Jamaica

Fairy tales have been bewitching readers long before Emma Swan wandered into Storybrooke on ABC‘s “Once Upon A Time.” In fact, these stories of heroes and magic, and goblins and trolls, have been entrancing the masses ages before even the Brothers Grimm decided to pen some of history’s most memorable tales. The reasons for this preoccupation with folklore vary: Some people pine for their favorite characters and others wish for a world where magic spells and potions can be bought and sold at your local witch’s hut.

But perhaps the most alluring part of a fairy tale is the setting, filled with grand castles, forbidden forests, and charming villages galore. These fascinating worlds come to life before our eyes thanks to the rich descriptions of our favorite fairy tale authors. And there’s good news for all of the dreamers out there: Many of these otherworldly settings were inspired by real life destinations around the world. Now we all know Sleeping Beauty’s castle was based on the gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, and that Colmar, France could be La Belle et La Bete’s hometown, but what about lesser known fairy tales? From Sicily to Scotland, we have the scoop on some of the most idyllic lands of folklore that are just waiting to be discovered — and, of course, the dreamy hotels where you can almost imagine Prince (or Princess!) Charming awaiting your hand for a dance.

1. Sicily, Italy 

sicily

Sicily remains one of the most intriguing regions of Italy. A mix of cultures — including Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, and African — provide the island with a heady history filled with intrigue. You can see the blend of cultures reflected in the island’s cuisine, architecture, language, and — yes — folklore. Fairy tales from Sicily have all of the traditional components: heroes and heroines, magic and might. But they also have some surprising twists that make them entirely their own. In Sorforina, for example, our titular heroine is a well-educated young woman, the daughter of a Sicilian merchant, who falls in love with a young, belligerent prince. The tale of their love affair is tortured, filled with artful witchcraft and steamy seduction (this is an Italian fairy tale, after all). It is a fairy tale of its own unique making, filled with the wry and unabashed sarcasm Sicilians are known for in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

Stay: Grand Hotel Villa Igiea  

The Grand Hotel Villa Igiea offers a magnificent and ornate example of Sicily’s 19th-century architectural history — as well as a plausible backdrop for our Sorforina. Visitors have noted that this is considered one of the best, if not the best, hotel in Palermo. The grounds are spectacular, and the outdoor pool was built to incorporate ancient stone ruins. Inside, there’s a romantic bar with vaulted stone ceilings and wall frescoes. Read More »

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There’s cozy and then there’s spooky. And when it comes to the cavernous spaces of some of our favorite hotels, we’ll just have to let you be the judge. The dark corners and vaulted ceilings of these lair-like rooms often simply add a little extra oomph to the sultry ambiance of a romantic restaurant or a sexy spa, but we still can’t help but get a little spooked in these windowless spots. Here are six hotels that are home to some pretty cool (and kinda creepy?) caves.

Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Bermuda

Grotto Bay Beach

Bermuda’s Grotto Bay Beach Resort is home to the mother of all caves. Natural grottos can be found on the property, and weekly cave crawls explore the grottos’ vast nooks and crannies. Guests are free to swim and snorkel on their own, but if the idea of this makes you a bit tense, have no fear — the spa’s sole treatment room can be found in the subterranean space. The hotel’s private beach is also available for swimming and water sports.

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One way to up the ante for your next vacation? Pick an uber-remote destination. A remote locale of course means some extra time spent traveling, but when that translates into an extra peaceful setting that not only feels, but is, miles away from home, it makes it well worth the journey. We’ve logged hundreds of hours in our efforts to find some of the world’s coolest, most secluded hotels. So here we bring you ten of the world’s most remote resorts in gorgeous, virtually untouched, and totally tranquil settings.

1. Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens, Costa Rica

 arenal

This 12-acre hilltop property not only sits on beautiful, uber-remote grounds – with unobstructed views of the Arenal Volcano – but even the rooms have an ultra-private vibe, with each being a separate bungalow tucked into the lush surroundings. Special touches include outdoor garden showers and decks with whirlpools and hammocks.

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Sun and sand is great and all, but some (us included) would argue that a beachy setting gets better when the clothes come off. Not only is it totally freeing (as a vacation should be), but it’s also economical — no need to buy a new bathing suit or pay to check your bag! So come and get the skinny on our favorite nude beaches.

1. Haulover Beach, Miami

Though Miami is topless-friendly just about everywhere, Haulover Beach is the only true nude beach in this spring break hotspot. The waters are crystal clear, the soft sand is debris-free, plus there are tons of on-beach amenities. Haulover has lifeguards (in swimsuits, unfortunately), food and drink vendors, and plenty of organized activities like birthday-suit volleyball…although we recommend not going for the save.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, Miami 

Secluded on an island overlooking Brickell Bay, the 326-room Mandarin Oriental offers a private retreat for couples, business travelers, and anyone else seeking an escape from the crowd. Chic, Asian-inspired decor, a three-level spa, and modern fitness center help soothe jangled nerves, while oversized rooms with water views offer ample opportunity to decompress.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

A summer vacation is the perfect time for catching up on all the books you’ve been meaning to read. With more downtime, more holidays, and less time devoted to required reading, the summer allows us to get in some great — and steamy! — guilty pleasure reads. And while a sandy beach is always a lovely spot for lying out with the latest Nicholas Sparks (please reserve your judgment), there are some hotels around the world not on the beach that are just made for book lovers. Whether it’s where a famous novel was set, an author awaited arrest, or a gorgeous library can be found, these eight hotels are a bookworm’s delight. (And we threw in one on the beach, just for good measure.)

