During our travels we’ve stayed in the cutest, quaintest, and tiniest of hotels. And while we love the intimate and peaceful vibe that many smaller properties can offer, sometimes staying near the action just isn’t enough. We want to be in the thick of it. That way we can to go into full-on relaxation (read: lazy) vacation mode and have everything we could ever want right at our fingertips. Why should you have to jump in a car (or even worse — on a bus) just to meet a few people, see a show, or dance the night away? Luckily, these 12 massive village-style properties don’t think you should; in fact, they are hoping you won’t! Packed to the brim with communal conveniences like multiple restaurants, several pools, nightclubs, theaters, tons of activities, kids programs — even grocery stores, pharmacies, and bowling alleys — some of these places are so big they have on-site shuttles and maps to get you where you want to go amid sprawling grounds. And with enough rooms to house populations in the hundreds and thousands, they promise to be teeming with tons of potential new pals. It may take a village to create your perfect vacation — but at these properties, it’s worth it!
The 674-room Grand Palladium Bavaro is spread over spacious grounds (guests also have access to two sister properties) offering an incredible selection of 15 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. Walking shoes are recommended, but family-friendly amenities, lower prices than some neighboring properties, and renovated rooms are big draws. In 2014, the resort added 178 units — including a swim-up suite option overlooking the beach (a great pick for honeymooners). Kids and their parents will appreciate the outstanding kids’ club, but take note: the beach can get crowded.
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Lights, camera, action! Over the last several decades, hotels have played important roles in the film industry. Some iconic scenes — like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere bathing in Pretty Woman – will forever be a part of cinematic history and were actually filmed at hotels, instead of on sound stages. Most hotels that make it to the big screen are (for obvious reasons) primarily in Los Angeles and New York, but many others across the country get scouted to become shooting locations as well. So we’ve found 9 hotels all over that have been prominently featured in movies. Even if you never become a movie star yourself, you can at least visit these properties and feel like you’re walking through a film set. And sure, you’ll happily sign a few autographs.
Let’s start with the iconic Beverly Wilshire – a top luxury pick for business or leisure, families or couples. With beautiful guest rooms, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and a great spa, pool, and fitness center — plus doting Four Seasons service, it’s a classic five-star property. The hotel was featured prominently in the 1990 film Pretty Woman and it’s certainly proud of this; you can even borrow one of the many DVD copies from the concierge’s library. In the film, Julia Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a Hollywood prostitute who’s hired by Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman character. Their relationship develops over their week-long stay in the Presidential Suite at the hotel. From the couple soaking in the suite’s luxurious tub to Vivian walking through the lobby with numerous bags from shopping on nearby Rodeo Drive, the hotel received a lot of screen time in the classic rom-com.
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We hate to toot our own horn (or do we?), but we here at Oyster are kinda famous for our photo fakeouts. Basically, we put the photos that we took at hotels in person next to the hotels’ marketing photos to see if they line up. Well, spoiler alert: They often don’t. Whether it’s some sneaky cropping, over-the-top staging, or serious editing, marketing photos frequently make properties appear way more luxe (or modern or serene) than they actually are. During our travels we’ve found plenty of hotels guilty of a little marketing magic, and our latest round of fakeouts is no exception. Click through here to see some major fakeouts!
Honeymoons, anniversaries, or just weekends away can be made all the more romantic with a bottle of champagne for drinking and a hot tub for soaking. But it can kinda kill the mood if you have to share the whirlpool with other hotel guests, or if it’s nestled up alongside a pool teeming with splashing tots. That’s why we’ve found some hotels that offer private whirlpools — either in luxurious bathrooms or on lovely wooden decks — in various room types so your jetted bath time won’t be disturbed. Here are our 11 favorites — we just couldn’t narrow it down to 10.
Wailea’s aptly named Fairmont Kea Lani is a “white heaven” indeed — its 450 units sit on a 22-acre beachfront property that includes four pools, four restaurants and one lounge, access to world-class golf, some of Maui’s largest rooms, and a relentless dedication to service that rivals the nearby Four Seasons. The Two Bedroom Villa pictured above is definitely for deep-pocketed patrons that want a romantic getaway. The spacious villa has a separate living and dining room area, but its most alluring feature is the terrace with a private jetted pool and gorgeous views of the water.
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Forget rusty aluminum chairs and fraying towels — these top hotels cabanas only come equipped with first-rate finds. Here’s a roundup of our favorite poolside bungalows designed for discerning loungers: Picture plush seating, shade, salty ocean air, and fancy extras, all right by the pool so you can take a dip whenever you please. These 10 cozy nooks also dazzle with high-tech features and jaw dropping views.
