Caribbean

August is an antsy month. Back to school madness descends upon parents, kids, and coeds alike, with everyone looking to squeeze in one last shore run before class starts up once again. Then September rolls into town with the first inklings of crisper weather — and the lure of the shore is only heightened. But where to go? For many East Coasters, a quick trip to Southern neighbors where the sands are still toasty and the waves still refreshing is dampened by the threat of Mother Nature’s finest beast: The Hurricane. The Gulf Coast becomes a ghost of what it once was, and Caribbean tourists flock to other beachfront locales where winds and rain aren’t so rampant. But for the brave of heart (who are more scared of a high price tag than some high winds), traveling to the eye of the storm means gorgeous, uncrowded beaches and tranquil luxury resorts at extremely reasonable rates. It goes without saying that safety comes first, and booking a trip during this time of year to some of our favorite Gulf and Caribbean destinations won’t always pan out. So make sure to double check with your favorite weatherman and get the scoop on how the winds are swirling across the Atlantic before you purchase. (You can always hit up these hurricane-proof spots if you’d rather not risk it.) But if you’re ready for a little adventure on the cheap, here’s a selection of Oyster’s favorite hurricane hideaways to get you started on your end-of-summer getaway!

1. The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, Jamaica

Negril

A peaceful and beautiful resort, The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel was designed to be a true escape for couples and small groups that want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy a quiet getaway in Negril, Jamaica. For adults only, the intimate hotel (which maintains a maximum 47 visitors) features individual cottages, all-inclusive packages for dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, a variety of spa services, and an incredible view of the Negril cliffs plunging into the Caribbean Sea. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

The Caribbean oftentimes musters up images of massive beach resorts. Even some of the most luxurious options can be teeming with crowds that filter from the various restaurants to the packed beaches to the lively pool scene, frequented by both splashing kids and partying co-eds. But during our travels around the islands, we’ve also found plenty of quiet hidden gems. These beachfront boutiques have the look and vibe of a casual oceanside hut – but nonetheless deliver a hotel-like experience with on-site amenities and activities, and quaint, well-designed rooms. Explore our 10 favorite low-key properties on the Caribbean sands.

Coyaba Beach Resort, Jamaica

 Coyaba

For travelers who want to enjoy a resort experience but still prefer a more intimate hotel, the Coyaba Beach Resort is an attractive upper-middle-range option. The 50 plantation-style rooms are spacious, and guests won’t feel crowded or cramped at the private beach (even though it’s small). An all-inclusive option lets guests dine and drink on the property, and couples will likely appreciate the spa services, lush gardens providing shade and privacy, and the quiet pool.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Fairy tales have been bewitching readers long before Emma Swan wandered into Storybrooke on ABC‘s “Once Upon A Time.” In fact, these stories of heroes and magic, and goblins and trolls, have been entrancing the masses ages before even the Brothers Grimm decided to pen some of history’s most memorable tales. The reasons for this preoccupation with folklore vary: Some people pine for their favorite characters and others wish for a world where magic spells and potions can be bought and sold at your local witch’s hut.

But perhaps the most alluring part of a fairy tale is the setting, filled with grand castles, forbidden forests, and charming villages galore. These fascinating worlds come to life before our eyes thanks to the rich descriptions of our favorite fairy tale authors. And there’s good news for all of the dreamers out there: Many of these otherworldly settings were inspired by real life destinations around the world. Now we all know Sleeping Beauty’s castle was based on the gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, and that Colmar, France could be La Belle et La Bete’s hometown, but what about lesser known fairy tales? From Sicily to Scotland, we have the scoop on some of the most idyllic lands of folklore that are just waiting to be discovered — and, of course, the dreamy hotels where you can almost imagine Prince (or Princess!) Charming awaiting your hand for a dance.

