San Diego

Luxury resorts serve up more than just swanky guest rooms and exceptional customer service — they are also home to some of the best restaurants in the world. But with young kids in tow, chowing down white-tablecloth-style can be a challenge. While grownups attempt to enjoy fine wines and decadent fruits de mer platters, fidgety toddlers may clank silverware in protest. But with so many gourmet meals at your fingertips when staying at a posh spot, you hate to put the brakes on dinner plans just for fear of “making a scene” — I mean, we’ve all been there…right? Luckily, the restaurants at these family-friendly resorts manage to keep frazzled parents stress-free (and their kids content) with restaurant features such as kiddie menus and more.

JW Marriott Chicago

Don’t let the marble fool you, this chandelier-crazed Chicago hotel rolls out the red carpet for junior jetsetters. The JW paired up with renowned nutritionists to create a yummy (and healthy!) menu in its restaurant that will appeal to both kids and adults. From turkey meatballs to ‘mini’ adult offerings for teens, these comfort meals are sure to please mom. While parents enjoy selections from the dinner menu, kids can chomp on low-fat yogurt ranch dip paired with fresh cucumber and carrot sticks while exploring activity books provided by the staff.

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Even in the world of luxury travel, some hotels offer pretty average amenities. But then there are others with extravagant extras that amp up the wow factor till it’s totally over-the-top (and if you know us at Oyster, you know we love a little over-the-top-ness). So here we’ve rounded up nine of the most luxurious, over-the-top hotel amenities EVER. Get ready to splurge…

The Ritz-Carlton South Beach

1. Tanning Butler: The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Miami

The Ritz-Carlton chain is known for luxury, but it’s South Beach outpost has upped the ante with the tanning butler.The hotel’s signature tanning butler patrols the pool deck to help guests apply sunscreen (even those hard-to-reach areas) and offer a buffet of tanning products, sunglasses and other sun necessities.

 

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The number of local craft breweries is at an all-time high in the United States. From coast to coast (and everywhere in-between), privately-owned breweries are producing delicious brews for every palate. Hoppy IPAs, robust ales, and refreshing pilsners are just some of the offerings on parade, and lucky for beer aficionados, many of these breweries (micro, or otherwise) welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Some even have full-fledged restaurants on-site that pair their pints with delicious plates. So pack the kegerator and find a willing d.d. because it’s time for a brew-cation. We’ve tried beers all over the country and, after plenty of boozy research, have picked out the seven best cities in the U.S. for beer. Plus, we’ve got great hotel recs in each city where beer lovers will feel right at home.

1. Portland, Oregon 

portland

Boasting the highest concentration of breweries of any city in the world — over fifty in the metropolitan area, if you’re curious — Portland tops our list. Large-scale operations have rubbed shoulders with small craft breweries in the Rose City since the 1980s, and micro-breweries and nano-breweries (breweries that generally produce four barrels or fewer) are popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. Deschutes Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, and Upright Brewings are perennial favorites, but there are endless offerings in this quirky beer-loving-hipster-friendly city.

Where to Stay: Ace Hotel – Portland

This funky boutique emphasizes style above all else, and features cool decor touches such as reclaimed school chairs, nightstands made out of books or suitcases, turntables, and stacks of vinyl records. Hotel highlights include a local, organic breakfast in the breakfast room, a great happy hour scene at the Clyde Common lobby bar, and aromatic coffee at the beloved Stumptown Cafe. Read More »

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Once we got that hint of sunny weather earlier this week, it became official: we’ve got the beach bug. Nothing ushers in warmer temperatures (at least in our minds) like frolicking in the sand, and a trip to the shore can be the perfect way to get the family together. We’ve told you about the best beaches for diving, surfing, and even going topless, so this time around we’re giving you the low-down on the best beaches for families; if you have babies in tow or water-winged toddlers, these seven U.S. beaches are our top picks for a family-friendly visit.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

La Jolla

An upscale seaside sanctuary, La Jolla attracts families with its pristine downtown area, quiet neighborhoods, and stunning natural surroundings. While the town boasts plenty of surfer-friendly beaches, La Jolla Cove is ideal for tourists traveling with little ones; this small cove of clear water is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, and swimmers and divers have free range (surfing is not allowed). Lifeguards patrol the calm surf year-round, and the beach boasts clean public restrooms and showers, as well as designated picnic spots.

Where to Stay: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

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If the upcoming holiday season is already stressing you out, a) we’re glad we’re not the only ones and b) we’ve got just the thing to make that anxiety melt away: A spa weekend with no relatives allowed. Before you stuff the turkey or fill the stockings, book a little you-time with a Swedish massage and maybe even an herbal facial add-on. After all, your entire Christmas bonus doesn’t have to go towards the kids — you’ve been good this year, too! Check out a few of our favorite stateside spas for holiday de-stressing — and then buckle-up for your in-laws’ visit!

