August 2013

Those looking to plan a memorable corporate gathering or decadent wedding need look no further than these seven hotels across the country. They’re among the most prestigious options in the U.S. for an event, and each has an elegant ballroom for your elegant occasion.

The Pierre – a Taj Hotel, New York City

The Pierre - A Taj Hotel, New York City

The Pierre - A Taj Hotel, New York City

An elegant, historic hotel across the street from Central Park, the Pierre offers a taste of grand old New York. And its aptly named Grand Ballroom is most certainly one of the grandest venues in the city for an event. Read More »

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Hard Rock Hotel Cancun

Hard Rock Hotel Cancun

When we dream about our next beach vacation, we’re definitely picturing ourselves cooling off at a swim-up bar with fruity cocktail in hand. We’re not the only ones. And party-hearty Cancun is one of the best places in the world to indulge in some swim-up bar R&R, featuring options with stunning ocean views and well-stocked liquor supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes spa treatments tip over the edge of relaxing and enter the realm of downright strange. From fish pedicures to snow rooms, hotels around the globe are offering unique (and kinda weird) options for guests to indulge in. Some might swear by these alternative services, others may be skeptical — but we at Oyster will try (almost) anything once! Here, we’ve rounded up the craziest spa services we’ve come across during our travels. Take a look and prepare to get pampered in a whole new way!

The Treatment: Sparience Oxygen Bubble

The Spa Hotel: Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona 

The Sparience Oyxgen Bubble experience is stress-reducing.

At the Zen Zone Spa in Barcelona, guests can try out the Sparience Oyxgen Bubble. Meant to relieve stress and minimize injury recovery time, these bubbles are filled with 99.5 percent pure oxygen, which should induce intense mental and physical relaxation. The sculpted AlphaSphere bed combines color, shape, and light with sound, vibrations, and warmth to increase the effects of the treatment. It all sounds well and good, but doesn’t it remind you a bit of this John Travolta classic? Read More »

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Bryggen is home to quaint -- and colorful -- 17th-century buildings.

Summer is a terrific time to take in the sights in Norway. Whether you’re most excited to taste test the local food or check out the best hotels, it’s worth exploring every nook and cranny of this gorgeous country. Which of course includes the major attractions: Though Norway may be known for its beautiful fjords, it has a lot more the offer than just that. Check out our slideshow of the top 10 attractions in Norway — and convenient places to stay nearby!

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Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe, Riviera Maya

Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe, Riviera Maya

In Riviera Maya, travelers  can sunbathe and swim at beautiful beaches, snorkel in the world’s second largest coral reef, visit archaeological sites dating back to the 7th century A.D., go shopping, dine in great international restaurants, and party like a spring breaker — all in one day. This stretch of coastline between Cancun to the north and Tulum to the south is lined with some truly decadent resorts with some truly decadent all-inclusive packages. Check out our favorites.

 

 

 

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Ever dreamed of being king or queen of a castle? Lord or lady of the manor? Well, you’re not the only one — and plenty of hotels around the world can make that dream come true. We scouted out nine luxury hotels that were formerly the elaborate private homes of blue bloods, aristocrats, and royals, from an Irish castle to a Gatsby-era Gold Coast mansion. Feelin’ fancy? Then check these out.

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland

This charming stone manor house dates to the 18th century and the 450-acre country estate embodies the sort of wild country beauty that Connemara is famous for. Past owners of the lands have included the O’Flaherty clan (the 16th century “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’Malley, married into the clan and was one of its more noteworthy members); Richard Martin (a member of Parliament nicknamed Humanity Dick for founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); and the Indian Maharaja, Ranji, who bought the estate in 1922. Read More »

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There are those who say that your room on vacation doesn’t matter — you won’t spend any time in it anyway, right? Wellll, being the hotel geeks that we are, we have to respectfully disagree. That kind of logic is perfectly fine if you’re hopping hostels, but the truth is, the hotel room is a major component of a vacation experience for most of us. And if that hotel room provides a stunning outlook of the place you traveled all that way to see, all the better. That way you won’t miss a moment of experiencing your wonderful destination. These nine views aren’t just nice, they’re jaw-dropping — taking your vacation to a whole new level.

Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

The guest rooms at Jade Mountain are among the most luxurious in the world, and all have a missing fourth wall featuring stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and St. Lucia’s iconic Pitons. Most also offer private infinity pools. This romantic resort is an architectural marble, built into a mountain about 100 feet above the sea. Read More »

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Marketing image from Hotel Las Palmas by the Sea, Puerto Vallarta

Marketing image from Hotel Las Palmas by the Sea, Puerto Vallarta

Chances are you’ve heard of our popular Photo Fakeout series, where we show our honest hotel photos contrasted against the sleek, staged, and misleading images put out by hotel marketers. The results can be shocking, and sometimes humorous (unless you’re the one who got tricked and booked into that misrepresented resort, of course). Our investigator Jennifer Garfinkel headed to Puerto Vallarta with ABC’s The Lookout to get the scoop on some Mexican photo fakeouts, and boy, did she find plenty. Check ‘em out.

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Dogs love chillin' during vacay as much as humans do!

The dog days of summer are here, and you know what that means — pictures of adorable dogs on vacation, of course! (What did you think we meant?) Even a man’s best friend has got to chill out during the hottest part of the summer. So if you’ve been working like a dog, follow the lead of these cute pups and indulge in some much-needed R&R. Just don’t forget to bring Fido on your getaway.

 

 

 

 

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Nothing says summer like a long, lazy day by a cool blue pool. And if that pool happens to be completely gorgeous and over-the-top, all the better; it can help turn a typical day by the pool into a summer memory to last a lifetime. Whether you’re looking to swim at the base of an active volcano, snorkel among Caribbean grottoes, or water slide through a shark tank, these pools can deliver all of that — and more.

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Most of us love a good water slide, but those looking for some serious thrills should hit up the a pool complex at Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which boasts a three-story waterslide that runs through a 200,000-gallon shark aquarium. Read More »

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