Orlando

July is National Ice Cream Month (thank you, President Reagan!), and we think that calls for a celebration. And considering the fact that we’re hotel experts, our ideal way of commemorating the monthlong event is with a little getaway — plenty of ice cream included. Therefore, we rounded up 10 hotels that love ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt just as much as we do. The proof? They all have their own ice cream parlors on-site. So whether in Hawaii or Miami, you can cool off this summer and grab a scoop of mint chocolate chip at these yummy spots! (P.S. July may be National Ice Cream Month, but we think you can enjoy these parlors all year long.)

Loews Miami Beach Hotel

Loews Miami

The 790-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel is a luxurious mega-resort with attentive service and a big, freeform pool overlooking a beautiful stretch of beachfront. The hotel has a spa, gym, several upscale restaurants, and a convenient South Beach location. Families are drawn to the hotel for a list of supervised activities for kids and, of course the SoBe Scoops ice cream shop, with not only ice cream but also plenty of other sweet treats.

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During our travels this summer, we’ve visited some amazing urban destinations, where our days have been filled with the cacophony of cars, and live music pouring from local bars and clubs after dark. And while these urban adventures are almost always exciting, they’ve taught us better than anything else that sometimes you’ve just gotta get outta the concrete jungle and into the wild! Luckily, you don’t have to disappear into the African bush (unless you want to!) to interact with nature, or mingle with some of the spiny, furry or feathery locals. These six hotels can get you up-close and personal to some serious wildlife — without sacrificing your creature (we love a pun) comforts. So pack your camera and binoculars; it’s time to make your escape!

1. andBeyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, Botswana

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This ultra-remote, luxurious safari lodge on an island in Botswana‘s Okavango Delta isn’t a hotel, it’s an experience, where everything — including the excellent food and the guided excursions (game drives, bush walks, river cruises) — is included in the price of the stay. andBeyond Xaranna guests can get up close to exotic wildlife on both land and water (think: lions and hippos), and even arriving to the property is an adventure, requiring transport by small plane, safari vehicle, and a boat. The nine safari “tents” are fully screened in and thoroughly high-end, with huge soaking tubs, four-poster beds, lots of wood, and private pools. The decor blends rustic charm with bright, contemporary style — not an obvious combination, but it mostly works. And don’t be surprised if you spot an unannounced guest hanging around the dining areas!

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Luxury resorts serve up more than just swanky guest rooms and exceptional customer service — they are also home to some of the best restaurants in the world. But with young kids in tow, chowing down white-tablecloth-style can be a challenge. While grownups attempt to enjoy fine wines and decadent fruits de mer platters, fidgety toddlers may clank silverware in protest. But with so many gourmet meals at your fingertips when staying at a posh spot, you hate to put the brakes on dinner plans just for fear of “making a scene” — I mean, we’ve all been there…right? Luckily, the restaurants at these family-friendly resorts manage to keep frazzled parents stress-free (and their kids content) with restaurant features such as kiddie menus and more.

JW Marriott Chicago

Don’t let the marble fool you, this chandelier-crazed Chicago hotel rolls out the red carpet for junior jetsetters. The JW paired up with renowned nutritionists to create a yummy (and healthy!) menu in its restaurant that will appeal to both kids and adults. From turkey meatballs to ‘mini’ adult offerings for teens, these comfort meals are sure to please mom. While parents enjoy selections from the dinner menu, kids can chomp on low-fat yogurt ranch dip paired with fresh cucumber and carrot sticks while exploring activity books provided by the staff.

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If you want to plan a family vacation with wow factor, look no further: Picking a hotel with one of the following kid-friendly attractions will earn you major points with your kids. And with activities this fun, you just may end up acting like a kid yourself.

Water Parks

Water park at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

Water park at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

Hundreds of resorts around the world feature a water slide or two in their pool complex, but a few exceptional properties take it to a whole new level. For example, the Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis features two slides with vertical drops over 50 feet, a mile-long lazy-river pool, a tube that gushes past sharks, and a plethora of other scenic slides. The Grand Wailea water park in Hawaii includes four waterslides, whitewater rapids, caves, a lazy-river pool, rope swings, and a “water elevator” inside a man-made volcano.

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We're ready to zip down this slide!

