For many, the dream beach vacation involves snoozing on a quiet stretch of sand in some exotic (read:expensive) locale — and we don’t blame you. But the truth is, there’s no need to break the piggy bank to have a fabulous oceanfront getaway. Picking a budget-friendly hotel that’s not overrun with twentysomethings looking for a crashpad can be tricky, and more serene destinations tend to be more expensive. But we searched high and low, and these six affordable properties are great for those who want to spend some quiet, relaxing days on the beach — without spending all their savings.
The gorgeous infinity pool overlooks a beautiful white-sand beach.
Overlooking a stunning beach on the southern tip of the Hotel Zone, this adults-only property oozes tranquility. Its serene white and red decor — accented by billowy curtains everywhere — and its somewhat secluded location far from the booming Cancun nightlife, sets this boutique apart from the mega-resorts located just north of it. The Bel Air Collection has 155 chic, minimalist (if low-frills) rooms, trendy common areas, a wonderful spa, and a gorgeous infinity pool with ocean views. It’s a great pick for a relaxed, romantic getaway.
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Ackee and saltfish in Jamaica
If you’re a foodie, cuisine plays an important role in your vacation. We can relate. Luckily, we’ve gotten to sample a lot of great food while off investigating hotels across the globe, and we’ve particularly enjoyed discovering various destination’s specialties, from smoked salmon in Norway to macarons in France. There’s a lot of food out there, to be sure, but these seven local dishes ranked among our favorites.
There are few things as sexy as taking a long bubble bath with your significant other.
The Caribbean is hands down one of the world’s most romantic destinations. The region’s gorgeous islands and quaint coastal communities draw thousands of honeymooners and couples every year with the pristine beaches, laid-back vibe, and outstanding resorts. Many hotels cater to couples, and hotel designers, aware that an appealing bathroom with a deep tub can be the cherry on top of a romantic getaway, are spending more time than ever in coming up with the best bathroom layout. Click through the slideshow to discover some of the sexiest bathrooms in the Caribbean, and don’t forget order some champagne and rose petals for your bubble bath!
All-inclusive resorts are not created equally. While some offer the penultimate in luxury, others rely on quantity over quality. There are spa-centric getaways, family-friendly stays, and party-hearty atmospheres to be visited across the wide world of all-inclusives. With so many options, choosing the right resort for you and your posse can be a hassle. Luckily, Oyster has experienced all of the above and can point you toward the best of the best, no matter your style. Looking for a raucous pool scene? We’ve got it. Craving a secluded hideaway? We’ve unplugged there, too. So sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for some fun in the sun — all while using our guide to select the all-inclusive that is right for your style:
If You Want: To Travel Like a Queen
Stay: Half Moon, Jamaica
The luxurious Half Moon resort in Montego Bay has been a favorite of royals for decades.
Drawing everyone from Queen Elizabeth to 50 Cent, Half Moon strives for timeless, understated luxury in Jamaica’s Montego Bay. Stretching over 400 acres (including 2 miles of beach), the 230-room resort offers attentive service, quality cuisine, and seemingly limitless activities, such as golfing and horseback riding. A variety of all-inclusive packages can be purchased in advance which may include lodging, meals, alcohol, airport transfers, golf fees, and sports activities. With several levels to choose from, just about everyone can be happy. Read More »
“Caribbean” and “all-inclusive” go together well. After all, the Caribbean is synonymous with snoozing on a rope hammock between two palm trees, not lifting a finger — and all-inclusive resorts allow you to do just that. In fact, with everything pre-paid and all amenities included, you don’t even have to open your wallet! We here at Oyster have seen dozens of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and while it’s not easy to single just one out, we do have a list of our very favorites, from a secluded spot on gorgeous Turks and Caicos to an adults-only oasis in hopping Cancun, and from small boutiques with tons of character to sprawling resorts with every amenity imaginable. If you’re ready to get pampered, check out our top picks for the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and start planning your trip!
World-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa is an upscale, tranquil spot with outstanding treatments.
Accessed via a 30-minute boat ride from Providenciales, this 1,000-acre all-inclusive resort on a private island is the definition of tranquility. With an incredible infinity-edge pool, world-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa, waterfront Balinese-style villas, doting service, and more than three miles of pristine beaches, it’s easily one of the most luxurious and romantic options in the Caribbean.
- Our favorite perk: Lotus Restaurant is located by the beautiful infinity-edge pool and features light Caribbean and Asian food, and stunning ocean views.
