Vancouver

The Golden Age of Hollywood has come and gone. While Los Angeles once had a firm grip on all film-related business — movie and television alike — the industry has expanded well beyond the Hollywood Hills. In the last forty years especially, we’ve seen emerging markets in Louisiana, Toronto, and Atlanta increasingly cut into La-La Land’s share of the filming world. Where Hollywood once hosted a commanding 64 percent of the live-action films being made in the early 2000s, today that figure has dropped to around eight percent, according to a study by FilmLA. It’s a big departure from the norm — and it is only good news for people looking to get their fifteen minutes in front of the camera. We’ve rounded up the top six destinations outside of Los Angeles for aspiring actors to book their first gig, or adoring fans to potentially score some time as an extra. And we’ve included some movie star-worthy accommodations in each spot as well.

1. New York City 

nyc

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in reality NYC only became a film industry hot spot in the 1970s when prolific directors Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen shifted their films’ focus to the Big Apple. Since then, NYC has become the clear challenger to Los Angeles’ filming supremacy. Just this year, NYC officially surpassed Hollywood for the number of TV pilots filmed in town, with Vancouver, Toronto, and Atlanta slowly creeping up behind the two industry giants. This week alone HBO’s Martin Scorcese-directed drama The Long Play begins filming its pilot in the city, as do over sixty other returning network programs. USA’s White Collar, CBS’s Person of Interest, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, and HBO’s Girls are just some of the projects currently in play across the five boroughs. Plus, NYC has one thing Los Angeles doesn’t when it comes to acting: the Great White Way. For actors looking to pursue a career on stage, there is nowhere else to be but Broadway. Daniel Radcliffe and Neil Patrick Harris are both currently headlining shows, and Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston just wrapped All the Way, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play.

Stay: Mercer Hotel

The Mercer‘s 75 loft-style guest rooms, beautiful staff, personalized service and swanky SoHo location make it a go-to choice for celebrities and other fashionable members of the entertainment industry — from Leonardo DiCaprio, to fashion designer Calvin Klein, to oddball rock star Marilyn Manson, to Russell Crowe (who made headlines in 2005 for allegedly throwing a telephone at a Mercer check-in clerk). If you want to stay in a movie star-approved hotel, you can’t do much better. 

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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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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.

Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve

Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature.

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Hurricane season is upon us, and weather experts are predicting that 2013 is going to be a doozy. But even if you can’t stop extreme weather from happening, at least you can protect yourself on your vacation — provided you pick a vacation destination that is reliably hurricane-free. Here are some top-notch options, as well as great places to stay while you’re there.

Lake Tahoe, California

Though Lake Tahoe may sometimes get serious snowstorms, the cold waters along the California coast mean that hurricanes almost never make landfall in the state (only two have hit in the last 100 years). When they do hit, it’s typically Southern California that is most affected instead. Lake Tahoe safely sits in northern California, where it has 300 days of sun a year and plenty of great year-round vacation activities — swimming, boating, and hiking in the summer, and skiing in the winter.

Lake Tahoe gets 300 days of sunshine a year.

Oyster.com Hotel Pick: Franciscan Lakeside Lodge

This cluster of cabins right on the lake makes a great value pick. While some rooms are tucked across the street from the lake in a darker, tree-covered area, the lakefront cottages have excellent views and open to the sandy beach and a private pier where guests can swim and play in privacy. Kitchenettes make dining in (and saving money) easy. And the heated outdoor pool (open seasonally) is said to be the largest in North Lake Tahoe.

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Romantic Eco-Friendly Stays

by Devon on May 16, 2013

The Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa is just one of our favorite eco stays!

For eco-minded couples, choosing the right getaway means finding a spot that pleases both your partner and Mother Earth. Some couples opt for an au natural vibe on their trips, while others just want to practice a clean-conscience approach to travel. For those who love tree-hugging just as much as they snuggling up with that special someone, we’ve found the best hotels for environmentally-friendly duos who don’t want to skimp on the romance.

 

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One Bal Harbour Resort bathrooms have some of the best views in the Miami.

Some people prefer to read a magazine in the restroom, but we’d much rather gaze out over a stunning view. There’s nothing we love more than exotic sights, no matter where we’re taking in the view — the shower, tub, or elsewhere. From Hong Kong to Miami, Boston to Barcelona, here are our favorite hotel views from the best seat in the house.

 

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San Francisco's Chinatown stands ready to celebrate the Spring Festival.

In just a week, Chinese New Year kicks off! And we want to give you plenty of notice so you can start planning how — and where — you’ll celebrate. Also known as the Spring Festival, this holiday consists of two weeks of feasting, lion dances, lantern lighting, and much more. After all, it is the most important holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar, so festivities necessitate indulgence. Millions of people around the world will celebrate with gorgeous decorations, rich foods, and stunning firework displays — and we here at Oyster can’t wait to get in on the action at some of our favorite Chinatowns around the globe. We’ve got you covered on where to ring in the Year of the Snake, but no matter where you choose to kick things off, Oyster wishes you a prosperous new year or, as they say in Mandarin, Gong Xi Fa Cai! Read More »

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Before "Here Comes the Bride" comes the proposal.

