It may not be the Caribbean, but with this view, who on the San Juan Islands could complain about it?
An “island getaway” doesn’t necessarily translate into washing up on the shores of the Caribbean. Plenty of other islands in the U.S. boast the same laid-back, secluded feel that you can find in Barbados or Jamaica, but often come at a fraction of those sky-high all-inclusive rates; you’ll at least save some cash on airfare! For perhaps unconventional, but nonetheless awesome, island stays, check out our top picks for value, sun, and fun!
Thousands of spring breakers, honeymooners, older couples, families and young groups of friends flow into Cancun every year, making it one of the world’s top beach destinations. Its turquoise waters, beautiful stretches of sand, and night-long parties are a main draw here, but there’s plenty of culture to be had as well. We’ve found just the spot to stay for almost every kind of traveler, so whether you plan on bringing the kids along or hope to have a romantic getaway, Oyster has a hotel for you. We brought them to you all week on Captivate elevator screens, so see the full roundup below!
Excellence Playa Mujeres
This adults-only luxury resort offers a nice all-inclusive experience with tons of variety. There are multiple dining options, several beautiful pools, a gorgeous spa with great treatments for couples, and dozens of wonderful activities perfect for unwinding with your significant other.
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We can’t help but get a little nostalgic when thinking of Disney World; after all, it’s where dreams come true! And whether you’re six or sixty, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears never looked so good as when you’re spinning in a teacup or roaming the theme park grounds, cotton candy in hand. However, one thing that decades of Disney experience can change is where you want to stay on the massive property. A resort with a pool teeming with tots, waterslides, and floaties? Great for families, not so fab for couples looking for a bit of romance — you catch our drift. So we’ve done some digging into Disney’s digs and have found the resorts that’ll best suit all types of Disney-bound Disney fanatics. Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway or a family vacation, Disney World can be just the spot to relax, reconnect — and most importantly – have the time of your life. So without further adieu, first up: Disney for families.
Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.
Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most unique resorts — and is arguably the best option for families looking to have highly-entertained tots. Though it’s a bit more removed from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties, the resort is adjacent to the Animal Kingdom theme park and features a massive pool, a playground, a great kids’ club, and numerous free activities — such as cookie decorating and African drumming — throughout the day. Older children can enjoy the on-site arcade.
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Some destinations always come to mind when people think of beach getaways: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Miami’s South Beach, and the crowded sands in Cancun. Some spots, however, are often overlooked and it makes them that much better. Fewer people, untouched nature, you name it; underrated beach destinations are hidden gems that can be just what you’re looking for. Check out our list of nine underrated beach destinations — and make a trip before the secret is out!
Vieques Island is surrounded by gorgeous, clear waters.
This unique little island offers travelers pure, undeveloped land, mainly thanks to the US Navy’s former use of a good portion of the island. The Navy left in 2003, however, and the land it once occupied is now a national wildlife refuge. Tourists to Puerto Rico often don’t leave the mainland as it takes an extra puddle-jumper to get to Vieques and there are few tourist attractions. Instead, attractions are nature-oriented: The island’s stunning, untouched white-sand beaches and famous bioluminescent bay are the highlights, but it also features walking trails, 300-year-old trees, and some of the top snorkeling spots in the country.
Where to Stay: The quaint Inn on the Blue Horizon is a smaller, more affordable option compared to the nearby W Vieques. The inn features phenomenal ocean views, pretty Mediterranean-style architecture, and wild horses roaming the grounds.
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It’s time to get your spring break plans in order, and if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, the Caribbean is a prime destination. But with thousands of islands (although only a few dozen are inhabited) to choose from, that doesn’t narrow things down much. That’s why we at Oyster have created an A to Z (well, actually, an A to V) guide to the Caribbean, so choosing your island and resort will be a piece of cake. First stop: Anguilla.
The boutique Anacaona has two pools.
Anguilla is a tiny British territory that covers fewer than 40 square miles and is a popular spot for couples and celebs (Sofia Vergara went on a girls’ trip to the island) due to its small size and upscale vibe. Visitors must either fly to St. Martin and take a short ferry to the island, or fly in directly (by way of a small seaplane) from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thus, getting to the island can be pricey. So once you’re there, we’d recommend staying at the boutique Anacaona in the island’s West End. Though its not quite as luxe as the CuisinArt or Viceroy, it offers access to the same gorgeous white-sand beach as the neighboring Viceroy – through an off-property path — as well as to the nearby Greg Norman’s golf course and a few restaurants, and its prices are considerably lower. With two small pools, a great restaurant serving Caribbean fare with a twist, and a massage hut on the beach, the hotel is a good pick for value.
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Spring break is fast approaching — thank goodness! We’re ready to say “goodbye” to the blizzards, tornadoes, you name it, of this winter and “hello” to fun in the sun. Well, plenty of fun in the sun can be found in Miami, where thousands of college spring breakers choose to spend their week off. But whether you’re a crazy co-ed, or of a more sophisticated crowd, there’s a spot for you in scene-y Miami. And why visit Miami if you’re not going to stay in South Beach? [Ed. note: There are actually plenty of reasons why one would choose to stay somewhere like Coral Gables or Fisher Island instead, but Spring Break in South Beach has a nice ring to it, right?] So we’ve hand-picked hotels for every kind of spring breaker: Want a 90%* chance of spotting a celeb? Want to party all night and sleep all day? Want to bring the whole family along? We have a spot for you.
