ALL POSTS IN [Special Features]

Charleston

It’s no wonder why some of the most popular romance novels – Dear JohnThe NotebookThe Last Song – have been set in or near Charleston. Between the horse-drawn carriages, the colorful gardens, and the constant ocean breezes, Charleston exudes old-world romance and quaint Southern charm.

Many visitors head to Charleston in hopes of exploring the numerous historical attractions. The Citadel, a historic military college, offers full dress parades, and Civil War sites can be seen throughout the city and in surrounding areas. Many of the city’s inns and B&Bs are housed in historic buildings. The Jasmine House Inn, for example, is a beautiful, antique-filled mansion dating back to 1843, that features a pretty courtyard. The Harbour View Inn is a historic landmark, and the only waterfront hotel downtown.

And, of course, visitors also come for the beaches. There are many different beach towns within a short drive from downtown, with Folly Beach perhaps being the most popular. Tides Folly Beach looks right out over the sand, and all rooms have balconies with fabulous views.

- Oyster.com Staff

Travel bloggers this week take a look at strange presidential sculptures, unique hotels, lesser-known spots in Rome and more.

Who would have thought you could find a 7-foot-tall Ronald Reagan statue in Budapest? Condé Nast Traveler’s slideshow takes a look at some of the strangest US presidential artwork around the world, including President Obama’s ice sculpture in Israel for his visit this week.

You might think hotels are just a place to rest your head at the end of the day, but these themed hotels chosen by Oyster offer up an adventure of their own!  Stay at an old 19th century jail, James Bond retreat and more.

From Barcelona to Ibiza, Spain is full of amazing cities to visit, but with so many to choose from, which destination is right for you? Whether you want to soak up some of the culture, take in the history or dance the night away, A Luxury Travel Blog knows the location that will be perfect for you.

Your typical trip to Rome would probably consist of visiting the Trevi Fountain and a tour of the Vatican, but make sure you don’t miss these lesser known treasures of the Eternal City! Tour a 16th century villa or view toys from various eras to get a break from long lines and crowds of tourists.

Get your fill of newsworthy travel inspiration with our This Week in Photos!

Palm Beach, FL, offers a mixture of old money and new-age sophistication, with an abundance of sunshine, grade-A golf courses, clean beaches, and even some cultural and historical exhibits. An enclave of the uber-rich, the beach destination caters to a well-established, traditionally upper-class crowd. Between Donald Trump’s exclusive spa, “Mar-a-Lago,” and the ritzy Worth Avenue, it’s safe to say that visitors need to be ready to shell out some serious green while vacationing here.

Most beaches are private, which means wide, uncrowded stretches of sand lined by beautiful oceanfront mansions and hotels. One of the most iconic spots is The Breakers, originally opened in 1896. This luxe hotel features 5 pools, two 18-hole golf courses, 10 tennis courts, 9 restaurants and 540 rooms. If you’re looking for something a bit more sleek and sexy, the Omphoy’s Asian-inspired décor, trendy restaurant, and beachside location attracts a fun, young crowd. Those looking to save some green may consider the Marriott. It’s not on the beach but amenities such as a heated outdoor, an on-site Starbucks, and a 24-hour fitness center make this hotel a solid value.

- Oyster.com Staff

Belize

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

Jealous of your friends’ vacations? Find out how to combat this and more from this week’s roundup of our favorite travel blogs.

If you’ve been following recent tech news, you’ve heard about the new super-high-tech Google Glass prototypes. Could these headsets be a traveler’s best friend or a distraction? Peter Greenberg weighs in on these futuristic devices and how they could potentially help travelers.

You love hearing about your friends’ travel adventures, but at one point or another you’re bound to turn green with envy — especially when you hear about a friend’s sunny trip to Jamaica, when meanwhile you were digging your car out of the snow. Vagabondish offers their steps for overcoming this common travel problem.

It’s not often we get a glimpse of elephants, lions and zebras outside of the zoo. The Everwhereist took a once-in-a-lifetime safari through The Aquila Private Game Reserve in South Africa. She explains why it isn’t quite like The Lion King.

Spring is considered the best time for a ski vacation, so while many of us can’t wait for the warmer weather, skiers are looking forward to hitting those powdery white slopes. For the skiing enthusiasts looking to plan their next trip, check out the world’s best luxury destinations for spring skiing.

Get even more for your travel fix with This Week in Photos!

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 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.

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