Florida Keys

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 »

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

People have long questioned the whole “the bigger, the better” theory. Most have concluded that it really depends on the circumstances, and we’d have to concur. After all, in our area of expertise (hotels, of course), sometimes a megaresort — packed with activities, restaurants, and enough rooms to host hundreds of reunions at one time — is just what we’re looking for. Other times, we seek the privacy and tranquil vibe of a smaller hotel. And sometimes, we find that the most charming stays are those in absolutely itsy bitsy hotels — boutique properties tucked away in historic townhomes or on the top floors of unassuming edifices. So while even a hotel with nearly 100 rooms can be considered a boutique property, the tiny hotels that make this list all have just four rooms or fewer. Take a peek inside these intimate getaways to discover some truly unique stays.

Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam

Bed and Breakfast

Number of Rooms: Three

The picturesque, off-the-beaten-track Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is charm itself, located on a leafy canal with picturesque views of traditional canal houses and bridges in a residential area away from throngs of tourists. Inside and out, the Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is set apart by the owners’ attention to detail. The little added touches such as fresh flowers, free afternoon cakes, chocolates on the pillows, and a carafe of black currant gin in each guest’s room upon arrival help make this B&B an intimate, special spot.

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What’s the secret to a great family vacation? Finding a location that allows everyone to explore and have fun – at their own pace. A spot where the kids (most likely bursting with energy) can have a blast while you enjoy a relaxing massage and a margarita…or several margaritas. (Go ahead – it’s vacation.) And generally a beach destination can deliver on all these fronts. So we’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly, tropical vacation spots that feature safe and fun places to play, kid-friendly restaurants, and all sorts of activities, even if the sun goes into hiding for a day or two. And Mom and Dad will be just as happy at these spots as well.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort and Spa With ten pools, a sprawling (45,000-square-foot) water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the family-friendly Beaches is one of the most features-heavy resorts in Turks and Caicos. With a pirate-themed Sesame Street Treasure Caravan; 12 miles of white sand beach; pools staffed by lifeguards; Pirate’s Island Waterpark featuring two waterslides; AND Crayola Art Camps (whew!), your little ones can be entertained while you head for a rum punch. For the tweens and teens, there’s a Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, a (teen-appropriate) nightclub and lounge, an Xbox games garage, and even a DJ academy.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

Many see summer as the perfect time to get away with the family: The kids are out of school, and with “summer Fridays” and several long holiday weekends, that family vacation you keep meaning to take can actually become a reality. But we gotta say, there’s something to be said for leaving the kids at home and planning a summer escape a deux. We promise there’s still plenty of time for family bonding (like, you’re basically responsible for your spawn till they’re 18), and after all, it’s important to get away with your significant other for some alone time to keep that spark alive. So here we bring you the ten best adult-only hotels in the U.S. for a romantic couple’s trip.

The Mermaid & The Alligator, Florida Keys

 mermaid

The Mermaid and The Alligator is a nine-room upscale bed and breakfast housed inside a historic Victorian estate. The owners have taken great care to renovate the home with bold and vibrant decor and updated furnishings. Located on Truman Street in Key West, three blocks from popular Duval Street, the home is a quiet and peaceful area – thanks in large part to its “no children under 16” policy — that is steps from the heart of the entertainment district. There is a lush interior garden with hammock, lounge chairs, and plunge pool.

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Summertime is often when families choose to get away as a group for some family togetherness and sibling bonding. But that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad (or any other couples along for the family reunion) shouldn’t be allowed some alone time of their own, as well. That’s where these sexy adults-only pools come in. In destinations across the state — from Miami to the Keys, from Delray Beach to Fort Lauderdale — Florida hotels boast some pretty amazing adults-only pools. And, perhaps surprisingly, we found that some of the very sexiest adults-only pools in Florida are actually located on the properties of some pretty awesome kid-friendly resorts. So rest assured that your family getaway won’t be all about the kids. Here are our favorite adults-only pools in kid-friendly Florida resorts.

Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort, Florida Keys

Tranquility Bay Beach

Spread across 12 waterfront acres in the Florida Keys, Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort is a collection of upscale tropical Victorian-style homes divided into multi-story two- and three-bedroom suites with full kitchens and water views. There are also a handful of guestrooms without ocean views. With a private beach, three pools (including one adults-only), and an array of on-site water sport activities available, the property is a great fit for vacationing families. 

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Sure, your wedding day may be the most memorable day of your life, but there’s still plenty of pressure for the precursor proposal to be a noteworthy occasion. It can be an intimidating undertaking, and many choose to pop the question in a special place so the whole experience feels particularly luxe. Fortunately, numerous hotels have picked up on both the need for something special and the need for a little help; from offering proposal packages with diamonds already included, to lending a helping hand with customized engagement plans, these six resorts go the extra mile in (almost) guaranteeing engagement success.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City

Nestled in the heart of Old Quebec, the Fairmont Le Chateau has lured celebrities and reality show stars with its charm. It was even the spot where NFL Quarterback Jesse Palmer and his lady love Tara enjoyed a date on ABC’s The Bachelor. This seductive resort provides breathtaking pop-the-question scenic backdrops of the St.Lawrence River. Toast your happily-ever-after at the hotel’s wine and cheese bar before heading back to the luxurious Van Horne suite for a night to remember.

