Monterey County

Upper Pool at the Ventana Inn & Spa

Situated on more than 200 acres of picturesque land, the Ventana Inn & Spa looks like a rustic cabin nestled in the woods — yet it features 62 luxurious, streamlined rooms with wooden accents, refreshing pops of color, and modern amenities such as flat-screen TVsiPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Many rooms have fireplaces, creating a cozy vibe to fit with its surroundings — though glass doors and large windows keep the rooms feeling bright and airy. Not a place for families, the overall goal of the hotel is to create a zen, holistic retreat with such offerings as yoga classes, discovery walks, afternoon wine and cheese, and Japanese baths. But what we really love here are the gorgeous, pristine pools — one of which is clothing-optional. We’d remind you to pack your bathing suit, but you don’t have to! So as we say every week: sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Ventana Inn & Spa.

{ 1 comment }

If you’re one of the many shoppers out there struggling with gift buying this holiday season, don’t fret. Whether you’re a road warrior with no time to shop or just looking for a ‘lil inspiration, we’ve found a surprising source for great gift ideas: hotels. From gourmet goodies to decadent bath products to home decor, hotels have plenty of items that can make the perfect present — so swipe something on your next hotel stay (and pay up, of course!) or simply swipe the suggestion!

Gift Idea: Signature Pantry Goodies

Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.

Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.

Little-known fact about hotels: Some of the really, really nice ones have their own signature gourmet goodies. At The Merrion, for example, the hotel chef sells kitchen creations such as red onion marmalade (4 euros, or about $5) and hotel-brand chocolate bars crafted under the guidance of chocolatiers in France, both for sale in the in-room minibars. In addition, entire holiday hampers of treats can be purchased. One of our favorites? The Merrion Hamper, with items such as cranberry sauce, brandy butter, mulled wine and grape chutney, macaroons, mince pies, chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding, and lemon oil, all for 55 euro (about $72). At The Shelbourne Dublin, more tasty seasonal signature treats are for sale, such as various relishes (4.95 euros, about $6.50), preserves (4.95 euros, about $6.50), and even Christmas pudding (10 euros, about $13).

Oyster’s Picks for Where to Swipe ‘Em: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The Pacific's Edge Restaurant serves gourmet cuisine that rivals these gorgeous views.

The 144-room cliff-side Hyatt Carmel Highlands offers awe-inspiring views unrivaled anywhere else around Monterey and Carmel — some could even argue the entire West Coast. Providing the ultimate in wedding photo backdrops, the stunning views can be seen throughout the property. Spacious accommodations at the resort are handsomely decorated with modern decor. Most feature working fireplaces, patios or balconies, and whirlpools with striking views of the rocky shore. The on-site restaurants serve delicious meals (and provide great reception options), and the outdoor fire pit is a nice spot for relaxing and taking in a healthy dose of sea breeze before the big day.

Weddings at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands make use of the hotel’s breathtaking views and gourmet cuisine. Couples can choose to wed on the hotel’s Gazebo Deck, in the Surf Room, or in the Yankee Point space. The Gazebo Deck is nestled above the jaw-dropping cliffs of Big Sur and can accommodate up to 115 guests on a lovely redwood deck surrounded by lush gardens. The Surf Room features a balcony space and floor-to-ceiling windows so guests can soak in the view from indoors, and the bride doesn’t have to worry about rain ruining her big day. Yankee Point is perfect for smaller weddings, and features a cozy fireplace. An on-site wedding specialist is available to assist couples in choosing a location, arranging discounted rates for guests, and constructing a menu for the reception. The bride and groom will also enjoy a a complimentary guestroom that comes with a chilled bottle of champagne to toast the special occasion. As a bonus, Hyatt will also arrange for couples to enjoy free honeymoon nights at any Hyatt location worldwide. Cheers to that! Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands here » Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Foto Friday: Caption This Photo!

by Devon on October 19, 2012

Just paw "47" to talk to our concierge!

