Big Sur

A nice beach can make a vacation, and there really doesn’t have to be much more to it than soft sand, clean water, and plenty of space to spread a towel. But a truly special beach is harder to come by; it has to have that little something extra that makes it — and your vacation — one-of-a-kind. Here are seven beaches around the world that wowed us.

Bioluminescent Bay; Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico

w retreat and spa

A national natural landmark, Bioluminescent Bay (also know, much less prettily, as Mosquito Bay) glows a breathtaking neon blue. A tiny micro-organism that sparkles when disturbed gives the bay its beautiful luminescence, and many tours take kayakers and divers out at night to watch the waters glow.

Where to Stay: W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island

This hotel has the modern, funky feel of the W brand with a tropical twist — it’s right on it’s own private beach, the lobby and rooms feature bright colors and concrete floors, and the infinity pool overlooking the ocean has a pool bar serving up poolside drinks and meals.

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For true foodies, a vacation that doesn’t involve mouth-watering cuisine is hardly worthy of the title. In fact, food can often be a major focus of a trip; it’s hardly uncommon for the taste connoisseurs among us to plan a foodcation. And in our opinion, it should all start with your hotel. If you stay somewhere with a truly phenomenal restaurant right on the premises, your foodcation will be off to a wonderful start. Whether you’re heading to New York City for its famous fine dining, California wine country for its earthy farm-to-table fare, or Mexico for an elaborate upscale meal on the beach, we’ve got a first-rate foodie hotel for you. Take a look at the top hotel restaurants we’d travel for in the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean.

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg, California

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel HealdsburgCharlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best – and best-known – restaurants in the Sonoma area, and for good reason. The farm-to-table, seasonal menu features items such as California Sea Bass with sweet corn fondue and Sonoma County Liberty Duck with crispy sunchokes. The restaurant’s outdoor terrace is situated under a shady arbor. Read More »

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Did you spend all your time in your tree house as a kid? Or were you brokenhearted because you never had one? Well, these nine gorgeous hotels can turn your childish tree house fantasies into grown-up realities. These rustic-luxe (or just luxe) tree-house-style bungalows will let you live among the birds (and, in some cases, monkeys). Who says you have to give up on your childhood dreams?

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

The Post Ranch Inn’s organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel’s surrounding redwoods, and the spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views, as well as wood-burning fireplaces and private decks. The Tree House rooms, are, as the name implies, elevated into the trees. Read More »

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We’ve given you the deets on where some of our favorite celebs have wed and where they’ve spent their honeymoons, as well — now it’s time for round two. Considering Hollywood couples’ infamous inability to stay hitched, they certainly go all out for their nuptials! From gorgeous castles to beachside resorts, we’re bringing you a photo gallery of the beautiful hotels where stars have said “I do.” And fortunately, everyone on our list is still married  – even if its only been a couple weeks of wedded bliss! Check out the five hotels we can now add to our list.

Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate; Long Island, NY

Many receptions take place in the hotel's ornate dining room.

Oheka Castle, built in the 1920s as the second largest private residence in the U.S., is a magnificent chateau-style property about an hour from New York City. Today, it’s the country’s top wedding venue, and remains one of the most striking properties on the East Coast. Kevin Jonas, of Jonas Brothers fame, wed Danielle Deleasa at the hotel in 2009, and Oheka Castle is no stranger to boy band weddings — N’Sync member Joey Fatone married Kelly Baldwin at the hotel five years earlier. Not surprisingly, weddings here aren’t cheap; the most expensive wedding held at Oheka Castle cost over three million dollars. Read More »

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For many of us, long days at the office, stress, and errands can get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. So we often look at our vacations not as a chance for a calorie binge (well, not always), but as a chance to hit the reset button and get back to our exercise and fitness regimens. And those who do manage to stay fit year-round may not want to part with their healthy lifestyle choices when they go away for a week or two. After all, there’s a lot to be said for the mind-body connection, so we found 13 stunning holistic retreats that can help you take your relaxation and well-being to new heights on your next getaway.

