Costa Rica

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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Costa Rica’s pristine beaches, lush rain forests, and majestic volcanoes make it a prime destination for a winter  getaway. And these stunning resorts are the best spots to enjoy its natural wonders while staying in the lap of luxury. If you’re dreaming of rustic-luxe rooms, endless ocean views, pampering service, and world-class cuisine, look no further.

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Playa Virador at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsual PapagayoEasily among the most luxurious resorts in Central America, The Four Seasons is as close to perfection as it gets. With two beautiful beaches, ocean views from each one of the sumptuous rooms — decorated in materials including wood, bamboo, and stone — and an 18-hole golf course, the resort makes it possible for guests to spend their whole vacation on-site. Those who do choose to explore beyond Peninsula Papagayo should note that the roads in Guanacaste are in poor condition. Read More »

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Most of us have to stick to a budget when we plan a vacation, and we know that considering a hotel’s value is just as important as considering its rooms and features. It’s hard to enjoy a nice resort when you feel like you’ve been ripped off, and it’s hard to enjoy a cheap resort when you feel like a few extra bucks could have bought you a significantly better trip. For a hotel to be a great value, in our view, it’s got to offer the best of both worlds: It’s got to be a resort that’s cheaper than the competition but still objectively pretty great. So we scoured some of our  favorite beach destinations to find seven resorts offering just that. Prepare yourself for some shockingly good deals.

Kauai Beach Resort, Kauai

Kauai Beach ResortThis private, quiet property has large rooms, gorgeous sunrises over a rugged beach, a water slide and sand-bottom pool, and a romantic bar with live music. It’s a good choice for a quiet, relaxed stay. There may be more to do at the Kauai Marriott, but rates are typically better here. Read More »

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When many of us dream of the beach, we’re not just dreaming of fine white sand and clear blue waters. (Well, sure, we are dreaming about that part quite a bit.) But we’re also imagining thatched roof bars, decks with hammocks, and rooms with lots of wood or stone. Resorts that blend modern luxuries with a rustic vibe help set just the right tone for relaxation and serenity. Take a look at our faves.

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe 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), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, the restaurant serves simple but tasty local dishes, and group yoga classes on the ocean-view wooden platform are free. For a tranquil, unplugged getaway, this is one of Nicaragua’s premier options — just note that there’s no common pool (yet) and the climb from the beach to reception is extremely long and steep. Read More »

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The marriage of travel and food has been a long and happy one. For foodies, a destination isn’t going to rank as a favorite unless its cuisine — be it Mexican food in San Diego, seafood in Seattle, or the hodgepodge of deliciousness that is New York –  is something special. For us, that logic applies equally to the hotels where you stay within a city: not just hotels with great restaurants, but places that incorporate gourmet treats into the overall hotel experience. These hotels we love offer awesome foodie freebies, from decadent a la carte breafkasts to free nightly wine hours. Talk about tasty extras.

A la carte breakfast

The free a la carte breakfast at Costa Rica's Gaia Hotel and Reserve is worth writing home about.

The free a la carte breakfast at Costa Rica's Gaia Hotel and Reserve is worth writing home about.

Spotlight On: Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa Rica

Free hotel breakfasts aren’t exactly a rarity, but they are usually comprised of cereals, fruit, and, if you’re lucky, some moderately edible scrambled eggs. Not so at Gaia Hotel and Reserve, where the free breakfast is a gourmet a la carte affair. Menu items include Eggs Benedict, Belgian Waffles, Italian Egg White Frittata, Vanilla and Mango Pancakes, a Costa Rican Breafkast, and more. And the freebies don’t stop there: The room rate also includes a short spa treatment.

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Nothing says summer like a long, lazy day by a cool blue pool. And if that pool happens to be completely gorgeous and over-the-top, all the better; it can help turn a typical day by the pool into a summer memory to last a lifetime. Whether you’re looking to swim at the base of an active volcano, snorkel among Caribbean grottoes, or water slide through a shark tank, these pools can deliver all of that — and more.

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Most of us love a good water slide, but those looking for some serious thrills should hit up the a pool complex at Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which boasts a three-story waterslide that runs through a 200,000-gallon shark aquarium. Read More »

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Forget the beach—nature lovers know that the best way to experience the great outdoors in the summer is to spend some quality time in the mountains. If your idea of summer bliss involves hiking, biking, and swimming, these gorgeous resorts should be just the ticket. And if exotic scenery is a must, you’ll be happy to know that great mountain escapes can be found in tropical locales, too.

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark. Rooms with views of the Half Dome and El Captain summits are filled with wood and rich tapestries of Native American design. Highlights here include the Great Lounge with 24-foot-high ceilings and a large stone fireplace along with the light-flooded dining room. This hotel is on the expensive side — and parking is limited — but the prime location and views are worth the price tag. 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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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.
Read More »

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Sunset in Antigua

Gorgeous sunsets can be found all year-round, but summertime is a particularly nice season to take in a beautiful dusk view with a mai tai in hand. We’ve shown you some incredible sunsets before, but we’ve created a second edition of amazing views we’ve seen more recently. From Caribbean beach destinations to bustling metropolitan cities, we found 10 more incredible sunsets from our travels around the world.

 

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