Belize, a small country in Central America that shares a border with Mexico and Guatemala, is known for its lush rainforests and Mayan ruins. But it’s most famous for its snorkeling and scuba diving, which are among the best in the world: The barrier reef off shore is second only to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and visitors can see turtles (both green and leatherback), nurse sharks, stingrays, and a variety of tropical fish. Divers swarm the Blue Hole, a large sinkhole. The waters are clear and warm, but as in other reef destinations, the beaches are manmade; the reef prevents the breaking waves that create natural sand, and the seaweed can make swimming close to shore difficult.
Most tourists head to the Northern Cayes and Atolls, a string of small islands along the reef, where visitors will be a short boat ride away from world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. The Grand Caribe is a luxe family-friendly option in the area. Decor is high-end, and includes Brazilian tile floors, mahogany wood, and granite countertops. Plus, all units have private terraces with pretty pool or ocean views.
The inland Cayo District is the second most visited area, and home to beautiful countryside, lush rainforests, and perhaps the most impressive Mayan ruins in the country. When Prince Harry visited the area last year, he stayed at the rustic luxe Lodge at Chaa Creek. This eco-lodge sits on a private rainforest reserve, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. The more affordable Pook’s Hill also sits on a reserve, and offers on-site river tubing and bird watching.
- Oyster.com Staff
Photo credit: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
Dubai is home to an impressive list of record-setting attractions, including the world’s largest mall, man-made island, amusement park, indoor ski resort and flower garden … just to name a few! Last Wednesday, Dubai got to officially add the world’s tallest hotel to its list of superlative feats when the new JW Marriott Marquis Dubai opened.
Anthony travels to the tourist town of Negril, Jamaica, in hopes of fixing the issues plaguing the beautiful Gardenia Resort.
Anthony’s attempts to capitalize on the nearly 3 million visitors Jamaica gets every year. The Gardenia Resort’s current occupancy rate is at a shockingly low 5%, and the owner, Carlyle, is behind on his lease payments.
Anthony instantly becomes frustrated when the front desk agent tells him to do his own research to find local activities. After calming down, Anthony sets his sights on the dark and dreary lobby and his depressing room.
After his initial walkthrough, Anthony turns to interior designer Blanche Garcia to help brighten up the lobby and some of the guest rooms.
Finally, Anthony attempts to break the resort’s general manager out of his timid, soft-spoken shell by taking him on a field trip to Rick’s Cafe for some cliff jumping.
Will Anthony’s effort to transform Richard into a strong leader be enough to elevate the Gardenia Resort to the top echelon of Jamaica hotels? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 10|9c.
Plus, don’t forget to check out exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from Anthony’s trip to the Gardenia Resort.
Ireland’s best-known nickname is the Emerald Isle, and one visit there will make it abundantly clear why: Ireland’s landscape is defined by rolling hills, dramatic green cliffs and lush forests. The country is also deservedly famous for its stunning coastal scenery, and the many famous outlooks include the Causway Coast, the Cliffs of Moher and Ballinskelligs Bay along the Ring of Kerry.
Ireland has a long, rich history, and many visitors are enchanted by its mystical Celtic past: It’s still possible to see beehive huts that once housed pre-Christian settlers; Druid stone circles; Iron Age stone forts; and gorgeous old castles. Visitors can even stay in historic castles during their visit. On a stunning lakefront, Ashford Castle was first built in the 13th century and today hosts plenty of celebrity guests. The Schoolhouse Hotel is more than 500 years younger than Ashford Castle, but it nonetheless has an historic vibe, housed in a building from the 1800s. This Dublin boutique features classic rooms with antiques, floral prints and canopy beds. If you’re looking for value, the Arlington Hotel , within a short walk of Temple Bar, is a popular choice among young travelers, and offers perks such as free Wi-Fi.
- Oyster.com Staff
Jamaica is a popular Caribbean getaway, and not just for college spring breakers seeking the nonstop all-inclusive booze-fest (which can easily be found). There’s also a different Jamaica: brilliant reggae, delicious jerk chicken from oil-drum pans, rugged cliffs, blue lagoons and overwhelmingly pleasant locals.
Parts of Jamaica are very easy (and thus relatively inexpensive) to get to. Visitors can fly directly into Montego Bay, which balances some of Jamaica’s classic luxury escapes, such as Round Hill Hotel, which features large, beautifully designed rooms by Ralph Lauren and breathtaking grounds, with more affordable all-inclusives, like the Iberostar, offering endless amenities (if a rowdier crowd).
With smaller-scale relaxation and better beaches, Negril is a bit out of the way (2 hours from the airport), but the drive is well worth it. Off the beach, bohemian bungalows like the Rockhouse Hotel, Tensing Pen, and the Caves are tucked among lush vines on limestone cliffs about 30 feet above the profoundly clear water.
