Owning a private island is overrated and it’s actually a lot of work — or so we’ve heard from our many island-owning friends. You have to deal with the astronomical taxes, the development, the upkeep — it’s a full-time job (that island owners simply pay other people to do, of course). But visiting a private island? It’s as great as everyone says — and we know from experience. We’ve stayed on some gorgeous private islands in our travels, in equally gorgeous hotels and resorts. Here are six of our favorites:
The pool at Cayo Levantado features a swim-up bar as well as poolside drink service.
The details: The D.R.’s only luxury resort set on its own island, the Gran Bahia Cayo Levantado offers a relaxing atmosphere for couples and families. There are scenic beaches and beautiful pools, and we love the details in the rooms: Four-poster beds, private Jacuzzi tubs, and island-inspired artwork give them a romantic vibe.
How to get there: From the Samana airport, it’s a 45-minute cab ride to the Bahia ferry station. From there, it’s a 10- to 15-minute ferry ride to Cayo Levantado. In lieu of the ferry, you can also hire a private panga boat to take you from Samana. We never said getting to a private island is easy, but it’s certainly worth the flight (…and drive and boat ride)!
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When the last sparkler has gone out, the wedding’s over. For most people. Except the bride and groom, natch. The tradition of taking a honeymoon is a long and storied one, but there’s been a consistent for many of those newlyweds: They wanna stay in a seriously swag suite. After all, it is sort of the one chance you have to live it up — unless you’re made of money, in which case, you should book a suite every time you travel. Ballers aside, the honeymoon is the best time to treat yourself to an awesome hotel room with all the bells and whistles two newlyweds could want — theoretically, at least.
The Honeymoon: Hong Kong
The Suite: Extreme WOW Suite at the W Hong Kong
The Extreme WOW Suite reflects the high-design area of Kolwoon in Hong Kong.
Amazing Jack & Jill sinks lets your newly betrothed know to stay away from your products.
Hong Kong is a fabulous urban destination for those couples seeking out incredible, modern architecture, world-class shopping, and Michelin-starred dining on a nightly basis. And the W Hong Kong is in the heart of the tourist district, Kowloon, and features all the funky extras you’d expect from a W as well as an unreal, souped-up version of the stateside Bliss Spa chain. And the Extreme WOW Suite not only has all the high-tech essentials that seem commonplace in Hong Kong, but also has a fully-stocked kitchenette, spacious closet (because every outfit was carefully planned and considered), and dizzying views of the harbor.
See more photos of the suite »
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Several celeb couples have honeymooned at this gorgeous California property.
Celebrities always travel in style, and we love checking out where they stay when on a getaway from the spotlight. So in this honeymoon edition of our (constant) celeb watch, we explore the gorgeous hotels where some of our favorite celebs celebrated their first days of wedded bliss. Sure, some didn’t last, but it’s not like these hotels are to blame. In fact, they’re probably responsible for the happiest days of the marriage! Take note, Jen and Justin: these spots will deliver the star treatment during your honeymoon.
Pretty sweet view, right?
Lush, tropical landscapes. Gorgeous city skylines. Tempting mountain vistas. These are the reasons why we go on vacation, right? That, and being able to relax and let someone else do the cooking for a change. But why not have both? Hotels with top-notch restaurants know that pulling in diners is about more than just the grub. A destination restaurant has to have both killer cuisine and a view to dine for [Ed. Note: See what we did there?] in order to pull vacationers away from their lounge chairs. We’ve seen some of the most unique and breathtaking vistas, all while dining on the freshest cuisine, at these five scrumptious hotel properties.
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Mega-resorts will always have their perks, but these days more and more travelers are choosing to stay in private villas. The perks of a villa? Well, no shared walls with loud, late-night partiers for one thing. Or you can be that late-night partier and not worry about noise complaints. More space. More privacy. And the homey feel of being in a free-standing unit, surrounded by attractive landscaping. But what we really love is when you can find a private villa on a resort’s property, merging the best of both worlds. Guests receive all of the benefits and amenities of a resort, while still enjoying the seclusion of a villa. We did a tour of hotel villas in the Caribbean and found the best of the best on seven islands.
