July 2010

Lobby at The Mark

When we visited The Mark hotel recently, we instantly fell in love with its stunning design. Styled by Jacques Grange, one of France’s most celebrated interior designers (and fashion icons, apparently – he made it onto Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed list in 1994), The Mark is sleek, playful and ultramodern. But Monsieur Grange isn’t our only favorite celebrity hotel stylist — after the jump, check out unique designs from household names such as Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, and Lenny Kravitz (yes, that Lenny Kravitz).

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Some of San Francisc's best sandwiches can be found on a loading dock.

Forget your cute little cafes with the chic, outdoor tables to take a load off at lunchtime.

Some of the best al fresco dining in San Francisco can be had at an actual concrete loading dock, where you might find yourself digging into your gourmet sammy as an exhaust-spewing UPS or Fed-Ex truck pulls up right beside you.

Of course, I can only be talking about the offbeat and charming Kitchenette in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, a short drive from the W Hotel.

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View of the Charles River in Boston

In Boston you really get the best of both worlds: It’s a bustling city with fabulous shopping and nightlife, but it also provides outdoorsy types with plenty of al fresco activities to indulge in, especially during the summer. Check out our favorite activities below and the hotels to stay in that are convenient to each.

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Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Last week, we showed you some great hotel deals for Labor Day weekend in Miami. But for those of you heading to the Pacific Coast for your long weekend, we’ve thought we’d help you out by giving you a list of Los Angeles hotels that are on sale right now. And each sale we’re telling you about is for one of our favorite hotels in L.A., so you know you’re in good hands. These sales won’t last all summer, so be sure to book now if you want to enjoy your Labor Day on the beach at a reduced price.

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Domaine Carneros in the Napa Valley

Everyone knows that San Francisco is an amazing city, full of culture, natural beauty, and great food. But many people go to San Francisco and miss the opportunity to taste some of the country’s greatest wines, just a stone’s throw away in the Carneros wine region. In less than an hour you can be sipping a fine sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, or Chardonnay while breathing in fresh, country air and feasting your eyes on never ending hills and vineyards.

Here are a few suggestions on where to sample California’s finest:

If you are looking for grand, there are few grander estates in the Napa Valley than Domaine Carneros. This manor on a hill offers tableside tasting service as well as several tours daily. Though a teensy bit touristy, I am still glad we visited as their bubbly is top notch, and the architecture is something out of the French countryside.

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Find your favorite books in the vast collection at the New York Public Library

Most of our country’s greatest literary minds have lived or stayed in New York City at one point or another. And as wordsmiths dedicated to lives of pen and paper, they inevitably wrote during their time in the Big Apple. We checked out the hotels where they met, stayed, and wrote, from seedy rest stops with cheap rent, to meeting places for witty exchange amongst fellow authors, to sites of lavish celebrations of one’s literary success . So gather up your book club (or just your nose-in-novel honey) and head to NYC to visit the hotel haunts where your favorite authors were inspired–you just may be inspired too.

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You can watch workers dip shortbread cookies into chocolate at Big Island Candies.

Watch workers dunk shortbread cookies into melted chocolate at Big Island Candies.

Leaving the Hawaiian Islands behind after a beautiful vacation can be bittersweet. But while your bright blue umbrella drink isn’t going to make it through customs, you can take the flavor of the islands home with you in the form of some locally sourced, locally made sweet treats. Neatly packaged and ready to go, these cookies, candies, and snacks are the perfect foil to your back-to-work blues. Read More »

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Water rides are just one of the many ways to keep cool while at Disney

It’s about a billion degrees in Orlando during the summer, so how can you stay cool while you visit Walt Disney World? As the poem goes … “Let me count the ways…”

Swimming Pools

The obvious way to stay cool at Walt Disney World is to jump into one of the great pools. Pools like the Hippy Dippy Pool at Disney’s Pop Century, or Nanea (the Volcano Pool) at the Polynesian Resort are – like all of the hotel pools around Disney World –  great places to escape the heat.

Water Parks

Another way to get away from the Central Florida summertime furnace is by visiting one of the awesome water parks. Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach (the world’s coolest water park) are great for getting out of the broiling sun and into a nice, cool lazy river.

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The five-pearl Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas, with whopping 3,000 rooms, is one of the world's best megaresorts.

A lot of travelers look for peace and quiet when they go on vacation – rustic getaways, secluded island retreats, and romantic beach escapes. And we love the special, intimate properties that deliver that kind of experience. But sometimes, you want the razzle-dazzle of an over-the-top, stuffed-to-the-gills megaresort, where extras like fantastic restaurants, cool pools, golf courses, beaches, entertainment, or water parks are never far away. For an elaborate, ultra-convenient, don’t-make-me-work-for-it vacation, consider staying at one of Oyster’s all-time favorite megaresorts. Read More »

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The Betsy Hotel in Miami is on sale now for Labor Day Weekend

Like it or not, Labor Day is just around the corner. While no one wants to think about summer ending, it’s never too early to think about your Labor Day plans, especially if your plans include booking a hotel and a plane flight.

Right now many of our favorite Miami hotels are running sales for Labor Day weekend, so we thought we’d tell you a bit about the hotels and the savings they’re offering. But don’t delay in making a decision, as these sales will likely vanish as the holiday weekend draws nearer.

The below hotels all have Oyster ratings of 4 pearls (out of 5) or above, so you know you can’t go wrong choosing any of these options — these are truly some of our favorite hotels in Miami. The sale price we’re showing is the average per night during Labor Day weekend.

Betsy Hotel

  • List Price: $264/night
  • Sale Price: $211/avg. per night
  • Location: South Beach
  • Pearl rating: 4

After a $40 million overhaul, the Betsy reopened in 2009 with a beautiful rooftop spa and solarium, a renowned restaurant (BLT steak), and bright, charming rooms. The pool’s a bit disappointing, and the rooms aren’t as large as the Mondrian’s, but for tasteful luxury and a rare dose of tranquility on Ocean Drive, this is where it’s at.

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