September 2009

The Money Shot.

The Money Shot.

Thinking of grabbing the fam (or the fiance) and jetting to Hawaii? Well, if you’re a faithful reader of travel news, you’d be inclined to believe that the scene in Hawaii right now is…dismal. Surely you’ve seen the reports: hotel occupancy in our 50th state is down. Way down. The number of visitors has declined sharply. Room rates are plummeting, but the people still aren’t coming – and the numbers are especially distressing when compared to an astoundingly-weak July 2008. It’s bad over there.

But we’re going to let you in on a big secret: our reporters just got back from Hawaii (yes, Hawaii is our next destination to launch – that’s what we were hinting at last week) and they’ve got plenty to say about scene. So before you go picturing abandoned hotels and eerily-empty beaches with palm trees swaying in the wind, allow our reporters to offer up a glimpse of what things are really looking like out there in the Aloha State:

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Did you catch us on CNN.com this week? If not, you can check out Senior Editor Will Begeny chattin’ about Photo Fakeouts in the video above. Bonus: our favorite Hot Tub Surfer Model Man gets some screen time!

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Guess where we've been...

Guess where we've been...

We’ve done Vegas, New York, and Jamaica, too;
We’ve reviewed the DR, Miami and and Aruba for you.
But we’re not stopping here, oh no, not at all –
We’re launching a new destination just in time for fall.
But where have our reporters been staying in hotels undercover?
It’s a place with beaches, a place you’d take a lover –
A location with fruity drinks, palm trees, and dancing,
Worth the long flight from home (the sunsets are entrancing).

So where in the world is the next Oyster destination?
Stay tuned to find out — or make a guess based on the above information.

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Leave your laptop in your bag.

Leave your laptop in your bag.

Nobody likes paying for Wi-Fi. Nobody. We could ease you into this post by reminding you of the importance of the Internet in our everyday lives – but we’re going to assume that you use the Internet often, and we’re all in agreement here: paying for Internet in your hotel room in 2009 is not awesome.

You know what’s even worse than paying for Wi-Fi? Paying for slow, unreliable Wi-Fi — and not finding out that the Wi-Fi you’ve just plunked down a hot chunk of change for is slow and unreliable until it’s too late. To help you out a little bit, we’ve rounded up a few popular midtown NYC hotels where you’re better off doing the ol’ Blackberry squint-and-scroll than shelling out for the in-room connection.

The Bryant Park Hotel:

Wi-Fi comes in every room, and costs a reasonable $9.95/night. But in my room, the signal repeatedly cut in and out. Alternatively, there’s a hard-wired high-speed Internet connection available for the same price.

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She looks like she has a question.

Got a question? Get crackin' on that keyboard.

Say, wouldn’t it be cool to have a friend that knows lots of things about hotels? A pal who has a whole collection of key cards from dozens and dozens of properties, a buddy who can rattle off the best and worst places to stay in Aruba, Jamaica, and (eventually) some of the other places the Beach Boys wanted to “take ya’”? You have one. That friend is Oyster.

While we wouldn’t typically open ourselves up with the old “ask us anything” line that we’ve all heard on bad first dates, we’re willing to offer our advice, opinions and insight on hotels, destinations and travel. All you have to do is ask.

Once you send your questions over to tips@oyster.com, we’ll select a few to answer and post ‘em up as part of our recurring Ask Oyster feature.

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The Wynn Las Vegas

The Wynn Las Vegas

We’re not usually proponents of forking over four figures for a hotel package (or for anything, really), but this — well, this is different.

Wynn Las Vegas is collaborating with ZERO-G weightless flights — yes, folks, that’s a flight on a Boeing 727-200 that’s been modified to replicate levels of weightlessness on Mars and the moon (as well as zero-gravity)– to offer a package that includes some sexy digs, a float-y flight with ZERO-G, and a spa treatment. And listen: it’s $5,746 per seat plus tax, but don’t roll your eyes just yet. You might actually be into this.

First (and least exciting) of all, your Wynn experience is going to include a two-night stay in a Tower Suite Room and a choice of either a Custom Massage or a Classic Facial. Cool.

But the ZERO-G flight. Oh, man. You’re looking at a two-hour(ish) flight that has “15 separate weightless intervals” that are each about 30 seconds. It departs out of The Signature Terminal at McCarran on Saturday, September 19, and the whole experience includes…

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Can you spot the illicit activity?

Can you spot the illicit activity?

Hey! Here’s some not-so-surprising news: some shady business goes on at Vegas pools during those massive boozey weekend parties. Which is almost as not-so-surprising as the news we delivered last week about Las Vegas pools being more crowded than their marketing photos would suggest.

And the most crowded (and famously infamous) pool party of them all, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s Sunday Rehab, just got roughly .0013% less debaucherous. According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, eight people were arrested on Sunday in an undercover operation targeting “illicit activities” at Las Vegas pools. Seven Rehabbers were arrested for “narcotics-related offenses,” and one was nabbed for soliciting prostitution.

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Not to add to the Michael Jackson media frenzy of Summer ’09 or anything, but: the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has purchased one of MJ’s bedazzled gloves (did he ever wear two gloves?) for just under $50,ooo. According to the New York Times, an Australian auction house handed over a sparkly glove for $49K — to a bidder who was there on behalf of the Hard Rock. The King of Pop’s flashy accessory is now on its way to the hotel, where it will, we assume, sit very, very securely in the hotel’s eclectic and impressive collection of music memorabilia.

What kind of music memorabilia, you say? Well, glad you asked….

The taste of her cherry chapstick...

Katy Perry's Jacket

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As much as we enjoy pointing out funny photo fakeouts and breaking down bundles that turn out to be awesome deals (and sometimes not-so-awesome deals), we like to bring it all back to the basics every now and again to kick it with some good ol’ hotel stuff that we actually like. And towel swans and fresh fruit are great and all, but we want to take you into the short work week slowly with some memorable and creative hotel room touches (that don’t qualify as creepy hotel art) that we’re totally down for…because most of it is stuff we can play with.

Matches at W South Beach

Matches at W South Beach

The Hotel: W Hotel, South Beach
The Amenity: A hookup-friendly matchbook. Purple, even.

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Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Not bad, just...different.

Not bad, just...different.

Well, we can think of one person in this great country that deserved yeserday’s holiday — it seems like someone certainly labored long and hard in Photoshop to produce the image on the left.

Behold: a beautiful example of the wonders of Photoshop, as displayed in these two images of the rooftop lounge at The Townhouse Hotel in Miami. On the left, take in the photo from the hotel’s website: pretty ethereal light in the gazebo; the building-less skyline; the furniture that appears inviting and vibrant and sleek.

And on the right…reality. Considerably less glow-y, no?

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