- Oyster.com Staff
Los Angeles has a reputation for being a company town, a place where everything revolves around the entertainment industry. Show business is indeed a huge part of the city, and it’s there for visitors to enjoy, from tours of movie studio back lots to celebrity sightings. But LA has so much more to offer. Scratch beneath the celluloid surface and you’ll also find rich cultural and culinary diversity, a thriving visual arts scene, and natural beauty, from beaches and mountains to great parks and un-Botoxed faces.
Hollywood and West Hollywood are great for both families and party people. Many of the city’s best known nightclubs, bars, and music venues are in the area, some within trendy hotels like the Hollywood Roosevelt. For families, proximity to major attractions like the Walk of Fame and Universal Studios Theme Park, coupled with some affordable, unpretentious hotels, like the Magic Castle, make Hollywood a great base camp.
Not surprisingly, true luxury can be had in Beverly Hills at large, iconic, amenity-filled properties like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. There are also small, affordable boutique properties, like the Luxe Rodeo Drive, for those who want to spend less on their hotel and more on haute couture.
- Oyster.com Staff
Host city of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Although summer is its busiest season, there are plenty of outdoor adventures for visitors at any time of year. And even though it’s in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, the compact downtown center has a surprisingly diverse offering of restaurants.
Don’t let the name “Lake Placid” fool you; the actual lake is a couple miles away. Instead, the village of Lake Placid lies on the shores of Mirror Lake. Some of the state’s best mountains are found here, making it a popular winter ski spot, while summer brings travelers who want to swim or boat. Impressive fall foliage also makes it a destination for leaf peepers.
Overlooking Mirror Lake, High Peaks Resort is one of the most luxe and extensive resorts in the area. Mere moments from all of Main Street’s offerings, this 133-room resort manages to feel both central and secluded at the same time. There’s plenty to keep guests occupied on-site, including the Aveda Concept Salon and Spa, 4 pools, a lakefront area with free use of kayaks and a modern fitness center. It lacks the private beach access and the 45 holes of golf that the Crowne Plaza offers, however. If you’re looking for value, the Best Western is a great bet. Though some areas are in need of renovations, this family-owned spot features a cozy lobby, free breakfast, and amenities such as an indoor pool, a fitness center and a game room.
- Oyster.com Staff
Last season on Hotel Impossible, Anthony traveled around the country to help struggling, underperforming hotels get back on their feet. Join Anthony as he returns to The Dude Rancher Lodge, La Jolla Cove Suites, The Purple Orchid Resort and Spa, Ocean Manor Resort, New Yorker Boutique Hotel and The Dream Inn to track their recent progress — from exciting room renovations to surprising staff changes.
Did the struggling valet service at the Ocean Manor resort in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, get their act together? Were the owners of the Dude Rancher Lodge in Billings, MT, able to overcome their financial struggles? Were the owners of the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore, CA, able to raise their occupancy rate from an abysmal 8%? Find out all the answers to these questions and more with a very special episode of Hotel Impossible, tonight @ 10|9c.
Plus, check out exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the After Anthony special.
Last week, it appears that our Pinterest fans were wanderlusting after the glassy, cool water of a private pool at one of the 130 secluded villas at the One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. Looking at the photo, it’s hard not to imagine yourself standing there, at the edge of the pool, set against the backdrop of powdery white sand, lush green palm trees and the clear water of the Indian Ocean.
Unfortunately, you better break open that piggy bank and book your trip soon — if sea levels continue to rise, the Republic of Maldives will be the first country to disappear into the ocean. In fact, that’s exactly why a luxurious visit to this chain of islands and atolls was my pick for our TravelChannel.com editors’ bucket list.
Anthony is hitting the beaches of New Jersey in an attempt to revamp the Cape May’s Periwinkle Inn. Although the grounds seem to be in tip-top shape, other parts of the struggling 50-room inn are in major need of some adjustments.
Along with HGTV’s Casey Noble, Anthony and his crew spend some time with the owners of the hotel in order to decide how to redesign the lobby. After removing what looks like bulletproof glass from the front desk, Anthony puts Casey to work in an attempt to make the hotel’s guests feel more comfortable at check-in.
One of the owners, Claudia — dubbed “Miss Excuse” by Anthony — takes Anthony’s criticism the wrong way and leaves the hotel for the day. Saving a hotel is no easy task; tempers flare, name-calling ensues and sometimes the owners need to take some time to cool off.Will Claudia return with a more positive outlook? Will Anthony be able to put the struggling inn back on the map? Find out tonight, Jan. 28 at 10|9c on an all-new Hotel Impossible.
Plus, don’t forget to check out these exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from tonight’s episode.