July 2011

Did you know you can learn Chicago by segway, or tour and taste its chocolate shops, bakeries and cafes? Staycations are the perfect way to feel like you’re on vacation while staying local. Discovering your city like you’ve never seen before is fun, educational and inspiring. Let us help you plan your perfect Chicago staycation.

Where to stay: Hotel Palomar
For family-style trips, the Hotel Palomar delivers. They’ve got welcome gifts for kids, in-room child-safety kits (outlet covers, toilet latches, nightlights), and high chairs and booster seats in the hotel’s restaurant. And it doesn’t end there — kids can bundle up in child-size animal print bathrobes, drink “mocktails” during the hosted evening wine tasting, and parents can enjoy babysitting services. Plus, the hotel has an indoor pool, connecting rooms, and a 24-hour concierge service that can recommend kid-oriented activities. Rooms with pull-out sofas and larger suites that can sleep up to five guests make this a perfect pick for families.

Lobby at the Hotel Palomar Chicago

Lobby at the Hotel Palomar Chicago

What to do: Chocolate Tours
We’ve all got chocolate cravings. Treat yourself to a 2.5 or 3-hour walking and tasting tour of select Chicago chocolate shops, bakeries and cafe. Public tours are $40 per person, but private tours are also available upon request. You can purchase the tickets online, and there are tours daily, all year round. You can even choose the route: Downtown Loop, Magnificent Mile and Gold Coast, South Loop, etc.
Bonus: Is your craving more pastry-focused? Good news. There are also Cupcake Tours at $50 per person.

What to do: Bike Tour
You can choose from several different bike tours, a great way to explore your city without using gas and getting some exercise. The Lakefront Neighborhoods Tour takes you off the beaten path and onto the quiet neighborhood streets, city parks and beaches. The Night Tours have the same prices, duration and level. It visits the Millennium Park, the Buckingham Fountain, Museum Campus, and more. If you’re looking to include the whole family, the Kid’s Edition is for families with kids 10 and under.  The Historic Hyde Park Tour calls for moderate to advanced riders—it covers 24 miles in 4 hours. It’s the only tour allowed to ride past Obama’s former mansion!

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Some crave steep snowy peaks. Others bask in a bustling metropolis. And some want a labyrinth of reefs, streaked in bright blues, yellows, and reds, swarming with bizarrely beautiful undersea creatures. For those aqua-oriented souls, we’ve compiled a list of Oyster’s top scuba diving destinations (note: more to come in the near future!).

Costa Rica

Don’t let Costa Rica’s small size fool you. It’s packed with spectacular marine life and an abundance of diving spots. Its beaches boast some of the sea’s most colorful creatures, both big and small. With cooler, nutrient-rich waters, divers often see dolphins, whale sharks, and humpback whales. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, Cocos Island, an uninhabited island more than 300 miles off the coast, is one of the world’s most-treasured diving spots, with oodles of Hammerhead, ray, and dolphin sightings. It’s normal to see dozens or even hundreds of these animals on every dive. If you’re traveling between December and mid-April, make sure to pack some exposure protection, as water temps have been known to dip relatively low.

Playa Virador at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Where to stay:

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa

Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa

 

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Foto Friday: Get Wet

by Hilary on July 29, 2011

Dive into a glorious weekend. Have fun!

The Caves  Negril, Jamaica

The Caves Negril, Jamaica

Jump into the water from the 30-foot-high ledge near the breakfast lounge, or take a smaller dive from a ledge just a couple of feet above the water. Or, if you’re feeling a little more timid, you can just climb straight down into the water from a ladder.

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Want to dine, indulge, and bask in Giada’s favorite hotel restaurants? You got it.

We found out where Giada’s favorite hotel restaurants are in various cities across the USA, and now we’re salivating. Here are the best dishes from this star’s go-to hot spots.

Bonus: read on for a secret recipe from a top chef in one of Las Vegas’s best restaurants.

Restaurant: The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles
Giada’s take: “Jose Andres who has restaurants in Washington, D.C. Great traditional and modern Spanish tapas.”
Best dishes:

  • Mediterranean Mussels olive oil, vinegar, pimentón
  • King Crab raspberries, raspberry vinegar
  • Delta Farm Green Asparagus labneh, macadamia nuts
  • Sautéed wild mushrooms, hazelnut praline
  • Sautéed shrimp garlic, guindilla pepper
  • Seared scallops, romesco sauce
  • Seared Mary’s Farm chicken honey dates, mustard caviar, mustard greens
  • Baby beets salad, citrus, pistachio, olive oil goat cheese
The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, Los Angeles

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Cold summertime cocktails. So hot right now. We’re visiting the best, trendiest hotel bars to find you the tastiest summer cocktails in NYC. Not only have we got the photos, we’ve got the recipes — directly from the bartenders — so you can make them at home. Grab your martini glass and hit the deck, you’re having a cocktail party.