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe, wellness-focused retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), healthy cuisine (almost every dish comes with a hearty side of vegetables), and an excellent ocean-view yoga platform where group classes are held. Plus, the spa uses local materials, treatments, and techniques. Rooms are adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, and guests can get in an extra workout climbing up the hill from the beach to reception.
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Stunning views of Big Sur's cliffs can be seen throughout the property.

This week we’re taking a behind-the-scenes look at the Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur, which hosted billionaire Sean Parker’s nuptials this past weekend. Parker, of Napster and Facebook fame, wed singer-songwriter (and baby momma) Alexandra Lenas in a ceremony at the resort on June 1. Situated on more than 200 acres of picturesque oceanfront land, the property looks like a rustic cabin nestled in the woods — making it a gorgeous setting for a wedding. And Parker isn’t the first big-wig to notice that fact either: Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied tied the knot here last year (albeit in a much more low-key ceremony). Find out what makes Ventana so swoon-worthy — and get details on Parker’s $10 million wedding — after the jump »  Read More »

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Couples take note:  It’s not necessary to leave the country to experience some of the world’s most romantic hotels. We love exotic locales, but those looking for something closer to home can find some truly decadent escapes right in our own backyard. Our five favorite picks all have lovely waterfront settings on oceans, waterfalls, or lagoons, as well as pampering service and ultra-luxurious accommodations. Check ‘em out!

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina

The Cottage Suite - River View, Inn at Palmetto Bluff

The Cottage Suite - River View, Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry, really more akin to a sprawling estate, provides a one-of-a-kind experience that uniquely blends southern history and almost otherworldly natural beauty: rivers, misty marshes, old oaks draped with wispy Spanish moss, and salty breezes. The main hotel building looks like a classic southern mansion, and the 50 Cottages and Cottage Suites are simultaneously homey and utterly luxurious, with working fireplaces, screen porches, and gorgeous bathrooms. The multi-bedroom Village Homes are also luxurious, but lack some of the nuances of the cottages. Guests can enjoy a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming (in the two pools), and the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. It’s not an overstatement to say that the Inn at Palmetto Bluff is one of the most special properties in the entire country.
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Some hotel weddings are gorgeous, some not so much, but they often all kind of feel the same. That’s where we come in — we’ve discovered some of the most beautiful and unique wedding venues in hotels around the world. Whether you want to say “I do” on safari, in a cloud forest, or at a Gatsby-esque mansion, these hotels deliver on the romance. Check them out here, and get inspired for your own big day (or vow renewal)!

For the Nature Enthusiasts: Selva Negra in Nicaragua 

Chapel in the middle of a rainforest? Check that off your list.

For outdoorsy couples looking for an authentic eco-lodge experience on their wedding day, Selva Negra is the real deal. This family-run organic farm and coffee estate in Nicaragua has accommodations ranging from hostel rooms to private bungalows, as well as a lush, cool mountain setting that’s rich with wildlife (expect howler monkeys, lizards, agoutis, and all types of birds). Couples can get married at the on-site chapel — which the owners built for their own daughter’s wedding — beneath Selva Negra’s cloud forest.  Read More »

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The heated pool at the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize is just on surprisingly luxe green amenity

We don’t mind sacrificing a little comfort during our travels if that means reducing our carbon footprint. But then again, not all eco-conscious hotels call for lights out and cold showers. The 10 hotels that make our list of those with the best eco-friendly perks aren’t all LEED-certified, but they still know that going green makes guests and Mother Earth happy. So here’s our salute to some great stays that are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and conserve with these awesome green amenities.

 

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The Marriott Wailea Resort is a romantic honeymoon locale on Maui.

Honeymoons must be two things: romantic and memorable. Any old trip to the beach is just not going to suffice for a couple’s post-nuptial getaway. But thankfully, there are plenty of unique and luxurious properties out there for newlyweds. Remote jungle hideaways, cozy mountain lodges, luxe European grand dames, and gorgeous beachfront properties are waiting with a bottle of champagne at the ready to toast your “I dos.” These romantic hotels around the world are perfect honeymoon locales; go ahead and swoon over them in this slideshow.

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