Spa: Viceroy Miami

Viceroy Miami The stunning design of the Viceroy Miami will make you forget all about holiday stress.

Phillipe Starck was the design mastermind behind the stunning Viceroy Miami spa, a 28,000-square-foot space featuring 10 treatment rooms, redwood saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and a media screening room. The spa also boasts a beautiful water lounge with white marble floors, three whirlpools, a shallow foot-deep reflecting pool, white furniture (some of it in the pool), and floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

Oyster’s Treatment Pick: The Red Island Body Ritual, inspired by the island of Madagascar (we love anything exotic and travel-related!), which promises to “treat your entire body to a holiday of relaxation and hydration.” Now that’s the kind of holiday we had in mind. Read More »

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For many people across the country, fall means two things: Back to school, and football season. And for many college alumni, it can mean both of those things at once – fall is the time to visit the ol’ alma mater for Homecoming and watch your college team (hopefully!) beat the pants off its biggest rival. Because nothing says fall like tailgating and face paint. To help you plan your trip, we’ve found great hotels near a number of universities across the country; it’s hard to be comprehensive with so many great Homecoming celebrations out there, but this should help bring some of you closer to Homecoming glory.

Stanford University, Palo Alto

Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto

Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto

In town to watch the Cardinals play? The Garden Court Hotel is a standout boutique hotel in Downtown Palo Alto, located on a quaint tree-lined street just off of University Avenue and a short drive from Stanford’s campus.  The hotel’s beautiful rooms are the highlight; they have elegant white-and-blue decor, upscale amenities, marble bathrooms, and in many, balconies overlooking the quaint courtyard. Read More »

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There’s nothing like a roaring blaze to make nippy nights more pleasant, and a bonfire is a cozy — and fun — addition to any fall vacation. We’ve found five charming hotels in the U.S. making the most of this toasty tradition.

Hidden Pond, Maine

Hidden Pond, Maine

Hidden Pond, Maine

Hidden Pond’s outdoor bar and grill sits on a “sand bar,” with chairs circled around fire pits. This upscale boutique hotel in the Maine forests has 36 bungalows and two-bedroom cottages, a tranquil environment, and top-notch farm-to-table cuisine. Read More »

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Sometimes spa treatments tip over the edge of relaxing and enter the realm of downright strange. From fish pedicures to snow rooms, hotels around the globe are offering unique (and kinda weird) options for guests to indulge in. Some might swear by these alternative services, others may be skeptical — but we at Oyster will try (almost) anything once! Here, we’ve rounded up the craziest spa services we’ve come across during our travels. Take a look and prepare to get pampered in a whole new way!

The Treatment: Sparience Oxygen Bubble

The Spa Hotel: Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona 

The Sparience Oyxgen Bubble experience is stress-reducing.

At the Zen Zone Spa in Barcelona, guests can try out the Sparience Oyxgen Bubble. Meant to relieve stress and minimize injury recovery time, these bubbles are filled with 99.5 percent pure oxygen, which should induce intense mental and physical relaxation. The sculpted AlphaSphere bed combines color, shape, and light with sound, vibrations, and warmth to increase the effects of the treatment. It all sounds well and good, but doesn’t it remind you a bit of this John Travolta classic? Read More »

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Get ready to practice your crane pose on your next vacation. Plenty of hotels are offering yoga classes these days (we shared some of our favorites previously), which means the bar for pleasing yoga-loving travelers has gotten even higher. Literally; hotels looking to top the competition have moved their yoga classes skyward. These five gorgeous hotels in cities across the U.S. offer rooftop yoga classes — and often, impressive views to go along with them.

Z Hotel, New York City

Z Hotel, New York City

Z Hotel, New York City

The Z hotel is a hip boutique in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens, and its rooftop bar has jaw-dropping views of the New York City skyline. Yoga classes are offered on the roof during the summertime on Saturday mornings, and other rooftop fitness classes are held throughout the week (each class requires a small fee). Read More »

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Having a pool in your hotel is always a great perk when traveling in the summer, but there are many other seasonal hotel amenities that can make a trip special. Part of our job here at Oyster is to experience the property in full, and we never miss a chance to make the most of our visit. We’ve done everything you can imagine, from zip-lining in a snowstorm to bird-watching binoculars in hand — all for the sake of a complete review. These are our favorite summer amenities and where to find them.

Loaner bikes: Paradise Point, San Diego

The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.

The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.

Plenty of hotels offer loaner bikes for guests to use during their stay, but few are located on a 44-acre private island where the best way to explore is on two wheels. Sea World San Diego and Pacific Beach’s shopping and dining are just a short bike ride away – so leave the car in the hotel’s parking lot and enjoy the sea breeze in your hair.

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