Las Vegas

With a Monday holiday (at least in the Oyster offices!) and low off-season rates at romantic hotels across the United States and Mexico, Columbus Day Weekend just might be the ideal time to run off and elope with your sweetie.  We rounded up six diverse destinations that make it easy for couples to combine their private “I dos” with a romantic weekend hotel stay. All you have to provide is the getaway car, rings, and happily ever after.

Rendezvous spot: Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a traditional honeymoon destination, but lots of brides and grooms let this somewhat kitschy spot serve double duty by “taking the plunge” here as well. Heavenlee Weddings can arrange nuptials for two anywhere from on board the Maiden of the Mist to in a helicopter hovering over the falls. Of course, if you want a quiet chapel ceremony and then an epic photo shoot in your wedding duds alongside the thundering waters, that can be arranged too. We recommend getting married on the New York side of the falls for legal reasons, then driving the short distance over the border to a Canadian boutique hotel for an international wedding night.

Romantic hotel pick: Sterling Inn & Spa

This upper-middle-range intimate boutique doesn’t have a traditional honeymoon suite, but Deluxe King Rooms include fireplaces and enormous whirlpool bathtubs. Splurge on a couple’s massage at the on-site spa and cuddle up behind a curtained-off table for two at the red rose-colored (and chandelier-studded) AG Restaurant. The falls are within hand-in-hand walking distance from the inn.

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For those looking to ditch the typical 300-square-foot hotel room in favor of a more spacious pad, you are in luck. These days, more and more hotels are catering to the ever-growing crowd that seeks a home-away-from-home vibe by offering guests super-sized suites with tricked-out amenities. Whether its granite kitchen countertops, extra wiggle room, stunning views, added bathrooms, or a bevy of French doors — these hotels all give that spacious apartment vibe any claustrophobic would approve of. And to be clear, these feel less like our tiny studio apartments in NYC and more like the sprawling penthouse pads we can only dream about. So dream on >>

Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, Greater Palm Springs

Aqua Soleil

The larger rooms at Aqua Soleil look straight out of a Pottery Barn or West Elm catalogue. Each suite comes with a king bed, kitchenette, and large balcony with a view of the San Jacinto Mountains, as well as two flat-screen TVs with DVD players and a nice bathroom with a walk-in shower. (Some rooms even have their own personal pool!) This mid-range, 95-room hotel has limited curb appeal, but once on the property’s grounds, guests will find it is attractively landscaped and includes desert flora, a pool and spa filled with mineral water, and seating areas gathered around fire pits.

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Over just the last month, the Strip in Las Vegas had two new hotels open amidst a ton of buzz. The four-pearl SLS Las Vegas – from the luxe brand known for its properties in Beverly Hills and South Beach – debuted on the site of the former Sahara Resort & Casino and, not to be outdone, the 4.5-pearl Delano replaced THEhotel at Mandalay Bay shortly after. We were lucky enough to get an exclusive, inside look at both and see some of their stellar (and some of their mediocre) features first-hand. Though both have their pros and cons, we’ve had them battling it out in a few categories to declare a winner. In round one of our Delano versus SLS faceoff, we compared their scenes and locations to determine which has the bragging rights for each — and with SLS taking the scene and Delano scooping location…well, now it’s time for a tie-breaker. So in round two we’re going to see which hotel can say it has the best rooms and features. Signal the bell!

Category: Rooms

At the Delano

DRoom

If you’ve stayed at the Delano in South Beach, then you’ll be familiar with the design scheme in the rooms. A major shift from the dark public spaces, all of the 1,117 rooms are styled in whites, with gray and gold accents; they’re bright with light pouring in from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Read More »

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Over just the last month, the Strip in Las Vegas had two new hotels open amidst a ton of buzz. The four-pearl SLS Las Vegas — from the luxe brand known for its properties in Beverly Hills and South Beach – debuted on the site of the former Sahara Resort & Casino and, not to be outdone, the 4.5-pearl Delano replaced THEhotel at Mandalay Bay shortly after. We were lucky enough to get an exclusive, inside look at both and see some of their stellar (and some of their mediocre) features first-hand. Though both have their pros and cons, we’re going to have them battle it out in a few categories to declare a winner. In round one of our Delano versus SLS faceoff, we’re comparing their scenes and locations to determine which has the bragging rights for each. Signal the bell!

Category: Scene

At the Delano

DScene

The sleek public spaces here are a calculated nod to the Nevada desert, beginning with a huge 126,000-pound boulder greeting guests at the entrance. Brown leather couches, chairs with leather belt buckles, and a suspended rock installation by Korean artist Jaehyo Lee continue the striking, earth-inspired decor. Read More »

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10 Vegas Pools Making a Splash

by Lara Grant on September 10, 2014

Although summer is coming to a close and soon we’ll be trading in our bathing suits for comfy sweaters, the pool parties in Las Vegas were still hopping when we visited them over the weekend. From DJ-led poolside dance parties to quiet pools focused on tranquility, we saw a wide range of scenes. Many of these hot spots will still be going strong for a few more weeks — thanks to that desert heat! — so here’s a list of the best pools, and what to expect, if you need to squeeze in one more water-filled weekend. If you don’t make it out before the fall weather sets in, don’t fret! These bashes will undoubtedly be back as soon as it’s warm enough to drink a frozen mojito outside.

