Puerto Vallarta

Nothing says summer like a long, lazy day by a cool blue pool. And if that pool happens to be completely gorgeous and over-the-top, all the better; it can help turn a typical day by the pool into a summer memory to last a lifetime. Whether you’re looking to swim at the base of an active volcano, snorkel among Caribbean grottoes, or water slide through a shark tank, these pools can deliver all of that — and more.

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

Most of us love a good water slide, but those looking for some serious thrills should hit up the a pool complex at Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which boasts a three-story waterslide that runs through a 200,000-gallon shark aquarium. Read More »

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Getting physical on Spring Break at Barcelo Puerto Vallarta

Bathing suit season is just around the corner, and we’re getting ready to strut out stuff on the beach once again! Lucky for us, we met some very bendy friends while staying at Barcelo Puerto Vallarta who showed us a few great yoga moves.

Read our caption after the jump, then enter your own in the comments section below!

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Awards season continues this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the biggest names in the music industry strut their stuff at the 55th Grammy Awards. And as we dream about jamming on stage with the likes of  Elton John, The Lumineers, Jack White, and Justin Timberlake (who’s making his return to the Grammy stage after a four-year hiatus from the music scene, swoon), we can’t help but be a little jealous of those who get to do so. Thankfully, some of our favorite hotels understand our musical plight. From on-site recording studios to guitar rental services, these hotels may not promise celeb-studded jam sessions but they’re definitely rocker-approved. And we mean that literally: Everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Stevie Wonder has visited these music meccas of the hotel world. So if you want to drop a beat before the awards or just pick up the vibes left behind by some of your favorite musicians, check out these rock-ready hotels.

Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas, Los Angeles 

The Nightbird Sound Studio at the Sunset Marquis has hosted A-list recording artists for decades.

The Sunset Marquis cost guests just $8 a night when it first opened in 1963 as a motel for musicians playing at the nearby House of Blues, Roxy, and Viper Room, all located within a few minutes’ walk. Today, there are so many celebrities that continue to traipse through the hotel that the staff doesn’t get starstruck anymore. During Oyster’s two-night stay, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Joss Stone, and Roger Daltrey of The Who were all spotted at the hotel, validating the hotel’s “paparazzi diversion tactics” that are offered for a nominal fee.

In addition to its innate rocker vibe, the hotel also offers a state-of-the-art recording studio on-site — Nightbird Sound Studios — designed by renowned acoustician George Auspurger. Accessed via a hidden entrance in the underground garage, the space features (in addition to the usual trappings) a Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano, one of only two in America, on which Stevie Wonder has been recorded. Every A-list musician has passed through the studio, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Timberlake, and Lil Wayne and Green Day both recorded here within days of Oyster’s visit. High rollers can rent out the studio for personal use, including karaoke birthday parties.

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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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"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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