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Photography by Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa

Perched on southern Spain’s sun-drenched Costa del Sol, Marbella has long been a vacation destination for the wealthy and glamorous. More »

Photography by Hotel Cap Rocat

Hotel Cap Rocat bears only architectural similarity to its original purpose — a 19th-century military fort — but it does offer the same panoramic views of the Bay of Palma. More » 

Photography by Hotel Fasano Las Piedras

Portland Head Light

Portland, Maine: This quaint, coastal town will win your heart over with its charm and history. The endless restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques will have you coming back for more.
Photo credit: Jessica Menk

 

STAY

West End Inn

West End Inn
146 Pine Street
Portland, ME 04102

This modern, chic B&B is located in the West End neighborhood of Portland. The historic, tree-lined streets compliment the beauty of this area. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the waterfront. The breakfast is plentiful, fresh and well thought out. You’ll want to get the Maine blueberry pancakes … at least once.

 

EAT

Jays Lobster House

J’s Oyster
5 Portland Pier
Portland, ME 04101

Skip the touristy lobster spots and hang with the locals. Get the lobster roll sandwich (a Maine staple). Trust me, you won’t regret it. Your best bet is to grab a seat outside with a view of the wharf. (pictured to the right)

Gorgeous Gelato
Gorgeous Gelato
434 Fore Street
Portland, ME 04101

It’s a little taste of Italy in the heart of Old Port. I’ve never had gelato this fabulous before. You can taste the fresh ingredients. My top 3 flavors: mango, tiramisu and hazelnut. (pictured to the right)


Flatbread Company

72 Commercial Street, Ste 5
Portland, ME 04101

Flatbread Company is a great place to enjoy the weather while sipping on a local craft beer. Their artistry in organic ingredients create tasty pizzas. The atmosphere is quaint, and reflects the culture. They also have a love for animals, so dogs are welcome in their outside area

 

SHOP

K Collette

K Colette
100 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101

This boutique is filled with artfully selected housewares from lush Egyptian cotton bedding to rustic and nautical vintage finds. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to wander around and get inspired. (pictured to the right)


Merchant Co. Handmade Vintage Goods

656 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101

On the walk from the West End side of town, stop at The Merchant Company for unique handmade items. This adorable store showcases local items such as invitations, housewares, jewelry and more! Located in the Arts District.


RELAX

Novare Res Bier Café
4 Canal Plaza
Portland, ME 04101

This bar is a must-find for craft beer seekers in downtown Portland. They have extensive offerings of fairly priced drafts and bottles. Their bartenders are knowledgeable and will happily steer you toward something you’ll enjoy. It’s a little tricky to find, but ask around and don’t give up your quest! With their wine menu and food offerings they aim to please everyone, including those who aren’t hopheads and beer geeks.


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Barcelona

Barcelona is Spain’s coolest and most modern city. Tourists pour from every corner of the world to experience the town’s vibrant nightlife, excellent cuisine, beautiful Gothic and one-of-a-kind Modernist architecture, and cutting-edge design scene. This — and the great Mediterranean climate — means you might find crowds wherever you go, but it’ll be worth it for sites like the bizarre Sagrada Familia cathedral, world-class MACBA museum, hopping Barri Gotic neighborhood, and unusual Parc Guell. Plus, the Catalonia capital is arguably one of the top party destinations in Spain (along with Madrid and Ibiza Island).

The luxurious Majestic Hotel & Spa has a prime location, steps from designer shops and Gaudi monuments. All rooms are spacious with modern bathrooms; suites offer views over Passeig de Gracia, and some have private terraces and 24-hour personalized service. Another luxury option, which nonetheless offers a solid value, is Hotel Icaria Barcelona. It doesn’t boast the location of the Majestic Hotel, but it offers a large, sunny fitness center, a rooftop pool, and stylish rooms. Acevi Villarroel, which also often offers reasonable rates, has family-friendly features such as family-size suites, a breakfast buffet, and a quiet location in a residential neighborhood.

Rio de Janeiro

Host to the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro is continuing to grow as a tourist destination and its beaches are a major draw. Practically year-round, beaches are crowded with visitors and locals. The beaches not only provide a space for lounging, surfing, and swimming, but also hang-gliding and para-gliding — popular sports in Rio de Janeiro due to its high mountains and good wind conditions. Visitors wishing to stay near the beaches typically choose the South Zone (Zona Sul), which is home to the majority of the city’s hotels. Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel sits right across the street from the beach in Copacabana. This hotel features clean, simple rooms and great views – even from the fitness center.

The uber-luxurious Relais & Chateaux Santa Teresa is located (as the name suggests) in Santa Teresa, a beautiful, historic area with gorgeous old buildings, museums, historic sites, and art galleries, about a 20-minute drive away from Rio’s beaches. This historic-mansion-turned-boutique-hotel on a former coffee plantation features gorgeous tropical décor, a lovely spa, and a rooftop pool with amazing views.