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas

Encore2 A five-pearl property, Encore at Wynn is home to huge rooms, fine dining and one of the best pool parties on the Strip. Encore Beach Club, exclusively used for pool parties, is open seven months a year, every Friday through Sunday, beginning in March. The area, which includes Surrender Nightclub, is a whopping 60,000 square feet and includes three tiered pools. It’s home to a wide array of resident DJs, including famous acts like Deadmau5 and David Guetta.

Encore1 The popular spot includes several bungalows that share an infinity plunge pool, and are always filled with a fun and rowdy crowd. The complex may be pretty large, but still expect to fight through mobs of around 4,000 people to get to the stage or a bar. Read More »

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Our team of hotel investigators are stationed all over the world, and every day we have expert photographers and reviewers visiting (and revisiting) properties. But often all you get to see is the final product — our comprehensive hotel reviews paired with hundreds of accurate, honest photos. Well, those reviews and photos are certainly helpful when planning a trip, but we figured it might be kind of fun for you to see just how we get to that end result. So we’ve decided to bring you along on our trip to Las Vegas, where we’ve been checking out the scene since Wednesday. We’ve visited pool parties and we’ve dined on some delicious eats and we’ve shared it all on Instagram, so be sure to check it out! But we’re most excited to share our pics and opinions of the brand-new Delano hotel. We were a little confused and thrown off that entry was through the parking garage, but otherwise we’ve been quite impressed! Let’s start at the beginning…

Delano 13

  This sleek, new property skips the gaudy, colorful look Vegas is known for and instead opts for stylish, desert-inspired decor. The lobby and hallways are decked out with “boulders” and interesting wooden structures and hanging sculptures.

See more amazing pics after the jump>>

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The highly-anticipated Delano Las Vegas opens its doors today. A ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the event will take place at 11:30 a.m., followed by a tour of the luxury property and tastings at its many eateries. Replacing THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, the all-suite tower has rooms starting at 725 square feet and featuring sophisticated decor in white and neutral color palettes, mixed with eclectic pieces that reflect the surrounding desert landscape. Spacious bathrooms include both glass showers and separate soaking tubs, along with MALIN+GOETZ toiletries. This soon-to-be packed spot also has a private pool. For the culinary curious, there are several fun dining and drinking options on-site — Della’s Kitchen will serve upscale comfort food like chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup; miX at Delano has fine French and Italian dining on the 64th floor. Guests can head to the cozy bar Franklin for a cocktail, or 3940 Coffee + Tea for an espresso or breakfast burrito. We’re excited about this new opening on the strip and will have tons more photos and details after we head there later this week! We’ll also be checking out the new mixed-use resort and casino SLS Las Vegas (sister property to the popular SLS South Beach), so stay tuned and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we post updates from Sin City!

In the meantime, check out some of the current top luxury spots on the Las Vegas strip after the jump >>

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If you suffer (we use the term lightly) from an intense devotion to wine, you will feel right at home at these wino-friendly hotels. We must say, we’ve uncorked the best of the best with these seven getaways. Many are near the best grape stompin’ vineyards in the country, or either offer expansive wine lists, classes for newbies, or wine-infused spa treatments — or all of these things! Just be sure to bring a clean palate; you’ll have plenty of opportunity to unleash your inner connoisseur.

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

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Set on 26 pristine Carmel Valley acres awash with vineyards and lavender, The Bernardus Lodge is a hit with pinot aficionados. Guests can unwine (get it?) at the spa with a chardonnay pedicure before uncorking in the tasting room. The restaurants here stock 25,000 premium bottles of wine, including 10,000 bottles from the Bernardus Vineyards and Winery near the resort.

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Who doesn’t love a good theme? We’re suckers for a little kitsch every now and then, and there’s something about the wild, wild West – cowboy hats and boots and all – that’s particularly endearing and fun. A western theme conjures up good ole days of yore, and it can make a property feel especially homey. That’s why we love these seven ranch-style hotels; from upscale estates spread across sprawling grounds to cheesy cowboy-themed properties, this list has the best of the best of the wild, wild West.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson

 Tanque Verde

This rustic, all-inclusive resort is a quintessential Western dude ranch surrounded by miles of gorgeous mountains and desert. The property borders Saguaro National Park East, where guests can enjoy guided horseback rides, hiking, and mountain biking. There’s also swimming, communal ranch meals, and kids’ activities, and sweeping wood-beam ceilings, stone fireplaces, and local artwork add to the ranch-like vibe.

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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.

Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills – A Four Seasons Hotel

Beverly Wilshire

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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