Ambassade Hotel, Amsterdam

ambassade

Ambassade Hotel‘s lovely brick front is as inviting as its location in the picturesque (and convenient) Canal Ring neighborhood, across from a boat-lined canal and within walking distance of several major publishing houses, making it a popular crash pad for authors. Rooms offer lovely views and are adorned with rich furnishings, intricate mirrors, and carved furniture. Common spaces are equally elegant, including the library where signed first editions from guests pasts — such as Nobel laureates José Saramago and Orhan Pamuk, and best-selling author David Sedaris — can be found in glass cases.

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A beach getaway is meant to be a relaxing escape. But when you’re spending a fortune for just a few days on the sand, it can be everything but a time of peace and tranquility. Fortunately, we’ve traveled to beaches all over the world and have stayed not only in luxe beachfront hotels, but also in lovely motel-style beach properties that are — wait for it — affordable. Here are our top ten picks.

Ke Iki Beach Bungalows

1. Ke Iki Beach Bungalows; Oahu, HI

These 11 beachfront bungalows offer a solid value, and sit just above the sand on Hawaii’s picturesque North Shore. Sure, the bungalows are modest, amenities are few, and service is minimal. But a beautiful beach is just outside the door, as are hammocks and grills, and parking is free. Oahu’s most famous surfing spots and a charming surfer town, Haleiwa, are just down the street.

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There’s something about boutique hotels that make them sexier than your average getaway: Smaller spaces and dark corners, personalized service, and often diligent attention to detail make them well-suited for the romantically-inclined. We picked our favorite boutiques that have all the necessary trappings for romance.

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We get it, you love your kids. But some occasions — anniversaries, romantic holidays, and even just good ole sexy time — require an adults-only escape. Enter these six sensual (and beautiful) adults-only resorts and inns, each of which promises all the accouterments of the ideal vacation a deux. From fluttering bed canopies to massages for two, from private rainforests to seaside cliffs (and some secluded corners private enough for a little hanky panky, as well!), these six kids-free vacations deliver the ultimate in romantic luxury.

Gaia Hotel And Reserve

Gaia Hotel And Reserve, Costa Rica

The adults-only Gaia Hotel, located in spectacular Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is a romantic tropical haven. Surrounded by a private rainforest reserve, this boutique boasts exotic blooms, hooting howler monkeys, and lush scenery at nearly every turn. Many couples appreciate the quiet, the ambiance and the attentive service, which includes freebies such as delicious breakfasts and a 20-minute spa treatment.

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As any true food lover will tell you, the best things in life come in dozens: donuts, bagels, cupcakes… you catch our drift. So today we’re bringing you the best beach resorts for foodies, in a tasty set of twelve. After all, a beach vacation is always a treat, but when it’s paired with culinary delights — well, it’s that much sweeter. From Caribbean all-inclusive resorts with tens of celebrity chef-helmed restaurants, to hidden spots where the ocean-facing restaurant is a destination unto itself, we’ve found twelve amazing beach resorts with amazing foodie-pleasing offerings. Bon appetit!

 

Casa de Campo

1. Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic 

The D.R.’s classiest, most famous resort since 1974, the Casa de Campo hotel is part of a massive, 7,000-acre resort community that includes three world-renowned golf courses, an immaculate beach, a marina, and thirteen delicious restaurants. With everything from a casual pizzeria to a lively tapas bar, Casa de Campo has something for every kind of foodie; those with a leaning towards celebrity will enjoy the Caribbean outpost of Le Cirque, sitting right on the beach and serving up tasty bites like fried fish sliders.

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Getting married is so exciting and wonderful…and stressful….and expensive — are we starting to sound like your father? After all, saying “I do” to your significant other also means saying yes to a reception hall, a caterer, and half-a-trillion other details like flowers, place settings, you name it. While the wedding will certainly be one of the happiest moments of your life, after all that you’ll deserve an epic honeymoon that will kick off your married bliss — and won’t run you straight through your savings. Whether you’re looking for a getaway where you can get more bang for your buck, or are willing to sacrifice a few bells and whistles in the hotel amenities department in order to visit some of the world’s hottest honeymoon destinations, we’ve got ten great spots for you (and your wallet).

hawaii

1. Hawaii: Kauai Beach Resort 

Few destinations are more “classic honeymoon” — or really even “classic vacation” than Hawaii. Among the state’s islands, Kauai — with it’s lush, wild mountainous terrain — is arguably the most beautiful and relaxing for a honeymoon. But that doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg. The secluded Kauai Beach Resort is a great budget option, featuring large rooms with gorgeous views of the sun rising over a rugged beach, a sand-bottom pool with a waterslide, and a romantic bar with live music. It’s an excellent choice for a quiet, low-key Hawaiian honeymoon. The cherry on top? Rates consistently hover around $150 per night.  Read More »

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