Puerto Vallarta

The infinity pool at Garza Blanca offers stunning views of Puerto Vallarta's rugged coastline.

From the polished stone finishes of the daylight-saturated atrium lobby to the gorgeous infinity pool with its rock formations and fountains, this 73-unit resort is a posh spot for contemporary oceanfront luxury. Standing on a secluded stretch of beach on Bahia Banderas’ south shore, which offers stunning views of the ocean and jungle-covered hills that surround it, the Garza Blanca features spacious guest rooms, an exquisite pool, a private beach, and a gourmet restaurant with an extensive wine cellar and tequila tasting room. Couples will also enjoy the Buddhist-inspired Hamara Spa — a great place to wind down before the big day. And if that isn’t quite enough, adventurous duos can explore the preserve, a large swath of land on the jungle-draped mountain behind the hotel. Plus, Garza Blanca’s history as a playground for Hollywood stars in the 1960s is sure to put newlyweds in a glamorous mindset.

Weddings at Garza Blanca are stunning, with couples having ample ceremony locations to choose from, including beachfront, poolside, or patio services. The resort has a variety of packages for couples to consider, and an on-site wedding coordinator is on-call to help make the day more memorable. Couples will generally receive a free suite upgrade, as well as a romantic turndown service and a bottle of sparkling wine on their wedding night. We’ll say “I do” to that! Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Garaza Blanca Preserve here »

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The Penthouse at the Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The Penthouse at the Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Eva Longoria was recently spotted at Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa with an unidentified new beau, with whom she reportedly canoodled by the pool.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Ritz-Carlton Washington’s $100,000 Access Package for Inauguration 2013 includes two first-class, round-trip, domestic-flight tickets, a four-night stay in a suite, and special access to the Capitol and Library of Congress.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Taj Boston’s Fireplace Butler builds and starts a fire for guests — who get their choice of wood from a Wood Menu [Ed. note: We know, we know, insert "that's what she said" pun here.] — in guests’ suites at no extra charge.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The InterContinental Miami has hired tennis player Anna Kournikova to redesign its two-story presidential suites, which feature striking views of Miami and Biscayne Bay.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo has introduced a program allowing guests to experience a tech-free vacation. Participating guests may leave their iPhones safely with the hotel and are given a free custom iPhone cover and a guide to 24 things they can do without technology at the resort.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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"Single studmuffin" wants to hang with lots of ladies -- and who can blame him!
“Single studmuffin” wants to hang with lots of ladies — and who can blame him!

With our Ask Oyster series, we highlight some of the most interesting questions we receive so that all of our fans can benefit from our expert advice. Have a burning travel question you’d like answered? Contact us and put “Ask Oyster” in the subject line.

Dear Oyster,

I’m planning trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and would love your suggestions for adult-friendly, all-inclusive resorts. I’m looking for high-end resorts with an abundance of single ladies.

- Single Studmuffin

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We met the guys of Delta Spirit at Austin City Limits just a few weeks ago and were instantly hooked on the band’s modern take on rock music. Currently on tour (catch them in San Diego tonight), the band spends plenty of time on the road and share our love — and extensive knowledge of — travel. So we caught up with the group’s lead singer, Matt Vasquez, for a little Q&A to get his take on what makes (and breaks) a vacation. Check it out after the jump!

The band is on tour through January 2013.

The band is on tour through January 2013.

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Choosing the right hotel to host a convention is always a difficult feat and it often comes with a lot of pressure. After all, travelers worldwide spend a total of $249 billion on business travel annually, and a large portion of that goes towards hotel stays. But with over 458 million Americans attending overnight business trips annually, conventions are an everyday occurrence and planning one is merely a rite of passage in many companies. So we here at Oyster.com have created a little cheat sheet for those of you who may feel overwhelmed by the task. Whether your main goal is to impress your boss — or you want to use your planning power to find a spot where you can bring the kiddies along — this list will help you find the best convention center hotel for your company.

Best Hotel For Impressing the Boss: Four Seasons Hotel Denver

Few hotel chains are as impressive as the Four Seasons, and this one in Denver is no exception. Ultra-luxurious rooms (starting at 400 square feet and featuring up-to-date amenities), a heated outdoor pool, and a massive spa are all features that grant this hotel its five-pearl status. Plus, the Four Seasons is not only just a 5-minute walk from the Colorado Convention Center, but it offers a free shuttle and has over 17,000 square feet of meeting space on-site.

Your boss will be awed upon entering the sleek, streamlined lobby.

