July 2012

View of the Green Mountains at the Vermont Inn

An incredible mountain vista from Vermont Inn's lawn.

Last night, Hotel Impossible headed (way) up North to Vermont, the country’s fourth most-popular wedding destination — and home to the scenic Green Mountains. Located just outside of the ski town of Killington, the Vermont Inn is a cozy B&B that offers solid rates, cozy rooms, and of course, incredible views. But because the hotel had “absentee owners” — those who are not present on a regular basis — and those absentee owners just happened to manage their brother-in-law (who lives on property and is employed as its innkeeper), the Vermont Inn was struggling financially and emotionally. But when Anthony, Blanche, and the rest of the HI team show up, they mean serious business — and more importantly, help the hotel get business. Perhaps the most critical moment of last night’s episode is when the owners decided to focus on the Inn as a wedding venue — after all, plenty of people do get married up there. Find out what we learned about the biz (and loved, of course) the episode after the jump!

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So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that England is kind of a big deal right now. The queen is currently celebrating her Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne!) and in July, thousands of the world’s best athletes will descend upon London to fight for glory (a.k.a. the Olympics). It’s enough to have even the most casual Anglophiles among us in a frenzy. Those of us not lucky enough to be visiting England this summer may wonder: How best to celebrate the awesomeness of our parent across the pond? To help, we’ve come up with five oh-so-English traditions that can be enjoyed anywhere — no U.K. citizenship required.

1. Eat English delicacies, such as pigs’ feet

The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, New York City

The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, New York City

Oyster’s pick for where to do it: The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, New York City

The English may not be renowned for their cuisine, but when it’s done well, it’s extremely delicious. British chef April Bloomfield has proved as much, and The Breslin is one of the best places in the States to sample English gastropub fare. On the menu? Pig’s feet with spring vegetables and creme fraiche, seafood sausage with beurre blanc and chives, and a chargrilled lamb burger with cumin mayo and thrice cooked chips (chips means French fries, for those not well-versed in English eating.) Read More »

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Lobby at the Hotel Montalembert; Paris, France

Lobby at the Hotel Montalembert; Paris, France

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The chef at Hotel Montalembert in Paris can prepare a special dish from a dogs-only menu, available upon request.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Beatles-inspired Yellow Submarine Hotel is housed in a 1940 Royal Navy submarine docked in Liverpool, England.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A 30-year-old man impaled himself on a fence at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester, NH, while trying to run out on the bar tab.

4.FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino now have an app that helps guests find their way through the resorts’ grounds.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A $3 million painting by French artist Henri Matisse that was stolen nearly a decade ago from a Venezuelan museum was found last week in a room at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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The best way to discover Whistler is checking out the Village Stroll, lined with stores, bars and restaurants

The best way to discover Whistler is checking out the Village Stroll, lined with stores, bars and restaurants

World-class slopes, wonderful dining and a superb nightlife scene make Whistler one of the world’s best spots for a winter vacation– but who said ski resorts are only to be enjoyed during the colder months? Those same bunny hills and black diamonds turn into fun hiking trails and mountain bike circuits when the snow melts, and the dining and drinking is taken outdoors, bringing a lively atmosphere to long, sunny summer days. Check out our guide of what to do and where to stay in Whistler this summer — and beyond.

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The crown jewel in the Punta Cana Resort and Club, Tortuga Bay boasts not only the best service in the Dominican Republic, but also luxe amenities, delicious food, and gorgeous views of the beach’s calm, crystal-clear water and soft white sand from each individual villa. Famed fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who lives just down the road in a private home, designed the entire property which, with only 15 rooms, offers guests serenity and tranquility throughout its grounds and long stretch of sandy beach. And so, as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak in the goodness that is Tortuga Bay.

Beach at Tortuga Bay

Relaxation Nation: Beach at Tortuga Bay

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Tom Cruise with daughter Suri (and the paps) on Tuesday. Credit: Humberto Carreno/startraksphoto.com

Tom Cruise with daughter Suri (and the paps) on Tuesday. Credit: Humberto Carreno/startraksphoto.com

There’s certainly been a lot of buzz about the Holmes-Cruise clan over the past month. First there was the surprise split announcement (and it seems like Cruise was just as surprised as we were). Then, the shockingly quick divorce settlement. And now things are seemingly returning to normalcy — or perhaps reaching it for the first time. Katie has hired a fresh staff and is working hard to regain her career, and Cruise is taking it a day at a time: filming his new movie, ringing in his 50th birthday, and spoiling Suri as per usual. The actor has been staying at the luxurious Greenwich Hotel in New York City this week, visiting his daughter for the first time since the split was announced on June 29th. Check out all the fun father and daughter have had — and get an insider’s peek at the luxe hotel digs — after the jump »

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Any vacation provides a multitude of dining options — but nothing beats a hot, fresh meal delivered (with white gloves) to your door, especially when it’s slathered in black truffles. Indulge your palate at one of these hotels for some of the best meals on wheels.

Hotel #1: The Waldorf Astoria

A beautifully plated meal at The Waldorf Astoria

A beautifully plated meal at The Waldorf Astoria

Arguably New York City’s most iconic hotel, everything about the Waldorf Astoria is fancy – from the décor down to the white-glove service. The hotel was the first ever to offer room service after opening in 1931, and despite sky high prices (just a bagel will you cost you nearly $25), the food is nothing short of divine.

