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Jamaica Hotels

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 HotelTensing Pen, and the Caves are tucked among lush vines on limestone cliffs about 30 feet above the profoundly clear water.

- Oyster.com Staff

Whether you’re facing your fears, getting out of your comfort zone, or trying new things, traveling can be full of challenges. From losing their luggage, traveling for the first time, or even falling in love, travel bloggers this week share some of their most challenging experiences and why you should go for it anyway.

It seems like no matter how much we plan our travels beforehand, something is always bound to go wrong. Luckily, Vagabondish lists their 5 tips on preparing for the unexpected, so you’ll be able to handle whatever unlucky situation is thrown at you.

For a beginner traveler, the thought of going to a foreign country can be a bit daunting. Check out Unbravegirl’s post to find out what gave her the push she needed to start seeing the world!

Reading the recent criticisms of cruises might have you hesitant to jump aboard, but Emma’s Travel Tales explains why cruises should not be dismissed — it’s just as authentic as any other travel experience, plus it’s safer than crossing the street in NYC!

A starry-eyed heroine travels to a foreign country and finds the love of her life … Perhaps the plot of one too many novels and films, but does it actually happen? Find out if falling in love abroad is everything it’s cracked up to be in in Youngadventuress’s post about her own experience in Spain.

The words luxury and hiking don’t typically go hand in hand, but Ottsworld found this improbable mix. Located at the base of the Torres Del Pain Park in Chile, Ecocamp provides the best of both worlds with environmentally responsible tent-like furnished lodgings, guided hiking programs and solar-powered toilets — ideal for those who don’t like roughing it.

For more travel inspiration, check out This Week in Photos!

Hilton Head

This island city, located off of South Carolina’s southeastern corner, is known as one of the best spots to vacation on the East Coast, but don’t mistake its panache for pretentiousness. This resort town is laid back, boasting calm public beaches and low-key seafood eateries.

Most of Hilton Head’s attractions are outdoors. Its championship golf courses have long been its claim to fame, but tennis and horseback riding are also big draws. Boating is a core part of the island’s history and lifestyle, and almost any type of boat is available for charter, from yachts to sailboats to fishing boats. Boaters have a great chance of spotting dolphins (sightings on dolphin tours are almost guaranteed), and everyone should make a point to see the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse. Local forest preserves offer plenty of wildlife to observe, including snowy egret, otters, wild boars, and, if you’re up for it, even alligators.

Hilton Head has historically attracted an upscale crowd. Today, it’s a destination for the middle class as well, and has become a hot spot for families with young children. As a result, visitors will find ritzy, world-class hotels, affordable condo rentals, and kid-friendly resort options all on the same island. For those looking for that upscale vibe, The Inn at Harbour Town is located on a luxe property with 3 championship golf courses, as well as numerous tennis courts. Though the hotel’s beach club and pool are both just a short walk away, if you want to be right on the beach, the nearby Marriott is a solid option and features activities such as bicycles and volleyball courts. But the Disney resort is perhaps the most kid-friendly option, complete with 2 large on-site pools and a waterslide, several casual restaurants and plenty of watersports.

Croatia

Last week, it looks like many of our Pinterest followers were daydreaming about frolicking through cascading water, surrounded by terraced waterfalls and lush green hills. We know because this scene, from Krka National Park in Dalmatia, Croatia, was last week’s most popular pin. We certainly can’t blame you — why do you think Croatia is featured in our ultimate Trip of a Lifetime giveaway? Keep entering – everyday – for a chance to win this $100,000 trip to the Adriatic, and your fantasy pinboard could become a reality.

With all the attention New Orleans has been getting lately, how could Bourbon Street not be the most popular pin on our Pinterest boards last week? Despite its raucous reputation – or perhaps because of it – Bourbon Street is a New Orleans must-see, even if you’re just going to “admire the architecture.”

Take a photo tour of the Big Easy or follow in Tony’s footsteps with his travel guide from the New Orleans episode of The Layover.

Whether you love it or love to hate it, Valentine’s Day is on everyone’s minds – even travel bloggers. This week, we rounded up our favorite love-themed posts from across the travel blogosphere.

Valentine’s Day may be more popular than you think. In fact, it is the second most celebrated holiday in the world. And just like there are so many ways to say “I love you” around the world, each country has its own traditions when it comes to celebrating V-Day. Check out Hopper’s post for a look at how some countries choose to express their love.

Hoping to really sweep your loved one off their feet? Select Renaissance hotels are offering a romance package that includes coating your hotel suite in flowers: 27,000 blossoms will cover everything from the bed to the walls. Read more about this over-the-top Valentine’s travel experience on Gadling.

For fun-lovers, Rio’s Carnival is the ultimate party. But if you’re looking for something a little less touristy and crowded, you don’t have to travel to Rio to be a part of the Carnival celebration. 2Backpackers offers their list of other great Carnival celebrations where you can still experience the constant parties, parades and performances.

When you’re a kid, Valentine’s is all about the heart-shaped lollipops, conversation hearts and, of course, chocolate. Now that we’re older….well, let’s face it, we still want candy. Check out some of the world’s largest candy stores to find the perfect sweet for your sweetie.

Stay up-to-date on events around the world with This Week in Photos!

Los Angeles

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

In This Week in Travel, it’s all about lists. Check out top sights to see, reasons to travel, or packing favorites from these travel blogging experts. READ MORE

Maldives

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.

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