Sedona

“America the Beautiful” was originally a poem written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired to pen the historic words after taking a memorable — and clearly, scenic — cross-country train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the late 1800s, such a trip might have been grueling, but it was nonetheless considered exotic — whereas nowadays, it sometimes seems travelers aren’t impressed unless they’re crossing vast oceans and getting multiple stamps on their passports. But America is still the fair beauty of Bates’s poem, and tons of gorgeous sites and settings can be found right in our backyards. Even better, local travel is often relatively cheap and easy: There’s no currency exchange, language barrier, or passport required, and even if you do fly, flights are certainly less expensive than those to far-flung international locales. Here are six amazing sites in the U.S. that you’ve got to see. (And don’t worry. If you really must cross an ocean to feel like you’re on vacation, we have some U.S. destinations where that is a necessity as well).

Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

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If you’ve ever questioned whether the U.S. could be exotic, the Bioluminscent Bay in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo will have you properly convinced. Just a short drive from Old San Juan, this famed “Bio Bay” puts on nature’s most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise as you paddle or swim through the water.

Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is just about as close as you can get to the Bio Bay. Even better, this luxe resort offers some of the Caribbean’s most epic views.

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There are those who say that your room on vacation doesn’t matter — you won’t spend any time in it anyway, right? Wellll, being the hotel geeks that we are, we have to respectfully disagree. That kind of logic is perfectly fine if you’re hopping hostels, but the truth is, the hotel room is a major component of a vacation experience for most of us. And if that hotel room provides a stunning outlook of the place you traveled all that way to see, all the better. That way you won’t miss a moment of experiencing your wonderful destination. These nine views aren’t just nice, they’re jaw-dropping — taking your vacation to a whole new level.

Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

The guest rooms at Jade Mountain are among the most luxurious in the world, and all have a missing fourth wall featuring stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and St. Lucia’s iconic Pitons. Most also offer private infinity pools. This romantic resort is an architectural marble, built into a mountain about 100 feet above the sea. Read More »

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L'Auberge de Sedona

L'Auberge de Sedona

Sedona is most famous for its stunning red rocks, which are particularly beautiful in the glow of sunrise and sunset, and have formed the backdrop for many a western film. The town’s stunning desert-meets-forest scenery has, unsurprisingly, attracted many artists, and Sedona has become known for its numerous art galleries and craft shops. But there’s nothing quite as inspiring as seeing the red rocks for yourself, and we’ve found a handful of hotels offering excellent views.

 

 

 

 

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Sedona provides the perfect hiking grounds for your next trek.

The Southwest is one of our favorite places to get physical thanks to its crisp, high-altitude air; gorgeous terrain; and earthy, holistic vibes. And though there may be tons of incredible national parks throughout the region — including Arches, Zion, and the Grand Canyon — other lesser-known areas prove to be just as majestic. Take a look at just a few of our favorite places in the Southwest to get fit and reconnect with Mother Nature!

 

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Summer is the time to get outdoors and get active. And even though it can get your blood pumpin’, there is nothing more relaxing than some quality time with Mother Nature, whether you’re hiking, fishing, or whitewater rafting — or simply kicking back and taking in the views after a day filled with activity. Our seven favorite spots in the U.S. for an outdoorsy getaway this summer were chosen for their combination of natural beauty and breadth of outdoor activities. To make planning easier, we’ve also recommended a cabin, lodge, or ranch in each place that brings you closer to the outdoors with great views or settings.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is most famous for its stunning red rocks, which are particularly beautiful in the glow of sunrise and sunset, and have formed the backdrop for many a western film. The temperatures here are cooler than other Arizona destinations, thanks to the higher elevation, and Ponderosa Pines surround the city. It’s a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with excellent biking, horseback riding, and a particular focus on hiking. Some of the most popular hiking spots include Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Rock.

Where to Stay: L’Auberge de Sedona, with 87 luxurious and woodsy cottages spread across 11 acres
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Summer is just around the corner, and if a trip to the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list (as it should be), there’s no better time to visit! Whether you’re planning a day-trip or a week-long stay at the national park, these luxe hotels are the perfect place to come home to after exploring the natural beauty — and they’re all within driving distance. Check out our top ten favorite luxury hotels within driving distance of the Grand Canyon.

