Puerto Rico

The pool area is an inviting, romantic spot ready to be transformed into a picturesque reception site.

Owned by the same couple for decades, the historic Gallery Inn is a charming boutique hotel in Old San Juan, perfect for an intimate exchanging of “I dos.” Run like an informal B&B, guests at the Gallery Inn are greeted by name, much of what the restaurant serves is grown in the garden, and no two rooms are the same (though they do share lots of Spanish-style charm). But also like a B&B, the hotel lacks amenities such as TVs and a fitness center. The property’s main draws include the convenient Old San Juan location, ocean views from the wine deck, and the artsy, laid-back feel. The pool is also a picturesque spot: Built around ancient walls that have stood on the property for hundreds of years and featuring two water falls, the space is utterly unique. The innkeepers are both artists, and it’s evident they put thought into every detail of the restoration — expect beautiful old-world details like brick floors, wood beam ceilings, rich rugs, sculptures, and antique knickknacks.

Weddings at The Gallery Inn are as unique as this eclectic property. The inn’s dramatic spaces — including the candlelit Sunken Wedding Garden, panoramic rooftop deck, and Ventian-style music room — serve as the romantic backdrops for wedding parties. Weddings held here can be intimate affairs of just ten people or large parties of 150 guests (though with just 26 rooms on-site, some attendees will have to seek lodging elsewhere). An on-site event coordinator will aid couples in customizing a menu, arranging table settings, and selecting florists, photographers, and musicians. Check out more wedding inspired photos of The Gallery Inn here »

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Spring break is just the kick-off to a season of partying till dawn. You may or may not want to go as crazy as these girls, but either way you’ll want to check out these ten party hotels that won’t bust your budget.

Party Hotel #1: Clevelander Hotel, Miami 

It's a non-stop party at this SoBe landmark.

Built in 1938, the Clevelander has been a South Beach landmark for more than 70 years, known as much for its come-one, come-all parties as for its official duties as a hotel. A 60-room crash pad for fraternity-types, the Clevelander features nonstop parties raging at its three bars and two rooftop terraces all day and all night. The drinks are never watered down and clothing often tends to be optional — or at least, articles have been known to go missing after a few rum runners.
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Some destinations always come to mind when people think of beach getaways: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Miami’s South Beach, and the crowded sands in Cancun. Some spots, however, are often overlooked and it makes them that much better. Fewer people, untouched nature, you name it; underrated beach destinations are hidden gems that can be just what you’re looking for. Check out our list of nine underrated beach destinations — and make a trip before the secret is out!

Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Vieques Island is surrounded by gorgeous, clear waters.

This unique little island offers travelers pure, undeveloped land, mainly thanks to the US Navy’s former use of a good portion of the island. The Navy left in 2003, however, and the land it once occupied is now a national wildlife refuge. Tourists to Puerto Rico often don’t leave the mainland as it takes an extra puddle-jumper to get to Vieques and there are few tourist attractions. Instead, attractions are nature-oriented: The island’s stunning, untouched white-sand beaches and famous bioluminescent bay are the highlights, but it also features walking trails, 300-year-old trees, and some of the top snorkeling spots in the country.

Where to Stay: The quaint Inn on the Blue Horizon is a smaller, more affordable option compared to the nearby W Vieques. The inn features phenomenal ocean views, pretty Mediterranean-style architecture, and wild horses roaming the grounds.

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Rockhouse Hotel

Rockhouse Hotel

There’s nothing quite like the sense of discovery one feels when arriving at a hidden gem hotel — a truly special spot that is intimate, remote, underrated, or all of the above. Some people like to brag to their friends about their insider find; others prefer to keep it all to themselves. Of course, we at Oyster have never been good at keeping secrets.

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It’s time to get your spring break plans in order, and if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, the Caribbean is a prime destination. But with thousands of islands (although only a few dozen are inhabited) to choose from, that doesn’t narrow things down much. That’s why we at Oyster have created an A to Z (well, actually, an A to V) guide to the Caribbean, so choosing your island and resort will be a piece of cake. First stop: Anguilla.

Anacaona Boutique Hotel, Anguilla

The boutique Anacaona has two pools.

Anguilla is a tiny British territory that covers fewer than 40 square miles and is a popular spot for couples and celebs (Sofia Vergara went on a girls’ trip to the island) due to its small size and upscale vibe. Visitors must either fly to St. Martin and take a short ferry to the island, or fly in directly (by way of a small seaplane) from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thus, getting to the island can be pricey. So once you’re there, we’d recommend staying at the boutique Anacaona in the island’s West End. Though its not quite as luxe as the CuisinArt or Viceroy, it offers access to the same gorgeous white-sand beach as the neighboring Viceroy – through an off-property path — as well as to the nearby Greg Norman’s golf course and a few restaurants, and its prices are considerably lower. With two small pools, a great restaurant serving Caribbean fare with a twist, and a massage hut on the beach, the hotel is a good pick for value.