1. Sicily, Italy 

sicily

Sicily remains one of the most intriguing regions of Italy. A mix of cultures — including Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, and African — provide the island with a heady history filled with intrigue. You can see the blend of cultures reflected in the island’s cuisine, architecture, language, and — yes — folklore. Fairy tales from Sicily have all of the traditional components: heroes and heroines, magic and might. But they also have some surprising twists that make them entirely their own. In Sorforina, for example, our titular heroine is a well-educated young woman, the daughter of a Sicilian merchant, who falls in love with a young, belligerent prince. The tale of their love affair is tortured, filled with artful witchcraft and steamy seduction (this is an Italian fairy tale, after all). It is a fairy tale of its own unique making, filled with the wry and unabashed sarcasm Sicilians are known for in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

Stay: Grand Hotel Villa Igiea  

The Grand Hotel Villa Igiea offers a magnificent and ornate example of Sicily’s 19th-century architectural history — as well as a plausible backdrop for our Sorforina. Visitors have noted that this is considered one of the best, if not the best, hotel in Palermo. The grounds are spectacular, and the outdoor pool was built to incorporate ancient stone ruins. Inside, there’s a romantic bar with vaulted stone ceilings and wall frescoes. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

For those seeking a truly decadent escape, the Caribbean is certainly not short on options. The islands boast everything from intimate boutiques in hidden, tranquil locales to expansive resorts that wow not only in breadth, but style. These super-luxe properties cater to celebrities and socialites — and you can enjoy them too (for a price, of course — or at least just in pictures). Spoil yourself with these 13 uber-fancy spots!

1. Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barts 

toiny

One of the most prestigious hotels in St. Barts, this exclusive 15-villa resort sits amid 28 lush acres of natural hills and beachfront. The private villas are spacious and airy, and each boasts its own infinity-edge pool. Plus, the views here are jaw-dropping. The French restaurant is one of the island’s most renowned, and you can often spot a celebrity dining during high season. Rates are nothing to sneeze at, but you’ll definitely receive all-star treatment. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

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.

1. Fowl Cay Resort, Bahamas

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 ExumasRead More »

{ 0 comments }

The beach, the pools, the view – these are major reasons why we travel to the Caribbean. And when we can get all in one, that’s ideal. So we scoured the islands to find the best infinity pools in the Caribbean. These spots – with gorgeous views overlooking the ocean – are perfect for sitting back, relaxing, and soaking up that sun.

Four Seasons Resort Nevis

Four Seasons Resort, Nevis

This Four Seasons sits on a large, attractive beach on the small island of Nevis. The gorgeous rooms here may be the highlight, with up-to-date technology, massive bathrooms, and pretty yellow-and-blue decor. But the reflection pool, an adults-only pool overlooking the ocean, is a major perk as well. Poolside guests can enjoy free snacks, as well as poolside lunch and drink service, throughout the day. The hotel also features two other slightly larger pools as well.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

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.

{ 0 comments }

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.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Mega-resorts will always have their perks, but these days more and more travelers are choosing to stay in private villas. The perks of a villa? Well, no shared walls with loud, late-night partiers for one thing. Or you can be that late-night partier and not worry about noise complaints. More space. More privacy. And the homey feel of being in a free-standing unit, surrounded by attractive landscaping. But what we really love is when you can find a private villa on a resort’s property, merging the best of both worlds. Guests receive all of the benefits and amenities of a resort, while still enjoying the seclusion of a villa. We did a tour of hotel villas in the Caribbean and found the best of the best on seven islands.

Hotel Le Toiny — St. Barts

The One-Bedroom Villa Suite at Hotel Le Toiny -- St. Barts

The One-Bedroom Villa Suite at Hotel Le Toiny -- St. Barts

Undoubtedly one of the most prestigious hotels in St. Barts, this exclusive 15-villa luxury resort sits amid 28 lush acres of natural hills and beachfront. The private villas are spacious and airy, each having its own infinity-edge pool, and the views are jaw-dropping. The French restaurant is one of the island’s most renowned, and one of the many reasons celebrities come here to relax. Rates are nothing to sneeze at, but you’ll definitely receive the all-star treatment that should come with such a hefty price tag.

Oyster’s Favorite Villa Perk: Each villa includes freebies such as Wi-Fi, bottled water, and tea, but the best is the free breakfast served daily on white linen-topped tables on your private terrace.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }