Barbados

Beach at Sandy Lane; Barbados

Beach at Sandy Lane; Barbados

Decked out in its signature pink, the 112-room Sandy Lane is arguably the best resort in Barbados, known for its unparalleled service and distinct touches. Guest amenities run rampant; perhaps the most noteworthy is access to the super-exclusive Green Monkey golf course (so that’s probably why Tiger Woods got married here). Upon arrival, the road winds through beautiful grounds and mahogany trees toward the impressive entrance and marble lobby. Once there, the staff will whisk your luggage away to your room, marked with luxe touches including Italian marble floors, plantation-style designer furniture, and state-of-the-art bathrooms. The top-notch spa, outstanding restaurants, and celebrity sightings are mere cherries on top. Check out more amazing photos of the hotel after the jump or read the full review here >>

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Rockhouse Hotel

Rockhouse Hotel

There’s nothing quite like the sense of discovery one feels when arriving at a hidden gem hotel — a truly special spot that is intimate, remote, underrated, or all of the above. Some people like to brag to their friends about their insider find; others prefer to keep it all to themselves. Of course, we at Oyster have never been good at keeping secrets.

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It’s time to get your spring break plans in order, and if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, the Caribbean is a prime destination. But with thousands of islands (although only a few dozen are inhabited) to choose from, that doesn’t narrow things down much. That’s why we at Oyster have created an A to Z (well, actually, an A to V) guide to the Caribbean, so choosing your island and resort will be a piece of cake. First stop: Anguilla.

Anacaona Boutique Hotel, Anguilla

The boutique Anacaona has two pools.

Anguilla is a tiny British territory that covers fewer than 40 square miles and is a popular spot for couples and celebs (Sofia Vergara went on a girls’ trip to the island) due to its small size and upscale vibe. Visitors must either fly to St. Martin and take a short ferry to the island, or fly in directly (by way of a small seaplane) from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thus, getting to the island can be pricey. So once you’re there, we’d recommend staying at the boutique Anacaona in the island’s West End. Though its not quite as luxe as the CuisinArt or Viceroy, 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’s golf course and a few restaurants, and its prices are considerably lower. With two small pools, a great restaurant serving Caribbean fare with a twist, and a massage hut on the beach, the hotel is a good pick for value.

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Our Newest Photo Fakeouts

by Jane Reynolds on January 30, 2013

Oyster's photo of the pool at the Marigot Beach Club

Here at Oyster, we pride ourselves on intensively visiting, photographing, and reviewing every single hotel we feature on our site. Our photos are undoctored and honest, but on our travels, we’ve found that the hotel’s marketing photos can be heavily retouched or cropped mysteriously. Our Photo Fakeouts are legendary — just look at the Sexy Lady Phenomenon — and we felt it was only appropriate that as we expand our coverage, we expand our Fakeout repertoire, too. So today, check out our slideshow of our newest finds!

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“Caribbean” and “all-inclusive” go together well. After all, the Caribbean is synonymous with snoozing on a rope hammock between two palm trees, not lifting a finger — and all-inclusive resorts allow you to do just that. In fact, with everything pre-paid and all amenities included, you don’t even have to open your wallet! We here at Oyster have seen dozens of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and while it’s not easy to single just one out, we do have a list of our very favorites, from a secluded spot on gorgeous Turks and Caicos to an adults-only oasis in hopping Cancun, and from small boutiques with tons of character to sprawling resorts with every amenity imaginable. If you’re ready to get pampered, check out our top picks for the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and start planning your trip!

Parrot Cay and COMO Shambhala Retreat, Turks and Caicos

World-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa is  an upscale, tranquil spot with outstanding treatments.

World-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa is an upscale, tranquil spot with outstanding treatments.

Accessed via a 30-minute boat ride from Providenciales, this 1,000-acre all-inclusive resort on a private island is the definition of tranquility. With an incredible infinity-edge pool, world-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa, waterfront Balinese-style villas, doting service, and more than three miles of pristine beaches, it’s easily one of the most luxurious and romantic options in the Caribbean.

  • Our favorite perk: Lotus Restaurant is located by the beautiful infinity-edge pool and features light Caribbean and Asian food, and stunning ocean views.

