December 2012

Hotel minibars have a bit of a naughty reputation. After all, they tempt and tease world-weary travelers with salty-sweet goodness at all hours of the day, and then come with a double-digit price tag to boot! But sometimes, the items up for grabs can at least provide guests with a moment of amusement. Some hotels feature rather surprising minibar offerings — we’re talking walking sticks and 24-karat gold vibrators. It’s enough to make guests pause in their perusal of the candy selection and say, “Wait, what?” We’ve come across some of the wackiest minibar items during our travels; here are some of our favorites:

Alexander Wang-Designed Condoms at the Thompson Beverly Hills 

Get your groove on at the Thompson Beverly Hills.

At the flashy Thompson Beverly Hills, spending the night with that special someone just got more fashionable. Designer Alexander Wang created special packaging for PROPER ATTIRE condoms, which are for sale at all Thomspon properties, as well as on the brand’s website. Couples pay $5.99 for a pack of three assorted (which include extra large, ultra-thin, and studded — oh my!) and proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood.  Read More »

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Water doesn't get much prettier than that!

The 27-room Anacaona is a solid mid-range option in Anguilla’s West End — and for a beach like that, we’d stay just about anywhere! It offers access to the same gorgeous white-sand beach as the neighboring Viceroy — through an off-property path — as well as to the nearby Greg Norman-designed golf course and a few restaurants. Rooms are large and airy, and have great amenities, including large flat-screen TVs with dozens of channels, iPod docks, free Wi-Fi, and Frette linens. With two small pools, free snorkeling equipment, a great restaurant serving Caribbean fare with a twist, and a massage hut on the beach, the hotel is a good pick for value. So as we say every week: sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Anacaona Boutique Hotel.

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Are you on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list this year? We’ve seen a lot of good and bad behaviors during our travels over the last year — and maybe dabbled in both as well! So we know every dirty little secret, or shiny gold star, that you’ve been part-and-parcel to on vacation. But if you’re not sure where you stand in Santa’s twinkling eyes, we’re here to help. You can find out whether your favorite hotel amenities will get your stockings stuffed full of goodies or weighed down by coal this holiday season with our quiz. So check out which list you’re on!

The Naughty List: 

1. Have you stripped down?

Clothing optional resorts like the Desire Riviera Maya can see some X-rated action.

For some travelers, itsy bitsy bikinis or revealing Speedos just don’t cut it — a vacation isn’t a vacation without a little nudity. Luckily for them, some hotels are redefining casual dress with policies that let guests bare it all (or almost all), like the couples-only, clothing-optional Desire Resort & Spa Riviera Maya. A little voyeurism never hurt anyone — but don’t be surprised if your nude antics land you on the naughty list this winter.

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Foto Friday: Name This City!

by Devon on December 21, 2012

Take a guess of where this shot was taken!

This historic city may be known for a certain charming, old-world downtown district, but the city also has a bustling business center filled with skyscrapers along a gorgeous river setting. And this big small-town has more to brag about than the scenery. Not only were poker and craps first played in this sometimes-sinful city, but the terms “Dixieland” and “Uncle Sam” also hail from here. Though this town is synonymous with the genre of music that it pioneered, it’s also the site of the first opera to be performed in the U.S. back in 1796.

Think you know? Find out after jump!
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Well, the time has finally come! We’re in the last stretch of humanity as we know it (according to the ancient Mayan calendar, at least), and we’re searching the globe for the best places on earth to spend our final days — or day as the case may be. We’ve visited every (habitable) continent and through our travels, we’ve found that whether you’re preparing for a traditional Biblical Apocalypse of fire and brimstone, or something a bit more on the sci-fi spectrum, there is a Doomsday destination for you somewhere on this fated planet. Take a look at our list and pick the spot where you’ll spend your last blissful moments.

 

Hit the beach before making your last offerings in Riviera Maya.

North American Destination: Riviera Maya, for an ancient Mayan offering

The small Caribbean district along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is undoubtedly the best place in North America to spend your last day on Earth. Riviera Maya not only boasts stunning white-sand beaches and some of the most majestic natural beauty in the world, but it is also home to the ruins of 7th century A.D. Mayans. The Mayans, of course, were the ones who predicted the 2012 end of the world (or maybe they just ran out of rock), and the area is having its share of “End of the World” celebrations to honor the culture with  ancient ceremonies.

Stay: Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa

The Tulum area of Rivieria Maya, where the Dreams is located, is the site of the walled cities of the Mayan culture, and the gateway to the ruins. The beachfront Dreams is only a five-minute drive from major ruins, where visitors can offer sacrifices or just say their prayers.