First up, Jimmy at The James, New York.

DRINK #1: The Cartel

The Cartel, Jimmy at The James, New York

The Cartel, Jimmy at The James, New York

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ oz Herradura Silver Tequila
  • 1 oz  Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 2 oz Pineapple JUICE
  • ½ Honey Syrup
  • 4 dash Peruvian Bitters

To make
Build in tin, shake with ice, strain into rocks glass, garnish with pineapple wedge.

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Beach at the Stanza Mare Coral Comfort

Beach at the Stanza Mare Coral Comfort

  • PLAN
    Relax, plan a vacation. This guide will help you do just that. Do you need a week off? 3 days? How do you fit everything in? Here’s how to make the most of your vacation. [New York Times]
  • BIKE
    In style, of course. Santa Monica’s  Shutters on the Beach is celebrating summer with new, green, shiny, Italian handmade bicycles for guests’ use (at a cost), styled by Kate Spade. [Hotel Chatter]
  • STAY
    If you dare. Using lumber from dumpsters, donated building supplies and funds from her own pocket, Constance Hockaday created a floating hotel on water at the edge of Manhattan. She’s calling it a boatel. [NPR]
  • SAVE
    A hip, design-conscious just-opened hotel in Brooklyn, New York has an attractive price tag. Just like the 20-year-olds that it will host, the Aloft Hotel designers used cheap materials from places like IKEA and Target to create a trendy, chic look without the cost. Hundreds of beautiful Oyster photos of Aloft coming soon. [Wall Street Journal]
  • SMILE
    You’ll never wait for an elevator at the Park Hyatt Chicago. The front-desk clerks watch as people walk from the main lobby towards the elevators, and push the elevator button behind the front desk. [USA Today]

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Quail Roulade

Quail Roulade

You may have enjoyed the warm, earthy flavors of  Moroccan cuisine before, but you’ve never experienced the likes of it at the Michelin-starred Aziza in San Francisco, a short drive from the Laurel Inn San Francisco.

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Rose Pistola Restaurant, San Francisco

Rose Pistola Restaurant, San Francisco

 

There’s no denying that North Beach has to be one of San Francisco’s most touristy neighborhoods. But it’s also full of enough charm, vivacity and quality Italian food to continue draw locals as well. That’s one reason why after 15 years Rose Pistola, a short hop from the Hilton San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf, is still going strong. The Ligurian-inspired restaurant recently got a face-lift with a new, softer color scheme in grey, burgundy and brown. The tile floors have been restored and the rich mahogany gleams.

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Walking on water is an uncommon ability. I think we can all agree on that.

However, ever since Stand-Up Paddling (that’s “SUP” to you!) hit the scene, the sensation of gliding along a liquid surface is more accessible.

Everyone who is anyone — and many of us who are not featured regularly in tabloids — is climbing atop these big boards and paddling her way towards blissful serene summer moments, not to mention an amazing total body workout.

From our friends at SELF.com, here are 5 reasons why you should run — don’t walk (even on water) — to the nearest SUP session to try this surfing/canoeing hybrid:

1. Celebs Love It:
If Kate Hudson jumped off a bridge, would you? Well, maybe if there was a bungee attached. This new water sport has an insane amount of A-list traction: Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner, Owen Wilson, Matthew McConaughey, Cindy Crawford, Adrian Grenier, Rihanna, Denise Richards and Ben Harper are just a few of the hard-bodied celebs spotted getting their SUP on.

Where to SUP: The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

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With New York’s recent legalization of gay marriage, same-sex couples from all over are flocking to tie that much-anticipated knot. Ironically, one of the most important aspects of getting married is what comes the week or so after you say “I do” – the honeymoon. Here are some of our top honeymoon destinations and hotels, LGBT style.

San Francisco

San Francisco just happens to be one of the most romantic cities in the U.S. and one of the country’s leaders in equal rights. The pastel houses sprinkled on the hills lead to a breathtaking view of the Bay, which is encased in steep mountain crests. This foggy city has long been famous for its liberalism and political activism, as it’s the epicenter of gay rights movements. With a multiplicity of gay-owned businesses and households, it’s difficult to find a street without a rainbow flag being proudly displayed.

Where to stay:

Clift

Also:

Hotel Rex

The Huntington Hotel

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