Lake Tahoe

Some destinations always come to mind when people think of beach getaways: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Miami’s South Beach, and the crowded sands in Cancun. Some spots, however, are often overlooked and it makes them that much better. Fewer people, untouched nature, you name it; underrated beach destinations are hidden gems that can be just what you’re looking for. Check out our list of nine underrated beach destinations — and make a trip before the secret is out!

Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Vieques Island is surrounded by gorgeous, clear waters.

This unique little island offers travelers pure, undeveloped land, mainly thanks to the US Navy’s former use of a good portion of the island. The Navy left in 2003, however, and the land it once occupied is now a national wildlife refuge. Tourists to Puerto Rico often don’t leave the mainland as it takes an extra puddle-jumper to get to Vieques and there are few tourist attractions. Instead, attractions are nature-oriented: The island’s stunning, untouched white-sand beaches and famous bioluminescent bay are the highlights, but it also features walking trails, 300-year-old trees, and some of the top snorkeling spots in the country.

Where to Stay: The quaint Inn on the Blue Horizon is a smaller, more affordable option compared to the nearby W Vieques. The inn features phenomenal ocean views, pretty Mediterranean-style architecture, and wild horses roaming the grounds.

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What’s better than crawling into a soft, warm bed after a long day of skiing? Well, very few things, but an après-ski spa session may just top it! It’s not only that during a treatment your muscles can finally relax after so many hours of tension, but spa treatments also allow your mind to float away into a whole other dimension in which checking your work email or stressing over what to make for dinner is not even a dot in the horizon. With a wide array of world-class treatments, gorgeous facilities, and unique, tranquil vibes, these spas are your best bet for some après-ski pampering.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

The full-service spa also offers salon services.

The full-service spa also offers salon services.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is a five-pearl, full-service resort in the mountains above Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort. Along with luxe rooms, fine dining, and ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes, the Ritz-Carlton offers many other recreational activities — including multiple outdoor pools and whirlpools that are open year-round. However, one of the best features of the hotel is its huge spa, complete with a wonderful fitness center with mountain views, and an outstanding treatment menu that ranges from organic mani-pedis to stone massages.

  • Our favorite spa treatment: The hotel’s Signature Package includes a 50-minute organic massage, a 50-minute organic facial, and a 50-minute organic manicure and pedicure.

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Akin to that elusive “nineteenth hole” in golf, après-ski scenes are more about socializing than sporting. Groups gather after the last run of the day to drink, dance, and relive any hairpin turns they might have experienced on the slopes. We’ve traveled to North America’s premier ski locales and every time, after a blustery day on the mountains, nothing has warmed us up faster than a hot toddy by the fire in some of our favorite hotel bars. Featuring cozy ambiances, stunning views, and custom drinks, these hot spots are just the ticket for a solid après-ski social hour.

The Granary at Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole 

The Granary offers phenomenal views and cuisine in Jackson Hole.

This après-ski gem in Jackson Hole offers delicious, locally-sourced cuisine. Cocktails are tasty and the views…well, the views pretty much speak for themselves. With The Granary set in a wildlife refuge more than 700 feet above the Jackson Valley, it’s no wonder that the views are the most stunning of the Tetons in the area. Read More »

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For many of us, family ski trips are some of the fondest memories from our childhoods; they often involved fire pits, heated pools, hearty meals, and, well, maybe a few kamikaze-style downhill runs as well. We know from experience that kids always have a great time in the snow, and they’re usually so tired after an entire day of skiing that parents can even snatch some time alone after the little ones are in bed. But there are so many hotels that cater to families and groups that picking the right one can be tricky. No need to fret — we’re here to help! We’ve put together a list of our favorite family-friendly hotels in the top ski destinations, so that all you need to do is have some fun!

Top of the Village, Aspen

The resort offers multi-room suites with kitchens and sitting areas.

The resort offers multi-room suites with kitchens and sitting areas.

