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.
This 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 »
If an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink beach getaway with your honey sounds like your idea of a vacation, then we’ve got some great resort picks for you. These all-inclusive resorts are not only among the best in the Caribbean and Mexico, they’re also adults-only — so you can enjoy some R&R without getting interrupted by squealing tots. (And families, not to fear — we’ve got recommendations for you, too!)
Arguably Jamaica’s most romantic escape (for adults only), the Caves’ 12 unique, private cottages and suites are tucked along lush garden paths and dramatic seaside cliffs (there’s no beach). High-quality, locally focused cuisine, a top-shelf bar, and intimate, incredibly attentive service make it Jamaica’s best all-inclusive. Read More »
Traveling with the kids is hardly a picnic, and all too often parents don’t get to do a lot of vacationing on their vacations. If you’re hoping to tantrum-proof your family beach getaway this winter, we have some solutions for you: resorts so ridiculously awesome for kids that your little imps will likely be too busy (and too delighted) to cause you grief. No boredom, no tears — just lots and lots of good family fun.
Brimming with activities for kids and teens, Atlantis is a veritable Caribbean Disneyland. In addition to all the basics (babysitting, cribs, rollaway beds, kids club) the resort has 11 spectacular pools (including several kids’ pools), a 141-acre water park, a speedway for racing remote control cars, and a marine habitat with sharks, stingrays, and dolphins to swim alongside — and that’s just a sample of the attractions. In addition, for teens, Atlantis has an elaborate shopping center, a rock-climbing wall, a movie theater, and, on occasion, a pop-star concert (think Taylor Swift, Katy Perry). Read More »
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 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 »
For outdoorsy types, a tiny basement fitness center at the hotel just isn’t going to cut it. For them, a great vacation is all about getting outdoors — and being in a stunning natural setting to boot. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic resorts around the world offering a range of activities right on-site, from horseback riding to water sports to fishing to stargazing. Check out our faves.
Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley
Calistoga Ranch was designed with Mother Nature in mind: All the modules for the property’s 48 exquisite private lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The 157-acre property offers abundant outdoor activities, including hiking (there are a number of trails on-site), outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, and a fabulous fitness center. After all that exercise, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging at one of the wine tasting seminars (this is Napa, after all). Read More »
If you want to plan a family vacation with wow factor, look no further: Picking a hotel with one of the following kid-friendly attractions will earn you major points with your kids. And with activities this fun, you just may end up acting like a kid yourself.
Water park at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa
Hundreds of resorts around the world feature a water slide or two in their pool complex, but a few exceptional properties take it to a whole new level. For example, the Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis features two slides with vertical drops over 50 feet, a mile-long lazy-river pool, a tube that gushes past sharks, and a plethora of other scenic slides. The Grand Wailea water park in Hawaii includes four waterslides, whitewater rapids, caves, a lazy-river pool, rope swings, and a “water elevator” inside a man-made volcano.
Fashion Week has arrived to New York City, and we’re getting the fashion bug — but it’s not haute couture that’s getting us excited. It’s haute hotels, of course! Rather than envisioning ourselves in what’s on the runway, we’re dreaming about how we’d look in these fashion-forward spots, and what personal styles they’d pair best with. Go on — try them on for size. What hotel would you wear?
Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic
What to Wear: Oscar De La Renta Swimwear
Oscar de la Renta may be most famous for his evening wear, but he’s designed some super-chic swimwear as well — and there’s no better place to flaunt it than Tortuga Bay, which the famous fashion icon also designed. The 30-room Tortuga Bay hotel offers amazing service (including preferential treatment at Punta Cana Airport), an on-site nature reserve, several superb restaurants, and three world-class golf courses. Read More »
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.
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.
Ever dreamed of being king or queen of a castle? Lord or lady of the manor? Well, you’re not the only one — and plenty of hotels around the world can make that dream come true. We scouted out nine luxury hotels that were formerly the elaborate private homes of blue bloods, aristocrats, and royals, from an Irish castle to a Gatsby-era Gold Coast mansion. Feelin’ fancy? Then check these out.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland
This charming stone manor house dates to the 18th century and the 450-acre country estate embodies the sort of wild country beauty that Connemara is famous for. Past owners of the lands have included the O’Flaherty clan (the 16th century “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’Malley, married into the clan and was one of its more noteworthy members); Richard Martin (a member of Parliament nicknamed Humanity Dick for founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); and the Indian Maharaja, Ranji, who bought the estate in 1922. Read More »
There are those who say that your room on vacation doesn’t matter — you won’t spend any time in it anyway, right? Wellll, being the hotel geeks that we are, we have to respectfully disagree. That kind of logic is perfectly fine if you’re hopping hostels, but the truth is, the hotel room is a major component of a vacation experience for most of us. And if that hotel room provides a stunning outlook of the place you traveled all that way to see, all the better. That way you won’t miss a moment of experiencing your wonderful destination. These nine views aren’t just nice, they’re jaw-dropping — taking your vacation to a whole new level.
Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia
The guest rooms at Jade Mountain are among the most luxurious in the world, and all have a missing fourth wall featuring stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and St. Lucia’s iconic Pitons. Most also offer private infinity pools. This romantic resort is an architectural marble, built into a mountain about 100 feet above the sea. Read More »