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While there are many great budget-friendly hotels in the Caribbean, the islands are also known for their luxury properties, where guests are treated to day trips aboard yachts, couples are offered massages in sumptuous spas, and rooms are twice the size of a New York apartment (although, we guess it’s not too hard to be). We’ve compiled a list of our favorite luxury hotels in the Caribbean so you can start planning what to do after your new year’s resolution of winning the lottery (that’s not a new year’s resolution, but, really, who hasn’t had that on the list for at least a decade?) comes true.

One&Only Ocean Club – Bahamas

All guests have a butler on call 24/7 assigned to their room upon arrival.

All guests have a butler on call 24/7 assigned to their room.

Bringing tranquility to otherwise-crowded Paradise Island, the 105-room Ocean Club’s personal butlers, beautiful pools (one for adults, one for families), restaurant from Jean-Georges, and access to Atlantis’s water park, casino, and other attractions make it one of the Caribbean’s best resorts.

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Winter may be firmly upon us now in the Northeast, but that doesn’t mean we have to write off warm weather entirely. The Caribbean isn’t too far away (especially for us East Coasters), and some island hotels are featuring wonderfully affordable rates this time of year. You may have to forgo a few luxuries to stay on budget, but designer toiletries are highly overrated, right? So pack your bags and get ready to hit the beach for a few days — or a few weeks! Oyster has the skinny on the Caribbean’s best value stays.

Rockhouse Hotel, Jamaica

Dive right into the Caribbean Sea from your room at the Rockhouse.

The Rockhouse is a lush, laid-back Jamaican resort offering gourmet dining, morning yoga, a premium spa, and best of all, a gorgeous cliff-side location on Negril‘s coast. Sure, there’s no fitness center and rooms lack TVs and Wi-Fi, but its unplugged vibe is just why some guests come. Plus, with rates usually falling below $200, it’s a steal compared to similar resorts — such as the slightly chicer Caves — in the area. (NB: Children under 12 are not allowed on the property.)

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Here at Oyster, we pride ourselves on intensively visiting, photographing, and reviewing every single hotel we feature on our site. Our photos are undoctored and honest, but on our travels, we’ve found that the hotel’s marketing photos can be heavily retouched or cropped mysteriously. Our Photo Fakeouts are legendary — just look at the Sexy Lady Phenomenon — and we felt it was only appropriate that as we expand our coverage, we expand our Fakeout repertoire, too. So today, check out our new find: a shrinking Jacuzzi at the Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa in Barbados. See for yourself »

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Sometimes the honeymoon isn’t about the locale (OK, well maybe a little bit), but rather about the hotel itself. Some of the finest properties around the globe are offering up unique, sexy services to ignite their burning desires (and/or fires). And rather then spend every last minute planning your honeymoon when you have SO MUCH ELSE to do, we figured we’d finagle the deets for you in advance. So brides, sit back, relax and enjoy these ideas brought to you by hotels across the globe. You can thank them later when you’re just positively glowing.

1. Book your stay at an adults-only resort.
Try: Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados

Beach at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados

The beach's umbrellas seat two. Coincidence? We think not.

Sprawling across 11 acres on the west coast of Barbados, the property is situated closer to the waterfront than others in the area, due to it being built before legislation forced future resorts to build further inland. The pink Colonial-style Fairmont Royal Pavilion feels quite romantic thanks to its design and offers two restaurants and bars, as well as free afternoon tea on the terrace. Because there are only 72 rooms, the beach never feels crowded. Excellent amenities include an outdoor pool , tennis courts , and free non-motorized water sports. Plus, NO ONE under the age of 18 is permitted at the resort. Did someone say bliss?

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As obviously travel-biased folks, we cannot understand how a bride can spend an average of $30,000 on a wedding — instead of on an incredible vacation. But hotels these days are making it easier than ever to do both, that is, honeymoon and wed at the very same location. Check out five of the most luxurious destination wedding escapes around — brides, we promise you’ll be drooling to get away instead.

1. Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya

El Puerto Restaurant at the Fairmont serves up delicious Mexican grub.

The adults-only infinity pool is perfect for soaking up some sun post-nuptials.

With beautiful architecture and grounds, the Fairmont Mayakoba is the most picturesque spot to wed on the Playa del Carmen in Mexico, and few properties in the area can match the unrivaled level of privacy the resort offers. Although rooms are set amidst lagoons and tropical forests, they’re well-equipped and modern featuring upscale bathrooms with glass-enclosed showers and separate jetted tubs.

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