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Winter may be firmly upon us now in the Northeast, but that doesn’t mean we have to write off warm weather entirely. The Caribbean isn’t too far away (especially for us East Coasters), and some island hotels are featuring wonderfully affordable rates this time of year. You may have to forgo a few luxuries to stay on budget, but designer toiletries are highly overrated, right? So pack your bags and get ready to hit the beach for a few days — or a few weeks! Oyster has the skinny on the Caribbean’s best value stays.

Rockhouse Hotel, Jamaica

Dive right into the Caribbean Sea from your room at the Rockhouse.

The Rockhouse is a lush, laid-back Jamaican resort offering gourmet dining, morning yoga, a premium spa, and best of all, a gorgeous cliff-side location on Negril‘s coast. Sure, there’s no fitness center and rooms lack TVs and Wi-Fi, but its unplugged vibe is just why some guests come. Plus, with rates usually falling below $200, it’s a steal compared to similar resorts — such as the slightly chicer Caves — in the area. (NB: Children under 12 are not allowed on the property.)

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Here at Oyster, we pride ourselves on intensively visiting, photographing, and reviewing every single hotel we feature on our site. Our photos are undoctored and honest, but on our travels, we’ve found that the hotel’s marketing photos can be heavily retouched or cropped mysteriously. Our Photo Fakeouts are legendary — just look at the Sexy Lady Phenomenon — and we felt it was only appropriate that as we expand our coverage, we expand our Fakeout repertoire, too. So today, check out our new find: with some helpful editing, a tiny, skyscraper-surrounded pool becomes a tranquil oasis at the Holiday Inn Express San Juan. See for yourself »

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America has spoken! The faces of our government may not have changed too much in recent days, but some of the laws that make it up sure have. After all, the 2012 elections brought about a lot of firsts on the national and state level, including (but not limited to) famous victories in Colorado and Maine. In honor of some new state laws (that have surprised — and delighted — and outraged — quite a few people), we’re hitting the road to take full advantage of our rights as U.S. citizens. Come along for the ride!

The Vote For: Legal Highs

You can get Rocky Mountain High at the Hotel Monaco in Denver

While federal laws may keep a tighter leash on the whole situation, several states this election passed marijuana laws that allow pot possession. Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, and we some people we know are ready to break out the Cheetos and spark up a fat one (and, yes, the law allows non-resident protection under new legislation).

To celebrate these state’s historic firsts, visitors and locals can book a room at the super-chill (and somewhat trippy) Hotel Monaco in Denver. The boutique hotel boasts a great downtown location for convenient munchies options, quirky and stylish rooms to get creative in, and free evening wine receptions so you can share all of your very important ideas (or at least they’ll seem so at the time) with strangers.    Read More »

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The Madison One-Bedroom Suite at The Mark; New York, NY

The Madison One-Bedroom Suite at The Mark; New York, NY

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Emma Stone, Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts, Jonah Hill and Marc Jacobs were all spotted hanging out in The Mark’s lobby during Hurricane Sandy.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino will offer a free weekend stay in the property to every guest that posts pictures on the hotel’s Facebook or Twitter pages proving that he or she voted today.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? P. Diddy recently crashed his car right outside The Beverly Hills Hotel after another driver swerved in front of his Cadillac Escalade.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Four Seasons’ $71,000 Around-the-World Tour By Private Jet package includes a stop at the Four Seasons Hualalai, which was selected due to its convenient on-site landing strip.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta is offering an $87,000 spa package that includes stem cell treatments and hair transplants.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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If you have an upcoming vacay booked for the Caribbean, don’t despair — plenty of resorts are up and running after the storm. And even if you don’t have a trip planned, we know many travelers grow attached to their favorite hotels and vacation destinations; a reader wrote us just the other day asking how her favorite resort in Jamaica was doing post-Sandy. So Oyster.com decided to let her — and all of you — know how each of your favorite islands in the storm’s path fared, and share the recent social media updates from some of our favorite resorts in each place.

Jamaica

Sandy did make landfall in Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane, and the island suffered one death and $16.5 million worth of worth of damage (crops such as coffee, bananas, and coconuts were all impacted). But tourist resorts for the most part were only minimally affected.

Half Moon had no damage aside from a few fallen tree limbs and debris and is fully operational.

Half Moon is fully operational, and had no damage aside from some fallen tree limbs and debris.

Oyster’s Post-Sandy Resort Pick: Half Moon, Jamaica

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