Located at the top of Carriage Way, a winding road in Snowmass Village, the mid-range Top of the Village offers great ski-in/ski-out access, an outdoor year-round pool, two whirlpools, and a small fitness center. Because the 88 units range from two to five bedrooms, Top of the Village tends to draw large parties and families.  The fact that it’s the only hotel in Snowmass where you can ski or walk down to the Village Mall, and then take the free shuttle back up, is an added bonus.

  • Our favorite family-friendly feature: Some units offer sleeper sofas that can accommodate up to two other guests, so families on a tighter budget can book a one-bedroom suite instead of a more expensive two-bedroom condo, and still have separate rooms for the parents and the kids.

 

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14 of the Best Ski Hotels

by Jane Reynolds on January 18, 2013

Skiing is one of our favorite winter pastimes: There’s just something about getting out in the fresh air (and fresh powder) that does a body good. And whether you’re doing the “pizza” down the bunny slopes or have mastered the double black diamond, you’ll be sure to have a great time, especially considering all the other offerings ski destinations and hotels have: gorgeous spas, fabulous shopping, heated pools, you name it. So without further adieu, here’s a roundup of our favorite ski hotels that go above and beyond with amenities such as ski-in/ski-out locations, elegant rooms, and activity-packed itineraries.

Viceroy Snowmass

Viceroy Snowmass

Viceroy Snowmass is easily the most luxurious resort in Snowmass Village, and is packed with top-notch amenities, including a 7,000-square-foot spa with a stunning relaxation room, a solid fitness center, and a lovely pool area with heated saline pool, cabanas, and fire pit. It also offers phenomenal ski valet service (valets will take care of everything from scheduling lessons to putting your boots on for you) and a prime ski-in, ski-out location. There’s a daily resort fee, and you’ll have to pay for valet, but that’s to be expected at a resort of this caliber.

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When it comes to vacations, everyone has their own style. Many people like to travel within a budget, while others prefer to go all out and splurge on some luxury digs. Some like an active getaway, while the rest (us often included) just want to kick back and relax. Whether you’re a beachgoer or a mountain-climber, or whether you prefer to get there by plane, train, or automobile, Oyster wants to know which vacation you would choose: Over-the-top luxury or rustic tranquility? Take a look at the options below and then enter your answer in the comments section.

Option 1: Over-the-Top Luxury

The Viceroy Miami is luxury at its finest

Luxe example: Miami is not shy about turning on the glitz and the glamour. The flashy coastal city is home to a number of upscale hotels, including the Viceroy in the bustling downtown area. The hotel’s crowning achievement is the 28,000 square foot spa, designed by Philippe Starck. The spa includes a water lounge, juice bar, redwood saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms, and massive gym with a yoga and Pilates studio. With amenities like these, luxury travelers will feel right at home pampering themselves with the finest the Magic City has to offer.

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If you’re one of the millions of people on the eastern seaboard affected by Hurricane Sandy, you’re probably a bit preoccupied this week with power outages, mass transit meltdowns, and such. You may have faced danger or devastating destruction (Red Cross donations here, people), or you may be reveling in your electricity-free vacation from work. (At least until you realize that no electricity means no hot showers — we figured that out the hard way.) But one thing is for sure: Once things are up and running again, and planes are flying to far-away places, it will be time to plan yourself a nice vacation away from this mess. Just be sure to pick a vacation destination that is reliably hurricane-free. Here are some top-notch options, as well as great places to stay while you’re there:

Lake Tahoe, California

Though Lake Tahoe may sometimes get serious snowstorms, the cold waters along the California coast mean that hurricanes almost never make landfall in the state (only two have hit in the last 100 years). When they do hit, it’s typically Southern California that is most affected instead. Lake Tahoe safely sits in northern California, where it has 300 days of sun a year and plenty of great year-round vacation activities — swimming, boating, and hiking in the summer, and skiing in the winter.

Lake Tahoe gets 300 days of sunshine a year.