It’s just not a “home away from home” unless we have our four-legged friends by our side. But luckily for us, the staff at the Tradewinds Carmel in Monterey County is about as pet-friendly as they come. In fact, Furball and Foofers consider the boutique more of a human-friendly spot where they can bring their owners along if they so choose. At check-in, you’ll have to make sure the front-desk puts room keys into the right paws!

Read our caption after the jump, then enter your own in the comments section below! Read More »

{ 4 comments }

Ask Oyster: Get Nude

Credit: iStock Photo

Welcome to our new series, Ask Oyster! Have a burning travel question you’d like answered? Contact us and put “Ask Oyster” in the subject line.

Dear Oyster,

My husband and I have always wondered what it would be like to try the nude lifestyle on vacation, but I have no idea what kind of resorts might offer this. (And I would be a bit embarrassed to call up a hotel and ask!) What are my options?

–Uses Lots of Sunscreen

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Photo Credit: Humberto Carreno/startraksphoto.com

Photo Credit: Humberto Carreno/startraksphoto.com

Last Saturday, the notoriously private Natalie Portman and her baby daddy Benjamin Millepied tied the knot in front of family and friends in Big Sur. While the ceremony took place at a private home overlooking the ocean, the party moved to the luxurious Ventana Inn & Spa for the reception, where the newlyweds and guests noshed on a vegan menu and danced the night away. No photos of the wedding have yet been released (except for a few grainy shots of the bride in her stunning Rodate gown) but we here at Oyster have gorgeous insider shots of the Ventana Inn. Check out where this celeb couple said “I do” and get inspired!

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

River Ranch Cafe at the Carmel Valley Ranch

River Ranch Cafe at the Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre property offering modern luxury in a rustic, bucolic setting, with tall oak trees, organic gardens, and rolling vineyards. Rooms are decorated in soft tones and feature flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and Keurig coffeemakers. Enormous, immaculate bathrooms with soaking tubs and separate walk-in showers provide space to relax, along with small private decks and travertine fireplaces. The ranch’s many features include two outdoor pools — the River Ranch Pool, featuring a splash zone for kids, and the Lodge Pool — as well as an 18-hole golf course designed by Pete Dye. There are seven fire pits perfect for nightly fireside s’mores, and endless activities — tai chi or beekeeping, anyone? — that can keep both couples and families entertained. And everywhere, amazing views abound. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Tucked into the picturesque redwood forests and sloping cliffs of Big Sur, the Ventana Inn & Spa‘s goal is to provide its guests with a holistic retreat free of stress — and it does just that. Guests can take on-site yoga classes, go on discovery walks, or simply snooze away in one of hotel’s many hammocks.  If in need of more, shall we say, hands-on relaxation, the Ventana’s extensive spa, which features numerous treatment rooms, two Japanese baths, a sauna, and two pools (one of which is clothing optional), will surely do the trick. And so as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak in the goodness that is the Ventana Inn & Spa.

Ventanas Inn & Spa

Talk about a view: The food isn't the only thing worth salivating over at the Ventana Inn & Spa's on-site restaurant.

{ 2 comments }

For travelers with a bit of acrophobia, some of the world’s most gorgeous spots are also the most terrifying. These nine hotels, from a cliff-side sanctuary to an uber-luxe mountaintop retreat, will test travelers who are even a little scared of heights. The views may be endless, but for some, so is the vertigo.

Think you’re ready to live on the edge? If so, proceed — with caution.

{ 0 comments }

Foto Friday: Point of View

by Zach on December 9, 2011

Travelers know the difference between rooms with a view and rooms with a view: Just ask anyone who’s been to Carmel Highlands, California. Monterey County’s natural beauty has attracted visitors since the turn of the century, and nothing has changed, least of all the scenic beauty. Not to mention, you’ll get the healthy dose of sea breeze you’ve been needing for a while.

The Sunset Suite at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands

{ 0 comments }