Your boss will be awed upon entering the sleek, streamlined lobby.

Standout feature: The on-site conference coordinator can not only assist with all of your convention needs, but will also plan day excursions, such as shopping trips and hiking, for spouses and families that come along.
Downside: Though special deals can be made for convention groups, Wi-Fi normally comes at an additional fee per device. Read More »

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Oyster Decodes Hotel Points Programs is a new series where we break down hotel rewards programs and give you the inside scoop on how they can save you money.
 
Hotel point programs are not always easy to decipher, and sometimes even we (travel experts, after all) feel we need a guide to understand how they work. But it’s worth the effort it takes to decode: All are free to join, and more often than not, end up saving travelers a significant amount of cash. This week, we’re biting the bullet and starting with cracking the Marriott rewards program, which is one of the most difficult to navigate as guests can redeem their points at over 3,600 locations worldwide across 12 distinctive brands.
 
Marriott properties are divided into eight categories — depending on the hotel brand, location and type — and five tiers.  Members can earn up to 10 points for every dollar spent at Marriott hotels, as well as at Marriott’s partner airlines and rental car companies, which include Hertz, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic. They can then redeem the points earned on hotels, airlines and other services. While advantages of joining the program are numerous, the system is not always straightforward, so we’ve selected some of our favorite hotels in each category and tier where, for a certain number of points (starting at 70,000), you can enjoy a one night stay in a standard room. Start redeeming those points!

Tier 5: 70,000 points

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong - Hong Kong, China

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

Only a few hotels in Hong Kong deliver the Ritz-Carlton’s level of luxury. Large rooms feature decadent touches, such as plush beds with 400- to 600-thread count linens, iPods and iPod docks, Nespresso coffeemakers, and high-end toiletries. The hotel is set on floors 102 to 118 of Hong Kong’s tallest building, and while acrophobes may not appreciate being this far from the ground, the height does make for breathtaking views — that is, when the sky is clear. Highlights include a stylish indoor pool, sleek gym, and top-notch spa. The Ritz-Carlton is connected to a great shopping mall and corporate offices, and also offers easy access to the airport train and the MTR. However, its location in an up-and-coming business area west of Tsim Sha Tsui is a bit out of the way for leisure travelers.

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What is gay-friendly travel?

by Devon on October 2, 2012

October is LGBT history month in the United States, and Oyster is kicking things off with the introduction of our gay-friendly travel section. The LGBTQIA community has its own set of travel concerns, so fortunately there are countless organizations that have established guidelines to ensure that traveling gays and lesbians are safe, welcome, and happy in their travels.

TAG and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) are two organizations devoted to setting standards for gay-friendly tourism and holding businesses accountable for the welfare of their clientele, no matter their sexual orientation. For example, hotel standards established by TAG include staff trained in diversity, a commitment to acting as “watchdogs” for gay travelers, and a strict enforcement of non-discrimination policies for all guests. Similarly, IGLTA works to encourage gay and lesbian travel by collaborating with hotels, cruise lines, casinos, and other travel-related companies to demonstrate the positive “social and economic impact” of LGBT tourism. In our travels, we’ve found that the most gay-friendly destinations and accommodations not only display tolerance in their business and social practices, but also welcome and encourage diversity and have a visible LGBT scene.

What makes a destination or hotel "gay-friendly"?

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The Tides South Beach has an open, airy design.

 

Take a cue (or several) from some of the most well-decorated hotels and incorporate ‘em into your own little nest. Whether an addition, paint change, or simple trick, we’ve got great ideas from some of our favorite hotels. Check out our design tweaks from super-sweet hotels now!

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Penthouse at the Villa La Estancia; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Penthouse at the Villa La Estancia; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

There’s nothing like a beautiful ocean view to make you take a deep breath and relax. In fact, a balcony with an ocean view is often a prerequisite for travelers looking for some serious R&R in sunny destinations. (Us included.) Regardless of your budget, location, or taste, we’ve found the perfect room with a view. Check out our ten favorite now!

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Credit: iStock Photo

For some travelers, itsy bitsy bikinis or revealing Speedos just don’t cut it — a vacation isn’t a vacation without a little nudity. Luckily for them, these hotels are redefining casual dress with policies that let guests bare it all (or almost all).

Not everyone’s nude-y travel preferences are alike, and a wide range of resorts let guests button down — from an uninhibited, swingers-friendly paradise, to a polished luxury resort with a surprising naughty side.

So take a peek — a little voyeurism never hurt anyone.

 

 

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