Oyster.com Hotel Pick: Franciscan Lakeside Lodge

This cluster of cabins right on the lake makes a great value pick. While some rooms are tucked across the street from the lake in a darker, tree-covered area, the lakefront cottages have excellent views and open to the sandy beach and a private pier where guests can swim and play in privacy. Kitchenettes make dining in (and saving money) easy. And the heated outdoor pool (open seasonally) is said to be the largest in North Lake Tahoe.

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When planning a destination wedding, the first locations that come to mind are likely postcard-perfect beaches in the Caribbean or some other exotic sandy setting. However, if you’re not quite ready to spend a fortune — or you don’t want to put that burden on your guests — there are tons of gorgeous, inexpensive (or shall we say, less expensive) destinations in the U.S. that make for memorable weddings. And it’s always nice a change of scenery! Just because you’re not Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner doesn’t mean you can’t have your own beautiful destination wedding, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite spots for a more affordable event to help you decide.

Destination #1: Vermont

Vermont, with its quaint villages and scenic landscapes, is probably your best bet for a back-to-nature inspired wedding. If you can totally see yourself posing for the pre- or post-wedding photos along tumbling streams, thick woodlands and gorgeous views, search no more. Its small, cozy inns and B&B’s are perfect for intimate weddings and small receptions, and the green meadows and steep mountains make for great backgrounds when saying your “I Do’s.” You will probably need a car or a shuttle to move your guests around, as Burlington’s is the only major airport serving the entire state, but the scenery and the vibe will prove to be well worth it.

Oyster’s Fave Value Wedding Spot: Swift House Inn

The Swift Room at the Swift House Inn; Mid Vermont, VT

Vermont's kitschy B&Bs are perfect venues for intimate weddings and family affairs.

The historic Swift House Inn is located within walking distance of downtown Middlebury, a picturesque New England town, with traffic-free streets lined by locally owned shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The hotel’s 20 rooms are spread throughout the Main House (formerly a Governor’s Mansion), the Carriage House, and the Gate House. Room decor varies, allowing guests to choose a room depending on personal style. Some rooms offer a classic New England B&B vibe with floral wallpaper, fireplaces, and four-poster beds, while others are more understated, with soft-toned walls and tasteful furniture. One of the inn’s highlights is its delicious and free breakfast, and an on-site restaurant, Jessica’s, is a popular destination for both guests and locals.

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Pretty sweet view, right?

Lush, tropical landscapes. Gorgeous city skylines. Tempting mountain vistas. These are the reasons why we go on vacation, right? That, and being able to relax and let someone else do the cooking for a change. But why not have both? Hotels with top-notch restaurants know that pulling in diners is about more than just the grub. A destination restaurant has to have both killer cuisine and a view to dine for [Ed. Note: See what we did there?] in order to pull vacationers away from their lounge chairs. We’ve seen some of the most unique and breathtaking vistas, all while dining on the freshest cuisine, at these five scrumptious hotel properties.

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There’s a lot happening across the pond this summer. London not only celebrated the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, but the UK is also gearing up to host the 2012 Olympics, with the opening ceremony kicking things off on July 27. Not everyone can fit into Olympic Park, however, and that includes us here at Oyster. So as much as we’d love to watch Michael Phelps sweep another summer games in the flesh, we’ve decided to show a little patriot pride by visiting our favorite Olympic-inspired stateside destinations. Whether they’re spots where Olympians have once stayed, or have a British air about them that’ll transport you to London, we’d argue that they’re (well, almost) worth missing the games for!

Vacation like a champ at the Olympic Village Inn in Lake Tahoe

http://www.oyster.com/tahoe/hotels/olympic-village-inn/

The Olympic Village Inn in Lake Tahoe

The Olympic Village Inn was home to U.S. Olympians in the 1960s when they underwent training in Squaw Valley for the Winter Games in Rome. At the foothills of a small ski town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the inn has rooms with names such as Chamonix and Kitzbuel — both towns in Europe that have hosted Winter Olympics. The inn offers adventurous guests plenty to do with free bicycle rentals and access to a nearby hiking trail. Read More »

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