Riviera Nayarit

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 »

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White sand, blue waters -- what more could you want?

We just got back from Riviera Nayarit in western Mexico, known for its 190 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, wonderful resorts, and world-class golf. We went all over — from the hopping south to the remote northern areas — and fell in love with the dozens of small, charming towns that dot the coast, the region’s friendly locals, the awesome surfing spots, and the laid-back vibe.

We investigated some of Riviera Nayarit’s top hotels and snapped almost 12,000 photos. And you definitely won’t want to miss our prestigious awards lists and editor’s expert recommendations — including kid-friendly, value, and luxury hotels — based on our recent inspections. Check out more awesome pics after the jump.

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Wow. The grounds at La Tranquila are pristine and, well, tranquil.

La Tranquila wows at first sight: The lobby is huge and airy, with high ceilings and oversized furniture, and the pool complex is arguably one of the most stunning in the region. High-end rooms are all suites of one, two and three bedrooms, and feature sleek, sexy bathrooms with separate showers and deep soaking tubs, as well as large terraces with plunge pools and striking ocean views. The beach is long, sandy, and surrounded by nature, so guests have it to themselves. In terms of features, there’s little more than a Greg Norman golf course, a tiny fitness center with a few machines and a plunge pool, and a spa in the works, so this is a better pick for those who are looking to relax in the sun than for those who want to stay active. But for all the loungers out there, this is the spot to be in Riviera Nayarit. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now »

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“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”  Yesterday, our favorite astrological free spirits started celebrating their 2013 birthdays, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Possessing a deep social conscience, Aquarians are humanitarian, philanthropic, and dedicated to making the world a better place. And they do so with flair. Known for their wildly inventive and creative ideas, Aquarians can also be temperamental and flighty if you don’t encourage their quirk. Luckily, Oyster has stayed at some of the best off-beat, hippie-chic retreats for fostering the unpredictable and artistic notions of the Water Bearers in your life. So get your sketchpads ready, it’s time to take these rebellious visionaries on a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs

Korakia Pensione brings a bit of the Mediterranean to Palm Springs.

Korakia Pensione is a striking hotel in Palm Springs. Modeled after a Mediterranean pensione, it looks like something out of Greece or Morocco, and Aquarians are sure to relish in its exotic, eclectic vibe. Aquarians are also notorious flirts (what with all of that passionate, creative energy roiling around inside them), so they’ll definitely appreciate that Korakia was named one of Forbes’ sexiest hotels in America. The two Korakia Pensione pools and many outdoor spaces – including fire pits, fountains, and stone paths — are all beautiful and unexpected. And the hotel plays old movies every night outside on the terrace. The rooms are named, not numbered, and each is slightly different, but all have an old-world, whimsical feel.
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Ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle? Check out all 15 of Oyster's bucket list stays.

Ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle? Check out all 15 of Oyster's bucket list stays.

If you’re like most of us, you probably have a dream trip tucked in the back of your mind — the improbable fantasy hotel stay that will happen one day down the road when you have the time/money/etc. Maybe. But now that we’ve all survived the Mayan apocalypse and are busy working on New Year’s resolutions, Oyster has a resolution challenge for you that you probably won’t mind keeping. In 2013, don’t put off that trip you’re planning to do before you die any longer. Because if the Mayans taught us anything, it’s that we could be dead tomorrow, right? To help you take the plunge, we’ve compiled 15 incredible and utterly unique hotel stays that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Most of us forget our New Year’s Resolutions as soon as we’ve written them down, but we’re sure a lot of you out there at least aim to unplug a little this year by talking more face-to-face and less via social networks; planning at least a short getaway to the countryside; and hitting the road to get back in touch with nature: No TV, no Internet access, no cell phone service. It’s easy to fall into the office-gym-home routine and find that it’s the end of the year again and you haven’t quite done all you’ve set out to do (although if you keep up with the “gym” part, maybe you will have lost those 15 pounds!). Well, we’re determined to help you stay on the “back to nature” bandwagon this year. Check out our favorite unplugged havens and pick the best one for you. Then it’s time to lose the cell — at least for a weekend.

For the spiritual traveler: Haramara Retreat, Riviera Nayarit

Rooms are housed in open palapas with no window panes or screens. Rooms are housed in open palapas with no window panes or screens.

Haramara, a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation, is arguably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. All hotel structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize the environmental impact, and there is no electricity besides in the restaurant and the yoga studio. Each room is housed in a private, standalone thatched hut with no window panes or screens separating the indoors from the jungle, and only gauze curtains and mosquito nets protect guests from bugs and critters. Even the bathrooms are open. The peaceful retreat is geared towards those in need of some detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an open-air spa, a vegetarian and seafood restaurant, unpaved trails, and limited cell phone service.

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This week’s Monday dose of goodness comes from the 120-room St. Regis, set in the posh Punta Mita area of Puerto Vallarta. Besides having a pristine, private, white-sand beach, this luxury resort offers up three distinct — and gorgeous — pools, world-class golfing, and rooms that looked ripped straight from the pages of a decor magazine. It’s the extra attention to detail that really lets us unwind when we’re on vacation — and the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort does all that. So as we say every week, take a deep breath, relax, and soak in the Monday morning bliss that is the beach at the St. Regis Punta Mita.

Beach at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Riviera Nayarit

Beach at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Riviera Nayarit

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It happens to us every morning — as we’re commuting to work, we doze off and imagine we’re part of the strings of tanned, lean bodies flocking to the beach, surfboard in hand — instead of on the subway. Well, it’s time to stop daydreaming, get your boss to approve your time off, and catch the next flight out of town — we’ve shared our favorite spots to practice the most popular and coolest summer sport. And whether you are an experienced surfer or just looking to learn, rest easy: we’ve got you covered.

1. OAHU, HI

Sunset Surfing in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Sunset Surfing in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is known as the Mecca of surfing, but Oahu’s North Shore is the icing on the cake. It’s probably not for amateurs, though, as waves are a good size and are better enjoyed with a little practice (not that we’d be the ones to to tell you). Some of the world’s top surf competitions take place here, and anyone who’s ever been on a surf board will recognize names such as Pipeline, Log Cabins and Waimea Bay — home to some of the best waves around. Granted, the island can get crowded, but few places in the world boast waves like these.

Best Spot to Surf: Turtle Bay, Radz and Graters are arguably the best, as they are all open to the swells of the northernmost spot on the island. All are for experienced surfers and close to each other.

Best Spot to Sleep: Turtle Bay Resort is a 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore with an unbeatable array of amenities — two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides — plus five miles of shoreline with wonderful waves, and great restaurants.

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Part of the reason we love to travel is all the new creatures we get to meet along the way. Some we spot in the wild, while some we see just roaming around the hotel. But we especially love when the hotel brings the animals to us, like at the on-site zoo at the The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium in Riviera Nayarit. The resort houses birds, crocodiles, and monkeys, including this adorable, wide-eyed gal who stopped by to say hello.

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

Zoo at The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium

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