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The way we travel is always changing, and 2012 provided ample proof of that. To help you prep for your 2013 vacay, Oyster honed in on the top trends currently rocking the travel world, from the royal travel craze to the rise of the pod hotel. Here’s what’s hot — and what’s not!

The Trend: Celeb Hotel Designers

Lenny Kravitz, who designed the new SLS South Beach, was only one of this year's celeb hotel designers.

Lenny Kravitz, who designed two penthouses at the new SLS South Beach, was only one of many of this year's celeb hotel designers.

Celebrities and fashion icons — Kelly Wearstler, Oscar de La Renta, and Ralph Lauren, to name a few — have been designing hotel interiors for a while, but 2012 proved this trend certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This year we’ve seen tennis star Venus Williams design two presidential suites for the Intercontinental Miami, Diane Von Furstenburg design a two-bedroom penthouse for the Australian Hayman Island Resort, and Lenny Kravitz contribute to yet another Miami hotel design project — the SLS Hotel South Beach, coming soon to Oyster.com!

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Tons of visitors descend upon New York City during the holidays, and for good reason. After all, few places boast such a cheery holiday spirit with beautiful window displays, Christmas lights galore, and holiday pop-up shops on every corner — and this all in a place where “get out of my way” is usually considered a friendly “hello!” So if you’re heading to the Big Apple soon — or are here now — take a look at our list of the best holiday activities that will be sure to spread plenty of cheer. And we’ve included the best places to stay as well, of course!

Holiday Activity: Ice-Skate in Central Park

It may be unseasonably warm, but that makes it the perfect weather for outdoor ice-skating at Wollman Rink.

Open for more than 25 weeks during the cooler months, Wollman Rink (officially “Trump Rink” these days) has been a New York City staple since 1949. Locals and tourists, amateurs and professionals all meet on the rink during public session hours, which are extended on holidays such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Where to Stay: JW Marriott Essex New York

This large, luxurious Art Deco icon, located on the southern edge of Central Park (some rooms overlook the rink), evokes the opulence of bygone times. A 2007 re-design put modern technological amenities in the rooms, and the Essex is moving comfortably into the future.

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Courtyard at The Greenwich Hotel; New York, NY Courtyard at The Greenwich Hotel; New York, NY

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Robert De Niro, The Greenwhich Hotel’s co-owner, had Russell Crowe arrested after the actor spent several nights in the hotel’s courtyard singing with some friends till the wee hours.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas is offering a $60,000 New Year’s Eve package that includes three nights in the hotel’s Presidential Suite and a couple’s treatment to detox after the NYE revelry.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Peninsula Chicago has unveiled plans to open a 1,200-square-foot ice rink on the hotel rooftop on Friday, December 21st. Admission will be donation-based and proceeds will go to charity.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Starwood just announced plans to open a 36-story, Petra-inspired W Hotel in Costa Rica in 2016.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Element New York Times Square West is now offering free loaner bikes that double as iPhone chargers. All Element hotels will also feature the offer soon.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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There are plenty of different ways to travel in Europe – from shoestring-budget trips to over-the-top getaways worthy of the British royals. Here at Oyster we’ve been lucky enough to be able to do both (seriously, the budget hotels in Europe are pretty nice!), but the holidays are for wishing and dreaming, so we’re going to help you put together your own list of top places to get pampered in 2013. Keep reading and discover our favorite luxury hotels in Europe!

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

The world-renowned luxury hotel Plaza Athenee — a part of the Dorchester Collection — is synonymous with Parisian elegance and good taste. Iconic red awnings and chestnut trees welcome guests to the historic setting, on the upscale Avenue Montaigne location with direct views of the Eiffel Tower. It’s all about luxury here, inside and out. The avenue is lined with high-end shops such as Christian Dior, Prada, and Chanel. And inside, the 146 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths. With six distinct restaurants, a large fitness center, and a can’t-miss daily breakfast in a leafy garden, the Plaza Athenee doesn’t miss a beat.

  • Our favorite luxe amenity: Guests have access to the Dior Institute for a full range of quality beauty and spa treatments.

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The beach at Divi Dutch Village is picturesque -- particularly when the crowds are gone.

Divi Dutch Village is one of five mid-range Divi properties on the island of Aruba. All of the 123 suites have king beds, queen sofa sleepers, and fully equipped kitchens, making them a convenient pick for families. Additional in-room amenities include balconies, duvets, flat-screen TVs and DVD players. Don’t expect ocean views, though, as the property is situated in a garden-like setting behind the Tamarijn Aruba. That being said, guests are just steps from a prime stretch of Druif Beach, where white sands and crystal clear waters make the short walk more than worth it. It’s particularly beautiful in the early mornings and at night, when the crowds are gone and the pinkish sky is reflected off the rippling waves. So as we say every week: sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Divi Dutch Village.

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