 

Montelucia Resort & Spa, Scottsdale

Driving time to the Grand Canyon: 3 hours, 32 minutes

Montelucia Resort & Spa

This Spanish villa-style property with great views of Camelback Mountain is one of Scottsdale’s most luxurious desert retreats. The grounds feature pretty floral-lined walkways and arched entrances, and sophisticated rooms have lots of Spanish-inspired details, including dark woods and big mirrors.
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The Ahwanee, Yosemite National Park

The Ahwanee, Yosemite National Park

Nothing man-made can rival Mother Nature at her finest. For those who love the great outdoors, the most memorable vacations aren’t at massive mega-resorts — they’re at hotels that bring you closer to some of the world’s natural wonders. From an historic landmark hotel in Yosemite National Park to a lodge at the top of a massive waterfall to luxury tree houses nestled among California’s redwoods, these 10 hotels have natural settings that are truly jaw-dropping.

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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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For a lot of employees, corporate retreats are dreaded events. And for good reason: At a bad corporate retreat, you might end up singing Kumbaya in the woods with your boss or falling backwards into the arms of a coworker to “build trust.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. At Oyster.com, we’ve covered some resorts that provide truly awesome settings for company getaways. The daily schedule may still be in your boss’s hands, but at least the resorts will make the probability of being able to squeeze in some fun much higher.

Best Corporate Retreats for…

An AIG-Style Luxury Bash

The Hotel: St. Regis Monarch Beach, Orange County

St. Regis Monarch Beach

St. Regis Monarch Beach, where AIG spent over $7,000 on golf fees alone for their executive retreat in 2008.

If you’re in the mood to party like it’s 2008, look no further than the St. Regis Monarch Beach. This is the high-end hotel where AIG reportedly spent over $400,000 on an executive retreat — less than a week after the government’s $85 billion bailout of the company. (The bill included over $23,000 in spa treatments; we guess the executives had a lot of de-stressing to do after their company nearly went down the toilet.) But hey, the times are a changin’ and 2012 has seen the return of luxury corporate retreats. So go on, celebrate the fact that your company is no longer facing imminent disaster (we hope). With a gorgeous 18-hole, ocean-view golf course, eight tennis courts, a renowned spa, an excellent business center with videoconferencing technology, and a high-tech boardroom, it’s the ideal setting for a decadent company getaway.

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When planning a destination wedding, the first locations that come to mind are likely postcard-perfect beaches in the Caribbean or some other exotic sandy setting. However, if you’re not quite ready to spend a fortune — or you don’t want to put that burden on your guests — there are tons of gorgeous, inexpensive (or shall we say, less expensive) destinations in the U.S. that make for memorable weddings. And it’s always nice a change of scenery! Just because you’re not Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner doesn’t mean you can’t have your own beautiful destination wedding, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite spots for a more affordable event to help you decide.

Destination #1: Vermont

Vermont, with its quaint villages and scenic landscapes, is probably your best bet for a back-to-nature inspired wedding. If you can totally see yourself posing for the pre- or post-wedding photos along tumbling streams, thick woodlands and gorgeous views, search no more. Its small, cozy inns and B&B’s are perfect for intimate weddings and small receptions, and the green meadows and steep mountains make for great backgrounds when saying your “I Do’s.” You will probably need a car or a shuttle to move your guests around, as Burlington’s is the only major airport serving the entire state, but the scenery and the vibe will prove to be well worth it.

Oyster’s Fave Value Wedding Spot: Swift House Inn

The Swift Room at the Swift House Inn; Mid Vermont, VT

Vermont's kitschy B&Bs are perfect venues for intimate weddings and family affairs.

The historic Swift House Inn is located within walking distance of downtown Middlebury, a picturesque New England town, with traffic-free streets lined by locally owned shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The hotel’s 20 rooms are spread throughout the Main House (formerly a Governor’s Mansion), the Carriage House, and the Gate House. Room decor varies, allowing guests to choose a room depending on personal style. Some rooms offer a classic New England B&B vibe with floral wallpaper, fireplaces, and four-poster beds, while others are more understated, with soft-toned walls and tasteful furniture. One of the inn’s highlights is its delicious and free breakfast, and an on-site restaurant, Jessica’s, is a popular destination for both guests and locals.

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