Orlando

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1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? After the success of Hotel Week NYC, Hotel Week LA is following suit by offering discounted rooms at top luxury hotels in Los Angeles from November 29 to December 14.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Not surprisingly, Orlando came in at the number one spot in a recent report on the top meeting destinations in the U.S.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Alain Ducasse reopened at Paris’ Hotel Plaza Athenee yesterday with a brand-new gourmet prix fixe menu that’s heavy on veggies and seafood — for the bargain price of 300 Euros ($387).

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Chef and nutritionist Cheryl Forberg has teamed up with Omni Hotels to provide guests with a “Healthy Traveler Series” full of tips and tricks for staying healthy while traveling.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? For a short time, the Waldorf Astoria Park City is offering guests the opportunity to explore the surrounding area in a luxury Mercedes-Benz.

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Walk around any college campus at the beginning of a new school year, and you’ll feel the energy and excitement. (Trust us. We walk through Washington Square Park every morning on the way to our Oyster offices.) A new year brings new opportunities; it’s a fresh start and a blank slate, and particularly at the beginning of the school year, it feels like anything is possible — and it is! For all of us working here at Oyster, this optimistic attitude is something we miss about our college years. So, we put our nostalgia to good use and came up with a pretty awesome list of some pretty awesome college towns. Here are 10 college towns that’ll have you thinking about hitting the books once again.

Berkeley, California

UC Berkeley

Photo Credit: John Morgan

Welcome to Berkeley, a place with mere perfect weather that’s teeming with history and culture – and corner coffee shops. It also just so happens to be home to the oldest campus in the University of California system — you guessed it, University of California Berkeley. Whether you’re looking for gourmet vegan dining, a world-renowned theatrical performance, or serious city nightlife (hello, San Francisco), you’ll find it in Berkeley.

Where to Stay: Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel

Visitors to Berkeley might want to stay in nearby San Francisco (only 30 minutes by car) for convenience. Because of its location in a tourist-friendly neighborhood, The Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel is a great option for those exploring the area.

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We all know that stomach-sinking sensation of showing up to a hotel and finding that it is nothing like we expected. Critters for roommates, chemical plants on the premises (with just “a safe amount of pollution,” the hotel promises), bulletproof glass in reception… When you only get one or two vacations a year, you don’t want to feel like you’re sleeping in a prison. We here at Oyster have encountered some hotels that, are, well, just plain disasters as we’ve traveled the world, taking photos of every nook and cranny. But these 10, they’re the worst of the worst.

La Semana Hotel, New York City

La Semana

It’s a special kind of hotel that earns a reputation for being both disgusting AND dangerous: Within five minutes of entering La Semana, it’s evident that it is both. Not only have there been reports of mentally unstable clientele and gunshots, but the check-in clerk stands behind bulletproof glass, and many rooms’ windows are covered in bars and barbwire, which creates the feeling of entering a prison. The rest is downhill from there: Holes in the (barely six-foot-high) ceilings, no doors on the dirty bathrooms, exposed wires, disgustingly dirty TV remotes, furniture that looks too cheap for a tailgate party, and beds without blankets make this one of the seediest hotel experiences in New York.

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There’s something so cozy about watching a movie, both solo and with a crew. If you don’t want to hole up in your room with pay-per-view while on vacation, there are many hotels where you can still catch a flick without leaving the property. Some hotels offer movie nights for their guests – whether it’s curled up on a comfy couch indoors or outside lounging by the pool — giving vacationers a chance to unwind in front of a big screen. Many are geared toward little ones so that parents can enjoy some alone time, while others are a chance for travelers to meet and participate in activities together. No matter if you’re away on business or having a family vacation, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and watch the show. We definitely give the following 10 hotels two thumbs up!

Bitter End Yacht Club, British Virgin Islands

Bitter End Yacht Club

The Bitter End Yacht Club, snuggled into a steep hill on the scenic North Sound, is a relaxed, family-friendly resort. The tech-free rooms (no TVs or Wi-Fi here) feature stunning views from the balconies, and the sliding doors allows breezes to sweep through; some rooms do not have air-conditioning but most guests find they don’t miss it. While some rooms could use renovations, guests are here for the white-sand beaches that offer plenty of water sports and relatively calm waters. Although popular among couples, the hotel also caters toward families; each night two movies are screened at The Sand Palace, next to the lobby. The movies are all rated G, PG, or PG-13 and popcorn is provided. Adults may want to send their kids to watch the movie while they enjoy a meal at the Clubhouse Grille next door.

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During our travels we’ve stayed in the cutest, quaintest, and tiniest of hotels. And while we love the intimate and peaceful vibe that many smaller properties can offer, sometimes staying near the action just isn’t enough. We want to be in the thick of it. That way we can to go into full-on relaxation (read: lazy) vacation mode and have everything we could ever want right at our fingertips. Why should you have to jump in a car (or even worse — on a bus) just to meet a few people, see a show, or dance the night away? Luckily, these 12 massive village-style properties don’t think you should; in fact, they are hoping you won’t! Packed to the brim with communal conveniences like multiple restaurants, several pools, nightclubs, theaters, tons of activities, kids programs — even grocery stores, pharmacies, and bowling alleys — some of these places are so big they have on-site shuttles and maps to get you where you want to go amid sprawling grounds. And with enough rooms to house populations in the hundreds and thousands, they promise to be teeming with tons of potential new pals. It may take a village to create your perfect vacation — but at these properties, it’s worth it!

Grand Paladium Bavaro Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic

Dominican

The 674-room Grand Palladium Bavaro is spread over spacious grounds (guests also have access to two sister properties) offering an incredible selection of 15 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. Walking shoes are recommended, but family-friendly amenities, lower prices than some neighboring properties, and renovated rooms are big draws. In 2014, the resort added 178 units — including a swim-up suite option overlooking the beach (a great pick for honeymooners). Kids and their parents will appreciate the outstanding kids’ club, but take note: the beach can get crowded.

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We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.

The Hotel: Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey

Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.

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Okay, so one of the worst things ever is when you’re “enjoying” a spa treatment — but you’re not actually enjoying it because all you can think about is how much time it’s taking and how many things are piling up on your to-do list during your rubdown. Well, those behind the spas at JW Marriott, the Marriott’s top level of luxury hotels, have had the same experience, so they’ve dreamt up a whole new menu of mini spa treatments that last between 12 and 25 minutes. Of course, the new Spa by JW concept will also include traditional treatments, but those in a hurry — who still crave a little R&R — can indulge in brief treatments like the tense shoulders massage or the energy boost massage. And best of all, these treatments require no appointment and take place in express suites, fully-equipped with massage chairs, scent infusers, noise-canceling technology, and cell phone chargers. The first of these treatments will become available in September at the JW Marriott in Houston, and will soon roll out to all Spas by JW. [Hotel Chatter]

See more great pics of some of our favorite JW Marriott spas after the jump >>

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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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