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We love the Florida Keys for so many reasons: the sun, the sand, the seafood, the sunsets, the nightlife… And fortunately for most East Coasters, the Keys are easy enough to reach that a weekend getaway to the beach (that doesn’t feel rushed) is totally doable. Not to say that you’ll want to leave, but at least your travel time with be short enough that you’ll have plenty of time to chow down on key lime pie and sip on margaritas even during a quick trip. On our recent jaunt to the Keys, we visited a slew of adorable properties and confirmed what we’ve believed to be true for some time — the Florida Keys are home to some of the cutest boutique hotels EVER. From a two-room hotel on a quiet street to a luxe adults-only property on its own private island, here are our ten favorite boutique hotels in the Florida Keys, NEW on Oyster.com!

Casa Morada

Casa Morada

Okay, so it’s not that small. But boat rides, fishing charters, and dive trips are just some of the perks available at Casa MoradaInspired by a laidback Caribbean lifestyle, this upscale 16-suite boutique hotel is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, whether for a honeymoon or just because. Situated right next to the ocean in the middle of the Florida Keys on Islamorada, the hotel provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with hanging hammocks and lots of fun and free activities like yoga classes, kayaking, and bicycle rentals. Compared to nearby hotels, this property offers great value with spacious and upscale rooms with water views.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

As much as we would all love to pack our bags and fly off to some remote corner of the world, the reality is that the majority of Americans won’t be leaving the “Land of the Free” any time soon. In fact, as of last year, a study showed that more than half of Americans have never left the country. A full third does not have a passport. When asked why, many of those Americans who participated in the study said they felt everything worth seeing was already in their own backyards. While we’d like to contest the veracity of that statement, we have to give credit where credit is due. The States DO have lots to offer travelers. From crystal clear waters that rival those in the Caribbean, to insurmountable mountain peaks that wow even the most experienced adventure traveler, the geography of America is as varied as the citizens that call it home. By that logic, you technically don’t have to leave the States to feel miles away. This summer, explore the far corners of America and discover just how diverse your country — you won’t even know you’re still on your home turf.

Getaway: The Florida Keys 

florida keys

The Florida Keys are as close to the Caribbean (and its nice weather) as you can get in the U.S. Formerly thriving on the loot from wrecked ships, the Keys now thrive on tourism. Visitors flock to the area during the winter and spring to soak up the year-round heat and swim in the beautiful, calm waters. Situated on the third largest barrier reef in the world, the Keys are a great destination for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there are tons of other outdoor activities, too — tennis, golf, kayaking, fishing…the list goes on.

Stay: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Reachable only by boat or seaplane, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is located on a private island where wild key deer roam. It includes 30 luxurious suites, many with private oceanfront verandas. A favorite getaway for celebrities, it provides a secluded place to unplug from the world (use of technology is discouraged) and experience a romantic vacation in a lush, tropical environment. Read More »

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Throughout our travels we’ve seen over-the-top luxurious rooms, themed rooms, massive rooms, just plain weird rooms, and everything in between. But for some rooms that we’ve gotten the chance to explore, there’s no better way to describe them than just, well, cool. Whether they’re located in caves or decked out in all-over orange (you’ll understand in a minute), these ten picks are some of the coolest hotel rooms in the world.

1. The Suite of Orange at Hotel Estherea, Amsterdam

 Hotel Estherea

Hotel Estherea takes a maximalist approach to its interior design, and treads the fine line between plush extravagance and gaudiness with aplomb. This is particularly apparent in the lavish Suite of Orange, which lives up to its name; decked out in various shades of orange with plenty of mahogany touches, it features a gorgeous chandelier and high-tech amenities such as massive flat-screen TVs and iPads upon request. The hotel’s location on the Singel canal is picturesque, and well positioned for exploring Amsterdam‘s attractions.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

We here at Oyster.com have done all types of travel. We’ve trekked to some pretty far-off places, we’ve slept under the stars, and we’ve pinched pennies at some budget (but nonetheless awesome) locales. But we gotta say, our favorite kind of travel is luxury travel. Of course, there’s something to be said for roughing it and that whole getting-back-in-touch-with-nature thing, but given the choice between a tent and a massive presidential suite? Um, we’ll take the suite any day — without hesitation. Suites vary from hotel to hotel, and from destination to destination, but throughout our extensive travels we have come across a handful (fourteen, to be exact) of gorgeous, over-the-top hotel suites that are so luxurious, they’re quite literally mind-blowing. From a Vegas suite with its own pool and mini-golf course to a gigantic “Sultan Suite” overlooking the Bosphorus in Istanbul, these fourteen suites take luxury to the next level.

1. The Royal Bridal Suite at The Toren, Amsterdam

The Toren

This romantic boutique hotel near the Anne Frank House has historical significance: It was once used as a safe house in WWII. The Toren family bought the property in 1968 and expanded it over time to include additional accommodations along the Keizersgracht canal. Today there are 38 rooms and suites ranging from smaller standard size, to spacious, elaborate options like the Royal Bridal Suite. This over-the-top, dual-level suite promises romance and opulence; it sits in a second building, removed from the main house, for added privacy and features rich decor (such as gorgeous antique furniture, chandeliers, and murals), a fireplace, a deep soaking tub, and a private entrance with a patio.

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