honeymooners?

This is how you know.

We’ll tell you where we snapped this poolside shot (and where we found this woman, who is dutifully sporting a gift that was no doubt given to her by a “frenemy” bachelorette party invitee upon whom she probably did not bestow the honor of bridesmaid) very, very soon.

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image

Good times, retro-style!

A No-Fun Zone

A No-Fun Zone

Listen, hotel marketers: nobody smiles at the gym. The gym is a No-Fun Zone. People don’t go to the hotel fitness center to chitty-chat like that; they go to the hotel bar. You’re practically begging us to expose a Photo Fakeout with this kind of thing.

That said, allow us to do some exposing: the image to the left, featured on Jamaica’s Runaway Bay Heart Hotel website, appears to be a photo of three women who are quite delighted that they happened upon a gym at the hotel with three (!) elliptical machines in a row. We’d be quite delighted, too – if only such a gym existed there. Instead, the cold, sad reality of the gym equipment situation at RBH is shown at right.

Do we spy a stock photo? Maybe not. Based on their attire, one might argue that perhaps this was, in fact, a real photo of the property’s gym in 1991 – just a hot snapshot of these three chickies admiring their pal’s biceps while workin’ up a sweat to the sweet sounds of their favorite upbeat Wilson-Phillips jam.

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caliLV

Color Me Glad!

calilasvegasphotofakeout

Color Me Sad. And Bad. With one D.

On the left is the image used by the California Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to promote their Deluxe King rooms. On the right is a photo of the same type of room, um, in real life.

Although we found the off-the-strip property to be clean, comfortable and quiet (appealing qualities for plenty of Sin City visitors; we know), we can’t help but feel a little bit let down by the lack of “tropical island paradise”-esque decor promised to us (seriously) by the website.

Next to the marketing photo, the real thing just looks a bit colorless – sort of like the pale New Yorkers kickin’ it shirtless with the nicely-bronzed masses in the Hard Rock’s pool. Sad.

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Bellagio

Bellagio; Las Vegas

Ever wonder if those “romance” or “adventure” hotel packages are really giving you more bang for your buck — or if you’ve been suckered into booking a clever marketing pro’s cutesy champagne and chocolate-covered price markup? Welcome to Oyster’s Bundle Breakdowns, where we go through the painstaking process of (roughly) breaking down the costs of popular hotel bundle offerings to determine whether you’re getting a steal or getting robbed.

Today, Bundle Breakdowns visits Las Vegas to dissect the Bellagio’s fancy-schmantzy Romance Retreat package.

The Deal: One night in a Lakeview Cypress Suite; limo transportation to and from McCarran; Executive Suite Lounge check-in; one bottle of Veuve Clicquot; chocolate-covered strawberries; a 50-minute Couples Massage; prix-fixe dinner for two at Picasso or Michael Mina restaurant (no alcohol).

The Package Price: $995, plus tax

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