Our Pick for Celebrity Sightings: Delano Hotel
Catch Bradley's eye at the Delano Hotel.
It’s harder to think of celebs who haven’t stayed at the Delano than those who have. Everyone from George Clooney to Beyonce, Sandra Bullock to Matthew McConaughey, Chris Rock to Justin Timberlake have all called the Delano home, at least for a night or two. The most recent sightings to add to the roster? Less than two weeks ago, Gerard Butler (sigh), Leonardo DiCaprio (double sigh), Bradley Cooper (triple sigh), and even Mel Gibson (uh, not so much) were spotted dining together at the hotel’s Bianca restaurant before heading downstairs to the FDR nightclub.
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It’s true that every traveler is unique, and our mission at Oyster is to find the best hotel for each one’s specific needs. But most travelers can agree on one thing: wanting the best hotel for the lowest possible price. And we can certainly help with that, too. We used some database wizardry to discover the least expensive four- and five-pearl hotels on Oyster, and layered on our editorial expertise to select which of those were also truly awesome hotels. The result? Take a look!
- Price: $110 and up
- Pearls: 4
Hotel St. Francis, Santa Fe
This 81-room upscale boutique, housed in a historic building two blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza, underwent a complete renovation in 2011 and now features simple, mission-style decor inspired by the principles of St. Francis of Assisi. The elegant, minimalist rooms have original wood floors, sturdy wood furniture made by local artisans, and a color scheme of gray and white — but, as in many historic buildings, they’re small. The hotel features a fine dining restaurant serving New Mexican cuisine, as well as a bar, with outdoor seating available, that offers appetizers and cocktails. But there’s no pool or Jacuzzi, and guests will have to pay a daily fee for parking. If a pool is a priority, consider the nearby Inn and Spa at Loretto. Read More »
The Inn at the Round Barn Farm is one of the most romantic spots in Vermont.
If there’s one word that describes Vermont, it’s scenic. Winding roads along rolling hills allow for wonderful vistas of tumbling streams, lovely villages and superb trails amid thick woods and state forests. And tucked into this picturesque landscape are some of the coziest B&Bs we’ve ever seen. Featuring wonderful fireplaces and historic details, these gorgeous stays come with delicious meals and warm, homey ambiances. So prepare yourself, because you’re going to want to bed up and mug down at our favorites after viewing this slideshow.
The Amee Farm, tucked into Vermont's Green Mountains, is a rustically elegant spot to say "I do."
With its warm, urban-chic vibe, Amee Farm isn’t a typical B&B. This 40-acre property nestled in the Green Mountains has just 15 rooms, its own organic garden, and interiors that look straight out of a design magazine. With a near-perfect combination of rustic, quaint, and stylish touches, rooms feature wide-planked hardwood floors, comfortable beds with white, and soft linens, and interesting antiques can be found throughout the hotel. Another perk here is the inviting wrap-around porch with Adirondack chairs for admiring the scenery. And if there’s one word that describes Vermont, it’s ‘scenic.’ Winding roads along rolling hills allow for wonderful vistas of tumbling streams, lovely villages and superb trails amid thick woods and state forests. All in all, the farm is truly one of the most luxurious and special hotels in Vermont.
Weddings at Amee Farm are elegant and unique, held in either the barn or throughout the property’s stunning grounds. The farm’s owners are extremely hands-on, working with couples to create a rustically-chic celebration, many of which last three days. The estate can host a tented event on the grounds or an indoor affair in one of six refurbished barns, renovated with modern conveniences while still maintaining the rustic ambiance. Weddings are fully customizable, with a dedicated on-site staff, including a wedding coordinator, ensuring that every detail runs seamlessly. Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Amee Farm here »
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Winter may be firmly upon us now in the Northeast, but that doesn’t mean we have to write off warm weather entirely. The Caribbean isn’t too far away (especially for us East Coasters), and some island hotels are featuring wonderfully affordable rates this time of year. You may have to forgo a few luxuries to stay on budget, but designer toiletries are highly overrated, right? So pack your bags and get ready to hit the beach for a few days — or a few weeks! Oyster has the skinny on the Caribbean’s best value stays.
Dive right into the Caribbean Sea from your room at the Rockhouse.
The Rockhouse is a lush, laid-back Jamaican resort offering gourmet dining, morning yoga, a premium spa, and best of all, a gorgeous cliff-side location on Negril‘s coast. Sure, there’s no fitness center and rooms lack TVs and Wi-Fi, but its unplugged vibe is just why some guests come. Plus, with rates usually falling below $200, it’s a steal compared to similar resorts — such as the slightly chicer Caves — in the area. (NB: Children under 12 are not allowed on the property.)