Nicaragua

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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The term “hipster” has a lot of connotations these days, but we think we have a pretty good idea of what it means when it comes to travel. If you’re a hipster, you’re probably the type who won’t want to stay somewhere mainstream — and certainly not a major chain. You’re the type who appreciates what’s cool, yes, but in a way that is interesting and different. You love anything eco-friendly and organic.

Sound at all familiar? Fess up. We at Oyster have a special spot in our heart for hipster travelers. After all, they, like us, have high standards when it comes to choosing a hotel. They’ll often gravitate toward spots that are uber-trendy, quirky, or extremely green, and with that in mind, we unearthed some of the best hotel options in the world for the hipster set.

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

The Wythe Hotel is a hub for hipster travelers and locals alike. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting jaw-dropping views of Manhattan, a wonderful restaurant, and cutting-edge industrial design, the Wythe is a destination unto itself. It’s located near the subway as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops in the heart of trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood boasting one of the highest concentrations of hipsters in the country. Rooms are spacious and have high pine ceilings, reclaimed wood furnishings, and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs; local, hand-made toiletries; free Wi-Fi, and radiant floor heating. Read More »

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In honor of the 4th of July tomorrow, we thought it only appropriate to share some lovely fireworks with you. We caught this fireworks show on the road, in a Spanish-speaking country that was ruled for a year in the 19th century by an American from Tennessee. (He was forced out by armies from neighboring countries.) Isn’t history fun? Click to find out the name of the country, or submit your guesses in the comments section!

Fireworks! Happy 4th of July

Fireworks! Happy 4th of July

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Forget the beach—nature lovers know that the best way to experience the great outdoors in the summer is to spend some quality time in the mountains. If your idea of summer bliss involves hiking, biking, and swimming, these gorgeous resorts should be just the ticket. And if exotic scenery is a must, you’ll be happy to know that great mountain escapes can be found in tropical locales, too.

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark. Rooms with views of the Half Dome and El Captain summits are filled with wood and rich tapestries of Native American design. Highlights here include the Great Lounge with 24-foot-high ceilings and a large stone fireplace along with the light-flooded dining room. This hotel is on the expensive side — and parking is limited — but the prime location and views are worth the price tag. Read More »

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Did you spend all your time in your tree house as a kid? Or were you brokenhearted because you never had one? Well, these nine gorgeous hotels can turn your childish tree house fantasies into grown-up realities. These rustic-luxe (or just luxe) tree-house-style bungalows will let you live among the birds (and, in some cases, monkeys). Who says you have to give up on your childhood dreams?

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

The Post Ranch Inn’s organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel’s surrounding redwoods, and the spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views, as well as wood-burning fireplaces and private decks. The Tree House rooms, are, as the name implies, elevated into the trees. Read More »

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Some hotel weddings are gorgeous, some not so much, but they often all kind of feel the same. That’s where we come in — we’ve discovered some of the most beautiful and unique wedding venues in hotels around the world. Whether you want to say “I do” on safari, in a cloud forest, or at a Gatsby-esque mansion, these hotels deliver on the romance. Check them out here, and get inspired for your own big day (or vow renewal)!

For the Nature Enthusiasts: Selva Negra in Nicaragua 

Chapel in the middle of a rainforest? Check that off your list.

For outdoorsy couples looking for an authentic eco-lodge experience on their wedding day, Selva Negra is the real deal. This family-run organic farm and coffee estate in Nicaragua has accommodations ranging from hostel rooms to private bungalows, as well as a lush, cool mountain setting that’s rich with wildlife (expect howler monkeys, lizards, agoutis, and all types of birds). Couples can get married at the on-site chapel — which the owners built for their own daughter’s wedding — beneath Selva Negra’s cloud forest.  Read More »

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This luxury treehouse-like suite boasts stunning ocean views and a private pool.

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. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Aqua Wellness Retreat. And a warm Happy Memorial Day from all of us at Oyster.com!

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