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 »
We had a hard time saying "goodbye" to this view!
Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature. The 16-bungalow lodge sits amid 1,000 acres of rainforest filled with wildlife, but it’s far from a no-frills jungle camp. There are many comforts here, including a pool overlooking the ocean, a splendid restaurant serving sumptuous cuisine, and rustic-luxe rooms with private decks. This is a place to get in touch with nature without roughing it. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve.
With three pools at the resort, couples will have plenty of places to slip away to during their stay.
The Four Seasons Resort Nevis sits on a large, attractive beach on the small, secluded, and relatively unknown island of Nevis. Nevis is a tiny island in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, separated from St. Kitts by just a two-mile stretch of sea. It features beautiful waters, friendly people, and lush rainforests. Less developed than St. Kitts, the island’s remote location makes it a popular choice among newlyweds.
Couples staying at the resort — many of whom choose to wed in this far-off locale, as well — can celebrate their recent nuptials with a private dinner on the beach — complete with their own chef, server, and entertainment — or opt to set sail on a romantic sunset cruise. The gorgeous rooms here are a romantic highlight: The updated decor has a Ralph Lauren-like look, with a blue-and-yellow scheme accented by pops of color and dark wood furniture, while the massive bathrooms feature separate showers and tubs. Plus, almost all rooms have beautiful views, of either mountains or the ocean, which couples can enjoy from their expansive private decks. Check out more honeymoon-inspired photos of the Four Seasons Resort Nevis » Read More »
Summertime will soon be upon us — this week has already seen highs of 82 degrees in NYC! — and we can’t wait for long days spent strolling along the boardwalk. From Atlantic City to Santa Cruz, beach bums will strut their stuff down those sandy pathways, either taking in the views or letting loose on beachside coasters (or both!). Foodies will delight in summer treats such as saltwater taffy and Nathan’s hot dogs, and visitors can also play games, have their fortunes told, hit up unique shopping grounds, or just people-watch as the summer heat brings out some truly interesting characters. So bust out your flip-flops, spread on the SPF, and head to one of these boardwalks near you for some spring and summer fun in the sun.
1. Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey
The Atlantic City Boardwalk is the oldest in the United States and the longest in the world.
First opened in 1870 and now spanning 5.5 miles, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is both the oldest in America and the longest in the world, garnering plenty of attention from East Coast visitors. Travelers fantasize about the Art Deco glamour and glitzy shows of Nucky Thompson‘s heyday while munching on saltwater taffy from the James Candy Company (in business since the early 1900s) or indulging in an order of deep-fried oreos. Others may try their luck in one of the many casinos that dot the boardwalk. Though Atlantic City was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, loyalists are helping this shore spot bounce back with a vengeance.
Where to Stay: Mainstays such as Caesars bring back loyal guests, while boardwalk newbie Revel has been a hot topic in the tabloids (Beyonce performed her first post-baby show here, and Kanye announced that baby momma Kim Kardashian was expecting during his performance at the resort).
Read More »
The infinity pool at Garza Blanca offers stunning views of Puerto Vallarta's rugged coastline.
From the polished stone finishes of the daylight-saturated atrium lobby to the gorgeous infinity pool with its rock formations and fountains, this 73-unit resort is a posh spot for contemporary oceanfront luxury. Standing on a secluded stretch of beach on Bahia Banderas’ south shore, which offers stunning views of the ocean and jungle-covered hills that surround it, the Garza Blanca features spacious guest rooms, an exquisite pool, a private beach, and a gourmet restaurant with an extensive wine cellar and tequila tasting room. Couples will also enjoy the Buddhist-inspired Hamara Spa — a great place to wind down before the big day. And if that isn’t quite enough, adventurous duos can explore the preserve, a large swath of land on the jungle-draped mountain behind the hotel. Plus, Garza Blanca’s history as a playground for Hollywood stars in the 1960s is sure to put newlyweds in a glamorous mindset.
Weddings at Garza Blanca are stunning, with couples having ample ceremony locations to choose from, including beachfront, poolside, or patio services. The resort has a variety of packages for couples to consider, and an on-site wedding coordinator is on-call to help make the day more memorable. Couples will generally receive a free suite upgrade, as well as a romantic turndown service and a bottle of sparkling wine on their wedding night. We’ll say “I do” to that! Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Garaza Blanca Preserve here »
Read More »
Set off into the sunset at the Marriott Wailea Resort in Maui.
