The perks of the megaresort experience are obvious: free-flowing drinks, lots of chances to socialize with your fellow guests, and a sweeping breadth of amenities. But with these advantages comes an obvious lack of peace and quiet. When all you want to do is escape the crowds, the best bet is to seek out the small, hidden properties dotting the Caribbean shores. From eco-centric boutiques to romantic enclaves, these laid-back properties promise the glorious sound of silence. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these crowdless Caribbean locales.
Anguilla, a small British territory in the Caribbean, spans fewer than 40 square miles. Less built up than other isles, it manages to exude both an upscale and happy-go-lucky vibe with its gorgeous white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. There are few attractions, so days will mostly be spent sipping on drinks beach-side and dining at one the island’s exclusive hotels. The 27-room Anacaona, for example, offers access to a stunning stretch of sand, rounds of golf at the nearby Greg Norman-designed course, dinner at a great restaurant serving Caribbean fare with a twist, and a massage hut on the beach. The hotel is a great choice for rest and relaxation–and it’s an excellent value to boot. Read More »
Fun, sun, and…scuba? For many, a trip to the beach just isn’t complete without the possibility of a deep sea dive. Whether you want to explore ship wrecks, meet creatures of the deep, or wonder at gorgeous coral formations, scuba diving can be a fun and athletic opportunity while you’re on vacation. Getting certified is crucial before attempting a dive, and if you choose to give it a go, we’ve compiled some of the best dive sites in North America for you to visit. Some may not realize just how many dive sites await in our own backyard!
1. Dive: Half Moon Caye, Belize
Half Moon Caye in Belize offers divers the chance to go on a wall dive–a dive in which the vertical facades of the earth’s landmasses are explored. The depths at Half Moon Caye (and really at any wall dive) are tremendous, giving you the very correct feeling that you are staring into an abyss. The waters at Half Moon Caye are particularly clear, despite the depth, so you will be able to see all manner of wildlife, including loggerhead turtles, rays, barracuda, and eels.
Stay: Portofino Beach Resort
The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »
We don’t know about you, but we love getting free stuff — especially on vacation. Most of us don’t spend our hard-earned money on a trip lightly, and there’s nothing worse than showing up at your carefully chosen resort only to get nickel-and-dimed. That’s why when a resort does the opposite, and hands out freebies for things you wouldn’t expect, it isn’t just refreshing — it can be what elevates your vacation from just okay to out of this world. Here are five freebies that will take your vacation to the next level.
Free Spa Treatments
This is the type of freebie that makes us think we’ve misunderstood something. A free spa treatment? But there’s no mistake: At Gaia Hotel and Reserve in Costa Rica, every guest gets one 20-minute spa treatment just for booking a stay. The options include a back relief Swedish massage, a mini facial, or Feet Renewal treatment. Now that is the kind of service that makes us want to come back. Read More »
We're ready to zip down this slide!
Who doesn’t feel like a kid again when at a water park? Whether you’re visiting with your own kids, or are just trying to revive your inner kid, a water park can be just what you need for a little fun this summer. We’ve visited tons and tons of water parks during our travels, and have seen all kinds of slides, waterfalls, pirate ships, lazy rivers — you name it! But we whittled them down to the best of the best to show you. So check out our slideshow of the best water parks in the world!
Hidden among the Caribbean’s many mega-resorts are some of the most unique, intimate boutiques travelers can imagine. With laid-back, eco-friendly attitudes, these petite hotels are some of the best in the region, offering personalized service and truly relaxing atmospheres. So consider passing on that 500-room all-inclusive and indulge in some intimacy at these wonderful boutiques.
The gorgeous Fowl Cay Resort feels more like a private home than a hotel.
