Nicaragua

For those who crave that electrifying rush of adrenaline, a week of lying on the sand is not an ideal vacation. Beachside rest and relaxation can do wonders for some, but others find their R&R with a solid jolt to the nervous system; cue the adventure-vacation combination! Whether you’re surfing waves, chasing storms, or heli-skiing mountaintops, these eleven destinations all hold the promise of a heart-pounding getaway. Ready? Set? GO!

1. Surfing Pipeline, Oahu

Sunset-Surfing-in-Waikiki-Oahu-Hawaii

Adventure seekers have been visiting the Hawaiian islands for centuries. The state’s rugged, lava-formed terrain offers challenging — and stunningly beautiful — hikes and climbs, and the volcanoes themselves present unique thrills. But, of course, the main pulse-racing draw is surfing the menacing waves and rip curls that crash against the islands’ shores. The biggest and baddest waves roll in off of a reef break on the North Shore of Oahu at Banzai Pipeline. Many surfers have made a name for themselves at this spot, which is also home to some of the most intense surfing competitions in the world, including Pipe Masters. Adrenaline seekers who know their way around a wave — and are serious swimmers — can’t miss a trip here.

Stay: Turtle Bay Resort

This 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore — just minutes from Banzai Pipeline — features an unbeatable array of amenities. There are two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides, and five miles of shoreline.  Read More »

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When the going gets tough, the tough are of tempted to stop going – or going on vacation, that is! But the exact opposite should be true: travel inspires and relaxes us. It takes us to new creative heights. It is refreshing. It’s exactly what we need when we’re in a rut, or going through a rough patch, or simply sick of gray skies and piles of snow. So if you’re yearning to get away from it all but don’t want to break the bank in the process, these six budget destinations come through with incredible deals and plenty of sun-dappled relaxation.

Mexico

Hotel B Cozumel

The rules of supply and demand certainly appyl in Mexico, where thousands of hotel rooms mean competition for tourist dollars. And that means great deals on some of the country’s most scenic towns, including towns along the Yucatán Peninsula, the Riviera Maya, and major destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Cancún. Great deals can be had for every type of vacation style, so don’t settle for merely a good price: If you’re a water lover, go for an all-inclusive (or large resort) that bundles jetskis, snorkeling gear, and other amenities into your vacation package. For a more sedate getaway, look for a small hotel or guesthouse where you can escape the crowds.

Stretch your hotel dollar: The Hotel B Cozumel is a steal along the famed Riviera Maya, with a natural snorkeling bay, gorgeous views, and rooms that ooze personality.

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As temperatures across the United States continue to drop and snow continues to fall, we here at Oyster can’t help but ask ourselves if we’ve entered the next Ice Age. While we’re sure our Olympians across the pond wouldn’t mind Sochi suffering from a similar deep freeze, we personally would rather do without the slippery sidewalks and freezing rains Mother Nature has seen fit to drop on our doorsteps. The lure of sun and sand has never been stronger. If you just can’t stand it one second more, here are eight destinations where temperatures are soaring over 80 degrees right now.

1. Hot spot: Puerto Rico
Current Temperature: 87 Degrees

el conquistador

For a warm-weather escape close to the States, Puerto Rico is an excellent choice in the Caribbean. With temperatures in the high 80s, you’ll be able to enjoy the pristine white-sand beaches and outdoor amenities like horseback riding and golfing available at the top-notch El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria property. Read More »

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A romantic date is a requirement on Valentine’s Day if you’re in a relationship, but if you really want to impress your significant other, a lovely weekend getaway is just the ticket. And with February 14th falling on the Friday of President’s Day weekend this year, its the perfect time to escape with your honey. So if you need a little inspiration for where to go and stay, check out the five most romantic hotel rooms we’ve ever seen. These will be sure to fire up some love (and lust!) for the holiday!

Junior Suite at Eden Roc, Cap Cana; Dominican Republic

junior-suite cap cana
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One of the most important brand names a hotel can boast is that of its designer. A famous hotel designer such as Philippe Starck can help ensure a hotel’s hot spot status, so new hotels are wise to invest heavily in their interior style. And it’s not only traditional hotel designers that can add to a hotel’s cachet; there is a trend of fashion designers or celebrities turning their talents to hotels, which always creates plenty of buzz. These nine hotels are some of the most devastatingly stylish we’ve found anywhere.

