April 2014

It’s officially slugger season and the Oyster gang can’t wait to check out a game. Although we may be divided between the Yanks and the Mets here in NYC, one thing we all can agree on is that there’s nothing quite like a spring day at the ballpark. And we’re sure that from coast to coast, other ball fans are donning their jerseys and prepping their gloves for some fly ball action at their own home stadiums. But which cities are the best for ballplayers and fans alike? Where are the fans most loyal, and the stadium just right? Now granted, this is a question that could illicit more fights than the upcoming Dodgers versus Giants showdown in October. But we’re brave enough to give it a go… Here are Oyster’s eight favorite cities for baseball, as well as the MVP hotels nearby. Batter up!

1. St. Louis 

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If there ever was an ideal baseball city, St. Louis would be it. It’s not just that the Cardinals’ fans are fantastic, or that they consistently sell out their stadium to cheer on the home team. It’s not just that the team itself — 2013′s World Series runner-up — is consistently one of the best in the league. And it’s not just that Busch Stadium III is one of the most gorgeous around, or that management in St. Louis is superb. It’s all those things rolled into one big baseball diamond.

Stay: Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark

Not just any hotel in St. Louis can get away with using the word “Ballpark” in the name, but the Hilton — with its unmatched view of Busch Stadium — rightfully claims the moniker. Plus, the trendy rooftop bar boasts 360-degree views, ideal for game nights.

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There are all-inclusive resorts, and then there are all-inclusive resorts. The difference lies in the details: Going above and beyond the standard amenities, the ten hotels we’ve hand-picked as the best of the all-inclusive best offer fun and exciting ways for travelers to indulge. World-class food, beautiful decor, and fantastic activities are all to be had — and everything is built into one price-per-day, making planning out your budget a simple feat. From Cabo to Cancun and back again, these are the ten all-inclusive resorts that are truly worthy of the name.

1. Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Puerto Morelos 

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With only 90 suites, the Zoetry Paraiso offers a romantic, wellness-centric boutique experience in the Mayan Riviera. Room layouts are unique, with indoor gardens and plunge pools. The pool area and beach are relaxed and tranquil, and the on-site dining keeps the resort’s wellness theme alive with delicious, healthy meals. Included amenities not standard at most all-inclusive resorts — such as a “welcome” bottle of tequila, a daily bottle of champagne, a one-hour Catamaran sunset sail, three-times-daily maid service, and private chauffeured airport transfers, –make this (admittedly pricey) resort a standout among Puerto Morelos’ finest properties.
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Whether its to kickstart a relationship, revive a relationship, or simply maintain a relationship, couples (of all ages.. and degrees of commitment) will often plan a romantic getaway — or two or three — at some point throughout their courtship. While relaxing on a beach somewhere may be all some couples need to reconnect, others look for a little something extra to spice up their vacation. That’s where these nine naughty hotels come in. From Paris to Vegas, from the Riviera Maya to Long Island City (yes, we said it — and we’re being serious), these nine hotels have their own special way of creating an unforgettable getaway for couples who aren’t afraid of a little nudity — and welcome a little naughtiness.

Palms Casino Resort

1. The Erotic Suite: The Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas

Vegas isn’t called “Sin City” for nothing; couples escape to this town of debauchery to party, let loose, and make use of the whole “What happens in Vegas…” mantra. Soon, the tagline may become “What happens in the Erotic Suite at The Palms.” One of the wildest hotels in Vegas, even with its off-the-Strip location, this hotel features a plethora of themed luxury suites, and the Erotic Suite is certainly the naughtiest. Kinky couple-friendly amenities include everything from a “show shower” with a stripper pole and nightclub-esque lighting, to a rotating bed underneath a mirrored ceiling. There’s also plenty of erotic artwork to spare.

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Europe is home to plenty of gorgeous grande dames; large, stately hotels that are both iconic and sometimes imposing, with high-ceilinged entryways, sweeping staircases, tons of rooms, and large, bustling restaurants that attract tourists and locals, as well as hotel guests. Spots like these are certainly worth a visit, but there’s something to be said for the boutique hotel experience. Fewer rooms (and therefore fewer guests) often mean more attentive service, a more tranquil vibe, and ultimately a more authentic European stay. We just got back from another tour of Europe, and this time we made sure to seek out the continent’s hidden gems. We ventured down little alleyways and walked along winding cobblestone streets to find 10 charming boutiques in Paris, Venice, Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona — and now on Oyster!

1. Ca’Riccio, Venice

Ca'Riccio

A six-room bed and breakfast in quaint, quiet Cannaregio, Ca’Riccio is a bright, homey pick filled with fresh-cut flowers and a variety of attractive art on the walls. Rooms are cozy and clean with wrought iron headboards, Murano glass lamps, and minibars. A free continental breakfast is served in a charming breakfast room and Wi-Fi is free, but there is no elevator. Its offers wonderful value considering its level of charm, and it’s within walking distance of the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square.

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As the song goes, “I love Paris in the springtime.” Of course, Fitzgerald goes on to claim that she loves Paris in every season, and the romantic City of Light is certainly lovely all year long. But it can be argued that the French capital never shines quite so brightly as it does in the spring. When the city is in full bloom, its iconic cafes, parks, and bustling avenues come to life after a winter indoors. To be fair, living “la vie en rose” comes with a steep price tag at this time of year. but for a once in a lifetime getaway, you can’t miss this iconic springtime experience. We’ve collected some of our favorite things to do in Paris in the spring, and have added some brand new hotels to the site that are perfect for your seasonal stay.

1. Explore a city in bloom. 

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Springtime is synonymous with blossoming flowers, and there are few cities that capture such vibrancy of color as Paris does after months of cold, grey winter days. The city’s famed gardens — Tuileries and Luxembourg being among the most popular — burst to life with daffodils, lavender, and paulownia plants and trees. The gorgeous colors and delicious fragrances are entrancing, and they make for gorgeous photos ops.

Stay: Hotel de l’Abbaye Saint-Germain 

A cozy and luxurious oasis in the center of the Saint Germain quarter — and just a short walk from the Luxembourg Gardens — this boutique hotel is praised for its stylish decor and tranquil garden where guests can enjoy breakfast.

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Earth Day may roll around just once a year (it’s today, by the way), but the great thing about travel is that you can celebrate your commitment to the planet anytime and anywhere! So whether you’re planning a last-minute bash to celebrate Mother Earth, or just want to go green for your next vacay, these seven hotels have you covered… And if you’re asking what makes a hotel eco-friendly, the answer varies depending on whom you question. Some of our picks have launched awesome recycling programs; another is LEED -certified; and yet another sits on a 1,000-acre private rainforest reserve, home to scarlet macaws. Read on for all the tree-hugging deets, and have a very happy (and green) Earth Day!

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Los Cabos 

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, along with its sister hotels Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa, and Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort & Spa, is committed to green initiatives and promoting sustainable tourism throughout Mexico. The hotel has taken lots of steps, both big and small, to reduce its environmental impact, from launching an initiative to protect sea turtles in the area to headlining an innovative recycling program. Pueblo Bonito also organizes beach clean-ups, composts much of its organic waste, and works to protect local whales, brown pelicans and other wildlife. Oh, and it’s a gorgeous luxury property with direct access to a private beach.

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With the arrival of warm(er) weather, the Great Outdoors have officially begun beckoning and we here at Oyster can’t wait to pack up some supplies and make for the trail head. The United States offers some of the most varied and stunningly gorgeous terrains in the world that make the perfect backdrop for a back-to-nature hike, whether you’re looking for a one-day jaunt or hoping to make a vacation out of the entire experience. No matter your ideal trail or fitness level, we’ve got you covered coast-to-coast with the best trails for an awesome hiking adventure. We’ve even included one spot you’ll have to cross the Pacific to get to! Break out the rucksack and dig up your hiking boots, because here are nine of the best hikes in the United States… as well as the best hotels nearby for each.

1. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, HI 

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Gorgeous trails snake along Kauai’s stunning coast, and the Kalalua Trail is one of the most stunning, with beautiful sweeping vistas from atop the cliffs. Visitors can choose to hike a portion of the trail for a day excursion, or make an extended trip out of it: The entire trail is about 22 miles and can take three to five days to traverse. It’s often regarded as one of the finest — and most varied — coastal trails in the world, with challenging, muddy slopes and steamy tropical temperatures. Hikers can explore Kalalua Valley, home to enchanting waterfalls and lush foliage, or choose to rest up on the beach.

Stay: Hanalei Colony Resort

No TVs or phones here; instead, you get rare oceanfront views and easy access to hiking along the (practically adjacent) Na Pali Coast. The pool is small, housekeeping only comes every third day, and there’s little on offer  at the free breakfast aside from bagels. But the 48 two-bedroom condos with full kitchens are worth the downsized features. Read More »

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For those who crave that electrifying rush of adrenaline, a week of lying on the sand is not an ideal vacation. Beachside rest and relaxation can do wonders for some, but others find their R&R with a solid jolt to the nervous system; cue the adventure-vacation combination! Whether you’re surfing waves, chasing storms, or heli-skiing mountaintops, these eleven destinations all hold the promise of a heart-pounding getaway. Ready? Set? GO!

1. Surfing Pipeline, Oahu

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Adventure seekers have been visiting the Hawaiian islands for centuries. The state’s rugged, lava-formed terrain offers challenging — and stunningly beautiful — hikes and climbs, and the volcanoes themselves present unique thrills. But, of course, the main pulse-racing draw is surfing the menacing waves and rip curls that crash against the islands’ shores. The biggest and baddest waves roll in off of a reef break on the North Shore of Oahu at Banzai Pipeline. Many surfers have made a name for themselves at this spot, which is also home to some of the most intense surfing competitions in the world, including Pipe Masters. Adrenaline seekers who know their way around a wave — and are serious swimmers — can’t miss a trip here.

Stay: Turtle Bay Resort

This 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore — just minutes from Banzai Pipeline — features an unbeatable array of amenities. There are two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides, and five miles of shoreline.  Read More »

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“America the Beautiful” was originally a poem written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired to pen the historic words after taking a memorable — and clearly, scenic — cross-country train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the late 1800s, such a trip might have been grueling, but it was nonetheless considered exotic — whereas nowadays, it sometimes seems travelers aren’t impressed unless they’re crossing vast oceans and getting multiple stamps on their passports. But America is still the fair beauty of Bates’s poem, and tons of gorgeous sites and settings can be found right in our backyards. Even better, local travel is often relatively cheap and easy: There’s no currency exchange, language barrier, or passport required, and even if you do fly, flights are certainly less expensive than those to far-flung international locales. Here are six amazing sites in the U.S. that you’ve got to see. (And don’t worry. If you really must cross an ocean to feel like you’re on vacation, we have some U.S. destinations where that is a necessity as well).

Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

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If you’ve ever questioned whether the U.S. could be exotic, the Bioluminscent Bay in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo will have you properly convinced. Just a short drive from Old San Juan, this famed “Bio Bay” puts on nature’s most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise as you paddle or swim through the water.

Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is just about as close as you can get to the Bio Bay. Even better, this luxe resort offers some of the Caribbean’s most epic views.

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Even during adventurous getaways, we love a chance for some R&R so we almost always book a spa service to treat ourselves. While we could probably enjoy a massage or facial just about anywhere, there’s something to be said for a hotel spa that is truly luxurious and jaw-dropping. Some of the most gorgeous we’ve seen are particularly inspiring because they boast beautiful views of their natural surroundings. So before you close your eyes and drift off to pure relaxation during your treatment, take in these 11 stunning views…from these 11 stunning hotel spas.

1. Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, Hawaii

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

On a beautiful stretch of beach on the tiny island of Lanai, this Four Seasons is one of the most luxe properties in Hawaii. Considering the remote location, its no surprise that the hotel attracts couples, and the upscale spa is a major draw for romance as well. The spa features red cedar dry heat saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and rainforest showers, but its most stunning amenity is its outdoor massage cabana with views of the Pacific Ocean.

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