Costa Rica

Even during adventurous getaways, we love a chance for some R&R so we almost always book a spa service to treat ourselves. While we could probably enjoy a massage or facial just about anywhere, there’s something to be said for a hotel spa that is truly luxurious and jaw-dropping. Some of the most gorgeous we’ve seen are particularly inspiring because they boast beautiful views of their natural surroundings. So before you close your eyes and drift off to pure relaxation during your treatment, take in these 11 stunning views…from these 11 stunning hotel spas.

1. Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, Hawaii

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

On a beautiful stretch of beach on the tiny island of Lanai, this Four Seasons is one of the most luxe properties in Hawaii. Considering the remote location, its no surprise that the hotel attracts couples, and the upscale spa is a major draw for romance as well. The spa features red cedar dry heat saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and rainforest showers, but its most stunning amenity is its outdoor massage cabana with views of the Pacific Ocean.

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We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve parred it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it!

1. Statue of Liberty, New York City

statue of liberty

We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park

As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service, and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.

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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.

Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve

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.

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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 

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The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »

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Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your loved one, but that can be hard to do in a crowded resort where dozens of other couples are trying to do the same thing. If you’re planning a special getaway for the holiday, however, there are still plenty of spots where you won’t need to worry about a lack of privacy. We’ve found nine romantic hotels that are not only super sexy but uber secluded, making it easy for quiet one-on-one time with your significant other.

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

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Couples will realize just how wonderfully secluded this 96-suite getaway really is during the hour drive from the airport down a bumpy road. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by giant rooms with gorgeous terraces, a top-notch spa, and four high-quality restaurants, all of which are never packed with diners like those at some of the D.R.’s megaresorts. The on-site beach is private which helps to keep it quiet and calm, and couples can indulge in a vast variety of free activities such as yoga and snorkeling.

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When your windows frame the crystalline creep of fresh frost and the forecast calls for snow, sleet and plummeting mercury, nothing boosts the spirit better than dreams of tropical heat and beachy vistas. But when even the weatherman looks depressed and the thermometer starts to shiver, it can be hard to remember what warm weather feels like, much less to envision sand between your toes and colorful drinks with fancy umbrellas. So we’re here to help get you started on your armchair (or actual!) travels. These seven, ultra-luxurious infinity pools are absolutely spectacular and overlook the warmest oceans the world has to offer. Happy daydreams…

Marriott Wailea Resort, Maui

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The Marriott Wailea Resort offers up the best of both worlds: family-friendly grounds and an adults-only infinity pool. And what an infinity pool it is! Calm waters cascade over the edge, drawing your eyes out to the sparkling Pacific. And if you’re in the market for a quiet place to relax, the infinity pool’s shaded cabanas and lounge chairs are the perfect choice.

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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

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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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When going to a new destination, many of us stick to the beaten path; we’ll go where the other tourists are going for the first time around. But once you’ve been to Cancun, or Montego Bay, or any other well-touristed beach spot, you may be more interested in heading somewhere a tad more under-the-radar on your next visit to the area. Or perhaps you’re the type who opts to skip the crowds the first time around. Either way, we love these seven underrated beach destinations; they’re rarely a traveler’s first choice, but perhaps they should be.

Instead of Cancun, head to Riviera Nayarit

SayulitaWith over 190 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, wonderful resorts, and world-class golf, it’s surprising that Riviera Nayarit is so much less known than Mexican resort destinations such as Puerto Vallarta (its neighbor to the south) and Cancun. Punta Mita and Nuevo Vallarta are the most popular towns here, but there are also a number of charming little beach towns such as Sayulita and San Pancho that offer visitors a more authentic Mexican experience. Read More »

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This year just might be the year that you finally go on that once-of-a-lifetime trip. Right? Even if it’s not really in the cards – or the budget—there’s nothing to stop you from at least planning your dream trip. Just the way you’re planning to lose that holiday weight. And quit smoking. So go on – make it your New Year’s travel resolution to stay at one of these gorgeous, truly special hotels. We have a feeling it will be a whole lot more fun than tackling the other items on your resolution list.

Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. LuciaJade Mountain is consistently rated as one of the best hotels in the Caribbean (and often as the best hotel in the Caribbean) – and it’s not hard to understand why. This ultra-romantic resort offers decadent suites, most with private infinity pools and all with jaw-dropping views of the iconic Pitons and the Caribbean Sea. Guests can also expect organic cuisine, doting service, and plenty of privacy and tranquility. Read More »

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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

Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa RicaThis 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 »

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