Hotel Le Notre Dame, Paris

Hotel Le Notre Dame, ParisMany guests choose this charming boutique hotel for its proximity to Notre Dame Cathedral, which is a two-minute walk away. But this hotel is notable for more than its location: Its 26 funky, eclectic rooms were designed by none other than fashion powerhouse Christian Lacroix. They feature bold patterns and prints, as well as natural materials such as wood and stone. Read More »

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A new year is upon us, and you know what that means – time to plan your 2014 vacation, of course! And you, being the trendsetter that you are, are planning to go to somewhere on the cutting edge. Well, we’re here to help. This year is an especially good time to visit these five destinations, which have new growth, new tourism offerings, or special events happening only in 2014. Check ‘em out!

Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, NicaraguaWhy Now: Nicaragua, beloved by backpackers and surfer bums, offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife – but it is far less developed. That is starting to change, however; 2013 saw the opening of the super-exclusive luxury property Mukul, and it’s possible that this diamond in the rough will be getting a lot more polish in the coming years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you like off-the-beaten path adventure travel – and discovering destinations before they fully “arrive” – now is the time to go.

Where to Stay: Aqua Wellness Resort
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. Read More »

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Most of us have to stick to a budget when we plan a vacation, and we know that considering a hotel’s value is just as important as considering its rooms and features. It’s hard to enjoy a nice resort when you feel like you’ve been ripped off, and it’s hard to enjoy a cheap resort when you feel like a few extra bucks could have bought you a significantly better trip. For a hotel to be a great value, in our view, it’s got to offer the best of both worlds: It’s got to be a resort that’s cheaper than the competition but still objectively pretty great. So we scoured some of our  favorite beach destinations to find seven resorts offering just that. Prepare yourself for some shockingly good deals.

Kauai Beach Resort, Kauai

Kauai Beach ResortThis private, quiet property has large rooms, gorgeous sunrises over a rugged beach, a water slide and sand-bottom pool, and a romantic bar with live music. It’s a good choice for a quiet, relaxed stay. There may be more to do at the Kauai Marriott, but rates are typically better here. Read More »

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When many of us dream of the beach, we’re not just dreaming of fine white sand and clear blue waters. (Well, sure, we are dreaming about that part quite a bit.) But we’re also imagining thatched roof bars, decks with hammocks, and rooms with lots of wood or stone. Resorts that blend modern luxuries with a rustic vibe help set just the right tone for relaxation and serenity. Take a look at our faves.

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, the restaurant serves simple but tasty local dishes, and group yoga classes on the ocean-view wooden platform are free. For a tranquil, unplugged getaway, this is one of Nicaragua’s premier options — just note that there’s no common pool (yet) and the climb from the beach to reception is extremely long and steep. 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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Nicaragua is still a diamond in the rough. It offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife — but it’s a much poorer country and it shows. However, the handful of luxury resorts in Nicaragua are proof that the upscale travel market here is emerging, and Mukul, the super-exclusive property that opened in February 2013, is helping to bring the country into the international spotlight.

Mukul is more than just a luxury resort; it is one of the most exclusive hideaways not only in Nicaragua, but Central America. The name, Mukul, is Mayan for “secret,” and guests are assured of a high level of privacy: The resort, part of a sprawling, 1670-acre beach community, has only 37 luxurious Bohios and Villas, and the grounds are not open to the public. The existence of the resort is hardly a secret, however, as this $40 million project helmed by Don Carlos Pellas, a Nicaraguan business magnate, is helping to change the face of the country’s tourism industry. The guests who can afford Nicaragua’s most expensive hotel rates will be rewarded with a gorgeous white-sand beach, one of the most beautiful spas in the world, an 18-hole golf course, gourmet cuisine, and pampering service — though they should note that construction on the property’s hillside real estate is still underway.

Spa at the Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa

Spa at the Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa

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