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While there are many great budget-friendly hotels in the Caribbean, the islands are also known for their luxury properties, where guests are treated to day trips aboard yachts, couples are offered massages in sumptuous spas, and rooms are twice the size of a New York apartment (although, we guess it’s not too hard to be). We’ve compiled a list of our favorite luxury hotels in the Caribbean so you can start planning what to do after your new year’s resolution of winning the lottery (that’s not a new year’s resolution, but, really, who hasn’t had that on the list for at least a decade?) comes true.
All guests have a butler on call 24/7 assigned to their room.
Bringing tranquility to otherwise-crowded Paradise Island, the 105-room Ocean Club’s personal butlers, beautiful pools (one for adults, one for families), restaurant from Jean-Georges, and access to Atlantis’s water park, casino, and other attractions make it one of the Caribbean’s best resorts.
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Are you on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list this year? We’ve seen a lot of good and bad behaviors during our travels over the last year — and maybe dabbled in both as well! So we know every dirty little secret, or shiny gold star, that you’ve been part-and-parcel to on vacation. But if you’re not sure where you stand in Santa’s twinkling eyes, we’re here to help. You can find out whether your favorite hotel amenities will get your stockings stuffed full of goodies or weighed down by coal this holiday season with our quiz. So check out which list you’re on!
The Naughty List:
1. Have you stripped down?
Clothing optional resorts like the Desire Riviera Maya can see some X-rated action.
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, some hotels are redefining casual dress with policies that let guests bare it all (or almost all), like the couples-only, clothing-optional Desire Resort & Spa Riviera Maya. A little voyeurism never hurt anyone — but don’t be surprised if your nude antics land you on the naughty list this winter.
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Well, the time has finally come! We’re in the last stretch of humanity as we know it (according to the ancient Mayan calendar, at least), and we’re searching the globe for the best places on earth to spend our final days — or day as the case may be. We’ve visited every (habitable) continent and through our travels, we’ve found that whether you’re preparing for a traditional Biblical Apocalypse of fire and brimstone, or something a bit more on the sci-fi spectrum, there is a Doomsday destination for you somewhere on this fated planet. Take a look at our list and pick the spot where you’ll spend your last blissful moments.
Hit the beach before making your last offerings in Riviera Maya.
North American Destination: Riviera Maya, for an ancient Mayan offering
The small Caribbean district along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is undoubtedly the best place in North America to spend your last day on Earth. Riviera Maya not only boasts stunning white-sand beaches and some of the most majestic natural beauty in the world, but it is also home to the ruins of 7th century A.D. Mayans. The Mayans, of course, were the ones who predicted the 2012 end of the world (or maybe they just ran out of rock), and the area is having its share of “End of the World” celebrations to honor the culture with ancient ceremonies.
Stay: Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa
The Tulum area of Rivieria Maya, where the Dreams is located, is the site of the walled cities of the Mayan culture, and the gateway to the ruins. The beachfront Dreams is only a five-minute drive from major ruins, where visitors can offer sacrifices or just say their prayers.
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Every day, Oyster.com continues to grow by visiting more and more places and adding more and more hotels to the site. You may have noticed, but we recently revisited the Dominican Republic and Riviera Maya to check out the scenes in our favorite beach locales. And we also made out first trip to beautiful Cozumel. Even though saying goodbye to fun in the sun at the end of our visits was tough, we were excited to get back and share the gorgeous properties we saw with our fans. Check out some of our favorites from the D.R., Riviera Maya, and Cozumel that are brand-spanking NEW on Oyster!
The Hotel: Hotel B Cozumel
The view from Hotel B's infinity pool is hard to beat.
Hotel B has everything a hotel needs to draw a young, hip crowd: a lounge-y beach, spacious rooms with great amenities, a gorgeous infinity-edge pool, a hopping bar with great mojitos, and yoga classes several times a week. Everything here is trendy, but that doesn’t come at the cost of sustainability, social responsibility, or local culture — the property is decorated top to bottom with traditional Mexican touches with a contemporary twist and crafts made by Mexican artisans. Add this to great rates and a fabulous restaurant, and you’ve got a resort that’s a very attractive alternative to the dozens of all-inclusive properties lining this part of the island.
See more beautiful photos and read our full review of Hotel B Cozumel »
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‘Tis the season for annual awards lists, but if you think you know what’s coming, guess again. Oyster’s awards aren’t like the other guys’ — we’re not like the other guys, so why should our awards be? You can find lists of the world’s best luxury hotels in a dozen other places, but only Oyster digs deep to learn every hotel’s secret quirks. Our hotel investigators trot the globe and visit every hotel in person so we can bring you the unvarnished truth, and this year, for the first-ever annual Oyster Hotel Awards, we’d like to show you the wackiest, coolest, weirdest, and most interesting things they came across in their travels. We are thrilled to present the 2012 selection of Oyster’s Most Interesting Hotels in the World. Are you ready for this?
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