- Oyster.com Staff

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Nicaragua

Nicaragua is still a diamond in the rough, but it offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife. Other draws? The great surfing, charming Spanish Colonial towns, enormous lakes, low crime rates, and friendly locals. With the opening of the rustic-luxe Aqua Wellness Resort in 2011 and the uber-luxuriousMukul earlier this year, the country is poised to become the next tourism hot spot. The country is already popular with the backpacker and adventure travel crowd, just as Costa Rica was before it saw an explosion of resort development.

Those planning a getaway to Central America should note that there are a few advantages to traveling to Nicaragua over Costa Rica. Nicaragua has much more Spanish Colonial history and charm, with historic churches and plazas in the towns of Granada and Leon. Because it is relatively undiscovered compared to Costa Rica, it also offers a more authentic experience — visitors might see locals riding horses and carts through the streets, fruit stands selling unripe mangoes and jocotes (tart snacks popular among the Nicaraguans), and one of the country’s many lively street festivals. Plus, prices for just about everything, including food and transportation, tend to be far cheaper.

- Oyster.com Staff

In honor of The Great Gatsby film release, step back into the opulent Jazz Age with a visit to New York’s iconic landmark hotel, The Plaza. This historic hotel is celebrating Baz Luhrmann’s eagerly awaited film adaptation of The Great Gatsby with a collection of Gatsby-inspired experiences. The setting for one of the book’s most climatic scenes, The Plaza was also a well-known haunt of the author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda — so much so that it has been said Ernest Hemingway once advised Fitzgerald to give his “liver to Princeton and his heart to The Plaza.”

If you’re truly gaga for Gatsby, for a mere $2,795 you can spend a night in the Fitzgerald Suite that pays homage to its famous patron. Designed by one of the film’s set designers and co-producers, this 700-square-foot suite is filled with period-inspired pieces and artifacts from the film’s production, like Tom Buchanan’s sporting trophies lining the walls. Make yourself a gin martini or mint julep from the suite’s built-in bar and escape into the 1920s with Fitzgerald’s complete collection of works, all at hand in the room’s library.

If your budget is less than Gatsby-esque, you can still get into the spirit at The Plaza.  The Palm Court’s “Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages” tips a hat to the Jazz Age with 1920s-inspired plates like Pate de Fruit with Gin Rickey Sugar. The Todd English Food Hall honors Gatsby with “prohibited” cocktails like “Silver Peppered Stars,” made with Hendrick’s Gin, house-made orange bitters and French vermouth.  The hotel’s iconic Champagne Bar is transformed into a Moët Pop-Up Bar, offering a special cocktail called the “Moët Imperial Gatsby,” with green chartreuse and a sugar cube. And you can dance off all that gin and champagne with the live jazz bands at The Rose Club’s “Gatsby Hour” on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

After you’ve partied like Gatsby, recover from the previous evening’s celebrations (hello, roaring headache) with a “Caudalie Grape Gatsby” custom treatment at The Plaza’s Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa. Daisy would approve.

For more Gatsby-inspired extravagance, check out our Travel Like The Great Gatsby slideshow and relive the Jazz Age decadence … without the hangover.

Because of its status as the seat of the government, DC boasts more landmarks than any city in the country (save New York). Most of them sit along the 2-mile-long rectangle known as the National Mall, bookended by the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol building. The monuments and memorials, named for America’s greatest heroes (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln) and some of its bloodiest wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam), are most tourists’ starting points. Also high up on the list: the incomparable Smithsonian museums. Nowhere else in the country can you visit so many world-class institutions without dropping a dime.

It’s also worth spending some time outside the Mall. Georgetown is a pretty spot for a stroll, and visitors also enjoy a walk along the Potomac River. Both the luxury brands Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton have hotels in Georgetown. The Four Seasons is within walking distance of great shopping, and the hotel’s spa is enormous (and beautiful). The Ritz, located in an historic industrial building, is a lovely boutique option with elegant, spacious rooms. Visitors looking for a more budget-conscious option (that still has nice rooms and solid amenities) may consider Hotel Madera in Dupont Circle.

- Oyster.com Staff

Courtesy of Grace Hotels

As the weather starts to warm up, we thought we’d do a quick round up of the best pools around the world to take a dip in. Yes, it might be an expensive journey to swim a few laps in a pool located in Santorini or the Maldives, but we’re all about inspiring people to travel.

Take a few minutes to imagine yourself and someone special on a Spring Fling at the Ubud Hanging Gardens’ pool in Bali, surrounded by a lush rainforest, or image yourself hugging the edge of InterContinental Hotel’s infinity pool overlooking Hong Kong’s harbor. Get your feet wet and submerge yourself into our collection of perfect pools.

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