The One-Bedroom Villa Suite at Hotel Le Toiny -- St. Barts
Undoubtedly one of the most prestigious hotels in St. Barts, this exclusive 15-villa luxury resort sits amid 28 lush acres of natural hills and beachfront. The private villas are spacious and airy, each having its own infinity-edge pool, and the views are jaw-dropping. The French restaurant is one of the island’s most renowned, and one of the many reasons celebrities come here to relax. Rates are nothing to sneeze at, but you’ll definitely receive the all-star treatment that should come with such a hefty price tag.
Oyster’s Favorite Villa Perk: Each villa includes freebies such as Wi-Fi, bottled water, and tea, but the best is the free breakfast served daily on white linen-topped tables on your private terrace.
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Perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, the sandy stretch at Turks and Caicos’s Grace Bay Club is practically unparalleled. The pale blue sky, that bright, clear, aquamarine ocean, and the dotted umbrellas along the shore make us yearn for a weekend getaway. Or is just helping us get through this gray Monday. So as we say every Monday, sit back, relax, and soak in the a.m. goodness that is Grace Bay Club.
Hi, ocean. We'd really like to splash in you right now.
Summer’s in full swing — in fact, it’s scaring us how quickly it’s flying by. (Insert sadface emoticon here.) So what better way to enjoy your summer to the fullest — and deal with the reality of the approaching fall — than to visit a happening bar on the beach? Whether you’re stateside or sunning yourself in the balmy Caribbean, there’s a hotel beach bar with your name on it. So stick your toes in the sand and order up a strong one: These seven spots will have you feeling good in seconds flat.
Beach Bar at the Gansevoort Turks and Caicos, a Wymara Resort
It doesn’t get much more beautiful than this. The beach bar at the Gansevoort is a casual spot largely used as a meet-up for lunch rather than a booze-fueled night. But of course guests can order up a margarita while enjoying fresh bites such as conch fritters and grilled red snapper tacos. Diners can munch under umbrellas on the deck, or take their meal directly to the sand with beachside waiter service. Fresh seafood, cocktails, attentive service, and unparalleled views of crystal clear water? You don’t have to twist our arm.
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A Destination Wedding in the D.R.
June is infamously known as wedding mayhem month. It seems like couples everywhere choose this month over any other to say their “I dos.” Even we couldn’t help but catch a little bit of the wedding bug and we’ve been doing our research. So if you happen to be planning a very last-minute wedding (perhaps a la Drew Barrymore, the mommy-to-be who tied the knot this past Saturday) or are just looking for some inspiration for your upcoming nuptials, we have all the details on where some of your favorite celebs wed. Some of the marriages may not have lasted through better or worse, but hey, at least the wedding was beautiful. Check out where stars like Megan Fox, Jennifer Garner, and Kelsey Grammer got hitched after the jump »
Now that the summer season is heating up, the beach feels within our grasp — even with this weekend’s dreary weather. But since the Northeast isn’t cutting it, we figured we’d flock to one of our favorite destinations of all-time: Turks & Caicos. And the Sands at Grace Bay is a top value pick: With a central location, the 114-room hotel offers solid, if not spectacular, amenities — a fitness center, a nice restaurant, two pools, and a long stretch of oceanfront — all at attractive rates. Factor in the generous guestroom size and furnished balconies and you’ve got yourself a sweet Monday Morning deal. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak in the goodness that is the Sands at Grace Bay.
The Beachside Pool at the Sands at Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands
Pool at the Gansevoort Turks and Caicos
It may not be summer officially, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t dreaming about it. And of course when we think of summer, we picture gorgeous pools (to swim in, lie out near, fill in the blank here.) So here’s some eye candy for all of you dreamers. We found 12 beautiful pools — with drool-worthy features to boot. Check ‘em out!