Crowded beaches are unheard of on this private island resort where a maximum of 28 guests at a time have free range of 50 acres and three beaches. Personal boats for daily excursions, on-call service, spacious villas with fully stocked kitchens and wet bars, and a host of all-inclusive activities make Fowl Cay a standout gem in the Exumas. Read More »
Far from more culinary capitals such as New York City and San Francisco, beach destinations are rarely the first stop on an epicurean getaway. But plenty of tropical locales boast impressive chef creations, from farm-fresh plates, to straight-from-the-ocean cuisine. And just because you appreciate a quality Porterhouse cut and kicking back on the beach with a mai-tai shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice one for the other. Whether you’re looking for a truly delicious all-inclusive plan, or some mouthwatering organic delights, we’ve got the best foodie beach destinations for all palates.
For All-Inclusive Dining…
From the family behind Le Cirque comes some of the best inclusive cuisine in the D.R.
To foodies, all-inclusive resort dining just means sloppy buffet lines and leftover à la carte “crab meat” (and to be fair, it often does). But luckily some resorts don’t mind offering some actually decent, and often delicious, menu options that you’ll look forward to chowing down on. These resorts may be pricey, and few and far between, but they’re worth the visit. Your taste buds — and stomach — will thank you!
Stay: Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic
The five-pearl Casa De Campo is one of the top properties in the D.R. With over a dozen dining options, the resort’s all-inclusive rates include renowned eateries such as the waterfront Beach Club and the Mediterranean-inspired La Caña, both from the famed family behind Le Cirque restaurants in New York and Las Vegas. So whether you’re craving spicy rack of lamb or fresh grilled seafood, this resort won’t make you shell out extra for a good meal.
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The Luxury Beachfront Room at the One&Only Ocean Club, Bahamas
1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? During Easter, guests staying at One&Only Ocean Club in Bahamas can request to be tucked into bed by an Easter bunny.
2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Turnberry Isle Miami has launched a social media campaign to try to help a guest recover her wedding ring — which she lost at the hotel’s beach club — by spreading the word.
3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A 20-year-old man was arrested at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Charleston – Historic District after flashing his genitals to a couple celebrating their wedding at the hotel.
4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Tribeca Film Festival and Conrad New York have launched a contest through which the winners get two Vesey passes for the festival and two Business-class flights from anywhere in the States or the United Kingdom.
5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The fifteen items known as the Jewels of Titanic — including diamonds, sapphires and gold jewelry — on display at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will be auctioned on May 31st, 2013.
Check out the answers after the jump!
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Every so often, our editors curate the best of the best — or as Oyster likes to call ‘em, our Half Dozen. Today, we’re bring you our top six picks for kid-friendly hotels. From massive water parks to on-site zoos, from trapeze lessons from circus performers to roller coasters, these hotels are sure to keep the kids happy.
Watch more Oyster videos here »
Throughout our travels we’ve seen plenty of wild things — from rowdy guests to crazy contests, you name it. Not surprisingly, most have been in Vegas. But wackiness can be found all over the world, and we’ve seen some hilarious hotel signs in multiple countries. Check out seven of our favorites below.
Well we feel safe…
The Negril Tree House is a budget-friendly boutique.
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All-inclusive resorts are not created equally. While some offer the penultimate in luxury, others rely on quantity over quality. There are spa-centric getaways, family-friendly stays, and party-hearty atmospheres to be visited across the wide world of all-inclusives. With so many options, choosing the right resort for you and your posse can be a hassle. Luckily, Oyster has experienced all of the above and can point you toward the best of the best, no matter your style. Looking for a raucous pool scene? We’ve got it. Craving a secluded hideaway? We’ve unplugged there, too. So sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for some fun in the sun — all while using our guide to select the all-inclusive that is right for your style:
If You Want: To Travel Like a Queen
Stay: Half Moon, Jamaica
The luxurious Half Moon resort in Montego Bay has been a favorite of royals for decades.
Drawing everyone from Queen Elizabeth to 50 Cent, Half Moon strives for timeless, understated luxury in Jamaica’s Montego Bay. Stretching over 400 acres (including 2 miles of beach), the 230-room resort offers attentive service, quality cuisine, and seemingly limitless activities, such as golfing and horseback riding. A variety of all-inclusive packages can be purchased in advance which may include lodging, meals, alcohol, airport transfers, golf fees, and sports activities. With several levels to choose from, just about everyone can be happy. Read More »