Oyster’s Menu Pick: Oscar’s Spicy Asian Chicken Salad

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Foto Friday: A Golden View

by Devon on July 20, 2012

View from The Deluxe King Room at The Fairmont San Francisco

We’re celebrating our love of San Francisco this week with a trip (even if just in our minds) to the iconic Fairmont hotel. After all, one of the things we love most about Frisco is the expansive cityscape set against the gorgeous rolling hills of Northern California, and the hotel boasts stunning views of the Bay Area. The view is especially alluring when the skies turn pink at dusk: At that time, the twinkling lights of the city perfectly frame the natural beauty that is the San Francisco Bay.

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Being the Hotel Tell-All has its perks. Not only do we get to visit, review and photograph destinations around the world, but we get to meet with the folks promoting these places — specifically, the (awesome!) destination marketing organizations, commonly referred to as DMOs. To make a location stand out, it’s vital for DMOs to get unique with their marketing tactics. We checked in with Oyster’s VP of Destination Marketing, Jim Brody, to find out the five of the best stunts he’s seen his in 18-year career in the industry.

1. Banff-Lake Louise Tourism’s Twitter Squirrel

@Banff_Squirrel has over 10,000 followers.

Every DMO is on Twitter, tweeting award announcements, press release nuggets, cool facts, and re-tweeting everybody who mentions them, naturally. The Banff, Canada DMO took it to a whole new level with the Banff Squirrel (@banff_squirrel). The squirrel, who has over 10,000 followers, is a real celebrity character – it engages with followers and even other “animals” on Twitter, and offers helpful info along with a terrific sense of humor.

2. Austria’s Pop-Up “Country” in NYC

Austria's Parliament. Credit: iStock Photo

The pop-up (or temporary) exhibition has become a staple of destination marketing — it’s a great way for prospective visitors to experience a place without having to step on a plane. For years now, there have been pop-up restaurants, exhibits at festivals, temporary shops, and more. But Austria took the notion of the “pop-up” even further in 2011 by literally creating a pop-up country in lower Manhattan. For two weeks, the “store” (complete with Austria-branded signage) allowed folks to experience some of Austria’s highlights. It included interactive museum exhibits; coffee and tortes served from the famed Café Sacher; and — most notably — a replica of Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece, “The Kiss.” Visitors could get photographed with the painting, and blast their pics out to a variety of social networks.

3. Tourism Ireland’s Facebook Game App

Tourism Ireland's Ireland Town is both fun and educational.

Everyone is on Facebook these days: In fact, 9 out of 10 users log on to the site weekly — making it an ideal tool for a destination to highlight its unique features. Tourism Ireland does a great job with its Facebook page, doing much more than sharing photos, surveying visitors, and supporting business partners. The DMO created an in-page game, Ireland Town. Currently, The game has over 19,000 likes, and is a fun and competitive way for visitors to immerse themselves in all things Ireland, including its culture, history, geography, and attractions.

4. Experience Bathurst’s Personalized YouTube Video Channel

Bathurst's ladies are bilingual -- and successful.

When you’re small, you need to think outside the box to attract attention. This tiny, bilingual destination in New Brunswick, Canada has developed its own version of a YouTube travel series. Every Tuesday, hosts Meredith and Monique share something to do in Bathurst – and they banter in both English and French (each official languages) for a twist on tradition. One host speaks English, the other French, and the series is not subtitled or dubbed; the hosts don’t even translate one other. Despite the plausible language barrier, Meredith and Monique make you want to visit Bathurst ASAP. The ladies have even created promo videos for their series complete with a running laugh track.

5. Miami’s Pop-Up Pool in NYC

A rendering of the pool. Credit: Courtesy of Gothamist

OK, so this may not have happened yet, but we’re sure it’s going to be epic (and expensive to execute, if nothing else): Miami is setting up a pop-up pool in New York’s Union Square. No one will actually be allowed to swim in the pool (as the Huffington Post wrote, it’s kind of like “letting someone look at ice cream, without actually having them eat it,”) but Gothamist has found out that the pop-up will include “sexy, chic pool deck with bikini clad models, palm trees, cabanas, DJs spinning, and six hours of fun in the sun.” We’re definitely interested to see how this one plays out — and if it pays off.

 

 

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Visiting London for the Olympics is all about watching in awe as the world’s top athletes compete — and simultaneously zoning out the crowds, because you certainly won’t be the only person hopping across the pond to cheer for your country. Over half a million spectators are expected at the games this summer, and you know what that means: There’s bound to be a celebrity or two in the crowd. So if you don’t mind having your eye wander off the events just a bit, you may have a star sighting. How do you increase your chances of running into a celeb in the flesh? Stay at a hotel frequented by them, of course. We’ve found four of the best London hotels for the best chance of gawking at your favorite stars. And even if you don’t spot one on your visit, you can at least say you’ve stayed at a hotel with a celebrity’s stamp of approval.

The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel

Previous Celebrity Guests: Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Carrey, Kanye West

The Lanesborough Suite at The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel

The Lanesborough Suite at The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel

Why They Love It: The Lanesborough is a luxurious property overlooking Hyde Park in Knightsbridge. The 93 rooms have palatial bathrooms, big flat-screen TVs, and free butler service. Stately decor is inspired by the early 19th century, and free Wi-Fi and laptops are available in every room. Hotel highlights include fine dining at the Michelin-rated restaurant Apsleys, a ground floor piano bar, and traditional afternoon tea, but celebs really love this spot’s discretion: Stars are often put up in the Royal Suite, which has an undisclosed location within the hotel. Even very few Lanesborough employees know where to find it in order to ensure the utmost privacy.

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