There’s nothing we love more than discovering exclusive services at our favorite hotels. (Why, yes! Foofers and I would love a pawlm reading from your in-house pet psychic!) Though some of these services may be a tad over-the-top, others provide truly unique experiences for their guests — that can be helpful, too! One of our favorite one-of-a-kind guest services comes by way of the Proposal Planner at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver — and she’s not there for your business meeting. As the only  hotel “Engagement Concierge” in Canada, and possibly the world, Kristie Kent is a dream-come-true for any hopeful-grooms needing some help with popping the question.

We recently sat down with Kent, officially called the Fairmont’s Special Event, Wedding, and Proposal Planner, to talk everything engagement and wedding-related. Since taking on the prestigious position, Kent has worked alongside her clients to create completely unique experiences by customizing the hotel’s proposal packages. Options start at just $200, but can go up to $11,000-plus with options such as the “Rock Star” package, which includes a chauffeur-driven BMW, a jeweler visit with a personal shopper, and a candlelit dinner on the rooftop terrace of the Owner’s Suites (a.k.a. the “Rock Star Suite”). The hotel also offers a la carte options for proposals, with romantic amenities such as horse-drawn carriages, private sunset cruises, spa treatments, and more. Check out our interview after the jump. Read More »

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Seattle may be known as the home of grunge rock, Starbucks coffee, and grey skies, but that doesn’t mean its residents are grim. In fact, the city has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire country; and has both beautiful scenery and a bangin’ nightlife scene. But should locals (or visitors!) need a day off the java or a weekend without rain, there are plenty of nearby places to check out. The best part — each of these three trips takes less than three hours to drive, meaning if you only have one day to spend outside of Seattle, you can do it up right. So pack your bags, slather on some SPF (hey, you can burnt when there are clouds!) and hop in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Seattle to San Juan Islands, WA

  • Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 104 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking for an island escape that doesn’t require a transcontinental flight.
San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands offer Seattlites a quick break from city life.

The Outlook Inn

The Outlook Inn offers amazing views from its perch on Orca Island.

Bird Rock Hotel

The Bird Rock Hotel is within walking distance of the ferry landing.

The San Juan Islands (a collection of around 800; 600 of the isles are unnamed) are a popular summer getaway for Washingtonians, and have a relaxed, back-to-nature vibe; expect farmlands, evergreen forests, nature trails, whale-watching, and mom-and-pop shops. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife spotting (whale-watching in particular is common, and the Shark Reef trail on Lopez Island leads to a harbor seal hangout), sailing, and kayaking. For those days when it does rain, the islands have several wineries, farms, and museums. Although properties are more intimate than luxurious, the Outlook Inn is a romantic boutique that boasts killer views of Eastsound from almost anywhere you can stand. Service is incredibly personalized, and perks like free Wi-Fi and fresh food from an on-site cafe make this hotel a choice pick. Those with slimmer budgets should check out the Bird Rock Hotel, a charming, 15-room no-frills B&B. The hotel’s central location, though, is definitely the highlight — just a block from the ferry landing, and within walking distance to plenty of shopping and dining in downtown Friday Harbor.

  • Top Driving Tip: In peak season (summer), the ferries fill up fast — so you’ll need to arrive early in order to ensure you get on board, as the lines can take hours to get through. You can find the latest ferry schedule here.

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Everyone promised that you would have skiing down in no time, right? Instead, you got stuck on the “Magic Carpet” and could barely manage the “pizza” while ski-clad tots were gracefully whizzing past you. Trust us, we’ve been there. But after many failed attempts at tricky ski maneuvers like getting off the ski-lift without face planting, we’ve learned a new trick: how to find the coolest non-skiing activities in ski towns. In fact, ski towns have a lot more to offer than just the slopes — we promise! So for those of you who got roped into a ski-centric vacation, check out our favorite non-skier activities in nine ski destinations below.

Vail

The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort

The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort

Ice-skate: If you’d rather not hit the slopes, ice-skating is a great way to still get outdoors and get your heart rate pumping. There is an ice-skating rink right out the front door of The Arrabelle in Vail Square, with views of the slopes, the village, and the massive Christmas tree.

The Sebastian - Vail

The Sebastian - Vail

Go on a Dogsled Tour: While your friends are out enjoying the fresh powder on the slopes, you can be too — but in the comfort of a horse, er, dog-drawn sleigh. Winterhawk Dogsled Adventures runs daily tours in Alaskan husky-drawn sleds; the basic tour explores the expansive grounds of the historic 4 Eagle Ranch, while adventure tours run across more remote terrain at a higher altitude. The concierge at The Sebastian can arrange a tour for you, even ahead of your stay.

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