Offering the ultimate in poolside luxury, Viceroy Anguilla provides guests with their own private poolside oasis. Cabanas come with sofa beds, lounge chairs, and gourmet treats. After all, opened in 2009, the Viceroy is the most modern property on this tiny island — and arguably the most luxurious. The Kelly Wearstler-designed resort manages to mix an upscale look with a laid-back, beachy feel, and features sleek lines, modern amenities, numerous art installations, earth tones, animal prints, and wood, stone, and gold accents throughout.
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We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.
The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey
Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.
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Okay, so one of the worst things ever is when you’re “enjoying” a spa treatment — but you’re not actually enjoying it because all you can think about is how much time it’s taking and how many things are piling up on your to-do list during your rubdown. Well, those behind the spas at JW Marriott, the Marriott’s top level of luxury hotels, have had the same experience, so they’ve dreamt up a whole new menu of mini spa treatments that last between 12 and 25 minutes. Of course, the new Spa by JW concept will also include traditional treatments, but those in a hurry — who still crave a little R&R — can indulge in brief treatments like the tense shoulders massage or the energy boost massage. And best of all, these treatments require no appointment and take place in express suites, fully-equipped with massage chairs, scent infusers, noise-canceling technology, and cell phone chargers. The first of these treatments will become available in September at the JW Marriott in Houston, and will soon roll out to all Spas by JW. [Hotel Chatter]
See more great pics of some of our favorite JW Marriott spas after the jump >>
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Who doesn’t love a girls’ trip? A fun getaway with a group of your girlfriends is the perfect way to get together and reconnect, whether you all live in cities across the country or in the same neighborhood. Hey, even guys love a girls’ trip! For those who are left at home, it means more time in control of the remote; for those in the visited destinations, it simply means more odds of meeting someone special (at least temporarily so). After visiting countless hotels and resorts all over the world, we’ve seen quite a few that are suited for that precious — and always entertaining — time spent with girlfriends. No matter if your gang likes to shop till you drop or roast marshmallows while camping, we’ve rounded up nine hotels that will suit your style.
Travaasa Austin is set on its own nature preserve on a hilltop amid forested canyons, 20 miles west of downtown Austin. Its 72 rooms are housed in seven buildings built on three different levels, with correspondingly different views from their balconies. Hiking trails, an infinity-edge pool enclosed by a wooden deck, a luxurious spa, and a restaurant with panoramic views are just some of the amenities providing inspiration and relaxation for visitors. The tranquil spa has a sauna and hot tub and uses only organic, bioenergetic products for personal treatments. The farm-to-face pumpkin facial and lavender vanilla hand treatment are just a few unique options they offer. You and your girlfriends will easily relax and decompress in this setting — and if you’re combining a little relaxation with a bachelorette party, Austin has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the U.S. for pre-nuptial soirees.
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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.
Considering the climbing prices of airfare, travelers these days are all the more focused on finding inexpensive hotels when they plan their summer getaways. Often, this can mean staying in a desolate, removed location or – perhaps worse – along a congested, crowded highway. But we’ve been lucky enough to find some hidden gems among our budget stays that boast not only low rates, but also absolutely jaw-dropping views. Sure, the rooms may lack high-tech amenities or feature some dated decor, but these 12 budget hotels prove that the best hotel amenity can be just out your window.
Run by a Canadian expat, the Hotel Tagoo is located within walking distance to the center of town, but far enough away to give guests spectacular views and a quiet atmosphere. It’s one of the older hotels in the area, and rooms are spacious and clean, but basic with minimal decor. Nonetheless, many feature balconies with sweeping vistas of the hilltops and sea.
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July is National Ice Cream Month (thank you, President Reagan!), and we think that calls for a celebration. And considering the fact that we’re hotel experts, our ideal way of commemorating the monthlong event is with a little getaway — plenty of ice cream included. Therefore, we rounded up 10 hotels that love ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt just as much as we do. The proof? They all have their own ice cream parlors on-site. So whether in Hawaii or Miami, you can cool off this summer and grab a scoop of mint chocolate chip at these yummy spots! (P.S. July may be National Ice Cream Month, but we think you can enjoy these parlors all year long.)
The 790-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel is a luxurious mega-resort with attentive service and a big, freeform pool overlooking a beautiful stretch of beachfront. The hotel has a spa, gym, several upscale restaurants, and a convenient South Beach location. Families are drawn to the hotel for a list of supervised activities for kids and, of course the SoBe Scoops ice cream shop, with not only ice cream but also plenty of other sweet treats.
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