Who doesn’t feel like a kid again when at a water park? Whether you’re visiting with your own kids, or are just trying to revive your inner kid, a water park can be just what you need for a little fun this summer. We’ve visited tons and tons of water parks during our travels, and have seen all kinds of slides, waterfalls, pirate ships, lazy rivers — you name it! But we whittled them down to the best of the best to show you. So check out our slideshow of the best water parks in the world!

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Getting fit doesn’t have to be on your to-do list after you travel. While many hotels offer state-of-the-art cardio and strength training equipment, we know that treadmills can get downright boring after a while. So we’ve found the hotels that have one-of-a-kind fitness amenities that will add a little spice to your workouts while you travel and below we’ll tell you where to find them.

The Fitness Feature: Kayaking and Canoeing

Kayaks at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

The Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

Plenty of beach and lakeside hotels offer kayak and canoe rentals, but few offer as many options for your paddling session. For those who prefer a trained professional to accompany them, guided tours at this Ritz include two-hour eco-tours along Shingle Creek ($60 for adults; $30 for children) and excursions on Grande Lake where paddlers can watch the sun rise and set ($20/hour for adults; $10/hour for children).

Other hotels with similar offerings: Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

The upscale Terranea Resort offers myriad activities, including two-hour ocean kayaking tours along the Catalina Channel, where paddlers can spot bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, leopard sharks, and bat rays ($89 per person). Or guests can opt for “kayorkle” — a two-hour excursion where guests snorkel and kayak, also for $89 per person.

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We can’t help but get a little nostalgic when thinking of Disney World; after all, it’s where dreams come true! And whether you’re six or sixty, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears never looked so good as when you’re spinning in a teacup or roaming the theme park grounds, cotton candy in hand. However, one thing that decades of Disney experience can change is where you want to stay on the massive property. A resort with a pool teeming with tots, waterslides, and floaties? Great for families, not so fab for couples looking for a bit of romance — you catch our drift. So we’ve done some digging into Disney’s digs and have found the resorts that’ll best suit all types of Disney-bound Disney fanatics. Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway or a family vacation, Disney World can be just the spot to relax, reconnect — and most importantly – have the time of your life. So without further adieu, first up: Disney for families.

 Disney Digs Best Suited for the Fam: Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most unique resorts — and is arguably the best option for families looking to have highly-entertained tots. Though it’s a bit more removed from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties, the resort is adjacent to the Animal Kingdom theme park and features a massive pool, a playground, a great kids’ club, and numerous free activities — such as cookie decorating and African drumming — throughout the day. Older children can enjoy the on-site arcade.

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Every so often, our editors curate the best of the best — or as Oyster likes to call ‘em, our Half Dozen. Today, we’re bring you our top six picks for kid-friendly hotels. From massive water parks to on-site zoos, from trapeze lessons from circus performers to roller coasters, these hotels are sure to keep the kids happy.

Watch more Oyster videos here »

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Fantasizing about luxurious hotels and faraway resorts is one thing, but fantasizing about owning them is an entirely different concept altogether. Real estate is a high-stakes game that costs big, but, when done right, earns even bigger. And because we are constantly investigating the latest hotels around the globe, we couldn’t help but wonder who plays the proverbial Oz behind the curtain at some of our favorite spots. Check out ten men and women who are serious players on the hotel scene right now — and just how fat their wallets are.

1. Sheldon Adelson

Net worth: $9 billion

The Venetian in Las Vegas is one of Adelson's crowning achivements

He famously lost $150 million of his fortune this year by betting on losing political candidates, but that barely makes a dent in Sheldon Adelson’s billions. Currently the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Adelson began his business career as a mortgage broker and financial consultant before developing the world’s largest trade show, the computer expo COMDEX. In 1989, he purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and developed the Sands Corporation.  As of 2012, the Sands portfolio includes properties across the US and Asia, as well as plans to develop “EuroVegas” in Madrid. His most noted resorts are the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, as well as Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
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See everything Orlando has to offer for Junior and Princess!

Orlando is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world, and for obvious reasons: Not only does it boast a slew of amusement parks and Disney adventures, Orlando hotels also have some pretty great features for youngsters, including clubs, pools, playgrounds, game rooms, and even spas designed just for tots. So grab the kids (and don’t forget Mr. Blankie!) and come explore the best kid-friendly hotel features in Orlando!

 

 
 
 
 

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