Situated on a (large) rock between two beaches, the 22-acre, 546-room Wailea Marriott has panoramic ocean views and a serene vibe that’s often missing from some of Maui’s more crowded, neighboring resorts. Renovated in 2008, the Marriott’s spiffy rooms, gorgeous adult-only infinity pool, reputable spa, and popular restaurant make it the best mid-range option in ritzy Wailea, especially for newlyweds looking for indulgent romance without busting their wedding budget. The Marriott has consistently been considered one of Oyster’s best Hawaiian hotels for a destination wedding and honeymoon thanks to its gorgeous setting, great amenities, and reasonable prices.
Honeymooners might consider booking the hotel’s “Experience Romance — Wailea Style” package during their stay. The package offers couples a stay in an oceanfront room with breakfast-in-bed each morning, and champagne and chocolate covered-strawberries upon arrival. Check out more honeymoon-inspired photos of the Marriott Wailea Resort here »
Read More »
Gorgeous views and a chic setting make taking a dip on your honeymoon a sumptuous affair.
The luxe Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel is located across the street from the popular Copacabana beach in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. A diverse, lively city, Rio is known for many things. Carnaval — a raucous, two-week celebration with dancing, drinking, glitz, and glam — is often what comes to mind first. The city is also home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, as it’s gorgeous harbor, surrounded by steep, lush mountains, is truly breathtaking. And the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city is synonymous with the Brazilian city’s rich religious roots (gilded historic churches are popular sites to visit). Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are another major draw that newlyweds in particular are sure to enjoy. Practically year-round, beaches such as Arpoador (known for it’s sunsets), Copacabana, and Sao Conrado (a popular surfing spot) are crowded with visitors and locals. The center of the city’s nightlife is in Lapa where, any given night of the week, streets can become the site of massive dance parties, with revelers spilling out from the bars and playing lively samba music. Couples are encouraged to join in the fun.
The 117-room Porto Bay Rio hotel is a solid mid-range option for couples looking to experience some South American sizzle in the South Zone, home to the majority of the city’s hotels as well as numerous monuments, and the main attraction: beautiful beaches. Featuring sleek decor with blonde wood floors, small modern bathrooms, and a nearly all-white color palette, spaces are stylish but unpretentious. All rooms have stocked minibars and electric kettles, as well as balconies overlooking the ocean or floor-to-ceiling windows. The small but chic rooftop pool, poolside bar, and fitness center all have great views, and on the beach, attendants provide guests with towels, chairs, and umbrellas. There are also tasty on-site restaurants (one with a free breakfast buffet), and 24-hour room service is available. Couples will definitely enjoy the stunning vistas and stylish ambiance. Check out more honeymoon-approved photos of the Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel here »
Read More »
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.
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.)
The organic garden at Belize's Turtle Inn is just one of the resort's many eco-practices.
Belize is best known for its lush rain forests, Mayan ruins, and gorgeous barrier reef — one of the world’s best sites for snorkeling and scuba diving. As so much of the country’s tourism is dependent on its breathtaking natural surroundings, a determined commitment to eco-friendly practices can be found in most hoteliers throughout the country, and Oyster has stayed in everything from compact eco-lodges to rustic-luxe hideaways during our visits to this small Central American country. Check out photos of our favorite eco-friendly stays — and find out what exactly makes them green — in this slideshow:
The oceanfront gazebo at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is a charming spot to say "I do."
Located on a lush, seven-mile-long island, the 450-room Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne is just a 25-minute cab ride from Downtown Miami — but it feels worlds away from the party-hearty throngs of South Beach. While suits and ties abound at this business-friendly locale, the formal air of the hotel gives way to a relaxed, fun vibe when families and couples come to visit (which happens with frequency). The grounds are large, and the hotel is extremely quiet — and not just at the adults-only Tranquility Pool. For some, it may be perfectly peaceful; for others, it may feel a bit too much like a library on the (pristine) beach.
But the Ritz is one of Miami’s most luxurious properties, and it’s on-site weddings uphold the brands’ standards of service and all-around opulence. Of course, that means it’s also one of Miami’s most expensive venues. The resort can host up to 450 guests at various locations, including the Great Lawn, oceanfront gazebo (seen here), the beach, various ballrooms, and private rooms at the restaurant. Couples will be walked through the entire process by an on-site wedding planner, who can also set aside rooms for wedding guests at preferred rates. And because of the Ritz’s dedication to service, the bride and groom are guaranteed to have everything they need on the big day taken care of to perfection — even if that means securing an elephant to carry in the couple or flying in chefs from other Ritz properties. Don’t laugh — it’s been done before — and you never know when the bridezilla inside of you will rear its pretty little head. Check out more wedding inspired photos of the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami here » Read More »