Napa Valley

For true foodies, a vacation that doesn’t involve mouth-watering cuisine is hardly worthy of the title. In fact, food can often be a major focus of a trip; it’s hardly uncommon for the taste connoisseurs among us to plan a foodcation. And in our opinion, it should all start with your hotel. If you stay somewhere with a truly phenomenal restaurant right on the premises, your foodcation will be off to a wonderful start. Whether you’re heading to New York City for its famous fine dining, California wine country for its earthy farm-to-table fare, or Mexico for an elaborate upscale meal on the beach, we’ve got a first-rate foodie hotel for you. Take a look at the top hotel restaurants we’d travel for in the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean.

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg, California

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel HealdsburgCharlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best – and best-known – restaurants in the Sonoma area, and for good reason. The farm-to-table, seasonal menu features items such as California Sea Bass with sweet corn fondue and Sonoma County Liberty Duck with crispy sunchokes. The restaurant’s outdoor terrace is situated under a shady arbor. Read More »

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Pool at the Auberge Du SoleilThis 50-room luxury inn is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) destinations in California wine country. Despite its intimate size, it has all the amenities of a larger resort: a 7,000-square-foot luxury spa, a lovely pool, and a Michelin-star restaurant. Views of the surrounding countryside are phenomenal, the grounds are lush and peaceful, and the homey rooms all come with huge terraces (and, in most, fireplaces and soaking tubs). It’s a truly special, romantic retreat, and it’s location in Rutherford is convenient for exploring Napa Valley — but note that there’s nothing within walking distance. Read More »

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California’s sandy beaches, towering redwoods, rolling hills, world-renowned wineries and rugged coastal cliffs make it one of the most scenic –and romantic — destinations anywhere. And many of its hotels and resorts were designed with couples in mind, capitalizing on lovely views and tranquil atmospheres. Our top picks are truly special, intimate retreats with one-of-a-kind settings.

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

Vineyard Romance Spa Treatment at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley Vineyard Romance Spa Treatment at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

This 57-room rustic-luxe retreat in Carmel Valley sits in a lovely setting among rolling hills and vineyards. Details such as vaulted beamed ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, and country-inspired decor help create an atmosphere that is homey and cozy. Rooms are large and comfortable with stone fireplaces, feather beds, and plush white bedding, and big bathrooms feature walk-in showers and two-person soaking tubs. Appealing amenities include an outdoor pool, pool bar, and inviting spa where wine-based treatments are available. It’s a sophisticated, romantic spot in Carmel Valley. Read More »

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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, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley

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 »

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Hurricane season is upon us, and weather experts are predicting that 2013 is going to be a doozy. But even if you can’t stop extreme weather from happening, at least you can protect yourself on your vacation — provided you 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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Gorgeous Napa Vineyards

by Devon on May 14, 2013

California’s Napa Valley attracts plenty of visitors each year with its gorgeous scenery, gourmet eats, and, of course, some of the best wineries in the world. While Napa has other great draws, its wineries are an undeniable source of inspiration for most visitors to the region. So drink in the best that Wine Country has to offer with a look at a few of our favorite Napa stays with impressive vineyards right outside their doors.

Auberge Du Soleil, Rutherford

The view of Auberge du Soleil and the surrounding vineyards

With only 50 rooms, this countryside resort is one of the most exclusive in the entire Wine Country region. With a stunning location between the Rutherford Hill winery next door and hundreds of other nearby vineyards, the Auberge du Soleil boasts one of the most dramatic landscapes in the area. Added bonuses are its Michelin-stared restaurant and lovely sculpture garden.
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Getting Outdoors in Napa Valley

by Devon on April 11, 2013

Even the non-connoisseur has a reason to visit Napa!

Northern California’s gorgeous Napa Valley region has tons of wino-centric activities to offer throughout its lush, rolling hills and endless vineyards. But there’s also plenty to do here even if you’re not a wine connoisseur, from biking, to hiking, to hitting the Napa River. Take a look at our favorite outdoor activities in stunning Napa Valley.

 

 

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We kind of hate to be sharing our best-kept secrets, but it’s our job, after all. So today we’re opening the vault of our favorite hidden gem hotels in California. From quaint, oft-overlooked boutiques in Los Angeles to tucked-away spots just minutes from the beaches of Carmel, we have nine picks for our favorite unknown (until today) hotels in the Golden State. Just please use some precaution when passing on the details — we don’t want to have to share these spots with just anyone.

1. Tradewinds Carmel

Surrounded by lush foilage, Tradewinds is a quiet sanctuary just a short drive from the beach.

The 28-room Tradewinds Carmel has a Zen vibe throughout the hotel — from the courtyard, complete with Buddha statues, a small waterfall, and a tranquil fire pit, to the rooms, decorated with Asian printsstalks of bamboo, and orchids. The rooms are large and feature well-decorated bathrooms with nice soaking or Jacuzzi tubs, but like many small hotels in Carmel, the Tradewinds lacks a fitness center and a spa (though in-room spa treatments are available). Still, it’s a quaint, cozy pick and is just a short drive from the beach.

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As we’ve said before, a vacation just isn’t a vacation without delicious food and delicious views. And when you can have both together, well, that’s a match made in culinary heaven. Back in August, we gave you a peak at five hotel restaurants with scrumptious food set against amazing backdrops — and now we add eight more restaurants to that list. Dig in!

Lounge at the La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences, Guatemala

Lounge at the La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

It doesn’t have to be fancy to have great views – and delicious food. This luxury golf resort in Guatemala is surrounded by four volcanoes, two of them being active. While the Sky Bar and the upscale restaurant also have views of the volcanoes, we love the laid-back, al fresco lounge, where diners can grab a burger and sip on a smoothie (the lounge’s specialty). During the weekends, the lounge often hosts Guatemalan buffets and barbecues.

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Love is in the air. After all, February is the month of love and Valentine’s Day is the day of love, so we can’t help but daydream about romantic getaways: Over-the-top luxury in Paris, quaint beachfront boutiques in Jamaica, sexy spots in New York City – they all mean romance to us. It may be a little late to be booking a romantic stay for this Valentine’s Day, but it’s never the wrong time to start planning your next romantic vacation  à deux (especially if you’re in the doghouse for forgetting about today — this should help you out). Get inspired by our picks for the 10 most romantic hotels in the world, below or at USA Today.

 Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

This Eiffel Tower view is the perfect backdrop to a romantic night in.

You can’t think of romantic getaways and not consider Paris. The City of Love is full of romantic hotels, big and small, but Hotel Plaza Athenee outshines the others in setting the mood for couples. Nothing says romance like a view of the Eiffel Tower from your luxurious suite, and that’s just what you get at this iconic hotel. The 146 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style — picture draped curtains, gilded wall panels, and crystal chandeliers — with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths. And the top-notch Dior Institute spa features tons of couples’ treatments. Finish the day with a romantic meal at one of the six distinct restaurants.

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